Couch potato that I am, I surprised myself this past February Break by actually going outside and doing something active: hiking! Along with a few other residents of Bethe House, I trekked through the scenery of Roy H. Park Preserve, a Finger Lakes Land Trust Preserve that is a twenty-minute drive from West Campus. We arrived at 11:30 A.M. this past Sunday, which – as those of you who remained on-campus will remember – was an unusually warm fifty-seven degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that made for quite the pleasant hike. Upon parking the car in the preserve’s parking lot, we immediately saw the following signs:
As depicted in the photo above, we started out on the Baldwin Tract, one of two parts of the preserve that is slightly closer to campus. The other part is a beautiful boardwalk located five minutes down the road which we would visit later. Although it was much warmer that day, there was still a thick layer of snow throughout the preserve, which meant that if there was a beaten path, it was not visible. We did, however, have the footprints of previous hikers in the snow and the guidance of our Graduate Residential Fellow David to follow. With such an abundance of information, we promptly began to walk along the tract, most of which looked like this:
This being a nature preserve, it would only make sense to heighten the hiker’s appreciation of the surrounding nature by delineating the difference species of trees present in the tract with signs:
I know it’s counterintuitive to include a sign that simply describes a sugar maple without including a photo of the sugar maple itself, but allow me to defend myself. Aside from the evergreens, all the leafless trees looked exactly the same (so you all aren’t missing out on too much).
David, who has been to the preserve for many a hike before, recommended that we go see a creek and small waterfall, so we made a left and hiked down a pretty steep expanse – the beginning of which was marked by what I shall call a portico of sorts:
As you can see in the photos below, especially if you note the slope on the other side of the creek, the descent is indeed steep – it took me over ten minutes to get down to the creek because I really didn’t want to slip on the snow and fall on my tush. This entailed ten minutes of digging my platform heeled ankle boots (which are, contrary to popular belief, actually quite nice to go hiking in) into the snow and hugging trees for a momentary sense of security:
Thankfully, I made it to the bottom in one piece. As I got closer to the creek, I noticed more of the trees were evergreens. The creek itself wasn’t frozen over but loudly flowing, making for a serene and charming scene. Although I couldn’t get a panorama of the entire creek, I took panoramas of various sections of the creek, which are arranged from left to right below:
I love the last photo – how it shows you the gracefully fallen snow-covered trees while conveying the motion of the creek as the sun shines down on all of it.
I swear this is my last panorama of the creek:
Next to the creek and at the bottom of the descent was this shale formation that other hikers have used as shelves for stones:
If you take a closer look, you’ll see that many of them are heart-shaped and have what I assume are the initials of couples engraved into them, like this one:
Then there are others that seem to commemorate an individual’s adventure, like this particularly intricate design:
Can you discern the moon, evergreen tree and textured ground?
After taking copious selfies and panoramas, we hiked back up the slope and continued to wander about the tract until we unintentionally made a huge circle and arrived back at the car. Then we drove down to the aforementioned boardwalk which was a mere five minutes away. Immediately visible from the parking lot, the boardwalk passes over a marsh:
It’s also referred to as “Howard’s Walk.”
Beware of beavers, bees and wasps!
Here are some panoramas of the marsh from the boardwalk – you might be able to spot a beaver dam if you look closely:
In the middle of the boardwalk is a circular overlook with a bench, which is dedicated to a Matthew Ruppert:
After the overlook, the boardwalk continues:
The boardwalk ends here, and we didn’t venture any further in the interest of time:
Afterwards, we drove back to campus, where we arrived a little before 2:00 P.M., meaning our excursion lasted two and a half hours.
If you’re no longer enchanted by Beebe Lake or Cascadilla Gorge Trail and looking for somewhere new to walk around, I recommend paying a visit to Roy H. Park Preserve. Although the preserve doesn’t possess the proximity to campus of the former two, it has nowhere near as many visitors, which means you’ll definitely get more privacy. Plus, the preserve covers a greater amount of land, so you’ll also get more time to ponder the mysteries of the universe.
Hope you all have an awesome three-day week of classes!