Watkins Glen in the dead of winter….

Giant icicles run long, the teeth of the Winter monster hanging upon frozen rock, waiting for the warmth of Spring’s beauty to free their seemingly permanent position.

That time is still many weeks away though here in Watkins Glen. For now, winter and ice dominate the landscape, and one must respect this fact.

The gates to enter the lower canyon are padlocked for safety, as waterfall spray has coated the interior into a slippery labyrinth of death. During this time you are forced to hike and explore the canyon from above, looking down into the wonder of nature like a bird on the hunt, searching for a meal.

There is plenty to see from this perspective though, isolated shacks where one can rest or receive shelter during winter storms.

Along the hiking trail is a clearing in the forest, with a crucifix standing tall upon a lone hill. Scattered in the clearing are past residents of Watkins Glen, monolithic stones with names inscribed from years gone by.

Protected by the sacred bounty of Nature.

Today the snow isn’t too deep, so the snowshoes are placed upon my back, and I let the snow on the ground seep into my hiking shoes, up my pant legs. The cold revives the skin underneath….

penetrating slowly up to my hips, chest and neck. The cold, ironically, warms my head, making way for a moment of clarity and a fleeting glimpse of happiness.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?