A New Bridge

After three years of construction, Letchworth State Park has a new bridge spanning the Genesee River. The old bridge from 1875 was deemed unsafe for train traffic, so it was removed and a new bridge installed. Local residents have been patiently waiting to see the replacement bridge, worried it might be ugly and modern. But we need not have worried. Voila!!


The river was swollen with the rains and water roared over the falls. Everyone loves the bridge, and Friday after school Todd and I grabbed a pizza and ate outdoors by the falls. Then, we began the climb: over 200 stone steps to the top of the bridge, which, of course, is off limits to pedestrians. Trains only for this bridge!


We are lucky to live close to the #1 State Park in the US.  Stop by if you ever get the chance! #nyhiking  #teacherswhohike.  Happy long weekend, everyone.

Finding Green Space

We visited our son this past weekend in Connecticut. It was great fun and terrific to see him, but the area is highly urbanized.  Everywhere I looked I saw sidewalks, buildings, highways, traffic, and more buildings! It only took 24 hours of that to make me long for some green space.  So Sunday morning Todd and I headed to a local park designed around an old stone mansion built in the 1860s.  We found trails through the woods edged with stone walls in various states of disrepair. I could only imagine how much work those walls took to construct.


But then I found something even more fun: a boardwalk! My sister’s favorite kind of trail. Naturally, I sent her a picture.


We walked for an hour, exploring meandering woodsy trails with lots of dog walkers and even a family having professional photos taken.  After taking in the peace (and a piece)  of nature, we headed out of the woods back to cement and blacktop grand central station.  Thank goodness for Departments of Park and Recreation around the country that preserve green spaces for nature lovers like us.

when all else fails…

I have pretty much given up on getting out of the office for walks during the day or finding time to go somewhere during the week, and I’m concentrating on taking long hikes on Saturdays and Sundays. Tomorrow we are planning to go to a hiking/biking path in Massena. But it occurred to me that I could also do a bit of walking in my office building, which has three floors and plenty of stairs! This is my hallway: not a bad walking surface…hallway

and here are the stairs, stairway downwhich are not as pretty as a woods path but have their own aesthetic charm, of a geometric, structural sort. stairway spiral

I’ll give that a go and report back on how it works!

a two-hike weekend, woohoo!

It was another week with no walking during the work weekdays, but I got out this weekend both yesterday and today. On Saturday, yesterday, morning early I went for an early breakfast at a local diner, which was crowded at 7:00 am when I rolled into the parking lot. After eggs, home fries, bacon, toast and coffee I drove a mile down the road to the Stone Valley trailhead. entrance to stone valleyThis is a 3.5 miles out and back loop and I’ve been on parts of it several times, but never walked the whole loop. Friday night I called a friend who knows the trail very well. She cautioned me that it is “a hard seven miles” so I played it safe and just walked out for an hour and a half and then retraced my steps. I start out at 7:45 and got back to the car at 10:20. I had to go fairly slowly because it’s a kind of winding, twisting path, with lots of roots and rocks, a few steep parts, and slippery rocks. stone valley river sceneIt was so peaceful and beautiful–I knew that no pictures could capture its magic. It’s fungus season for sure–literally any step you decided to pause, if you looked along the trail you would see a mushroom or fungus of some shape and size, and usually more than one. stone valley mushroomThe trail follows the river, at times booming down waterfalls, and at other times silently flowing in flat, wide spots. The sun shone on the tops of the trees but not on the trail in the dark ravine. Lots of places opened to the river for views or rock-sitting.

Then this afternoon I headed back to Indian Creek Nature Center. indian creek mapThere were several other families there. It’s an especially child-friendly place. We walked the 1.4 mile “lowland trail” loop. Cloudy and cool, no bugs. Perfect walking weather. I had my trusty walking poles, and we brought a brownie (for me) and a piece of cake (for my husband) to enjoy at a really nice sitting area halfway along the trail. indian creek lower woodland trailThe trail wound through forest and along a big wetland area full of geese and ducks. indian creek view into wetlandsWe saw chickadees, too, and marveled at the big fat red winterberries lining the trail. That short walk took us about 45 minutes. Now I’m back at my desk getting ready for my classes tomorrow!indian creek woods trail

weekend walking, making up for a lousy week!

Wow, work swamped me last week, so, let’s just not talk about it. I made up for it by doing some wonderful walks this weekend. On Saturday I went to a great two-mile walking path just outside of Watertown. I took my walking poles, since my plantar fascitis was acting up. Even with ibuprophen I was hobbling around all day. 20180922_145530_resized

This trail is an out and back, two miles one way so I logged four solid miles. There are signs announcing your progress every quarter mile, and benches! It is bordered with a solid wooden fence, and lined with wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and wetlands. Yes, you can hear traffic from the nearby road, but you can’t see it and that makes a difference.20180922_152517_resized

Halfway is a small lake which was covered with Canada geese.  20180922_161035

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, first day of autumn! Lots of people were on the trail: couples pushing strollers, friends chatting, whole families with small children in tow, lots of folks with dogs and a few bicyclists as well. Even with all that traffic, most of the time I was happily alone with the natural world. Here is a typical view on the non-road side of the trail:20180923_111134_resized

Then today, Sunday, I was going to just come here to the office to get ready for the week ahead, but then I looked at the photos a friend sent me–she is a wildlife photographer, and her pictures–wildflowers, a great blue heron, lakes, waterlilies–were so beautiful I decided to go somewhere before going to the office. I went to the nearby Indian Creek Nature Center, and walked about four miles through woods, along the edge of wetlands, over boardwalks, through clearings, dark cedar groves, overgrown apple orchards, and meadows. 20180923_105219_resizedHalfway along I found a handy bench and had the picnic lunch I brought: very healthy food from our town’s natural food store–oh, and coffee and a cookie, too! This nature center is located next to the Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area so it can get soggy–boardwalks are a frequent help for hikers. This has been a dry summer so it wasn’t even muddy.20180923_121739_resizedAfter I had been sitting quietly awhile at my lunch spot the woods near me came alive with red and grey squirrels, chipmunks, blue jays, and chickadees. Elsewhere I saw and/or heard northern flicker, crow, some kind of yellowish warbler, and a phoebe. Everywhere were beautiful sprays of fall flowers, especially dark purple and pale blue asters. 20180923_123015_resizedAt the end of the walk I finished my coffee sitting under a heavily-laden apple tree, before reluctantly getting back in the car to go to work.




unimpressive walk, impressive scenery

Yesterday was a Sunday but I spent most of it in my office getting ready for classes, so I didn’t get home until 6:15 pm. Without me even changing out of my skirt we left for a walk around the field across the road. It was less than a mile distance, but it still counts by my standards as a walk! It took us 20 minutes, and I have to say it was more ambling than marching. Sept 16 giant cloudUpon our return we met up with all four cats, the two elders and the two adolescents, who had come quite a way following us. We like to discourage that since it leaves them vulnerable to cars and hawks. So next time we will have to be sure they are shut in the house.

The day had been hot, but it had cooled down to the high 70s by the time we went into the field. To the west a huge towering white cloud hid the sun. Under our feet the field was full of flowers–clover, birdsfoot trefoil, black-eyed Susan, daisies, asters, goldenrod. sept 16 field flower

Today is supposed to be equally hot, and I plan on a somewhat longer walk but not until this evening.

perimeter walk at dusk

On friday my week is done and I like to celebrate somehow: go see a movie in town, go out for ice cream, visit a friend, go out to eat. This past week we celebrated with a perimeter walk around our property. We got a late start so it was just about dark by the time we straggled out of the woods, and decided to walk the last leg on the road rather than stumble around in the dark woods. Earlier I had taken a picture of my shoes for fun. This is all the equipment I need to go on a walk–my beat up old walking shoes. walking shoes

The sunset and a sliver of moon accompanied us as we started out our walk. big sky with moon sept 14

Later on the sky briefly took a dramatic turn. amazing sunset sept 14

From there we went into the woods, along the eastern edge of the property, enjoying the quiet, peaceful atmosphere, stepping over fallen tree trunks, admiring colorful mushrooms and fungus, listening to an occasional squirrel, scaring up a grouse. By the time we got to the road the crickets and tree frogs were loud.

Yesterday (Saturday) I started out with good intentions to combine apple-picking with a short walk, but I got stabbed by a three-inch wicked sharp thornapple (hawthorne) thorn, and it bled like crazy (which is a good thing, to avoid infections). It didn’t really hurt that much but it took the wind out of my sails. Plus it was 85 degrees and that sun was HOT. I just decided to go home, take a shower, and hang out with the cats on the front porch, something I’m very good at!


Happy Trails (Jeanne’s inaugural post!)

Our walks began over 50 years ago on a dusty country road, aptly names Pleasant Valley Road. Two sisters, walking hand in hand, singing old songs our grandmother must have taught us. “Rain, rain, go away, Come on back another day” while holding umbrella-shaped leaves of the Mayapple over our heads. We went everywhere together, often on that dirt road. One vivid memory is of us splashing through warm puddles of summer rain, preferably in the late evening in June when fireflies came out. The town must have oiled the road to keep the dust down, but that didn’t stop us. Barefoot with a glass jar in hand, we captured those poor bugs to marvel at their light. Our feet must have been filthy!

Later, I dutifully followed Anne down the road to visit the neighbor’s pony. Not just once. Every. Single. Day. I never thought to say no, except on the day I balked at passing the field with the bull in it. I wore a pink shirt and was certain the bull would charge me! I think I turned back and went home, leaving Anne to face the bull alone. (Sorry!)

And here we are fifty years and hundreds of miles later, still walking together whenever the opportunity presents itself for two sisters living five hours apart. We’ve managed to hike in the Adirondack Mountains, (“As long as it’s not a mountain,” she says, “I don’t like climbing mountains!”) the Bruce Peninsula (incredible views), on the Finger Lakes Trail (safe, meandering trails through farmers’ pastures and hedgerows) and even in Newfoundland, Canada (sweeping, wind-swept headlands).Bruce Trip 2017 112.JPG

Why walking? There’s something about walking that’s good for the soul, my soul, anyway, especially if it’s on a trail. I know of no other image that beckons to me like a picture of a trail (“A flat trail, Jeanne” she says, “Not too steep.”).

Bruce Trip 2017 169.JPG

sneaking a walk

I got prepared for my 12:40 class at 11:55 and decided to go for it. I walked around one of the loops on campus that skirts the river, goes through piney woods, and comes back out near the gym across the street from my office. sept 13 trail

It took 30 minutes so I made it to class only just on time, but now I’ve done my walk for the day. The woods were all green and gold on this sunny hot day, the sunlight bouncing off of leaves of all shapes and sizes. sept 13 woods

The trail goes along a river. I heard a lot of raucous blue jays in the woods, but mostly it was just quiet and peaceful. sept 13 river


It can be done…

with a little planning. Instead of launching into my day as usual I have to pause and ask myself when I can fit in a walk. If I just vaguely plan to and hope I’ll find a good time it will not happen, usually. Tuesday was really busy but I did manage a campus walk. It was only a 16 minute walk around a block at the edge of campus, but at least I got out there and walked. Then yesterday morning before leaving for the day I stopped and scheduled in a walk. It also has the benefit of giving me a treat to look forward to. The benefit of planning was that I ran back upstairs to grab a pair of comfy old walking pants to change into so I wouldn’t have to walk in my work clothes. We decided on the “kip trail” which was just perfect. It was a 30-minute walk on a wood chip trail through the woods. Here is the start of it:sept 12 walk start

And here is the trail–inviting, isn’t it!?sept 12 kip trail walk

It was a really nice day for walking in the woods–75 degrees, partly cloudy, and calm. There were hardly any bugs. Jogging students passed us a few times. So far, so good!