Thursday, June 15, 2017

Waterfall/Gorge Weekend: Buttermilk & Robert Treman.

Buttermilk Falls & Robert Treman State Park
Ithaca, NY
June 9-11th 2017

Immediately following my staff day at work I rushed home to meet up with the husband for a weekend camping in Ithaca NY.
We had reserved a cabin in the Buttermilk park and took the 1 hour plus drive south to the Finger Lakes area with the dogs in tow. Rush hour traffic and a shedding dog made for a long uncomfortable ride. (There was dog hair everywhere.) but once we arrived it was all worth it.

We were to spend the next 48 hours in cabin #2. These no frill cabins were just what I needed. By the looks of them they had been survivors of years past. Nothing like those caramel colored cabins/kabins set in the woods of places like the KOA or Jellystone. These cabins were made for "real" outdoors-men.More like a shack with electricity,  But I simply loved it.

 This was actually larger then some of those cabins we stayed in at those KOAs and Jellystones. We don't really need those types of campgrounds anymore...sadly now that the kids are older, we don't actually need to seek out a jumpy pillow or banana bikes.
This place was perfect for two "older" adults and two dogs ready for the outdoors.
Inside there were four metal twin beds, three bookshelves and a refrigerator. Everything we needed. I pushed two of the twins together (we did not bring the proper bedding for solo sleeping.)

Set up went pretty quickly, In addition to the shelter, the area has a metal grill, a campfire ring with the fold over grate (The reason why Speghettos were a part of my earlier camping days. A pot or the can works well over those grates for cooking.)
and a picnic table. No awning necessary as the trees sheltered well enough,

Once unpacked we scoped out the campgrounds.
We greeted many of the neighbors with a smile and a wave. Several people commented on the dogs. Made our way to the center where the restrooms and bath house are located and I spotted resting in the woods. This lovely.

 She did not stay rested long, and as I offered Mark Peanut to better approach her, he however began to walk with me...That was it...she was off..."I gave you the leash so I could get closer without the dogs....geeze" Oh well.....

The campgrounds were pretty quiet overall. Several tents scattered the area and there was one trailer, a small pull behind. I would imagine it would be difficult to get anything to big up here, We saw many of those one person tents. They look more like a sleeping bag with a stick in the middle to hold it up. This is definitely a campground for the outdoors-men. "Granola lovers" per Mark. I say there is nothing wrong with that.
We also saw about a dozen of these newly built cabins. Although they looked lovely but I felt they looked out of  place standing along side the trees and green leaves.  From what we could see peering through the window, there are three builtin bunks and a full bed inside.
 I put a tablecloth on the picnic table,  had a little tuna salad for dinner (no speghettos  this time.) and some cocktails and I was set for the first night,
(Definitely not what I would have expected to see in this park. We never did find out anything about these new builds and they were not open for this season. I'm sure they will be full soon.)

Saturday morning we were up early. Mark made a run into Ithaca, (which is not to far from the park) for coffee, With a little coffee and the morning sun, we made our way down to the Park's main gate and started hike #1 for the day. A trip along the Buttermilk falls Gorge,

Just adjacent to the parks check in booth is a pleasant area at the base of the falls. This is the only falls that you can see the waterfalls before you begin any trail. 

Although there was no swimming today or any swimming while we visited. the falls enter into a pool that is designated for swimming. When I was younger I went swimming here. There was also a bridge one could cross here. It is no longer passable.

The gorge and the rim (the trail we returned on) were labeled to be 3/4th of a mile. We also hike the Bear trail and back (noted to be 3/4th of a mile each way.) Perhaps not many miles...but there are definitely many stairs and lots of up hill climbing, It is a little intimidating,

Once you make your way up the first few flights of stairs the trail becomes magical. (pictured below is the view of the park entrance.

The hike was 90% up hill along the gorge, but despite the uphill push, the views were incredible.

We didn't count the number of waterfalls and I did not note the number in the literature, but there were several.
I loved the colors formed from the running water and green moss as it clung to the slippery rocks.

When I was a kid and camped here with my friend and mom, we found a nice area like this and took a dip in the nature made pool. There were signs noting no swimming. I'm not sure I would have risked it even if there were no signs today, but I am sure that that cool water would have been lovely.

Here was one of the areas where you could actually get into the water (no swimming remember), Perhaps if it was just a little warmer and I had some nice water shoes I might have taken a stroll over to the falls and had a shower.

The greens were incredible.

This has to be one of my favorite pictures of the gorge. I tried to get those shots like you see in the frames of waterfalls by professionals.  I simply do not know what I am doing. I pretty much leave the setting on auto and shoot. Someday I WILL take a photography class!
I still think most of them came out nearly as beautiful as the scene itself.
We walked along the entire gorge and there was flowing water all the way down. The last time I had hiked this trail (I believe when I was pregnant with my youngest 15 years ago) the gorge was nearly water free. The spring rains have made this gorge full of rushing water and green shrubbery,
The Buttermilk falls gorge like most of the Finger lake area falls was created by ice melting thousands of years ago. Below is pinnacle rock.
Once we completed the Gorge trail we headed to Bear trail. The path no longer ran along the gorge but the mouth of the creek that fed those falls could be viewed through the lush woods.
I caught the sight of this little guy even before the canine crew did. Lucky for me I was able to get a picture.

Without the telephoto lens I could only get a long distant shot of these two ducks enjoying the creek. One male and one female. They were enjoying the morning sun. 

After a return back on the Bear trail we stopped at the upper area of Buttermilk park for a bathroom break and water for the pups. We only saw a few people on any of the trails. We decided it must be the early hours because later that day the parking area was filled and people were everywhere. 
 We returned on the rim trail. Which was not nearly as exciting as the gorge trail, but nice and peaceful.
Riley spotted this little guy who did not want anything to do with us. I quickly took a few camera shots before he slithered away. We some how missed the correct trail and found ourselves a bit away from the intended trail, but made our way back to the awaiting truck to see the parking lot was beginning to fill up.

It was still early, but we all needed a break and decided to return to camp refresh and take on the other park after some lunch.

The afternoon was a trip to Robert Treman State Park. Our camping pass offered admission to all of the local area parks. I also have a park pass, but it was not on the truck. I am not sure if you can pay admission to one and  go to all, but it was nice that we did not have to pay the $8- admission fee.

Robert Treman State park is just a mile or so from Buttermilk heading away from Ithaca. This park also offers camping, swimming and a ton of trails. Based upon the parking lot and the people, this appears to be the preferred park of the two. There is also a large camping area  which  seemed it can accommodate RV's. I did not investigate on the subject but there were a few in the camping area and tons upon tons of tents spread out on the grassy field. (I personally do not prefer camping like this.) If I wanted to camp in an open field area then I could easily pop my tent in my back yard. To me the whole idea of camping is being IN THE WOODS. There also are cabins.

I was not sure what park had this roadway that went over the creek, but I was thrilled to locate it at RT park. When I was a child I remembered thinking this was the coolest thing ever. If I recall I had come for some picnic my parents were involved with and spent most of my time playing in this area searching for salamanders and wading in the cool waters. NO WADING  NO SWIMMING signs planked the road. I wonder what kids do now a days?

Picture of the roadway running over the creek.
With no plan, Mark and I began walking in the direction I recalled being the trail. We found we were headed for a direct UP HILL climb to a nearly three mile hike and decided that we were NOT interested in beginning our afternoon with this type of hike. So we searched for a more level trail.
Ahha! This looks more like a passive trail.
In fact, this is the trail leading to the swimming area. Picnic tables and shaded trees plank this walkway as you over hear the babbling of the creek running along side. It is definitely a nice area for a picnic.  Although there were very few people doing this. We continued on the short paved trail and found yet another sign. NO PETS! This was incredibly discouraging. I understand that people want an area where they can enjoy swimming, but what harm does a dog really do? I also understand if you do not want the dog to go in the water, but if your a responsible dog owner you keep them leashed, clean up after their messes and keep them behaved what harm is it to sit with your pet on the grass?
Mark and I took turns on the trail ahead getting a glimpse at the NO PET area before turning around.

The swimming area is very nice and it looks like lots of fun. Notice that there is no one actually in the water. Must be just a tad bit chilly. I do remember swimming here once many years ago, There was a diving board right next to the falls back then. It seems the diving board is gone and the area is roped off. So many rules. What ever happened to good old FUN?

Although neither Mark or I had planned on swimming, it would have been a nice option had we wanted to. Having the pups made that choice impossible. The water did look refreshing. Instead we headed back towards the entrance and found the trail routes for some decision making. The park hosts several trails. Both the main trails from the lower park stretched for about 2 miles. We decided that it may make better sense to drive to the upper park as I wanted to view Lucifer Falls, but neither of us were looking to hike over five miles to do so. (the trail up-the falls loop-and the return trail.) 
Instead we took the truck up to the upper park and worked our way along the cliff overlook trails. (a much shorter distance.)

The trail lead to the Gorge trail which was a nice incline running along the Gorge.

Like the earlier Gorge the water was flowing beautifully over the slate rocks. The views were incredible.
We continued along the Gorge...and was Gorgeous!!

As we continued along the trail there became more and more people. This was certainty not a solitude hike like we had earlier in the day.

We traveled through bends in the trail viewed multiple falls and rushing water and then we made one more bend and WOW!!! We were a top Lucifer Falls.
View where the falls began. It was difficult to find a spot to stand and stare as there were so many people clumped at this area.
As I continued to wander along the trail I did manage to wedge myself in and get a shot of myself right next to the falls.

It really is amazing.
Lucifer has three falls into one big fall.

This trail winds around the natural rocks eventually leading to the base of the falls.
Several people were wading or sitting along the creek bed. Human made Rock formations were everywhere including a rock recliner. I wanted to get a picture of this charming rock couch, but there was a couple sitting on it and they looked so peaceful I did not want to interrupt their rest.
Riley took the opportunity to wade in the cool waters and get a drink. It had become quite hot as the afternoon had unfolded.
The base of the falls. I noticed people had walked out to the falls here. There was a sign STAY on PATH or something like that, but this sign apparently did not deter anyone.

After enjoying the creek bed. We headed back to the trail to determine which way next. We could continue along the Rim trail back to the lower park (another 2 miles) and them circle back to the upper falls (another 2 miles), return the way we came....OR continue head up up up these incredibly steep stairs back towards the parking lot.
We choose the stairs.....HOW BAD COULD IT BE????
Let me just say I nearly DIED!!! Another family reported 199 steps. These steps shoot steeply upward. At each bend I thought...please be the end please....please be the end. I took a small break at every opportunity, often welcoming another much more limber hiker to pass going up. Those more fortunate to be going down...I would step aside and ask with hope they had the answer I was seeking...."HOW MUCH MORE?"
Mark and Riley had pushed upward ahead of Peanut and I and as I huffed up each step...I found myself (Talking more to myself) ..."Come on Peanut were almost there.." He was quite the trooper. Each step he had to nearly throw his body upward. Even though I was feeling the burn he truly had the most work to do...Then FINALLY....
We were so high we were ABOVE the trees.....and the view of Lucifer Falls was incredible.
See those tiny people down there on the other side...We had only been there a short while ago.
A quick selfie with Mark... Don't I look whipped?
Noted for my next Robert Treman Hike....Go up to go down first. I didn't take much more pictures as we continued along the trail back to the parking lot. I simply marched forwards. There continued to be some upward inclines, but as I began to see the parking lot between the trees as well as the lower trail towards the swimming area I was recharged....WOW what a day of hikes.

We followed the trail out to the front of the park where there are restrooms in the old mill. We took in one last glance at a smaller falls and provided both ourselves and the dogs a much needed water break.

Once back in the truck my body molded to the seats. Ahhh!!! I don't think I moved the entire ride,

Once back at our campsite. I continued to be motionless. Mark started a camp fire and I was content to simply sit...and sit and sit. That was until I saw what looked like an animal in the tree to the left of us a bit. was an animal. A cute mamma raccoon and as we continued to watch her we noted three babies.

Mamma kept her head poking out...but trying to get the babies was a little more difficult. I had to get my telephoto lens on my camera and quick rush over to the tree when I would see them. It seemed every time I got to the tree for a good shot they would disappear back into their tree stump home.
Mark and I watched this little family for some time. Mamma eventually crawled out of her tree and found a nice spot on a tree limb to take a nap. We watched them until it got dark and we could no longer see. Please note although these pictures do look close... we were several feet away. There are signs all over the campground reminding people that raccoons bite and they often carry rabies. 
My upward view as I relaxed in my chair. 

Mark made steaks over the fire and later we made hot dogs cooked with a stick. His steaks were made to his liking "brunt". I stayed with my dogs. Our dogs had a feast of hot dogs as well.

We spent time watching the cars/trucks come into the camp. Became nosy neighbors when the sheriff and a park ranger drove in. Now what could be happening? There was one camp site a ways down that had several people on it and when I had passed to use the rest room they were getting pretty loud. We guessed it was this site. Mark took Riley to investigate. Yep we are nosy. and yes it was this site.  I had walked by the site earlier feeling badly for their neighbors. They had taken over the entire area and had I not known the two groups had not come together I would have thought they were one big family. That is one disadvantage of tent camping. Sometimes you might be stuck next to the PARTY place. We never found out why the ranger and police had stopped. But we never heard any noise or concern at our site.
Riley watched as we gained a new neighbor. I can hear him asking our new canine friend. "Come over and play.."

And Peanut was content just to chill. He was feeling much like me....RELAX. 

It was soon night and we nestled in our cabin cots. Sunday we awoke early. I tried to convince Mark we had to stop at a few more parks. (There are a few more GREAT parks in the area to Hike...and Watkins Glen is not to far either.) I would have also like to visit the city of Ithaca. BUT Mark had things to do back home....and our POOL was in need of some attention. Oh yeah....and I guess we should get back to our child who was NOT interested in camping in the woods with Mom and Dad all weekend. So the fun had to end, but I cannot wait for our next adventure. On Monday, Ironically I am back in Ithaca for a conference through work. Had I been a better planner I could have rented the cabin for two more nights and stayed here a few more days. Oh time. TTFN