A proper snowstorm visited us, blanketing our neighborhood in about 16 inches of snow. It’s pretty but it can be too much of a good thing sometimes: the Binghamton area in our neighboring county got a record 41 inches and nearby Newark Valley got 44. They probably don’t think it’s so nice.
Our most recent stroll in the park was in the lovely Buttermilk Falls State Park. This time of the year changes the character of hiking in both good and bad ways. In the Fall and Winter, parks and trails are less traveled, there are no bugs to contend with, and cooler temperatures can make for more comfortable strenuous hikes.
On the other hand, hunters are in the woods Although the overwhelming majority behave in a safe and responsible manner, it’s the occasional oddball or inexperienced hunter that gives one pause. Also, especially in the state parks, many trails are closed for the season due to hazardous conditions. (Slippery icy conditions on steep or treacherous trails, fallen or unstable rocks from freezing and thawing stresses, and unprepared or inexperienced hikers are probably the main factors.)
Although we have more limited options, it’s worth getting out anyway–it can be quite beautiful with the changing light and snowy conditions. Our recent brief hike was a good mental health elixir. We’re eager for the coming snow to give us some opportunity to get out snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Yeah, that’s it, that’s our story.
We’re very fortunate to live close to Taughannoock Falls on the West side of Cayuga Lake. It’s a wonderful place to walk or contemplate a few million years of geologic history. A brisk early Winter day in the middle of the week, in the midst of the pandemic, means we had the place nearly to ourselves.
Our intent to walk the loop around the rim trail was thwarted by trail closures due to hazardous conditions but we walked the gorge trail and part of the North rim trail that wasn’t closed. What a treat.
Robert H. Treman State Park is brought to us by the Devonian era, the most recent ice age, Robert H. Treman himself, the Great-Depression CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), and New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation. What a gem! We’ve walked it many many times over the years and never tire of it. Our Fall post-election recovery hike was no exception.
We’ve had a wonderful Fall this year but, alas, it must come to an end. The last few bursts of color are now being torn away by the relentless winds and we’ve had our first durable snowfall to remind us what we’re in for.
Later this week we get a respite with some nice weather, albeit with the subdued palette of grays and browns settling in for the duration.
Tuesday is garbage day for us. We decided to take out the trash: we joined 150 fellow Tompkins County residents to avoid the rush and stand in line for 1.5 hours for early voting. There were about 200 socially-distanced, masked, and shivering voters in line by the time we left. It was heart-warming to see such a great turnout; it far exceeded what we’ve experienced in previous elections.
It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.Woody Allen
Lori and I enjoyed a tour of the Ithaca City Cemetery led by Christine O’Malley of Historic Ithaca. The cemetery started with its first residents in 1790 and, after a few expansions during Ithaca’s growth, ran out of space and sold the last of its plots in 1930.
Our tour was a fascinating mix of historical developments including headstone technology, restoration efforts, social attitudes toward cemeteries, class distinctions, esthetic trends, and Ithaca history.
In the days before formal city parks were developed, cemeteries were commonly used as appealing green spaces for enjoyment and socializing. This lovely cemetery attracts many visitors every day out for walks in the quiet and peaceful setting. We can see why in our visit on this beautiful Fall afternoon. It’s a wonderful place to spend an hour or an eternity.
Nearing the end of prime Fall color season, we returned to a favorite hike at Sweedler Preserve, just minutes from our house. The steep trail was strewn with colorful wet fallen leaves making the footing a bit slick at times. As is often the case, we had the hike all to ourselves. Nearby Buttermilk Falls State Park lures most of the tourists, leaving Sweedler and Thayer Preserves to far fewer visitors.
Quite the visual feast is jammed into the relatively short loop hike: waterfalls, hemlocks, a wide variety of deciduous trees, eskers, a flood plain with an explosion of wildflowers in early summer. Resident squirrels and birds reminded us of our visitor status as we passed through.
It’s been quite a beautiful Fall this year and we’ve been fortunate to get in several hikes to enjoy it. Nature will soon be scrubbing the remaining colors away in preparation for Winter.