Winter’s Walk at the Gorge

I wasn’t altogether sure I was up for a hike today. I’ve been running myself ragged at work and with all my Women Create activities – to the point of being on the verge of a cold.  But, I mustered some energy and met my hiking buddies for a day at the Gorge.


Terry always makes me walk places that scare me.  It’s good for the heart.

We had to hug the wall of the gorge to get past the unusually high water.

Once we got past the scary part there were great photo opps:




We had a little fire to warm our hands and dry our gloves. (I only sort of melted mine.)


All in all, we had a blast… especially the dogs:


The Conewango

Mike wanted to paddle at least one more time before winter. He invited Terry who invited me… Lucky me! Gorgeous blue skies, temps near or above 60.


We put in to the Conewango Creek off Route 62 between Jamestown and Frewsburg. Many thanks to Sarah who helped us with the logistics.


Mike paddled in front, Terry behind. I sat in the middle. (I’m not used to not being in control… it was quite a lesson in patience and trust…)

Lunch Break

This section of the creek is part of Chautauqua County’s Marden Cobb Waterway Trail. We stopped at one of the leanto sites for lunch.


I took way too many pictures of leafless trees reflected in the water.


The Conewango

Not all of the water is this flat. Once you pass the Akeley Bridge, there are several spots where the water runs fast. It made me very nervous. (I don’t have a good track record with boating in general. For example, click–> here.) I put my camera in the dry sack during that part and have no pictures…

Still, everything went well. I didn’t get (too) wet. We didn’t capsize. There were no strange weather changes. Could this be a new era for me and boats?

Gone fishin…

Sunday I took my nephew fishing.  He had never fished in creeks before.  It was a nice, sunny day… but not exactly warm:

Spencer Observes Ice
In the shady corners, ice encased the roots and branches and rock ledges.

The water wasn’t as low as I had hoped it would be.  My usually crossing spots were still a little deep for our footwear.  Still, we managed to make it to a couple of nice pools:

The Edge of a Cliff

Standing on the little rock ledges, feet partially in the water…  a little different than standing on the end of a dock over the lake. 

There were a few nibbles in the creek, but no real hits…  We drove to Westfield – to where the creek dumps into Lake Erie. 

Gorgeous Day for Fishing

 Because more people fish here, we found more artifacts… including a hook that still held bait.  Spencer posed this shot just for fun:

Spencer Catches Enormous Fish

We never caught any fish.  But we did get one amazing fish story out of the day:

After walking all the way down to the beach and never getting more than a nibble, we decided to head for home.  While walking back upstream, we spotted an 18- or 20-inch fish (Steelhead?) in the shallows.  It had flopped up on some gravel and was doing some rather interesting hopping and jumping to try to get back to the deeper water.

I shouted, “Spencer, get your pole!  Look!”

Spencer said, “I’m going to get that one with my bare hands.”  He hesitated only briefly to warn me, “I’ll probably get really wet.”

“Who cares?  You have dry clothes in the car.  Go, Go, GO!”

He ripped off his jacket and headed for the water, which was fairly shallow at this spot in the creek.  He managed to get to the fish pretty quickly and had his hands on it several times… but it was pretty slippery.    It got away, then he caught up with it again, then it slipped away.  Spencer probably ran 100 yards downstream trying to capture that fish. 

And where was my camera?  Right in my pocket…  I was too caught up in the drama to remember to take it out!  What a great video that would have made, though!

Here’s my favorite shot of the day:


Thank you, Spencer!  I can’t think of a better way to spend a gorgeous Easter Sunday!

The Susquehannock Lodge

Trail BookI try to make it an annual event.  Sometimes, though, work gets in the way.  I hadn’t been the last two years.  It was great to get back.  In years past I’ve been with both daughters, or one daughter…  This year, I talked my friend Sue into going.  We both took Friday off and made the 2-hour drive early enough to ski the Ridge Trail before dinner.

No one had done the Ridge Trail in a couple of days.  In those two days there had been a dumping of snow, 15 minutes of rain, and another dumping of snow.  The ice layer that was put down by that rain was not thick enough to hold us up on top of it.  So breaking trail was interesting!  Challenging!  Heart-pumping!  Exhausting!  But we were up for the challenge.

Sue Breaks Trail   Ready to Tackle the Trail
We took turns breaking trail.  Even though we were going mostly downhill, it was still a lot of work.  In some spots, the trench we made was up to our knees!  We were grateful to a gentleman who passed us and broke a small section in the middle of the trail before he turned around to return to the start.  And we were even more grateful to Dave and Allison who were taking a late afternoon run from the Lodge making our last half mile or so smooth sailing.  Other than that, we broke most of the (approximately) 6.5 miles of trail ourselves!

We Made It
Here we are looking pretty proud of ourselves for our accomplishment.  (And I should probably mention that we also broke another 1/2 to 1 mile of trail while we were lost and both secretly wondering where we would hole up if we couldn’t find our way back…  It’s always an adventure…)

The Ridge Trail is such a nice trail…  It starts at the DCNR office, and after an initial incline that we call the Warm-Up Hill, it becomes a gentle descent all the way back to the Susquehannock Lodge where we were staying.  If you can catch a ride up the hill, or carpool so that you have a vehicle at the lodge, it is just ideal.

On Saturday, I cross-country skiied the Ridge Trail again with new friends from the Lodge while Sue went off to Denton Hill State Park to downhill ski.

Warm-up Hill - Herringbone or Side step

Skiing on Saturday was such a delight.  “Groomed” trails (ha ha – thanks to Sue and me!) and absolutely perfect weather conditions made Potter County’s claim to be “God’s Country” seem justified.

STS 01

For some reason, I took no pictures inside the lodge… I wish I had!  Ed and Carol are fantastic hosts at the Susquehannock Lodge.  They fill us with delicious food and provide lovely accomodations at very reasonable prices.  I recommend them heartily!  Check out the link below.

Learn More:

Lolli’s Great Adventure

Chautauqua GorgeousYesterday was a great day for a walk along the Chautauqua Creek.  We carried the snowshoes in, thinking that we might need them for deep snow down in the gorge, but we ended up leaving them near a tree and continuing on with just boots.  There were some spots where we sunk in deep… but for the most part, the crusty layer from the thaw and rain of a couple of days ago kept us up on top of the snow.

We walked in as far as as the great ice wall, then decided to turn back.

Terry and Mozart look for a place to cross.  I did not attempt this...  In the end, neither did they.

On our way back out we paused for a brief rest.  Suddenly, Lolli goes nuts… digging AND barking.


Lolli often digs.  It seems the only time she barks, though, is when she KNOWS she’s got something.  The last time this happened here in the gorge she had a porcupine up a tree.  Today, I’m hoping it isn’t a skunk…

At the other end of the log from where Lolli is digging, I notice fur… and it’s not black and white.  Whew!
Hmm... Now who might this be?

As it struggles through a hole in the snow up over the log, I catch a glimpse of the striped tail and realize it’s a young raccoon… quite small.
Ah ha!  Striped tail... now we know you!

Once it reaches the other side, it looks up at me, quizzically.  It seems confused, but relieved that while I am making a clicking noise with some strange piece of equipment dangling from around my neck, at least I’m not barking.
Through to the other side, Raccoon asks, 'Can't you make your dog stop barking?'

And then it’s off, over the snow at a rapid pace.
And away we go...

Meanwhile, Lolli is still digging… and by now, Mozart is curious enough to join her.  I’m rather surprised that neither of the dogs witnessed the great escape…
Where'd he go?

Lolli seems truly mystified that she can’t find her quarry.
Stumped again!

Better luck next time, puppy dog…  On second thought, may your luck continue to be just about like today.  Poor little raccoon.

The Wilderness Lodge

LASSesBack in October, the LASSes scheduled a hike for today totally forgetting that it would be deer season in both New York and Pennsylvania.  We also didn’t anticipate the amount of snow we have!  So we had to find a place where we could cross country ski and be safe from hunters.

The Wilderness Lodge turned out to be the perfect place.  Located just west of the border between Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, this privately owned land had several miles of groomed trails.  The lodge is cozy and warm and serves wonderful soup, chili, hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, and – of course – ALWAYS:  Chocolate cake.

It was a picture perfect day.

Gorgeous Snow!

Perfect Day

Concetta   Emily on Skis

SueHere is where there should be a picture of me, except I forgot to hand the camera to someone else to take my picture… I also forgot to take pictures inside the lodge. But if you click here, you can go to the Wilderness Lodge website and see one.




A 24-hour Adventure

My nephews weren’t able to fit Audubon Day Camp into their schedules this summer, so, I promised them a backpacking trip.  All of the sudden, the summer was winding down and I realized I hadn’t made good on this promise, so…  Last Thursday and Friday we managed to find enough time for a whirlwind adventure.

Trailhead on Burnham RoadThe Earl Cardot Eastside Overland Trail is part of the Chautauqua County Parks system of trails.  For some reason, there is a short section just over half a mile in length that is not connected to the main trail.  It ends at the Canadaway Creek at a nice little lean-to camping site.  I thought this would be just the ticket:  not too much walking, leaving plenty of time for camp fun. (Plus, we wouldn’t have to carry tents and I’m all for cutting down the weight – especially for first-time backpackers!)

The hike is fairly level most of the way…  except for a brief section of much steepness… which, thankfully, is fitted with rugged stairs and a hand rail for part of the way.

Caution - Steep Hill

What kind of camp fun did we have?  Oh, the usual:

Make a fire:
Perfect Coals

Eat hotdogs while drying socks next to the fire:

Play Rummy:

Explore in the creek:
Practicing for Rock-Flipping Day

Get acquainted with wildlife:
One of Spencer's Many Toads

Chris and Monarch

 These and more pictures can be found at

Just before heading up the hill to return the boys to their mother, Spencer said, “This is the most fun I had all summer!”  I guess we had better do some more of this!

We survived! Adrean brought Sasha along when she came to pick up the boys. She (Adrean, not the dog!) took this picture:
We Survivied

Next time: two nights?  And bring the dogs?

September 24-30 is “Take a Child Outside Week”.  Make your plans now to take a child on some sort of outdoor adventure, even if it is just a short walk around the block!!  Learn more at