Snow. Upwards of 180 inches this past season. Rain. Eighteen straight days in the month of April with at least a trace. In the midst of these seasons of discontent I read somewhere that Yuma, Ariz., is the sunniest place in these United States of America. Darn those Yumans, I said repeatedly, darn them.
Here in CNY, Sunday was supposed to be the start of something good, and indeed it was. A Mother’s Day that everyone could enjoy: bright sunshine and temperatures finally creeping into the 60s. For the Mother’s Day gift that keeps on giving, I decided to get lost for a couple of hours and let Wife L enjoy peace and tranquility.
So I grabbed Dog F and headed out on the byways and back roads of Madison County. He is a horrible navigator, and we eventually had to stop in New Woodstock to consult our DroidX and its Google Map app. I had a loose idea of finding the Nelson Swamp Unique Area, a state-owned property that boasts 900 or so acres and some walking paths. We worked our way north from New Woodstock and did indeed find the small parking area and trail head.
We started our walk on a gravel path, with a short interpretive spur trail, that eventually led to a grassy part of the trail that once was the rail bed of the former West Shore Railroad. Turns out, according to the good folks of the DEC, that the railroad was a thriving enterprise from 1872 to 1937, carrying passengers and goods, including ice from Cazenovia Lake and sand and gravel, to destinations far and wide.
The path crosses over Chittenango Creek, as it winds its way all the way north to Lake Ontario, and through large stands of white cedar. You walk across a small section of posted private land, whose landowner generously provides unimpeded access for hikers. It wasn’t nearly as wet or muddy as I had feared, and the trail dips and narrows as it takes you through the wetlands and past farm fields. The trail is actually part of the Madison County Link Trail, which connects with the Finger Lakes Trail. A great website explains all the hiking options here.
Dog F found small streams to extinguish his thirst, while I was forced to wait until I got to Troop’s Scoops on Route 20 in Madison. It was my first visit this year to one of my favorite ice cream stands in CNY, and I enjoyed my first official chocolate shake of the spring season. It was great, as always, and with the promise of copious amounts of sunshine for the next several days, I feel like we’ve turned a corner, weather-wise, and that there is the promise of a fine summer ahead.
Take that, Yumans.