Tag Archives: Adventures in the Finger Lakes

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.

 

New York in Bloom

2 Jun

New York is far more than one often imagines.  Beyond New York City there are numerous, regions to enthrall and captivate.  The Finger Lakes and Lake Shore along Lake Ontario offer such bounty and diversity, especially in late spring.

First paddle of the year was fine. Red winged blackbirds, a family of swans and lily pads make for a special paddle.

As blue waters beckon, birds swing and swoop, bees and hummingbirds fly, trees bend and winds blow, plants respond to warming, sunny days and people emerge from long, winter hibernations. Many friends give happy updates regarding upcoming performances or events and educational/agricultural progress, demonstrations of one’s own growth and interests.

IthacaFest begins Friday, June 2 in a jubilant celebration of community and passion, offering ample opportunities for dancing, live music and fun! Look over the schedule to gain an idea of the different performers and events. Or wing it but be sure to allow extra time and energy for parking/walking.

Remanu Steele, a Renaissance man, could have his own performance schedule this weekend! He will be everywhere, with one group or another, including Fall Creek Brass Band, Spiral Cracks and his own spoken word. A community organizer and performer, when asked for links to upcoming events, he provided information for events to teach and inform.  Tompkins County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension has numerous events planned.  Peruse classes and workshops on their site, from creating your own fairy garden to learning about challenges tomato plants face, you may be surprised by what you can learn!

Ever talented and motivating, Kathy Lucas will bring her practice of African dance Sunday evening with M0xie Kumba! Watch the dancers of Moxie Kumba in this video by Jonathan Keefner of their Dun Dun dance performance at Grassroots.  What rhythm, vitality and power!

Warm, pleasant weather can be rare so please get outside and explore a little.  Try a new sport or trail and witness the spectacular displays of nature and neighbors. Be safe and have fun!!

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!!

 

Mission EXXpedition Leads Simultaneous Great Lakes Events

20 Jun

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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!

Volunteers Clean Stream and Woods to “Embrace the Lake”

9 Apr

Happy Volunteers

The Cayuga Lake Watershed Network and Adventures in the Finger Lakes co-sponsored a cleanup event on April 2, 2016 to kick off a month of “Embrace the Lake” events.

Our goal was to remove trash from the designated stream and woods with hopes of restoring the ecosystem to a healthier condition.

Blue skies and puffy clouds top this view of a stream without trash.

Blue skies and puffy clouds top this view of a stream without trash.

Volunteers from as far as Rochester, NY gathered to harvest trash from the stream and woods on a Saturday with ever changing weather.

Harvesting rusty metal, wire and plastic

Collected objects include: a tire with rusting rim, plastic sheets, long ribbons of packing ties, springs from a chair, rusting barbed wire, plastic jugs, glass beer bottles, plastic liquor bottles, a shredded segment of a truck tire, a large plastic bowl, a syringe, squares of rusting sheet metal, a plastic tarp…

Trash collected includes many types of bottles, plastic and metal.

Plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, metal machinery parts and plastic debris are shown here after being collected from the woods.

 

The formerly sighted and documented satellite dish-was gone! Did an artist pick it up to be used in a sculpture?  A casual mention of the discarded equipment piqued the interest of a local artist.  Further details as to the whereabouts of this dish will be reported here. Enthusiasm for up-cycling is nearly silly but it is far preferred to occupying space in a landfill, hillside or stream flowing to Cayuga Lake.

GreenStar Co-op treated our volunteers to healthy snacks which did prove key to uplifting morale during the dirty, tough work involved. Mocha Madness was the group favorite-chocolate covered espresso beans, nuts and chocolate.  Sincere thanks to GreenStar and all who came together to care for this neglected area in the watershed of Cayuga Lake!

Volunteers work together to clear this stream of trash

Volunteers were sure to be sore the next day after pushing, pulling and moving garbage. Many adjourned to Bellwether for tastings and a picnic before heading to Taughannock for a quick hike.

 

 

Trash pollutes a stream on a wooded hillside descending to Cayuga Lake.

Polluted stream flows through woods towards Cayuga Lake, miles north of Taughannock Falls State Park. (Photo before cleanup 4/2/2016.

April 2 2016 cleanup

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.