Saturday, September 4, 2010

Letchworth State Park - Tuesday, August 24 to Saturday August 28, 2010

I don't know why, but it takes us until 4pm before we are able to leave home for our second trailer venture which is to the Finger Lakes Region in New York State.  First four days at Letchworth State Park and then four days at Watkins Glen State Park at the southern tip of Seneca Lake.

Because we are leaving so late, we expect a lot of traffic in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, the border crossing in Fort Erie and Buffalo, but there is none.  Where is everybody?  We zip through everywhere, including the Peace Bridge border crossing where there is zero wait!  Maybe dinner time is the best time to cross!  We don't even have to undergo much of an inspection other than the Customs official stepping into the trailer for a quick look.  Interestingly, crossing with a cat doesn't even require showing a rabies vaccination certificate, which I am carrying with us just in case and because the State Parks do require this.

Grady is a bit better on this ride down. Perhaps he knows better what to expect.  We travel across I-90 and exit at Batavia because Brad wants to shop for certain cereals and cookies that he can only get in the US.  I don't know how I live with this man!  Grady and I wait in the truck because the cat has passed out on my lap and he sleeps for the HOUR that Brad shops.

When we finally arrive at Letchworth State Park, it is dark and there is still the trailer to level and water tank to fill.  Now for those of you who read my previous blog about our trip up north, you'll recall our trouble with the fridge.  We did get it fixed at the dealer last weekend.  So we plug in here to a 50 amp service and the fridge LED shows an error message!  Says there's a problem with the current or the fuse.  Fuses are fine, we're plugged in okay and we have lights, so what the hell?  The fridge ran fine at home before we left.  We're so tired (it's now almost 11pm) that we just switch the fridge over to propane and decide to go to bed.

However, Brad decides it's also getting cold and gets his little electrical heater out of the storage compartment.  He plugs it in and it doesn't work either!  Okay, now we're fed up AND tired, so we just go to bed.

In the morning I'm trying to make coffee, but the coffee maker won't work.  The hair blower doesn't work - none of the electrical outlets work, but yet none of the fuses in the panel have tripped.  (This should be a clue, but it isn't yet!)  So I start reading the trailer manual and how we should have made sure to ground the electrical cable before plugging in to the electrical panel box outside.  Brad goes outside to the power box and calls back in to me "I found the problem!  Does the coffee maker work now?"  I check and it does.  I switch the fridge back over to electrical and it works too!  Turns out that there is a breaker on the power box outside and it was off.  We didn't see this in the dark last night.  So electrical problem solved.  I realize too that the lights were working off of the batteries last night.  It really fooled us.  So much to learn!

During our stay at Letchworth, we hike or cycle four different trails:

#1, the Gorge Trail from Inspiration Point to see the Middle and Upper Falls.  Both are very pretty and the gorge itself is incredibly deep - almost 600 feet!  They call it the Grand Canyon of the east and I can see why.  Too bad a lot of this trail is along the roadway, although there are very few visitors in the park at this time of year so it's pretty quiet.
Letchworth State Park, Middle Falls with Rainbow
Brad at Letchworth State Park, Upper Falls

#1, the Gorge Trail from the south swimming pool parking lot to the Lower Falls which is spectacular.
Letchworth State Park, Lower Falls

#5, Lee's Landing also from the south swimming pool parking lot and the only trail that actually goes down to the Genesee River.  You are not allowed to swim in this river anywhere in the park, so the park has two pools (the one in the north part of the park is closed this year).  There are the three waterfalls and a lot of rapids along the river making swimming too dangerous; although the river doesn't seem to be very deep.  The top part of the trail is quite steep, about a 500 foot drop down a windy, gravel road.  At the bottom is a rocky beach with small rapids and a beautiful view up and down the river.  We realize half way down the hill that we forgot the camera in the truck (duh!).  The ride back up is a lot more difficult than the ride down, and I must admit I succumb to walking my bike up the steep part of the trail.  Brad is in better shape and makes it all the way to the top on his bike.  What a hero!

#6A, the Footbridge Trail, which crosses the river just below the Lower Falls.

#7, the Genesee Greenway Trail which is on the other side of the river.  This should provide us with a different view of the Middle and Upper Falls.  We have to exit the park at the Portageville exit at the very south end of the park and re-enter near the Parade Grounds Entrance.  Here we pick up the trail and are fortunate enough to cross paths with three women on horseback taking the trail going in the opposite direction from the road.  The horses are beautiful.  One is silver, one is patched brown and white and the other is chestnut.  The chestnut one practically walks right up to me.  Her rider says, "She loves people."  Her name is Cassy and she's an Arabian.  She also loves to lead, so is anxious to get going instead of waiting for me to pet her as the silver horse is getting away.  Off they go.

This trail is also part of the Finger Lakes Trail.  We cycle towards the Middle Falls, with the gorge and river on our right.  There are several paths to the gorge edge - with no guard rails, ropes, fences - nothing to protect anyone from falling over the cliff edge, and it's a straight drop down about 500 feet!  But the views are spectacular!  Photos say it all.  And yes, that's me wearing a helmet!

Marilyn biking the Genesee Greenway Trail - it's a one-way trip straight down!
Hardly anyone else is hiking this trail.  We see only two other couples and one family during our three hour hike.  At one point we abandon our bikes because the trail gets really rough and muddy.  Unfortunately, after about 1/2 a kilometer, the trail becomes flat and groomed again, but it's too late, so we just continue to hike.  The woods are beautiful - tall, tall trees, spaced far apart with little undergrowth.  Apparently the woods were cut down in 1842 to build a wooden railway bridge across the river and at the time it was the highest in the world.  Unfortunately, it burned down and was replaced with a steel bridge in 1875.  This structure still stands today.

At the Upper Falls, we are able to walk out onto a footbridge underneath the railway bridge.  From this vantage point, we are above the falls and the view is amazing, with a rainbow in the mist.
Brad on the railway bridge at the Upper Falls, Letchworth State Park

On the hike back, we see a beaver in his lodge.  We knew there was a beaver at work here as the evidence was all around - a dammed pond, trees cut by beaver teeth, and a couple of lodge-like features right along the path.  I look inside the wooden structures and in the last one, there is the beaver.  He doesn't cooperate very well for us to get a good photo.  In the next shallow pond, there is a turtle, possibly a snapper but it is hard to tell.  Other than that, there isn't much wildlife visible other than the odd chipmunk and squirrel.  There aren't even a lot of birds singing and the weather isn't too hot although beautifully sunny today.

One thing that is notable about this park is that there are a lot of picnic areas with large open grass fields which are great for family picnics - playing soccer or football, or just throwing a ball around.  The park is very well kept, the grass is nicely cut and trimmed everywhere.  There are a lot of concession stands and washroom facilities.  There are no bike paths though; you must share the road and there aren't really any shoulders for bikes to ride on.  Also, the campgrounds are 9 or 10 miles away from the majority of good hiking trails, so you generally have to drive to them daily, unless you're in really good shape and want to take your life into your hands and ride on the park road.  There are 28 hiking trails in the park overall, with 14 you can ride your bike on, including the Finger Lakes Trail which is part of a longer trail system.  Some trails also allow horses.  The park itself is huge, 14,350 acres along the Genesee River, and is just 35 miles south of Rochester, New York.

We run out of time to hike or cycle, but drive into the north end of the park where the "Hogsback" trail and the Mt. Morris Dam are.  The vista near the dam is the best - we can see the dam itself and quite a way upriver as well as a bit of the valley below.  There is actually very little water behind the dam and it's hard to believe it's necessary, but someone at the Visitor's Centre said the water is low right now.  We are about 400 feet above the river, and I spot two deer at the river's edge quite a way upriver from the dam.  At first I think they are mother and fawn, but then one of the deer swims across the river and then seemingly plays on the other side, running happily up and down the river's edge.  About five minutes later we see the doe on our side with a fawn, so perhaps she chased the other deer to cross the river to keep her fawn safe.

Once again, Grady is very content spending time in the trailer, although his most active time seems to be at dawn when he spends about 1/2 hour running from end to end inside the trailer and across the bed, making as much noise as possible.  Brad says Grady is the only one who can get away with waking me up that early, because he's so darn cute!  Fortunately we all go back to sleep for a couple of hours as us older folk need our rest.

The nights have been very cold since we've been here; in fact we've had to run our heater early in the morning and snuggle under all the blankets at night.  And a few of the trees are starting to change colour, a sure sign that fall is on the way.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos - you should publish a book - and great helmet shot!