An old postcard shows the beginning of the upper gorge in the upper section of Robert H. Treman State Park.
“The Treman Show.” Produced by the Friends of Robert H. Treman State Park, this award-winning* half-hour episode of Walk in the Park TV (#44) explores the trails, history, archeology, geology, and plants and wildlife of this scenic and historic park near Ithaca in New York’s Finger Lakes region. It will show on Ithaca, NY’s public access channel 13 this Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m., and again on Tuesday, April 2, at 8:00 p.m. Or, you can watch it right here!
*This video, originally entitled, “Exploring Robert H. Treman State Park,” and part of the Nature Nearby series produced by Tony Ingraham for PEGASYS public access in Ithaca, NY, won first place as the best public access show in Ithaca in 2008.
On March 12, 2013, Buttermilk Creek showed the ambivalence of winter heading toward spring as snow was followed by rain to bring high water to Buttermilk Glen in Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, NY, in the Finger Lakes region. In this short video (less than 3 minutes), watch the swollen creek gain speed and power as it thrashes through the gorge and pounds over waterfalls toward the Cayuga Inlet Valley below.
For ten years, the tour boat/floating classroom MV Haendel has chugged up and down Cayuga Lake revealing the lake’s stories, taking its vital signs, and expanding our awareness of this dominant, beautiful body of water in New York’s Finger Lakes region. I have worked on the Haendel since late in its first season in 2003, mostly as an interpreter of the natural and cultural history of the lake on the boat’s tours out of Cayuga Inlet in Ithaca. The company, Tiohero Tours, has changed its name now to Ithaca Boat Tours, and we look forward to the new season sharing Cayuga’s waters with thousands of visitors, residents, and students.
The MV Haendel heads down Cayuga Inlet toward Cayuga Lake on another tour from the Ithaca Farmers Market.
The other part of the Haendel’s mission is the Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom, where the crew takes school groups, college classes, camp groups, public eco-tours, and scientific monitoring teams out on the water to probe and learn more about what is happening below the surface. Besides teaching thousands about lake science, the Floating Classroom has played a vital role in assessing the health of the lake; most notably in discovering the aggressive, and potentially disastrous, exotic, invasive, aquatic weed hydrilla in Cayuga Inlet, setting off a major institutional and governmental response to try to control and eradicate the infestation.
Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom director Bill Foster instructs a public eco-tour participant during a lake sampling outing.
In this episode (#39, 2/20/13) of Walk in the Park TV (Ithaca, NY public access cable channel 13), I take you on a tour of the major tributaries and subwatersheds of Cayuga Lake, in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Using beautiful aerial photography by Bill Hecht, we visit Cayuga’s Inlet Valley; the Lindsay Parsons Biodiversity Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust; Enfield Glen and Lucifer Falls in Robert H. Treman State Park; Buttermilk Falls State Park; Sixmile Creek Nature Preserve; Cascadilla Gorge; Cornell University; Fall Creek and its gorge and Ithaca Falls; Salmon Creek and Myers Point in Lansing, NY; Taughannock Falls State Park; and the rest of Cayuga Lake including the Seneca River and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Finally, we trace the flow of Cayuga’s waters through the Seneca and Oswego River system to Lake Ontario, the Great Lakes, and the St. Lawrence River. Watch it here!
This show can also be seen on Ithaca’s public access TV channel 13 this Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and next Tuesday, 2/16, at 8:00 p.m.; and at other times the station may decide.
This week’s Walk in the Park TV episode answers the question, “Does Cayuga Lake ever freeze over?” Cayuga Lake is the longest of the eleven Finger Lakes and is the second deepest, with more than 2 1/2 trillion gallons of rolling water that takes ten years to cycle through the lake. Does this enormous volume ever freeze over in winter? Watch this show to find out. Much of this show is an excerpt from an earlier show I recorded two years ago in my series called Cayuga Lake Heritage, which is available online.
The shallow north end of Cayuga Lake usually freezes in winter. Photo by Bill Hecht
This week’s episode (#38) is showing on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable channel 13, continuing this Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. each day, and finally next Tuesday, February 19, at 8:00 p.m. It may be shown at other times as well. (Check the schedule which is often shown briefly just before the hour and half hour.) And you can also see it online right here!
Climbing through a tunnel by the view once known as The Vista in a section of Watkins Glen once called Glen Obscura.
This short tunnel, the third in a sequence of four in all, is in a quiet, shady section of Watkins Glen once called Glen Obscura, and the view was called The Vista in the 1800s. It is just upstream from the “Suspension Bridge.” Back then, the trail did not traverse this section of Watkins Glen, but instead bypassed it on the gorge rim above.
In the 1800s, one had to climb this staircase out of Watkins Glen to the Swiss Cottage, rather than continue under the bridge into what was then called Glen Obscura, as one does today. Back then another path led back into the glen past Glen Obscura. The bridge, then known as the Iron Bridge and now called the Suspension Bridge, remains today, although without the awning. The Swiss Cottage is long gone, as is the building on the left side of this drawing, the Glen Mountain House hotel. Image courtesy of Bill Hecht
In those old days, your detour of Glen Obscura was rewarded by the chance to sit down and order refreshments at the Swiss Cottage (also known as the Swiss Chalet). Today, you have to climb all the way out of the gorge and up to the swimming pool on the South Rim to find Watkins Glen State Park‘s snack bar. But many will agree that the glen is more beautiful without buildings hugging its cliff tops.
Huh? What could such different regions have in common? Well, there are some commonalities, and there are great differences. The two regions are parts of much larger river basins, the Colorado and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence respectively. Both are eroded into ancient sedimentary rock layers. One is arid, and often desert, while the other receives abundant rainfall. One has been drastically altered by glaciation, while the other apparently has not. In this week’s episode (#37) of Walk in the Park TV, we return to the Grand Canyon (following last week’s show, “Walk Across the Grand Canyon“) and look at the bigger picture.
The South Kaibab Trail hugs the base of this cliff near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
After that, in honor of the Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, we take a look at real ravens, including ravens at the Grand Canyon. And finally, we briefly discuss uranium mining at the Grand Canyon.
See it here online, or watch it on Ithaca, NY public access TV channel 13, this Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. each day, or next Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 8:00 p.m., and at other times the station may schedule it until Wednesday, Feb. 13 (check just before the hour and half hour and the day’s cablecast schedule is usually posted briefly).
What’s all this hype about “Groundhog Day” and woodchucks emerging to see their shadows? (Groundhog and woodchuck are the same rodent, Marmota monax.)
A woodchuck hole by Owl Gorge in Buttermilk Falls State Park shows no sign of activity on Groundhog Day.
Well, I’ve been watching my local woodchuck hole in Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca, NY over the years, and there has never been any sign of activity on February 2. Chances are, my neighbor is still asleep with its heart beating about 4 times per minute and with a body temperature maybe around 40 degrees F. Maybe they emerge by this date in southern Pennsylvania where all the fuss originated, but they seem to be still snoozing here in the cold woods of upstate New York.
A groundhog eats during a more benign season. Photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson
Groundhog Day seems to have originated with the Pennsylvania Deutsch. It occurs on the same day as Candlemas, a Christian holiday celebrating an event in the early life of Jesus, the “Presentation of Jesus at the Temple,” when Mary and Joseph took the baby to the Temple in Jerusalem for Mary’s “ritual purification” and “redemption of the first born” according to the Law of Moses.
But Groundhog Day also may have arisen from Pagan festivals regarding the changing of the seasons, such as the Celtic Imbolc, that marked the halfway point between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox and was considered the beginning of spring. Perhaps Candlemas was a Christianization of a Pagan weather holiday, and maybe Groundhog Day is a Pennsylvanification of Candlemas.
In any case, folks, we’re about half way to spring!
Watch my silly 92-second video from February 2, 2011 checking this same woodchuck burrow in Buttermilk Falls State Park:
150 years ago, the gorge in what is now called Watkins Glen State Park was known as Freer’s Glen, at least for awhile. Beginning in 1863, wooden walkways were built into the narrow chasm to pass along cliffs and climb above waterfalls. These were all replaced when the state park was created, beginning in 1906, first with concrete and later with stone structures. Here is a comparison of one of the early pre-park, 19th century wood structures with the stone steps of today, climbing up and around Central Cascade halfway through the glen.
One could only climb past Central Cascade in Watkins Glen via this wooden staircase during the pre-park days in the 19th century. Image courtesy of Bill Hecht
This stone staircase climbs out of a section of Watkins Glen called Glen Cathedral to "Folly Bridge" in the background, above Central Cascade, on the Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park.