Readers of this blog should by now be familiar with the 911 Group of the Tramp and Trail Club of Utica. In the summer we usually bike on Wednesdays and in the winter set that day apart for cross country skiing. Our usual leaders, Don and Madonna Fellows, were away on family business so Paul Fortin volunteered to lead this 36-mile bike to the Whetstone Gulf State Park.
The park has a limited number of campsites and a natural swimming pool but it is best known to the Tramps as the starting point for hikes or snowshoe trips around the rim of the magnificent Whetstone Gorge.
We set out from the Great American Parking Lot in Boonville and headed north on East Road. We hadn’t gone very far when an ominous gray cloud produced a shower, forcing us to stop and put on our rain gear. Typically, donning a rain jacket is the surest way to bring sunshine and sure enough, in another half mile we stopped again to strip down to cooler wear and didn’t have to contend with foul weather the rest of the day.
East Road resembles a roller coaster, with each thrilling downhill run paid for with a hard slog up the next steep slope. In spite of its ups and downs beautiful views of the Black River Valley make this route a biker's
Soon the ski slopes of Snow Ridge appeared and after a short jog on Route 26 we entered Whetstone Park. This was the last day of swimming in the pool, but it really wasn’t warm enough to tempt any of us, so we rode on up to a picnic area for lunch. The stream that flows out of the gulf is lined with giant boulders and beside these grow yellow and orange Jewell Weed, often called Touch Me Not because of their exploding seedpods. Jewell weed is reputedly an antidote for poison ivy, but fortunately I have never had to test this natural remedy.
We returned to Boonville by the West Road. Unlike its twin to the east it is mostly level, and we cruised along easily with the wind at our backs. The Black River Valley is renowned for its dairying industry and I stopped once to take a couple pictures of bucolic farmland. A trip to the Boonville Hotel topped off a very pleasant ride.
Lunch at the Gulf
The Stream from the Gorge
Miniature Water Fall
Yellow Jewell Weed
Orange Jewell Weed