Despite the base trail being closed this week (reopening tomorrow morning, Saturday, May 16), there were plenty of sights and sounds to take in at Taughannock this morning. First, the scaling crew was not out yet during my run, but here’s a post where I shared about their work during a prior spring season.
Instead of the base trail, I took a lap around the perimeter of North Point, seeing a heron along the way (cover image). On my way to the point, I passed under the Route 89 bridge. Check out these beautiful flower beds at the base of the bridge!
Fishermen quietly cast their lines in the quiet morning, and the lake was peaceful and still. Quite a contrast from what I imagine this afternoon will bring, with predictions of heavy storms, hail, and perhaps an errant tornado!
Perhaps the best part of the run was coming upon a Town of Ulysses crew working on a new packed cinder path abutting the road on the South Rim trail. This is normally a singletrack dirt path, and they’ve made it so much nicer. I tried to politely skirt their work area, but they invited me to be the first one to use the new path! So, I did. No ribbon cutting here, but it’s so nice to see all of the little improvements to come together and make our park so incredibly nice!
April sure left with a bang this year. With the ground already saturated from periodic rain, a persistent, heavy, and soaking band of rain was all it took for Taughannock Creek to rage. The power of water: it’s spectacular, transformative, and awe-inspiring.
As I ran around the rim trail, I came upon this pair of geese atop the cliff walls on the North Rim. They were vocal enough that I stopped to take in the scene. Have never seen geese just hanging out this high up in the park! Spectacular.
For those of you who love to hike at Taughannock, my wife and daughter (who’ve been on a hike streak for the past few weeks) told me that the lower South Rim trail and stairs on the North Rim trail are OPEN! This means no more hitting the road if you don’t want to skirt the rules.
Also timely, I’m so grateful that the parks in the Ithaca area are open. The state provides such a valuable place for us to be, especially during this time. Nature can be a wonderful salve, indeed. If you do head out to hike, please don’t bunch up on the trails. It would be a tragedy to have the state unilaterally close the parks if we don’t practice proper social distancing.
It’s hard to believe that it is mid-May, yet we’ve barely made it out of the 40s during this rainy week. Taughannock is coming alive with vibrant green leaves bursting forth from the trees. The swollen creek and wet trails lend a rainforest feel to the park. During my hour on the trails this morning, I saw not another soul, but had plenty of company from the nature around me.
The lower end of the South Rim and the stairs of the North Rim trails are open for business! Notably absent are steps at the beginning of the South Rim trail from the base parking lot. I hope those are in the works? Regardless, we don’t have to grapple with deciding whether to skirt the trail closure signs in temperate days, now that the trails are fully open.
On this evening’s hike, we were so excited to see a luna moth (Actias luna) clinging to a fence just above the overlook on the North Rim. I’ve never seen this moth before, and it’s one of the largest in North America. From the Wikipedia page, some fun facts:
Here in New York, they produce just 2 generations each year: first in April or May, and then again 9-11 weeks later. Since it’s May 31, this one got it in just under the wire.
After their larval and pupal stages, they live only a week as adults! This makes them a rarity to see.
Adults do not have mouths, and they don’t eat. The exist solely to mate (ahem).
Those fancy tails on their wings are meant to be expanded when they’re attacked by bats. It confuses the bats, and therefore is a survival mechanism. Very, very cool.
I enjoyed a bike ride today end-to-end on the Black Diamond Trail. The surface is so wonderful, and rather suited to my road bike tires. The ride was very smooth, so you definitely don’t need fat bike tires or a mountain bike to enjoy the ride. Wonder what the trail looks like when you’re on a set of wheels? Check out the video below.
The weekend has barely started and there was a solid stream of cars visiting the overlook today at lunchtime. It’s going to be a busy, beautiful weekend at Taughannock! There’s plenty to explore, too. If crowds are not your thing, skip the overlook and head just a few minutes up the north rim trail. The view above awaits you from one of two vantage points. Make the complete rim trail circuit for three miles of beauty!
I ran into Fred Bonn this morning at the overlook. He told me that the base trail would be closed today, and potentially part of tomorrow, for scaling work.
Sure enough, as I made my way around the South Rim, I saw the Finger Lakes Region Scaling Team arriving and setting up halfway down the south side. They were all smiles: I think they LOVE their job! They get to harness up and scale the cliffs in some of the most beautiful places in New York State.
Check out this video of the team at work at Watkins Glen State Park, and also a great post at ithacafingerlakes.com.