Travel, yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: June 15th, 2013

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Today was an official day off of work. I spent most of the morning reading, writing and organizing my photos. Then I took a brief walk to the Elephant Back trail. This was the first hike we went on as a group back in 2006 and I felt like I was on death’s door the entire time. I was lagging way behind the rest of the crew, huffing and puffing. To tell you the truth, that first hike had me terrified that I didn’t have what it took to make it through the field season. But, as we know, I certainly did. So I found myself, once again, at Elephant Back ready to tackle the beast. This time around it was easy. I’m not sure if I’m in better shape now (doubtful) or if I’m just better at going my own snail-like pace. I believe the latter to be more of the case. Overall, it was an easy hike and the views were gorgeous–which I was too busy gasping for air last time to fully appreciate. I had to laugh because there was a 75-ish-year old couple complete with walking canes making the trek as well. A great example of what a sissy I can be at times.

 

 

Then I went to the Lake Lodge to use the internet, which ended up being down so I had to drive the 16-miles to Canyon in the hopes of there being internet. It took about 45 minutes to drive those 16-miles because the bison just loooove to slowly meander right in front of the cars. God, I just adore bison. I have to resist the urge to molest them by running my fingers through their soft, shedding coats. They just look like gentle giants, although I know they’re not. In fact, my little nephew, Pugsley (he’s a black pug), looks just like a mini bison, which just compounds the urge for me. Needless to say, it’s never advisable to be on a tight schedule in this Park. Anyways, I made it to Canyon, paid my $4.95 for internet service just to find that this very electronic journal would not upload because…well it’s a long technical story but I can’t update my blog now–unless I want to drive two hours each way to do so. That was a huge bummer for me. I was so hoping to keep everyone up-to-date on life in the field. So I drove back, extremely downtrodden, with Guns & Roses blaring my angst throughout Hayden Valley. Every bear, moose, elk, bison, wolf, coyote, frog and shorebird got to hear a little Welcome to the Jungle. It’s just my way of sharing the musical highlights of human society. I went to bed feeling rather defeated but grateful, knowing that tomorrow promises to be a serene, internet-free day off.

Travel

A Hudson Valley Hike: Falling Waters Preserve

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Tuna butt!
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What’s that over there?
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I wandered off the trail and stumbled onto a labyrinth.
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Some words of inspiration.

Here are a few pics from my Easter walk with Petunia at the Esopus Creek Conservancy’s Falling Waters Preserve in Saugerties, New York. If I return to the area in August (my future remains unclear at this point), I plan to volunteer for the Esopus Creek Conservancy. I met the Vice President, Susan, a few months ago at the Saugerties Farmers Market. She was clearly passionate about the Conservancy and was thrilled to be there educating the public. Her booth always had a long line of people wanting to know more about the Conservancy. Throughout the day, I heard her talking with folks interested in volunteer opportunities and saw that there was a sign-up sheet on the table. During market break-down I swooped in and told her my credentials and experience. I love this moment because people usually experience a wave of feelings that can be clearly seen on their face. When I’m standing behind an overflowing table of handmade items and they hear biologist, reptiles, amphibians, Cornell, environmental communication, SUNY ESF masters degree, outreach, volunteer coordinator, mediator, veterinary technician, etc… it’s a palpable mix of confusion, disbelief and in the end, luckily, it usually turns into excitement. The next question I usually get (while scanning me up and down) is “How old are you?” Hah! Needless to say, she was overjoyed with what I had to offer. Over the following weeks, it became clear that my current schedule would not allow for volunteering but if I return to the area, I will be knocking on Susan’s proverbial door. Anyways, back to my Easter walk…I wandered just off the path and found a labyrinth. Tuna and I tried to give it a go but she didn’t quite understand what I was doing. She was patient with me despite her confusion (story of her life). When I reached the middle, there was a shiny, little angel waiting for me. Awe! I left it for the next person to find and be inspired by. Overall, it’s a lovely place to hike and there is Hudson River access, which is nice if you enjoy dipping a toe in. There’s even a historic element to the site: an old carriage road and remnants of the ice house era. Falling Waters Preserve is kind of hard to find because it’s tucked into a neighborhood, but the webpage has decent directions. It’s also a great hike for all ages and fitness levels. So if you’re in the area, you have no reason to not visit and enjoy.

Travel

A Central New York Hike: Chicago Bog

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Tuna and I are back in my hometown of Cortland, New York visiting my mother and friends before I head off for Yellowstone. Sometimes I wonder why in the heck my mother leaves the paradise of Siesta Key, Florida and returns to little ole Cortland but having Lime Hollow Nature Center in the backyard is as close to heaven as you can get. During our jaunt, every 20 minutes or so, a random person would appear from behind a tree and walk to some other spot in the forest. These aimless wanderers crossed my path several times with no acknowledgement of me whatsoever. Needless to say, I was a little creeped out until I saw a SUNY ESF van in the far parking lot. Then I put two-and-two together and realized those aimless zombies were just Stumpies from my alma mater. I bet if I didn’t enjoy taking photos so much, I would also be aimlessly wandering, never looking up to take it all in. You really do miss the big picture when you’re hyper-focused on finding one thing. I’m a herper so my gaze is trained downwards most of the time and I’m constantly having to remind myself to look up and enjoy nature in its entirety. Most of the photos are from the Chicago Bog area (Doughnut Pond to us local folk), which was my magical place when I was growing up. It’s so beautiful! I’m forever grateful to a college wetlands course that allowed me to venture out onto the sphagnum mat in the middle to take soil samples, eat cranberries, and learn the inner workings of the place I grew up so entranced by. Let me take this moment to express my gratitude to Peter and the rest of the employees and volunteers of the Lime Hollow Nature Center for performing top-notch trail maintenance and installing engaging and informative interpretive signs. The place is well kept and it warms my heart to know that the land will be respectfully preserved for future little Jaime’s to explore.

Travel

A Hudson Valley Hike: Kaaterskill Falls

capture_02Well clearly WordPress hates me (or Kaaterskill Falls) today because this is about the twentieth time I’ve tried to post this. Ugh! Okay, deep breaths. I’m trying to get into shape for Yellowstone in a more body-friendly way than I have in years past. I’m trying to avoid the machines at the gym so hiking is a great option. I thought I would share some Hudson Valley hiking pictures to get you in the spirit of summer and encourage you to enjoy the outdoors. Here are some photos of Kaaterskill Falls. In the past, I’ve hiked the upper trails but I’ve never experienced the lower trail so Tuna and I figured what the heck. If you enjoy long, heavily forested hikes with easy parking, try upper Kaaterskill. The lower trail is relatively short–ending abruptly at the falls, the trail is rocky (which I enjoy), and the walk from the parking lot to the trail head is perilous. Overall, it was worth the jaunt just to see the falls and relax on the rocks. When you’re finished communing with nature, visit the nearby hamlets. Kaaterskill Falls is right between Palenville and Haines Falls on Route 23A. Palenville has the Circle W general store which makes the best sandwiches (try the Fernwood). And if you’re heading towards Haines Falls, keep driving to Tannersville and Hunter for some great shopping. The scenic drive in and of itself is worth it.

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Travel

A Hudson Valley Hike: Mohonk

capture_01-1Here are some photos of the hike I took at Mohonk with my friend Ami. It’s days like this that I realize just how good I have it. The Mohonk Preserve is a fantastic place to hike and boulder (or do just about any other outdoor activity you can think of…from rock climbing to boating to tennis and everything in between). The views alone are worth all the huffing and puffing. Plus, the Mountain House is an incredible sight to behold and the inside is open to overnight AND day guests so anyone is welcome to walk around and enjoy (there is a day use fee). They have a museum, a gift shop, a spa, a greenhouse, a restaurant… The list of amenities is too long to post here but you get the idea. Bottom line: it’s an awesome place! They even have an outdoor ice skating rink with an enormous fire pit at one end (kind of defeats the purpose in my mind but it’s still neat).

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