High: 68°FUpstate New York has a lot going for it. There are wineries and pastureland, historical sites aplenty, and plump squirrels just asking to be chased by charismatic young canine naturalists.
Conditions: Persistent rain.
But what really distinguishes the area is its geology. Thanks to a combination of deep river valleys and the even deeper effects of glaciation, the region is demarcated by steep trenches and troughs measuring hundreds of feet deep. Some, dammed by residual sediment, have formed the Finger Lakes. Others, still freely flowing, created some of the most stunning waterfalls around.
The most famous, of course, is Niagara Falls. And while Ari's naturalism has usually been more of a life, rather than earth, science, she nevertheless showed a keen interest in diversifying her study there. Even more appealing to her that day, however, was the Falls' termination: Lake Ontario—apparently some of the tastiest drinking water around (and thanks to recent environmental initiatives, surprisingly clean water at that).
The real hidden treat of the region for both of us, though, were the innumerable gorges and glens tucked into hillsides and anchoring many a state park. We did our best to hike as many as our days allowed.
There's a certain timeless energy to the constant flow of water--just enough din to make the less savory parts of everyday life sift away. Throughout the trip, we found ourselves standing motionless, taking in the passing of geological time: the power of water to dig through rock and epoch in a way any husky would surly admire. Gorgeous.