Monday, December 31, 2007

Thus closes River Dogging 2007

Do not weep, my poppets.

If you simply must have more River Blogging, go here. Turn down the volume a bit, though. We are directly under the Walnut Street Bridge, in what's left of the Fishing Access Site after the flooding.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The end of safe hiking, 2007

We caught the late afternoon sun on the southside levee. It is still way too cold for me, and I am glad I'm wearing a had and gloves. Glad, too, that I forced the HuggaMutt to wear a sweater. The warm sun is counteracted by a stiff breeze. Still, all is not bleak, even for early December.
Hunting is what it is all about with Ellie. She knows darned well that there are critters in those rocks...

Generally, I prefer to remain silent when hiking with Ellie. She is usually silent, and so am I. Besides, I think the sound captured here says it all. Great white noise for downtown!To me, the river smells fresh and clean, but dogs rely so much on their hearing and sense of smell. Perhaps the whole experience is a mishmash of sound and odor to her. Having her with me really enhances it all, especially while we are alone.
My VeggiGirl calls the HuggaMutt EllieButt, and here you can see why. There is no danger. Ellie is very very, wary of the cold water. And we are quite high on the bank. If she fell from here, it would be some cold fishing, but she would easily make shore below.

But the hiking path is not safe in the winter, not for an inquisitive doxie. This will be our last visit until after the next thaw. Two good snowstorms and sleet will render this part of the Chemung unvisitable in just a few day.

Time for the holidays, anyway.

Little Pond

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Chemung River. Elmira Southside

As promised, a view of the Chemung River from the south levees and dikes. After three years, we are finally done mapping the river through pictures. Just in Elmira, of course. These are all places where a dog is certainly welcome and easily managed. I must confess, I am in love with this waterway.We are directly across from Foster Island and the Water Board. This is Southside. Sometimes we see people walk their pets over here, and we wanted to take a look.Peaceful. Canoeists can always find solitude on the Chemung. I wish I had a canoe, myself.We can see this rickety warf from the North side of the River, nearly every day. It's not safe.

This little guy doesn't under- stand that we are intruders. Ellie will murder any small mammal she can catch. As an earth dog, she willingly goes into any burrow that will take her girth.Let's walk along the dike that protects Elmira Southside. The paths are freshly mown and inviting. This is an excellent place to walk one's HuggaMutt. There is no need for a leash, but take one anyway. This city enforces a Leash Law not only for dogs, but also for cats!Someone wants to present our walk in the best light possible. This view of the City of Elmira is postcard perfect.The water is mirror smooth and almost clear looking. The water is deep here and the city is beautiful in the sunlight.Finally I spot a lone angler. He is wearing waders and is standing in the pool just under the dam. We move in for a better look.I was wrong. The fisherman is not alone. There are actually many fishermen along this portion of the Chemung. On other days, Ellie will be surprised to find people quietly sitting and fishing from the levees and dikes.It is heartening to see the young people casting over the water and mist. It is such a healthy thing for everyone concerned. This is not your usual urban experience.I can hardly describe the sounds and feeling. I see this spillover everyday as I pass over the Main Street Bridge, but this is so very close. We are surrounded by the sound of the water. Even though the Chemung is quite low, the scent of the River is fresh and invigorating.

The trip back will be a very long one for me. I am already lame and the fatigue made it take forever. But the trip is attractive and I looked forward to our next visit.

All these pictures can be viewed much larger by clicking on them. They were chosen for detail.

Little Pond

Sunday, October 14, 2007

September Morning Chemung Visit

interrupted by the noisy construction
Sanitary Sewer Pipe Replacement
Chemung County $1,100,000
Federal Contribution $124,00
(Grit chamber at left?)

Closeup of the pile driver.
Ellie has personally inspected the pipe seen at left. She tentatively sniffed at the surveyor.
Water booms nearly cross the river.

Ellie was not as impressed as I. We walked the river bed further down.
click on photos for enlargements

Little Pond

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Misty September Morning on the Chemung

The cold mornings have been raising a huge amount of fog over the valley, so we went down to the river to watch it rise. Huggamutt came along for the hike.She especially like the opening from Hoffman Creek outflow. The water here is clear and shallow. Some days we can cross the rocks over to the other side, without climbing the levee. This was not one of those days.
The mists kept us pleasantly out of sight and allowed closeups of the waterfowl, who apparently couldn't see the Mutt for all the fog.
The little fellow below refused to move more than a few feet at our approach, but he still managed to stay fairly hidden from view. But not from the dog's nose; Ellie finally flushed him out from the mouth of a drainer creek.
These fat fellows simply kept their distance, clucking and honking warily.
Below is a sunlit view through the woods of Foster Island.
This sweet, idyllic scene is one of the HuggaMutt's favorite haunts. Water Board in the background.
The other end of the same area, looking towards the river.
One misty morning. One lazy hour. Two tired hikers and a camera full of shots to cull. If anyone else tells me there is no place to run the dog, or no place pretty inside the City limits, I think I'll whap 'em one upside the head.

Little Pond

Monday, September 3, 2007

Where Only the Intrepid Go

(All the photos in these posts can be accessed by double-click. They are chosen for detail, so you might like to view them in full mode!)

I drove across town and pulled into the trailer-truck parking area, sneaking along a Department of Environmental Conservation roadway. Parked the Tracker right along the lane, with one side to the bushes; Route 352 was on the other side. We were well out of sight. Ellie and I climbed the levee and wandered into the woodland, moving towards the river. It took a bit of hiking, but we pretty much stuck to visible paths. Most were ultimately obscured by knotweed. We should have started way back in the spring, before the summer growth began to hide the human and deer paths.

Ahh. Here is what we need. There is a pathway through the woods right down to the creek. Only problem is the drop down is significant.

I hurt my back sliding down the opening, but it was worth it. This place is a gorgeous swimming hole! There is even a discarded pair of shorts and a backpack, just to illustrate that others have come and gone before us.

Totally hidden from view. Newtown Creek. It is just beautiful, and no one ever sees it. What a shame that only people willing to trespass on private property and restricted municipal areas will ever get to visit. I keep my dog and my phone handy, in case I am attacked by a vagrant. It will probably never happen, but is a possibility, since I am very much out of sight here. More likely, I will be arrested for trespassing. But it kills me to know there are places waiting to be filmed and recorded.

Yeah, I know I'm taking a chance, but there is so much to do that no one bothers to try anymore. We did more as kids. My only fear is that whoever was killing the street people a couple years back are probably still around. These are definitely the sort of place known to the homeless.

Elmira has had many incarnations, beginning with canal town, then becoming a much-criss-crossed railway stop. This sort of sight is common to the area. There are trestles, bridges, and rail lines everywhere, mostly in ruins. It must have been easy to go anywhere anyone wanted to go back then. Elmira, New York was once Queen City, a bustling little center for commerce and the arts. It was called the Little Apple by those on the vaudeville circuit, and still boasts some significant theatres from the old days.

Husband RJ warned me about this. It is a sewage output, a five foot-in-diameter pipe for runoff during river emergencies. Essentially it is what prevented the County from putting in Gateway Park. Ellie and I investigated and found the very top of the pipe and a lovely drop way down into some very nasty-looking water. We decided not to climb down, because I was already sore from our little trip down Newtowne Creek.

Here is what we were hoping to find this morning. A clean-cut access to the Chemung. And it belongs to the EFD!

So why would the Fire Department need access to the Chemung? My best guess would be that they need a pumping area, for the tanker trucks. In the hills there would probably not be enough fire hydrants or water pressure otherwise. There's even a little turn-around area right behind me.

Downriver, it was just lousy with fishermen. Labor Day, you know. While I had hoped to walk along the banks, it wouldn't be worth the pain. It wouldn't be nice to interrupt the holiday fishermen, and my back was already hurting from my little trip down into the water hole. Some other day, maybe not until the next spring, when the knotweed will be gone, Ellie and I will return to explore the area around Newtowne Creek. If we have a mild spring, then we should go before April 1, Opening Day.

Looking north towards the city bridges, we saw one fisherman, so I steered Ellie away from him. There would be no place to walk if we were having a wet summer. I could see a little path, but no sign of the sort of trails left by children or dog owners.

I've hidden the fisherman behind some hanging branches, and the view of the city bridges is quite nice.

Compare that last shot with two days ago. Taken from the other bank. That morning was very warm, while this morning was a little cooler.

This is Ellie's reward. She will not swim down this end, as she does upriver. The water is quite shallow and she simply wants to lap it up and move on.
What's a trip to the Chemung River without some geese to chase? It would be as empty as the skies without the screaming seagulls.

The obligatory heron. There will probably be no more pictures of herons, because the river is full of them. They are especially numerous and untroubled down here, where nearly every human is confined to the land or otherwise just fishing. Same as the herons. I am saving future shots for those elusive eagles that constantly tease me out of the corner of my sight.

It's easy to see that this is a well-worn trail that has simply been overgrown with the knot-weed. All the vines are stripped clean and the ground is stamped flat.

Definitely time to go home and assess our minor injuries: got a pulled back and slight migraine from the sun on the water.

Ellie and I will need a nap this afternoon. In the meantime, I am posting this through Blogger. So many nice features! Can't wait to post some video. Mental note: will need a tripod and some time away from the HuggaMutt.

Now to Original Italian Pizzeria. Gotta try the Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wings. Ellie hasn't had any yet.

Little Pond

Monday, August 20, 2007

What Ellie Scared Up

Giving us the baleful eye after being scared into the Chemung. There was another, too, not quite so bold as to remain visible. The HuggaMutt would not let go and jumped into the River after it. She returned to the spot when I wanted to leave, responding only to the whistle used loud and long.

Beaver or Muskrat? Your call.

Good Hunting, though.

Update: the local wildlife observers at Tanglewood Nature Center affirm its muskrat-teriness. She tells me they are not dangerous, but are locally called the "swamp bunny." Gotta love it!

Little Pond

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Long Walk with a Short Dog

This heron allowed me to take several photos from different angles, all the while turning to watch me.

11:20AM and I am already exhausted. Spoke a few moments ago to my older daughter.

"Did you girls ever take your bikes west of Town Hall along the woodland paths?"

"Yeah, but we couldn't go very far, back in the day."

Well, I am pleased to report that in this day one can go quite far along the woodland paths.

LINK TO GOOGLE MAP: We walked the wooded strand along the northern bank of the Chemung. You can toggle between satellite photo and road map to orient yourself. Keep in mind that there is no longer a road over the ruined bridge.

Took the HuggaMutt to the levee near Town Hall, West Elmira. They've cleared out many of the ruined foundations along the Chemung River. Seems they were an attractive nuisance that could easily become a fatal liability.

I guess. Kids have always played in them. But I digress.

We walked the paths beyond the excavations for about twenty minutes, and I began to hear something like a waterfall. We grabbed the next path toward the river, and found the water very low, babbling like crazy as it flowed over rocks.

I looked back downriver and could just barely see the remains of the Rorick's Glen bridge. It was a very, very long walk back, with me becoming more disabled as we went. Poor Ellie had to return for me again and again. Then I hitched her leash to her harness and made her pull me back up the levee, so we could find the car.

A lot of work for a little HuggaMutt. A very long walk on such little legs.

Little Pond

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Very Long Shot

A daddy and a daughter wading and fishing in the very shallow Chemung River middle of July 2007. These people were about a half mile away, so it's grainy and poorly focussed. Frankly I didn't think it would come out at all.

It would have been a shame to intrude on their little daddy-daughter duet, so I kept away completely.

The point is that they are wading where the river was entirely dry a few weeks ago. This day there are a few fishermen enjoying the water. It is 9AM, and the other, more solitary, fellows are finished and returning to their cars.

I came to find another place to walk my RiverDog.

More on that later.

Little Pond

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Has come and gone. It was the largest ever, and promises more and more each year.

The local interest has increased, if only through the festivities. This year they were able to sign on quite a number of volunteers for the local cleanup.
I avoid the cleanups because they are scheduled during my daily nap. Thus I've become a morning person against my will. I sleep even more on the weekends, probably to recover from the workweek. The price I pay to stay socially active despite the MS.

Coworker and buddy Roger Neumann wrote the article for the RiverFest this year.

And a very good article it is, too.

The photo gallery is the best ever, too. Good buddy Jason Whong is responsible for those pretties.

But, wait! The local interest has indeed increased. Email acquaintance Sam Draper, has a lovely site for Historic West Elmira, and it has expanded to include all of the city and environs.

Scroll down a little for the RiverFest photos.

But there's even more! We couldn't have a RiverFest post without linking to the River Muse, who has a lovely piece.

There's a lot more about some of my recent concerns about the river, but the dry season has left me with a ton of photos for sifting and processing. More later.

Little Pond

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Grove Street Fishing Access

What a great place to walk your dog. They even have baggies, should she decide to relieve herself in the public area.

They mow a few times each summer, but in between it becomes quite the challenge for our little River Dog.

A little jerky because MS makes holding a camera my big challenge.

I give you the River Dog.

Little Pond

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Wild About Harry

Saturday morning, July 7, 2007, about 8:30, and we sought a little solitude on the banks of the Chemung. Except for the crows. The strand was very noisy with the constant calling, so I had hoped to see the ravens and vultures that usually accompany them. I stayed on the beaten paths and roadways behind the Water Board.We actually stayed mostly on Foster "Island" this morning. The geese were watching us from the other side of Hoffman Creek, just north of the boat launch.

I was musing over the shallowness of the Chemung. Pretty soon there will be the crayfish harvesters, although I will need to rise earlierto catch them.

Notice the reflection of the opposite bank on the surface of the river. Here it looks like a problem with my camera lens. At this very point the bird saw me and began to turn. Then he seemed to change his mind, and continued to fish.

The carp were roiling the water, making lots of noise.

People are the same everywhere. The local heron is always called Harry. I've seen them in pairs, so they can't all be Harry.

Today Harry let me photograph him.

Little Pond