“Why don’t you climb up on that ledge to take a photo,” Paul said. “That way you’ll cut out all that stuff in the foreground.”
I mumbled a response about how I kind of liked the stuff in the foreground, but what I was thinking was, “Nice try, Lucifer. I’m not going to make it that easy for you.”
Lucifer had already made me dizzy, the way he popped out of the forest with no warning. One minute, you’re walking through a typical hardwood forest in Robert Treman State Park, south of Ithaca. The next, you’re standing on the edge of a 150-foot gorge, gaping at the glorious Lucifer Falls on the other side of the glen. It was all so unexpected and so dramatic that it was disorienting. If I had climbed up on the ledge, I probably would have just tipped over, then Paul would have jumped after me, and there you’d have it. Two more souls in the hopper.
Since Lucifer didn’t get to steal our souls at his eponymous waterfall, he decided to immediately begin punishing us by making us climb down a massive stone behemoth called the Cliff Staircase. The punishment continued on the gorge trail, where we were subjected to countless stairways that climbed up and down the bluffs alongside the stream. Our knees turned to jelly, but we pushed on, marveling at the steep-sided gorge.
When Lucifer saw how much we were enjoying ourselves (and how sore our muscles would be the following day), he decided to relent and let us leave in peace. He could see how much I wanted to return to the park, and how many people I wanted to bring back to this amazing place. And there was a frail-looking, elderly couple approaching the overlook. He could wait.
Don’t climb up on the ledge! It’s crumbly, sedimentary rock, you fools!