Italy Valley State Forest

water rush

I got a bit of a late start today – hit the trail around 9:30AM. I didn’t mind too much because I was looking for a little sun to perk things up after several weeks of gray wintry weather. It was cloudy and 31F starting out, but the weather man was calling for sunshine by mid-day.

Getting in to the forest was tricky as the access road is a seasonal limited maintenance jobby. I figured it wouldn’t be too bad as deer hunting season just ended so it had been used recently and the snow isn’t too deep since the past couple of days have been thawing. I made it in and back out again without much trouble, but if we get any more snow that will be the end of it for a while.

logHere on top of the hill it is blustery with light snow swirling around the feet of the trees. I photographed some interesting old stumps and some leaves frozen in the snow and generally wandered around for a couple of hours until my ears got cold.

I dropped down into a ravine and got out of the wind. It’s calm and quiet down here – it is colder temp-wise, but without the wind it feels warmer. That is it felt warmer until I inevitably filled my boots with icy water from the stream. I generally try to keep my feet dry especially in the winter, but it never seems to work out. Although my boots are waterproof, there is nothing they can do when I slip off a rock while crossing the stream and plunge my leg into a pool up to my knee.

Now it’s early afternoon and my ears are warm, but my feet are freezing. The sun has come out as predicted, however the low winter angle prevents any actual sunbeams from reaching me – I’m still in blue twilight. I look longingly back up to the ridge whence I came now bathed in warm yellow sunshine. I decided that now would be a good time to scale the wall and take a little break, have a snack, and catch some rays. Ahhh, the sun and the effort of climbing up have made me nice and toasty.

106-196.jpgI cut sideways across the ridge until another ravine blocked my path. I walked and slipped and slid my way down to the bottom and worked my way back up stream. At one point I hit a waterfall that was big enough, icy enough, and filled with enough water that I couldn’t just walk up and over it. I had to work the side of the wall hanging from tree to tree. I stopped for a breather while dangling from some exposed tree roots when I noticed a smell.

I found it a very nice smell. It was the scent ( barely perceptible) of dirt, soil, decaying leaves, tree roots, bugs, whatever. It was earth. It reminded me of spring though I was surrounded by snow and ice. A bare patch of soil under and around the tangled interlacing tree roots that I was holding onto had a little bit of sunshine on it – a microcosm of spring. Ah well, spring may be in my head, but winter is still nipping at my toes – better get moving.


I emerged from the top end of the ravine just as the sun was setting. I stopped by a crumbling old stone foundation where maybe a barn had stood years ago and took some photos of some odds and ends. A spiral of old rusty barbed wire and a bucket with no bottom anymore and some bullet holes in the sides to boot. Time to head back toward the car before it gets too dark.



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6 Responses to “Italy Valley State Forest”

  1. barbara Says:

    I love the photos and I especially love the commentary. It sounded lovely – well, all except for icy feet inside icy boots. I’ll pass. Been there, done that. Way too many times.
    But thre is truely nothing like the exploration you described. Maybe I’ll get off the path today.

    Just noticed Finger Lakes… for some reason I thought you were in Oregon, but you’re in NY state? Yes?

  2. forestrat Says:

    Thanks, Barbara.

    Yup, I live in NY – in a little podunk town just east of Rochester. I take a lot of my walks down around Naples on the south end of Canandaigua Lake. I like to go further afield (like the Adirondacks or Pennsylvania) when I get the chance, but my day job and what not keep me pretty busy.

    Living in Oregon would be cool though.

  3. Bernie Kasper Says:

    Sounds like a wonderful day afield to me Mark, and you got some great images to boot, your water images are always so mystical :)

  4. barbara Says:

    You certainly have a lovely area. The Finger Lake area is one of my favorites. The lakes and vineyards are lovely, and so is the wine.

  5. fencer Says:

    I liked the macro bucket shot (at least that’s what it seems like). How come rust is so photogenic? Anyway, always a pleasure to read, and look…


  6. lookingforbeauty Says:

    These are stunning photos. They have obviously been bought with some pretty rigorous hiking in the forest and a pair of frozen feet. You have a great eye for composition.

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