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  … State Parks will replace outdated playgrounds at parks with modern, code-compliant equipment and in distinct areas for young and older age groups.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.

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 link. HT to Shane Eversfield for sharing via the Ithaca Triathlon Club listserv.

Moonrise Hike

Summer hikes are particularly nice in the early morning or late evening, before and after larger groups of visitors come to the park. Last night was one such evening. We hit the trail at 8:15 p.m., after the heat of the day had passed and just before dusk descended. As we crested the South Rim, the full moon rose through the trees to our left, casting wonderful shafts of moonlight across the darkening trail. With nobody else around, the sounds of animals in the woods to our left and water cascading to our right was surreal. We arrived back at our car a short hour after we started, renewed and refreshed just before dusk turned to night.

Taughannock Through a Slow(er) Runner’s Eyes

Today I set out for a run at Taughannock to recover from some fast road work that has left my legs feeling rather tired. I parked at the Jacksonville Road lot, slipped into my trail shoes, and smiled upward at the lightening sky. The morning clouds were burning off nicely, and though we’re experiencing our classic New York State humidity, the temperature was just about right for a light, no-expectations run in the park. A “fartlek”, as they’d say in running circles.

Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. Fartlek runs are a very simple form of a long distance run. Fartlek training “is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.”

This wasn’t a long run by any stretch, but the three miles around the rim trail would stretch out my legs quite nicely. As an added bonus, there were no time goals in my mind. I only had a punchlist of things to find for a #RunChatHunt contest on twitter. I needed to photograph some trash I picked up (the park is rather clean, so I thought this’d be a tough one), snap a picture of me running on a non-paved trail (easy!) and get a shot of a trail marker.

I overheard a small group of hikers with dogs at the top of the trail talking about how some of them had never been to Taughannock, and how some had never hiked it from the top. It’s easy to forget about how fantastic the park is when you live here and experience it as often as I do. I love seeing all of the out-of-state license plates in the parking lot. I used today’s run as a way to reconnect with the trail, in a sense.

I ran the short connector trail to Black Diamond where I scored my trashy photos. First up was a large piece of paper that likely once embraced a sandwich. Then, a candy wrapper. I turned around on a short singletrack that led across the bridge to the north rim trail, quickly running into my friend Christina who was out for a run of her own. I told her about fartlek (man, that’s fun to say) and said I’d see her on the other side.

I slowed down when I felt like it. I looked around. I smiled and greeted people as I we passed each other. I had someone take a picture of me at the overlook. It was delightful. I didn’t feel a ton of pressure to start running as soon as I’d finished one of the few staircases on the south rim. I stopped to capture pictures of the gorge from a few of the open vantage points on both sides of the rim.

Smiling at the overlook

I was back at the parking lot sooner than I’d have liked, but I had a day of other things ahead of me. It was time to go home, but not before smiling again at the people driving into the parking lot. After all, it was quite likely that a few were about to experience their first time at Taughannock. And that’s a good thing.

View of Cayuga Lake from the North Rim trail