hiking

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Following My Bliss: Barnes Creek Falls

Published August 11, 2013 by Susan Woodward

I woke up this morning with the decision to go for a waterfall hike already made up in my mind.   It wasn’t even like, “What shall I do today?”… it was already a given that I was going to seek a new waterfall somewhere!  So I picked up my phone and went to my All Trails Hiking App and decided to hit Barnes Creek Falls near Canandaigua Lake.

fallsWhen I first found the park, I wasn’t sure there’s even BE a waterfall based on the condition of the creek.  It was merely a trickle and didn’t seem to be enough water to have come from a waterfall of any sort.  I thought it was all dried up and would be nothing but a rock bed, and I nearly turned around to seek another place to hike.  Considering I’d driven nearly an hour to get there, I decided to keep moving forward and hope for the best.

I am so glad that I did!  Although it wasn’t a “raging” falls, there was enough water coming down to make it pretty and even refreshing to wade in the pool at the bottom.

What most caught my eye was the yellow rope that someone had attached to a tree to aid in climbing up the falls.  Hmmm….did I dare to try it?  In spite of what this picture looks like, it actually was a pretty steep ascent.  I worried a bit about my elbow (tendonitis which has not yet healed), but I figured that since I’d bothered to drive out there, I was going to try anyway.  There happened to be a family that had also followed the trickle to find the waterfall, so the Dad was there to dial 911 in the event I fell!  He agreed to keep his cell phone handy till I was either safely at the top or had safely returned to the pool.

I was surprised to find that climbing with the rope didn’t hurt my arm; that was a good sign to keep going.  Once I got past where the rope ended, I had to continue on the rock formations that kind of looked like steps…I whipped out my camera to snap a picture from where I was at the end of my rope (ha! ha!) to mark how high I’d climbed so far.  I kept falls 4going up the “steps,” but I didn’t realize how steep they were until my water shoes started slipping on the rocks while I was climbing.  I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to continue upwards (there was nothing to hold onto and I was leery about the lack of traction on my shoes).

That’s when I looked down.

Not a good move.

Looking downThat’s when I froze for a bit.  You can see from looking at the rocks how smooth they are, and even though I wasn’t going to fall from a height akin to Niagara Falls, those rocks could have done some serious damage if I wasn’t careful.

I just told myself that I’d managed to climb up there, so I could get down, too.  I had to find my footholds carefully because the more nervous I got, the slipperier the rocks seemed to become.   When I finally got back to the rope, I was so happy!  It made me feel secure, and I cannot believe how much I was able to lean out away from the rock wall when I was climbing using that rope.   I felt my aerial experiences helping me out at that time!!  🙂  Thanks, Will D’Ovidio!

falls 3

This was my view once I finally got back to the safety of the pool!

Canadaigua Lake

As I exited from the creek bed and began my ascent up the hills nearby, this was a view of Canandaigua Lake.   One of my goals is to visit the wineries throughout the Finger Lakes and do some sampling on a wine tour!  That is bliss for another day!

Lookout point

I continued along the upper trails above the creek and falls… this is one of the lookout posts.

It was a gorgeous day for a hike, and I am so glad that I woke up with that in mind!  🙂

 

 

 

Following My Bliss: Nature Meditations Pt 2 (Corbett’s Glen Park)

Published July 26, 2013 by Susan Woodward

100_0615After leaving Tinker Park, I headed to Corbett’s Glen Park… this little gem that is actually alongside the 490 expressway!  The cement wall blocks out the traffic sound, and as I walk along the creek, I swear I am more in Letchworth State Park than in Penfield!

Considering that it seems as if I was entering another realm, I decided to mythologize the experience (why not?).

Before actually getting to the nature trail, you have to walk through this tunnel.  There is a GORGEOUS farm house on the other side just along the trail, and it’s like entering another world.  I considered going through here as crossing the threshold.  I had to step aside as the threshold guardians came through (in a truck…maintenance folks who had been cleaning up the trails).

100_0616This is the view once I have crossed the threshold and entered the new realm.  Almost instantly the traffic noise from the nearby highway disappeared and all I really could hear was the waterfall.  It added to the feeling that I’d left Rochester and found my way into a mystical place.  Does the shape of this opening not look like a keyhole?

I turned toward the farm house to admire its beauty and envy its location, and then i turned toward the path along the creek.  After walking in the direct sun through the labyrinth, hiking in the cool shade of the trees along the water was refreshing.

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The creek had several lovely little waterfalls that were absolutely musical.

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I made a point of sitting and listening to the music of each of these falls.  Fortunately, there were very few people out that day, so I pretty much had the creek to myself when I wanted to sit.

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At one point, I realized that I had stones in my shoes, so I decided to put my feet in the running water to cleanse them.  While I was soaking my toes, I thought about the walk through the labyrinth, especially my meditation about the weeds.  I also noticed bits of those weeds had stuck in my sandals.  This was a perfect time to wash those last bits of things that no longer serve me away!  The water was clear and cool, and even though I only put my feet in, my whole body felt refreshed!

100_0636Like the totem of the duck that I’d thought about from the labyrinth, I was also on the lookout for a totem from my walk.   I sat with my feet in the water and asked any creatures who wanted to come to me to do so.

When I went back to my walk, I noticed a large dragonfly buzz past me.  I asked if I could take his picture, and he very obligingly landed on a nearby leaf!  He even let me take a few shots so as to get a decent one!

I asked him to open his wings, but I guess I was to be content with him simply taking a seat on the leaf for me.  As a matter of fact, I found an entire group of dragonflies (I wonder what that’s called?)  In any case, I’d never seen more that one at a time in my whole life, and here I was seeing more than half a dozen all in one place!

Of course, I had to look up his meaning!

Symbolisms of the Dragonfly

 

  • Maturity and a Depth of character
    The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.

    The traditional association of Dragonflies with water also gives rise to this meaning to this amazing insect. The Dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water represents an act of going beyond what’s on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life.

 

  • Power and Poise
    The dragonfly’s agile flight and its ability to move in all six directions exude a sense of power and poise – something that comes only with age and maturity.
    The dragonfly can move at an amazing 45 miles an hour,  hover like a helicopter fly backwards like a hummingbird, fly straight up, down and on either side. What is mind blowing is the fact that it can do this while flapping its wings a mere 30 times a minute while mosquitoes and houseflies need to flap their wings 600 and 1000 times a minute respectively.

    The awe inspiring aspect is how the dragonfly accomplishes its objectives with utmost simplicity, effectiveness and well, if you look at proportions, with 20 times as much power in each of its wing strokes when compared to the other insects.  The best part is that the dragonfly does it with elegance and grace that can be compared to a veteran ballet dancer. If this is not a brazen, lazy, overkill in terms of display of raw power, what is?

 

  • Defeat of Self Created Illusions
    The dragonfly exhibits iridescence both on its wings as well as on its body. Iridescence is the property of an object to show itself in different colors depending on the angle and polarization of light falling on it.

    This property is seen and believed as the end of one’s self created illusions and a clear vision into the realities of life. The magical property of iridescence is also associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self discovery and removal of inhibitions.

 

  • Focus on living ‘IN’ the moment
    The dragonfly normally lives most of its life as a nymph or an immature. It flies only for a fraction of its life and usually not more than a few months. This adult dragonfly does it all in these few months and leaves nothing to be desired. This style of life symbolizes and exemplifies the virtue of living IN the moment and living life to the fullest. By living in the moment you are aware of who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you want, what you don’t and make informed choices on a moment-to-moment basis.

    This ability lets you live your life without regrets like the great dragonfly.

 

  • The opening of one’s eyes
    The eyes of the dragonfly are one of the most amazing and awe inspiring sights. Given almost 80% of the insect’s brain power is dedicated to its sight and the fact that it can see in all 360 degrees around it, it symbolizes the uninhibited vision of the mind and the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self. It also in a manner of speaking symbolizes a man/woman’s rising from materialism to be able to see beyond the mundane into the vastness that is really our Universe, and our own minds.

Okay!  So that is definitely food for thought!  And it is appropriate for me on so many levels…and I am feeling blessed to have not only seen them this day, but was able to take a keepsake along with me afterward.  That’s my boon from this place.

As I was returning, I decided to try to be artsy as I reached the threshold once more:

100_0639The leaves symbolize life, and the tendrils are growth.  There is a light awaiting me on the other side of the threshold, and the waterfall is singing goodbye for now.

100_0644Once I got on the other side once more, I asked if there were any last minute creatures who wanted to be photographed, and this guy landed near me.

He’s so cute, how could I resist?  And since he wanted to stop by, he must have had a reason, so I looked up his totem as well:

Blue jays are talkative creatures utilizing a wide range of vocalizations to express their opinions. Indeed, their speech abilities are so advanced, that they are able to mimic other birds and even humans. Blue jay’s have been known to mimic hawk calls as a ploy to lure these birds of prey away from jay’s nests.

 

Likewise, those with the blue jay as their totem are quite loquacious and have the gift of gab. Common vocations of those with the blue jay as their totem are sales people, lawyers, politicians, public speakers, and teachers.

Interesting.  Click on his picture for more because there certainly is!   I certainly felt that I had been given many gifts today, and it wasn’t even noon yet.  I felt that in order to complete the journey of the day, I needed to visit a second labyrinth.

On to First Unitarian Church!

Following My Bliss: Exploring the Varied Terrain of Acadia National Park

Published July 14, 2013 by Susan Woodward

I have been taking time following my bliss of doing nothing for the past few days…and liking it!  But I do want to share my Acadia adventure up a mountain, down to the seashore, and into a forest around a pond.  Such diverse terrains on one island!

Welcome to Acadia National Park (click on the pic for a link)!acadia-map

It took me several hours to get from Moody Beach to the Bar Harbor and Acadia region, and because I didn’t take the coastal route, it wasn’t as pretty.  I took 295 and then 95 north, and it was just highway driving.  But I’d left at 5:30 AM to get an early start, so that wasn’t too bad.

I originally wanted to stay in Bar Harbor, but when I finally found the place, it was crawling with people for the 4th of July…craft show included.  And my car literally crawled through there amidst the other crazies who dared to drive down those roads, even before noon!  Actually, I am happy simply being able to say that I passed through Bar Harbor and leave it at that.

Not stopping in Bar Harbor allowed me to go straight to the part right then and there, and I am so glad that I did!  I first found the Wild Gardens of Acadia.

100_0353After walking the paths through the gardens for a bit, I was beginning to feel adventurous.  The man in the Nature Center told me about a challenging hiking path that led up Dorr Mountain behind the Sieur de Monts Spring House.  Feeling up to the challenge, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Acadia Hike 1I am so very glad that I brought my hot pink running shoes!  My sandals never would have made it!

At first the hike started out pretty neutral, and I was feeling pretty darned confident that this was going to be a walk in the park (ha ha).

Walking though the woods was so much cooler than the humid, blistering 96 degrees in the sun, and the trail seemed so tame.

Acadia Hike 2Now doesn’t that look gentle to you?  I thought so…till the steps became steeper and steeper, and steeper!  I was wishing that in some past life I’d been a mountain goat just to climb some of those steps.  I have not been as glad to have quit smoking as I was during that hike!  Turning around did cross my mind, albeit briefly.  I wanted a challenge, and I was going to rise to it no matter what!  In the future, though, I think I will make sure that I am hiking with someone else…just in case.  These are just the pictures going UP!

Acadia Hike 3 Acadia Hike 4 Acadia Hike 5 Acadia Hike 6 Acadia Hike 7I was very glad to have a water bottle, good shoes, and to have been working out.  I was also glad to have my cell phone just in case.  Once I finally made it to the trail that would cut across (I didn’t go all the way to the top, but darned close), I had to laugh and take a picture of the sign:

Acadia Hike 8 HomanI had to call my daughter, Robin Homan, to tell her that I was on their hiking trail!  According to the link, this trail was closed for a time due to earthquakes!

Here’s a view from as close to the top as I got:

Acadia View 2

Acadia View 1

Acadia LedgeSee that ledge?  It’s not as wide as it looks.  This was where I was telling myself that my next mountain climbing extravaganza will include another person.  Doing this solo wasn’t the smartest move…but I did have my cell phone.

Acadia Hike 14 Acadia Hike 12 Acadia Hike 11 Acadia Hike 13And then I finally made it down!  I was COVERED in sweat and glistening like I’d just been oiled (except for the red face and hard breathing, it might have been attractive to some mountain man…).  The first thing I asked the park ranger was for directions to the nearest beach!  I needed to cool off, pronto!

Parking at the beach was not the easiest thing…after all, several hundred other people thought that going to the beach on the 4th of July was a good idea.  I had another hike along another trail just to get to the beach from where I had to park my car.

Acadia Sandy Beach 1

Acadia Sandy Beach 2

Acadia Sandy Beach 3

This is me trying to be artistic.  I managed to get a flying gull in there within the “frame.”

Acadia Sandy Beach 5The water was very cold and a dark, almost black seaweed lined the shore.  Because I was carrying my camera and didn’t want to put anything down while I took a total plunge, I contented myself with wading in the 50+ degree water.  I certainly cooled off in a hurry!  And I splashed myself with water as well.

Acadia Sandy Beach 4This cool cave was at the far end of the beach.

Well, after my beach excursion, I decided to head toward Jordan Pond.  Hey, I’d seen Homan’s Path, right?  Well, Jojo needed to have her place on my trip!  So off to the next type of terrain.

Acadia Jordan Pond 1I was told they serve tea and scones at this restaurant.  I won’t know on this trip…there was a two hour wait!  (4th of July thing…)

Acadia Jordan Pond 2I did sneak upstairs to the closed-off area to take a quick pic.

Acadia Jordan Pond3Even the outdoor seating had a waiting list, so I decided to take a hike along the trail.

Acadia Jordan Pond 5In order to avoid disturbing the natural environment, hikers are asked to stay on the boardwalk.  This thing goes on for what must be miles!  I’d like to know who split all these logs and placed them, LEVEL, all along this “pond” (which, by the way, is larger than some of the smaller Finger Lakes).  Passing folks who were coming from the other direction while still remaining on the boardwalk was a challenge!

Acadia Jordan Pond 4Three terrains: mountain, seashore, forest/pond.  I feel like I traveled to three different places miles and miles away from each other, and yet I was on one island.

How awesome is that?

Following My Bliss: Stoney Brook Park

Published July 2, 2013 by Susan Woodward

100_0291“The point is that when I see a sunset or a waterfall or something, for a split second it’s so great, because for a little bit I’m out of my brain, and it’s got nothing to do with me.  I’m not trying to figure it out, you know what I mean?  And I wonder if I can somehow find a way to maintain that mind stillness.”  — Chris Evans

That’s me walking into the waterfall at Stoney Brook Park in Dansville, New York (click on the pic for park info).  From where I stood in the water looking up, it was a complete moment of awe and, yes, bliss. As I got closer and it washed over me like the most powerful shower imaginable, I felt the stress of the end of the school year being pounded out of me.   At that moment, nothing else mattered.

Another trip I took this week as part of my Follow My Bliss campaign was with my daughter, Illy and my granddaughter, Jordan.  I had taken all the kids when they were younger, but this was Jojo’s first time, and it was exciting to see her eyes get big as we rounded the bends while hiking the creek and came upon larger waterfalls each time.

100_0269This was the beginning of our journey just as we were getting ready to enter the creek and approach each waterfall right from the water itself.

The first waterfall was relatively small, and she practically skipped up it.

100_0276Illy had to carry Jojo at this point because she was afraid of the rushing water as the falls got bigger and bigger.

100_0281She was starting to get a little braver by this point, but as she got closer, she turned away from her mom and ran back to shore with me.

100_0288I loved the sound of the water rushing over the rocks.

100_0299Three generations of women simply enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer…

100_0293…and leaving a temporary mark on the site that was immortalized by my camera.

100_0302The final waterfall at the end of the trail…and look what I see:

Pride Rock CollageI just couldn’t resist.

100_0309And I just want to point out that I climbed these stairs with no huffing, puffing, gasping, or stopping because I am NOT SMOKING!!  I simply walked up them right to the top as if walking up a regular flight of stairs.  And when I came down later, I was able to walk down with one foot right after the other instead of stepping down with my right foot each time and bringing my left next to it.  That’s how I came down all stairs for years after I injured my knee.  Now with all the exercise I am doing, my legs are strong enough for climbing!

That is blissful.

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