Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Last Chance Snowshoeing

By: Spider Rybaak

Reading the Trail Guide.
This winter has been disciplined…so far. The cold and snow came when they were supposed to, and temperatures remained low enough to keep things icy for the past couple months, without benefit of a January or February thaw.  Now March is giving us the cold shoulder with a controlled melt, slowly, teasingly, letting the landscape peek through the snow.

And that’s a welcome sight for Oswego County’s walkers. While living in one of the snowiest regions of the country accustoms us to winter, the long spell of exceptionally frigid conditions we’ve just endured forced a lot of us to spend most of the past few weeks bundled up indoors.

Something we’re not used to. You see, winter’s a fact of life around here. Its patchwork of sparkling, squeaky-clean ice and snow is beautiful to behold. And when it’s so brutally cold that we’re forced to stay inside for most of the season, we miss it.

Fortunately, the way March is going we’re getting us another chance: it’s frigid enough to keep winter fresh; mild enough to let us comfortably play in the snow.

Now, I’m too old to romp around in it. But I love to admire frozen water’s handiwork. Fortunately, Oswego County is my kind’a place: loaded with natural beauty, and expert at clearing the roads leading there.

Take the Salmon River falls for instance. Towering about 100 feet high, it’s almost totally frozen, clinging to the cliff like a clump of massive, icy columns held together by welds of frozen foam.

Upstream and down below, its course is a work of art.  Shelves of ice reach out toward the middle for its entire length. In slow moving stretches, like in the village of Pulaski, a cap of ice envelops the stream, a few narrow strips of dark brown water punching through the center like monster, porpoising salmon.

All the while, life goes on: anglers climbing its snowy banks and wading its icy flow; deer drinking from its banks; steelhead breaking water while climbing the rapids.

The weatherman predicts the next few days will be unseasonably cold, promising the river’s frosty setting a short respite from its looming fate.

Better hurry, though spring is only a couple weeks away. And like all youth, it’s enthusiastic and energetic, eager for the ice and snow to go away.

Get there from I-81 exit 36 (Pulaski) by heading south on NY 13 for about 8 miles to Altmar, turn left on CR 22, travel a little over 4 miles, turn right on Falls Road and continue for 1.5 miles.

The falls, like many natural wonders, can be dangerous if you're careless. Exercise caution and common sense when admiring its beauty; and always go with a friend.

You're gonna need snowshoes; there's still 2 feet of snow at the Salmon River Falls.
Salmon River Falls from the overlook at Falls Road.
Want more information on snowshoeing in Oswego County? Visit

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