For a long time last year the Cascadilla Gorge Trail in Ithaca was closed for trail repairs and then peripheral construction work. Today we were pleased to revisit this beautiful easy trail early enough in the day to avoid almost all other visitors. That’s remarkable given this lovely gorge cuts right through downtown Ithaca near the Cornell campus. It’s a gem right there in the middle of town.
A day ago we enjoyed both a beautiful sunrise and interesting sunset from our expansive view to the east. The sunrise included a sun pillar (vertical shaft of light above the sun caused by atmospheric ice crystal reflections). The sunset view to the east included a sliver of light shining briefly through the shadow of the Benjamin Hill to the west and the low cloud cover overhead. Together, a nice respite from the dismal grays of the last few decades (or was it days?).
In what is likely our last walk of 2021, Lori and I strolled around the trails at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, taking advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures. It’s been a dismal year for many people but we’re thankful that we came through it unscathed.
Lori and I spent a pleasant late Friday morning strolling around the F. R. Newman Arboretum in what has become an annual fall tradition. It’s quite the treasure.
Lori and I spent a week in the northern Adirondacks, accompanied for a few days by our friend Stella. It was past peak fall colors except for the golden tamaracks which looked like they could glow in the dark. We had many trails practically to ourselves and were among the very few paddlers out on the waters. The main street through Lake Placid was torn up due to major infrastructure work, most of our favored restaurants were closed, and the loons had departed for the winter. Regardless, it was a very relaxing and rejuvenating stay: sharing good food, good camaraderie, and that brisk mountain air does the soul good.
We’ve been walking local trails during our customary scramble before browns and grays lead to Winter. We’ve enjoyed some old favorites and some new.
Six Mile Creek
Six Mile Creek southeast of Ithaca includes the reservoir supplying Ithaca’s water. A warren of trails, only some of which are official, meanders through beautiful woods along the creek and high on cliff edges above it. Notorious for partying and skinny-dipping college students, the area was blissfully quiet during our mid-week early-morning jaunt.
Logan Hill Nature Preserve
A steep and very rough dirt road heads up from the town of Candor to the beautiful Logan Hill Nature Preserve. The necessity of hiking up the steep road from town automatically filters out a lot of people who might otherwise visit. The preserve has varied terrain and combinations of woods, fields, ponds, and gullies. We mostly had the place to ourselves and it definitely warrants return visits.
Steege Hill Nature Preserve
Located on some terrain high above the Chemung River near Corning NY, the Steege Hill Nature Preserve urges visitors to be alert for, and not provoke, resident timber rattlesnakes. We encountered none but were eventually driven to shorten our hike due to relentless clouds of amazingly obnoxious mosquitoes. It was sufficient to induce us to resolve not to return.
Fischer Old Growth Forest
We’ve walked the Fischer Old Growth Forest many times over the past 8 years and it’s always a treat. Mere minutes from our house, it’s a beautiful and sparsely-visited gem.
Salt Springs State Park
We joined friends Diane and Chong for a hike along the bed of Fall Brook at Salt Springs State Park in Pennsylvania just south of Binghamton NY. A series of beautiful waterfalls made the treacherous (and unofficial) hike upstream a real treat.
Of course the spectacular 215′ Taughnnock Falls attracts most of the attention, but the rest of the state park has other beautiful features well worth exploring. We hiked the rim trail and then walked southeast on the Black Diamond Rail Trail for a ways before mosquitoes got the best of us.
As happens most days, a group of deer passed through our yard while doing their evening browsing. This time, though, the group included four bucks (2 of them quite young). This was a first for us.