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Yoga Hike at Sterling Nature Center Invigorates Body and Mind

20 Jun

Participants look north over Lake Ontario as they strike a yoga pose on top of MacIntyre Bluffs at Sterling Nature Center in Sterling, NY.

Our busy lives can affect our health in many ways.  Therefore it is particularly important to develop and maintain a wellness practice that will enhance one’s physical vitality and resilience to stress.  Recently, I was thrilled to team up with Karen Haas and Susan Gately to facilitate a yoga hike at Sterling Nature Center in Sterling, NY.

Teachers from Red Creek gathered at the 1,428 acre nature preserve to follow yoga instructor Karen Haas of Bayview Wellness Center in Fair Haven, NY in yoga poses throughout the Cayuga County park. Lake Ontario sailor and scholar, Susan Gately provided insight into glacial geology, erosion of the bluffs and beach, beaver activity, bird identification and more.  A treasure of a property along the shoreline of the Great Lake between New York and Canada, attendees practiced yoga and hiked in many different settings.

A meditative walk through a quiet forest set the tone for yoga beside the lake.  Group poses, chosen to match the location, warmed participants up before a quick walk along the sandy beach and up the steep trail to MacIntyre Bluffs. Practicing poses high up over the lake in perfect June weather was a spectacular experience! We placed our arms upon each other’s shoulders and moved into a group eagle pose, as if we were going to soar to Canada!! Liberation, joy and slight pain were all bursting through this part of our session.

Participants took pictures before descending the trail to the beach to observe our surroundings. Evidence of beaver activity drew us away from the pebble beach to look over the tip of a marsh adjoining the lake shore.

A tree stump and logs shows evidence of the labor of beavers.


Exploring and researching new locations and activities is a favorite part of my work.  Before developing this walk, I was unacquainted with this nature preserve.  Now that I know how to get here and I’m aware of the numerous and diverse trails and waterways, I’ll be sure to return!

If you do go to the Sterling Nature Center, don’t rely upon Google Maps.  Numerous guidance tools may be wise, including a paper map.  Trail maps are likely available onsite at the kiosk beside the parking area and can be viewed here.

Participants reach to the sky while overlooking Lake Ontario’s blue waters during a recent yoga hike.

 

Winter Entertainment

3 Feb
Sun sets on Lake Ontario behind spectacular Chimney Bluffs and the author.

Sun sets on Lake Ontario behind spectacular Chimney Bluffs and the author.

Winter in the Finger Lakes requires a bit more planning and effort than during our warmer months.  Though slick roads or white-out conditions can keep one at home, making time for fun and education can improve one’s mood and health greatly.  Cold and wind have pushed me inside after many brisk walks.  The Tompkins County Public Library is stocked with resources to exercise and relax the mind.  From exotic cooking shows like Made in Spain to local books like “Memoirs of a Fall Creek Boy” and “Underground Railroad Tales: With Routes through the Finger Lakes Region.” I revel in the facts, stories, sights and meals. (Read this article about author Emerson Klees, for writing advice and other local historical books he has written.)

Sunshine becomes a rare treasure in upstate New York.  Vitamin D, bright colors and imagery can warm one’s view and outlook.  Sun graced snow covered fields and wetlands early this week, making a snowshoe at the Montezuma Audubon Center  idyllic.  Caution was necessary as trails were not easily followed with the fresh snow cover.

A rare road trip with friends to attend live music in another city offered greater fuel than one might think!  Joyful dancers embody courage and hope of the human spirit.  Local DJ, Mike Judah spreads positivity internationally through Reggae Explosions on WICB, Ithaca College’s radio station.  He asks listeners to be conscious and loving in their actions, while sharing the affirmative messages of Reggae music each Thursday morning from 10-12 am.

Quite close by is The Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, “the North American seat of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.”  A new contact shared a picture of the ceiling there which stuns! Meditation there is a special experience to discover and enjoy in these cold, worrisome times.  I plan to go there soon! (Along with The Johnson Museum!)

My interdisciplinary studies of adventure education and media arts push and pull my social media and outdoor tendencies. After graduation, time near waterfalls were often spent composing tweets.  I’ve reduced my social media activities in order to spend time in nature as uninterrupted as possible.  At times, I do enjoy taking pictures but oftentimes I will spend my digital connection time outdoors attending to emails. When I’m indoors, I may be devouring images of nature and details of other adventurers, many on Instagram.  Mud covered sneakers and boots inspired my name on Instagram and Twitter.  Find me @mooredirtyboots.

Cold weather has proven to be a great time for planning events, developing partnerships and organizing photos! A new theme for my blog and other digital maintenance will highlight future and re-discovered photos well.

This summer’s projects are beginning to take shape, coloring partners’ outlooks vividly with images of people cooperating to improve and share the places where we work and play.  There is a great deal of work to do but winter is long.

What helps you to thrive during Finger Lakes winters?  Or if you are somewhere sunny and warm, feel free to brag nicely in the comments.

Meeting Other People Who Care

22 Nov

Meeting other people who care about our time, each other, our planet, our bodies; can embolden.  Posture may improve, eyes may brighten, conversation quickens and ideas and plans begin to form.  I’ve seen this phenomenon repeatedly this year. Scientists, farmers, writers, painters, students and professors have become inspired through sharing stories of initiatives that foster wellness in those around us and our surroundings.

Customizing multi-faceted adventures in the Finger Lakes is my specialty, yet developing events utilizing adventure education, recreation and service-learning projects is becoming another objective.  This year, two events focused upon water.  On April 2 volunteers cleaned a stream leading to Cayuga Lake as an “Embrace the Lake” coordinated effort with the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network.  After hauling trash from the woods and stream, volunteers enjoyed a picnic lunch and cider tasting at Bellwether Cidery.  A walk at Taughannock Falls State Park accented the day with slight snowfall as we said our goodbyes.

August 20 was focused upon the Great Lakes, the shore of Lake Ontario in Wayne County, NY specifically.  Mission eXXpedition spearheaded the largest simultaneous micro plastics testing yet in an international effort with teams on all Great Lakes.  The day began with a kayak tour of Chimney Bluffs, followed by a shore cleanup at an adjacent fishing access area.  The day ended at sunset at another beach as we took the final water samples of the day. Results are still being processed yet the teamwork of those involved created a kinship based upon shared values and efforts.

Winter is here! At least for a few days.  As we pull our snow gear out and look toward holidays and a potentially long winter, know plans will grow like friendships.  Emphasis upon a healthy environment, healthy, sustainable agriculture and breath-taking fun can be expected.  This blog’s format or theme may change but our mission remains constant, to connect people to the lands where we work and play!

For all of the fellowship, hard work and support, I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

Sharing Concerns and Joys Helps Us All

15 Aug

Nature feeds me.  To run up a steep wooded trail and emerge high on a bluff overlooking an enormous inland sea, mere miles from my home, has been a great joy to me since I began high school.  Listening to the waves crash in consistent rhythm and to watch the sun as it sets upon the day brings me to the present moment and the wonder around us.  I’ve watched a solar eclipse with friends in these woods and spent many happy times with dogs and friends alike.  Each season offers something different, from snow covered beaches, to springtime melt and wildflowers, to summertime fun and vibrant Fall; our shore of Lake Ontario is an amazing location to be protected and savored.

An increase in news coverage and facilities, as well as the prevalence of social media has brought untold numbers of visitors to this fragile environment.  A local treasure, it is a fascinating place to witness quick changes in the landscape brought upon by erosion.  “Bluff mud or dirt” is a unique, colorful type of soil that can cake one’s shoes.  Pebbles beg for closer inspection and pockets or buckets often become filled with the rounded stones.  Visitor’s are directed not to remove stones from the beach but they often have a strong pull.

Sun shines upon Lake Ontario's blue waters as a dog walks along the varied shore, leaving paw prints in the clay.

Sun shines upon Lake Ontario’s blue waters as a dog walks along the varied shore, leaving paw prints in the clay.

Though I am happy to clean the beaches and shore, I’m bored by pictures of garbage myself! So, I’ve dug into my archives for some photos celebrating special times in varying spots in this stunning place.

Two dogs run in a happy play-date at water's edge. This was not taken at Chimney Bluffs where dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Two dogs run in a happy play-date at water’s edge. This was not taken at Chimney Bluffs where dogs are not allowed on the beach.

We impact others with purpose and by accident.  This balloon may have brought cheerful wishes to someone, but it came to rest upon the beach.  Balloons become tangled in nature and create traps for wildlife and clutter up the outdoors. Please use them with care if you must!

Balloons oftentimes get away from their owners and end up where they don't belong.

Balloons oftentimes get away from their owners and end up where they don’t belong.

Many people become overwhelmed by negative conditions or circumstances.  Sharing these troubles can be helpful.  This worry box was seen in Ithaca, NY at Gimme! Coffee two years ago.  A fourth grade class made it to gather coffee patrons worries and ease their discomfort.  How sweet!

Created by a class of fourth graders in Ithaca, NY, this worry box encourages coffee shop patrons to leave their worries behind.

Created by a class of fourth graders in Ithaca, NY, this worry box encourages coffee shop patrons to leave their worries behind.

"Join us in transforming this weight into hope."

“Join us in transforming this weight into hope.”

How does the worry box relate to Lake Ontario? Many of us DO worry about the lake and how the water affects us both positively and negatively.  Our behavior affects our environment.  We can change our behaviors for the better and share our concerns and successes.

Limiting use of plastic, in beverage bottles and shopping bags is a great place to start to change one’s own habits. Bottle caps, juice box straw sleeves and beverage containers are some of the most frequent debris left on beaches.

Join me August 20 at Chimney Bluffs at 9 am for a morning paddle and hike, before we clean the beaches of debris.  Contact me to reserve a kayak ASAP.  Great Lakes 2016 will be occurring on all of the Great Lakes as teams simultaneously test for micro plastics and clean shorelines.  Susan Peterson Gately‘s film, “Lake Ontario: A Quest for Hope” will also be showing in Fair Haven on August 20 at The American Legion from 4-7 pm.  Guest speaker Jean Siracusa of Happy Bee Heirloom Farm will be there.

Many people do care about the environment we share and each other.  Ursula Gaul Graf was one of those people.  Her legacy continues. A bench bearing her name invites visitors to sit on the west end of Chimney Bluffs State Park and to “Please Enjoy the View.”   This brass plate made me wonder who she was and led me to read about her life well-lived.  Please read her obituary and consider accept her invitation.

A brass nameplate shares Ursula Gaul Graf's wish for visitors to enjoy the view at Chimney Bluffs.

A brass nameplate on a bench beside Lake Ontario shares Ursula Gaul Graf’s wish for visitors to enjoy the view at Chimney Bluffs.

Mission EXXpedition Leads Simultaneous Great Lakes Events

20 Jun

2015-04-20 19.00.09

Adventures in the Finger Lakes will be hosting an event in partnership with Mission EXXpedition at/or near Chimney Bluffs along Lake Ontario’s shore in Wayne County, NY on August 20, 2016.
Participants will collect water samples for analysis of microplastics. Volunteers are also encouraged to clean beaches and shoreline.

Bluffs constantly change. A previously safe perch loses stability and can easily give way.

Bluffs constantly change. A previously safe perch loses stability and can easily give way.

Mission EXXpedition is an organization with crews largely comprised of women, traveling our waterways creating documentaries, collecting data and sharing their discoveries and insights.  Learn more about this group and details about the upcoming Great Lakes event here.

Sun Reflects on Flat Blue Water

A brown Labrador retriever, named Hope, sips water while a sun sets and reflects upon the flat waters.

Local author and sailor, Susan Peterson Gately will be showing her film, “Lake Ontario: A Quest for Hope” in Fair Haven on August 20 also.  The title is not a deliberate homage to the dog but it still works.

Befitting Adventures in the Finger Lakes, there will be healthy food on hand, water crafts and possibly lodging.  We will pause to come together and celebrate our shared environment.  More details will follow.  Please communicate your interest in participating via email, blog comment, Twitter, etc.   Thank you so much! It is sure to be fun!

Adventures Aren’t Always Glamorous!

22 Mar

This adventure is going to start out ugly.  Miles north of Taughannock Falls State Park on Rte. 89 in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, a littered roadside pull off area greets visitors.  A welcome sight after many miles on this straight road through farm country, one finds all kinds of trash feet from one’s vehicle.

2016-03-20 14.58.18

Trash resting in a stream beside a roadside pull off greets visitors.

Discarded Styrofoam containers, bags of trash and rusted cans decorate this area at the top of a steep slope descending to Cayuga Lake.

This scene is disgusting and certainly does not send visitors a message that we care about the land we inhabit and share.  Adventures in the Finger Lakes and the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network are co-sponsoring a clean up event on April 2, 2016 from 12-2pm at this roadside pull off.  GreenStar Co-op has donated healthy snacks to our volunteers. Gloves and trash bags will be provided.    Volunteers should dress appropriately for variable spring weather conditions and be certain to have safe, appropriate footwear.  Please be sure to bring clean drinking water and maybe a friend or relative.

This area has a great deal to offer visitors! Bellewether Ciders is minutes north of the pull off area on Rte. 89 and Taughannock Falls State Park is two or three miles south.  Volunteers are encouraged to bring a picnic and explore the local area, possibly with a new friend or two.

This post ends with more garbage yet we look forward to sharing reports and pictures of our cleanup on April 2.  Contact me if you would like to participate and for further details.

Broken glass is dangerous.

A broken beer bottle blends into the ground cover.

A satellite dish lies in the grass at a popular pull off area, miles north of Taughannock Falls State Park

A discarded satellite dish lies in the grass at this popular pull off on Rte. 89, on the west side of Cayuga Lake.

 

 

 

 

Discovering New Paths, Roy H. Park Preserve

1 Dec

Though the state parks near Ithaca, NY are amazing, I’ve been seeking new vistas and paths. Recently, I visited the Roy H. Park Preserve in Dryden, NY, a Finger Lakes Land Trust Property.  Connecting Yellow Barn and Hammond Hill State Forests with Cornell University Old 600 Natural Area, this preserve serves as a link in FLLT’s Emerald Necklace Project. The Emerald Necklace project is a mission to preserve contiguous habitat surrounding the southern end of Cayuga Lake.  Seen from an aerial perspective the conserved green spaces would form a deep u-shape, similar to an emerald necklace.

With over 30 preserves open to the public, conservation and management are key factors of the FLLT’s operations. The Roy H. Park Preserve is the first FLLT area to connect two state forests. Yellow Barn and Hammond Hill State Forests are substantial locations with 1289 and 3618 acres respectively. New York State Department of Conservation websites offer important trail, history and safety information. Ideal for fishing, hiking, snowmobiling and hunting in some areas, these forests were planted by Civilian Conservation Corps labor under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. According to Yellow Barn Forest DEC website, Camp S-125 planted between 400,000-600,000 Scotch pine, European larch, Norway spruce, red pine, white pine, jack pine, red oak and Austrian pine seedlings.

FLLT’s relatively new website, http://fllt.org/, offers maps, articles, event information, volunteer needs and conservation successes.  Signage from the kiosks at the preserves is also available on the website.  Familiarizing oneself with trail maps and the information provided before heading to the preserve would be an ideal way to prepare for a safe and fun experience.

The site credits many contributors for their involvement in the establishment of the Roy H. Park Preserve, including a significant contribution by the daughter of the preserve’s namesake.  Frank and Blythe Baldwin’s work with FLLT to protect this area creates numerous benefits for humans, the environment and wildlife.

Two parking lots on Irish Settlement Road in Dryden, NY provide convenient access to the preserve. The northern parking area of the Roy H. Park Preserve is adjacent to “Howard’s Walk,” a wooden boardwalk leading over the marsh, named after local conservation and literacy advocate Howard Hartnett.  The grey boardwalk opens up to a wide sitting area, ideal for absorbing the surrounding wetlands, or perhaps reading a book.

We looked out over the marsh from the boardwalk, observing wide, muddy trails that led to the water, baring witness to the labor intensive habits of beavers. Beaver dams and lodges kept us busy considering their motives and activities. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website answered many questions about beaver’s habits, yet inspired even more interest. According to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, these semi-aquatic rodents averaging forty pounds live in colonies that may contain 2-12 individuals. The colony is usually made up of the adult breeding pair, the kits of the year and kits of the previous year or years. This preserve lies beside a busy highway and sadly we saw a deceased beaver in the roadway.

The Finger Lakes Trail heads east into dense forest, just after the boardwalk ends. Hunting season is open and while gun shots rang from the west, we chose to return to our car.  Though dressed for the cold we were not wearing bright clothing. Other hikers wearing blaze orange set out on the red Finger Lakes Trail with dogs on leashes.

At the southern parking area we were greeted by another fabulous kiosk of important information regarding safety precautions and best practices while at the preserve. A detailed map of the trail system helps one to become oriented within the wooded surroundings.   We chose the blue trail leading to an overlook of Six Mile Creek. The woods were quiet on a Sunday morning as we followed the gentle, wide paths through a variety of trees. Two interpretive signs were posted beside the trail naming at least two species.

A view of the creek and a large green pool was an especially interesting natural area after the flat trails through the forest. Our next discovery, surprised and delighted me so, I almost want to offer a spoiler alert! The creek’s edges display heart-shaped rocks, carefully placed by past visitors. Hearts of all sizes, fashioned over time by wind and water, sit in this natural art installation.  Standing in the creek, I wondered who made this master-piece. I’m grateful to those who conserved these spaces and encourage you to explore these local resources. Enjoy!

Heart shaped stones adorn creek edges in an art installation made by both man and nature.

Heart shaped stones adorn creek edges in an art installation made by both man and nature. Photo by Kristen Moore.