Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sennett's Hole - West Point on the Eno (Durham, NC)

Overview: Sennett's Hole, located at the western end of West Point on the Eno (a Durham city park), is a delightful place to spend a quiet afternoon during the week or a boisterous day in the water on the weekend. Bordered by large granodiorite rocks and floodplain forest, this water hole provides excellent opportunities to view water turtles and birds. The hole is also of historic significance: it was the site of a mill in the mid-1700s. Local lore suggests that the owner, Michael Synott drowned in Sennett's (i.e., Synott's) Hole at a ripe old age, when high water swept away his mill (Heron, 1975). WARNING: Sennett's Hole is reported to be quite deep (Bradley, 2007), so make sure that any children you bring are strong swimmers.

Directions: Please see trail map.

Sennett's Hole

My observations & ponderings: The day is beautiful and feels fully like fall. The air is cool, the breeze is moderate and rustles the treetops, and the sun seems lower in the sky, less orange than in summer, glowing a very pale yellow.

I sit at Sennett's Hole, a quiet refuge in autumn where the Eno River widens at the confluence of Warren's Creek and large igneous obstacles. A five foot tall pale pink and gray monolith, with crevaces highlighted by black bryophytes and pale green lichen, stretches 60 feet across, blocking nearly half of the river.

Here, water rushes across smaller rocks and little puddles are filled with minnows. Yellow bellied turtles sit on decaying sycamore logs and straggly river birches make their stand on rocky island mounds. Sandy outcrops are littered with bleached fresh water clam shells and imprinted with the marks of raccoons, dogs and man. The river babbles over boulders and crickets hum all around. The titmice no longer screech warnings, and the crows and red shouldered hawk have just ended their mid-day rounds. Carolina chickadees still call in the distance.

Yellow bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) at Sennett's Hole

Man has left his mark here, not only with footprints, but with dirty once-white socks left after a day's excursion. Non-native grasses and trees invade the floodplain. The rocks are said to be scarred by the remants of an 18th century mill, and an old rope hangs from a bending birch. In the distance, despite my best attempts to ignore it, I can hear civilization -- traffic and airplanes. Still, with the warm sun on my back and the chickadees chuckling nearby, I am transported into contemplative peace by nature at Sennett's Hole.

Granodiorite porphyry rocks stretching across the Eno River at Sennett Hole.

Granodiorite porphyry (upclose), a blend of plagioclase feldspar, biotite mica, horneblend and quartz.

Resources: If you're interested in the geology of Sennett's Hole and West Point on the Eno, please check out the following NCGS publication:

Bradley, P. J. 2007. A Geologic Adventure Along the Eno River, Information Circular 35. North Carolina Geologic Survey: Raleigh, North Carolina. 65 p

For more information on the history of West Point on the Eno, please see:

Heron, D. 1975. The Story of West Point on the Eno. Eno Journal 3 (1): 4-8. Online Publication. Accessed September 24, 2008.

A secretive Fowler's toad (Bufo fowleri)

1 comment:

John Dancy-Jones said...

Another wonderful post - I'm so glad I found this blog. Your balance of photos, info, links and reflection is as strong as your writing. Great shot of a relatively algae-free slider - this section of the Eno is a turtle's dream of slow moving but clear water. As Ashley Sue at Green Grounded would say, keep up the Green Rockstar work!