Thursday, April 7, 2011

Yellow Spotted

The yellow spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) moves from underground to vernal ponds in late March early April in order to mate…

While it was not THE Big Night, it was a big night in my mind! These salamanders are amazing and they are also endangered which is why people help them across roads in the spring.

Monday night, April 4, we received an email from Friends of Thatcher organizer extraordinaire, Bert Shou to meet at 7:30pm in the Hop Field parking lot to look for these little guys crossing the road and give them a hand across the macadam.

It was about 42F. It was raining. We dressed warmly and had boots on our feet. Gloves and a bucket and a safety vest provided. Flashlights, too. I was impressed that many kids were there with families including a girl scout troup earning an environmental badge. Just amazing to see the interest from about fifteen or so hearty souls.

Walking back and forth from Yellow Rocks picnic site to the caretakers cabin, we looked for the salamanders guided by biologist Doug Fraser who teaches at Siena College. He taught us some different facts about these guys and took a tally of the 40 or so our group helped over the road. Their yellow spots are an individual signature... each one is different!

Want to learn more? Check out the Encyclopedia of Life entry on these guys:

and join the Friends of Thatcher next year:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Normans Kill Paddle

On Sunday April 18, we got in the kayaks and set off on an urban adventure... adventure good for the spirit and soul, keeping us in touch with the twists and turns of life! We usually think of going north for an adventure but here we found one in our own backyard.

A fantastic trip of 13 miles or 21 km... Put in at Route 155 crossing of the Kill and taking out at the Steven's Farm before the bridge over the Kill to Delmar (you can reach it by turning at the Normanskill vet's office just near the bridge).

We put in after spotting a car at the farm and returning to the Route 155 put-in. Very easy getting the boats in here. The paddle started at about 1:40pm. No rain and cool spring air.

This nice map shows our route. Paddling was easy until the first road crossing at Johnson Road where immediately after the bridge a downed tree turned over two of the paddlers and a third had the smarts to go left and drag his boat over the trunk. Careful here since the water ran quickly under the downed trunk and easily turned us over.

Thoroughly soaked, and back in the boats we continued on, meandering through a pleasant landscape where just the peaks of suburban houses let us know we were not far from civilization. Lots of bird life: kingfishers, great blue herons, spotted sandpiper, bluebirds,and even a pileated woodpecker later on.

Through these meanders we crossed over two more downed logs both of which had been "improved and enlarged" by beaver activity. One paddler sighted the waterway engineer on his rounds. Careful here since logs are slick and maneuvering really requires some finesse. Both crossings are possible even with canoes but be prepared to get wet and take your time.

We thought this paddle would take at most a couple of hours and we crossed the second obstruction at 5pm. Who brought the snacks?

From there we paddled smoothly crossing under the bridge over Krumkill Road and Route 85 then New Scotland Road. In the home stretch there and somewhat familiar territory on the banks of the golf courses, Albany MUNY and Normanskill CC.

Amazing adventure. Some fast moving water. Some shallow rapids requiring a push... Thanks to my brother Jon and to my husband Ricardo. Great outing though we were thoroughly chilled when we brought the boats out at 6:15pm.

That pizza sure tasted good and the hot shower was par excellance!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Take the Long Lake way home

Sunday I was able to be out in Hamilton County, another one of my favorite places around New York State. Long Lake was frozen and our cross country skis were handy. The store clerk in Hoss' (great old Adirondack department store) recommended the boat launch just off Route 30 as a place to park and launch ourselves...

So we did. Lovely. Cold. Wind.

Skiing on water!

The village of Long Lake has 832 permanent residents. The lake itself, long and thin, is fourteen miles long. I canoed the length back in 1981 and remember eating freshwater mussels we found in the lake. Guess I have to go back this summer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

El Camino

Wondering where the title of the blog comes from?

I have a special affinity for Spanish language poets. Machado was an Nobel prize winning poet in Spain during the 20th century. He walked. He dreamt. He wrote about it… Perhaps the most quoted of his work is two verses from "Proverbios y cantares XXIX" in Campos de Castilla.

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar

Walker, your footsteps
are the road, and nothing more.
Walker, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
Walking you make the road,
and turning to look behind
you see the path you never
again will step upon.
Walker, there is no road,
only foam trails on the sea.

By Antonio Machado, “Proverbs and Songs #29"
Translated by Willis Barnstone

I find it good advice for the present time!
Until the next walk.

Monday, January 25, 2010

John Boyd Thatcher Park from Beaver Dam Road Mine Lot Creek trail

John Boyd Thatcher Park from Beaver Dam road
Mine Lot Creek trail

January, 2010

One hour of walking down the Mine Lot Creek trail in Thatcher Park, one of my favorite places in the Capital Region. One of the best places in the world to see fossils (I think the Wiki writer was exaggerating just a tad) according to the link below. the photo above is overlooking a wetland where I could just make out the loping track of a fox or coyote. It really is the season to see what has moved by in the snow. How lucky we are to have these trails open to us and just a quick drive from anywhere in the Capital Region. Find out more at: and

I stopped at my neighbor’s house to pick up my walking companion, Chester, an almost three year-old Golden Retriever, faithful guy who always enhances my walks and sense of security when I am solo.

The woods were fresh and snow was falling lightly. Glad I strapped on my Sorels since the snow was pretty deep thought the trail was walkable thanks to a snowmobile had packed down the track. Thank you New York State Parks Department! Skiing or snowshoeing is recommended. Next time.

I thought about the extravagant bloodroot blossoms I see here in the spring and the wild ramps that are so abundant in the limestone ledges… Spring will come but winter is surely here. There was little snow left in Albany where I live but up here more than 1,000 feet higher the snow pack was about one foot or so and delightful.

The hemlocks around the waterfall halfway down the trail were towering as usual, dark bark of the trunks and deep green of their small needles. I wished I had a camera. Not too many sounds, maybe one woodpecker and the flowing water of the creek. The forest quieted by snow.

I walked about two miles. A short jaunt but great air and just about an hour with the snowy trail. Absolutely gorgeous and restorative. I love walking the woods like this and I was really in need of it today. Make the road by walking. Step by step.

Here is a map for your (or mine) next outing in this wonderful park not far from home. Let me know if you go!