Last Wednesday, July 4th and it being a holiday, we decided to go for a walk. The plan was to leave early, drive to the local nature center, have a picnic breakfast – sweet rolls, deviled eggs, a fruit salad topped off with coffee and Bloody Mary’s. Well, that didn’t happen. We left early – about 7:30 am. Stopped at a local grocery store for coffee and donuts and then drove to the nature center. It was closed. It would open later in the morning. What to do? What to do? Back down the road there was a turn off to the Wesley Hill Nature Preserve. No hours posted, no requests for donations – just a very small area to park and a sign with a map of the trails. The trails start gently down hill through a wood of hemlocks and hickories. White-tailed deer must wander in and out of the woods as there is very little undergrowth vegetation. No under story trees and only a few tulip tree saplings.
We can hear the wind in the branches above us, but as we walk the air is calm and warm. We walk out into an area of tall grasses and sedge – a small pond is to the right with a sign posted “No Swimming”. We continue round past the pond and return to the woods, each step taking us further down hill.
The forest reflects our lack of rain this summer. The ground is dry and the grasses and ferns are sparse. We cross Brigg’s Gully. It is dry. With the temperature increasing, I begin to wonder if we should turn around and return to the truck. As I tried to figure out how to say this to my husband, without sounding like a wimp or just whiny, we arrived at a small cabin. The turquoise windows stare at us from underneath wispy green bangs. It was a nice spot to catch our breath and figure out what trail to take.
Wesley Hill Nature Preserve is owned by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. For another commentary on the hiking trails when the weather is a bit more normal, check out this blog entry at Finger Lakes Summer.