The Black Diamond Trail is a new railroad bed conversion, running eight miles between Cass Park in Ithaca, NY and Taughannock Falls Park, in Trumansburg.  Eventually it will continue south to Treman Park, another eight miles or so.

The trail’s name refers to coal – – the north-south railroads in the Finger Lakes generally ran coal from Pennsylvania, to ships on Lake Ontario, and thence to sooty places around the world.  This particular route of the Lehigh Valley RR also had a luxurious “Black Diamond” passenger service from NYC to Ithaca, and then on to Niagara Falls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve sometimes been, well, not entirely complimentary about sumacs. In autumn, they’re quite often looking like the tattered and hungover remnants of a Mardi Gras parade. But they’re unfailingly colorful in the fall, and can look pretty darn elegant in summertime, too.

 

 

The south end of the trail is a bit dull.  A powerline is overhead for a mile, and the cars on Route 89 are visible through the trees.

Serious bikers streak past, unsmiling, bug-eyed goggles, spandex and sinew, their tee-shirts advertising an obscure microbrewery in Rochester.  Both the beer and the cyclists are a bit too hopped-up, looking pretty much oblivious to the waterfalls, wildflowers and views of Cayuga Lake.

 

 

 

 

The aged hippies from Trumansburg glide by at a more sedate pace, on recumbent bikes or ancient Schwinns, “Uncle John’s Band” and “Touch of Gray” audible from their headphones.  They wave, stop to look at the little streams, comb a few bugs out of their gray beards, and offer you a sip of homemade kombucha.  They’re nice, but I don’t drink, afraid I might wake up under a tree, like Rip Van Winkle, wearing mossy old bellbottoms and “California Dreamin” running through my head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very soon, the trail becomes nicer. The powerline decides to head west, and it’s just trees overhead.  The trail moves farther and farther from the highway.  An unmarked but well-beaten footpath goes up the hill, alongside a nice stream with lots of little falls.

 

 

 

 

After a while, as we go up the hill, a sound like passing trains or traffic starts coming through the trees.  Past an old picnic area with stone tables, and we’ve come out behind the county hospital.  Huge air conditioners are making the rushing sound.

 

 

 

 

 

Going back down the hill toward the rail-trail, a side trail is covered with matchstick-sized fungus.  Tiny but creepy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re unmoving, but we walk around them, just in case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, Ithaca, Nature, NY, Railroads, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. August. Matchstick Army on the Black Diamond Trail

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In a state chockablock with wonderful parks, Fillmore Glen is one of the best. It’s fairly small, under a thousand acres – basically a cool, shady little gorge, with a series of waterfalls and miniature bridges. Millard Fillmore, our 13th President, was born near here, and there’s a replica of his log cabin birthplace. He grew up dirt poor, son of a tenant farmer, and the park was constructed by other poor folks, in the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. They did an amazing job – picnic pavilions and a lot of the stonework retaining walls, etc. have survived from the 1930’s, despite a number of floods over the years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The woods reflected in a pond. It was very still, but there are small ripples throughout the picture, if you look closely.  Last year, they gave a Nobel to some scientists who were able to detect infinitesimal ripples – apparently just good vibrations are surfing through the whole darn universe all the time now.  I have sometimes felt a tingling sensation up my spine, and thought it was the anticipation of eating a jelly doughnut after the hike, but it could be Einstein’s gravitational waves.  Far out, dude, feeling totally amped about this whole ripple thing.

 

 

a picture of exuberance

 

 

 

OK, not taken in August, but the only picture I could find of the first bridge.

 

 

A close call, encountering the dreaded Dark Newt of Doom, and barely surviving. “Only these marishes and myrie bogs, In which the fearefull ewftes do build their bowres, Yeeld me an hostry mongst the croking frogs …”  (The Faerie Queen)

 

 

 

Seriously, can you imagine this little creature inspiring dread? Shame on Spenser for kicking up a skink, perhaps he was thinking of Warty Newts, or had a bad experience with salamanders, after a night tossing back mulled wine.  I know Renaissance folks associated newts and efts with sorcery, but personally, I’m always delighted to spot these cute little guys, and the Eastern Newts really are this bright and colorful, almost fluorescent.

 

 

Toward sunset, the fungi almost seem to glow a bit. Has anyone seen foxfire? I’ve seen bioluminescence in the ocean, but never in the woods.

 

 

 

 

Fillmore Glen is just outside of Moravia, NY, at the south end of Owasco Lake, one of the eastern Finger Lakes.  It’s a sleepy little village, but it produced the industrialist John D. Rockefeller, a U.S. President, and the first president of Cornell University.

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Nature, NY, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. August, Fillmore Glen

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Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Nature, NY, photography, snow, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York ~ March ~ A small waterfall on Enfield Creek

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I figured everybody’s seen a million photos of Niagara Falls, by better photographers than me!  So these are mostly snapshots of the area around the Falls, taken on Saturday.

The freezing spray glazed our coats, so they crackled when we took them off, and added layer after layer of ice to every non-moving object in the area, making a walk kind of tricky, but it’s always very interesting and beautiful to visit the Falls in winter.  Until your blood begins to gel, of course.

1,2 = Coin-operated binoculars, coated with ice and turned into friendly-looking robots.

3-6 = Trees and shrubs covered with ice on Goat Island, in the middle of the Niagara River, and the American side of Falls.

7-13 = getting toward dusk, near Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side.  The Falls are illuminated with colored spotlights.

I hope everybody out there has a wonderful New Year’s, and best wishes for a peaceful, happy 2018.

 

Xmas lights reflected in the ice

 

I just ran across this poem, “A Crystal Forest” by William Sharp (1913), (and quoted by Emma Watson as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast)

The air is blue and keen and cold,
With snow the roads and fields are white;
But here the forest’s clothed with light
And in a shining sheath enrolled.
Each branch, each twig, each blade of grass,
Seems clad miraculously with glass:
Above the ice-bound streamlet bends
Each frozen fern with crystal ends.

 

 

Canada, Frostbite, NY, photography, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York/Upper Canada. December. Niagara Falls.

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Clean Waters, Finger Lakes, FLX, Ithaca, Nature, NY, photography, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. December. Taughannock Falls. 7℉

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Taughannock closeup

 

 

 

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In Trumansburg, NY, flowing into Cayuga Lake, a few miles north of Ithaca.

Thirty feet taller than Niagara Falls (but a bit less water)

The name “Taughannock” is apparently not Iroquois, but most likely Leni Lenape (aka Delaware, an Algonquin tribe).  I’ve heard many explanations for the word, from “large waterfall in the woods,” to the name of a Delaware chief, to “Better get out and carry your canoe for a bit“.

Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Ithaca, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. Taughannock Falls, Fall and Winter.

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Finger Lakes, FLX, Halloween, hiking, Ithaca, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. Lucifer Falls. All Hallows’ Eve ’13.

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