Change is on the Horizon at Taughannock Falls

After spending several weeks in the dry (read: non-humid) climate of central Oregon, I returned to my Taughannock trails over the weekend. While running the trails, the humid air had me soaked in just minutes. I was not alone, either. Throngs of visitors packed the base trail and the overlook and the rim trail were more heavily trafficked than normal.

Heat and humidity notwithstanding, change is on the horizon. The days are getting shorter. Nights are getting cooler. The humidity will break (I keep telling myself this). As I write this, school is about to start up again in Trumansburg. Kids and parents alike will begin the sprint to Halloween, Thanksgiving and the holidays beyond.

I was not bothered in the least by the crowds this weekend. In fact, I loved them. I loved seeing people see this waterfall for the first time, or for the hundredth time. I loved the smell of food cooking over campground fires. I loved seeing people lounging in hammocks next to their elaborate tents. I know that everything will change at Taughannock in the coming months. Water volume will ebb and flow. Visitors and campers will return to their hometowns as summer vacations end. The trails will become relatively empty. And yes, snow and ice will envelop the park after colorful leaves impress us with their vibrancy.

Autumn, winter, spring and summer.

The cycle repeats itself.

A Chocolate Waterfall?

Everything turns lush and green when it rains in the Finger Lakes. When it rains too much, however, a touch of brown is added to that greenery. Well, “a touch” is a bit too subtle. When Taughannock flows heavily amid weather service warnings of localized flooding, I’m reminded of Willy Wonka’s chocolate waterfall. A very, very powerful chocolate waterfall.

If you saw Taughannock at its driest this year in early summer, you’ll be shocked at the amazing photos and videos that my friend Laura captured at the park this morning. She and her husband Scott are also frequent runners in the park and I’m so grateful they shared these amazing views!

Click through to Laura’s post for more photos and some fantastic video!

New York State Funding to Improve Taughannock’s Playground(s)

From New York State’s press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York has committed $2.5 million to build or improve fourteen playgrounds at State Parks across New York. This funding is part of the Governor’s goal to modernize 100 State Park playgrounds by 2020.  … State Parks will replace outdated playgrounds at parks with modern, code-compliant equipment and in distinct areas for young and older age groups. Playground improvements will be coupled with site improvements, including shade trees or canopies, seating, water fountains and trail/walkway connections to the rest of the park.

Taughannock Falls State Park is on the list! The playground at South Point is not old by many standards, so I wonder if the funding will be used to improve North Point’s playground, or provide something near the marina. Regardless, it’s great news for area kids and for the park.

Answering the Muse and a Triathlete’s Repast

I hope you’ve been enjoying the summer concert series as much as I have! Tonight’s concert was ably performed by Answer the Muse. As I sat and enjoyed their music with a fine bottle of red, I couldn’t help but think of the juxtaposition of this relaxing moment with what comes tomorrow morning. I’d just had a delicious vegetable-laden dinner at home, and was now kicked back in a beach chair, sun setting behind me and fantastic music in front of me.

As you’d have seen tonight, the park is partially set up for the Cayuga Lake Triathlon. Tomorrow’s race takes an army of volunteers to set up, and most of them arrive in the pre-dawn hours to work under the bright lights brought in for the occasion. Tonight, the transition area was quiet. Tomorrow, it’ll be jammed with bikes and smiling triathletes from all over.

Empty transition area, but not for long

My wife and I walked over to the shore to take a look at the swim course. The lake was calm, and we hoped aloud that it’d be equally placid tomorrow. We chatted with our neighbors who were taking in the view from a picnic table. A couple from Kansas walked up, eager to check out the swim course. They’d endured a cancelled flight and a drive to Buffalo to get their RV rental, but they were smiling and happy to talk with us about the course. This is one of the most fantastic things about this event: it draws people from all over the world. Connecting with one another over sport is one of the pleasures I truly enjoy.

Transition chute, from swim to bike

If you’re around tomorrow and want to check out the triathlon scene, you totally should. Just get there early, since they close the roads near the park while the race is ongoing. If you’re there, have fun watching. Smiling. Cheering. Competing. If not this year, maybe next? It’s truly a joy to be a part of it, any way you can.

Monsoon Season in the Finger Lakes

We might get some respite from multiple days of rain tomorrow. In the meantime, the area feels like a rainforest and Taughannock Falls is fully alive! There’s plenty of water in the stream and massive humidity in the air. I took this video from the overlook this morning, and love seeing clouds hanging on in the middle of the gorge.

Grassroots, Rain and a Farmer’s Gratitude

It’s been really dry here for the last month. Taughannock Falls told the story well with a wispy veil of water just weeks ago. As past experience tells us, though, the surest way of getting out of a drought is to bring the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival to town! The four-day festival with 70+ bands and thousands of fans just wrapped up at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds. Right on schedule, the weather changed from warm and dry to humid and stormy about halfway through the festival. While the music drove people to sway and groove, the rain spurred Taughannock to life once more.

Sweet Land Farm’s owner, Paul, said it best in our weekly farm email (we love our Community Supported Agriculture!)

Once again Grassroots brings the rain and we definitely needed it! It’s a real relief to take a break from irrigating, and irrigating is not a perfect substitute for rain. We are very thankful for the rain we are getting.

It was blissfully dry in the sky during this morning’s run on the Black Diamond. I couldn’t escape the humidity, though, and finished with soaked shirt and shorts as if it had been raining. Ah, upstate New York. You do love your summertime humidity!

Wispy Taughannock Falls, and a Rockfall!

As I descended the north rim trail on today’s run, I set out to run in on the base trail and capture just how little water was falling over Taughannock. Compare that to this deluge from last autumn! As I crossed the bridge at the end of the base trail, I was fortunate enough to catch the tail end of a large rockfall on the south side of the gorge. As the rocks fell, they kicked up a cloud of dust that drove people at the far end of the trail back across the bridge.

Just after the rockfall

Continue reading “Wispy Taughannock Falls, and a Rockfall!”

Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival

Next Saturday, July 14, the Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival comes to Taughannock Falls State Park! The event is from 8a-5:30p. If you’ve never seen dragon boat racing, this is a fantastic opportunity to see it at the park!

Traditionally, the Dragon Boat Festival is known as Duan Wu Jie (Mandarin) or Tuen Ng (Cantonese) which translates almost literary “Day of Right mid-Day”. It also known as Double Fifth Celebration, the Festival is traditionally celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month in the lunar calendar. Because of the modernization and the popularity of dragon boating, the Festival is becoming known as the Dragon Boat Festival.
fingerlakesdragonboat.org

If you want to become involved outside of the festival, check out the Ithaca Dragon Boat Club!


Photo used with permission from the Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival.

Algae Blooms Return to Taughannock

The park reports on their Facebook Page that their beach closed on July 7 due to a blue-green algae bloom. This was a problem last year as well. Let’s hope it is not a chronic issue this year!

Update: to check on the latest reported status of blooms in Cayuga Lake, check out this cayugalake.org link. HT to Shane Eversfield for sharing via the Ithaca Triathlon Club listserv.