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.
Sweedler Preserve is one of our top favorite places to visit because it’s nearby, it features a wonderfully diverse plant community, has several nice waterfalls, and parts of the trail are a little steep providing a bit of exercise in a beautiful environment.
During our late-May visit we enjoyed the intense greens of the fully deployed foliage both on the upper trail with its profusion of maples, oaks, and beeches; and on the bottom floodplain with the sycamores and herbaceous carpet with abundance of wildflowers.
We highly recommend interested hikers stay away–we like having this gem almost to ourselves.
As has become our custom, we returned to Owasco Inlet for some spring paddling, joined by friends Tim and Sherry. A year ago, we had quite the disastrous outing in the muck. If anything, the launch site is even muddier and more difficult than ever but we tried to be very careful launching and returning in the muck. This time we averted disaster (narrowly in my case). It’s worth the trouble–it’s a lovely paddle in a very diverse community of plants, birds, and beasts. This year, the inlet was mostly clear of debris so we were able, for the first time, to paddle the 4.2 miles to the Moravia bridge and then enjoy the leisurely trip back aided by the current.
We burst the bonds of pandemic lockdown once we were fully vaccinated by spending a couple days exploring NYS’s Letchworth State Park. We stayed in Mt. Morris at the wonderful BrickInn B&B (very comfortable with great breakfasts) and moseyed into the park each day for some trail exploring.
Neither of us had previously been to Letchworth despite its proximity. The Genesee River gorge is impressive and parts are scenic, particularly in the vicinity of the 3 large waterfalls along the southern part of the park. We benefited from the late-April early-season visit in midweek with lousy weather–it meant we often had miles of trails to ourselves. It sounds like the park and surrounding towns gets jammed with crowds during regular season. That would certainly change the character of a visit entirely. Those darned tourists.
The change of seasons is one of the pleasures of living in the northeast. This year, in particular, needs a spring offering hope, optimism, and rebirth. We are encouraged and entranced by the unfolding of color, light, and warmth.