Your ever exploring girls take to the local trails in Ithaca.
For once both Kristy and I find ourselves in Ithaca with a free Saturday morning. This means trail exploration of our lovely town we both live in. I had once last year linked Robert Treman park with Buttermilk park during a long training run but don't really remember the details of how this happened so we decided to figure it out together.
I start the morning with a loop around Robert Treman Park, I love this loop! It is on the top 2 of my favorite loops in Ithaca. I run this loop at least once a week. I start at the bottom of Treman park go over a footbridge through the camping area to get on Rim Trail. The trail starts out with a rather steep up hill along which you are treated to an overlook of the swimming area. Rim trail is a little over 2 miles long, about 1.5 miles in you will experience one of the worst thigh burners you will come across in Ithaca, THE STAIRS. These stairs are brutal, there is no other way to state it. Yes you can skip the stairs by turning right but where is the fun in that? You will start the stairs thinking no big deal they can't go on forever, until you reach about half way and you will swear these are the stairs to heaven because you have climbed up so many that they can't possible go anywhere else, so you continue climbing the stairs realize they are actually the stairs to hell and your legs will most certainly give out before you reach the top. Then you come around a bend, finally you see the end of the stairs, you power up those last few stairs, turn around see the fog lifting off the trees, the sun peeking over the hill in the background and forget about all the burning in your thighs because this view makes the work worth it. This view is a fresh start, freedom, and heaven all in one. Turn back around and move your feet along the hard packed dirt of the trail just few steps to soak up the beauty that is Lucifer Falls in the morning. You some how feel lighter, freer, and more energized then you thought you would at the top of the stairs, this is good because you have more uphill to dominate before a final decent on Rim Trial. I then cross the 'new' bridge turn right over a grassy fast area to Red Pine Trail. Beginning of Red Pine Trail starts out with a small uphill, which is nothing since you just tacked the climb on the other side. It is important to watch your footing as to not tramp on any red newts that are normally your friends on this trail. There is a final downhill of Red Pine that can be a bit precarious depending on washout, then you connect with gorge trail take a left. This trail has a little bit of everything, you will see waterfalls, you will go up stairs, you will go down stairs, you will even come across some pavement with a fence on either side, before the final stairs to the parking lot I like to veer left onto an access road which will give you just about an even 5 miles for the loop.
In the parking lot I stop but by car for some coconut water and meet up with Kristy to see if we can navigate the Finger Lakes Trail, to Lick Brook, hop on the road, then finally Buttermilk Falls just to return the same way we came for a nice long run. We follow Lower Robert Treman Park park road to what looks like the end to find the Finger Lakes Trail. Take a left onto the trail and follow along the river and under Route 13. After coming along a parking area we take the trail to the left to come across the river I remember there is a stream crossing on the trail so I look for the white blaze on the other side after some wading with no luck. We return to the parking area and realize we took the wrong trail. This is sorta a thing I do regularly. I get lost on the trail a lot. During my 50k last year I got lost and ran 5 miles off course only to DNF, so my navigating skills are a bit of a joke. More like I get lost in thought too much when running and can't be bothered to pay attention to trail markers. Since we are less than 2 miles (2 together, 7 for me) into the trail and already lost we will see how the rest of the run goes.
We follow the white blazes until we meet up with the Sweedler Nature preserve to follow the blue blazes. On the Sweedler trail we encounter an uphill that made all the hills at Robert Treman look tiny! This climb kicked our butts! I have been reading the Ultra Mindset so I tell myself "it is all good mental training" and keep on trekking.
After coming to Sandybank road we connect with the Buttermilk Spur Trail to follow orange blazes. This trail shot us out in a field overlooking Ithaca, which is where we get lost for the second time. We accidently stumbled into the back yard of South Hill Cider and they were so gracious about our mistake. The previous day we went to the Finger Lakes Cider house and tried some of their delicious cider so we were actually rather excited about this. I will defiantly add South Hill Cider to my favorites list not only because it is delicious but because they were so nice about our mistake.
After making it to West King Road we take a left for a short jaunt to meet up with Bear Trail at Buttermilk Falls State Park. We start to near our half waypoint for the run and I am HUNGRY! We take a short break at a waterfall before coming across Treman Lake to catch our breath and eat a chia seed bar. Then we return the same way we came except for the few sections we got lost on.
We return to the car tired, sweaty, and happy! Last time I did this loop I was at the peak of my training may have ran a lot faster but this year I have an awesome friend (Kristy) who will put up with my crazy ideas, getting lost, and even some wading in the stream which she wasn't too happy about which is way better than being fast any day!