Tracking the prints of a deer on the Highland Crossing in Brighton

Tracking the prints of a deer on the Highland Crossing in Brighton

[2/4/21. In background, the abandoned Terrence Building at the site of the former Rochester Psychiatric Center.  Except where indicated, all photos by David Kramer]

Since last March, we’ve  visited the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton several times, usually after a snowfall. (SEE SERIES AT END)

Last Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, we received our first big snow storm of the season as the remnant of a Nor’easter brought many inches.

On Wednesday morning, I ventured to the Crossing expecting to be the first to trample the virgin snow. I knew I was in for a hard slog when the STAY SIX FEET APART was buried in a drift, although I did not expect to be doing much social distancing.

2/3/21 Westfall Road entrance to the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton

The mounds of snow on the edge of the Monroe County Juvenile Detention Center parking lot were daunting. The old Psych Center looked more forbidding than usual, like a ruined Teutonic castle in the Alps.

2/3/21 The abandoned Terrence Building at the site of the former Rochester Psychiatric Center. See Terrence Tower Without Diagnosis: A Photographic Montage of the Old Rochester Psychiatric Center

Persevering, I discovered I was not the first on the trail. Ahead of me were recent light hoof prints of a deer that became my trail marker.

2/3/21 The tracks

Hoping to find the creator of the prints, I felt like Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, trapped on a desert island,  discovering the footprints of a man Crusoe would find and later name “My Man Friday.”

Scene from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) where Crusoe discovers the footprints of My Man Friday. (

2/3/21 The tracks continue

The track continued until veering left near the bridge.

2/3/21 The tracks continue

2/3/21 The last tracks

There, My Deer Wednesday had veered off into the woods and the track grew feint. Unlike Crusoe, I’ll never know my friend, although we may have met last April.

I crossed the bridge alone, leaving plodding human holes in the snow in contrast to the delicate marks left by My Deer.

2/3/21 The bridge

Suddenly, I was not alone. Ahead of me were two humans on skis: Dr. David Kotok and his wife Wahyu Dilts.

2/3/21 Dr. David Kotok and his wife Wahyu Dilts

2/3/21 Wahyu Dilts [Photo: David Kotok] Wahyu is from Indonesia and this is only her second time skiing. David proudly noted that Wahyu is a former Indonesian fashion designer, social activist and federal social welfare leader

David and I mused as to who fares better on the snowy trail: humans with our technology or the deer with its superior leaping ability. We agreed the claim could go either way. Nonetheless, David quipped that humans have more fun because we’ve already eaten, while for the deer a jaunt on the path is alway a necessary foraging operation in search of a meal.

I returned, the next day. By then the path was nearly overpopulated.

2/4/21 Skier. (In left background, Empire State College)

The spot where the deer and I last crossed tracks was undisturbed.



Following a gaggle of wild turkeys on the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton

The first December snowfall at the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton

First November snowfall at the Highland Crossing in Brighton

Distributing masks in Brighton and revisiting (again) the Highland Crossing Trail in (another) May snowfall

During a dusting of May snow, revisiting the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton

On the Highland Crossing Trail in Brighton after an early March snowfall

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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