Update: This web site is currently somewhat broken — the embedded photos are supposed to be clickable so you can call up a high-resolution version — the function’s not working — if you want to see good versions of the 18 photos in this post, go here. When you’re looking at any individual photo, you can see a high res version by clicking “View Original” in the menu bar — click this version once to blow it up. We’re working to repair the web site but it’s taking a little time.
Wednesday Dec 16
Taughannock Falls SP sledding hill, followed by a get-together at Mark and Ellie’s house
I can’t remember if I said this before — it’s worth repeating — there’s a delightful side benefit to getting out and driving around the county to hike — you get to see areas off the beaten track you’d never otherwise go to. Everyone’s been to Taughannock Falls — ditto for Trumansburg — but how many of you have driven the rural area between them on the back roads? if you like farmland, the scenery along this stretch is fantastic.
The same is true for the area just west of Trumansburg — it’s a big sprawling agricultural area, and Mark and Ellie live right in the midst, in the extreme NW corner of the county. They have a great house for entertaining, and it was really fun to get out into this unfamiliar territory and check everything out.
This is the second time we’ve hiked around the sledding hill area on the north side of the state park. The walk involves a very satisfying mix of fields, some open and some overgrown, and lovely woods.
Two high points — navigating a major tangle of fallen trees
…. and then a group fell behind while petting a dog, made a wrong turn, missed the last leg through a beautiful stretch of woods, and had to walk back on the road.
In short, a pretty uneventful walk.
Official head count: 17 hikers + Yoda
Saturday Dec 19
Fall Creek outfall area — Fuertes Bird Sanctuary, Stewart Park, Newman Golf Course, white lighthouse and Lakeview Cemetery
I tell everyone I love winter hiking — in fact, when it’s time to step out the door on the first raw, icy morning of the winter season, I always have the same instant reaction — This is horrible. But unless you want to spend the next four months inside, of course, you need to put this subversive thinking firmly aside.
We had a gorgeous morning, dramatically grey, snowing a little, a burst of bright sunshine toward the end. Didn’t see anyone else out; it’s much more fun when we have it to ourselves
We generally only do this walk once a year, toward the end of hunting season — I was glad it snowed at the last minute because the area looks much more picturesque with a snow cover.
Almost everyone made it out to the lighthouse — the long jetty is a bit hairy for walking — the top is quite eroded and broken and it was a little icy in spots — I realized afterwards I should have taken the commemorative group shot in two parts, since the people on the ends are distorted by my wide-angle lens, and you can’t see the lighthouse or the lake.
A number of our hikers hadn’t done this walk before — there are no maps showing how to proceed and it’s not al all obvious just from looking at Google.
We got back to the cars a little early — some people went home, but a sub-group walked across the street and up into Lakeview Cemetery — this is the big mausoleum — a very atmospheric place, and a nice backdrop for a line-up shot — on the way out, we passed a relatively fresh grave that had a photo mounted as a memento — hiker Dennis recognized a former student of his.
Official head count: 23 hiker and Ruby and Yoda
This walk has just about the most open and sweeping scenery of any that we do — throw in the really spectacular atmospherics Saturday, and our two nature photographers got some unusually interesting shots this time.
Sunday Dec 20
Stevens Suspension Bridge, Cornell golf course and horse fields, Forest Home
So much for bleak winter weather — the snow disappeared overnight and the sun came roaring back brightly — and we got one more day of the mild golden haze that’s made this December so wonderful
Great effects with the sun at its lowest point in the sky for the year — the light was pouring in it seemed almost like sideways — long trailing shadows everywhere and the woods were full of beautiful glow
Not the best conditions for taking photos — our hikers are much too old to be photographed up close with bright sun right in the face — if you take a shot from the side, some of the faces end up melted — but I managed to find a few good scenes that worked out OK
We walked up into the main Cornell horse area — the last time we were here there were lots of horses in the corrals near us — this time the horses were at a distance and we had to be content with a small flock of sheep — no matter, the area has a lovely relaxed feeling
Official head count: 39 hikers, nine dogs
You can see eight more photos online by me here.
You can see Jack V’s online shots here
Our nature photographer Annie has added more photos to three albums she put up earlier in the month — 12/2, 12/5 and 12/16 — you can access the home page of our photo-sharing web site here — the albums are arranged by date; just click on the albums Annie indicated