The bitterest day of winter proved to be a fine time to visit VanRiper, our conservation area that protects 1,900 feet of glorious, undeveloped lakeshore in Seneca County.
Listen to the waves and waterbirds.
At 8 o’clock in the morning, two degrees below zero. Surely you’re the first visitor today.
Not quite! Somebody else has put down first tracks. Make that TWO brave somebodies.
The trail is only a quarter of a mile long, but this marker reminds you what state you’re in. Just in case you get brain freeze out here.
When you get to the creek, listen very closely for the babbling water—you won’t hear a thing. Frozen solid.
Trail and creek meet again at the bottom of the bluff. You are now at lake level, and there IS something you hear.
Tiny waves lap on the rocks. Ice fragments crackle. Perhaps a thousand feet offshore, a giant flock of geese chatters nonstop (listen to the video at the top).
The lake level is low in winter, turning the bottom into a kind of tidal zone.
Aquatic creatures are exposed. Normally your kayak would float right over.
Follow the trail upshore til you find the “living room” and Leopold Bench.
Further up the hill, take the laneway which will lead you to the shelter of your car.
Don’t stop to read now—too cold!
Grab a brochure to study up for your next visit to the VanRiper Conservation Area and Whitlock Nature Preserve. Take a copy of our popular newsletter, The Land Steward.