The Gorge is a melt-water ravine reminder of those glaciers a few years back- say 16,000 years ago- that cut a swath through the area that has become Clifton in Green County. The water runs through a deep channel, compressed into speeding rapids, which can NOT be recommenced for kayaks, unless you are in to sudden-death boating.
It is best to traverse these significant areas with guides who are familiar with the local flora and geological formations. You may well call this crew my three "wise-guides." Jim Davidson heads up these various daytime trips where we explore all manner of out-door offerings. Here they cast trained eyes upon the rock outcroppings along the trail.
Maidenhair Spleenwort, Asplenium trichomenes is still a lovely shade of green in spite of the cold. The Aspleniums come in many forms, the more common Ebony Spleenwort is more vertical in stature and fairly common throughout woodland edges. This unusual form is a rock-loving, diminutive species, which does look fairly similar.
Here is the Cliton Gorge Holy Grail! Wall-Rue, Asplenium ruta-mararia grow only on vertical faces of rock walls. This fern's pinnae do indeed resemble the common garden rue.
In the past we have nearly stood on our heads and hung off of cliffs to find samples if this significantly rare plant. Today, we stumble on a grouping in plain sight along the trail.
Maybe late fall/ winter is a good time to go a' ferning. We won't get distracted by the other botany!