A Sure Sign of Winter: Trail Closures

It’s icy and cold in the Finger Lakes again (starting to look like the prior season’s picture above), which means it’s time for the park to close sections of the North and South Rim Trail. Specifically, the south segment from the base parking lot to the junction with Gorge Road, and the north segment’s bottom staircase. The stairs to the lower part of the overlook are closed, too.

If you’re a rim trail hiker, use the road on the bottom half of the south side, and the alternate route signs on the north side will take you on the campground access road to circumvent the stairs.

Happy winter hiking!

Cooler Temperatures at Taughannock

Yesterday’s cold front took summertime temperatures away from the Finger Lakes region, at least for the foreseeable future! The cooler temperatures this morning provided the perfect crisp backdrop for a leisurely walk around the rim trail.

Looking toward the lake from the north rim, you can almost imaging the vibrant colors that’ll soon be out in full force. The yellows and oranges are starting to pop through the canopies, overlooking a fully and happy Taughannock Creek.

I enjoyed seeing people fishing just beyond the Route 89 bridge, too. It must be a fantastic time of year for fish to explore upstream from the junction with Cayuga Lake.

Taughannock, Post-Florence

Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc as it came ashore over the weekend, dropping tons of water as it arced slowly toward New York State. When the National Weather Service warned of potential flooding overnight as remnants of the storm passed over the area, I made plans. My morning run would definitely be at Taughannock, camera in hand.

The overnight rains were not as heavy as forecasted, and by the time 7:30 rolled around, no more rain was falling. As I pulled into the parking lot under gray skies, I noticed I was all alone. No other hikers were there yet, at least at the top trailhead.

From the upper falls bridge

As I began my run I heard the thunder of water over the upper falls. Definitely not as much flow as I’ve seen in the past, but beautiful and powerful nonetheless.

Vibrant color, trailside

I enjoyed a somewhat leisurely run around the rim and base trails, focusing more on looking around me than looking at the pace on my watch. When I’d reached the base of the falls I sat on the bridge and took the opening video of this compilation.

After I’d completed the base trail round-trip and started back up the South Rim, the sun peeked through the clouds to the east, lighting up the gorge walls to my right. It was the perfect way to start off the day!

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.