Escape the Urban: The Rimed Mere

6 Feb

Last week I wrote about a glorious trip to Ellicottville, king of WNY winter sport. In a perfect world, I go every week and enjoy top tier facilities and venue. In the real world, however, I don’t have the time or money to go regularly, and you are probably missing one or the other of those essentials as well. So the key to maintaining an active lifestyle, where you keep the outdoors as a master cog in your machine, is to use the assets close at hand.

That means the hand me down gear you have in the closet, and a nearby park. You don’t need a $500 trip to Eastern Mountain Sports to get started. I have an old pair of Karhu 210cm skis with traditional telemark boots, a 30 year old gift from my frugal father-in-law. They aren’t top of the line, but they keep me active. And when looking for nature to toil in, there is more than Delaware Park (though it is a great choice, and the closest for plenty). In South Buffalo, head to Tift. In Cheektowaga and Lancaster, go to Reinstein Woods. Clarence and Amherst have trails along Ellicott Creek, and Rail to Trail lines, like the Peanut. The southtowns have a multitude of trails, like the Chautauqua Rail Trail. In WNY we’re blessed with open space close. Me, I go to Buckhorn.

I know the four mile trail, out and back, along the Niagara River – across Wood’s Creek, under the North Grand Island Bridge and out on the jetty in the heart of the mighty re-confluence – almost by heart now. It’s not a new exploration, or forging new ground; the path is well tread, and even the faces of the fellow hikers are becoming familiar. But there is comfort in that familiarity, as well as a certain satisfaction – even delight – in seeing the land change through the seasons, and finding small nuanced discoveries behind trees and brush you thought you knew.

Some are wishing for spring; you may be among them. Not I. This winter has been cold and snowy, and not nearly long enough yet. I haven’t seen my grass in almost two months, and the lack of a substantial mid-winter thaw means the skiing and snowshoeing trails have not had to reboot and start their bases over from scratch. Buckhorn is no exception. Thank you to the intrepid skier before me that laid the parallel tracks in the fluffy white just off the path – as it was my first time this season back on skis, I appreciated the safe refresher. But once I regained my footing and got in the groove, I abandoned the safe deep tracks for the wide open hard pack. The deep slick base had me skating after the first mile, and I picked up great speed on the smooth surface glazed in the brilliant sun.

My spectacular ski ended at the swirling Niagara, Navy Island to my left, industry to my right, the full falls plume dizzingly ahead. A route I knew well, and still a refreshing trek along ice encrusted swamps to a flash frozen river, a scene new to me if not to nature.

2 Responses to “Escape the Urban: The Rimed Mere”

  1. RaChaCha February 6, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Nice article — love the title!

    Are there any maps online of the trails at Buckhorn–? I’d love to do some exploring there.

  2. Brian Castner February 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    Hmmm. If there aren’t any on the DEC website I link to, then no. Its not that big – its more of a “follow your nose” kind of place. In fact, the trails I take aren’t on the map at the site itself either.

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