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map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Sunday, July 23rd I decided that the weather for the rest of my week was looking pretty lousy with rain and thunderstorms almost every day. It was also my birthday and I thought I hike would be nice. The most important consideration was that I had hiked the previous two days without Sheila and had promised her a hike on Sunday. When we returned from church, we got our gear ready and got dressed. Sheila sniff our clothes and immediately knew we were hiking. She began to run around the house bouncing against the furniture but always keeping a close eye on us. We put our gear in the car and an exited Sheila in the back seat and drove out the DeBruce Road a little after 12:30 PM. It wasn't long before we got behind a caravan of cars traveling at about 30 mph. At Mongaup Pond Road I turned left behind the other cars which also made the turn. They unfortunately were headed to Mongaup Pound but didn't seem to know you drive until you run out of road! I continued to follow the road bearing left onto Beech Mountain Road at the fork. When we arrived in the parking area there were two other cars in the lot and one car following behind us. I pulled in and parked and the other car started to drive up to the cabin but then backed up. The drive hailed me and I went over to talk to him. He was an attorney from Liberty and he and his friend had attended the Beech Mounatin Boy Scout Camp back in the 1960's. I had to tell him that the road no longer went to the camp and it was about a 3 mile hike. He pulled into a parking spot and we talked for some time until Sheila insisted we had to hike. She was acting as if she hadn't hiked in a month as she pulled me toward the trail. The temperature was in the high 70's and the humidity was a little lower than the previous days. We headed out the path to the register on Quick Lake Trail at about 1:10 PM. The Quick Lake Trail was quite dry with only a few muddy spots so we made good time. At Gravestone Junction we turned left to head down to Frick Pond. The day was pleasant but the skies were overcast and there was some haze which made me decided to keep hiking without taking pictures. The water level in the pond was high due to the beaver dam across the outlet stream. This time it looked like no one had disturbed the dam and that the beavers had added to it. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail around the pond bearing left at the next trail junction to stay on the red trail. This part of the trail was also relatively dry with only a few muddy patches. We were setting a fast pace and soon came to the "pine promenade" and the little stream through the woods. This water level in the stream was lower than it had been but Sheila was able to get a drink and take a "dip". As we continued along the trail I removed some small branches and a few large ones until we arrived at Iron Wheel Junction at 1.6 miles. We turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and started the long uphill climb toward Junkyard Junction. The trail continued to be almost dry which was surprise given the amount of rain that had fallen. At 3.2 miles we arrived at Junkyard Junction and turned right onto the blue Flynn Trail. The Flynn Trail is almost flat and on this day it was dry with a few muddy spots. There were no major blowdowns but I continued to removed branches that littered the trail. The entire trail does need to have some branches lopped to make a clear path. When we got to the gate, we turned right to stay on the trail and head down toward Hodge Pond. At 3.75 miles the Flynn Trail heads right and we follows it toward the outlet end of Hodge Pond.

This part of the Flynn Trail was the wettest and muddiest we had encountered. It also looked like OSI had used a large tractor to mow the trail and this left large ruts behind! After walking through the field were the mess hall and family camping area for the Boy Scout amp once stood we came to the clearing at the outlet end of the pond. I looked over at the pond and saw no spectacular picture opportunities. I deiced to continue on the Flynn Trail without stopping. We turned right and began the climb up the hill. IU was feeling quite fresh and concentrated on using my poles to help set a quick pace up the hill. At the top of the hill we stayed to the left to continue on the Flynn Trail. A right turn follows a woods road out to what remains of the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. Just after the turn there was a small tree across the trail. I tried to move it but it wouldn't budge. I broke some branches off and made a note to return with me saw. The Flynn Trail is relatively flat to the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 4.5 miles. We contused straight through this junction to follow the Flynn Trail back to the car. Cindy is fast on the downhill so I set a very quick pace downhill on the Flynn Trail. The walk is pretty but has no remarkable views or features. As we neared the end I saw two people headed our way. As we got closer I could hear music playing. I put Sheila of her leash and as I was about to pass the other hikers they asked how far it was to the pond. I told them it was about two miles. They seemed a little hesitant and wondered if they had meant to go to Frick Pond which is much closer to the parking area. As we approached the gate on the woods road, we turned left to avoid the private property around the cabin and to stay on the trail. On a previous trip I had cleared and reblazed the old trail and I could see that it was easy to follow. We finished our walk and were back at the car by 3:45 PM. We had covered 6.2 miles in 2 hours and 35 minutes with an elevation gain of 890 feet. Our average overall speed was 2.4 mph and we had stopped for only 6 minutes. We covered the last 1.6 miles in 34 minutes for a speed just under 3 mph.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Sams Point (Ice Caves and Indian Rock) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, July 22nd Cindy and I planned to hike at Sam's Point with members from the Grooville Free Methodist Church. We had not hiked there in some time and wondered what the area would look like after the massive fire that burned so many acres in April of 2016. Many of the trails were still closed including the High Point Trail and the trail to Verkeerderkill Falls. The Long Path had to be rerouted and now comes up the South Gully Trail from Route 52. When the trail meets the Loop Road, the Long Path turns left and follows the Loop Road to the High Point Carriage Road. It then follows the carriage road to the Berrypickers Path and the Upper Mine Hole Trail which finally leads down to Berme Road. The church group wanted to hike from the visitor's center to Sam's Point and then down to the Ice Caves and back. I planned to extend the hike fro Cindy and myself by walking around Lake Maratanza and visiting Indian Rock. When we got up in the morning, there was a lot of fog but it soon started to clear. For the second day in a row I could not take Sheila with us which made both of us sad. I promised here a short hike on Sunday! Cindy and I got dressed and got our gear ready and then drove down to Peck's Supermarket to meet the rest of the group at 9:00 AM. Unfortunately, the "rest of the group" was just one other person, Mary. We decided to drive our respective cars to the pastor's house in Liberty. We arrived in Liberty at about 9:30 AM to find Pastor Paul and his wife Sherri ready to go along with another hiker, Ray. Mary rode with us and Ray got in the pastor's car. I led the way as we drove out of Liberty. I was busy talking and drove toward Grahamsville instead of toward Woodbourne which is the quicker way. The way I chose is a little longer but very scenic. We took Route 55 to Route 209 where we turned right and headed into Ellenville. Here we turned left on canal Street which is also Route 52. We followed Route 52 up the mountain and turned left on Cragsmoor Road. In Cragsmoor we turned right onto Sam's Point Road and soon arrived at the parking at the visitor's center. We pulled into some free spaces although the parking lot was beginning to fill up. I went to the window to pay where the attendant took my $10 and handed me a ten dollar bill to feed into the machine outside! The machine took my money and gave me a parking slip for my windshield. I wondered what purpose the attendant served. By 10:30 AM we were ready to start up the loop road toward Sam's Point. The temperature was already in the mid 70's and the humidity was high.

picture taken during a hike We walked to the beginning of the loop road and stayed to the right to walk uphill to Sam's Point first. We met two groups of hikers on the way down and could hear others on the other branch of the loop road. Soon we were just below Sam's Point with a nice lookout on the right of the trail. Even though the view is better from on top, I wanted to stop and take some pictures from this lower lookout. I walked out onto the rock, dropped my pack and took out my camera. It was then that I found out that more than one member of the group did not appreciate heights. After taking a few pictures, I packed up and we continued up to the main lookout turning left at the top of the hill. Since Sam's Point is now part of Minnewaska State Park some of the "unnatural" additions have been removed including the low stone wall around the edge of Sam's Point. The wooden bridge over the crack between the two parts viewpoint remains. I understand the point of leaving things as natural as possible but I don't see the difference between a rock wall and a wooden bridge. I took some more pictures from Sam's Point although it was very hazy and difficult to see the Catskills to the north. I mentioned a few points of interest to the members of our group before we turned around and walked back out to the loop road. We turned left and started hiking to our next turn which was the road down to the ice caves. When I was in grade school, we came to the ice caves for class trips. At that time the area was privately owned and cars could drive all the way to a parking area at the beginning of the trail down to the caves. As we walked, I wondered where the fire had burned as we saw now evidence of it. In a little less than half a mile we arrived at the road to the ice caves and found all the trees on the right side of the loop road and the left side of the Ice Caves Road burned. Many of the trees were showing some new growth. It was obvious that the extra sunlight had favored the undergrowth as the blueberries were flourishing. We walked down the hill meeting a few group coming back up and overtaking some going down. The trail to Verkeerderkill Falls was blocked off with signs indicating it was closed. Soon we reached the trail down to the caves. The "caves" are not actually caverns but were formed when tectonic forces pulled pieces of rock away from the bedrock. We started down the steps which led to more stone stairs with wooden hand rails. The rocks were smooth and dripping water and condensation made them very slippery. On the way down we took a few pictures. As we descended the drop in the air temperature was perceptible. At the bottom we walked back out into the sun and along the base of the high stone cliffs. In some areas small streams ran directly out of the rock with clear, cold water. In other areas there were wooden walkways over some muddy areas. We walked through a rather dark tunnel which led to a narrow crack. In some places we had to duck under low hanging rock or scramble over other rocks. There were several wooden ladders to help over the biggest scrambles. We soon arrived at the "caves" and I was disappointed to see that the state had removed the wooden door leading into the caves. We walked in and found the lights and wooden walkways were still present. I did not try to take any pictures as the lighting is too poor. The walk was short and we were soon walking up the last ladder to the rocky outcrops that form a viewpoint at the end of the caves. From the viewpoint both Castle Point and Hamilton Point near Minnewaska and Awosting were visible. I took some more pictures before we walked uphill on the path to what used to be the parking lot. From here we had to walk back on Ice Caves Road which is all uphill. Several in the group were almost at the end of their energy. When we reached the junction with the Loop Road, we arranged for Mary to go back in the other car as Cindy and I wanted to extend our walk. It was 12:30 PM and we had only hiked 2.6 miles!

picture taken during a hike We left the group and turned right on the Loop Road passing by the burned trees on the right. We caught up to two couples who had their Rhodesian Ridgeback with them. He was extremely calm and well-behaved and I offered a compliment. We continued along the road until Lake Maratanza came along. This lake is one of the "sky lakes" most of which have a pH of around 4 which is very acidic and prevents the growth of most organisms. As we approached a young boy and his father were looking at something at the side of the road. It was a dark brown snake about two feet long. It was obvious it was not a rattlesnake from the shape of its head and the lack of any rattles. We took some pictures before the snake disappeared into a bush. I also took a few shots of the lake before we moved on. At 3.5 miles we turned right onto the High Point Carriageway and started walking north toward the Indian Rock Trail. The trail went uphill slightly and then dipped until at 3.9 miles we came to the trail. The road was lined with underbrush that had been trimmed some time ago and was simply left on the road. We turned left onto the trail and began to walk over some wooden walkways through berry bushes loaded with blueberries. After a little while we began to see that some of the trees were blackened but not completely burned. Several groups were coming toward us and we moved over to let them pass. The trail was very narrow and overgrown with brush. I began to wonder how New York State was using my $10At about 4 miles we came to the point where the trail begins to descend more steeply and there is a rock that offers a view. From this lookout we could see that all the trees below us were completed burned by the fire last April. I took some pictures including a long distance shot of Indian Rock which was clearly visible. We worked our way along the path passing some people resting on the open rock faces and some hiking back toward the main carriageway. We walked across an open rock face and down a crack in the rock and arrived at Indian Rock. I was glad there were no other people there at the time as it was easier to take some pictures. After a few minutes we headed back up the trail retracing our steps to the High Point Carriageway. I knew at this point it was just a matter of making the long and not very interesting walk back to the car. We hiked the carriageway out to the loop road and turned right to complete the loop around the lake. The loop road is mostly flat but descends some to get back to the parking area. In two places it passes the remains of some old shacks that were used by people who picked blueberries. This was a thriving industry at one time and the sites are the subject of an archaeological study. At 6.25 miles we passed by the South Gully Trail on the right which is part of both the Long Path and Shawangunk Ridge Trail. From there it was a short walk to the parking area which was now overflowing with cars. It was 2:20 PM and we had walked 6.6 miles in 3 hours and 50 minutes with a modest 875 foot elevation gain. After the hike we again visited Gaby's Mexican restaurant in Ellenville. Cindy and I both enjoyed the food.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Peters Kill (Jenny Lane) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, July 21st I planned to hike somewhere with my two sons, Karl and Kurt, for my birthday which is on Sunday. Kurt lives in Poughkeepsie so we decided to meet at Minnewaska State Park which is about half way between us. We agreed to meet at the Jenny Lane Parking Area at 9:30 AM to do a hike. My plan was to door the jenny lane trail to get another part of the SRT completed. When I started to plan the hike, I found I had already done this section of trail. I changed the plan to hike the loop around the Peters Kill as I did not think either of the boys had been there before. The weather forecast was for a warm humid day with highs in that area approaching 90 degrees but at least there were no thunderstorms in the forecast. Karl had to be back in Calicoon for a closing at 4:00 Pm so I though the 6 mile distance would be good. Karl picked me up in Livingston Manor at 8:30 AM. As we left the house without Sheila, she seemed very sad to be left behind. We usually stop for a meal after hiking and it would be too hot to leave her in the car. I was also concerned about the possibility of encountering a rattlesnake on the hike which has happened in the past! Karl drove south on State Route 17 getting off at the Liberty exit. He took Route 52 through Woodbourne to Route 209 in Ellenville. He drove north on Route 209 to Route 44/55 and the turned right to head toward New Paltz. Just before the main entrance to Minnewaska State Park, I directed him to turn left into the Jenny Lane parking are. There were three other cars parked but there was plenty of room for us and Kurt. We arrived at 0:15 AM and waited for Kurt who appeared at 9:35 AM. We got ready to hike and left the parking area at 9:45 AM heading east on Jenny Lane. After .15 miles we turned right on the Old Minnewaska Trail heading south and southeast. This trail is more of a road for a short distance. Just before the road turned into a trail, we found a large pile of logs stacked to the right of the trail. The logs had been there for some time and were covered by a black netting. We could not come up for a reason for this! We starred out on the trail stopping at about .35 miles for a cellophane call. Just before we started out, Kurt pointed out a 30 inch black snake lying along a branch on the ground. It did not have the head of a rattlesnake nor did its tail appear to have rattles. It seemed annoyed at our presence and shook its tail in the leaves making and unsettling "rattle". It also curled up a little and raised its head. We decided to leave the snake to warm up in the sun and started up the hill in front of us. At .95 miles the Old Minnewaska Trail ended at Route 55 where the High Peters Kill Trail began. We ducked back into the woods and started following the red blazes heading east still gaining some elevation to 1.4 miles. The trail heads northeast and parallels Route 55 to about 1.6 miles where the trail continues northeast and the road turns more to the east. Along the way there were some opportunities to walk to the edge of the escarpment and get some views to the south and east. Neither of the boys enjoys being very near the edge of the rocks which doesn't bother me very much.We could even see the Smiley Tower at the Mohonk Preserve in the distance .

picture taken during a hike At 1.7 miles we could see where the Peters Kill crosses beneath the roadway. From 1.7 miles to 2.7 miles the trail continued to head northeast and downhill. There weren't too many more views as the trail dropped 480 feet in a mile. At 2.7 miles the trail turned south and down a steep hill to cross the Peters Kill on two bridges at 2.8 miles. This was the lowest point on the hike and we would have to do some climbing to get back to the car. I stopped to take some pictures of the Peters Kill but was disappointed that there was so little water. I didn't expect the levels to match the ones during the spring but I thought the recent rains would have contributed to the flow! After crossing the bridges we turned right or south to follow the yellow blazes along the stream. We began to encounter people sunning themselves and taking a dip in the water. I understand the attraction but their presence spoiled the opportunity to get some pictures in some spots. A group of young people cam down the trail and started to walk up the stream bed. They were loud but were obviously having a good time. I remembered from previous trips that the trail along the stream are not very distinct and do not parallel the Peters Kill all the way to where it crosses the road. At about 3.2 miles into the hike the yellow trail ended and another red trail started. The red trail immediately branched with the left fork heading for the Peters Kill parking area and park office. We stayed to the right to follow the bench of the trail that paralleled the stream. Occasionally we would walk out to the stream to take some pictures but the lack of water limited the opportunities. We even walked up the streambed for some distance as the water was so low. At 3,4 miles the red trail started off to the left and up to the parking area. We continued along the edge of the stream taking some pictures at one of the falls. Soon we came to Sheldon Falls. Sheldon Falls is a series of cascades and today there were several families and other groups sunning themselves on the rocks or wading in the cool water. I took some pictures of we are happy to would have been a falls if there had been sufficient water. We worked our way up the bank to a structure at the base of Sheldon Falls. It is the remains of an old COAL FIRED power plant that provided electricity for some of the now long forgotten boarding houses that dotted this area many years ago. A large pipe descends into the plant. Even though it has stood idle for many years, some of the machinery is still present and I took a few pictures before moving on. We followed one of the informal paths to a point where I could get a few pictures of Peters Kill Falls. Had the water level been higher I would have walked out to the falls but time was growing short. We followed a steep path up to the road and walked back toward the point where the stream crosses under the road.

picture taken during a hike We crossed the road and got on the Awosting Falls Carriageway. The closer we got to the falls the more people we encountered. At 4.5 miles we were at the falls which was a zoo! There were people lining the edges of the pool and a group from a camp hanging from the trees near the falls. One of the counselors was yelling at some children at the top of the falls to stay back from the edge. I could see two young women in bathing suits walking across the slippery rocks at the top of the falls. During all of this activity, there were no park personnel present to warn people of their stupidly dangerous behavior! I took some pictures of the falls trying to cut out the people as much as possible. There was very little water going over the falls so we quickly moved on. The walk to the top of the falls is steep but short and there were even more people coming down this path. We walked out to the park road and turned right and then left to follow the road to the Awosting parking area. The entrance to the park has been redone to allow cars to get into the park before they pay the fee. This keep scars from blocking route 55. We walked across the parking area and out to the road. We turned left and headed northwest and then north on the shoulder of the road for .9 miles back to the parking area. We arrived back at the cars at 1:30 PM walking 6.3 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes with about 45 minutes of stopped time. The elevation gain was 1050 feet. We decided to eat at Gabby's, a Mexican restaurant, in Ellenville. The food was very good and I would recommend it highly

map icon Cabot (from Big Pond) AllTrails - Cabot (from Big Pond) CalTopo - Cabot (from Big Pond) Gmap4 - Cabot (from Big Pond) MapMyHike - Cabot (from Big Pond) On Wednesday, July 19th, I planned to return to the Touch-Me-Not Trail from Big pond to Cabot Mountain to finish the trail clearing we had started on Saturday and Sunday. I had taken two days off to rest and recuperate and to tend to some work around the house. I had been using my son Karl's string dimmer but had grown frustrated with it in several ways. The bottom line was that it was not built to be used for the heavy-duty work I was doing clearing two foot tall nettles, briars and brush from the trails. I began to research string trimmers and found two highly recommended brand were Stihl and Husqvarna. Fortunately, there is a dealer in my area and I was convinced it would be worth the extra cost to buy from him to gain the expert advice. This dealer also maintains a top-notch repair shop which was a deciding factor. On Monday I headed over to his place of business and told him my problem. I needed a trimmer to stand up to the work I was doing but one that would not be too heavy to carry at least two miles along a trail. He recommended the Stihl FS 131 which is a professional grade trimmer with a straight shaft and a gearbox that would prevent vegetation from wrapping around the head and binding. The machine also has a 36cc 4-cycle engine which takes a 50:1 gas-oil mixture and handles 10 feet of .095 inch line on an upper and lower reel. The starting procedure is quick and reliable and it was a lot of power. The only drawback is that it is longer and heavier than the trimmers I have previously used. The dealer recommended a double harness which I bought. One of the employees spent time with me to walk me through all the procedures for suing the trimmer. I walked away mostly satisfied but wondering if I had bought a little more trimmer than I needed. I was not enthusiastic about carrying the gas powered string trimmer almost two miles up and over Touch-Me-Not Mountain but it was the quickest way to get to the place where I wanted to start to trim. In the morning we got dressed to work and I got my old pack that I use for carrying equipment ready by adding some more gas to the container I carry. I also included a water bottle and a multitool as well as some extra line for the trimmer. As we were getting dressed Sheila wasn't far away making sure we could not get out of the house without her! We took the SUV since the new straight shaft trimmer take sup too much space in my sedan. We left Livingston Manor around 9:30 AM and drove north on Old Route 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. We passed through Lew Beach and turned left on the Barkaboom Road just before Turnwood. I drove up the road less than a mile intending to park in the lot next to Big Pond. When we arrived there was only one car parked and I pulled into an empty space and parked at 9:50 AM. I got the trimmer ready making sure it would start. I put on the double harness for the trimmer and adjusted it to hold the trimmer a little high on my right side. I was able to put on my backpack over the harness with no problem. After hooking in the trimmer, we headed across the road to the beginning of the Touch-Me-Not Trail. My plan was to walk to the trail junction with the Campground Trail from Little Pond and then bear right to continue on the Touch-Me-Not Trail to a spot on Cabot Mountain where we had stopped clearing on Sunday. The walk went better than I expected and the harness allowed me to use one hand to keep the head elevated with most of the weight on the harness. As we walked along it was nice to admire our work from the previous days. We arrived at the trail junction and started down the other side of the mountain to the junction with the Little Pond Trail at about 1.6 miles. At this junction we continued straight ahead on the Touch-Me-Mot Trail toward Cabot Mountain. The trail here passes mostly through woods and there was little to trim.

After a little over an hour we came to the stretch of trail that I had cleared on nettles on Sunday. There were places I saw that I wanted to cut closer to the ground but I decided to save them for later. We push on to where the trail started to climb and were soon at the place where we had stopped clearing. I started the new trimmer without a problem and began cutting nettles, briars and brush. I was surprised at the power and ease-of-use of the new machine! Nothing seemed to slow it down except small saplings. The bump feed worked well and the difference between the ,095 inch line and the .080 line I had been using was obvious. It wasn't long before I reached a stand of small saplings and brush that I knew I could not cut with the trimmer. I called on Cindy and she came to cut out that section of the trail as well as some overhanging branches in different spots. I went to the next area of nettles and started cutting again. I was surprised there was still gas in the tank and line on the reel. I continued to cut as the trail began a steeper climb up the mountain. Eventually I came to a place where the trail began to get very steep and where no more nettles were visible. I knew there might be the need for some trimming farther up the trail but could not carry the trimmer up the very steep slope. I knew that I could start at the other end of the trail since the Beech Hill side is not as steep. I turned around and continued to trim some tings I had missed on the way up. When I got back to the patch of brush Cindy had trimmed I could see the trimmer was low on gas so I stopped it. I refueled the trimmer, got a drink and a bar. I asked Cindy for the clippers and spent 20 minutes cutting back some more brush and branches in spot. I returned to the trimmer and started it up again to trim some things I had missed on Sunday. I was careful to get the nettle stalks trimmed close to the ground and back from the edge of the trail. Just before entering the woods I cleare3d a few areas of light brush and then stopped the trimmer. We walked out to the junction with the Little Pond Trail and the continued straight ahead on the Touch-Me-Not Trail. Although we were climbing toward the junction with the Campground Trail, carrying the trimmer didn't seem too bad. I was also buoyed by the fact that we had finished the job after three tries! Soon we were at the top of the mountain and ready to start down the other side. Here and there I saw a few plants that could be trimmed but I didn't bother with them. We reached a spot where I had trimmed nettles on Saturday and I deiced to break up the return trip by cutting them closer to the ground. I started the trimmer and was immediately ready to work. I cut for some time eliminating a few nettles near the trail and cutting any reaming stems very close to the ground. When I Tran out of things to cut, I shut off the trimmer and we picked up the pace back to the car. We arrived back at the car just before 2:00 PM having spent just under4 hours on our trip. The temperature was in the high 70's and the predicted humidity had stayed away. I was tired but happy that I had proved I could carry the new trimmer a good distance and work with it efficiently. Now I suppose Cindy will want me to use it around the house! I am planning to hike from Beech Hill to Cabot soon to assess anything that needs to be cleared on the last section of the trail.

map icon Cabot (from Big Pond) AllTrails - Cabot (from Big Pond) CalTopo - Cabot (from Big Pond) Gmap4 - Cabot (from Big Pond) MapMyHike - Cabot (from Big Pond) On Sunday, July 16th, I planned to return to the Touch-Me-Not Trail from Big pond to Cabot Mountain to finish the trail clearing we had started the day before. I was not enthusiastic about carrying the gas powered string trimmer over a mile up, Touch-Me-Not Mountain but jut was the quickest way to get to the place where I wanted to start to trim. After church, I asked Cindy if she wanted to go and she agreed. There was no rain in the forecast so that was a plus. I did wonder if we would be able to get near Big Pond since there were well over thirty cars parked there the day before. When we arrived home, we ate a quick lunch and then got dressed to work. I got my old pack that I use for carrying as ready by adding some more gas to the container I carry. I also included a water bottle and a multitool as well as some extra line for the trimmer. As we were getting dressed Sheila wasn't far away making sure we could not get out of the house without her! After church we had gone all the way to Monticello to get the oil Ryobi suggested for the trimmer. I made sure I added the oil to the trimmer before putting it in the car. I was glad I did as it was nearly empty. We left Livingston Manor around 1:30 PM and drove north on Old Route 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. We passed through Lew Beach and turned left on the Barkaboom Road just before Turnwood. I drove up the road less than a mile intending to park in the lot next to Big Pond. As we approached, I was anticipating a scene like the day before but we found only a few cars parked in the lot by the pond. I pulled into an empty space and parked at 1:50 PM. I got the trimmer ready making sure it would start and we headed across the road to the beginning of the Touch-Me-Not Trail. My plan was to walk to the trail junction with the Campground Trail from Little Pond where I would begin trimming. The walk went well although not as quickly as I had hoped due to the steep sections of the trail. It was nice to admire our work from the day before. We arrived at the trail junction at about 2:40 PM. I put the trimmer down, fueled it and started it up without a problem. Along the first part of the trail wasn't much to trim but soon we entered sections with briars and brush and then nettles. I took care of the smaller instruction while Cindy used her clippers to remove larger branches. When the trimmer ran out of line, I quickly reaped it and added some gas to the tank. At one point a father approached us from the trail junction with his young daughter. They had started at Little Pond and climbed the Campground Trail. They were now looking for the Little Pond Trail to return to the campsites. We talked to them and made sure they knew the route and that there was a nice lookout on the trail. It is only half a mile between the two trail junctions but it seemed much longer with some sections that needed no trimming and others that took some time to clear. I also noticed that the trail was all downhill losing about 270 feet. I knew that later I would have to climb this section of trail to get back to the car! Soon we were at the trail junction and I continued straight ahead on the Touch-Me-Not Trail.M/p>

There wasn't much to trim so I shut off the engine to get a drink and then carry it to the beginning of what I knew would be a big stand of nettles. When I explained the plan to Cindy, she seemed to hesitate and I was not sure what she was going to do. I knew I wanted to try to finish the work so Sheila and I continued on the trail. As the trail passed through the trees there wasn't much to cut and we made good time. When we broke out into the sunlight I looked ahead and saw an incredible sea of nettles! I also saw three hikers coming toward me. The two men a one woman were members of the FLTC and were hiking the trail as part of the Finger Lakes Trail. The woman is the End-to-End coordinator for the FLTC. We spoke briefly and they confirmed the nettles went on for some distance. They asked if they could take a picture and I agreed. They were surprised when Sheila sat down and posed for the shot. I got the trimmer ready and called several times to see if Cindy was coming. I got no answer so I started the trimmer and began to work. The nettles were very plentiful and very high. As I cut they wound around the trimmer head and I had to stop to clear it. I noticed that the head was hot as was the engine. This was not surprising as I had been cutting almost continuously for and hour and a half. Sheila alerted and I saw that Cindy had finally caught up with us. I tried to remove the trimmer head but it would not budge so I decided to continue as best I could. I explained to Cindy that I wanted to finish clearing the nettles. She pointed out that it was almost 5:00 PM. I started the trimmer and continued trimming as the trail began to climb up Cabot Mountain. Every time I would turn a corner there were more nettles to cut along with other weeds and brush. Eventually I stopped the trimmer and walked up the trail to scout how much more there was to cut. There were still a lot of nettles and they extended farther than I could see. There was also a small stand of brush that was encroaching on the trail and I knew it was more than the trimmer could handle. I really did not want to return for a third trip but knew I had no choice if I wanted to get the job done right. I walked back to the trimmer picked it up and started back on the trail at around 4:55 PM. The feeling of accomplishment I felt was mixed with the knowledge that I would have to come back and that there was quite a bit of work left to do. Once we hit the junction with the Little Pond Trail, we began the half mile climb up to the junction with the Campground Trail. Half a mile and a 270 foot gain in elevation would normally be easy but carrying the trimmer made it much more difficult. We came to the trail junction and turned left to stay on the Touch-Me-Not Trail back to Big Pond. Since the trail was downhill all the way, we were able to keep a pretty good pace. I slowed down a couple times for a brief rest and to pick my way through the muddiest and slipperiest places. We were back at the car at 5:55 PM after spending 4 hours walking and working. When we got home, I enlisted the help of my neighbor to see if we could loosen the reel on the trimmer. We eventually had to break off the knob and remove the bolt to get the reel off. The head would not come off but I had enough parts to put together a complete working head. My neighbor said he had the same problem with the Ryobi he had and with other string trimmers. They are designed with plastic parts which easily overheat when used for hard work. I will return one more time this week to, hopefully, finish the job!

map icon Cabot (from Big Pond) AllTrails - Cabot (from Big Pond) CalTopo - Cabot (from Big Pond) Gmap4 - Cabot (from Big Pond) MapMyHike - Cabot (from Big Pond) On Saturday, July 15th, I planned to hike to do some more trail clearing from Big Pond to the slopes of Cabot Mountain. The last time I had hiked the route there were too many nettles to easily pass through the trail after about .7 miles where the ascent begins to get steep. Cindy decided to go with me which I appreciated as I would be working with the gas powered string trimmer. I got my old pack that I use for carrying as ready by adding some more gas to the container I carry. I also included a water bottle and a multitool as well as some extra line for the trimmer. As we were getting dressed Sheila wasn't far away making sure we could not get out of the house without her! I was concerned that it might rain but did not feel like taking a jacket. I left Livingston Manor just before 10:00 AM and drove north on Old Route 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. I passed through Lew Beach and turned left on the Barkaboom Road just before Turnwood. I drove up the road less than a mile intending to park in the lot next to Big Pond. As we approached, we found cars parked on both sides of the road and I wondered if I would find a parking spot. As luck would have it, someone pulled out of the lot and I pulled in. I go the trimmer ready making sure it would start and we headed across the road to the beginning of the Touch-Me-Not Trail. My pan was to trim all the way to the top of the mountain and then continue on the trail to the junction with the Little Pond Trail. I would decide then if I had enough energy to trim up the side of Cabot Mountain. I intended to return on the Little Pond trail to Little Pond. I would leave the trimmer at Little Pond and walked the road back to the car. I could then return to Little Pond to get the trimmer. I wanted to avoid retuning on the Touch Me not trail as it requires reclimbing the mountain and then descending the slippery, steep trail to Big Pond. As we started out there were some ferns on the trail but I decided to hold off on starting to use the trimmer until the worst sections further up the trail. Cindy let Sheila go and she stayed near us with a few forays off trail to follow her nose. After a little more than half a mile, some nettles began to pop up so I started the trimmer and began to cut. There were some pretty thick places starting closer to the trailhead than I remembered. Soon we came to the first steep little incline which was also very muddy and slippery. At this point the trimmer stopped cutting so I turned it off and found that I had run out of line. I took time to remove the vegetation that had wrapped around the spool and then reloaded the line. Loading the line went quickly. I filled the gas tank and put my pack back on and started the trimmer. There was a small strength of trail that did not need much trimming and then the nettles began in earnest at about .7 miles. Just as I began to cut I saw two people coming toward me. I stepped off the side of the trail and Cindy Grabbed Sheila to allow the hikers to pass. One was wearing shorts and I resisted the temptation to ask him about his choice. I started cutting again along the section of trail that was thick with nettles on both sides. In some places the nettles had completely overgrown the trail and I had to slow down to allow the trimmer to cut the heavy vegetation. Once again I found that being pelted by pieces of nettle was an uncomfortable experience. The trail began to gain elevation and I found cutting and climbing to be challenging. As I was cutting I looked up to find a lone woman hiking toward us. Cindy grabbed Shei8la and I moved over to let her pass. This hiker thanked us for our work. I thanked her and advised her to take a look at the nettles she would avoid! As we started to get near the top of the mountain the vegetation changed from nettles to briars. The trimmer handled these well along with some other plants along the trail. The amount of briars was nothing compared to two years ago when I needed the power scythe to cut through the almost impenetrable patch. This is why I like to cut the trail at least four feet wide since it seem to last for a season and discourage growth the next year. The briars didn't last long and we were soon at the highest point on the trail. I stopped the trimmer and replaced the line and added gas to the tank. I continued to cut some ferns and brush while Cindy used loppers to cut some branches. I cut all the way to the junction with the Campground Trail and cut out the intersection. It was 12:30 PM. For the entire time the skies had grown dark and threatened rain and then the sun came out. This was repeated several times and the skies were dark again. I did not want to get wet but I also did not want to lug the trimmer up the mountain again on another day. Cindy wanted to return and I have learned it is easier to do what she wants. We turned around and started back down the trail. I was unhappy as I knew I would have to spend another day carrying around the trimmer to cut the rest of the trail! I did get to look at the work I had done which was good in most places. There were a few places where I stopped and used the trimmer to cut a few patches I had missed. As we got to the lower part of the trail, I used the trimmer to cut back some ferns and other brush which were encroaching on the trail. I continued to do this all the way to the road. We were back at the car around 1:30 PM. There were now even more cars parked at Big Pond. The skies which had been dark were now bright and sunny which made me regret the decision to turn around even more. We had hike about 2.3 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes> The hike up the mountain took 2 hours and 15 minutes but the walk back was only 1 hour. Of course, t5here was a lot of time taken to cut and trim the trail. I decided to return the next afternoon to complete the job.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Friday, July 14th my grandson Bryce was again at our house. Bryce is extremely intelligent and can carry one conversations about many topics. He is also energetic and athletic and likes to hike. We did some work around the house and played some games. After lunch I asked Bryce if he would like to go across the street for a hike on Round Top and he readily agreed. Just before 1:00 PM Bryce and I crossed the street with Sheila on her leash and walked to the back of the church. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction we turned right to walk the more gentle trail following the yellow blazes. At the sharp left turn at the top of the trail we turned left to follow the lower trail as it skirted the base of Round Top. Where the trail turned left again, we turned right on the blue blazed upper trail which leads to the summit of Round Top. The trail is steeper than the lower loop but Bryce had no problem walking up the hill to the summit. We continued over the top and down the other side with Bryce picking up branches and removing them from the trail. At the bottom of the hill we turned right on the yellow trail and retraced our route back to the next sharp left turn. This time we turned left and followed the lower trail downhill toward the viewpoint. After discovering the vandalism here last week, I have been holding my breath as I approach the lookout. Fortunately, there were no more trees cut down and we continued to follow the trail down the hill to the first trail junction. Bryce wanted to go home but I encouraged him to do another figure 8 in the opposite direction. I must have been persuasive as we turned around and headed back up to the viewpoint. We followed the trail to the right and uphill to the beginning of the blue trail. We turned right to stay on the lower trail until we got to the other end of the blue trail. Here we turned left and started up over Round Top in the opposite direction. Bryce sometimes seems surprised at our location and how the trails fit together! We hike up the hill with Bruce leading the way by a large margin. We walked across the summit and down the other side. Bryce can hike uphill with no problem but loves to almost run down the hills. When we got to the lower trail Bryce was in the lead and turned right which was the wrong way. I turned left and quickened my pace to see how long it would take him to realize his mistake. It did not take along until he came running after me in hot pursuit. I started to jog and then for run staying ahead of Bryce but only barely. He caught up where the yellow trail turns down the hill to the woods road. We walked together down the trail to the woods road that leads back to the first trail junction. Along the way Sheila decided to go crazy running down the trail at top speed and then back toward us. Bryce thought this was very funny. At the first trail junction we turned left and walked out to the trailhead. I out Sheila on her leash and we walked down the cemetery hill and across the field by the church to our driveway. I think Bryce will soon be ready for his first 3500 foot peak!

map icon Cabot (from Big Pond) AllTrails - Cabot (from Big Pond) CalTopo - Cabot (from Big Pond) Gmap4 - Cabot (from Big Pond) MapMyHike - Cabot (from Big Pond) On Wednesday, July 12th, I had planned to hike to do some more trail clearing on the slopes of Cabot Mountain. The last time I had hiked the route there was some brush on the ascent from Little Pond but I did not have my machete to clear it. I got my pack and tools together including my small Silky saw and my machete. As I was getting dressed Sheila wasn't far away making sure I could not get out of the house without her! I was concerned that it might rain but did not feel like taking a jacket. I left Livingston Manor just after 8:30 AM and drove north on Old Route 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. Work crews were still ditching and cutting trees on the Beaverkill Road but is was not delayed. I passed through Lew Beach and turned left on the Barkaboom Road just before Turnwood. I drove up the road less than a mile and parked at Big Pond around 9:00 AM. As soon as I got out of the car I felt the heat and humidity and found my glasses fogging. I thought about putting on some insect repellant but decided to hold off until it was really needed. I set my electronics and we walked across the road to begin our hike just after 9:00 AM. The first part of the trail is a little steep but I stopped to pick up some branches and throw them off the trail. There were some ferns encroaching on the trail but I felt they did no harm and left them alone. I did notice that the trail was very wet and the tree leaves were covered in water. Just passed the trail register was a tree leaning across the trail. I had identified this and several others to be cut with a chainsaw last year but the promised help never materialized. The tree doesn't really block the trail but I worry that some day it has to come down. We continued to walk up the trail with me stopping to pick up some branches lying in the trail. I identified some branches that needed to be trimmed back but thought I would wait until the return trip. I began to encounter some nettles but they were easy to pass. As I began to start the climb up Touch-Me-Not Mountain, I found one newly fallen tree across the trail. The main trunk was on the ground but a large branch arched up to block the trail. I stopped, got out my Silky saw and quickly dispatched the branch and dragged it off the trail. We continued on the trail through several muddy areas which were very slippery. Several times it began to rain but each showers lasted only minutes. The further I walled along the trail, the more nettles I found until they were completely overgrowing the trail. It became clear to me that I would need to come back with the string trimmer to remove the nettles and, most likely, the briars further along on the trail. At this point it did not make sense to push through to cut the small patch of brush on Cabot Mountain so I decided to turn around a little less then a mile along the trail. On the way back I got out my machete and cut back the branches that were on the trail or near the trail. Most branches were easily cut but some required a little extra effort. Every time I cut a branch the water on the leaves fell on me like a rain shower. On the way back I finished cutting the one tree trunk I had left on the trail. I used the saw to make two cuts and dragged the pieces off the trail. There is still a large trunk left on the trail but it is split into two pieces and does not block the trail. I continued down the trail cutting branches as I walked. By the time we were back at the car at 10:45 AM I was very wet and my pack was soaked on the outside. The forecast for Thursday and Friday does not look promising so I may try trimming with the string trimmer on Saturday.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Tuesday, July 11th Lisa contacted me to hike Round Top to inspect the damage done by some vandals. I told her that Bryce was coming to our house and she agreed to wait for him to hike. Bryce arrived just after 9:00 AM and we agreed to meet at 9:30 AM to hike. Just before 9:30 AM Bryce and I crossed the street with Sheila on her leash to meet Lisa in the church parking lot. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not want to carry the extra weight and wanted to have the "freedom" from taking pictures. After a few minutes we began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead to the lookout. I was relieved to find there was no more damage to the trees there. I showed Lisa the stumps I had cut off and the material I had removed from the viewpoint. We continued our hike by following the yellow blazes to the right and slightly uphill until we came to the sharp right turn. We continued to follow the yellow trail around the base of Round Top to the next right turn. At this point we turned left to follow the blue blazes on the trail over the summit. Bryce didn't seem to have any trouble getting up the hill! We walked across the summit and started down the other side. The trails were very clean with almost no new branches on them. Bryce seemed to almost run down the hill being unable to restrain himself. At the end of the blue trail we turned left on the yellow trail and walked around to the sharp right turn. This time we turned right and walked down the trail to the woods road that took us back to the first trail junction. At the trail junction I was ready to do another figure 8 but Bryce did not seem interested. I decided not to press him so we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked down the hill to the church. We said goodbye to Lisa and walked across the field to our driveway.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Table and Peekamoose (Denning) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, July 10th I had planned to hike Table and Peekamoose from the Denning trailhead. A busy evening of ambulance calls left me tired and I slept later than normal. By the time I got up my initial thought was that it was too late to go but I decided to try as there was rain in the forecast for the rest of the week. I got dressed which signaled to Sheila that we were going on a hike! I made sure I included two water bottles as I knew the hike was over 8 miles with plenty of climbing which I had not done in some time. When Sheila and I left Livingston Manor at around 10:20 AM the air temperature was in the high 60's and the forecast was for highs in the mid 70's. It was a little humid but I was happy about the moderate temperatures. I drove out DeBruce Road to Rt 47 and turned right to go toward Claryville. I turned left onto the Claryville Road and continued toward the Denning trailhead. The road became dirt at one point but was in generally good shape. The drive was longer than I remembered and we arrived in the parking area at 10:50 AM. There were several cars already parked as I set my electronics and got ready to hike. A pickup truck pulled up and parked and the driver got out to take pictures of the house at the end of the road which has interesting architecture. We left the trailhead at 10:55 AM and headed out the Phoenicia-East Branch Trail which is also the eastern end of the Finger Lakes Trail. It was hard to tell how many people were ahead of us. The trail was drier in most places than I had anticipated with only a few wet spots. Some of the small streams that are usually running were dried up. As we hiked Sheila alerted and I looked up to see a group of young men approaching. The were divided into several sections so I pulled Sheila to the side of the trail and waited until they all had passed. Most said "Hello" which was nice. As we approached the junction with the Table-Peekamoose Trail, we caught up to a solo make hiker some years older than I. I made a little noise to make sure we don't surprise him as we passed. He continued on the Phoenicia-East Branch Trail and we turned right at 1.2 miles to descend toward the river. The trails are getting more eroded which means the rocks are even more prominent. Soon we were near the river crossing a small stream. The bridge across the Neversink was in good shape and beginning to look a little old. We crossed and put down my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the bridge and of Sheila playing in the river. I grabbed my pack and we walked to the next bridge to cross another small stream. This bridge consist of two logs and a cable as a guide. It is usually very icy in the winter which makes it difficult to cross. Once we were on the other side I took a few shots before continuing on. I could see a tent set up along the river which is not a designated campsite.We passed the beginning of the informal path along the river called the Fisherman's Path. We passed another designated campsite and at 1.7 miles began our climb by negotiating a very rocky area.

picture taken during a hike Some parts of the trail looked familiar and other parts did not. I will admit that the climb was longer and harder than I remembered. We had headed south from the river until at 2.25 miles we descended some and the trail turned east. I despise walking downhill when I know there is so much uphill ahead. Along the way we met a man and his Portuguese water dog headed toward us. He pulled his dog over and I put Sheila on her leash to pass them. The dogs seemed to want to meet so we allowed them a quick sniff and then headed in opposite directions. A breeze was blowing most of the time but it still seemed hot ands I was sweating to prove it. I remembered that I need to drink and stopped several times to get a drink and give Sheila one also. I knew there was a spring near the lean-to but I did not know how reliable it might be. At 2.8 miles an informal path led to the right to a viewpoint and we walked out to it. The views were good and unobstructed but the day was hazy. I took pictures anyway and got us a drink before returning to the main path. We had been climbing constantly with a few flatter areas where I could catch my breath before the next ascent. At 3.o miles ether was another short descent and then we were climbing again. At 3.45 miles there was a trail on the left with a sign that said "Spring" so we walked over to the water source. There was a pipe driven into the side of the hill with a trickle of water coming out. I had emptied one water bottle so I filled it from the spring. The water seemed very cold but I toted it with my Steripen before putting the bottle back in the pack. While the Steripen was working, I took a few shots of the spring. Back on the main trail we almost immediately passed the sign for the lean-to on the right. We had been averaging a 20% grade on the climbs but the last .4 miles was 23% and it was tiring me out. I had pretty much ruled out Peekamoose at this point. We finally made it to the top of the climb and walked along the trail toward the point that I considered the summit. The Name Table is a good description of the top of the mountain! As we approached that point, I saw that there were three hikers sitting and enjoying a snack. I put Sheila on her leash and passed them with a greeting. I decided to walk a little farther to see If i could find a lookout to the north. As we walked I began to feel better and decided than Peekamoose was less than a mile away with a minimal drop between the peaks. There was a lot of damage from wind at the top of the mountain in several different places. I did find a path off to the left but was now fixed on the trip to Peekamoose.

picture taken during a hike At 4.15 miles we began the steep descent into the col between the two peaks which lasted for about a quarter mile. We had been traveling southeast of east for some time but at this point the trailed turned south on the way to Peekamoose. There was a short, flat spot at the bottom and then we started to climb again. The climb up Peekamoose was about as steep as the descent from table but it lasted only about a quarter mile until the trail began to level. Soon we were at the large rock that I have always taken to be the summit but I wanted to walk passed that point until the trail began to descend. In a few minutes I was satisfied that we had hit the high point and turned around. I noticed a path that appeared to go to viewpoint on the east side of the trail. We walked out to it and there were some nice views but, again, it was hazy. I took some pictures and then we walked back to the big rock. Sheila immediately climbed to the top of the rock so I took some shots of her. She got down and posed in front of the rock so I took some more pictures. It was 2:00 PM and we had already hiked 4.7 miles when we turned around to start back. The descent of Peekamoose went quickly but the ascent to Table took a little longer. The walk across the almost flat top of Table in only ,3 miles but it seemed to take forever until we reached the descent. Just as we began to descend at 5.55 miles I saw a path to the left and decided to follow it. It led to another nice viewpoint to the west and I decided to take a few pictures despite the haze. When I was finished, we walked back to the main trail and started the steep descent which did not go as quickly as I had hoped. Walking downhill on steep terrain with rocks and loose gravel requires some care and I slipped a few times. I check the time and aimed at keeping 2 mph as my speed. After an hour I checked my watch and found we had only gone 1.8 miles! We continued to descend and at 6.25 miles and 6.95 miles we hit some small ascents. These should not have been a problem but I was pretty tired at this point. As we continued down, Sheila and I both began to hear voices ahead. It took a little time but we soon could see the three people we had met at the summit of Table working their way down the trail. We were moving faster and soon caught up to them and they let us pass through. I slowed a little and asked where they were from and they said Eldred and Callicoon. I expressed my surprise because the answer is most often New Jersey or New York City!

picture taken during a hike One of the women quickened her pace and stayed with me as we separated from her friends. We began to talk and she told me that she and the other woman were training to hike Kilimanjaro, a 19341 foot peak in Kenya, in October. We talked about her trip and topics related to hiking at higher altitudes. Soon I noticed we had passed through the rocky area of the descent and were nearing the river. She decided to wait for her companions and we parted company. I was very grateful for the company as it made the final part of the descent pass by much faster. Sheila had been good the whole way off her leash apparently accepting the other woman as part of her pack. I continued to walk toward the river passing some campsites and the beginning of the Fisherman's Path. I noticed that my lower back was starting to hurt and I wasn't sure if I had twisted it during a slip or whether this was just a more challenging hike than I had done in some time. We crossed both bridges with Sheila taking time to cool off in the water and get a drink. The short ascent to the Phoenicia-East Branch trail left my back hurting a little more. We turned left at the top of the ascent to begin the final 1.3 mile trek back to the car. While this part of the trail is downhill most of the way there area a few small uphill that I did not appreciate. Sheila decided to jump into one more stream and came out with her legs and belly covered in black mud! I explained to her that this had not been a good idea and stopped at a small stream to try to wash off some of the mud. At about 4:40 PM I could finally see the gate at the end of the trail ahead and new it would only be a few more minutes until we were done. Sitting by the gate and in the parking lot were the boys I had met much earlier n the hike. They told me they were from a wilderness camp and were waiting for their bus. There wasn't much i could do but I wondered if the bus would find them. There is no cell service at the trailhead and it is very isolated. We walked back to the car arriving at 4:55 PM after hiking almost exactly 6 hours and covering 9.4 miles with a 2745 foot elevation gain! I felt every one of those miles and was disappointed that our moving speed was 1.8 mph. This was definitely the most difficult hike I had done in some time but also the most satisfying.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Andes Rail Trail: Complete alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Sunday, July 9th I wanted to go somewhere to hike after church as the weather was so nice. I asked Cindy if she would like to go and she said "yes". I planned to take her to Andes to hike the Rail trail and the Bullet Hole Spur Trail. Cindy had not been on this hike before and I thought she might enjoy it. After we finished in Andes, I thought we would stop by the Pepacton Reservoir and hike the Shavertown Trail to the pond. When we got home from church, we changed clothes, got a quick bite to eat and put all our gear in the car. Sheila jumped in the back seat and we left Livingston Manor just after 12:30 PM for the drive to Andes. Sheila acted as if we hadn't hiked in a week although we been out only two days ago! I decided to take Route 17 to Roscoe and then Route 206 to the Pepacton Reservoir. At the intersection with Route 30, I turned right to head for the bridge at Dunraven. I crossed the Pepacton Reservoir on the bridge and at the end of the bridge I turned left on Tremperskill Road and followed it into Andes. I turned left and drove less than a quarter mile to the sign that said "Andes Rail Trail" on the left. There wasn't really a parking area and I questioned whether or not I should park in front of the gate. In the end I did park trying to leave enough for someone to get through the gate if they needed to do so. We started our hike at 1:30 PM as I walked Sheila through the gate on her leash. Ahead of us was the Andes Depot which was rather modern looking. It was donated by the Decker family and may be on the site of the original depot but has been completely refurbished. A kiosk near the depot explained a little about the rail trail which follows the railroad bed of the Delaware and Northern Railroad. Someone is doing some work on the depot and seems to be matching the style that is already there. As we walked I noticed it was already hot and humid especially when we were not beneath the trees. Shortly after the depot, we came to a wooden walkway that spanned the only really wet spot on the trail. A couple was walking toward us and he said "hello". They were the only people we would meet. A little after that we broke out into the open to a nice view down the Tremperskill. At this point there was a "high road" and a "low road" with the suggestion that we use the high road when the main trail was muddy. This occurred several other places along the trail. We stopped so that I could take a few pictures before continuing on the main trail. I had been keeping Sheila on her leash but I had seen no other hikers and we were some distance from town so I released her. We hiked under the trees for a short time and then broke out into the open to another nice view and an interpretive sign. The sign explained that the foundation was the remains of the Andes turntable that was used to turn engines around. No pictures exist of the original structure but it was called an "Armstrong turntable" since the engineer and fireman had to use their "strong arms" to pivot the engine! I took a few shot before we continued.

picture taken during a hike We entered the woods again and crossed a small bridge. I began to notice the regular "bumps" on the trail which signs said were the railroad ties which had not been removed. I wondered about his until I saw a couple of exposed ties! Another interpretive sign explained that there had been two trestles on the rail line in the area. Both had been featured in movies from the early 20th century! After walking a little farther, we came to the end of the flat rail trail and the beginning of the Bullet Hole Spur Trail. We continued on the trail which immediately began to climb and I knew the easy walking was behind us. This part of the trail needed some work in cutting back briars and removing branches. We had been headed south but now a major switchback took us north before heading south again and always climbing. The trail passed through some hardwoods and then entered a hemlock forest as it climbed to the shoulder of Hemlock Knoll. There were some interesting rock formations along the way and I stopped to take a few pictures. Sheila climbed onto the largest glacial erratic and I took a few pictures of her on gaud duty. We began the descent of Hemlock Knoll and entered a area covered in ferns which Cindy thought was particularly beautiful. We continued until we came to a stone wall. A break in the wall signaled a place to get view of the surrounding hills which was very pretty. I took some pictures and then we passed over the stone wall where it had been turned into steps and came to the loop at the end of the Bullet Hole Spur Trail. Since I had continued straight ahead to last time we turned right to do the loop in a counterclockwise direction. We walked downhill on a trail which eventually joined a woods road that paralleled the Temperskill. I wanted to walk down to the stream but there was private property between the trail and the streambed. The loop was only half a mile long so we were soon back at the point where it started after walking through a red pine plantation. The return trip was now and out and back so we stepped up our pace. This part of the trail was much hillier than I remembered and the climb up Hemlock Knoll was taxing. The return trip seemed to go very quickly and we did not meet any more people on our way to the flat part of the rail trail. We arrived back at the car at 3:15 PM covering 3.7 miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes with an elevation gain of 700 feet. After getting a drink and sitting in the air conditioned car, I decided I felt fresh enough to hike the Shavertown Trail. However, Cindy said she was too tired to hike any more. I was disappointed as I do not like to change plans but knew that meant I could plan a longer hike for Monday!

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Friday, July 7th I had not planned to hike at all after several strenuous days clearing the Big Pond to Alder Lake Trail. As the afternoon rolled around, I realized that it was a beautiful day and I was encouraged by Sheila to go for a hike. I decided to head across the street to Round Top since it was close and I had not been there to inspect the trails in over a week. I got dressed, grabbed my poles and put Sheila on her leash to walk down the driveway and cross the street at just after 3:00 PM. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not want to carry the extra weight and wanted to have the "freedom" from taking pictures. We walked across the field to the back of the church to begin the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction Sheila chose the trail to the right which is the less strenuous climb. At the sharp left turn at the top of the hill we turned left and followed the yellow blazed lower trail as it skirted Round Top. When the trail turned left again, we turned right and started up the hill to the summit of Round Top on the new blue blazed upper trail. The trails and only a few new sticks on them which I picked up as we walked. Sheila feels comfortable on these trails and ranges a little too far for my comfort. We followed the trail across the summit and down the other side. There were a few places where some lopping was needed and several where the string trimmer might be sued to cut the ferns and grass. When we came down to the yellow trail, we turned right and followed the trails around to the sharp left turn. This time we turned left and walked downhill through the ferns toward the lookout. As we approached the viewpoint something looked amiss to me. On closer inspection there were8 or 9 trees that had been cut down! Whoever cut them used something like a hatchet since it was obvious many strikes were needed to cut the trees. Most were small but there was one cherry tree that was at least 8 inches in diameter. The trees had been left where they fell and there was evidence of a small fire on the viewpoint. I was appalled that someone would vandalize a public forest and trail system in this way. Several possibilities went through my mind. W walked down the hill to the first trail junction and out to the trailhead. I had intended to do several more loops but I knew my first priority was to report this act. At the trailhead we turned right and walked down the hill to the church and across the field to our driveway. I put Sheila in the house and called the town supervisor to make my report. He seemed disgusted that someone would spoil a public attraction for no apparent reason. I promised him I would clean up the mess on Saturday.

The more I though about the situation the more I knew I wanted to clean it up immediately. I got my pack with my small Silky saw and machete. I also grabbed my Council Tools felling axe and my bigger KatanaBoy Silky saw. I put Sheila in the backseat and my tools in the trunk and drove across the road to the top of the cemetery. I parked there, let Sheila out of the back seat and retried my tools from the trunk. We headed up the trail directly to the lookout. I leashed Sheila to a tree and put my tools down. Just before I started, I realized I had not brought a camera and pictures would have been nice. As usual I surveyed the job and formed a plan. I would cut and drag away the trees closest to the edge of the clearing. As I did this I made sure to drag the first trees far back into the woods so that I would have room for all of them. Some were small enough that I could just drag them away whole while others needed one or more cuts. The work was going faster than I expected but I was saving the biggest trees for last. The last tree I cut was a cherry tree with a diameter of about 8 inches at the base. For this one I used the felling axe. I am used to the Fiskars axe and was surprised that the Council Tools Velvicut, although much heavier, did not cut much better than the Fiskars. Once the cut was made I carried away the butt end of the tree which was almost heavier than I could handle. I used a saw to make another cut so that I could remove another piece of the trunk. Now that all the trees were cut up and dragged away, I turned my attention to the jagged stumps left behind. I grabbed the KatanaBoy and sawed all the stumps off at ground level and threw the pieces onto the brush piles. I looked at my watch and found it had taken about an hour to do the work. I will be making more frequent trips to the trails but it doesn't take someone very long to do this kind of damage. I hope the report to the State Police and Sheriff's Department will help find the culprits or at least dissuade then from doing any more damage. I also let several people, around town know what happened and asked them to let me know if they hear anything.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick and Hodge Ponds (Flynn and Big Rock Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Thursday, July 6th I headed to Frick Pond after working for an hour and a half at Big Pond Trimming the trail toward Alder Lake. My plan was to hike up the Flynn Trail and clear a tree from the trail about a mile up. I would then walk down the Big Rock Trail and inspect the large blowdown that had been partly cleared by the snowmobile club with a chainsaw. I would pick up sticks and branches along the way and clear any other blowdown that I found. At Times Square I would decided whether to turn right on the Logger's Loop or continue straight ahead on the Big Rock Trailback to the Quick Lake Trail and the parking area. From Livingston Manor I drove out the DeBruce Road and up the Mongaup Pond Road. I stayed left at the Y in the road and drove up the Beech Mountain Road to the small parking area at the Frick Pond. We arrived at the trailhead parking area at 12:05 PM and got ready to hike. As I was getting ready I noticed two deer that had been near the edge of the parking area were walking into the woods. Sheila spotted them but I cautioned her to leave them alone. There were no other cars in the lot as we headed across the road to start up the Flynn Trail. The trail was clean all the way to the woods road where we turned right and started up the hill. My regular pack is a lot heavier than the gasoline pack I had been carrying but it was a pleasure not to be lugging the string trimmer. I did have my Fiskars axe, machete and Silky saw. The grass on the trail was not as high as it had been and looked as if it had been cut. I reached down to pick up and handful and it still seemed rooted so its condition was a mystery. We found a blowdown on the trail just passed the path that leads to a large clearing on the right. The blowdown was not a tree but a large branch that had fallen. I took some "before" pictures and then went over to see what I was going to do. I got my Silky saw and began to cut off a few branches and throw them to the side of the trail. It is always easier to make these cuts and drag some branches out of the way rather than move pieces that are too large. I continue to cut and drag until only the large main part of the branch was left. IO decided to try to move it off the trail in one piece rather than to make another cut. Fortunately it was just within my limit to lift and I was able to lift and pivot and roll it off the trail. The whole operation had taken around 15 minutes. I took my "after" shots and then put my pack back together and headed on up the trail toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail.

picture taken during a hike After hiking 1.7 miles, we reached the junction with the Big Rock Trail and turned left to walk downhill toward Times Square. I picked up a few sticks along the way but the trail was pretty clean. Walking downhill was a pleasure as there was a slight breeze and the temperature was in the mid 70's. At one point I noticed Sheila was sniffing at something in the middle of the trail. I called her off and walked up to see she had found a bird's nest! It looked like it belonged there as it was well positioned with four eggs in the nest. The eggs were large than a robin's and were white with sprinkles of red. I was able to get some good pictures before continuing on down the trail. The Big Rock Trail has several "steps" in it which look very much the same and sometimes fool me into thinking I am after along than I am. As we neared the final descent to Times Square, we came to the very large tree that had blocked the trail. The tree was at least 2 feet in diameter and had been cut four places by the snowmobilers. They had left the chunks of wood near the trail and had not cleared some branches that were near the trail. I took some "before" shots and then got to work. I was able to roll the sections of trunk they had cut off the trail. I decided I wanted to hit something with my axe and the largest branch still protruding from the trunk fit the bill. The branch was at an odd angle so I did my best to cut through it. I cut from the ground on one side but had to stand on the trunk to cut from the other. It took me longer than expected but I got through it. I used the saw to strip of branches and throw them well off the trail. Once I had the main branch stripped I was able to rotate it off the trail as well. Knowing I could not cut through the main trunk I settled for what I had done. I took some more pictures and then walked down to Times Square. I decided to continue straight ahead on the Big Rock Trail. I negotiated the muddy areas around the trail junction but it was drier than I had expected. We continued around the head end of Frick Pond where there were some very deep muddy spots. Hikers had effectively rerouted the trail around these spots. Sheila ran ahead to the first bridge and dove into the water. From that point on she was racing ahead and the running back toward me as she often does after a swim. I understood she wanted to cool off but the water she chose had a certain odor! We walked out the Big Rock Trail crossing the wooden causeways. At the Quick Lake Trail we trend left to head toward the bridge at the outlet end of the pond. I walked across the bridge and got my camera out to take some pictures. I was surprised to see that the center of the beaver dam seemed "thinner" than last time and was filled with knew cuttings. There were two piles of stick on either side and it looked as if someone had tried to remove the dam! I like Frick Pond as a pond and I hope that the DEC has not decided to get rid of the beavers. I put the camera back in the pack and we headed out the Quick Lake Trail toward the parking area. The trail was only wet in a few places and we made good time. We were back at the car at 2"05 PM. I put my gear in the car and looked up to see two deer standing in the trees just off the parking area. I put Sheila in the car and slammed the door but the deer did not move. I got out my camera and took some pictures before getting in the car to drive home. We had spent about 2 hours hiking 4 miles and stopping several times to do trail work.

On Thursday, July 6th I wanted to return to the Big Pond to cut the nettles and weeds about a half mile in on the trail to Alder Lake. Sheila was happy to be going and jumped into the back seat of my car. We left Livingston Manor at about 9:30 AM and drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where we turned right. At the intersection with the Barkaboom Road we stayed to the left on Barkaboom Road until we came to the right turn into the upper parking area for Big Pond. As we drove up the access road, I could see that there was only one car parked in the lot so I pulled in next to it and got my gear ready. I got the pack with new gasoline container in ready by putting in a water bottle, my multitool and some new trimmer line. We walked over to the trailhead at 10:00 Am and started hiking through the field I had cut toward Alder Lake. We walked through some ferns and grass that I thought I might cut later. As we headed up the hill there were some more ferns to cut but I wanted to make sure I cut all the nettles up ahead. Soon the trail leveled a little and turned almost south. Pretty soon I could see a stretch of nettles up ahead that was longer than I had remembered. I put the trimmer down and started it right up. I began to cut the nettles, ferns and other weeds along the way making sure to cut them back from the trail so that as they grew back the trail would still be clear. At one point the trimmer stopped cutting so I stopped the engine and saw there was no more line. I et the trimmer down and got out a new length of line and crossed my fingers. I tried to insert the line from one side of the spool and it would not go in. When I tried from the other side, it slid in easily and I pulled it half way through. I twisted the reel as instructed and it wasn't long before all the line was on the reel. I started the trimmer up again and it cut perfectly and fed out more line when I bumped it. I continued uphill slightly cutting as I went. In total I cut a little over 500 feet on both sides of the trail until it made a sharp left turn. I knew that I had not seen anything that needed cutting beyond that. I left the trimmer on as I headed back down the trail to pick up a few areas I had missed. As we started down the hill, I turns the trimmer off but started it again as we encountered ferns and a few nettles. I trimmed all the way down the hill and across the flat area and uphill to the field. In the field I cut a few areas that were longer than the rest and then turned the trimmer off. Sheila alerted and I saw a woman with a Golden Retriever on a leash approaching us. Both dogs seemed friendly and sniffed each other as they passed. I walked back to the car and put away my tools. It was 11:30 AM and I had already done and hour and a half worth of work. I decided that there was still time to go to The Flynn Trail at Frick Pond to remove at least one tree a friend had said was on the trail just after the open field on the right. I drove back out the Barkaboom Road and retraced my route back to Livingston Manor.

picture album icon On Tuesday, July 4th I wanted to go to the Big Pond end of the trail from Big Pond to Alder Lake to finish cutting the briar patch that I had started the day before. I know trail maintenance is not the way most people spend July 4th but I wanted to get the work done! The briar patch is closer to Big Pond so my plan was to park at Big Pond and walk to the patch to finish it up. I thought on the way back I might have time to cut some other places on the trail. The only cutting that would then remain would be from Alder Lake to the stream where there were still a few spots that needed work. I asked Cindy If she wanted to go and she said "Yes". I was not concerned about the weather as the forecast included no rain but the highs were supposed to rise to the mid 70's. Sheila was happy to be going for a second day in a row and jumped into the back seat of my car. We left Livingston Manor at about 9:00 AM and drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where we turned right. At the intersection with the Barkaboom Road we stayed to the left on Barkaboom Road until we came to the access road for the upper parking area At Big Pond. I turned left and drove up the road and was lucky enough to find somebody leaving. I immediately pulled into the empty spot and about 9:30 AM. I got the pack with new gasoline container in ready by putting in a water bottle and my multitool. We walked over to the trailhead and started out on the trail. We found almost all of the campsites occupied and most people were up and active. As we walked I began to see some spots that could use some trimming but I stuck to my plan of cutting the briar patch first. Soon we were starting uphill through an evergreen forest at about 1 mile. Just after that we broke out into the open where the briar patch starts. I dropped my pack and put the trimmer on the ground to start it. I followed the directions and it immediately started. I began to cut the grass, weeds and briars while Cindy kept Sheila back from the trimming. The woody stems on the briars tend to hurt when they hit! The trimmer was doing a great job of cutting everything. I even tipped it so that the strings were vertical and trimmed back the briars even more. I wanted to make sure that the trimming lasted well into the summer season. The trimming was going great as I neared the top of the hill with quite a bit of the briar patch still to cut. At this point the trimmer made a funny noise and stopped cutting! The curse struck again! I stopped the trimmer and removed the housing from the reel. It seemed as if the bolt had melted part of the reel. I soon found out why when I gingerly touched the bolt and found it very hot! I got out my multitool to trying to loosen the bolt but several tries showed this would not be possible. I couldn't believe I would have to leave this section uncut again. We turned around and head back to the car. The return trip went quickly as I was not trimming as was very annoyed. We were back a the car by 11:00 AM after hiking around 2 miles and working for an hour and half. I drove back to Livingston Manor and decided to Go to Home Depot in Monticello to see what they could do about the bolt on the trimmer.

When I got to Home Depot, I entered the store with the entire lower part of the trimmer and the head I had bought there the day before. At the Service Desk I was directed to Tool Rental where a former student of mine went to work on the trimmer. I wandered around the store and when I came back she told me she could not get the bolt loose. Her supervisor happened to be present and he also tried unsuccessfully to loosen the bolt. He finally told me that they could not do anything. I informed him that I expected an entire new curved shaft trimmer since I had installed the part I bought in their store on a trimmer that had also been purchased in their store. He again repeated that he could not give me the part but then relented and told me to go to the gardening department to get the new one. I think it might have been the look on my face or the tone of my voice that let him know I would not give up. I went to gardening and they eventually found a similar part that look a different diameter line. I explained that I had just purchased from them a pack of line and would now need different line.The manager of the department told me to take as much line as I needed. I selected a reasonable package. The clerk marked everything as "Customer Satisfaction" and I left the store with the new shaft and the old one. I later found out the shaft sells for about $70 and the string was $20 so I was pleased at the resolution to the problem. I drove home and on the way called Cindy to see if she wanted to go back out to do some more cutting. To y surprise she said "Yes" and was ready when I got home. Sheila was very excited when she realized we were going out twice in one day! We left the house at about 2:15 PM and headed for the Alder Lake trailhead. My plan was to cut the nettles, briars, grass and brush along the trail to the stream. E would then turn around and go back to the car and drive to Big Pond. From there we would repeat the walk we took in the morning so that I could finally finish cutting the briar patch. On the way back I would then cut a few stands of nettles on the trail. I drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where we turned right. At the intersection with the Barkaboom Road we stayed to the right on Beaverkill Road until we came to the left turn for Alder Creek Road. After turning left, I drove to the end of Alder Creek road, turned around and parked near the trailhead. I got the pack with the gasoline container in ready by putting in a water bottle and my multitool. We walked over to the trailhead and started out on the trail around 2:45 PM. The first part of the trail needed no trimming. Eventually we came to an area with briars and nettles so I started the trimmer and began cutting with the new lower shaft and head. Everything went well even though the line was a little thinner than I had been suing. I had brought along more line in case I ran out as I wanted this to be the last attempt to clear the briar patch! At about .5 miles we entered the woods and I turned off the trimmer. We passed through the grassy patch I had cut the day before and followed the trail as it turned left onto a woods road. I began to see some nettles and briars so I again started the trimmer and cut those. We walked downhill passing the first beaver meadow and at 1.2 miles we were at the spring. I cut a stand of nettles and then told Cindy we were turning around to go to Big Pond. Cindy had another plan which involved hiking farther, adding another hill and walking through several muddy areas. We followed her plan and continued across the stream and up the hill that I had already cut the day before. Since I had already done all the cutting, there was about .7 miles of walking before we entered the briar patch. During this time we slipped and slid through the mud and I got to concentrate on just how heavy the trimmer was becoming. Eventually we reached the spot were I had run out of string the day before and I knew I had to cut uphill to the place we had stopped in the morning. I didn't think this would be more than 150 feet but I was very wrong as it was almost .2 miles! I took off the pack and started up the trimmer. The trimmer was working well and I was careful to stop occasionally to clear the weeds that got wound around the shaft. While I was working, Cindy sat on a log to rest. I kept thinking I would have to change the string at some point since some of the briars were very old and thick. I ran out of gas first and had to walk all the way back to my pack to get the container. I walked back uphill and filled the trimmer and stowed the gas container beside the trail. I walked uphill to where I had stopped in the morning and started trimming back to where I had just been. I thought I was in trouble as the trimmer was sputtering and not cutting very well. It perked up and I came to the conclusion that I had let some air get into the fuel line. I continued on down the trail toward my pack trimming a few spots I had missed. When I got to the pack, I trimmed a little more and then shut the trimmer off. I walked back up the trail to retrieve the gas container and then returned to the pack. I shouldered the pack and started back toward the car with Cindy and Sheila just ahead. I started the trimmer one more time to clean up some errant nettles, briars and ferns and then turned it off for good. Of course on the way back we had to cross the muddy areas again. In one of these areas Cindy took a fall banging her knee on a rock but once she got up everything seemed to be OK. We continued on the trail down the hill to the stream. As we crossed the stream, I knew that we would have to ascend a hill for the next half mile. This normally would not be any challenge but it was hot and the trimmer now seemed twice as heavy as it had on the way out. I admit that I was not in a good mood as we passed through the grassy patch and had to ascend the short, steep hill. However, once we were at the top of the hill the trail leveled and started to descend. The only obstacle left was an enormous tree across the path which I elected to straddle and climb over. We continued down the trail to the car. We arrived at the car at 6:10 PM having hiked over 4 miles in about 3 hours and 15 minutes. I was glad I had finished cutting the briar patch and that the only trimming to do was between the Big Pond trailhead and the 1 mile out mark.

picture album icon On Monday, July 3rd I wanted to go to the Alder Lake end of the trail from Alder Lake to Big Pond to work on cutting grass patch about .7 miles from the beginning of the trail. After that I wanted to cut the briars, nettles and weeds from the small stream at about 1.2 miles. For a little over a mile the trail was bounded by nettles and briars that were slowly closing in making hiking a less than pleasant experience. I asked Cindy If she wanted to go but she said she was tired and would stay home. I was not concerned about the weather as the forecast included no rain but the highs were supposed to rise to the mid 80's. Sheila was happy to be going after a Sunday of "rest" and jumped into the back seat of my car. We left Livingston Manor at about 9:00 AM and drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where we turned right. At the intersection with the Barkaboom Road we stayed to the right on Beaverkill Road until we came to the left turn for Alder Creek Road. After turning left, I drove to the end of Alder Creek road, turned around and parked near the trailhead. I got the pack with the gasoline container in ready by putting in a water bottle and my multitool. We walked over to the trailhead and started out on the trail around 9:30 AM. As we walked I began to see some spots that could use some trimming but I stuck to my plan and soon we were on the slight downhill where the grassy patch was located. I dropped my pack and put the trimmer on the ground to start it. I followed the directions and it immediately started. I began to cut the grass and weeds and was surprised that Sheila stayed close by. As I walked down the hill the grass got thicker where there was plenty of sunlight. I continued to cut widening the trail beyond the one foot required by the Finger Lakes Trail Conference so that I would not have to come back to cut it again until much later in the summer. It didn't take too long until I had reached the forest and this part of the job was done. I walked back up to the pack and put it on and we started walking back down the trail toward the small stream which was my next objective. At about 1.2 miles we came to the stream and crossed it. Just after crossing, I started the string trimmer and for the next half mile or so I did not turn it off. I cut a lot of nettles and a few briars walking uphill the whole time. I also cut some ferns and grass so that the trail can be walked without getting a drenching in the early morning. Along the way we crossed several muddy areas. The first area as the worst but I found some stepping stones a little upstream from where most people had been crossing. After this area, there were several stands of dense nettles that had grown very tall. They were no match for the trimmer but I did find that some pieces would get thrown my way every now and then. These pieces retained their "stinging" capability and my hands began to burn and itch. We entered an area under the trees where there were only ferns and I let them stand as I wanted to make sure I cut the open area that was thick with briars. A little before 2 miles we came to that area and I fired up the trimmer and began to cut the mix of briars, brush, nettles and grass. The trimming was going well until I noticed that the trimmer was no longer cutting. I stopped it and looked at the reel only to find I had run out of string! I felt cursed since there always seemed to be something wrong with the trimmer. I got ready to turn around and noticed that my pack was releasing a strong smell of gas. I found that the nozzle despite being closed was leaking gasoline. I knew that I had to replace it but could do nothing about it on the trail. I filled the trimmer to reduce the volume in the container and we started back. Since I wasn't trimming then trip back went quickly. As we started down the hill toward the stream, Sheila and I both noticed a young couple approaching. I put the trimmer down and took Sheila by the collar. As the hikers passed they complimented Sheila and thanked me for clearing the trail. We continued in our opposite directions and I kept a good pace despite the fact that the trail is uphill from the stream back to the patch of grass I had cut before. Fortunately, the last .7 miles is all downhill as my arms were getting tired from carrying the trimmer. We were back at the car at 2:00 PM after hiking about 4 miles. We had spent 4.5 hours walking and clearing the trail. When I got back to Livingston Manor I asked Karl how to replace the string in the trimmer. The summary of his answer was "I don't know" so I dropped Sheila off at the house and headed for Home Depot in Monticello assuming they would have replacement reels of string. When I got to Home Depot the best I could find was a new quick loading reel and string to load into it. I made the purchase including a small gas container and headed back home. Cindy and I sat ion the front porch trying to replace the old trimmer head with the new one. We eventually got the job done despite the misleading directions on the package. I started the trimmer and cut some grass with no problem. I knew I was ready to finish my cutting the next day.

picture album icon On Saturday, July 1st I wanted to return to the Big Pond to cut the grass and weeds which clog the beginning of the trail from Big Pond To Alder Lake. Cindy and I had tried this the day before but I could not get the string trimmer I had to start. When I got up in the morning, I went to the garage and tried it again and it started up with no problem. I asked Cindy If she wanted to go and she agreed. We were concerned about the weather as we looked outside and saw some very dark clouds. I checked the forecast and the radar and nothing was supposed to be in our area until later in the afternoon. We agreed we would go on see what the weather was like at Big Pond. Sheila was happy to be going and jumped into the back seat of my car. We left Livingston Manor at about 10:30 AM and drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where we turned right. At the intersection with the Barkaboom Road we stayed to the left on Barkaboom Road until we came to the right turn into the upper parking area for Big Pond. As we drove up the access road, we could see that all the parking spots were taken. I turned around and parked off the side of the road. We walked over to the trailhead and I put the trimmer on the ground to start it. I followed the directions and it immediately started. I began to cut the grass near the beginning of the trail even though I had used the weed whip to knock down some of it. The string trimmer allowed me to cut it closer and farther back from the trail. I also worked on the briars a little. Soon I was at the tree where I had stopped cutting any grass. The trimmer was working just fine and I was able to cut a wide swath and open up the trail. I had to admit that although it was noisy and the vibration was considerable it was much easier than cutting with the weed whip. I did notice that it would cut the woodier brush but that the pieces that hit me stung a little! I was making good progress with Cindy and Sheila following behind. I noticed that I was running low on gas and that the string was getting short. Cindy volunteered to go back for the gas container. I tried bouncing the trimmer on the ground to get more string but that didn't work to well. When Cindy returned, I stopped the trimmer and filled it with gas. We manually lengthened the string and Cindy cleared some weeds that had built up on the head. From that point on bouncing the head let out more string and I was able to trim all the way to the entrance into the forest. I went a little farther to trim some ferns and nettles and the returned to the open filed I had just cut. I kept the trimmer running on the way back to cut a few places that I had missed. When I got to the beginning of the trail, I shut the trimmer of and walked over to the car. We packed up and headed out. I decided to drive over to Alder Creek Road and see what the weather looked like there. When we arrived at the trailhead, I decided I would come back another day since the clouds were getting darker and rain was starting to fall. We drove back to Livingston Manor after putting in about an hour and a half of work.

picture album icon map icon Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) AllTrails - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) MapMyHike - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) On Friday, June 30th I wanted to return to the trail between Alder Lake and Big Pond to cut some of the grass, nettles, briars and weeds on the trail. I asked to borrow Karl's string trimmer and he brought it to me in the morning. I started it right up and cut some weeds around the house. I turned it off and went to the garage to get a small gas container which I filled halfway and put into an old North Face pack that I use ion these occasions. The trimmer has a four cycle engine so there is no need to mix oil with the gas. I put my other pack in the car is case I needed something from it. I was a little concerned that we were getting a late start because the forecast was calling for thunderstorms in the afternoon. Sheila was happy to be going and jumped into the back seat of my car. Our plan was to park Cindy's car at the trailhead near Alder Lake and then drive back to Big Pond in my car. This way we would only have to walk about 3 miles in one direction carrying the trimmer. My experience is that these tools continue to get heavier the farther you carry them! We left Livingston Manor at about 10:30 AM in separate cars and drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where we turned right. At the intersection with the Barkaboom Road we stayed to the right on the Beaverkill Road until we came to Alder Creek Road on the left. We turned onto Alder Creek Road and drove almost to the end where it meets Cross Mountain Road and the access road to Alder Lake. We turned around and Cindy parked her car near where the trail crosses the road. She got into my car and we drove back to the Barkaboom Road, turned right and drove up the hill to the upper parking area at Big Pond. There was one other car in the lot when we pulled in at 10:45 AM. It seemed they were camping as the car was packed. I got out the pack with the gas and retrieved the string trimmer from the trunk. We walked over to the trailhead and I put the trimmer on the ground to start it. It would not start no matter what I did! After 15 minutes of frustration, I put the trimmer in the trunk of my car and switched packs. We decided we would hike to Cindy's car so that the day would not be a waste. I knew I could cut a few more briars and nettles wit the machete. I set my GPS and we left the parking area at 11:05 AM heading toward Alder Lake. The temperature was nearing 80 degrees and the humidity was very high. This time the insects were out to pester us as we hiked. Cindy had forgotten her poles but she didn't let that stop her. We set a good pace after walking through the wet grass at the beginning of the hike. We walked and I picked up a few branches here and there and cut a few others. I pointed out the areas I had cleaned on Tuesday to Cindy. At a about a mile we entered an evergreen forest and I pointed out where Bryce and I had turned around on Wednesday when we hiked from the other end of the trail near Alder Lake. A little farther on the trail turned northwest and began a slight ascent. We broke out into a clearing where there are briars lining both sides of the trail. I had cut some with Bryce but I got out my machete and cut a few more as we passed through. By the time we again entered the forest there were no more briars but the nettles began. Cutting nettles with the machete is difficult as I also seem to bet "stung" on my hands! We started to encounter muddy patches but crossed these without too many problems. We descended to the stream which connects the two beaver meadows and then began to ascend the final hill. It was very warm and humid and the skies were starting to darken. I pointed out to Cindy a few more spots Bryce and I had cleared. At 2.2 miles the trail turned right heading almost due east. There was an open patch of grass which was thick and wet and needed trimming. We continued to the top of the hill where the trail leveled briefly and then began a long descent to the car. We kept up a good pace as we heard some thunder in the distance. The last .6 miles was almost all downhill until the we crossed the creek and ascended the bank to the car. We arrived at Cindy's car at 12:55 PM after hiking 3 miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes. The elevation gain was 745 feet on the one way hike. I noticed that Alder Lake is about 100 feet higher than Big Pond. We got in the car and drove back to my car at Big Pond. I hoped I could get the string trimmer to work but that proved to be a vain hope. I am hoping that a "rest" will be good for it and I can try again soon. There was a van parked in the lot with a leader and eight teenagers. The leader told me they were hiking to Cabot Mountain on Saturday and then would camp at Alder Lake. He thanked me for my trail work which was nice. Cindy and I got in our cars and headed home.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) AllTrails - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) MapMyHike - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) On Wednesday, June 28th I wanted to return to the trail between Alder Lake and Big Pond to clear the trail from Alder Creek Road to the point I had where I had ended the previous day. I knew I needed some help and recruited my 6 year-old grandson, Bryce. Bryce is big for his age and is capable of hiking at least 6 miles although we have generally walked a little less. He also is strong enough and has enough endurance to remove branches and help clear the trails. Bryce arrived sometime after 9:00 AM and we got our gear together. Sheila was ready to go since she would hike everyday if given the chance. I took along my Silky saw, Battle Horse machete, the Fiskars axe and a weed whip. We left Livingston Manor at about 10:00 AM as I drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where I turned right. There were crews working on the trees along the road which slowed me down a little. At the intersection with the Barkaboom Road I stayed to the right on the Beaverkill Road until I came to Alder Creek Road on the left. I turned onto Alder Creek Road and drove almost to the end where it meets Cross Mountain Road and the access road to Alder Lake. I turned around and parked near where the trail crosses the road so that we did not have to carry the tools all the way from the Alder Lake parking area. I handed the weed whip to Bryce and we walked down the trail to Alder Creek. The stream wasn't very high and we crossed on some stepping stones just wetting the bottoms of our shoes. The trail turned left and paralleled the stream and we soon ran into a small tree that was hanging over the trail. It was hung up on another tree and I thought I might have to cut both. I tried tugging on the tree that was hanging over the trail and to my surprise I was able to pull it down and out of the trail. We followed the trail as it turned right and started up a hill. Somewhere along the way we decided we did not need the weed whip and we left it on the side f the trail. We continued up the hill removing many smaller branches as we walked. Bryce is a pleasure to be around as he is very mature for his age and we have interesting conversations. At about .75 miles the woods opened up and we walked through a grassy area that could use some trimming. Just after this the trail turns southwest and starts to descend. We ran into a tree across the trail with a lot of branches that were intertwined. I took some "before" pictures and then we got busy clearing the mess. We removed the loose branches and then I began to cut with the saw while Bryce cleared what I had cut. It didn't take long before we had cleared the trail. I took some pictures of Bryce and Sheila on the trail we had just cleared before we moved on. We continued to descend and came to a beaver meadow on the right. A stream leaves this area and runs south emptying into another beaver meadow.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the trail heading southwest and descending until we came to another branch that had fallen across the trail. This one was smaller and it only took a few cuts to remove it. We did find a rather large log just beyond the branches that we cleared. I was able to break it into two pieces and we rolled it off the trail. At 1.3 miles we crossed the stream and began to climb up a hill. It was here that I introduced Bryce to stinging nettles! There were patches of them growing along the trail in the damp and shaded areas. As we walked up the hill we passed some stone walls and a stone foundation. We had a discussion about the purpose of the walls and the use of the land is the past. We soon came to one of the wettest areas on the trail which is the first but worst of several. As we were trying to find a way to cross without sinking into the mud, Sheila started barking at an approaching hiker. I had not noticed the young man approaching as we were concentrating on the mud and I apologized and called Sheila back. I always out her in her leash when other hikers are around. We got our shoes covered in mud on the way across but stopped to talk to the young hiker. He was hiking a section of the Finger Lakes Trail and was planning to stay at the lean-to east of Alder Lake. We parted ways heading in opposite directions. Bryce and I braved the nettles and a few more muddy areas without doing more than picking up a few branches. I was beginning to wonder where the turn around point was but Bryce seemed not to mind. We broke out into an area with fewer trees where stands of briars dominated the trail. We pushed on as I wanted to get to the pint I had been to the day before from the other end of the trail. We hit a high point and started to descend which did not make me happy. Within less than a quarter mile I recognized the trail and knew we could turn around. I noticed a large spruce tree off the trail and had Bryce measure it by "hugging" the tree with outstretched arms. It was 3 and a half Bryces around! We turned around at 12:40 Pm after hiking 2.3 miles . On the way back I took some time to use the machete to cut back some of the briars along the path. After that we set a good pace knowing that the final stretch was downhill. We found a better way across the muddiest spot using stepping stones that I found. We did stop to take a picture of the old foundation and then descended to the stream. From the stream there was a final half mile of climb on a 10% grade. From the top of the hill it was less than a lie back to the car and all downhill. At the bottom of the hill we could see the road. Bryce suddenly reminded me that we had failed to pick up the weed whip we had left behind at the beginning of the hike. We turned around and walked halfway back up the hill until we found the tool. We turned around and walked back to the car. We arrived at the car at 2:15 Pm after hiking 4.7 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes including an hour of stopped time to work. The elevation gain was 1084 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) AllTrails - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) MapMyHike - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) On Tuesday, June 27th I had decided that I wanted to head to Big Pond and inspect the trail conditions on the trail to Alder Lake. Recently accepted the responsibility of maintain this section of trail for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and wanted to see the condition of the trail. This trail has had some problems in the past and has several sections of briars and nettles as well as some muddy spots. I now have the Finger Lakes Trail from Alder Creek Road to Beech Hill Road. I decided I would start at Big Pond and hike about half way and then turn around and head back. This would allow me to clear the trail in both directions. If I had time, I would go to the Alder Lake end and do the same thing. I was a little concerned about the forecast for showers but after checking the radar, I did not think I would have a problem. I had some work to do around the house and wasn't able to leave until after 11:00 AM. I dressed for warm weather and work. I took along my Silky saw, Battle Horse machete, the Fiskars axe and a weed whip. I drove out Old Rt 17 to the Beaverkill Road where I turned right. There were crews working on the trees along the road which slowed me down a little. By 11:20 AM I was at the intersection with the Barkaboom Road where I turned left. I headed up the hill passed the Little Pond Campsites and turned into the upper parking area for Big Pond. There were two other cars parked in the lot and I suspected they might be camping at the primitive campsites on Big Pond. I got an excited Sheila out of the car and set my electronics. I decided to take all the tools as we headed out the back right corner of the parking area where the trail began. I immediately ran into briars overgrowing the path on the right side but decided that I would get them on the way back. The first part of the trail had a lot of high grass and, again, I decided to leave that until later. As we entered the trees I knew that I would not need the grass whip so I hid it behind a tree. As we continued on we came to a place where some small trees were hanging over the trail forcing hikers to walk around. I got out my saw and cut some branches to restore the original path. We climbed a small hill and found a pretty good sized tree across the trail. I took a few pictures and then used the saw to cut away a few branches. I then cut the trunk into pieces and moved it off the trail. We continued to follow the trail as it followed a woods road and then struck off through the forest. Long the way I picked up small branches and sticks. I also removed some larger logs that other maintainers had left to rot ion the trail. They weren't blocking the trail but their presence bothered me. The trail was better marked than before and was easy to follow.

picture taken during a hike The further we went, the darker the skies ahead of us became and this was accompanied by an increase in the wind. We came to an area where two larger trees had fallen across the trail. They were low to the ground but I felt I wanted to remove them. I went to the second one and took some pictures and then began to work. I cut away one smaller branch and then went to work on the trunk with my axe. The wood was surprisingly tough in places but I was soon through the log. I knew I would have to cut it again as my attempt to slide, push, pull or swinging the trunk off the trail proved futile. I spotted a crack in the log just off the trail and decided to work on it a little. I was able to widen the crack and break the log with just a few swings of the axe. There was still a large portion left but I was able to manhandle it off the trail. Although the skies were getting darker, I walked back t the first log, took pictures and begin to work on it with the axe. I handled this one much like the other. I cut it on one side of the trail and found a crack on the other which allowed me to easily cut a chunk out and rotate it off the trail. I decided to continue a little further on the trail despite the darkening skies. I picked up my tools and started up the trail. In just a few minutes some drops of rain began to fall. O decided I did not want to get wet or get caught in a thunderstorm. I have been out in storms with lightening hitting too close for comfort and I did not want to repeat the experience. We turned around and started a quick pace back the way we had come. I could see that the skies ahead were blue and soon there was no more rain falling. I didn't know if the rain had stopped or we had just walked out of it! I didn't really care so we continued back toward the car. I retrieved the weed whip on the way and walked back to the car to dump my pack. Since the sky was blue and it was not raining, I decided to attack the briars and the beginning of the trail. I used the machete to hack at the briars and it took some effort as the older canes were very resistant. S I was working I heard a few peals of thunder in the distance. I finished cutting back the briars and then decided to use the weed whip to clear some of the grass which had grown pretty high along the trail. This effort was a little less successful as it was difficult to get a clear swing. I did get some of the trail cleared starting at the trailhead to a particular tree but decided power tools would be necessary. The power scythe is heavy to carry for almost 4 miles along with fuel but a string trimmer would probably work well. My plan is to park two cars, start at one end and work my way to the other.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick and Hodge Ponds (Flynn and Quick Lake Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Sunday, June 25th I had decided that I wanted to go to the Hodge and Frick Pond area after church to clear some of the trail obstructions my friend and I had found on the previous day. When I returned from church the weather forecast was calling for thunderstorms and the skies were dark. I had some lunch thinking that the best I could do was go across the street to hike on Round Top again between storms. By the time I had finished lunch the skies had cleared and the radar showed that the storms were unlikely to effect our area. I decided to take chance and got my gear together to go do some trail maintenance. I took with me my Fiskars axe and Silky Sugowaza saw. The saw I put in my pack but I decided to carry the axe instead of poles. I got dressed and then out Sheila in the back seat and my gear in the trunk. We left the house a little after 1:00 PM and drove out the DeBruce Road for about six miles. I turned left on Mongaup Pond Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road when it split. When we arrived at the trailhead, there were two vehicles in the small lot and I parked between them. The temperature was in the high 60's when I set my GPS and we crossed the road at 1:35 AM to begin our hike. A short distance after the trail register there was a small tree down across the trail. I knew it would go quickly so I didn't take pictures. I used the axe to cut the trunk twice and pulled everything off the trail. I packed up and we continued up the trail to the woods road that was once the extension of Beech Mountain Road. We turned right on the woods road and started the long climb toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. A one point there was a branch that had partially broken off a tree and was in the trail. I tried to pull it down but that didn't work. I was able to cut the branch and then pull it over to the side of the trail. We continued up the trail until Sheila alerted. There was a doe and a single fawn further up the trail. I immediately put Sheila on her leash which she protested. I explained she could not chase the fawn and I got out my camera. The deer were standing still looking back at us as I sued the 65x zoom to try to get pictures. Using the zoom at very long range requires a steady hand or a support. I had no support so I tried to steady myself and take some shots. Eventually the deer began to trot up the trail and then turn left down over the bank. I left Sheila on her leash as we headed up the trail and she was very active as she got the scent of the deer on the ground. I only let her off the leash once we were well passed the point where the deer had left the trail. We continued up the trail with me picking up big and small branches and throwing them off the trail. We reached the Big Rock Junction at 2:35 PM after hiking 1.7 miles. As we passed through the junction Sheila again alerted and I looked up to see an unleashed dog approaching. I immediately put Sheila on her leash as a courtesy. The two women who were with the other dog did NOT put their dog on the leash saying "Oh, she's friendly!" Unfortunately, Sheila was not feeling that friendly as the other dog approached her. I wish all dog owners would do the right thing but they often do not.

picture taken during a hike We continue along the Flynn Trail and found another blowdown. I did take pictures of this one before attacking it with the saw. There wasn't too much to clear so we moved on after I took some "after" pictures. At the next trail junction, we stayed to the left to follow the Flynn Trail down to Hodge Pond. I cut back a few bushes on the way and found one large blowdown that had been cleared by the OSI people. The grass on the trail had been mowed which was a big improvement from the tall grass on the first part of the Flynn Trail. We walked out into the filed by Hodge Pound and then over to the fire circle near the shore. Sheila immediately went for a swim while I took some pictures of the pond. The sky was blue with nice white clouds which made for some nice shots. I threw a stick into the water for Sheila and took some pictures of her retrieving it. After a drink, we walked back to the Flynn Trail and continued on the west side of Hodge Pond. At the next trail junction we stayed to the left to take the Flynn Trail up the hill rather than the jeep road around the back of the pond. I cut a few branches on the way UPI to the gate and a few more after the gate. The trail was still wet with muddy patches along the way. The trees and bushes were beginning to close in on the trail and really need several people with loppers to cut them back. I cut a few of the worst until we came to the Quick Lake Trail at Junkyard Junction. It was 3:40 PM and we had hiked 3.3 miles which is almost exactly halfway through the hike. We turned left to start the loop back and the trail which initially rolls some but eventually descends toward Iron Wheel Junction. At about 3.9 miles we came to perhaps the most challenging cleanup of the day. There was a rather large tree with multiple branches down across the trail. I cleared what I could and then got to work with the saw. It was simply a matter of cutting branches and then removing them until everything was cleared. I found it easier to make multiple cuts so that the branches I had to move were smaller and easier to manage. It took a little less than 20 minutes to clear everything and take some pictures.

picture taken during a hike I packed up and then picked up my pack and headed down the trail. At 4.6 miles we ran into another set up small trees across the trail. The trunks were small but they were intertwined and putting pressure on each other. I was careful to choose my cuts wisely and still got some kickback. It took less than 15 minutes to clear this mess and we were in motion again. It was getting late and I could not remember any other major blowdowns on the trails. At 4:55 PM we turned right at Iron Wheel Junction after hiking 5.1 miles. The turn allowed us to stay on the Quick Lake trail heading for Frick Pond. As we walked, I continued to pick up branches and cut a few that were in the trail. We came to and crossed the small stream through the woods. There was a large hardwood tree down across the trail in the "spruce tunnel" but it was flat on the ground. I decided to leave that one for another day. We walked out of the spruce tunnel and found another big branch which was no match for the Silky saw. We passed by the junction with the Big Rock Trail on the left and were soon at the bridge over the Frick Pond Outlet. I dropped my pack and got out the camera. I have taken hundreds of pictures form the bridge but can't resist stopping to take a few more. The pond was high from the beaver dam just upstream of the bridge. I saw movement in the water but couldn't get a picture of the beaver that made it. It was getting late so I stowed the camera and shouldered the pack. We walked up the hill from Frick Pond to Gravestone Junction and continued straight ahead on the Quick Lake Trail. The trail was still wet for almost the entire way back to the car. We passed by the register and walked the woods road back out to the car. The only car in the lot was one I know well as it belongs to JP, the friend that hiked with me the day before! We were back at the car at 5:35 Pm having hiked 6.6 miles in 4 hours with a vertical gain of 908 feet. This is very slow but included over an hour of stopped time.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies.com alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, June 24th I wanted to get in a longer hike and thought about getting away from Livingston Manor to do it. I looked at the weather forecast and the best scenario still called for showers wherever I wanted to go. I was not willing to travel a long distance to hike in poor weather. In addition, we had an early morning ambulance call which pushed back my start time. On the call I mentioned hiking to my partner and friend JP and he expressed a desire to go with me. We decided to meet at Frick Pond at 11:00 AM to hike. My plan was to hike a loop up the Flynn Trail to the Hodge Pond Lookout and then back on the Flynn an Quick lake Trails. We had a few sprinkles of rain in the morning but by 10:00 AM it was sunny and clear with a blue sky and white clouds. I got some work done and then got my gear ready to go hiking. Sheila was happy to be going as I loaded everything into the car. Given the temperatures I wore light pants and a light long-sleeved shirt over a baselayer. I did put my machete in the pack in case I needed to cut back some brush although this was not my primary purpose. On the way up DeBruce Road I got behind some very slow drivers that were headed for Mongaup Pond. I arrived at the parking area just after 11:00 AM to find JP already waiting for me. Sheila was ready to go and we crossed the road to head up the Flynn Trail at about 11:10 AM. The temperature was just 70 degrees and there was a slight breeze blowing. Since I was not overwhelmed by insects at the trailhead, I decided to forego the insect repellant. We kept a quick pace up the Flynn Trail but stopped occasionally to remove branches from the trail. We ran into one new blowdown that will require a saw to clear. When we reached the point on the trail where there is a clearing on the right, we headed off the trail and climbed the little hill to the edge of the clearing. JP was impressed as was I since everything was very green which contrasted nicely with the blue sky and white clouds. JP was looking for signs of deer in Tearra and had found several places where bucks had rubbed their horns. After taking some pictures we returned to the Flynn Trail and headed toward Hodge Pond. We found another blowdown on the Flynn Trail before the Big Rock Junction and one after. We passed through the junction at 12:05 PM having hiked about 1.7 miles. As we headed toward Hodge Pond on the Flynn Trail, I pointed out the gap next to the gate that allows snowmobiles through and told JP my crew would be working on moving some stones to block it. At the next junction we veered to the right following a woods road instead of the Flynn Trail which stays to the left. Soon we were in the area near the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp and continued straight ahead as the woods road ascended the hill. Some new tire tracks were clear and it appeared a pickup truck had driven in from Shin Creek Road in Lew Beach. This part of the road was damp and I was surprised that there wasn't more water on the trails after the recent rain.

picture taken during a hike As we climbed the hill we passed a spring house and Sheila stopped to get a drink. At 12:30 PM we stopped at a little lookout and I took some pictures to the north and west. As we were getting ready to leave we heard some voices and two mountain bikes came up the hill. I don't know where they came from but the hiking trail are not multiuse trails. Since we were on OSI property, I did not comment to the bikers who seemed to be harmless. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked a little farther up the hill and turned right on a path that leads to the lookout over Hodge Pond. After the bikers went passed us, I let Sheila off her leash. The path was so wide and so clear I wasn't sure it was the right one. Soon I saw a familiar rock and just passed that the lookout. We stopped at the viewpoint and I took some pictures. I got out a bar to and shared with JP. We deiced to follow the path around the hill which is Flynn's Point, the highest spot in Sullivan County. The entire loop is just less than a mile. When we arrived back at e woods road, we turned left and walked back down the hill to the area of the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. When we arrived back at the area near the remains of the boy scout camp, we turned right on the woods road and walked out to what remains of the camp. Most of the buildings in the area were used for merit badge and craft work. JP looked around while I took some pictures. When we were done we walked back out to the road and turned right and then right again at the next junction. We followed the woods road down to the jeep trail on the right that goes around the back of Hodge Pond. We descended a small hill and then walked off on a path to the left to the shores of the pond. Before I could get my pack off, Sheila was in the water swimming around and cooling off. I took some pictures and then threw a stick for her to retrieve. I took some shots of her in the water and then a few more of the pond. I packed up the camera, got a drink and returned to the jeep trail.

picture taken during a hike We took the next right to get back on the Flynn Trail heading for Junkyard Junction. I pointed out some of the larger blowdown I had cut with axe and saw to JP. The trails were relatively clear of any new obstructions and we made good time to the gate at the top of the hill. At this point the Flynn Trail flattens out and this is where we finally found where all the rain had accumulated. The Flynn Trail in this area seemed to be one long bog interrupted by small pools. Walking on the side of the trail helped in some places but it did slow us down some. At 2:00 PM we had finally hiked the 5.5 miles to Junkyard Junction where the Flynn Trail ends at the Quick Lake Trail. We turned left to head down the hill and back toward the parking area. The first part of the Quick Lake Trail rolls a little and it also was wet in spots. We continue to clear branches from the trail and a few large logs. As we began to descend the trail became drier for the most part. When we reached Iron Wheel Junction at 7.1 miles, we turned right to stay on the Quick Lake trail back to Frick Pond. This trail was also wet in spots but these places were easier to avoid for the most part. There were some additional blowdown and we moved what we could be hand. The stream through the woods was running with a reasonable volume. As I started to cross by stepping on a rock, a trout jumped over my boot and swam downstream! We were soon crossing the bridge at the outlet to Frick Pond. We stopped to rest minute and so that I could take some pictures. The beavers had continued to build their dam which had raised the water level so that the body of water could be called a pound again. We walked up the hill to Graveyard Junction and then out the Quick Lake trail to the register. I was surprised to see that the register on the Flynn Trail and the one on the Quick Lake trail had been moved slightly and replaced. It struck me that there was other work that need attention like a way to block car driving down the Quick lake Trail! We turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and continued back to the parking area and the cars. I was surprised to find only one other vehicle parked in the small lot as it was such a beautiful day. We were back at the car at 3:30 PM having covered 8.7 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes with a total elevation gain of 1465 feet.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Thursday, June 22nd I wanted to get out for a short hike after attending a funeral in Liberty for a member of our church. I called Karl to see if my grandson Bryce could come along on then hike after his half day of kindergarten. Karl said he would bring him to our house and I was excited about hiking with him. Bryce arrived at about 1:00 PM and I started to get ready. Cindy called and said she was coming home in few minutes and wanted to hike with us. Cindy came home and we all got ready to hike. I put Sheila on her leash and made sure Bruce had his poles as we headed down the driveway and across the street at about 1:45 PM. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not want to carry the extra weight and wanted to have the "freedom" from taking pictures. We walked across the field to the back of the church to begin the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". Bryce was almost running up the hill and I knew it would be hard to hold back an energetic and athletic 6 year old! When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. I started my Suunto Traverse GPS watch to record the route I intended to take. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash as she was the only one capable of staying with Bruce. At the first trail junction Bryce continued straight ahead toward the lookout and we followed. The trail here has excess leaves and could use a little raking. At the lookout Bryce and Cindy walked out to the viewpoint and then rejoined me on the main trail. I told Bryce we might investigate what was BELOW the viewpoint later in the hike. We turned right to follow the yellow blazes of the trail. The trail has been worn in some and it was pretty easy to follow. At the sharp right turn I pointed out the new blue trail but we continued to follow the lower trail as if skirted Round Top. At the next sharp right turn we turned left to start on the upper trail. The trail was very obvious and the blue blazes very visible. At the top we headed across the flat summit following the trail we had cleared. Bryce had no problem picking out the treadway or the blazes. We descended the other side of the hill following the blue blazes. At the lower trail we turned left and followed the yellow blazes around to the brush pile and the sharp right turn. We followed the lower trail down to the woods road that brings the trail to the first trail junction. When we arrived at the junction, I was ready to turn around and do another figure 8 but Cindy wanted to go home. Bryce and I turned around and started back up the woods road we had just descended as Cindy headed out to trailhead. Sheila came with us but kept looking back to see where Cindy had gone. At the sharp left turn at we continued to follow the yellow trail to the left until it again turned sharply left. At this point we turned right to follow the blue trail up and over Round Top in the opposite direction from our first figure 8. When we came down the other side to the yellow trail we turned right to follow the yellow trail along the base of the hill. This time we made the sharp left turn and walked downhill to the viewpoint. I was about to turn left and second to the first trail junction when I remembered my promise to explore below the viewpoint. Bryce seemed to still have a lot of energy so we went out to the lookout and found a steep path down between the rocks. We left Bryce's poles on top as this was a real rock scramble. Without too much effort we were able to descend the path and walk under the viewpoint. The lookout is really not a cliff but a rock ledge that hangs out in the air! We explored some of the rocks in the overhand below the viewpoint before retracing our path back to the main trail. We headed down the hill to the first trail junction and then continued straight ahead out to the trailhead. I put Sheila on her leash and we turned right to walk down the cemetery hill and back to our driveway. We had been out for about and hour and a half and even though the hike on Round Top was only 1.7 miles we had walked farther.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Wednesday, June 21st I decided I wanted to check the trail marking Cindy and I had done on Saturday to see how the paint held up to the rain. I also wanted to make sure we had completely cleared the new, upper trail. I wanted to make the first hike of the summer a little more memorable but a morning ambulance call limited my time before teaching a CPR class in the afternoon. Around 12:30 PM I got changed into my hiking gear which pleased Sheila. I grabbed my machete and a leash for Sheila and we headed out our driveway and across the street with Sheila pulling on her leash. We crossed the lied by the church and started up the steep hill along the edge of the cemetery. I elected to leave my pack behind and to go without hiking poles. My heart was beating faster when we got to the top of the hill and turned left into the forest. I let Sheila off her leash and cut a few beaches from the pine trees that frame the entrance to the trail. As we Aled the woods road to the first trail junction, I picked up a few branches that had fallen in the wind over the past few days. At the trail junction we continued straight ahead up the steep little climb to the viewpoint. I continued to remove a few branches here and there. At the lookout we followed the trail to the right and I noted that the ferns had grown up some and would need a good whacking. Where the lower trail turned right we continued straight ahead following the blue paint blazes up toward the summit of Round top. I was glad to see that the blazes had held up well to the rain but had dried a little darker than I expected. As we climbed the hill a cleared a few spots. We continued across the summit where I cut some brush. As we descended the other side I removed a few of the raining green ribbons that we had missed on the blazing hike. At the bottom of the hill we continued straight ahead on the woods road back to the first trail junction. Since we had missed a section of the lower trail, we turned around and hiked back u the woods road to the sharp left turn. We followed the lower trail this time as it skirted Round Top. Along the way I cut a few branches that had started to encroach on the trail. We continued to follow the yellow trail as it turned left and headed down to the lookout. At the lookout we turned left and completed the loop back to the first trail junction. I was a little bored doing repeated loops so we continued straight ahead back to the beginning of the trail. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked back down the cemetery hill, across the field and down the driveway. We had spent a little over an hour walking and doing some minor trail work.

Spring 2017

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Panther Mt (Rt 47) AllTrails - Panther Mt (Rt 47) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Panther Mt (Rt 47) MapMyHike - Panther Mt (Rt 47) On Tuesday, June 20th, I got up and found partly cloudy skies but checked the forecast and found no rain predicted. This would be the first day with no heavy rains since Sunday and I wanted to hike another 3500 foot peak. The temperatures were supposed to be in the low to mid 70's which was much better than the previous week. I slept a little later than usual and didn't get started until about 9:00 AM. I decided Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain would be a good destination. I had two cell phone apps that help spot the peaks you are viewing and this would give me a good chance to try them out. Panther Mountain itself has limited views but to get there from Route 47 the trail passes over Giant ledge which was a great view of Panther Mountain, the entire Burroughs Range and the valleys below. When I left home the temperature was still in the mid 60's but I knew this would rise on the hike. I drove out the DeBruce Road and eventually passed Round Pond. At the end of the road, I turned left on Route 47 and drove passed Frost Valley. There were three cars parked at the Biscuit Brook trailhead and about six at the Slide Mountain trailhead. We arrived at the parking area on Route 47 at 9:40 AM to find only one other car parked there. Sheila and I got started pretty quickly by crossing the road and headed out on the trail. The trail was pretty wet from the rains the previous few days and there were definitely areas of deep mud. I let Sheila off the leash almost immediately after crossing the road and she was behaving by staying on the trail. As we crossed the bridge over the small stream, there was less no water running in the stream than I had expected. Sheila and I kept up a good pace but I forgot how annoying the many rocks that cover the trail to the turnoff can be! In addition, there are several short climbs and each one seems to be the last. Despite the fact that I had been hiking, I noticed that making good time up the climbs was tiring although I enjoyed the elevation gain. We finished the sixth short climb and arrived at the turn to Giant Ledge and Panther at about 10:15 AM. I didn't feel like we were going slow but it took 40 minutes to walk the .75 miles from the road, one of our slower times. I had problems with my new Suunto Traverse GPS watch the day before but it seemed to be recording my track correctly. I also had my Garmin GPSmap 64st and the Avenza app on my iPhone. It surprises me that there is a significant difference in the tracks recorded by each device.

picture taken during a hike The trail after the turn was also wet and muddy in spots but we made use of the stepping stones along the way. When the climb began we pushed the pace. We climbed up the last rocky ascent and walked to the first lookout arriving at about 10:45 AM after the 1.5 mile climb. I got out my camera to take some pictures as the skies were mostly clear and full of puffy white clouds. I took variety of pictures and then got out my iPhone to test out the Peak Finder and Peakvisor apps. Both apps produce an outline of the peaks visible from your viewpoint by using the GPS coordinates and compass heading of your phone. Peak Finder seemed to be a little office can be due to the inaccuracies of the GPS system and the compass declination. Peakvisor produces a transparent outline which it overlays on the view from your camera. The overlay can be adjusted so that it matches the view more accurately. Both apps need some instructions and a way to filter out peaks of certain heights and distances. They both showed Mount Frisell, the highest point in Connecticut, which is out there somewhere but certainly too far away to see! I liked Peakvisor a little better. I found that the :bump" visible between Slide and Cornell in Friday. As I suspected the most prominent peaks from Panther eastward are those found on the Devil's pat. The database for these apps must be pretty big because many smaller hills were listed. We got a drink and were ready to leave when I could hear another hi9ker approaching with at least one dog. The dog was barking and being admonished by the owner. I am glad Sheila behaved herself. I put Sheila on her leash and we left the first lookout to get bacon the trail along the ledges. Sheila is fearless about heights and sometimes scares me a little when she walks right to the edge of the cliffs and looks down! As we hiked along the ledges, I resisted the urge to stop at the other views on the way out. Sheila walked to the edge of most of the lookouts. At one she was standing looking around when a hawk dove at her with a screech. The bird came within six feet of Sheila as I stepped out to discourage it! We continued on the main trail and the hawk continued to swoop by making a lot of noise. At one point it perched in a tree still scolding us and I was able to get a picture. We descended into the col between Giant Ledge and Panther, walked flat for a little while and then started the climb up Panther. Parts of the Panther trail get a little steep at times but there always seems to be a switchback or flatter area. The trail was mostly dry with a few muddy spots and some slippery rocks. The wind had stared to blow and through the trees I could see a few dark clouds in the hue sky. I hoped the forecast that included a 7% chance of rain would hold. Sheila and I continued up the trail with Sheila checking out some of the paths that lead to limited viewpoints along the way. We stopped at one and walked out to a rock which had a good view of Giant Ledge and Slide with only a few small trees in the way. I took some pictures before we went back to the main trail. We were soon up the steeper climbs with only a final, short ascent of Panther to go. We met one male hiker coming down from Panther and I assumed he was the owner of the car that had parked before us. We said "hello" and continued in opposite directions. We arrived at the summit of Panther at 12:00 PM after hiking 3.2 miles. The view from the summit is limited but somewhat better than during our last visit. I took a couple of shots of the scenery and a few of Sheila by my pack. We walked back to the viewpoint just below the summit and ascended the rock which acts as the lookout. I took a few shots of the scenery and again experimented with the phone apps. I could hear some more hikers coming up the trail as they were much louder than they needed to be. I was surprised that it was three adults including and older man and a young couple. They decided to jump right up where I was so I knew it was time to leave. Sheila was being pretty good about the company but I didn't want to press my luck. I packed up and Sheila and I got back on the trail. Sheila was very energetic as we turned back as if she knew that we would be going down the mountain.

picture taken during a hike We met no one on the trail as we descended Panther. I tried to keep a good pace but found the descent almost as difficult as the climb up! When we had finally made the ascent to Giant Ledge we could hear hikers approaching from in front of us. I stopped at one of the lookouts to take a few more pictures before getting back on the main trail. We met a group of four young people hiking and visiting the various lookouts. I didn't know it at the time but these would be the first of MANY small groups and individuals we would meet on the way back to the car. We passed this group and met another near the last lookout. We continued along the trail and I could see that the first lookout had a few people. We finally got to the descent off the Ledge and I could see a young couple ahead of us. They seemed to be about our speed so I decided to let them pull us along. Sheila and I made our way down the rocks and continued down the main trail. We kept meeting small groups of people headed up to the ledges and a few had dogs. Each time I would direct Sheila off the trail and have her sit until others had passed us. This slowed us down a little each time compared to the couple we were following but each time we would catch up. Just after as we made the turn to get back to the car we met a middle-aged couple working their way up through the rocks. As we neared the bridge over the small stream, we met a woman with a dog and Sheila "made friends" before we continued on. As soon as we neared the bridge Sheila ran toward the stream and jumped in to cool herself and get a drink. I let her have a few minutes before calling her back up to the trail. We walked out to near the trail register where I out her on her leash. We walked out to the road and crossed to the parking lot which was now full. We were back at the car at 2:05 PM having covered 6.25 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes including numerous stops. The elevation gain was 2150 feet. When I got home, I downloaded the track from the Suunto Traverse watch, my Garmin 64st and the Avenza app on the cell phone found they were very close but slightly different.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Thursday, June 15th I decided I wanted to mark the upper trail on Round Top with paint blazes. I had gone to the local hardware store on Wednesday to get a bright paint color for the blazes. We had used yellow for the lower trail and I wanted blue for the upper trail. The premixed blues wee all too dark so the owner mixed me a quart of Vermont Sky Blue which turned out to be perfect. By the time Cindy and I got home it was already well into the afternoon. Cindy agreed to go with me which was necessary since it is much easier to blaze with two people. We got our gear in the car and drove across the street. We drove up to the top of the cemetery and parked the car to start our walk at about 1:30 PM. Sheila was with us as she tends to stay out of the way and within a reasonable distance. We brought both colors of paint in sealed plastic containers and several sponge "brushes" which are perfect for painting blazes. We also brought the machete and a Silky saw as there was some clearing to do. I elected to leave my pack behind and to go without hiking poles. We walked into the forest and at the first trail junction we turned right and started up the more gentle slope of the trail. When the lower trail made a sharp left, we continued straight ahead on the newly created upper trail. I painted a triangle of three separate blazes on a prominent tree to indicate the start of the new upper trail. As we walked up the trail we removed most of the green ribbons and Cindy told me where to paint the blazes. I made sure to put a mark on both sides of the trees she picked. There were a few branches to remove but not many. At the top the trail turns right so I painted blazes to indicate the turn on both sides of a large tree. Within a few feet the trail turns left and the tree I wanted to paint was obscured by brush from the other direction. I cut away the brush with the machete but found a large limb was still in the way. The limb was dead and had another resting on it. The limb was larger in diameter than my forearm and I did not feel like going back down the hill for the saw. I started to chop the branch with the machete and found very effective! It didn't take long until I had cut through the limb and it came down along with the one leaning on it. I pulled both of them off the trail and then painted the "turn" blazes on both sides of the tree. Cindy had already picked out another tree farther up the trail. The trail tuned left here so I cut some brush away from the tree and then painted the blazes to indicate the turn. After a few more blazes, we were on the far side of the summit where the trail descends the other side of the hill. The trail turns left here again so I painted some more blazes. The rest of the way down the hill I pit blazes where Cindy showed me to and cleared a few branches. When we reached the bottom, we placed blazes straight ahead even though the ribbons showed a turn to the left. I had decided it was simpler to go straight ahead as it matched the other end of the trail. The last bale I painted was a triangle of three blazes indicating the start of the trail. Cindy went to retrieve the equipment we had left at the other end. I got busy clearing the short stretch of trail that was not cleared. I also threw the branches I had cleared before onto the cleared path which was no longer part of the trail. I cut a few dead saplings and added them to the pile to help indicate what was not part of the path. At this point we were pretty much done so we headed toward the lookout on the lower trail. We had yellow paint with us to touch up the blazes on the lower trail but they were all in good shape. At the lookout we turned left and followed the yellow blazes down to the first trail junction and out to the carat the trailhead. We had spent about 2 hours working on the trail. Some work still needs to be done including raking some leave off the trail near the viewpoint, whacking some leaves and clearing some blanches near the trailhead.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Balsam Lake Mt alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, June 14th, I wanted to hike a 3500 foot peak and decided on Balsam Lake Mountain. I had a doctor's appointment in the morning so I could not get started until 10:00 AM. The temperature was supposed to rise into the mid to high 70's so I wore a light baselayer and only a light top. We left Livingston Manor at 10:00 AM and drove toward Roscoe on Old Rt 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. The sky was almost cloudless as we drove through Lew Beach although the temperature was only reading in the mid 60's! We passed the Buddhist monastery and continued on toward the trailhead. There were a few places where the road which had narrowed was now a little wider than the last time I had been to Balsam Lake Mountain. We arrived at the parking area and found only one other cars in the lot. The temperature was 64 degrees and the sun was shining with a slight breeze. We were on the trail at 10:50 AM heading toward the first trail junction where I intended to turn left and hike up the steep side of the mountain. As we walked up the trail I noticed several trees hanging over the trail and although they seemed safe I would prefer that they were gone. The trail was wet and muddy in places and I assumed that the rain we did not get in Livingston Manor had fallen in this area. There were also a few across the trail that had been partially cleared but some more work needs to be done. We made the trail junction at .9 miles by 11:15 AM and turned left up the mountain without stopping. I had decided to take my time since I had not hiked a trail this steep in some time. This first part of the trail is a gentle climb and I was feeling pretty good without stopping to rest. Over the next half mile the trail gains about 750 feet before leveling off which means an average of around a 28% grade! I decided to stop a few times so that I could catch my breath but the pace was pretty fast and the stops were short. Despite the grade, the hike seemed to go pretty quickly and we were soon passing the spur trail to the lean-to. We passed the 3500 foot sign and were soon at the spring. I encouraged Sheila to take a drink but she seemed uninterested. We walked up the stone steps to the summit plateau and continued on toward the fire tower. As we approached the tower, a dog suddenly appeared on the trail. We could hear the owners calling from behind but the dog kept coming toward us. I grabbed Sheila and took her to the side of the trail. The other dog sniffed Sheila and Sheila sniffed back but they both seemed friendly toward each other. A young man and a young woman approached. They said they had camped overnight and were now hiking out. After a brief conversation, we went our separate ways.

picture taken during a hike We arrived at the tower clearing at 12:05 PM after hiking 1.7 miles and found an older male hiker wandering around the summit looking fro a cell signal. I leashed Sheila to a small tree and walked over to the picnic table. I got out a water bottle and Sheila's bowl. I walked back to Sheila and gave her a drink and drank more than half the bottle. I grabbed my camera and started up the tower. I could tell as soon as I was above the tree line as the breeze picked up considerably. I ascended to the highest landing just below the cab. I took pictures in all direction but the landscape was mostly green with out much of a break. After taking a few pictures, I descended the tower and walked back toward the picnic table. I said "Hello" to the other hiker and we had a short conversation. I packed up my camera and walked over to Sheila. I unleashed her and told her "Trail". We walked down the trail on the other side of the mountain passing the cabin. Walking down the mountain seemed MUCH easier than the climb up the other side. Soon we were approaching the junction with the trail that connects Millbrook Road to the Beaverkill Road. There is a gate at the bottom of the trail and just after this gate is the trail junction. We turned right at the trail junction to start back toward the car. The trail is a little rough to begin with but it is a descent. It appeared as if someone had been clearing the trail which made the hiking much easier. We arrived at the first trail junction and continued on toward the car by retracing our steps. We were back in the parking area at 1:15 PM after hiking 4.3 miles and climbing 1200 feet in elevation. I was happy to have hiked a 3500 foot peak but it made me realize I need to hike a few more! The other car was still in the parking Lothian surprised me as I thought it belonged to the young couple who would have been ahead of us!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Alder Lake Lean-to AllTrails - Alder Lake Lean-to CalTopo - Alder Lake Lean-to Gmap4 - Alder Lake Lean-to MapMyHike - Alder Lake Lean-to On Tuesday, June 13th, I wanted to get in a hike in the morning since thunderstorms were predicted for around noon. The forecast for the rest of the week also called for the possibility storms which I knew might limit my hiking. I decided that I needed a hike close to home but wanted to get away from the "usual places" that I frequent! I thought about a list of options and settled on a hike from Alder Lake to the Beaver Meadow lean-to. I got my gear and Sheila in the car and headed up the Beaverkill Road somewhere around 8:45 AM. It was already in the high 60's so I did not bother with a jacket but did wear a long-sleeved shirt as I like it better than sunscreen. When I lifted the pack into the car, it seemed vary light without my tree trimming equipment! I headed toward Turnwood and Alder Creek Road where I made a left and drove to the Alder Lake parking lot. I parked in the Alder Lake parking area at 9:15 AM started our hike almost immediately. There was one other vehicle in the lot by the lake and another one which was occupied in the upper parking lot. The temperature was in the mid 60's with a slight breeze but relatively high humidity. The skies were hazy without any clearly formed clouds indicating the storms that were predicted for later in the day. We headed down to the "lawn" and found that the large pile of brush and logs was gone. The construction on the dam and spillway was also finished. However, the lawn had not been mowed and looked more like a hayfield. I know the DEC has limited workers but Alder Lake used to be a beautiful place to visit and now it looks abandoned! We walked toward the trail around the left side of the lake. As we walked along the trail I kept an eye out for the occupants of the vehicles in the parking area. Pretty soon another male hiker came walking toward us and I stepped off the trail with Sheila to let him pass. We said "Hello" and then went in our separate directions. Brush and branches were beginning to grow into the trail and they needed some pruning. Sheila was happy to be out and kept me company as we hiked on the trail around the lake which was muddy in places. I began to notice pink flowers on some bushes which I thought might be rhododendron. I turn down to the lake on one path and dropped my pack to get the camera. I took some more pictures of the lake and Cradle Rock Ridge directly across from where I stood. I also took some pictures of a beaver lodge near the shore. We crossed the bridges and at about .8 miles turned left to head toward the lean-to on the Millbrook Ridge Trail.

picture taken during a hike The trail was wet and muddy in many places and there were both old and new blowdowns to contend with. I was almost sorry I did not have my saws but decided this was work for another day. I thought it would be nice to find out who the maintainer is for the trail and offer to help. For the next 1.5 miles the trail climbs and then levels off several times. The elevation gain is several hundred feet but the grade is never more than 12% and averages around 6%. There isn't too much to see along the way but this day was very pleasant. I enjoyed the sounds and sights of Alder Creek as it flows parallel to the trail much of the way. In one spot there was a large beaver dam on the left. Soon we arrived at the lean-to. We walked down to the lean-to and I dropped my pack and got out the camera. I noticed that the privy was now completely torn apart by thoughtless campers looking for some firewood. One person starts the vandalism and the rest join in! It had taken a little over an hour to get to the beaver meadow. I walked out to the edge of the beaver meadow where there is a large flat rock and took pictures of the very green scene. I also got a few shots of Sheila sitting on the rock. I decided to hike a short distance along the trail to the next beaver meadow. When we got there, I took some pictures before going back to the trail and hiking back toward the lean-to. I did not stop on the way back and the walk went quickly. We were soon at the loop trail around Alder Lake where we turned left to complete the loop around the lake. Shortly after the turn there was a designated campsite and a path down to the shore of the lake. I decided to walk down toy take some pictures of the dam and the remains of the Coykendall mansion. I dropped the pack and got out my camera and snapped some pictures. I noticed some movement to my left around a stump and a log in the water. I used the 65x lens on my camera and discovered the movement was from two ducks. I think it was a mated pair. The male was standing guard on the end of the log and the female appeared to be sitting on a nest. I steadied myself and took a few pictures of the ducks. This made the whole trip worthwhile. We walked back up to the main loop trail and turned right fro continue back toward the dam. As we approached the outlet end of the lake, we saw no one at any of the campsites which was not surprising due to the lack of cars in the lot. We continued out the trail and stopped near the dam. I took out my camera and took some pictures of the lake and the dam. I also took shots of the lawn and the stonework from the mansion. I picked up my pack and we continued back up the hill and walked back to the car. We were back at 11:20 AM having covered 5.0 miles in 2 hours and 35 minutes. The total elevation gain was 735 feet.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Monday, June 12th I decided I wanted to get out and hike after a long day as middle school nurse. By the time I got home it was already 3:30 PM and I wanted to be sure I would be back by 6:00 PM when my ambulance shift started. I decided to simply go across the street to Round Top and hike some loops for an hour or so. It was 88 degrees at the house and a little humid when I put Sheila on her leash and started down the driveway. I elected to leave my pack behind and to go without hiking poles as I had to sue one hand to control Sheila. We crossed the street and the firs by the church and started up the hill to the top of the cemetery. Sheila was willing to pull so I let her help me up the steep but short hill. At the trailhead we turned left into the forest and after a few feet I let Sheila off her leash. It was a little cooler out of the direct sun but not much cooler. At the first trail junction we turned right and started up the more gentle slope of the trail. When the lower trail made a sharp left, we continued straight ahead on the newly created upper trail. The trail was easy to follow and the new green ribbons I had placed also helped. We followed the trail across the flat summit and down the other side to the lower trail. We turned right to continue on the lower trail. I looked at the trail junction and decided I would change the way the upper trail meets the lower trail to make it clearer to all hikers. We continued downhill to the lookout and turned left to follow the lower trail back to the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and walked back up to the lookout and followed the lower trail as it turned right and headed uphill. When we came to the junction with the upper trail we continued straight ahead on the upper trail. We followed it uphill to the summit of Round Top and across the summit. It was easy to follow the trail downhill to the lower trail. We continued straight ahead and follows the lower trail along the woods road that led us back to the first trail junction.

When we reached the first trail junction, I have to admit I was hot and a little tired. Sheila turned and trotted toward the trail but I called her back and we turned around and started back up the woods road. This time when we got to the upper trail we turned left and stayed on the lower trail following it along the base of the hill. At the next left turn we followed lower trail downhill to the lookout. At the lookout we turned left to follow the trail back to the first trail junction. This time Sheila trotted a little farther toward the trailhead until I called her back so we could finish our last small loop. We headed back up the steeper hill to the lookout and followed the lower trail as it turned right. We walked along the base of Round Top to the next left turn. We followed the lower trail to the woods road that took us back to the first trail junction. This time Sheila sprinted toward the trailhead and only turned around when she was almost there. I turned left and walked toward her and the trailhead. This seemed to please her immensely. I caught up to her and put her on the leash. We turned right at the trailhead and walked back down the cemetery hill, across the field by the church and back to our driveway. We hikes about 3 miles in just over an hour. It is nice to have a trail so close to the house even though it is short!

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Saturday, June 10th I wanted to get out for a short hike before having to take the ambulance to standby at the Livingston Manor Trout Parade. Cindy and I decided to go across the street at abbot 11:00 AM to hike on Round Top. I wanted to check the work that we had done the week before when we cut out the new upper trail. I wanted to check to see if any more trimming was needed right away. I also wanted to mark the trail with some new green ribbons prior to applying paint blazes. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not want to carry the extra weight and wanted to have the "freedom" from taking pictures. I did bring along my machete and the green marking ribbon. We crossed the street and walked to the back of the church to begin the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I cut a few branches that were starting to droop into the trail. There are plans to place a sign at the trailhead and to have a formal opening later this year. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead toward the lookout. The trail here has excess leaves and could use a little raking. At the lookout we turned right to follow the yellow blazes of the trail. The trail has been worn in some and it was pretty easy to follow. I did not notice any new ATV tracks. At the sharp right turn we continued to follow the lower trail as if skirted Round Top. At the next sharp right turn we turned left to start on the upper trail which we had cut out the previous Saturday. The trail was very obvious and there were only a few spots where I cut some branches and a few ferns. I did occasionally add a few new ribbons to clearly mark the trail. Cindy and I also talked about whet to place the paint blazes which I intend to work on next week. At the top we headed across the flat summit following the trail we had cleared. We agreed that marking here could be a problem as there are few trees on which to put blazes. We descended the other side following the ribbons. The trail was worn in and the ribbons obvious in most places. I cut a few branches and placed a few more ribbons until we met the lower trail. We turned left and followed the lower trail around to the brush pile and the sharp right urn. We followed the lower trail down to the woods road that brings the trail to the first trail junction. When we arrived at the junction, I was ready to turn around and do another figure 8 but Cindy wanted to go home. I turned around to start back up the trail but after checking the time I decided to return with her to the house. It was a little close to the time a I had to leave the house to get the ambulance. We walked back out to the trailhead and down the hill to the church. We walked back to our driveway after spending about an hour hiking just under 2 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, June 7th I had not planned to hike since the weather forecast early in the week was for rain throughout the day. When I went to bed On Tuesday, the forecast had changed and I began to think about going to Trout Pond to see how the rain had effected Russell Brook Falls and the level of Trout Pond. The only drawback was that I knew the trail would be wet. In the morning when I awoke there was actually some sun peeking through the clouds and the forecast was only calling for cloudy skies with rain in the evening. I got some things done around the house and got out my gear. Sheila was on my heels the whole time sensing we would be going out. I decided to wear a heavier shirt and a light windbreaker but did not think I would need a hat or gloves. We left the house a little before 9:30 AM and headed north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe. I got off at exit 94 and headed broth on Route 206 passing through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I considered driving down to the lower parking area but the road can be washed out at times. I also like the hike down the road as it parallels Russell Brook. I turned around and parked on the side of the road near a large pulloff that looks like a parking area. This pulloff is on private property and the owner does not like people parking on his land. I got my gear and electronics ready and we started our hike at 9:45 AM with Sheila leading the way down Russell Brook Road. The road was a little damp but did not appear to be washed out. I could hear what sounded like a large volume of water in the brook as we descended toad the lower parking area. As we walked down the road, I could see that the water level was high. When we got to the viewpoint for the upper falls, I decided to walk down to the lookout to take some pictures. I dropped my pack and took some shots of the large volume of water going over the falls. After finishing my photography, I packed up and headed back to the road. We walked down to the parking area and then got on the woods road that leads down to the bridge. We crossed the bridge over Russell Brook and walked along the woods road. I noticed the knotweed was back and already was green and growing nicely. I decided to walk over to the falls as the light was good. We turned right onto the path to the falls and found the path that leads down to the stream bed. This path is becoming more distinct as more and more people access it. The rocks were slippery as there was a lot of spray from the falls and the wind was blowing downstream. I put my pack down and got out the camera. I took shots of the falls and the stream from different angles and zooms and with different exposures. I also took a few of Sheila posing in front of the falls. When I was done, I stowed the camera, walked back up the bank and out to the main trail. We turned right on the main trail and then walked straight ahead at the trail junction to go directly up the hill to trout Pond

picture taken during a hike The trail to Trout Pond was wet for almost the entire length. In some places the water was directed in channels but in others the entire trail was wet. Soon we were at the pond and we walked over to the shore by the outlet. The water level was high and water was flowing freely over the spillway at the dam. I got out my camera and took pictures of the pond and the shores. The sky was blue with some nice white clouds. I walked over to the dam and took pictures of the water flowing over the spillway and a few more of the pond. It was at this time that Sheila decided to dash madly back and forth. I tried to capture a few pictures of her and then packed up to get back on the main trail. The trail from the outlet end of the lake to the lean-tos was covered in water most of the way and it was sometimes impossible to easily avoid the puddles. We made it to the bridge over the inlet stream and I stopped to take a few more pictures. The trail to the right up the hill had a stream running down the middle. After a short distance, the stream headed off to the left and the trail was drier. We climbed the trail heading toward the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. There were some new blowdowns along the way and several older larger logs. All should be cleared but the larger logs might need a chainsaw crew. I knew once we hit the top of the hill and started down that the trail would be very wet. I was right as the trail was covered in standing water in places and ran like a stream in others. I took a few pictures but they really don't show how much water there was. I had to walk on the sides of the trail and, at times, well off the trail. We came across one large branch that had broken off a tree and had one end lodged in the ground. The other end was hung up high in s small tree. It looked very dangerous and I know it will be hard to safely remedy the situation. Eventually we were walking through the area where there are a lot of small white birches. We descended the hill to the trail that runs past Mud Pond. We trend left here to head back to the car by completing the loop. The trail was wet with surface water which also made it very muddy. We hit the top of the small hill and started the long descent back to the register box. The trail remained wet and muddy with several small streams flowing across it. The stream to the right of the trail had a volume greater than I had ever seen in it. When we arrived at the trail register, we turned right and walked back out the trail to the lower parking area. From here we walked back up Russell Brook Road to the car without seeing another vehicle or person for the entire trip. We were back at the car at 12:25 Pm after hiking 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes. The elevation gain was 1104 feet. The temperature had risen only a few degrees to 64 degrees.

On Saturday, June 3rd it was National Trails Day and I had planned to go to Round Top with some other volunteers to cut out the new, upper trail. I scheduled the start for 10:00 AM to let the woods dry out a little. Lisa contacted the people who had expressed and interest in working in the trails and all of them had other commitments. I knew that Cindy and I could do the work but had wanted to include others to make it easier and to get other opinions. Just before 10:00 AM it stared to rain and shortly after that there was an ambulance call. When I got back, Cindy and I got dressed and ready to go work on the trail. It was cool with a slight breeze which I knew would make working on the trails easier. Since no one else was going along, we decided to take Sheila. We took my Fiskars axe, Silky saw, one of my machetes, a pair of loppers and a weed whip. We loaded up the car and drove across the street and to the top of the cemetery. I parked at the trailhead and we got started out on the trail with all our tools. At the first trail junction we turned right to head up the easier hill. At the sharp left turn in the lower trail we dropped the tools and assessed the work to be done. My plan was to cut out the trail to near the summit of Round Top on one side and then go to the other side and cut out the trail to the summit. We would them walk around the summit looking for the best route between the two. We started up the trail which was marked with green ribbons. Cindy was using the loppers and I settled on the machete. The trail was pretty distinct as I had been walking it a lot all winter and breaking off branches and picking up branches and logs on the trail. The work went pretty fast near the bottom with only a few spots that needed cleaning. In some cases I simply dragged branches away from the trail. I retrieved the saw to cut few larger ones. Near the top we had to do a little more trimming and we cut branches pretty high up to account for snowshoeing in the winter. When we reached the summit we stopped and walked back down to the main trail where we picked up our tools and followed the lower trail along the base of the hill. On the way we stopped to cut some branches that were obstructing the trail. When we arrived at the sharp left turn, we dropped the tools and looked for the best way to start the trail to the summit. We made our decision and again followed the green ribbons up the hill. The trail on this side is slightly longer and had a few more branches to trim. Right at the beginning of the trail there was a large branch that had fallen off a tree and lodged in the ground. The upper end was pretty firmly entangled in another tree. I got my saw and was able to cut through it at the bottom. I removed the lower part but the upper end was still hung up. I decided to garb and pull and soon the upper end was off the trail. We continued up the hill cutting branches and small trees. For me the machete was most useful as it was able to cut some small trees but could also be used to mow down some ferns to make the trail easier to follow. I was surprised that Sheila stay near us and was only taking short trips away from the trail. When we reached the summit, we stopped cutting. We walked across the top following the ribbons but looking for the path of least resistance. I also wanted to be sure to be very careful to respect the private property lines on the summit. We walked over to the spot where we had come up the other side and agreed on a path we could take. We started to cut out the trail in probably the thickest brush of the whole day. We continued to work our way across the top following a natural game trail. At one point it wasn't clear which way we should go so I walked back to the trail we had just come up. From here I could see where Cindy was standing and the easiest rout became clear. We cut out the rest of the trail so that most of the work was done. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 3:00 PM which surprised me as I did not think we had spent that much time. We walked back down the hill to the main trail where we picked up our tools and walked back out to the car arriving at 3:30 PM after spending 4 hours. The trail still needs to be blazed with paint if the rain ever stops. Some small stumps need to be removed with a mattocks and I am sure there will be a few off branches to trim. All the trail needs now are some people to use it!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) CalTopo - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) On Thursday, June 1st, I was the high school nurse in Liberty for the second day in a row. The day was sunny but cool and I felt a little trapped inside. On the way home I though about taking a short hike since the blue sky was full of puffy white clouds. When I got home, I asked Cindy if she wanted to go to Frick Pond and she agreed. I got my gear together and we headed out the door a little after 4:00 PM. I drove out the DeBruce Road for 6 miles and turned left on Mongaup Road. I stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the Y and parked in the smaller lot at. I decided to wear a light windbreaker over a long-sleeved shirt as it was a little cool. As soon as we stepped out of the car it was obvious we would need some insect repellant so we applied some before heading out on the woods road to the register at 4:30 PM. This trail is always dry but was muddy this time from the rain we had during the week. We arrived at the register box to find the woods road out to Frick Pond covered in water and very muddy. In most areas it was easy to find a way around the water but in others it was difficult. The trail crew has tried to redirect the water into channels and off the trail but it is difficult as the trail tends to be lower than the surrounding ground. We stayed left at Gravestone Junction to walk down to the pond. The water level in the pond was even higher than the last time I was there and Cindy remarked that it actually looked like a pond. I put my pack down and got out my camera and took pictures of the beaver dam that was higher and better reinforced than last time. I have taken these pictures of the pond before but never get tired of the puffy white clouds in the blue sky with the green of spring on the trees and bushes. I took pictures of the dam and the pond. We walked across the bridge and around the west edge of the pond. At the next trail junction we turned right to get on the yellow-blazed Big Rock Trail and headed around the back of Frick Pond. After passing over the wooden walkways we came to a bridge where there was a god view of the wetlands at the head of the pond. I took some pictures and pointed out a large branch I had cut the last time I had been on the trail. Just over the second bridge I pointed out a much larger branch that I had removed on my last maintenance trip. We headed toward Time Square trying to avoid the very muddy areas on the trail.

picture taken during a hike At Times Square we had to make a decision about how long we wanted the hike to be and which trail we would take. We both agreed that just a loop around the pond was too short. I wanted to go up the Big Rock Trail and Cindy wanted to take the Logger's Loop to Iron Wheel Junction. After a few moments, we turned left and headed toward Iron Wheel Junction on the Logger's Loop. Times Square was very wet and muddy from the water running down the hill from the Logger's Loop. The trail was also wet and muddy from springs on the trail itself. These make it hard to predict where the water is actually originating and hard to develop a solution. As we walked along the trail, we came to the area where there is a seasonal pond on the right side of the trail. The water isn't much more than 18 inches deep and during drier weather there may be no water in the "pond". This time the pond seemed unexpectedly smaller than last time. I had thought with all the rain that it would be even deeper. As we continued on toward Iron Wheel Junction, thee trail had several large puddles and several places where it was clear there had bee water. Soon we were at the trail junction where we turned left on the Quick Lake trail to head back to Frick Pond. Walking downhill toward the little stream in the woods, the trail was wet and muddy much like the rest of the hike. I was surprised that the stream's water level was rather low and we crossed it easily. As we walked through the "spruce tunnel", I found one large hardwood truck across the trail that I remembered from the last hike. I made note of it and knew I would return with my larger saw and a full-sized felling axe. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail which also had its share of puddles and mud. Soon we were back at the bridge over the outlet to Frick Pond. As we stopped to watch the water for a minute, a head popped up out of the water and the animal began swimming across the pond. I got out my camera and took a quick picture but only got the back of the beaver's head before it ducked under the water. We walked up the hill and followed the Quick Lake Trail back to the register. We walked the woods road back out to the car arriving at 6:10 PM. We had hiked 3.8 miles in 1 hours and 40 minutes with only 5 minutes of stopped time. The overall elevation gain was a modest 380 feet.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Tuesday, May 30th I wanted to get out for a hike since track meets and rainy weather had kept me away from the forest for a week! Sheila seemed to agree as I got ready to go across the street to hike on Round Top. I had gotten a late start and decided this was the best plan. I also had not hiked Round Top in a week and wanted to make sure the trail was clear and in good shape. I also wanted to see what the proposed upper trail looked like as I was planning to do some work in clearing that trail on Saturday, June 3 which is National Trails Day. This would include cutting this trail out and marking it with paint blazes. We headed across the street at about 11:35 AM with Sheila pulling me all the way down the driveway on her leash. It was a cool day with mist still in the air so I wore my Pertex rain jacket that repels water but has huge pit zips to dump heat. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not want to carry the extra weight and wanted to have the "freedom" from taking pictures. I also did not want to get the pack wet in the heavy mist. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees it seemed that it was raining but I thought it was just the rain falling from the leaves. There are plans to place a sign at the trailhead and to have a formal opening later this year. At the first trail junction we turned right to walk up the gentler slope. As we walked I picked up a few sticks on the trail but there were no major blowdown to clear. At the sharp left turn we turned left to stay in the lower trail. I was pleased to see that the brush pile I had made to discourage ATV use was still in place and that there were no new tracks. We continued along the base of Round Top until the lower trail turned left. At this point we turned right and followed the green ribbons toward the summit of Round Top. There was a pretty clearly defined track to follow as well as the ribbons. As we walked, I picked up a few branches and threw them off the track. At the top I headed across the flat summit but had trouble finding the ribbons or a good track. This is an area I will have to work on. We descended the other side following the ribbons and met the lower trail at the brush pile. We turned right and followed the lower trail around to the lookout. From here we continued down the hill to the first trail junction. At the trail junction we turned around and started back up the hill to the lookout to begin our second figure 8. At the lookout we continued to the right to follow the lower trail. Further along where the trail turned right we followed it along the base of Round Top until we came to the brush pile at the right turn. We turned left here and followed the green ribbons marking the proposed trail back up to the summit of Round Top. In this direction I had some problems finding the ribbons and made a mental note to come remark this section. At the top we walked across the flat summit and down the other side to the lower trail. We turned left and followed the trail as it turned sharply right at the brush pile. We continued on down to the first trail junction. When we arrived, I decided to walk a little more so we started back up toward the lookout again to do one more big loop. It was clear now that it was raining but that not much was getting through to use. Where the lower trail made a sharp right we continued straight ahead following the green ribbons to the summit of Round Top. On the way up Sheila went off trail to the right to check out a log. She seemed very interests in something so I called her back and told her to stay. I walked over to the log and didn't see anything at first. When I looked at the end of the log I saw that a small porcupine had his head shoved into the hollow end of the log. The porcupine had just his back and tail exposed. I walked back to Sheila grateful that she knew enough not to "play" with the porcupine. We walked to the summit, across the top and down the other side. When we hit the lower trail we continued on the lower trail back to the first trail junction. W eared left and walked back out to the trailhead. We walked down the hill to the church and back to our driveway. We had spent a little over an hour hiking just over 2 miles.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Tuesday, May 23rd I wanted to get out for a hike since the forecast for the rest of the week was questionable and Thursday would be taken up by the sectional track meet. I had decided to "sleep in" since I had my sleep interrupted several times by ambulance calls in the middle of the night. As luck would have it I was awakened at 5:00 AM by...an ambulance call. When I returned, I decided to see if I could get a little extra sleep and I did manage to rest until 9:00 AM. I did some work around the house and then decided to go across the street to hike on Round Top. I put Sheila on her leash and we headed across the street at about 11:45 AM. The temperature was about 65 degrees and the sky was much more overcast than I had expected. I actually wore a light windbreaker but decided to leave my pack behind. I also left my poles at home knowing I would be hiking only about 2 miles. We walked across the field next to the church and then walked up the hill from the church to the top of the cemetery. The hill is short but steep and I appreciated Sheila helping to pull me up the hill. At the top of the hill we turned left at the trailhead and walked into the woods. I let Sheila off her leash and began to pick up some small branches off the trail. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead up the hill to the lookout. At the top of the hill we followed the trail as it turned to the right and headed uphill. When the trail made a sharp right, we followed it as it followed the base of Round Top. Again, as the trail turned right we followed it downhill to the woods road that took us back to the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and walked back up the woods road to the sharp left turn. Instead of following the lower trail we continued straight ahead toward the top of Round Top following the green ribbons of the proposed upper trail. We continued to follow the ribbons across the summit of Round Top and down the other side back to the lower trail. Here we turned right and followed the yellow blazes of the lower trail back to the lookout. At the viewpoint we followed the trail to the left and back down to the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and started back up to the lookout following the lower trail to the right and uphill until we came to the sharp right turn. We continued straight ahead following the green ribbons back to the summit of Round Top. On the way up I noticed that Sheila was sniffing around a log just off the trail. I decided that she was up to no good and called her back. I told her to "Stay" and walked over to the log. At first I didn't notice anything. On closer inspection, I found that a small porcupine had its head poked into the end of the log leaving only its needle-covered tail and body exposed! I was glad that Sheila had the good sense NOT to bite it! I went back to the main trail and we walked over the top and down the other side to the lower trail. We walked straight ahead down the hill to the woods road and the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and walked back around the lower loop one more time ending up back at the first trail junction. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked out to the trailhead, back down to the church and across the street to our driveway. We had hiked two small loops and two big loops and we were back a the house at 1:00 PM. I estimated from our usual pace that we walked just over 2 miles. Some might think the repeated loops would be boring. I find that the trails are convenient and I know them so well that I can spend a lot of time thinking.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Cobey Pond AllTrails - Cobey Pond caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Cobey Pond MapMyHike - Cobey Pond On Sunday, May 21st, Cindy and I left the Damascus Forest trail and headed for Cobey Pond to the south. I was trying to scout out the Damascus Forest trail and the Cobey Pond trail to update the trailkeeper.org website. We headed west on Macubbins Road and then turned left at the end on Barkley Lake Road. We then turned right on Plank Road and left on Atco Road to get to Route 652, the Beach Lake Road. After 2.4 miles we turned left or south on Perkins Pond Road. We stayed on Perkins Pond Road for 4 miles until it ended at Welcome Lake Road. The name of the road changed to Case Road as we entered the Township of Lackawaxen. We turned right on Welcome Lake Road and drove .9 miles to Masthope Road where we turned left. The access road for Cobey Pond was 1 mile down the road on the left. We turned into the road and crossed Masthope Creek on a small bridge. A group of women had just finished their hike and were removing ticks from themselves and their clothing. We asked them about the trail but they really didn't know much about the area. A road headed off to the right and seemed to be on my geospatial PDF so we headed out on the road. As we walked I could see that the GPS track was well off the road on the amp so we turned around and went back to the parking area. There was a gate across a woods road that ran along the creek so we decided to try that. We walked along the creek which was pretty enough for me to stop and take a few pictures. It soon became obvious that this was not the trail we were looking for. We went back to the car again and looked for a third option. Another car had parked while we were hiking and a family was walking on the road we had been on. As we looked for a third option, we heard a noise that sounded like a dog being mauled by a bear! I told Cindy to take Sheila and I walked toward the noise. I asked if everything was OK and was told it was. I walked back to the car and we decided to walk farther up the road to see where it went. As we passed the family posing for a picture, I saw no dog! We walked up the road and the GPS track soon started to match the map. In about half a mile we came to an upper parking area and turnaround just before another locked gate. This, apparently, was the best place to park although it was not obvious so any mentions of mileage are from this parking area. There was a cloyingly sweet odor in the area coming from bushes with white flowers but we noticed there were no bees. As we walked through the gate there was one car parked in the turnaround. The road we were on was paved with large crushed stone which made walking difficult so we tried to stay the sides. At .15 miles the road split with the paved section headed right and a grassy section headed uphill to the left. We turned right to follow the pave road.

picture taken during a hike The road descended just slightly and then climbed a little to the shores of the pond. I was surprised to see a dock jutting out into the water and a nice wooden bridge over the spillway. There were two fisherman with waders fishing near the outlet. I stopped to take a few pictures and noticed the sky was getting darker and the wind was picking up. The trail went in both directions around the pound and we chose to turn right as it was the route on the map and was the longer hike. After crossing the spillway and reaching the other side of the pond we turned left to follow a grassy road that was completely flat around the pond. As we walked we found some more of the fragrant white flowers and a bush with pink flowers that we did not recognize. At the head end of the pond we stopped again and I took some more pictures. There were several small "islands" at the upper end. I also took pictures of the pink flowers and of a wood duck nesting box with a metal skirt to discourage predators. As we continued to walk the trail split at about 1.5 miles. The trail to the left circled the shores of the pond but the trail we wanted headed to the right. We turned right and followed the grassy road as it gained a little elevation heading southwest and then south. Right around the highest point at 1.75 miles there was a house being built in the woods on the right. I also notice a hen turkey standing in plain view along the left side of the trail. Sheila went to chase her as she gobbled and took to flight only when Sheila was almost on top of her. She flew only a short distance, landed and gobbled some more. I knew she must have chicks close by and soon we could see them on the side of the trail. They were so well camouflaged we could only see them when they moved. I immediately called Sheila back and put her of the leash. We continued along the trail completing the loop at 2 miles. We turned right to walk down the road and through the gate. I stopped my GPS at the upper parking area. We had walked 2.2 miles in just less than an hour with a 245 foot elevation gain. This hike was a little longer and a little more interesting than the Damascus Forest but I would not go out of my wake to hike either trail. We continued on the road and arrived back at the car at 5:10 PM. I checked Sheila for ticks and picked off at lest 8 that were crawling around on her. Cindy asked me to take a few off her clothing. I had two on my clothing and one that was beginning to bite the back of my right hand. When we arrived home I checked Sheila again and picked off more ticks. Cindy had a half dozen or more UNDER her BugOff gaiters and on her pants. I also had a few more on my clothing. In several hikes to do trail maintenance at Frick Pond and on Cabot Mountain we had encountered no ticks. I don't think I will going back to Pennsylvania very soon!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Damascus Forest AllTrails - Damascus Forest caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Damascus Forest MapMyHike - Damascus Forest On Sunday, May 21st, the forecast had been for rain but by the time we left church at 12:15 PM the skies were only a little cloudy with some sun shining through. I asked Cindy if she wanted to go to scout out the Damascus Forest Trail and the trail at Cobey Pond. I was trying to scout out the Damascus Forest trail and the Cobey Pond trail to update the trailkeeper.org website. She said "Yes" and I set out to create two geospatial PDFs using Caltopo. I should have done this the night before and it took some time to get it done! As I was getting my pack read, I noticed I had the scabbard to my saw but there was no saw. After a few minutes of searching, I was convinced I had left it on the Touch-Me-Not Trail the day before. Cindy and I got dressed to hike and got all our equipment in the car. I drove up the Beaverkill Road to Beech Hill Road behind a car that was looking for some location and would not pull over! I turned left on Beech Hill Road and drove to the parking area for the Touch-Me-Not Trail. I walked down to the beginning of the trail and found the saw right where I had left it. I felt lucky but stupid! I drove back to Livingston Manor and we headed toward Callicoon over the back roads. When we to Route 97 I turned left or south and headed toward the bridge at Cochecton. We crossed the bridge over the Delaware River into Pennsylvania and almost immediately turned left on River Road. We followed River Road south along the river for a total of 6 miles. At 2.7 miles we had to turn left to stay on River Road. When we saw Macubbins Road on the right, I turned and drove .7 miles to the parking area on the right. When we pulled in there was one other car and a woman with her dog sitting in the grass under a tree. I thought this unwise as the ticks this year are very numerous especially in Pennsylvania. As we were getting ready, the woman talked to my wife and advised us that she always saw bears on this hike. When we said we were from New York, she said "This will be a nice change for you." which led us to believe she had translated New York to New York City. We were finally able to get going at 2:35 PM by walking through the opening in the rail fence next to the information kiosk. There weren't any visible markers but we stayed on the edge of the forest and field until we picked up yellow paint blazes.

picture taken during a hike The trail headed north through an evergreen forest gaining a little elevation. There was a lot of debris and some blowdowns on the trail so I assumed no one had been around to clear the trail for the hiking season. We quickly reached a power line right-of-way and I stopped to take a few pictures. The trail turned off the right-of-way and headed north through some more evergreen forest. I could see a trail lower down on the hill and surmised it was for the return trip. At about half a mile into the hike we came to a stone wall where the trail turned left and descended to the trail I had seen which runs along a wetland. I dropped my pack and walked to the edge of the wetland which turned out to be the highlight of the hike. The trail now headed southwest through some mixed softwood and hard wood forest until at .75 miles it turned south. We were now on a woods road which was open and ease to follow. Soon I could see that we were just west of the parking area and approaching the road. I had expected a longer hike and checked my GPS to see if we had missed anything. The geospatial PDF on my iPhone showed we had completed the trail! There weren't any blazes to guide us back to the car so we walked out to the road, turned left and then almost immediately turned left again into the parking area. It was 3:10 PM and we had hiked 1.1 miles in 30 minutes with an elevation gain of 130 feet. We both concluded that although the trail was pretty it also was pretty short without much "bang"! Our next stop was to be Cobey Pond so I turned right on Macubbins Road and started to head west. Not very far along we came to a small pond with a beautiful stone dam. The outlet formed a little waterfall. I pulled the car over to take a few shots before continuing on our way.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) AllTrails - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) CalTopo - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road)caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) MapMyHike - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) On Saturday, May 20th, I had planned to hike to do some more trail clearing on the Touch-Me-Not Trail from Beech Hill Road to Cabot Mountain. Since I had done the maintenance from Barkaboom Road to Cabot Mountain on Thursday, this would complete my "spring cleaning" except for a little lopping to do in a few spots. I maintain this section of trail for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. I had an early morning ambulance call which delayed my departure as well as a few morning showers. By 11:00 Am the rain had stopped and the radar was clear. I got my gear ready and dressed for what was going to be cooler day than Thursday so I wore a light jacket. I packed my Silky saw and plastic felling wedges and grabbed my light Fiskars axe. Sheila was ready to go as we pulled out of Livingston Manor at a little after 11:00 AM. I drove north on Old Route 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. I got behind some slower traffic as was further delayed by some tree trimming. I passed through Lew Beach and turned left on Beech Hill Road Road. I drove up the road about 2.6 miles and parked at the small pullout on the right side of the road at the beginning of the trail. The temperature was still in the high 50's which was at least 20 degrees cooler than on Thursday. As soon as I got out of the car I knew I would need some insect repellant and applied some immediately. I set my electronics and we walked down through the field and into the woods to begin our hike at 11:30 AM. The first part of the trail is flat and usually very wet and this day was no exception. We walked slog a stone wall and almost immediately cam to the first blowdown. I decided to leave this one for the way back and proceeded Wong the trail. I picked up a few branches and through them aside. The trail was wet and muddy and we had to walk at the side of the trail in several spots to avoid the mud. At .2 miles the trail begins to climb and in about half a mile it gains almost 600 feet averaging a 20% grade. This is not as steep as the other side but is plenty challenging. After climbing a little we ran into a large tree across the trail. This one was new and more than a foot in diameter. It was squarely across the trail and would have to be cut in at least two places. The wood looked solid which I knew would make it hard to cut and heavy to handle. I decided to re-evaluate this one on the way back. We continued up the trail which has a few switchbacks and several flatter areas. We found a large tree trunk on the trail. The upper part of the rotted trunk had broken off and rolled away from the trail. The lower section wasn't exactly blocking the trail but I decided to try to roll it off the trail. The problem was that I had to roll it slightly uphill. I got a big rock toy brace it and cleared behind the log. I was able to roll it completely off the trail and brace it with the rock to clear the trail.

picture taken during a hike At about .7 miles the trail levels off and then rolls over several bumps to the Cabot Mountain Vista at 1.6 miles. Shortly after the trail flattened we came to another tree that I thought I could roll out of the way. I again had to roll the trunk uphill and at some point gravity took over and the tree rolled into the trail! I decided this was unacceptable so I took some "before" pictures and then got my Fiskars axe and cut the trunk into two pieces. The lower and shorter one was easy to roll of the trail. The other piece needed to be flipped. I lifted it to about 70 degrees and realized then that I needed to get to just over 90 degrees! I didn't want to drop it and start over so I gave a big effort and flipped it off the trail. I took my "after" pictures and got a drink. The temperature was beginning to rise so I stowed my jacket. We continued along the trail to another set of trunks on the trail. I took pictures and then got to work removing what was loose. It didn't take long to cut the remaining tree with the axe and remove everything. Before we moved on I sued the saw to cut another small blowdown. I took my pictures, packed up and moved on. Sheila meanwhile was having a great time as the day was cooler. We came to another blowdown but I decided to walk to the vista and then cut this one on the way back. Just passed this blowdown was a large branch or treetop that had fallen so that it was well anchored in the ground with the top hung up in another tree. I tried to bring t down by getting it moving but to no avail. We continued along the flat part of the trail toward the viewpoint. There was only one more tree across the trail and this was an old and rotting white birch. It had a thick trunk that would be hard to cut. We arrived at the lookout at about 1:20 PM. The view was slightly better than two days before. I took some pictures including a few of Sheila sitting on the lookout before getting a drink and a snack and heading back. I knew that the trip back should go quickly but that I would be hampered by the lack of poles. Climbing without poles is difficult but descending can be dangerous! We stopped at the one blowdown still blocking the trail on the flat summit. I got out the saw to see it I could cut through the trunk. The Silky saw worked very well and soon the cut was almost done. As the two pieces of trunk separated, the top piece fell completely off the trail. My work was done so I took some pictures and continued on the trail. The descent did go quickly with some slipping and sliding. We stopped at the large blowdown near the base of the hill but I decided I would need a full-sized felling axe and my Katanaboy folding saw for this one! Our last stop was at the blowdown near the beginning of the trail. I was able to make one cut near the lower end of the trunk even though the wood was hard to cut as it was wet. Once the cut was made I tried to roll the top over the stone wall next to the trail. The trunk decided to use gravity and fell onto the trail. Somehow I was able to lift the top of the piece back onto the wall and block it with a rock. I swung the other end up and our work for the day was done. We walked back to the car arriving at 2:30 PM after spending 3 hours hiking 3.3 miles and doing a lot of trail work. I was surprised that the elevation gain was only 925 feet!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Cabot (from Big Pond) AllTrails - Cabot (from Big Pond) CalTopo - Cabot (from Big Pond) Gmap4 - Cabot (from Big Pond) MapMyHike - Cabot (from Big Pond) On Thursday, May 18th, I had planned to hike to do some more trail clearing. I had worked on the trails around Frick Pond the day before in very warm conditions. I thought I would attend my 6:15 AM men's bible study and then head out. That plan changed we an ambulance call came in around 5:00 AM. By the time got back the class was almost over and I was not sleepy. I decided to get an early start. I settled on hiking from Big Pond over the Touch-Me-Not Trail toward Cabot Mountain. I maintain this section of trail for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and had not been out to clear it yet this spring. I got my gear ready and dressed for what was going to be a hot day eschewing even the lightest jacket. I packed my Silky saw and plastic felling wedges and grabbed my light Fiskars axe. Sheila was ready to go as we pulled out of Livingston Manor at a little after 8:00 AM. I drove north on Old Route 17 before turning right on the Beaverkill Road. I got behind some slower traffic as was further delayed by some tree trimming. I passed through Lew Beach and turned left on the Barkaboom Road just before Turnwood. I drove up the road less than a mile and parked at Big Pond around 8:30 AM. As soon as I got out of the car I knew I would need some insect repellant and applied some immediately. I set my electronics and we walked across the road to begin our hike at 8:40 AM. The first part of the trail is a little steep but I stopped to pick up some branches and throw them off the trail. Just passed the trail register was a tree leaning across the trail. I had identified this and several others to be cut with a chainsaw last year but the promised help never materialized. The tree doesn't really block the trail but I worry that some day it has to come down. We continued to walk up the trail with me stopping to break off a few branches or pick up some lying in the trail. There really wasn't much to clear and the walk went quickly. In a few places it was clear that the trail had acted as a streambed as it was still damp and there were a lot of leaves that had washed down the gully. At around half a mile the trail started to get steeper and a little wetter in spots. I did find one small tree across the trail and I took a few pictures before rapidly removing it. After taking a few "after" pictures, we continued along the trail as it climbed Touch-Me-Not Mountain. Along the way there were several large trunks of more than 12 inches in diameter across the trail. The trunks were low and ease to step over. These were the same obstacles I had reported last year. I was getting a little tired climbing since I was carrying an axe and not my poles. At 1.1 miles we came to the junction with the Campground Trail that comes up from the Little Pond beach area. Just before the junction there is a large tree that has split in three directions. One trunk blocks the trail but is relatively easy to get over. Another section fell to the right and off the trail. The third section fell along the trail and is hung up in another tree. These are probably 24 inches in diameter and will require a chainsaw or a reroute of the trail.

picture taken during a hike We turned right at the trail junction to stay on the Touch-Me-Not trail. It was my plan to follow the trail down to the junction with the Little Pond trail clearing as we went. I thought we would probably turn around at this point and return to the car. The distance is only about half a mile but the trail drops around 300 feet. There wasn't much to clear but I noted some new briars and brush encroaching on the trail. These would best be trimmed by loppers or shears and could wait until my next trip. On this short descent the trail passed through some rocks and ledges which makes the hike interesting. There were a few large trunks that had been there for some time and I had flattened the top surface to make getting over them easier. We arrived at the junction with the Little Pond Trail at 9:50 Am after hiking 1.6 miles. It seemed very hot and I was a little tired. However, we had hiked less than 2 miles and I wanted a little more. We continued straight ahead on the Touch-Me-Not Trail and I had the vague notion we might climb to the lookout on Cabot Mountain. I cleared a few small branches and some larger ones that had fallen on the trail as a result of larger trees falling near the trail. We came across several large trunks across the trail most of which were old and had not been cleared. One new blowdown was nearly 24 inches and was lying across the trail diagonally. We climbed over this one and continued on to the base of the climb up Cabot. I decided to go little farther to see if the majority of the ascent was free of debris. As we started up the climb, we came to an area where some small trees or bushes were almost blocking the trail. These would be easiest to clear with loppers so I let them go and moved on. By this time we were beginning to move up the ascent. It was very hot and dry and it became clear that the one bottle of water I rough along was not enough. I had to make a decision. The wise choice was to turn around and leave the rest of the trail to the lookout for another day. So I decided that we would make the attempt to reach the viewpoint over Little Pond. The climb up Cabot from the beginning to end is only about 4 miles but the average grade is over 24%. Within that climb there is a .2 mile section that is a 35% grade!

picture taken during a hike As we climbed, I was afraid that my legs would cramp as they felt on the verge of doing so. I was also afraid that I would not have enough water to correct the problem! I had every opportunity to come to me senses and turn back but I did not. There wasn't much to clear off the trail but I did remove some branches. There were also several large blowdown that had been there for a long time. We finally made the last climb and then walked along the flat summit to the lookout. The trees are beginning to get leaves so Little Pond was somewhat blocked. The skies were blue with white clouds but they seemed a little hazy and flat. I got out the camera and took some pictures including one of Sheila in the shade of some rocks. Sheila seemed very hot so I gave her a drink and got one myself. I saw no point in waiting around so we began our trip back at 10:35 AM after spending only about 5 minutes resting. The descent was much easier than the climb except for the fact that I missed my poles going down. I used the axe at times to lean on but it was a poor substitute. Sheila still looked hot and was panting heavily. She took every opportunity to rest in the shade. As we started down the last part of the climb, I remembered that she had found some water off the trail on the way up. Soon we were at the water which was flowing slowly and formed a little pool. I encouraged Sheila to go get a drink and get wet. She ran over to the water and rolled in it until she was completely soaked! This changed her behavior completely as she got up and ran around and bolted up the trail. Soon we sere climbing over the fallen trees Tao reach the trail junction with the Little Pond Trail. We passed by that junction and began the climb up Touch-Me-Not Mountain. This climb is less than half a mile and averages an 11% grade. This is a much easier trip than up Cabot but by this time I was feeling each step. I was very happy when, at 3.4 miles we were back at the junction with the Campground Trail. When we turned left, I knew it was all downhill back to the car. We set a good pace which was aided by not stopping to clear branches. I actually felt refreshed but knew another climb would be a different story. We came to Barkaboom Road and walked straight across the road to the shore of Big Pond. I took a few pictures of the pond and a couple of Sheila standing in the cool water. We walked back up the path to the car. It was 12:05 PM and we had walked 4.5 miles in 3.5 hours with a little over half an hour of stopped time. The climb was about 1650 feet which is not a lot but the ascent up Cabot is challenging.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) CalTopo - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counter) On Wednesday, May 17th, I decided to head for the Frick Pond area to do some trail work on the Big Rock Trail and Logger's Loop. The forecast was calling for temperatures reaching into the mid 80's and by 9:30 AM it was already in the 70's. I got my gear together including my Silky saw and felling wedges grabbing my Fiskars axe on the way out the door. The Fiskars axe is easy to carry and does a pretty good job despite its small size. I wore a light windbreaker but knew I would probably not need it between the rising temperature and the work I would be doing. We left the house at about 9:30 AM as I drove out the DeBruce Road for 6 miles. I turned left on Mongaup Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the Y. When I parked, there where no other cars in either lot. I took off the jacket and set my electronics. I also applied some insect repellant as the flies were already gathering in large numbers. At 9:55 AM we walked over to the larger parking area and out the back of the lot on the red-blazed Quick Lake Trail. I immediately began picking up small branches from the trail and a few large ones as well. I remembered a rather large branch or trunk across the trail but when I got to the location someone had already moved it off the trail. We arrived at the register box to find the woods road out to Frick Pond covered in water and very muddy. In most areas it was easy to find a way around the water but in others it was difficult. The trail crew has tried to redirect the wearer into channels and off the trail but it is difficult as the trail tends to be lower than the surrounding ground. At Gravestone Junction I stopped to use the axe to cut a few briar canes, both old and new, that were encroaching on the trail. I generally don't wear gloves but wished I had brought a pair to deal with the briars. After clearing the obstructions, we stayed left at the junction to walk down to the pond. I was surprised to find the water level in the pond was rather high so that it actually looked like a pond rather than a wetland. I put my pack down and got out my camera and soon discovered the reason for the rising water level. The beavers had returned and were clearly building a dam at the outlet to raise the level of the pond. I took pictures of the dam and the pond. I even took a few of Sheila before stowing the camera and continuing over the bridge to the next trail junction. We turned right to get on the yellow-blazed Big Rock Trail and headed around the back of Frick Pond. After passing over the wooden walkways we came to a bridge where there was a large branch down on the other side. I took pictures of the small stream and a few out toward the wetlands at the north end of the pond. I also took pictures of the branches on the trail so I could document a before and after view. I started to clear the loose branches and found there were quite a few. I made a few cuts with the saw and cleared the rest very quickly. I took my "after" pictures and then packed up to move along. Just over the second bridge there was a small tree trunk across the trail. I again took pictures and then used the axe to start to section the log. As I cut it was clear that the log was hollow. I only had to make one cut before I could lift and rotate the larger section off the trail. I again packed up my gear and we headed toward Times Square where there is a four-way junction.

picture taken during a hike Before we could get there, we ran into a rather nasty large branch blocking the trail. I knew I had seen this one before but had tried to forget it. After taking pictures, I started to remove what was loose and cut a few other branches so that I could drag them off the trail. I looked at what was left and formed a plan of attack. I used the saw to make a cut where the branched forked. This went well leaving some branches off the trail and a large piece to move. Fortunately, I was able to flip and roll this larger piece off the trail without cutting it again. After taking a few "after" shots, I packed up and we continued on to Times Square. The trail was wet and muddy and Times Square was also a mess. There seem to be springs on the Logger's Loop trail as it comes down the hill to the trail junction. This makes it hard to predict where the water is actually originating and hard to develop a solution. We turned left and head up the hill on the yellow-blazed Logger's Loop trying to avoid the mud. The heat was getting to me and I was glad that a breeze was blowing to keep it a little cooler band to disperse the insects. As we walked along the trail, we came to the area where there is a seasonal pond on the right side of the trail. The water isn't much more than 18 inches deep and during drier weather there may be no water in the "pond". I stepped off the trail to get some pictures and had to discouraged Sheila from diving into the murky mess. We walked back to the trail and continued on toward Iron Wheel Junction. The trail had several large puddles and several places where it was clear there had bee water. I continued to pick up small branches and moved a few larger one to the side. As we approached Iron Wheel Junction, a group of three women came walking toward us. I put Sheila on her leash but she did not bark at them. They asked if I was doing trail maintenance and thanked me when I said "Yes". Soon we were at the trail junction where we turned left on the Quick Lake trail to head back to Frick Pond. Walking downhill toward the little stream in the woods, I found only a few branches on the trail. I was surprised that the stream's water level was rather low and I crossed it easily. As we walked through the "spruce tunnel", I found one large hardwood truck across the trail. It was larger than I wanted to deal with on this day. I made note of it and knew I would return with the larger saw and a full-sized felling axe. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail which also had its share of puddles and mud. Soon we were back at the bridge over the outlet to Frick Pond. It was even sunnier than on the way out and considerably hotter. We walked up the hill and followed the Quick Lake Trail back to the register. We walked the woods road back out to the car. We had hiked 4 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes with almost and hour stopped to clear the trails. The overall elevation gain was a modest 380 feet.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Tuesday, May 16th I wanted to get out for a hike since track meets and family commitments had kept me away from the forest for a week! Sheila seemed to agree as I got ready to go across the street to hike on Round Top. I had gotten a late start and decided this was the best plan. I also had not hiked Round Top in a while and wanted to make sure the trail was clear and in good shape. I also wanted to see what the proposed upper trail looked like after the winter. We are getting ready to cut this trail out and mark it with paint blazes. We headed across the street at about 11:00 AM with Sheila pulling me all the way down the driveway on her leash. It was probably the warmest day of the year so far with temperatures hovering in the high 60's! I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not want to carry the extra weight and wanted to have the "freedom" from taking pictures. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. There are plans to place a sign here and to have a formal opening later this year. At the first trail junction we turned right to walk up the gentler slope. As we walked I picked up a few sticks on the trail but there were no major blowdown to clear. At the sharp left turn we turned left to stay in the lower trail. I was pleased to see that the brush pile I had made to discourage ATV use was till in place and that there were no new tracks. We continued along the base of Round Top until the lower trail turned left. At this point we turned right and followed the green ribbons toward the summit of Round Top. There was a pretty clearly defined track to follow as well as the ribbons. As we walked, I picked up a few branches and threw them off the track. At the top I headed across the flat summit but ha trouble finding the ribbons or a good track. This is an area I will have to work on. We descended the other side following the ribbons and met the lower trail at the brush pile. We turned right and followed the lower trail around to the lookout. From here we continued down the hill to the first trail junction. At the trail junction we turned around and started back up the hill to the lookout to begin our second figure 8. At the lookout we continued to the right to follow the lower trail. Further along where the trail turned right we followed it along the base of Round Top until we came to the brush pile at the right turn. We turned left here and followed the green ribbons marking the proposed trail back up to the summit of Round Top. In this direction I had some problems finding the ribbons and made a mental note to come remark this section. At the top we walked across the flat summit and won the other side to the lower trail. We turned left and followed the trail as it turned sharply right at the brush pile. We continued on down to the id trail junction. When we arrived, I thought about doing some more loops but it was getting late and I had a home track meet to set up. We turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. We walked down the hill to the church and back to our driveway. We had spent just about an hour hiking around 2 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Tuesday, May 9th, the forecast was calling for rain by 11:00 Am so I had not planned to go for a hike. Sheila, however, had other plans and kept staring at me "asking" to go on a hike. I decided that we would go to Frick Pond and cut some blowdowns on the Flynn Trail up to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. It seemed cold out so I put on my Columbia Omniheat pants and the Mammut hoody. I got my pack and added my Silky saw and felling wedges grabbing my Fiskars axe on the way out the door. The Fiskars axe is easy to carry and does a pretty good job despite its small size. By the time I got to the car I knew I had to trade the Mammut hoody for a lighter jacket. We left the house at abut 9:30 AM as I drove out the DeBruce Road for 6 miles. I turned left on Mongaup Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the Y. Somewhere along the way I began to get a loud scraping noise coming from the right rear wheel. I decided to continue on and handle it on the way back. When I parked there where no other cars in either lot. At 9:50 AM we crossed the road and started hiking on the Flynn Trail. Within a few hundred feet there were a few small trees across the trail. It took me minutes to clear the trail. Of course, I took pictures before and after to document what I had done. We continued on the trail and turned right at the end onto the wide woods road that is the Flynn Trail. This was once a paved road that led to the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp and some of the pavement can be seen at times. As we walked up the trail, I picked up a few small branches on the trail When I clear a trail, I like to not only remove anything blocking the trail but remove things that are aesthetically unappealing. The next time I stopped I removed a branch that was propped up against another tree. It was rather large but I was able to pull it down and drag it off the trail The next problem was a small double trunk that had fallen part way across the trail. I use the Silky saw to make a couple of cuts and the problem was solved. A little farther up the trail another, slightly larger, trunk was across the trail. This one took a little longer but it was soon gone also. As I continued up the rail it was nearing 11:00 AM when the rain showers were in the forecast but I decided to continue. I knew there was one more larger blowdown to clear. After a short distance the final obstacle was in sight. It was a large trunk with spreading branches blocking the trail. I put my pack down to take some pictures before I started to work. The first thing I did was to remove all the loose branches which turned out to be quite a few. I remember my father telling me when we were logging to always remove the branches that were in the way before starting to use an axe or Aafftteerr clearing the branches I began to use the axe and saw to clear the smaller branches and drag them well off the trail. In a short time only the larger trunk. The trail was really clear but I wanted to remove some more of the trunk. I decided to start with the axe and got almost all the way through before finishing with the saw. I tend to make the cut too narrow and end up striking almost straight down at the end and the saw helps. I realized that once the piece was cut off the trunk that it was rather large. I couldn't lift it but I was able to "roll" it off the side of the trail. I took some "after" pictures before picking up my pack. I thought I might head back but diced to go up to the Big Rock Trail junction even though the skies looked dark. It wasn't far to the junction but on the way I moved two more larger branches off to the side of the trail. We turned around at the junction and started back down the Flynn Trail at a good pace. As we neared the end a couple came walking up the trail toward us. I put Sheila on her leash and we passed by each other with a "Hello". Soon we turned into the woods before the gate to stay on the trail and avoid the private popery around the cabin. We were back at the car at 12:15 PM having spent 2 hours and 25 minutes walking 3.4 miles and clearing the trail.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Hickok Brook Loop AllTrails - Hickok Brook Loop caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Hickok Brook Loop MapMyHike - Hickok Brook Loop On Thursday, May 4th, I finished a short hike at the Mongaup River Trail on Route 97 and then headed for the Hickok Brook MUA which was on my way home. I drove north on CR-31 (Upper Mongaup Road) for a little over 5 miles to Glen Spey. I turned right and then made a quick left on CR-32 (Proctor Road). I drove north and west for a little less than 4 miles and turned left on Barker Road. I watched carefully for the sign for Hickok Brook MUA but I didn't need to worry since the typical yellow on brown sign appeared on the right in .6 miles. I pulled into the parking area and had to decided whether to park in the lot outside the gate or drive farther down the road. I opted to park in the lot and hike the road even though the gate looked like it would not be closed. There was a van parked in the lot as I got my gear ready to go. I let Sheila run free but encouraged her to stay on the road as I had already picked several ticks off her coat. We started southwest on the road at 12:40 PM. The sun was out now and I was warm even in the light jacket. This time I brought my poles even though the road was flat and in good shape. I had remembered to bring insect repellant but the slightly cooler temperatures and the breeze were keeping the insects away. My intention was to hike all the trails I could find to make sure the information on the trailkeeper.org website was accurate. I had made a geospatial PDF of the area which I knew would help when the trails became difficult to follow. At .35 miles the road started to head west and one of the trails marked on the map turned off the road to the left. I decided to do the side trail on the way back. As we walked down the road a car came toward us from inside the area. The driver stopped and asked about camping in the area. I told him it was state land and as long as there was a campsite marker camping was permitted. He thanked me but did not turn around so I assume he was just scouting the area. We continued west passing a road that was part of another side trail at .7 miles. At .8 miles we turned off the road to the left to follow a road that becomes a trail. In a few hundred feet we walked to the shores of a small pond. I dropped my pack and took out my camera to take some pictures of what would be the only "feature" of the hike. After packing up the camera, we headed back out on the trail which had yellow DEC foot trail markers. At 1.35 miles we came to a sign that said "Private Property". I had been under the impression that the trail was all on state land. I decided to backtrack to see if I could find another trail. I went back about .2 miles and found nothing. I decided to press on reasoning that if I was on private property it would not be for long. The signs were very unclear and at 1.9 miles I ran into a blue blazed trail heading left or right. I decided to turn left and see if it headed back to the yellow trail I had been hiking. The blue trail seemed almost unused but within .25 miles I was back at the "Private Property" sign! I turned around and found that I would never have seen the turn if I had not known it was there. I turned around and followed the blue trail back to the junction with the woods road. I turned left and followed the woods road until it made a right turn to the northwest. After only .3 miles the trail came out onto a gravel road. Along the way I had packed up some yellow blazes again but only for a short distance.

picture taken during a hike When we hit the gravel road and turned right or south, I noticed that the sky had clouded over a little more but that it was still warm we walked south on the road for .65 miles when one of the side trail on my map appeared on the right. We turned right on the grassy woods road which was not blazed in any way. After a short walk we came to a clearing with a picnic bench, table and fire ring. We continued through the clearing following the woods road with the help of the map on my cell phone. We were descending for the first time on the hike but I didn't know where we would end. Soon I could see a kind of gate on the trail ahead and some "Posted" signs. A look at the map confirmed this was the end of the trail which turned out to be a walk to nowhere. We turned round and climbed back up the to the picnic area and back to the road. The side trip was .9 miles for very little payoff. We stopped at the edge of the road to get a drink for both of us and a bar for me. We continued along the road headed south watching for the next side trail. I kept consulting my iPhone Avenza app which indicated the trail should be on the right. I could not find any trail although I did see a clearing off in the forest. I decided to continue on the road. In another .4 miles we were back at the point were we had turned onto the trail to the pond earlier in the hike. A little more than .1 miles farther was the gravel road that seemed to be part of a trail to the south. We turned right onto the road and began to walk south. The day was still warm and the walking pleasant although I was beginning to get tired. After walking .6 miles, I could see the turnaround at the end of the road but I had not seen the trail that should have turned off the road to the right! We turned around and walked back down the road looking for the trail on the left. Neither Sheila nor I could find any evidence of a trail or even a well-worn path. We continued to the end of the road and turned right to head back to the car. There was one more side trail which should have appeared in about another .3 miles along the road. When the trail did not show up, we kept walking and found it a little farther along. We turned right into the woods and began to follow another unmarked and unmaintained trail! We soon came to a swamp and I considered turning around but pressed onward. A little after the swamp I picked up, some yellow ribbons which seemed to follow the path of the trail on my map. I soon began pushing through small pine trees with the ribbons carrying me father south and east than I wanted to go. The direction I thought I should go showed no evidence of a trail. I decided to turn around and call it a day. We walked back the same way we had come and back out to the road. We turned right and walked back to the car arriving at 3:35 PM> We had hiked 7.3 miles in 2 hours and 55 minutes with an elevation gain of 855 feet. I find it hard to recommend the Hickok Brook MUA as a hike unless you are going there for the solitude it can provide. I would suggest the loop without the side trails which is what I presented in the trail link above.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Mongaup River Trail AllTrails - Mongaup River Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Mongaup River Trail MapMyHike - Mongaup River Trail On Thursday, May 4th, I had planned to get out early to hike but an ambulance call in the middle of the night made sleeping a little later necessary. When I got up at 9:00 AM, the temperature was in the high 50's and the sky was cloudy with some sun peaking through. The forecast called for increasing temperatures and more sun so I dressed in lighter pants and opted for a light windbreaker. I decided that I would investigate some more trails from the trailkeeper.org website that I was working to correct and improve. My choice was to first head to the Mongaup River Trail south of Glen Spey and stop by Hickok Brook MUA on the way back. Driving to the Mongaup River would take almost an hour and I had to make at least one stop along the way. We left Livingston Manor at 9:30 AM and I drove down State Route 17 to Liberty. I finished my business there and picked up Route 55 south toward Eldred. I drove for 23 miles through Swan Lake, Kauneonga Lake, and White Lake. In Eldred I turned left at the light on CR-32 (Proctor Road) and drove a little over 5 miles to Glen Spey. I turned right and then left on CR-31 (Upper Mongaup Road). I again drove south a little over 5 miles to Route 97. I made a left, crossed the bridge over the Mongaup River and made a quick left into the parking area. There was already a car parked and as I was getting ready another turned into the lot. I set my electronics and was ready to hike at 11:10 AM. The trail left the right side of the parking area as a flat gravel path paralleling the river. I was surprised the Mongaup was flowing high and fast. The trail was easy to walk and I was glad as I had left my poles in the car opting to put Sheila on her leash. For some time I did not see any other people so I let Sheila loose and we walk quietly on the trail. Several times I dropped down to the water's edge to take pictures. The river was very bit as pretty as the Neversink in the Neversink Unique Area. At one point I looked up and saw people ahead and out Sheila on her leash.

picture taken during a hike The other hikers stopped o take pictures and talk so we passed by them with a "hello". The trail remained easy to follow and relatively flat and well maintained. I stopped one more time for pictures and then continued on to an old cemetery to the right of the trail. The engraving on the stones was weathered and hard to read but one date said "1882"> I took some pictures and by the time I was done the other hikers were in sight. I shouldered my pack and we walked a little further but found that the trail had ended at almost exactly 1 mile. We turned around and stopped to talk to the other hikers. Sheila was surprisingly well-behaved as we talked. The couples were together and they were hiking the six trail in the Upper Delaware Take a Hike series. One couple was from Wisconsin and the other from Northern Virginia. We discussed hiking in the area and where they had been and where they were going. Their next hike was going to be to Jensen Ledges in the afternoon. I talked to them about rating trails and they gave me some good insights. As we turned to walk back, the couple from Virginia hike back with us. We had a very pleasant time talking about hiking and places to live in general. The walk back was even quicker than the walk out. We were back at the car at 12:15 PM having hiked 2.1 miles in 1 hour and 5 minutes. The elevation gain was 130 feet. I pulled out of the parking lot and turned north on Upper Mongaup Road to retrace my earlier route back toward Eldred.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Hodge Pond (Flynn) AllTrails - Hodge Pond (Flynn) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Hodge Pond (Flynn) MapMyHike - Hodge Pond (Flynn) On Wednesday, May 3rd, I had not planned a specific hike but wanted to get out and do something as the weather for the rest of the week seemed questionable. When I checked my cell phone at 8;)) AM, I found Lisa had left a message asking if I wanted to get in a hike. I called her and she said she was still interested and would like to go to Hodge Pond. We agreed that she would come to my house at 9:00 AM. I went outside for a minute and found it was a little chilly with temperatures in the low 50's and a stiff breeze. I decided to wear my Columbia Omniheat pants and Mammut hoody for a little extra warmth. I also rough along a light hat and gloves. Lisa was right on time so I loaded up my gear and Sheila and headed out the DeBruce Road. After about 6 miles, I turned left on Mongaup Road and drove to where the road split. I stayed left at the Y and drove up Beech Mountain Road to the parking area. We were surprised to see two other cars already parked at 9;20 AM. I set my electronics and we crossed the road to begin our hike at 9:25 AM. We hiked the Flynn Trail passed the register toward the woods road that would take us to Hodge Pond. I had wanted to bring a saw to clear some of the blowdowns but didn't think I would have time. We kept a quick pace up the trail as we talked about various subjects we have in common. We made the 1.7 mile climb to the junction with the Big Rock Trail in about 45 minutes. As we continued on the Flynn Trail the moss covering on the trail was exceptionally green and beautiful. I pointed out to Lisa where the snowmobiles have been avoiding the gate and mentioned ,moving a few rocks might help. At the next split in the trail we stayed left to continue to Hodge Pond on the Flynn Trail. As we descended to the pond, a few drops of rain fell. At the shore of the pond, the drops turned to sprinkles. I took a few pictures of the bleak pond and then stowed my camera, By this time there was a full-fledged rain shower going on so I pulled my pack cover over my pack. We started back up the hill as the rain continued. Both of us had mentioned hiking back along the outlet stream from Hodge Pond but we decided to leave it for a drier day. We hiked up the hill from the pond and by the time we reached the top the rain had all but stopped. As we walked back along the Flynn Trail, I stopped and took a few pictures of the bright green moss. We continued on to the junction with the Big Rock trail arriving there at 10:45 AM. We started down the Flynn Trail which is all downhill from the junction stopping only once on the way. Near the gate we followed the Flynn Trail into the woods to the right to avoid the roseate property around the cabin. Lisa sign the register and we walked back out to the car arriving at 11:25 Am. We had hiked 5 miles in just a few minutes more than 2 hours with an elevation gain of 796 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Mongaup Pond Loop AllTrails - Mongaup Pond Loop caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Mongaup Pond Loop MapMyHike - Mongaup Pond Loop On Monday, May 1st, I had not planned a specific hike but wanted to get out and do something as the weather for the rest of the week seemed questionable. I thought about going to Frick Pond to do some trail maintenance but the morning dragged on and I thought it a little late to start chopping. I decided instead to go to Mongaup Pond and hike a loop around the pond. This loop was posted on a website I am working on and the distance was listed at 21.88 miles! I was pretty sure the loop was shorter than that. When I mentioned this to Cindy, she said she wanted to come along so we got dressed and put our gear in the car. Sheila likes it best when we all go hiking so she was jumping around and making strange vocalizations. We left Livingston Manor around 10:15 AM and headed out the DeBruce Road.After about 6 miles I turned left on the Mongaup Road and at the intersection with Beech Mountain Road I stayed right toward Mongaup Pond. In a mile I pulled over and parked in the small parking area just before the entrance to the campgrounds. The park was not yet open so parking in the lot by the bathrooms would have been free but I wanted a GPS track from outside the entrance. The temperature was only in the mid-50's but it was very humid. I had worn light pants and gaiters. I put on a short sleeved baselayer and a light shirt. I left the house with a light windbreaker but almost immediately ran inside and changed into on OR pertex rain jacket. I set my electronics and we left the car at 10:40 AM with Sheila on her leash. The area was strangely deserted as we walked through the gate and stayed to the left to walk the paved loop road on the western side of the pond. It seemed that we were walking in a cloud as we approached the observation platform and boat ramp at .35 miles. I decided to walk over and take some pictures. The pond was almost completely obscured but some features were visible through the mist. After taking a few shots we continued north on the road. Walking the road was very easy even though it rolled just slightly. At just less than a mile we walked off the road toward a bench at the edge of the pond. I dropped my pack and took out the camera. I took a few more shots of the pond from this angle. There was one, lone mallard duck near the shore. I shouldered my pack after stowing the camera and we walked back out to the loop road to continue the hike. We followed the road as it curved to the right until we came to a T at 1.25 miles.

picture taken during a hike We turned left and followed the road until the sign for the Mongaup Hardenburgh Trail appeared on the right at 1.4 miles. We turned right to follow the blue-blazed trail along the west side of the much smaller upper pond. The trail was in good shape and only a little damp. At 1.7 miles the trail turned left to head for Hardenburgh. I walked down to the edge of the pond to take a few more pictures. Sheila decided to take a short swim. When she came out of the water she began her mad dash around us. Instead of following the trail, we continued straight ahead on the snowmobile trail around the north end of the pond and south along the eastern shore. The snowmobile trail was not as well maintained with quite a few small branches lying in the trail. It was continually wet with interspersed areas of mud. It was also very rocky in places. At 1.7 miles we began the only assent on the hike which lasted for only .3 miles and gained less than 100 feet. The trail crossed several bridges and at 2.2 miles we came to the junction with the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail. Turning left here would eventually lead to Flugertown Road near Long Pond. We continued straight ahead on the snowmobile trail. The trail began to descend and at 2.8 miles turned due west. Around 2.9 miles a snowmobile trail branched off to the left heading toward Mongaup Falls. We continued straight ahead toward one of the campsite loops. The trail here was flooded from a blocked culvert and we decided to cross the stream where it narrowed. We came to a campsite loop road at just over 3 miles and walked toward the pond passing by campsite 38. We walked toward the pond and came to a road intersection. Immediately to the left was the loop road to another campsite. We passed up this road and continued on to the main loop road where we turned left to head back to the car. In minutes we were at the entrance to the park and our car. It was 12:05 PM and we had hiked 3.4 miles in just under 1.5 hours. The elevation gain was only 310 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Neversink Unique: Cold Spring Road Access AllTrails - Neversink Unique: Cold Spring Road Access caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Neversink Unique: Cold Spring Road Access MapMyHike - Neversink Unique: Cold Spring Road Access On Friday, April 28th, I planned to do a rather long hike to Quick Lake or perhaps a loop on Dry Brook Ridge. As I was making my plans I came across a trail from Cold Spring Road South of Monticello into the Neversink Unique area. The description was cloudy and the GPS track ended in the middle of the woods. I decided I wanted to go and explore this area to see if there was actually a hike people would like. I have recently begun to help update the website www.trailkeeper.org which includes hikes in Sullivan County in may different areas. I am slowly converting the website from presenting trails to describing hikes on these trails. Some comments had indicated the trail was not clearly marked, so I created a geospatial PDF that I could use on my iPhone with the Avenza Maps app. This app not only shows where I am on a topo map but also shows the trail which makes it invaluable on trails that are not well marked. I got my gear in the car and ushered Sheila into the back seat. We left the house at about 10:15 Am and headed south on Route 17 toward Monticello. I got off at exit 105A and headed toward Broadway where I turned right. At the next light I turned left on St. John Street which soon became Cold Spring Road. I drove down Cold Spring Road looking for the parking area which I thought would be on the left. I had my iPhone map to help out so I knew I would find the spot eventually. At 7.45 miles from Broadway the parking area appeared on the left with a typical yellow on brown sign. The sign indicated that this parking area would allow access to the Neversink Unique Area which is exactly what I wanted. We parked at about 10:45 AM. It took me a few minutes to set my electronics and read the signs and maps in the kiosk. I found where the trail appeared to leave the parking area since it was well worn but I did not see any blazes. We began our walk and within a few hundred feet there was a trail register and red blazes began to appear. I was surprised that the blazes were the "official" NYNJTC disks even though the trails are not "official" NYNJTC trails.

picture taken during a hike The day was warm and I was glad I chose a short sleeved baselayer and a light shirt. I opted to wear a light windbreaker but had already unzipped it almost completely. The sun was bright with a few puffy white clouds in a bright blue sky. We walked slightly uphill for .4 miles to the point where the map showed another trail coming in from the left. When we arrived at this point, I could see that this trail was almost completely overgrown and had not been used for some time. We continued to walk along the wide marked trail and I noticed that whenever I stopped I was surrounded by insects. I knew that I had forgotten to bring any insect repellant so I chose to keep moving! At .55 miles the trail began to descend and this descent would continue for some time. At 1.1 miles we ran into an area where the trial became very wet for about a quarter of a mile. There had been several blowdowns along the way but there was a large one blocking the trail at about 1.25 miles. We continued downhill but at 1.4 miles the trail split with a single marker on a trail at the V. I decided to bear to the left and head downhill and I soon found the next red marker. The trail began to get very rocky but was still easy to follow. At 1.7 miles we came to an open area and the blazes disappeared! I moved through the area using the Avenza app as my guide and finally picked up the red blazes of the trail again at 1.8 miles. I made a note to check the markers on the return trip to see if they were more obvious and easier to follow. The trail continued to head south following a woods road until at 2.1 miles it ended! This matched the GPS recording I had on my iPhone but did not make a very interesting hike. The red trail ended on a jeep road and I was again surprised to see that the road was marked with blue markers. On my map it seemed like the trail to the left would lead down to the river so I turned left. It also showed that this trail crossed the river so I couldn't wait to see how that was accomplished! Just after the turn we ran into another big blowdown blocking the trail and the trail in this area was very wet and muddy. The trail continued downhill until at 2.3 miles we came to Little Eden Brook. The brook was deep in places and running fast but it wasn't very wide. I used a couple of stones to get across but Sheila decided she needed to take a dip. The trail leveled off a little and at 2.6 miles a marker on a stake seemed to indicate a turn to the right toward the river. A wide jeep road continued straight ahead and also turned up the hill to the left. We turned right and walked along the road downhill and toward the river. The trail began to parallel the river and we walked along until I decided that at 2.75 miles I would cut down to the edge of the river.

picture taken during a hike When we reached the water, we found two anglers in the river using fly rods. I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take pictures upstream and downstream. There was a series of rapids just upstream where I could see another fisherman. I got a drink and a bar and we headed back up to the trail. We walked back the way we had come until, I saw an interesting sign on a tree. The sign said "Unsafe Bridge" and "Scheduled for Demolition". I seemed to remember that one of the floods had damaged the bridge and that it had been removed. Apparently the state did not feel it was necessary to remove the sign! We worked our way down a trail to the river's edge once again. I put down my pack and got out my camera to take a few more pictures. We started to work our way upstream along the shore. I had the idea we might work our way up to High Falls. The land along the edge of the river narrowed quickly and I decided we would walk back to the point where we had descended from the trail. I took a few more shots and then we returned to the path up to the trail. We walked back up to the pointed where we had turned down to the river. I looked at the jeep road to the right but decided to leave that for another day. We turned left and walked back to the red trail crossing Little Eden Brook again. We turned right on the red trail and I knew it would be a long uphill trek back to the parking area. At 3.9 miles we were in the area where the trail markers had disappeared on the way out. I continued to follow the trail and the markers which were much clearer on the way back than the way out. As I looked back I actually wondered how I could have missed the trail the first time. We continued to hike uphill on the trail passing under the major blowdown and through the wet and muddy area. The temperature was definitely warmer and by this time I was waiting for the hike to end. We passed the "other" trail at 5.3 miles and I could hardly see that is was a trail. At 1:45 Pm we were back at the parking area having hiked 5.7 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes. The elevation gain was 822 feet. The temperature at the car was 83 degrees.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Thursday, April 27th I wanted to get out to hike but had a few things to take care of in the morning. I had expected a more sunny day but by 11:30 AM the temperature had risen to 60 degrees and the sun was peeking through some clouds. I decided to go across the street and do some maintenance on the Round Top trail since I knew there were a few things to clean up. Since we hadn't been out since Sunday, Sheila was more anxious than I to get going. I grabbed my pack and put my Silky saw and machete in it but left the camera and GPS behind. We headed across the street at about 11:00 AM with Sheila on her leash to cross the street. . I dressed with a thin baselayer and a pullover on top and light hiking pants. I wore a light windbreaker on top hoping it was time to put away my Mammut hoody. We walked across the field by the church and around the back and started up the hill. The hill is short but steep but we made good time as Sheila did a great job of pulling me up the hill with little effort. We turned left into the woods at the trailhead and walked along the woods road with me picking up a few sticks here and there and kicking away a few rocks. At the first trail junction, we turned right to walk up the more gentle slope in the lower loop. I continued to remove small branches until we got to a small tree across the trail. The Silky saw made fast work of it and I cleared it to the side of the trail. Se turned left to follow the trail uphill to the sharp left turn. As we walked up the hill, I could tell that someone had been through with and ATV. I knew I wanted to try to discourage this activity! At the turn we stopped so that I could cut a few small trees that were across the trail. I placed them on the trail that comes in from the direction of the quarry which is where most of the ATVS come from. I found some more branches and continued to add to the pile until, it was pretty substantial. I am sure that this will be an ongoing battle. We continued our walk along the trail following the yellow blazes as it turned to the left and headed toward the viewpoint. I removed a few more branches here and there but the trail was generally in very good condition. When we got to the viewpoint, L looked for signs of any garbage but did not find any. We turned to the left and walked down the hill to the first trail junction. I moved some branches that were near the edge of the trail but found nothing in the trail. I decided I wanted to hike a little more so we turned around and headed back up to the viewpoint. We followed the trail passed the lookout to the point where it turns to the right. Here we continued straight ahead following the green ribbons along the proposed trail to the summit of Round Top. I moved a few obstructions along the way but relay wanted to start to clear the upper trail. This will have to wait until I can get a small crew to help expand the trail. The trail is only flagged with green tape but the path is pretty clear. The trail is a rather direct route to the top of the hill and follows an equally direct route down the other side. The final trail when constructed may contain some switchbacks to help mitigate the steepness. We walked up to the summit of Round Top and then started down the other side still following the bright green ribbons. We were soon back at the yellow-blazed lower trail where we turned left and then right to follow the trail down to the woods road that ends up back at the first trail junction. When we arrived at the trail junction, we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked downhill to the back of the church, across the field and to our driveway.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Red Hill AllTrails - Red Hill caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Red Hill MapMyHike - Red Hill On Sunday, April 23rd, Cindy and I were invited to hike with our friend Debbie and her friend Eric. We decided to hike to the Red Hill Fire Tower since Debbie had never been there. We agreed to meet at 1:00 PM at the Claryville firehouse. Cindy and I returned home after church and got our gear ready for the hike. Sheila had been feeling a little "under the weather" but seemed like she really wanted to hike. We put our gear in the car and Sheila in the back seat and headed to Liberty on Route 17. I took exit 100 and got on Route 55 toward Neversink and Grahamsville. In Curry I turned left on the Claryville Road and drove up Weinman Mountain toward Claryville. We arrived at the firehouse to find our friends already there. We stopped briefly and told them to follow us. I was concerned about the condition of the road to the firetower but knew we could park where the seasonal road began and hike down to the parking area. We drove three miles on Red Hill Road and then turned left on Coons-Dinch Road. This road is gravel and dirt but was in pretty good shape. Just after the top of the hill, the road became rougher but was much drier than I thought it would be. I decided to try to drive to the parking area and headed down the road. It was rutted in several places but still passable. At one point I looked up to see a car driving toward us! I pulled over a little and flagged the car down to ask them about the parking lot. They informed me that the road to the parking area was in good shape as was the parking lot. I drove the rest of the way to the parking lot and found there were no other cars in the lot. We parked at 1:20 Pm and got ready to hike. The temperature was pushing 60 degrees so I was glad I had worn lighter pants and a light windbreaker. We headed off on the trail at a relaxed pace talking as we hiked. We crossed a small stream that was flowing freely and continued along the trail. The trail has a few steep spots at the beginning but then levels out a little before beginning the final climb at about 1 mile. We stopped a few times along the way to catch our breath and to look at the beautiful forest on a bright and sunny day. Since there were no leave son the trees we could see the surrounding mountains and gage how much elevation we had gained. The last .3 miles which averages a little over an 18% grade was challenging. At 2:25 PM we arrived at the tower clearing.

picture taken during a hike I dropped my pack and tethered Sheila to the first picnic table. Unlike some dogs, Sheila has no problem climbing up and down the open steps and I didn't want her following us to the top. In a few minutes the rest of the group arrived which made Sheila happy. What didn't make her happy was being tied to a tree while we went to the tower. Cindy and I headed up first and this surprised me as Cindy is not fond of heights. We made it to the last level just below the cab which was locked. The view from the tower was as clear as I have ever seen it. I started to take pictures in all directions even though the early spring is not my favorite time for photography. We could see the High Point Tower, the highest point in New Jersey about 50 miles away. Being able to see the Burroughs Range and so may other prominent peaks was fun. We even got a look at the Rondout Reservoir to the south. I also took a few pictures of the cabin and of Sheila on the ground. I took quite a few pictures and then we started down the steps. I took a few more shots from the landings as I like to get different angles and include the tower supports in the picture. Once on the ground I took a few more shots up through the tower. We relaxed on the picnic tables enjoying a drink and a snack. As we enjoyed the sun, a family of four arrived. We said "Hello" as they walked over to climb the tower. In a few more minutes, another group arrived and then a couple. We decided it was time to pick up and leave knowing that the trip back would go quickly. We were ready to start back an 3:05 PM and kept a quick pace down the hill. As we descended, we met several groups of people coming up the trail. We began to wonder if we would be able to get our cars out of the parking area! We continued our hike and I was happy to see that Sheila was thoroughly enjoying herself and seemed none the worse for wear. We recrossed the small stream and were soon back at the parking area at 3:55 PM. We were pleased to find that some cars had parked out on the road leaving enough room for us to easily get out of the parking area. We had hiked 2.6 miles in 2.5 hours with an elevation gain of 800 feet. We had spent 50 minutes at or stops along the way primarily at the summit of the hill. The temperature at the car was 70 degrees. We thought about going somewhere for a meal and decided to go to Madison's in Livingston Manor. I dropped Sheila at the house and then we met at the restaurant. We had a great meal and a pleasant time talking.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick and Hodge Ponds (Flynn Big Rock Quick Lake) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, April 18th I decided it was time to get out hiking after taking a few days off for Easter. I had track practice in the afternoon so I decided to stay local and hike at Frick and Hodge Ponds. I got up a little later than usual and finished some things around the house before getting ready to leave. The forecast was for partly sunny skies with highs in the low 60's. It was only 45 degrees as I was getting ready to leave. I got my gear ready, put Sheila in the car and left the house a little before 9:30 AM. Given the temperature, I put on a light baselayer and wore my Mammut pullover. I wore my Keen Glarus boots which seem to be as waterproof as any I have. I donned my Mammut hoody although I thought it might be a little too heavy if the temperature increased as the forecast stated. I packed a light windbreaker in case I needed to change. I grabbed a my Leki carbon poles that I have been using lately. When we arrived at the trailhead there were no vehicles in the main lot. I set my electronics and at 9:45 AM we crossed the road and started out on the Flynn Trail. It was about 46 degrees but seemed warmer as the sun was shining. I left on my Mammut hoody and even wore my light hat and gloves. There was no snow on the trail which was completely bare and fairly dry. When we got to the woods road, we turned right and followed the old Beech Mountain Road which serves as the Flynn Trail. We set a good pace as we headed for the junction with the Big Rock Trail. At one point we came across a large tree across the trail. Several branches had broken off but I knew it would take an axe or a saw to completely clear the mess. We arrived at the junction at 10:30 AM and continued straight ahead through the intersection. We walked along the flat portion of the Flynn Trail and passed through the gate that marks the boundary of the state land and the land owned by Open Spaces. I again made note that my trail crew would have to do some work to move large boulders to block the gap between the gate and the trees to block the movement of snowmobiles and ATVs. At the next trail junction we stayed right to walk the woods road toward the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. At the next trail junction, just before the remains of the camp, we turned left to walk down toward Hodge Pond. We turned right at the base of the hill to walk the jeep trail around the back of the pond. As we reached the upper end of the pond, I walked off the Thailand to the shore of the pond. Before I could put down my pack and get out the camera, Sheila ran out into the water and swam around. I took some pictures of her and of the pond. The sky was completely cleat and lacking the puffy white clouds that provide depth and contrast. I stowed my camera and walked back to the jeep trail to continue on around the pond. When we hit the Flynn Trail, we stayed to the left and cantoned around the pond to the outlet. The trail here was a little wet.

picture taken during a hike When we came out into the clearing a the outlet of the pond, we walked over to the fire ring near the outlet end. I again dropped my pack and got out my camera to take some pictures of the pond. After only a few minutes, I picked up my pack and we started up the Flynn Trail heading back for the junction with the Big Rock Trail. We walked along the flat part of the Flynn Trail, through the gate and back to the Big Rock Trail. We turned right on the Big Rock Trail and started walking downhill toward Times Square. The temperature had increased so I removed my hat and gloves but decided not to switch jackets. The walk down the Big Rock Trail went quickly. As we approached Times Square, we came to the large tree that had blocked the trail. The tree has a diameter of about two feet and would be hard to remove with hand tools. Fortunately, someone had cut the log in three places to clear a space through it on the trail. I wondered why they had not rolled the pieces out of the way or completely cleared the blowdown. It will take some effort to remove the obstacle completely with an axe and hand saw! We walked won to Times Square arriving there at 11:40 AM after hiking 4.9 miles. The area was wet as water originates in springs uphill on the Loggers Loop and moves downhill to the trail junction. We continued straight ahead on the Big Rock Trail to walk around the back of Frick Pond. The trail here was a little wet and muddy in spots. We continued over the bridges encountering a few blowdowns along the way. I stopped to take a few pictures of the wooden walkways and then walked to the junction with the Quick Lake Trail. We turned left and walked to the bridge over the outlet of the pond. The sky was still bright blue without clouds and the scene was the same as so many other times I had hiked here. I thought about continuing on but stopped to take a few shots. I took a few of Sheila on the bridge, some downstream from the pond and a few more of the pond and Flynn's Point. After finishing my photography. I packed up and hiked the small hill up to Gravestone Junction. We continued straight ahead on the Quick Lake Trail heading back to the car. The trail was wet and I kept crossing back and forth to avoid the water. When we ranched the trail register, I decided to turn right and follow the Quick Lake Trail back out to the parking area. As we arrived at the large parking lot, there was one car parked. If was 12:15 PM as we walked over to our car after hiking 6.0 miles in 2 hours and 25 minutes. The elevation gain was 912 feet and the temperatures had climbed to almost 60 degrees.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Huntersfield and Ashland Pinnacle (Partridge Rd) AllTrails - Huntersfield and Ashland Pinnacle (Partridge Rd) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Huntersfield and Ashland Pinnacle (Partridge Rd) MapMyHike - Vromans Nose On Saturday, April 15th I decided to head north to hike a section of trail between Huntersfield Mountain and a point to the east of Ashland Pinnacle. This section of trail was at one time a part of the Long Path until that trail was rerouted. I have hiked to Huntersfield from the west and I have hiked the Long Path from the east. The last time I tried to hike from Huntersfield to Ashland Pinnacle the trail was blocked by a forest of prickers. This time I decided to hike up to the ridge from Partridge Road and hike the ridge to Huntersfield. After that I would backtrack and hike over Ashland Pinnacle to the Long Path. I wanted to leave Livingston Manor by 7:30 AM but didn't get out of town until 8:00 AM. I was surmised that the temperature was only 31 degrees when I woke up and I rethought my clothing choices. I decide to wear my insulated Columbia pants and my Mammut hoody. I took along a lighter windbreaker and sol brought a pair of light gloves and a light hat. When we left Livingston Manor, the temperature was still only 32 degrees.In Roscoe I picked up Route 206 toward the Pepacton Reservoir. From here I headed toward Margaretville on Route 30 and continued through Roxbury and Grand Gorge. In Grand Gorge I stayed to the right on Route 23 toward Prattsville. In Prattsville I turned left on Washington Street which is Route 10 and continued east for about 6.5 miles to Partridge Road, I turned left and headed north on the paved road. The road turned to rough pavement and then gravel but never deteriorated to the point that I could not make the drive. After 1.6 miles, the road came to a dead end in a rather large parking area. When I got out of the car, the trail was obvious so I seated to get ready to hike. The temperature on the car now read 55 degrees but wind was blowing so I decided to keep my hoody on and pack the lighter jacket. I set my electronics and we began to hike up the trail at 9:20 AM. The yellow blazes seemed to follow a woods road up toad the ridge but the markers were few and far between. The trail was marked for no motorized vehicles but there were obvious ATV trails. I finally gave up looking for yellow markers and simply followed the woods road and ATV tracks which kept leading up. We started off heading northeast but at .3 miles the trail leveled off and began heading northwest and then north to the ridge at .65 miles. The yellow trail ended here and we turned left to follow the red blazes west.

picture taken during a hike The trail continued to climb until about .9 miles when it hit the top of a small hill and then started to descend. I was surprised to find a few small areas of snow along the way. I was also interested to find that in most places the aqua blazes of the Long path were still intact which could definitely confuse some hikers! The trail rolled as it dropped a little and then came to the top of another small hill at 1.3 miles. It followed the ridge line and was sited mostly along wide woods roads which made the walking pretty easy. At 1.75 miles I came across a pretty common trail feature that leaves me shaking my head. The woods road continued straight ahead with no obstacles. The trail veered right into the woods and rejoined the woods road about 100 feet ahead. I am at a loss to understand why this makes any sense but some trail builders consistently do this! We continued to follow the woods road but somewhere after 1.9 miles I could no longer find and blazes. I looked left and right into the woods and simply decided to continue to follow the road as long as it was headed where I was headed! We were definitely climbing which was a good thing as we were nearing the summit of Huntersfield. At 2.35 miles the red blazes of the trail came in from the left and I made note as I intended to follow the trail on the way back. At 2.45 miles we came to the junction with a yellow spur trail to the lean-to. We turned left and headed over to the lean-to. There was no one in residence so I dropped my pack and got out the camera. I took a few shots of Sheila in the lean-to. There is a viewpoint cut out in front of the lean-to looking south to the Catskills. I took some pictures but there was a haze hanging over the mountains and too few clouds to make the sky interesting. I stowed my hoody, hat and glove sin the pack and put on the light windbreaker. I picked up my gear and we headed back along the yellow trail to a viewpoint that looks east toward Ashland Pinnacle. The bench that once stood here had rotted away. I took a few shots but the conditions were much the same as in front of the lean-to. We returned to the trail and turned east on the red trail to return the way we came.

picture taken during a hike As we started down the trail, we came to a patch of snow and I stopped to take a few pictures. Sheila decided to pose on the snow by lying down and taking a few licks! At 2.7 miles we turned right off the nice wide and flat woods road and began to follow the red markers of the trail. At first they were easy to see as they followed a woods road. Soon there were fewer markers and the trail became harder to walk. I kept looking for a reason that the trail builders found it necessary to leave the woods road. I was hoping for an interesting rock formation or a viewpoint or something but I found...nothing! At 3.1 miles we rejoined the woods road. We were making good time as we were mostly descending but I was keeping an eye on my watch as I had an afternoon commitment. We "rolled" over the hills we had encountered on the trip out and at 4.4 miles we had descended to the junction with the trail back to the car. It was 11:35 Am and I knew we would be continuing on to the Long Path junction. Sheila also apparently knew this as she ignored this trail and continued straight ahead on the red trail. Over the next quarter mile we ascended to the shoulder of Ashland Pinnacle along a woods road. Immediately after this point the trail began to descend and I was concerned that we were going in the correct direction. I was glad I had Sheila with me and that she is equipped with CPS (Canine Positioning System)! The trail dropped off the ridge a little and then regained it as we walked another .8 miles losing about 340 feet of elevation. At 5.5 miles we broke out into a clearing and I saw the aqua blazes of the Long Path. We stopped and I took some pictures of the woods road and huge evergreen trees. I got a drink and a snack and gave Sheila a drink. It was 12:05 PM when we turned around and headed back. The initial climb was a little difficult but after that the walk went quickly. We reached the yellow trail back to the car at 6.6 miles. We turned left and followed our route back to the car. We arrived at the car at 12:50 PM after hiking 7.2 miles in 3.5 hours. The elevation gain was a total of 1876 feet. The temperature was 64 degrees at the car which was 10 degrees higher than when we began the hike and over 30 degrees warmer than when I got up in the morning!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Mongaup Falls (Big counterclockwise) AllTrails - Mongaup Falls (Big counterclockwise) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Mongaup Falls (Big counterclockwise) MapMyHike - Vromans Nose On Thursday, April 13th I had planned to go to hike Huntersfiled Mountain from a different trailhead on Partridge Road. When I woke up in the morning, I decided I did not want to go so far away to hike when I had an evening church service. I changed my plans and settled on hiking a loop to the east on Mongaup Pond including a visit to Mongaup Falls. The temperature was in the high 30's so I decided to wear my warmer Columbia insulated pants and my Mammut hoody. I also wore my high gaiters and brought along a light hat and gloves. Sheila was happy as I got my gear together and we headed out to the car. I got on Route 17 and headed for Liberty at 8:45 AM to do a couple of things before hiking. When I finished in Liberty, I got back on Route 17 and headed west getting off at the Parksville exit. I started up Cooley Road and turned left on Lily Pond Road. I drove to the end of the road and turned left on DeBruce Road and then right on Mongaup Pond Road. Sheila had been confused up to this point but perked up as we drove up the Mongaup Pond Road which is very familiar. When we reached the intersection with Beech Mountain Road, I stayed to the right and parked in one of the two spots on the right side of the road. I got my electronics set and then let a frantic Sheila out of the car so that we could begin our hike at 9:45 AM. We walked back toward the intersection and turned left to hike down what used to be Hunter Road. I decided to visit the falls on the return trip so we walked across the small bridge and continued up the hill on what is now a woods road and snowmobile trail.

picture taken during a hike At .4 miles we passed by a snowmobile trail that I planned to use on the return trip. After a short descent, we again began to climb on the rocky and rather wet woods road toward Terwillger Road. At 1 mile we turned left as the snowmobile trail turned into the woods. Here the trail was dry and the surface flat which made walking go very quickly. There was no snow and the woods were open and beautiful in their own way. The trail dropped a little as we headed northeast and then at 1.4 miles we began to climb again. At 2.35 miles we were still climbing as the trail headed southeast to reach the highest point on the trail at 2.7 miles. From here the trail began to descend and at 2.9 miles the trail again turned northeast and continued dropping in elevation. At 3.8 miles we reached the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail where we turned left and started heading northwest. We started climbing again over some rocky terrain until we reached the top of a hill at 4.5 miles and started to descend the other side. It was getting much warmer and the effort of walking had me opening all the zippers on my hoody. I also stowed my gloves and hat in my pack. We continued our descent until at 5.2 miles the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail ended at a snowmobile trail. We turned left on the snowmobile trail and headed southwest. This trail was very wet in places as it is lower than the land to the east and water draining from the higher land flooded the trail. As we walked by some ledges, I could see some small waterfalls with water cascading down into small streams which crossed the trail. We continued to walk southwest passing over two small hills. At 7.35 miles we arrived at the junction with the snowmobile trail we had been on when we started the hike. We turned right and started to walk downhill and northwest back toward the car. As we approached the small bridge over the stream we turn off to the left and walked to Mongaup Falls. The falls has two levels and I dropped my pack near the upper one. First, I took some pictures from the side and then I walked down to the edge of the stream. I was able to walk out on some rocks to take pictures from in front of the upper falls. When I was done, I carefully worked my way down the side of the bank to the bottom of the lower falls. I took a few pictures from the side of the falls and then again worked my way down to some stones. These stones allowed me to walk out in the stream bed to take shots from in front of the falls. When I finished my photography, I worked my way back up the bank to my pack. I stowed my camera and then walked back out to the main trail. We crossed the bridge and walked back up the woods road to the car. We arrived at the car at 1:15 PM after having hiked 7.9 miles in 3.5 hours with an elevation gain of 1250 feet. The temperature was in the low 60's.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Pratt Rock only AllTrails - Pratt Rock only caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Pratt Rock only MapMyHike - Vromans Nose On Tuesday, April 11th after visiting several waterfalls, Cindy and I decided to go to hike at Pratts Rock just east of Prattsville. From Red Falls I drove west on Route 23 for a little over 2 miles to the parking area on the right. The parking lot is small and there were several cars already parked there. I found a spot and parked at 2:55 PM. The temperature was now in the high 70's and even Sheila seemed to be warm. We walked on the path passing the information kiosk and continuing up the path around the "back" of the cliffs. As we passed the first bench carved into the rock, we could see some of the carvings much higher up on the cliffs. We decided to bypass the trail that goes to the base of the cliffs and continued to walk west and up the trail that goes to the top of the cliffs. The trail is a little steep in spots and is highly eroded since it is a popular destination. We were soon at the top of the cliffs taking in the view of the sparkling Batavia Kill below. There were no other hikers in sight so I took quite a few pictures of the valley below. The sun angle was again not very advantageous but I did get some nice shots. A family of four came down from the upper ledges and we made sure Sheila stayed with us until they passed. We continued to walk up to the next set of lookouts which are more to the east. The angle of the sun was better here so I took some more shots of the stream below, the valley and the hills beyond. To the northeast a high mountain was visible and I was pretty sure it was Huntersfield Mountain which is on the CHH list. I took some more pictures before we headed back down the trail and found a shortcut to the trail that runs just below the cliffs. This trail was a tricky little descent but brought us out just below the carvings. There were no others present so I got out the camera and took some pictures of the rock carvings. The whole area is beginning to show some neglect. The carvings are deteriorating and are not whitewashed frequently. It is most distressing that a few people have found it necessary to deface the carvings with graffiti. The carvings are a real artistic and historic treasure which are being ignored. When I was done with my photography, we descended the trail back to the car. We were at the car by 1:00 PM after covering the short hike of less than a mile. We were ready to head home at this point after a nice day.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Tuesday, April 11th Cindy and I left Manorkill Falls at 11:45 AM and headed south toward Route 23. When we reached Route 23 , I turned left and drove through Prattsville to the junction of Route 23 and Route 23A. I stayed to the left on Route 23 and drove 1.65 miles east toward Windham. As we approached Red Falls, I pulled over and parked on the side of the road. There are "No Parking" signs here so I never stay very long. This spot is popular with many young people and there is often garbage and broken bottles strewn about the area. We walked to a short but steep path down the bank to the falls. Cindy went back to get her poles while Sheila and I worked our way down the path to the edge of the falls. Much like the other waterfalls we had visited Red Falls was roaring with a high volume and rapidly flowing water. Fortunately, there was enough room on the rocks along the side of the falls to allow us to walk downstream. I took pictures of the falls as a whole from as far downstream as I dared go. I also took pictures of various parts of the falls and filmed two short videos to document the sound and power of the falls. I took a couple of shots of Sheila near the falls and then started to work my way back up the rocks to where Cindy was sitting waiting for us. We walked back up the steep path to the car and head west on Route 23 to the parking area for Pratt Rock.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Tuesday, April 11th Cindy and I left Mill Creek Falls at 11:10 AM and headed south on Route 30. After about 6 miles, I turned left on Route 990V and drove passed the Schoharie Reservoir near Gilboa. The work on the dam was almost complete after several years of work.I hope that once the work is complete that there will be a place to view the reservoir and the dam. We continued to follow 990V southeast along the reservoir until the Prattsville Road appeared on the right. I turned right and drove across the bridge and parked along the road on the other side. Manor Kill Falls forms on the Manor Kill just before it flows into the reservoir. Pet of it is upstream from the bridge and can be viewed from the bridge. The gorge the stream cut is impressive and one part of the falls is hidden directly beneath the bridge. I got my camera and headed for the bridge. I walked almost to the other side of the bridge and took some pictures of the falls upstream. I walked to the other side of the bridge and took shots of the reservoir and the gorge. I also took a few directly down from the bridge but could not get a good view of the falls. As I walked back to the car, I decided to walked through the fence onto DEP property to see if I could get a picture of the falls. The DEP has relaxed access to their land and doesn't seem to care much if people are just hiking and taking pictures. I worked my way over to the edge of the gorge but could only get a few pictures through the trees. I am convinced the only way to get pictures of the falls under the bridge is from a kayak or canoe on the reservoir. I walked back up to the car and continued to drive south on the Prattsville Road toward Route 23.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Tuesday, April 11th Cindy and I left Mine Kill Falls at 11:00 AM and headed north on Route 30 to North Blenheim. I turned left on Creamery Road and parked along the street with Mill Brook Falls in full view. I got out of the car and grabbed my camera to take a few pictures of the falls that were flowing nicely with high volume. Mill Creek Falls forms on Mill Creek as it flows southeast and empties into the West Kill. In the summer the falls is only a trickle and the West Kill a lazy stream. It is a popular place for children to go to get cool on a hot summer's day. On this day the West Kill was very high and flowing very fast. The falls were thundering as they spilled into the stream below. I took a few shots and then returned to the car. I drove south again on Route 30 as our next stop was Manorkill Falls.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Tuesday, April 11th I had initially planned to hike Huntersfield Mountain and Pratt Rock. I also planned to visit some waterfalls in the area since I knew they would be roaring from recent rains and snow melt. I had hiked with Cindy the day before so I did not think she would want to go again. I was glad I was wrong and that she wanted to come along. She did, however, specify that she did NOT want to hike Huntersfiled or any other mountain! I modified my plans to visit the waterfalls and Pratt Rock only. We started to get our gear together and Sheba began to let us know that she wanted to go! The forecast was for weather even warmer than Monday with highs nearing 80 degrees! I again dressed in lighter pants and a light windbreaker as I had been warm the day before. We left Livingston Manor just before 9:00 AM and headed toward Roscoe where we picked up Route 206 toward the Pepacton Reservoir. From here we headed toward Margaretville on Route 30. As we passed by one "arm" of the Pepapcton Reservoir, I noticed the calm water and the reflections of the trees in the water. I pulled over and got out my camera to take a few pictures of the scene. We continued on our way on Route 30 through Margaretville, Roxbury and Grand Gorge. In Grand Gorge I continued on Route 30 heading toward Middleburgh. After about 6 miles we came to the entrance for the parking lot for Mine Kill Falls ion the right. I pulled into the parking area at 10:20 AM to find several other cars present. We knew the hike was short but I wanted to record a GPS track and take some pictures. I set my electronics and shouldered my pack. Since there were others enjoying the park, I put Sheila on her leash as we waked down the path toward the viewing platform. Just before the platform we turned right and followed the trail down toward the base of the falls. The aqua blazes also designated this as part of the Long Path. The trail was a little wet and muddy in places as it wound down to the pool at the base of the falls. I dropped my pack and took out the camera to get some pictures of the falls. The lighting was better than it had been on previous visits and I was able to get pictures of the water as it flows between the rocks as well as shots of the lower falls as it spills into the pool. There was also some water falling from high off the cliffs and as the sun struck it a rainbow was formed. I took some more shots before we picked up and headed back up the trail. I followed the Long Path as it veered to the left and though that I did not remember hiking this section when I competed it. Later, by looking at my maps, it was obvious I had hiked it but from the other direction. We walked from the bottom of the falls back to the top and turned right to go to the viewing platform. There was no one else at the platform so I got out the camera and started to take pictures of the water flowing through the deep crevice in the rocks. I also took some pictures of another falls farther upstream just beyond the road bridge. After I finished with my photography, we turned around and walked back to the car. At 11:00 AM the temperature was already 70 degrees! I drove out of the parking lot and turned right to visit Mill Brook Falls.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - North South Lake (North Point and Ashley Falls) AllTrails - North South Lake (North Point and Ashley Falls) CalTopo - North South Lake (Catskill Mt House) Gmap4 - North South Lake (North Point and Ashley Falls) MapMyHike - North South Lake (North Point and Ashley Falls) On Monday, April 10th, I asked Cindy if she would like to take a hike somewhere and she said "Yes". After talking about some spots we decided to go to North South Lake as we had not been there in some time. I knew that this was a popular destination but thought that the number of visitors would be decreased as the park was closed, it was a Monday and many people might be away on vacation. The one factor that I knew might pull people in was the forecast for exceptionally nice weather. No rain was in the forecast but the highs were supposed to be in the mid-70's! As I chose clothing for the hike, I decided to wear my Mammut Hoody but take along a light windbreaker. I dug out a pair of light Railrider pants as I knew the insulated ones I had been wearing would be too warm. I packed a pair of light gloves and a hat even though I knew I probably would not need them. I decided to leave the insulated boots home and wear a pair of Keen Glarus with a low pair of gaiters. We delayed leaving home until just before 9:00 AM thinking we would try to stop at Pancho Villas in Tannersville which did not open until 4:00 PM. I drove from Livingston Manor out the DeBruce Road to Route 47, the Frost Valley Road. I turned left here and drove passed the Slide Mountain and Giant Ledge parking areas. There weren't many cars parked at either spot. When we got to Route 28 I turned right and drove to Route 42 in Shandaken where I turned left and headed north to Route 23A. I turned right on Route 23A and headed toward Hunter. We passed through Hunter and Tannersville heading east on Route 23A to Haines Falls. I turned left on North Lake Road and as we approached the park, I turned right on Scutt Road and drove to the parking area. The lot had been expanded to more than double its size but Therese were only a few cars parked. The temperature on the car read 66 degrees but the direct sunlight made it feel even warmer. I set my electronics and we got our gear together and left the car at 10:30 AM. I put Sheila on her leash as we walked up Schutt Road, crossed the park entrance road to pick up the yellow Rock Shelter Trail. I knew that this trail was always wet but hoped that it wouldn't be too bad. I let Sheila off her leash and my hopes were immediately dashed as the trail was underwater! There didn't seem to be any part of the trail without standing or running water. Some logs and stepping stones helped but it was generally a miserable experience which was not helped by the poor placement of blazes. Where thee was no water there were numerous roots and rocks to negotiate which made walking difficult ALL the time. As we started to walk through some pines, we found there was quite a boot of snow on the trail in those areas. These conditions continued throughout the hike with some areas being worse than others. In some places the snow was still almost a foot deep! At 11:25 Am we finally hit the junction with the red Nary's Glen Trail. We had walked 1.4 miles in just less than an hour!

picture taken during a hike We turned left up the Mary's Glen Trail and found that it was a stream bed with water pouring down the hill! Like many other hikers, we walked along the side of the trail thereby widening it and allowing noire erosion to take place! As we hike uphill, Sheila alerted as a mother and daughter approached. I took Sheila off trail to allow them to pass. He said "Hello" and continued in our opposite directions. We continued along the trail running into Maire snow and water as we hiked. After about .75 miles we came to the blue Escarpment Trail where we stooped for a minute for a drink and snack. It was 12:10 Pm and we had hiked 2.1 miles. We turned left on the Escarpment Trail and immediately began a steep and rocky climb toward North Point. There were several rock scrambles along the way which Sheila negotiated easily. It took Cindy and I some time to work our way up these scrambles. We rested at a ledge with a nice view of North South Lake and of the Hudson River. I took some pictures and marveled at the fact that I have NEVER seen the river without a haze hanging over it in this area. We moved on up the trail until we got to the last rocky step up to North Point. I got up with some difficulty and gave Cindy a hand. We walked up to North Point and I dropped my pack to get out the camera. I took some more pictures and then started to walk around the edge of North Point. I don't remember having done this before and as I walked the perimeter different views kept being revealed. From one viewpoint I could easily see Kaaterskill High Point and Round Top. On the other side of the point there were views of the mountains of the Devil's Path. In between the Hudson was laid out below. We had though about going to Stoppel Point but it was another 1.7 miles and Cindy wanted to work our way down through the rock scrambles. I agree as it was taking us much longer to hike than I had expected due to the poor condition of the trails. We started won off North Point and worked our way back to the point where the Escarpment trail meets the Mary's Glen Trail. Here we turned left to follow the Escarpment Trail and the Long Path. My plan was to pick up the Rock Shelter trail and walk to the Mary's Glen trail. We would then walk down the Mary's Glen trail to visit Ashley Falls. This falls can be quite seasonal and have almost no water in the drier months.

picture taken during a hike The hike on the Escarpment Trail wasn't too bad except for the amount of snow we encountered all along the way. One drift under the pines was still over a foot deep. We continued to follow the blue blazes until at 3.3 miles we found the yellow blazes of the Rock Shelter Trail. As we descended, we came to Badman's Cave which is really just a nice rock shelter formed by an overhanging rock. I too a few shots before we continued on the trail .We turned right and continued to encounter snow, water and a combination which made a cold, wet slush. We worked our way down several scrambles where water was freely flowing down the trail and the rock were very slippery. At 2:00 PM we had hiked 3.75 miles and were back at the junction with the Mary's Glen Trail. To the right was a nice little waterfall and I stopped to get some pictures. The problem was that the "nice little waterfall" gave rise to a nice stream that covered the trail. The sign post for the trail junction was in the middle of the stream! We turned left to follow the Mary's Glen Trail and, fortunately, the stream went one way and the trail the other. We still wound the trail covered in water and snow but it was a little more manageable. As we hiked down the trail, several small waterfalls appeared on the right. I was drawn to each one so I would walk off the trail and work my way to a point near each of the falls. Most were surrounded by water but I found a way to get close and take pictures. I was sure that these falls were only there due to the rain that had fallen and the melting snow. When we got to 4.2 miles around 2:30 PM, we were about to cross a log bridge. I walked downstream and found I was at the top of Ashley Falls. I took some pictures from the top and then walked back to Cindy and Sheila. We crossed the bridge and started to descend the trail. I found a path to the left and walked out to a point below the upper drop of the falls. There was a thick wall of ice next to the falls. I took some pictures and then worked my way around until I was more directly infant of the upper falls. I took some more shots and then returned to the main trail. We walked down to where the trail leveled off. At this pint there was a spur trail to the left that went to the base of the falls. We followed it and I walked across some rock and logs to get to a spot directly below the falls in the middle of the stream. I took quite a few pictures of the falls as a whole and of the parts of the falls. We walked back out the spur trail and the continued on the Mary's Glen Trail to the park road. We turned right and started to walk back to the car on the road. It seemed so easy walking on a firm, smooth surface without any water. The walk back to the car was 1.1 miles and I must admit I was rather tired. We arrived back at the car at 3:15 PM. My GPS said we had hiked 5.9 miles but it seemed like much more to both of us! I was surprised that by the time I downloaded the track to the computer it was only 5.6 miles. The vertical gain was only 1068 feet but, again, it seemed like more. We drove into Tannersville and waited a half hour for Panco Villas to open. We like the food there and found that the wait was well worth it.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Neversink Unique: Mullet and Denton Falls alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, April 8th I wanted to hike a little longer and a little farther away from home. On weekdays when I have Track Practice I usually choose Frick Pond or Trout Pond but this gets very boring after a while. I had hiked on Monday but then had to work pat of the rest of the week. Working coupled with terrible weather had not allowed me to get out again. Cindy wanted to go so I was looking for a relatively flat area which would have some appeal for both of us. I proposed heading to the Neversink Unique Are near Rock Hill since there are several waterfalls which I knew would be roaring due to the recent rains. It had actually snowed a little more than an inch overnight and the temperature was in the low 30's in the morning. In addition, the wind was blowing at almost 20 mph! We decided to wait until around noon to head out. As soon as Sheila found out we were going hiking, she would not leave my side. I got my clothing and gear together to prepare to leave. I decided that despite the forecast for highs in the 50's I would wear tights and a baselayer on top. I wore my Mammut hoody and took a pair of light gloves and a light hat. We left Livingston Manor a little after 11:30 AM and headed down State Route 17 toward Rock Hill. I took the Rock Hill exit and drove down Katrina Falls Road until I saw the Dead End sign. I turned left on Wolf Lake Road and after a short distance found the access road to the parking area. There was a nice parking area near the road but I had planned to drive to the upper parking area. I had to change those plans as the gate was closed! I pulled into the lower parking area and parked a little after noon. We could hear the noise of the water flowing in Wolf Creek. It took me a few minutes to get my electronics working and then we started up the gravel road at 12:15 PM. The temperature was still below 40 degrees and the breeze made it seem cooler. The sun was shining brightly which elevated my mood. We crossed over the bridge over Wolf Creek and we could see the water was flowing freely. The road was in pretty good shape an the 1.1 miles to the upper parking area went quickly despite the 250 foot gain in elevation. We passed under the power highlines where the wind was making the towers howl. When we reached the parking area, we followed the yellow spur trill into the woods.

picture taken during a hike The temperature had not changed much but the uphill walk had made me warm so I opened the zippers on my Mammut hoody. Now that I have started to do trail maintenance, I notice trail conditions and the first thing I noticed was that the large tree that was down across the beginning of the trail had been cut and cleared. We continued on the yellow trail finding a few more blowdowns that had been removed. It was clear that some trail work had been done but that the trail needed to be pruned to make hiking easier. The hike in on the side trail was only .6 miles and it was mostly downhill. Soon we arrived at the red trail where we turned left knowing that we would have to walk uphill to the car at the end of the hike. We walked along the trail finding a few muddy and wet areas. At 1.85 miles we crossed the upper bridge over Mullet Brook. We stopped so that I could take a few shots of the high volume of water flowing under the bridge. We followed the trail as it made a sharp right turn and headed downhill. We could hear the brook falling over the stony streambed as we hiked the trail. At one point we looked up to find a loan hiker coming toward us. I stepped to the side of the trail with Sheila and the hiker asked us where the trail led. We told him how to get back to the Katrina Falls lot where he was parked and he told us that there were a few more people coming up the trail behind him. We continued along the trail and soon met a couple hiking toward us. I again corralled Sheila and these hikers also asked for information. They looked tired and I carefully explained the turns they should make to get back to their car. We were both surprised that people would come out to hike and not be aware of the trails and the turns! At 2.4 miles we came to the yellow blazed spur trail to Mullet Brook Falls and turned right to visit this attraction. As we walked along the trail we met 3 young women heading out toward the main trail. The spur trail is less than .2 miles and we were soon at the base of the falls. I dropped my pack, got out the camera and walked carefully over the rocks at the base of the falls to get a good position directly in front of them. The brook was roaring and the falls had a high volume of water. Unfortunately, the spray from the falls was impossible to keep off my camera lens. I took some pictures downstream and then did my best to get some pictures of the falls. I carefully back down the slippery rocks, took a few more pictures and then returned to my pack. I got a drink and then we headed back out the spur trail to the main trail. We turned right and walked downhill to the junction where the red trail meets the blue trail at 2.8 miles. The blue trail stretches from the Katrina Falls parking area all the way south to High Falls where it ends. Future plans may included blazing this trail farther south along existing woods roads to reach the southern part of the Neversink Unique Area. We turned right on the blue trail and then almost immediately turned left on the yellow spur trail to Denton Falls.

picture taken during a hike The trail was in pretty good shape and but a few more markers need to be added in places. The trail is about .3 miles long but over that length it loses 175 feet to the lowest point on the hike at the Neversink River. As we got to the river, I took my pack off and got out my camera. The water was as high as I have ever seen it and I was careful to keep Sheila close in case she had any ideas about taking a swim. The views upstream and downstream were beautiful but it was hard to see the falls as the volume of water was so great. I took some pictures of the river and then worked my way down to the rocks just below the falls and started to take some pictures. The water was so high that I had to push some bushes aside to find a place to stand. Sheila and I walked up to the rock where Cindy was sitting. Sheila sat down next to Cindy so I took a few pictures of them. I put my camera back in the pack and we climbed the bank and headed up the trail. We continued on the yellow trail to the blue trail where we turned left to continue around the loop. We came to the lower bridge across Mullet Brook which has been replaced with twin steel I-beams for support and all new wood. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take a few shots of the bridge and the brook. I carried my pack a little farther down the trail and then worked my way down to the edge of the stream. I walked down the edge of the stream taking pictures as I did. Eventually I walked up the ban, back to the main trail and stowed the camera in my pack. We continued to hike the blue trail and both of us commented that we were still descending! The trail was wet in some places but the water was easy to avoid. We met a group of five people hiking toward us and we passed with a brief "Hello". At 4.1 miles we came to the trail junction where the blue trail bends to the left and the red trail begins. We turned right on the red trail knowing we were now headed back to the car but also knowing the trip would be all uphill! This part of the trail was the wettest we had seen and it was obvious that it had been a streambed during the heaviest rains. The trail took us south and then at about 4.5 miles turned to the east. At 4.9 miles we came to the trail junction with the yellow trail to the Wolf Lake parking area and our car. We had gained over 400 feet in .9 miles and the climb was never steep but it was continuous. We turned left on the yellow trail and continued to climb back toward the upper parking area. We gained another 140 feet over the half mile back to the parking lot. When we arrived at the upper parking area, we knew we had some hiking still to go but that it was mostly downhill. The sun was shining very brightly now and the temperature was in the mid to high 40's. We followed the road and over the next 1.1 miles lost about 250 feet back to the car. We arrived back at the car at 4:00 PM having hiked 6.6 miles in 3 hours and 40 minutes with about 30 minutes stopped for pictures. I honestly thought we had set a quicker pace but in any case we had great fun.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Monday, April 3rd I wanted to get out to hike but had a few things to take care of in the morning. I had expected a more sunny day but by 11:30 AM the temperature had risen to almost 50 degrees and the sun was just peeking through. I asked Cindy if she wanted to go across the greet to hike on Round Top and she agreed. Sheila was ready to go as soon as I mentioned the word "hike". I dressed without a baselayer but did take a light hat and a light pair of gloves. I wore my Mammut hoody with the pit sips open to allow some airflow. We headed out a little after 11:30 AM with Sheila on her leash to cross the street. The only snow was in the snow banks around the church parking lot. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not intend to take pictures as the day was overcast and dreary. We walked around the back of the church and started up the hill. The hill is short but steep but we made good time as there was no snow or ice. Sheila did a great job of pulling me up they'll with little effort. We turned left into the woods at the trailhead and walked along the woods road which was completely devoid of snow. At the first trail junction, we turned right to walk up the more gentle slope in the lower loop. There was very little snow on the woods road until we got to the turn up the hill where we encountered remnants of the 30 inches we had gotten in the last storm. When we got to the sharp left turn, we continued straight ahead on the new upper trail that I had laid out. The trail is only flagged with green tape but the path is pretty clear. The trail is a rather direct route to the top of the hill and follows an equally direct route down the other side. The final trail when constructed may contain some switchbacks to help mediate the steepness. We walked up to the summit of Round Top where there was still some snow and then started down the other side still following the bright green ribbons. This side of the hill faces north so there was still some snow. We were soon back at the yellow-blazed lower trail where we turned right to head toward the viewpoint from the ledges facing town. When we arrived at the ledges, we took a quick look from the upper part of the lookout. The sky was overcast so we continued on the main trail down the hill to complete the loop at the first trail junction.

At this point, Cindy decided to return home and I decided to do the loop in the opposite direction. Sheila and I turned around and hiked back up the steep hill to the lookout. We didn't stop and continued on around the loop at a quickened pace. As the main lower trail turned right, we walked straight ahead and up the hill toward the summit following the bright green ribbons again. Hiking up was a bigger challenge than coming down as the trail was a little wet and slippery but we soon reached the top and started back down. When we arrived at the main trail, we turned left and then right to follow the trail back down to the first trail junction. I still felt fresh and Sheila was certainly willing to hike some more so we turned around and hiked back up the woods road on the gentle slope. At the left turn we stayed on the main lower trail which is marked with yellow blazes as my intention was to hike the smaller lower loop. We followed the trail as it hugs the base of Round Top and turned left to head back toward the lookouts. We passed by the viewpoint and headed down the steeper trail back to the first trail junction. When we arrived, we turned around again and hiked back up the steep trail to the lookouts and continued to follow the lower trail as it turned right. The trail is continuously uphill but at a shallow grade. We followed the trail as it ruined right and flattened out as it stayed on a woods road at the base of Round Top. Soon the trail made a sharp right turn and we followed it down to the woods road and back out to the first trail junction. We turned left and continued out to the trailhead at the top of the cemetery hill. Here we turned right and walked down the hill and across the field by the church. We crossed the street and walked down our driveway to return home. It was 1:00 PM and we had hiked about 3 miles in a little under an hour and a half.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Saturday, April 1st it was the first day of trout season but the weather was far from ideal. The forecast was for rain throughout the morning but when I woke up it was snowing! I wanted to get out and hike but thought I might wait until the weather cleared a little. I planned to hike a loop on the east side of Mongaup Pond from the intersection of Mongaup Pond Road and Beech Mountain Road. This would include a visit to Mongaup Falls and was over 8 miles long. Just before noon the skies cleared and some sun was peeking through the clouds. I got my gear together and decided to dress a little warmer than I had been since the temperature was only 42 degrees on the back porch with a slight breeze. I knew that it would be colder at Frick Pond so I put on a pair of tights and packed heavier gloves. We left the house just after noon with Sheila in the back seat ready to go. We headed out the DeBruce Road and after about 6 miles I turned left on the Mongaup Road. At the intersection with Beech Mountain Road I stayed right and looked down the trail to the falls. It looked very snowy but sloppy with some running water. The small parking area had not been plowed so I immediately decided to go to the Frick Pond parking area and try a different route. When we arrived at the parking area there were no other cars in the lot which really surprised me. The temperature was only 38 degrees and the breeze made it seem cooler. I was surprised that there was still quite a bit of snow in the woods and on the trail. We left the parking area on the woods road to the register at 12:25 PM. I was glad I had worn my insulted Salomon Nytro boots and had put on my gaiters. As we walked out the woods road toward Frick Pond, the trail was covering with several inches of snow. At the register I stopped to take a few shots since there was a real contrast on the trail. Behind where we had just come from the trail was covered in snow. Ahead of us the trail had snow but had significant open areas with both standing and running water. As we continued along the trail, the woods road out the Gravestone Junction was well covered in snow but also had some running water. It was a quick walk to the outlet of Frick Pond. When we passed through Gravestone Junction the ground was bare Sanchia area is open to the sun. When we arrived at the bridge over the outlet, we stopped so I could take a few pictures. The sky was still overcast and the pond was partly covered with ice. I could see that the trees on Flynn's Point were covered in ice but there was a line whet the ice ended. There was also ice on the trees at elevation to the west of Frick Pond. I took pictures of the pond and Flynn's Point before packing up and heading out around the pond on the Quick Lake Trail. At the next junction we stayed to the left on the Quick Lake Trail to head toward Ironwheel Junction. I had not been this way in several weeks due to the 30+ inches of snow had fallen. I looked at the trail covered in snow and it was obvious no one else had used this trail either! As we started on the trail, I found there was between 4 and 8 inches of snow and I was breaking through with each step. A little farther along the trail gave way to large puddles of water and small running streams. It was pretty easy to avoid the water but it took time to walk around them and I found my boots were getting wet. I stopped at one point to take a few pictures of the trail covered in snow and the trail dotted with puddles. There were quite a few branches in the trail and I was picking them up and throwing them to the side. As we passed through the "spruce tunnel", we arrived at the small stream in the woods and found the water level high and flowing nicely. The water was deep enough that I decided to walk a little upstream and cross where the water was narrow. As we continued our hike, I found several branches down across the trail and removed what I could be hand. When we arrived at Ironwheel Junction, we turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail to Junkyard Junction where the Flynn Trail begins. The trail was partly packed by snowmobiles but the snow was thinning. Over the next mile the trail rises about 400 feet heading north. At 2.4 miles it turns northeast and levels off some as it approaches Junkyard Junction.

picture taken during a hike After the junction with the snowmobile trail to Quick Lake, we gained elevation and the snow got deeper. There were many places where there was running water under the snow and other spots where the trail was completely exposed. The skies were growing darker and it looked like there might be some precipitation. Shortly after this it seems that something did start to fall from the sky. What fell was more of a mixture of sleet, snow and ice than rain. It took me a while to realize that what was falling was the ice from the trees as the wind blew. This continued for most of the rest of the hike. The ground was covered in the ice from the trees and some rather large chunks were still falling! At 3.1 miles we arrived at Junkyard Junction and turned right on the Flynn Trail heading east and slightly southeast. The trails continued to be snow covered with some running and some pooled water along the way. My feet were getting wet but I couldn't tell how much was sweat from the inside and how much was the water I was walking through. I followed Sheila as she turned right to stay on the Flynn Trail along the west side of Hodge Pond. As we came to the open field near the pond there were a few muddy spots on the trail. From the field I could see through the trees to the pond. We continued on to the field at the outlet end of Hodge Pond and Sheila and I walked over to the shore. We walked over to the fire ring and I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the grey sky and grey trees. The water level in the pond was right up to the shore and there was still a layer of ice on the pond. We didn't spend too long at the pond and were soon back on the Flynn Trail heading up from the pond. At the edge of the open area there were some drifts where the snow was at least a foot deep and in one spot I sank to my knee. It is .7 miles from the pond to the junction with the Big Rock Trail and we gained about 180 feet over that distance. There was enough snow to make walking a little difficult as I sank into the snow in some places and slipped in others. Unfortunately there were snowmobile tracks on the trail which is clearly marked "No motorized vehicles!" At 3:00 PM we arrived at the junction with the Big Rock Trail after hiking 4.7 miles. I thought about going down the Big Rock Trail as I knew it would be packed by snowmobiles but decided to continued straight ahead on the Flynn Trail. I was able to pick up my snowshoe track from the previous week but that didn't help much. When a track is made the snow is packed down making an indentation. As the snow melts the packed snow does not melt as fast leaving little snowshoe-shaped bumps along the trail. The Flynn Trail had quite a bit of snow inflames and much less in others. As we neared the gate, the snow almost disappeared. We made the left turn into the woods to stay on the Flynn Trail and avoid the private property around the cabin. There was very little snow on the trail also. As we arrived back at the car, the dog from the cabin came barking and growling down the road. With his owner yelling "He's OK!" This has happened several times and shows a lack of courtesy on the owner's part! We were back at the car at 3:40 PM having hiked 6.4 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes with an elevation gain of 900 feet. The temperature at the car was still 38 degrees.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Trout Pond (Clockwise) AllTrails - Trout Pond (Clockwise) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Trout Pond (Clockwise) MapMyHike - Trout Pond (Clockwise) On Thursday, March 30, I was ready to get out for a hike after a week of commitments and bad weather had prevented me from getting out. The high temperatures for the day were supposed to be in the 50's but when I awoke at 6:30 AM the thermometer barely read 30 degrees. Since there had been quite a bit of rain over the previous few days, I decided to go to Trout Pond to see how Russell Brook Falls had fared. When Sheila got wind of my plans, she started jumping around and could hardly contain herself. It is hard for her to be indoors more than a day without going for a walk. We left Livingston Manor at about 9:45 AM under sunny skies and temperatures just into the low 40's. I had my gear in the trunk and an overjoyed Sheila in the back seat as we headed to Roscoe on State Route 17. I got on Route 206 and followed it across the Delaware County line to Morton Hill Road. After a left turn on Morton Hill Road, I drove to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road to avoid the parking area which is private. I had decided to bring only my Microspikes as I did not think I would need snowshoes. We began our hike down Russell Brook Road at 10:10 AM. The temperature was 34 degrees so I wore my Mammut Hoody, a hat and light gloves. I had on my Columbia Passo Alto pants with the reflective OmniHeat lining but decided I did not need tights underneath. I wore a long-sleeved crew neck Mammut shirt which is a little heavier than some I have and a long sleeved Patagonia Capilene 1 baselayer. Russell Brook Road had been plowed and sanded which I assumed was due to the first day of trout fishing season on Saturday, April 1. We continued on down Russell Brook Road to the overlook over the upper falls. There was a lot of water in the stream but not much more than the last time I visited. I decided to wait until the hike back to decide whether or not I wanted to stop to take pictures. We continued down toward the parking area and got on the woods road that goes down to the bridge that crosses the brook. I decided not to walk to the falls and continued on the main trail to the register. At the trail junction just after the register we turned to the left to climb the steeper hill toward Mud Pond. The trail had almost no snow as it faces south and east. It was a little muddy and there was running water in several places. The sun was out and as soon as we started to climb the hill, I stopped to open up the zippers on my hoody. The ascent went quickly and I was glad to see there were no new blowdowns on this part of the trail. We reached the top of the hill and found that there was now at least 6 inches of snow which was still very hard. I stopped to take some pictures of the woods road covered in snow. At 1.6 miles we made a right to follow the trail up to the shoulder of Cherry Ridge.

picture taken during a hike This trail was also covered in snow and the more elevation we gained the deeper the snow became. There was a set of footprints that I followed along the way which made walking easier although the snow was hard. We avoided a few icy areas and crossed a few small streams and some standing water. After passing through an area with many small diameter trees, we started a short descent and ran into a lot more water. In some places the water was polled on the trail and in others it was running like a stream. I had to walk on the sides of the trail where there was still some snow. Constantly breaking through a few inches made the walking more difficult than I expected. The ascent continued for the next 1.2 miles until at 2.7 miles into the hike when we were at the highest point and ready to start the descent to Trout Pond. Along the way we had come across two or three major blowdowns but were able to easily hike around them. One concerned me as it was a large branch precariously arched over the trail with little support at the upper end. We had been hiking the southern exposure and as we started down the other side there continue to be a good amount of snow on the trail. As we descended toward Trout Pond there were three major blowdowns that would require an axe and saw to clear. The trail remained snowy and slippery in places as we approached the bridge at the inlet end of the pond. I decided to stop and take some pictures even though there was nothing remarkable about the scene. We continued on the main trail toward the outlet of the pond. The trail now had much less snow and had some rather large pools of water. At the lower end of the pond I again stopped to take pictures of a scene I had photographed many times! The water level in the pond was high but most of the pond was still covered in ice. The skies were a little overcast to the north but were bright and sunny to the south. Sheila decided to run out on the ice and I took some pictures before telling her to stop thinking it might be dangerous. The hike from the outlet to the trail junction is all downhill with alternating areas of snow and clear trail. but I had to be careful to avoid many icy spots. Sheila did not seem to mind the icy or snow or the mud! By 12:40 PM we had hiked 4.7 miles and were back at the trail junction and register box. I decided that I did not want to walk over to the falls as I was a little short on time. We walked out to the parking area to continue our hike back to the car. As we walked up the road back to the car, I did not stop at the overlook over the upper falls but continued up the road. The sun had melted the ice on the road and it was very muddy which was making Sheila very muddy! We continued up the road and back to the car. We arrived back at 1:00 PM having covered 5.5 miles and 1120 vertical feet in 2 hours and 50 minutes. The temperature had risen to about 45 degrees as we left.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Thursday, March 23rd I planned to finally get out to hike the first hike of Spring 2017 after three days off. I had made others plans for the week but two days as the high school nurse and a bitterly cold and windy day on Wednesday made changing those plans necessary. Three warm days at the beginning of the week had melted some of the snow but there was still enough left to make hiking interesting. I had some commitments in the morning and decided to go across the street and hike on Round Top at about 9:30 AM. Cindy suggested that I take the snowshoes although I thought the snow would be hard enough to walk with just boots or maybe boots with spikes. She is usually right so I decided to carry my snowshoes across the street as there was not enough snow in the driveway to use them until then. The temperature was still in the mid 20's as I was getting ready but was coming up nicely so I decided to forego tights under my pants and wore a short-sleeved baselayer under a lighter Mammut pullover. I also opted for light gloves and a light hat. I put Sheila on her leash to walk across the street. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not want to carry the extra weight and wanted to have the "freedom" from taking pictures. We stopped on the other side of the street so that I could put on my snowshoes. The snow in the field was only a few inches deep and it was very solid. We walked behind the church and as I looked up the hill I could see pavement! We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, there was bare ground at the trailhead although I could see there was still a lot of snow in the woods. We started out on the trail and I found it hard as a rick. At the first trail junction I decided to take off the snowshoes and hide them off the trail behind a log. I was pretty sure that no one else had been on the trail since I had been there a week before! We continued straight head up the hill to the lookout. I was right about the snow being hard and I was hardly sinking in at all. The sun was out and made me feel warm despite the breeze that was blowing I bypassed the spur trail to the lower ledges and followed the main trail to the upper ledges where it turned right. The snow here was less consolidated and I sunk in a little. As long as I stayed on the packed trail I was OK. I did step off the trail once and sank almost up to me knee in a drift! We continued to follow the yellow blazes of the lower trail and turned right again as the trail skirted the summit of Round Top. At the next right turn we turned left into the woods to follow the green ribbons I had used to mark the proposed upper trail. This part of the trail faces south and east and the wasn't as much snow and in some places the ground was showing through. We walked uphill to the summit and then across the summit to start down. There was more snow on the downhill as it faces north. I broke through a little in a few places but got a nice glide back down to the main trail. We turned left here and walked back to the next sharp right turn where we followed the lower trail to the right. Soon we were on the wide woods road that leads back to the first trail junction.

When we reached the first trail junction. we had completed one figure 8 and I decided to turn around a do one in the opposite direction. We turned around and walked up the woods road and the stayed to the left up the hill to the first left turn. We followed the lower trail as it turned left and walked to the next sharp left turn. At this point we turned right and followed the green ribbons to the summit of Round Top on the proposed upper trail. Again the was more snow here so I sunk in a few times on the ascent. We walked across the summit plateau and then down the other side of the hill to the lower trail. We turned right and followed the lower trail as it skirted the summit of Round Top and then turned left to head down to the lookout. At the lookout we turned left and walked down the hill to the first trail junction. I noticed that it was a beautiful day with plenty of sun and bright blue skies. The sun was making the snow softer but it was still supporting me well. At the first trail junction I also noticed I was not very tired so I go the idea that we would either hike another figure 8 or simply do the lower or upper loop. We turned around and walked back up the hill to the lookout and continued to follow the lower trail as it turned right at the base of Round Top. It was then that I decided we would hike a figure 8 and we proceeded to do so ending up back at the first trail junction once more. I felt good and Sheila was very happy so we turned around and hiked back up the woods road to start our fourth figure 8! When we once again passed the lookout going downhill, I decided we were done. At the first trail junction I retrieved my snowshoes and decided that wearing them was easier than carrying the, We walked out to the trailhead and turned right to hike down to the church. We hikes across the field and stopped at the edge of the street. I saw no traffic coming and told Sheila "cross"> she charged across the street and waited for me on the other side. I walked across with my snowshoes and then stopped to remove them. I carried them back to the house. We were home at 11:30 Am having spent just under 2 hours hiking just under 4 miles. I find the trail pretty and convenient when I don't want to travel anywhere. It is easy to adjust the length of a hike by simply adding loops or figure 8s.

Winter 2016-2017

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick and Hodge Ponds (Flynn and Big Rock Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Sunday, March 19th I had planned to go to Frick Pond again and break out some more trails. I knew this would be a sort of futile effort since the temperatures during the week would reduce the amount of snow drastically. I still though it would be fun. Cindy had a meeting after church but said she wanted to go with me. I drove home and Sheila and I waited for her to get home. Cindy returned at about 1:30 PM and we got ready to head out. I decided to dress a little more lightly tan on the previous few trips as the temperature was hovering around 40 degrees. I was concerned that the higher temperatures would melt the snow and make it even more difficult to hike but decided to try it anyway. My plan was to hike up the Flynn Trail and down the Big Rock Trail. At Times Square we would hike the Logger's Loop back to the Quick Lake Trail and the parking area. As of Saturday the Flynn Trail was untouched and I expected it to be that way when we arrived. Sheila was ready to go ay any time and Cindy got herself dressed as we left Livingston Manor just before 2:00 PM. After driving out the DeBruce Road and up the Mongaup Pond Road we arrived at the Frick pond trailhead parking area at 2:10 PM and got ready to hike. There appeared to be only one car in the lot but as we were getting ready another car arrived. We crossed the road an 2:15 PM and started out by hiking up the Flynn Trail toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. MY fears concerning the softening snow were conformed as we hiked the rail through the woods where there was less snow. Less snow should have meant an easier hike but the softened snow was heavier and more difficult to walk through. The sun was warm but there was a slight breeze. As we turned right onto the woods road following the blue blazes of the Flynn Trail, we were met by completely pristine snow! I took a few pictures and then we started up the trail. It was tough going as the trail is all uphill with only a few spots that flatten some. I started to count my steps so that when I took a rest I could try to beat my "record". Occasionally I would stop for a longer time to take a few pictures. I kept thinking we were farther along than we were and at one point I pulled out my GPS to find we were still short of a mile. I knew that I could make the next .8 miles but that it would be slow going. We passed the "meadow" on the right of the trail and I knew there was about half a mile to go. Right after this point there was a slight downhill that felt really good but it was followed by more climbing. As we approached the junction with the Big Rock Trail, Cindy decided to pass me and break the trail. I'm sure she was trying to help but it left me feeling defeated and deflated. I had hoped that I could break trail all the way to the junction and missing by .15 miles was disappointing. I reached the junction at 4:30 PM after hiking 1.7 miles and was VERY happy to find the Big Rock Trail was packed by snowmobiles. I knew this would make the trip back much easier! I took a small break and then turned left to follow Cindy down the hill on the Big Rock Trail.

picture taken during a hike Cindy was keeping up a quick pace downhill as she always does and I just wanted to take it easy and recover. At one point she stepped off to the side of the trail and indicated I should go ahead. I didn't see the point but did not want to argue. I started down the hill stopping at one point to take some pictures of the trail broken by the machines. As we neared the bottom of the hill, we came to a large tree across the trail. Some machines had apparently gone over the tree while oaths had gone around. I went around the right end of the blow down and then heard snowmobiles coming. We stepped off the trail to the right and three machines game by us slowing as they passed. We continued own the hill arriving at Times Square. We had taken about 30 minutes to descend the 1.2 miles on the Big Rick Trail while the 1.7 mile ascent of the Flynn Trail had taken 2 hours and 15 minutes! Cindy decided we would turn left and walk the Logger's Loop back to Gravestone Junction. The skies were more overcast now and there was a little less sun. This part of the Logger's Loop is only .6 miles long but has a little uphill grade for the first part. My legs were very tired especially around the hips but at least the trail was well-packed. We had walked the trail the day before breaking fresh snow and then others had walked it to pack the snow even more. Even though it wasn't as well groomed as the Big Rock Trail it was much easier walking in the set track that it was the day before. It was also much easier than our long haul up the Flynn Trail. At 5:20 PM we were back at Gravestone Junction after hiking only 3.5 miles. We turned left and hiked the Quick Lake Trail back to the register and then continued on the woods road back to the car. When we arrived in the parking area at 5:30 PM all; the other cars were gone. We had hiked 4 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes for an overall rate of 1.2 mph! This was slow but acceptable given the brutal conditions.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond only AllTrails - Frick Pond only CalTopo - Frick Pond only Gmap4 - Frick Pond only MapMyHike - Frick Pond only On Saturday, March 18th I wanted to get in a slightly longer hike than I had over the passed few days. There was still a lot of snow on the ground from the over two feet that fell on Tuesday and Wednesday. I though that by this time the lots at Frick Pond should be plowed so I decided to go there. Sheila was ready as always and Cindy also wanted to go. The temperature when I got up at 6:00 AM was 10 degrees but it began to rise and was just below 30 degrees when we left the house at 10:15 AM and headed out to Frick Pond. Sheila was happy to be in the backseat as we headed out the DeBruce Road. After about six miles I turned left on Mongaup road and headed toward Frick Pond. At the fork in the road I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road. At the trailhead we found both lots were well plowed but no other cars were parked when we pulled in at 10:30 AM. I let Sheila out of the car while we put on my snowshoes. There was a broken trail from the smaller lot out the woods road toward Frick Pond but I did not know how far it went. My plan was to hike around the pond using the Quick Lake, Big Rock and Logger's Loop Trails. I knew this would be quite a challenge if the rail was not broken as neither Cindy nor Sheila can break trail for too long. We both wore our Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which go on very quickly as the bindings are easy to use. We began our hike at about 10:35 AM by hiking out the woods road toward Frick Pond. I stopped to take a few pictures of the undisturbed snow on the Logger's Loop Trail near Gravestone Junction. The skies were a bright blue with some sun and puffy white clouds. The trail was well broken out to the pond and when we got to the bridge over the outlet I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took a picture of the bridge which had almost no snow on it except at the far end where the snow always drifts. From the bridge I took a few pictures of the pond and the outlet stream. I picked up my pack and we started around the pond following the trail broken in the snow. The snow alternated between having a hard crust in some places and fluffy drifts in others. At the junction of the Quick Lake Trail and the Big Rock Trail the broken trail stopped and it was obvious whoever had hiked there had turned around and returned the same way they had come. We turned right to get on the Big Rock Trail around the back of the pond with me leading and breaking the trail through the snow. My hips still hurt from the hike on Round Top on Thursday but I really wanted to complete what we had started. Under the tall evergreen trees there was less snow but it still averaged well over a foot. When we got to the wooden causeways, they were covered in well over a foot of snow and I stopped to take a few pictures. Some snow had melted and fallen through the openings between the boards which made a sort of lattice work on the bridge.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the Big Rock Trail as it wound around the back of Frick Pond heading toward Times Square. The snow was deeper in some spots than others but the going was never easy. We stopped briefly on the last two smaller bridges and I took some shots before continuing on towards Times Square. Once we were out of the protection of the evergreen trees the snow was much deeper and had drifted in spots. I wondered at this point if I could continue to break trail on the Logger's Loop which is slightly uphill and always had large drifts. At 11:50 AM we arrived at Times Square after hiking 1.2 miles at an overall average speed of 1 mph! We stopped to get a snack and to drink some water. After a few minutes and a few pictures, I shouldered my pack and simply headed out to the right on the Logger's Loop back to Gravestone junction. I was surprised to see that no snowmobiles had passed through on the Big Rock Trail and Logger's Loop since there was plenty of snow and it was Saturday. The further we went the more my legs were tiring from lifting and breaking trail. Sheila seemed to be unaffected by the cold but she was smart enough to stay behind me and in front of Cindy most of the time. Although she looks like a yellow lab she has a longer coat from a dose of Husky blood. She never seems to get cold. The Logger's Loop climbs slightly from Times Square and I noticed this as I continued to break the trail. Soon we were on flatter ground heading back toward Gravestone Junction but the snow drifts in this area were almost 3 feet high. Some of the drifts were so consolidated that they would support our weight for a short distance and then we would sink almost up to our knees. By this time I was tired but in good spirits since the broken trail was only a short distemper away. I thought about taking a few more pictures but there was nothing really interesting to photograph and the sky was now almost completely overcast. At Gravestone Junction we turned left to head back to the car on the Quick Lake Trail. Not too far along we saw a young couple headed toward us with snowshoes and no poles. They wore MSR snowshoes which were probably rented from Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor. I pulled Sheila off the trail and we waited until they passed. We let them know the trail was broken around the pond but I got the feeling they might not get that far. We did notice another pair of hikers approaching from behind us. As we passed the register, Sheila alerted and I could see a young couple starting out from the parking lot. We walked a little farther before I walked to the side of the trail with Sheila to let them pass. They also had MSR snowshoes but had no poles. We informed them that the trail around the pond was broken and they thanked us. The found lady bemoaned their lack of gaiters and I thought that poles would have been a good idea also! We were back at the car at 1:00 PM having hiked about 2.2 miles in almost 2.5 hours with an elevation gain of 175 feet. Our average moving speed was only 1.2 mph. I put Sheila in the car and our gear in the trunk. There were now 5 cars parked in the other lot with one leaving and another starting out. I checked the beginning of the Flynn Trail and found it had not been touched. Maybe tomorrow!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Thursday, March 16th I wanted to get out for the third day in a row to take advantage of the over two feet of snow that had fallen from Tuesday into Wednesday. I thought about going to Frick Pond but was not sure the lot would be plowed or that I could make much headway by myself. I decided to go up on Round Top and hike the upper trail which was not yet broken out. I though this might be reasonable since the other parts of the trail were already set which would make the overall hike easier. I got my gear together and headed out of the house with Sheila at 11:00 AM. After putting on the snowshoes, I put Sheila on her leash and started out the driveway and across the street. No snow was falling but the wind was blowing a little and the air temperatures was about 28 degrees. We crossed the street and fought our way over the bank left by the snowplows. Looking across the small field I could not see any track from the day before as the wind had caused the snow to drift and fill it completely. After walking through the field to the base of the cemetery hill, I was able to pick up my track up the hill and the going was much easier. We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The view was much the same as other times but I decided to take a few shots anyway. The views were much clearer than the previous two days and the sun was out. The sky was blue with some puffy white clouds. I picked up my pack and we entered the woods where my previous track was very clear and the walking was much easier than the previous days. At the first trail junction we turned right to follow the woods road and begin the figure 8 route in a counterclockwise direction. This part of the trail had only been traveled once so I concentrated on packing the snow and widening the track slightly. At the sharp left turn we follow the yellow blazes to the left and continued on relatively flat ground to the point where the trail again turns left. Here we turned right to follow the green ribbons that mark the proposed upper trail. Now the going got much harder as there was no track to follow and the snow was over two feet deep. I raised the heel lifts on the snowshoes which gave me a much better bite into the snow and eased the strain on my calf muscles. Although it was hard work, we were soon at the flat summit plateau. I worked my way across the summit but somehow missed the ribbons marking the start of the trail down the other side of the hill. I corrected my mistake and was soon headed down the hill toward the lower trail. I couldn't get a real glide since I kept gliding under the thick layer of snow but going down was much easier than the ascent.

picture taken during a hike When we reached the lower trail we turned right and walked along the flat ground back to the point where the trail turns left. We continued to follow the yellow blazes and passed by a large boulder where I took a few shots including a few with Sheila. As we approached the lookout, I could feel that there was a strong wind blowing and the evidence was the snow drifting over the trail. I turned left at the upper lookout and walked down to the spur trail. I turned right and walked out to the lower ledges which gave me a nice view of the town including the school. The amount of snow was clear from this view and I took a few shots before packing up and retreating back to the main trail where there was less wind. We continued down the hill to the first trail junction. I got a pretty good glide going as the trail was already broken from previous days. When we arrived at the trail junction, I was tired but thought I had enough energy left to hike a little more. We turned around and started back up the hill to the lookout. I knew I could just walk the lower loop but I hoped I could do another figure 8 in the opposite direction. I thought this might be possible since every part of the trail now had been broken out at least once. This time we did not stop at the viewpoint but continued to follow the yellow blazes of the lower trail. The trail here is slightly uphill and it is hardly noticeable when the trail isn't covered by two feet of snow! Even with the trail packed down some the work load was noticeably higher. We continued to follow the trail as it turned right and followed a woods road around the base of Round Top. When we got to the next right turn, we turned left instead and headed up the hill toward the summit following the track I had broken out a short time before. I again put up the heel lifters as this side of the hill is every bit as steep as the other. Since the track was partly broken, it was easier to get to the top but I did take some time to pack and widen the track properly. We followed the track across the top and won the other side to the lower trail. Again I got a glide following the trail I had broken. At the lower trail we turned left and followed the trail to the next right turn. After making the turn to the right, we headed downhill to the woods road that heads out to the first trail junction. This is a gentle downhill but I welcomed it as by this time I was getting tired. At the trail junction we turned left to head out to the trailhead at the top of the cemetery. We turned right to descend the hill toward the church with me gliding and most running down the hill. At the base of the hill we continued across the field to our driveway and back to the house. The track we had made earlier was completely drifted in by wind-driven snow! We had been out for about two hours and had hiked a little under 2 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Wednesday, March 15th I had planned to hike the loop on Round Top using snowshoes to combat the over two feet of snow that had fallen the day before. I had hiked to the lookout during the storm on Tuesday and found that breaking a track through the snow by myself was exhausting. I had contacted two friends who said they wanted to go and I was hopeful that having four people, Cindy said she wanted to go also, and one dog would make the going easier and we could break the trail around the entire lower loop. The plan was to meet at my house at 9:00 AM. An early morning ambulance call in Willowemoc left be exhausted so I wasn't unhappy when one of my friends asked to postpone the hike until 11:00 AM. I got some rest and when I came downstairs there was a text from the other person say8ing they had other things to do. Soon the person who asked for the postponement called and cancelled their participation. I was disappointed since I knew I would be breaking the trail alone and was not sure I could get all the way around the loop. Cindy and I got our gear ready and dressed warmly as the temperature was 18 degrees and the wind was blowing snow across the yard. Sheila was ecstatic to get in two days in a row as we headed out the driveway to Round Top. We crossed the road and climbed the high snow bank on the other side caused by the snowplows clearing the road. Out track from the day before had been obliterated by the freshly fallen snow and wind driven rifts. We slogged our way across the field and there seemed to be more snow than the day before. There were large drifts behind the church and at the bottom of the cemetery hill. We made the turn up the hill and we could see a pretty good track from the day before. Despite the track, the going was slow as we walked up the hill to the top and the beginning of the trail. At the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The view of town and the surrounding hills was similar to other snowy days but at least there was something to see as it was not snowing at the time. The headstone in the cemetery were topped by over a foot of snow. I took pictures and then noticed the wind was blowing and decided to enter the woods. The track from the previous day was still there and it made walking easier than breaking a fresh track. I began to notice that Sheila was not out in front but was satisfied to walk just behind me with Cindy bringing up the rear. At the first trail junction I decided to continue straight ahead to the lookout. The climb went a little more quickly than the day before as there was a broken track.

picture taken during a hike We continued up the hill and Sheila and I followed the spur trail out to the viewpoint on the lower ledges where I took off my pack and got out the camera. Crossing the little gap in the trail proved interesting since by this time I could hardly see anything through my glasses and there were huge drifts. I got out my camera and took some shots of the viewpoint and then some down into town. From this viewpoint the town including the school and post office were visible below unlike the day before when the heavy snow falling had blocked any views. I took a few shots just to show the contrast with other pictures. I also took some shots of the ledges before putting away the camera. I walked back out the spur trail as walking directly up to the upper ledges looked too difficult with all the snow. Back at the main trail I tuned left to walk to the upper ledges to meet Cindy. I decided we would head out on the lower trail in a clockwise direction thinking that we could always turn around and walk downhill on the broken track if the going was too tough. I followed the yellow blazes hoping that once we got further into the woods the snow drifts would lessen and the depth would be more manageable. We found that this was not the case and that the depth of snow was always at least two feet. I was walking few steps and taking a short break and then walking a few more steps. The snow was so deep that I could not lift my snowshoes straight up and put them down. I had to lift my snowshoes and then push ahead into the snow which was very tiring. I stopped to take a few pictures of the snow and the rocks with snow on them. We climbed the last short hill with some difficulty due to the drifting and followed the trail as it made a sharp right turn. We were now on flatter ground and the going should have been easier but I was tired and the snow was deep. Sheila was still right behind me. We finally came to the next sharp right turn where the trail heads downhill. I had looked forward to the downhill as I can usually get a glide. The snow remained deep and the glide was limited as I tended to glide under the deep snow. Going down hill was easier though and soon we made the last right turn onto the wide woods road that led back to the first trail junction to complete the loop. The snow was just as deep here but the views of the ledges were interesting and I knew we would soon be back to broken track, When we hit t5he trail junction, I took a few pictures of the broken track before we turned left to head back out to the trailhead. We turned right on the cemetery road and got a glide going on the way back to the bottom of the hill. Our tracks across the field had started to fill in but at least we could see them. We crossed the road and walked back home on the driveway. We had hiked a little more than a mile about two hours! I am hoping to get to Frick Pond tomorrow and find the parking lots plowed!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Tuesday, March 14th the weather forecast was calling for a blizzard with at least two feet of snow in Livingston Manor! When I got up at 6:00 AM we were well on our way to meeting or exceeding that forecast. I went out to begin to clear some of the snow and found my two neighbors already working on getting the driveway clear so that I could respond on an ambulance call when it came. I took some pictures of the snow and joined in the effort to clear the driveway and liberate our cars. By noon after several hours of work, most of the driveway was clear and I could move my car. I had promised Sheila we would go outside but I was too tired to go for a hike. When I went back into the house, there was Sheila waiting to go out. She didn't seem to understand broken promises so I got a pair of snowshoes from the cellar and put my camera in the pack. We went outside and Sheila immediately started bounding through the snow which was up to her back in most places. I got a leash out of my car, put Sheila on the leash, donned my snowshoes and headed out the driveway to Round Top. The rate of snowfall seemed to be more than an inch an hour but the roads were pretty well plowed although the snow continued to accumulate. The air temperature was 20 degrees but there was some wind that cut through my clothing. We crossed the road and climbed the snow bank on the other side. I had to remind myself that when I went to bed we had NO SNOW on the ground. Sheila started out ahead of me bouncing up and down through the deep snow that had drifted in the field. I dropped my pack and took out my camera to take a short video of her antics as I called her back to me. We continued our walk across the field to the base of the cemetery hill. We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short. As I looked around I could see that all the trees were covered with a layer of snow making a beautiful scene. Sheila continued to break a track going up the hill without stopping. She does like to wander back and forth but I made a relatively straight track since following her would have made me appear intoxicated. At the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The view of town and the surrounding hills was completely blocked by the falling snow. The headstone in the cemetery were topped by over a foot of snow. I took pictures and then noticed the wind was blowing and decided to enter the woods. I hoped the snow depth would be a little less in the woods but we found just the opposite. In places my poles sank almost two feet. I kept thinking that my snowshoes were sinking pretty deeply but this was the most snow I had seen in two winters! The going was slow for me and as we approached the first trail junction I decided to continue straight ahead to the lookout.

picture taken during a hike I very seldom stop to take pictures along the trail itself since one part looks much like the next. On this day I stopped after entering the woods and took a few shots. Climbing the hill even with Sheila breaking the track was tiring and I stopped a be times to rest briefly. I had almost decided at this point that the lookout would be our endpoint. We continued up the hill and followed the spur trail out to the viewpoint on the lower ledges where I took off my pack and got out the camera. Crossing the little gap in the trail proved interesting since by this time I could hardly see anything through my glasses. I took a moment to wipe off some of the snow before getting out my camera. From this viewpoint the town including the school and post office are usually visible below. On this day there was simply a wall of white as the snow continued to fall. I took a few shots just to show the contrast with other pictures. I also took a few shots of the ledges before putting away the camera and heading back down the hill. Going down was much easier than coming up and I was able to get a nice glide for most of the way down to the first trail junction. We walked back out to the trailhead and turned right to start down toward the church. Snow was still falling and there were no views. I was able to glide most of the way down the hill. We walked behind the church and back across the field where our tracks were barely visible. We crossed the road and walked back home on the driveway. We had hiked a little less than a mile in around 90 minutes. It was still snowing and the wind was picking up causi8ng the snow to drift. I cannot recall more snow falling in such a short period of time since we have lived in Livingston Manor. All county schools were closed and most are closed already for Wednesday. I guess I will just have to go out tomorrow and see how far I can get.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Huggins Lake AllTrails - Huggins Lake CalTopo - Huggins Lakecaltopo  icon Gmap4 - Huggins Lake MapMyHike - Huggins Lake On Sunday, March 12th I decided I wanted to get out to hike locally after church. I usually take it easy on Sunday afternoon but track practice has started and a major snow storm is forecast to move in for Tuesday and Wednesday. I decided to go to Huggins Lake after looking at a route at Mongaup Pond which was over 8 miles. I decided to leave that one for later. Huggins Lake is not my favorite but I chose it for its shorter length, under 4 miles, and for the fact that it was not Frick Pond or Trout Pond. I headed out a little before 1:30 PM with Sheila in the backseat. I have come to the realization that she would like to be out everyday and we had not hiked since Thursday! I drove up the Beaverkill Road and down the Campsite Road to find the covered bridge STILL closed. I detoured to the steel bridge at Craigie Claire and then drove out Berry Brook Road to the trailhead. Along the way I noticed that Dundas Castle was clearly visible from the road and thought about taking pictures on the way back. We arrived at the road to the parking area to find it snow covered and very rough. I chose to chance it and easily made it to the small lot parking at 1:45 PM. As I got my equipment ready I noticed that there was at least an inch of snow on the ground. I also could here one of the trees which sounded like it was about to crack and found it splintered and high enough to hit my car if it came down! There were no other cars in the lot when we headed out at 1:50 PM on the wide woods road to the lake. The temperature was 15 degrees and the wind was blowing so I was glad I had decided on a baselayer top and bottom. I also wore a heavier Patagonia wool top, my insulated Salomon Nytro boots and a warm pair of gloves. There was very little sun and the skies were mostly overcast as we started the climb up the hill. The hike isn't long and the trail was well-maintained. The first 1.2 miles is all uphill and gains almost 700 feet. Sheila was running up and down the trail and following game paths into the woods as I did my best to keep up a fast pace up the hill. I stopped along the way to take a few shots of the snow on the trail. At one point I had to tell Sheila to stop chasing a little mouse that she had found outside its burrow. After the initial climb, the trail descends to Huggins Lake making a sharp turn from southeast to north at about 1.6 miles. Sheila alerted at the turn but I could not see what she saw and we continued to descend to the lake.

picture taken during a hike When we arrived at the lake, I noticed that the water level was very high and most of the pond had a coating of ice. It was clear the ice near the dam was thicker and had been blown there by the wind. Across the pond I could see open water. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take some pictures even though the skies were flat and there was little color anywhere. We walked the path to the outlet and I could, immediately see that the beavers had dammed the outlet causing the level of the water to rise. I took a few more pictures of the lake before returning to my pack, stowing the camera and starting back up the hill. I did take some pictures of the snow on the trail and around the lake. The only negative point about Huggins Lake is that there is only one trail and so there are no variations available. I have tried bushwhacking around the pond but the bushes get pretty thick. We climbed the hill back to the highest point on the trail and then started down the other side. I was surprised that I had labored a little climbing the hill at the beginning of the hike but felt very fresh on the way back. As we continued to descend, I was a little sorry I didn't have more time to be out hiking. When we arrived back at the car, we had hiked 3.7 miles in 1 hour and 35 minutes with a total elevation gain of 940 feet. As we left the parking area, I turned left on Berry Brook road and headed back to Livingston Manor the way we had come. On the way back I stopped on the road and took some pictures of Dundas Castle through the trees. I would like to get some pictures from nearer the castle but it is private property and I have not been able to get permission.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn) CalTopo - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn)caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn) On Thursday, March 9th I had planned to stay inside due to the high wind advisory. The wind did seem substantial when I was driving to my men's Bible study at 6:15 AM and seemed unabated on the way home at 7:30 AM. After I arrived home, I went downtown to get some breakfast and by the time I returned the wind had died down some with just a few gusts. I convinced myself that I would feel better if I went out to hike and Sheila seemed to support that decision. I got my gear together having decided to head to the Frick Pond area and left the house at about 9:15 AM. My plan was to hike the Quick Lake Trail to Iron Wheel Junction. From here we would hike the Logger's Loop to Times Square an then ascend the Big Rock Trail to The Flynn Trail to get back to the car. Although the temperature in the morning as in the low 30's I knew it would warm up throughout the day as the sun came out. I decided to wear my Mammut hoody and warmer Columbia Titanium pants. The hoody has lots of zippers to help regulate temperature. I wore a baselayer on top but decided to forego tights under the pants. I had my spikes in my pack but knew I probably would not need them as there was little snow or ice left. Sheila was happy to be going anywhere and crouched in the back seat with her head on the console. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. Where the road splits I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road and parked in the smaller lot at 9:35 AM. It didn't take us long to walk out to the Quick Lake Trail to start our hike. As we started to hike I wondered about my choice of clothing as I felt a little cool since the temperature was only 35 degrees and the wind had picked up some. On the way to the register box it was obvious the wind had brought down a lot of smaller branches and some larger branches and small trees. The woods road out to Frick pond was also littered with blowdowns and still had some water although uh less than the week before. We stayed left at Graveyard Junction to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. When we arrived at the bridge across the outlet, I decided to stop and take pictures despite the fact that I have hundreds from this location. There was still some snow around in this area. I took some shots and then we continued on around the pond. We stayed left at the trail junction to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and found that most of the water on the trail had either drained off or dried up due to the wind. There were more branches along the trail. We continued on our hike passing through the "Spruce Tunnel". The small stream through the woods was running freely with slightly less water than the week before. By 10:15 AM we had walked the 1.5 miles to Iron Wheel Junction. At the trail junction we turned right on the Logger's Loop Trail. The Logger's Loop is mostly downhill in this direction and we made good time but encountered more blowdowns along the way. This trail also was much drier which made the walking easier. Just before starting the descent to Times Square, we stopped at a small pond on the left side of the trail so that I could take some pictures. This pond is seasonal but has been growing in size for several years. By 10:40 AM we were at Times Square and about 2.7 miles into the hike.

picture taken during a hike At Times Square we turned left to start up the Big Rock Trail. From Times Square to The Flynn Trail is about 1.1 miles but the elevation gain is around 600 feet averaging a 10% grade. The route has three different climbs with some flatter areas between them. We set a pretty fast pace on the climb and I found that although my heart rate was elevated I felt good. Not very far up the trail we encounter a very large tree across the trail. I have learned that I can clear almost anything with axe and hand saw but this was a very large diameter! We reached the Flynn Trail at 11:10 PM after hiking 3.8 miles and I stopped to take a few pictures and get a drink. The snow that had persisted here was now completely gone. We turned right to walk down the Flynn Trail back to the parking area. There were a few large branches on or near the trail but there and there was one large blowdown a little further along. Sheila was still excited at this point and was running up the trail and back to me. She was taking a few excursions off the trail to follow animal tracks but was pretty close so I let her explore. She started to grab some rather large branches so I picked up a stick and threw it several times for here to retrieve. The trip down the Flynn Trail went quickly and we were soon near the gate that blocks Beech Mountain Road. We turned left to stay on the Flynn Trail as it continues through the woods to avoid the private property around the cabin. We continued down to the parking area on the trail. We were back at 11:45 AM having covered 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes with a vertical gain of 905 feet. The average speed of 2.5 mph including stops surprised and pleased me.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Long Pond Double Loop alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, Mar 6th I wanted to get in a longer hike close to home before the first spring track practice in the afternoon. Since I had been at Trout Pond and Frick Pond recently, I decided to go to Long Pond and repeat a hike I had done only once before. My intention was to hike a figure 8 loop to extend the mileage and take in some spots I had not visited in some time. I wanted to walk as fast as I could and only take a few pictures along the way. I got Sheila in the car with my gear and headed out DeBruce Road for about 8 miles to Flugertown Road where I made a left. I parked in the lot a short distance up the road on the right. It was 10:15 AM and the temperature was only in the mid 30's with a slight breeze. I had decided to dress warmly with a baselayer both top and bottom. I had a light hat and gloves and wore my Mammut hoody. I opted to wear my Keen Glarus boots which are not insulated and I had not brought any gaiters. I had my spikes in my pack but did not expect to use them. When I parked and looked around, I was surprised to see some snow banks and a layer of ice on the trail. The trail is a snowmobile trail and the obvious use by the machines had packed the snow which had turned to ice. We started our hike by walking over the bridge and up the hill. There wasn't much ice on the trail after the bridge and I made good time up the hill. The first .6 miles gains about 350 feet to the highest point on the hike. It isn't very steep but does act as a nice warm-up! I took a few shots on the way up the trail. Near the top of the hill two large evergreen trees had blown down across the trail blocking it almost completely. The trees were large enough that they might require a chainsaw to cut them. There was more ice and snow coverage at the top of the trail as we approached the spur trail to Long Pond. At 1.1 miles we were at the spur trail that leads down to the shore of Long Pond. We turned right and walked down to the shore of the pond where I sternly warned Sheila to "Stay"! I walked down to the shore to take some pictures. The pond is not very picturesque but I took a few shots anyway. The pond appeared to be frozen over with only a few open spots near the shore. I returned to my pack and we headed out to the main trail where we turned right to continue our hike. At the first trail junction at 1.3 miles, we turned left to hike out to the road as part of the figure 8 I had planned.

picture taken during a hike This part of the trail is relatively flat and there were some large areas of water with ice covering them. I probably should have put on my spikes at this point but continued to walk the trail without them. At 1.6 miles the trail began to descend to cross a long bridge across the stream. The descent was very slippery but I worked my way down to the bridge. I stopped on the bridge and took some pictures of the stream which had some ice. Downstream I could see a small "waterfall" formed by the ice. I walked down to a spot near the waterfall and took a few shots. We crossed the bridge and walked off the trail to the left so that I was directly across from the waterfall. I took a few more shots here and then walked back out to the trail. We walked out to the main road and found it was completely covered in snow and ice. I took some pictures, got a drink and decided it would be easiest to put on my spikes for the walk along the road. At 2.1 miles we turned right and began to hike toward Basily Road. We continued along the road with my spikes giving me a good grip. We gained a little elevation along the road until we broke out of the woods near the Peter's Hunting Camp. The road ahead was clear of snow so I removed my spikes. We stopped for a moment and I took a few pictures of the valley before continuing on the road. When we arrived at the private bridge, I stopped to take a few pictures of the stream. After taking these shots, we continued along the trail along the edge of some tilled ground at the camp toward the beaver pond. We walked over the small footbridge and stopped so that I could take a few pictures of the beaver pond. The break didn't last long as we continued on the road to finish the upper loop. The road continued to gain elevation and there were large stretches of snow and ice which I was able to work around. Sheila had no trouble with her four paw drive!

picture taken during a hike At 3.6 miles we stayed to the right as Basily Road headed left to Wild Meadow Road. Shortly after this we turned right into the woods on the snowmobile and hiking trail. This part of the trail is pretty flat which means that standing water was pooled in several places. Most of these spots were frozen over. The were also spots on the trail where the mud had frozen but collapsed under foot. In at least two places trees had fallen across the trail but were hung up an suspended over the trail. These types of blowdowns are the most dangerous to clear. The easiest solution is to let them fall to the ground when the wind blows them down. We passed the spur trail on the left to the lean-to at 4.7 miles. We continued on the main trail and at 5.1 miles we were back at the first trail junction where we had started the figure 8 earlier. We turned right and again followed the trail toward Flugertown Road. This time when we arrived at the bridges I decided to put on my spikes. We then continued to walk along the trail to the road where we turned left. The hike was a little longer than I had remembered and I wanted to set up a quick pace to return to the car. The road was covered in ice but there were a few bare spots along the way. The spikes gave me a good grip on the ice and I was able to find enough ice and snow to walk by the bare spots. Soon we were on the well paved road and I removed my spikes to head back to the car. I did not put Sheila on her leash but told her "With!" to keep her near me. We crossed the bridge over a small stream and I could not resist stopping for a few final pictures. We turned left into the parking area and walked back to the car. We were back at the car at 1:35 PM having hiked 7.3 miles in 3 hours and 25 minutes with an elevation gain of 750 feet. This indicates a pretty flat hike! An average speed of over 2 mph surprised me because of the numerous stops we made.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Beech Mt BSA Camp alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Thursday, March 2nd I was scheduled to hike with my brother-in-law Jeff and son Kurt. Jeff wanted to hike to the site of the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp near Hodge Pond. He attended the camp in the 1960's as a member of the Boy Scout troop in Monticello. I had been to the site several times and knew there were a few building still standing. When I got up at 5:30 AM, the wind was blowing at least 20 mph and I almost contacted Jeff and Kurt to offer to postpone the hike. I decided against calling them and waited to see if they contacted me. When I returned from my church men's group at 8:00 AM, neither Jeff nor Kurt had called so I knew we would be hiking. Kurt did text me later and say he would be delayed to about 10:00 AM so when Jeff arrived at 9:30 AM we sat down to talk. Kurt showed up just after 10:00 AM and we got all our gear together and loaded my car to start out the DebRuce Road. The temperature was right around 30 degrees but the wind made it feel MUCH colder. I put on a baselayer under a heavy Patagonia wool top and wore tights under my Columbia Omniheat pants. I wore my Salomon Nytro boots which seem to have just the right amount of insulation. I knew there wouldn't be much snow so I didn't bother with snowshoes or spikes. I donned my Mammut hoody which I wear in almost all conditions where a jacket is needed. When we arrived at the trailhead, there were no vehicles in the main lot. Both lots were almost bare although there was a light coating of new snow that had fallen overnight and into the early morning. At 10::35 AM we crossed the road and started out on the Flynn Trail. It was about 30 degrees but seemed much colder due to the wind although the sun was shining from a bright blue sky. I was glad I had brought a warm hat and gloves. There was a layer of snow on the trail through the woods but it was bare in spots. When we got to the woods road, we turned right and I stopped to take some pictures of the trail with a thin layer of snow. I took some shots and looked across the road to see if I could find the Old Flynn Road that Fred Fries had described and could see it without a problem. As we gained elevation, there was a little more snow on the trail. We set a good pace as we headed for the junction with the Big Rock Trail. At 1.1 miles we turned right off the trail and walked to an open area that covers several acres. The area has a thin layer of dirt over bedrock but there is no indication of how it formed. There is a woods road that runs from the Flynn Trail which was once Beech Mountain Road to the south ends of this area. Some people have suggested that dirt and gravel was taken from this area when the road was built. I took some pictures while Jeff and Kurt explored the area. They returned to where I was standing and I packed up my camera and we returned to the Flynn Trail.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the trail and at one point we came across a large tree across the trail. Several branches had broken off but I knew it would take an axe or a saw to completely clear the mess. There were quite a few branches on the trail and it was obvious the recent high winds had been responsible. We arrived at the junction at 11:36 AM and stopped to take a few pictures. There was snow covering the trails and the entire junction. We started out again on the Flynn Trail heading toward Hodge Pond. At the next trail junction we stayed right to walk on the woods road heading toward the site of the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. In about half a mile we passed the left turn down to Hodge Pond. We stayed on the road and came to a Y where we stayed left to get to the camp site. We walked off the road to inspect some of the remaining buildings. Jeff was pretty sure that the buildings were ones that were used for the activities that led to merit badges. After fifty years it was hard for him to orient himself and to remember exactly where other parts of the camp had been located. One larger building appeared to be the residence of the caretaker of the camp. We went back out to the road and walked a little farther northwest before turning around and heading back passed the camp. We walked to the road down to Hodge Pond and took a right to walk downhill toward the water. When we got to the road around the pond, we turned left to walk down to the open area at the outlet end of the pond. As we walked into the open area, we were hit by a blast of cold wind. Jeff and Hurt went to explore the outlet stream and I walked over to the fire ring. I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take a few pictures of the pond. There was some blue sky and clouds but the scene was much the same as many times when I had been there before. I noticed that my hands were very cold so I put away the camera and we walked into the woods on the Flynn Trail heading south and up the hill. The walk up the hill can seem long but having people to talk to made it seem much shorter. At the trail junction I explained the options and we decided to head down the Big Rock Trail to Times Square, We turned right and started own the trail making good time on the descent. About half way down we came to a large beech tree that had blown down across the trail. I knew the diameter was more than two feet and cutting it with a hand saw and axe would be challenging. The Big Rock Trail is also used by snowmobiles and I made a note to mention this obstacle to some friends in the local snowmobile club. The snowmobile club is allowed to use chainsaws while the hiking trail maintainers are limited to hand tools!

picture taken during a hike We arrived at Times Square at 1:15 PM after hiking 5.1 miles. I led the others straight ahead on the Big Rock Trail around the north and west side of Frick Pond. I did notice that Times Square was not as wet as in the past and that much of the water was passing through the culvert instead of flowing over the trail. We continued on the trail passing over the two small bridges that carry the trail over the inlet streams. We passed under some evergreen trees and crossed the long wooden walkways that still had some ice and snow on them. As we came out of the woods, Sheila alerted and we saw a single hiker coming toward us. I took Sheila by the collar and walked off the side of the trail to let him pass. He had a camera with a large lens but his dress seemed strangely out of place for hiking on this cold day. We followed the Big Rock Trail to the junction with the Quick Lake trail where we turned left. Soon we were walking over the bridge at the outlet of Frick Pond. I dropped my pack and got out the camera as this is a spot that I cannot resist. I took pictures of the pond and the water downstream from the bridge. I also got some shots of Jeff, Kurt and Sheila on the bridge. We walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction and continued straight ahead on the Quick Lake trail. As we passed the Lobdell gravestone, I related the story of the two children killed in a cabin fire in 1933. The walk back to the car went quickly even though we had to avoid some wet spots on the trail. We passed the trail register and continue on the woods road back to the car. We arrived back in the parking area at 2:00 Pm after hiking6.2 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes with an elevation gain of 980 feet. The temperature was still only 33 degrees and the wind continued to blow but the sun shone brightly making it feel warmer.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, February 27th I wanted to get out for a slightly longer hike since the forecast for the next few days included some rain. I decided that I would go to Trout Pond as I had not been there in some time. I wore a baselayer up top but decided I didn't need tights since the forecast was for temperatures into the high 40's. I did take a light pair of gloves and a hat. I wore my Keen Glarus boots as I did not think I would Ned the insulation of the Saloon Nytro boots. I wrapped myself in my Mammut hoody and headed out the door right around 11:00 AM. Sheila as always was ready to get going and bounded out of the door behind me leaping into the backseat as soon as I opened the door. I headed north and west on Route 17 toward Roscoe. Sheila could hardly contain herself in the back seat as she really loves hiking. I got of at exit 94 and headed north toward Downsville on Route 206. I turned left onto Morton Hill Road and drove to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road to avoid parking in the large open space which is marked as private property. The temperature was 38 degrees when I parked and it was only a few minutes before Sheila and I started down Russell Brook Road at 11:25 AM. The sun was out but a breeze made it feel cool. I knew I would not need snowshoes but was surprised that the road was a sheet of ice! I started down the hill slipping and sliding and decided I would stop to don my Microspikes. It was much easier walking after that and we made good time walking down the road. As we walked down the road, the stream was making a lot of noise so I expected the falls to have a good volume. There were a few spots without ice as we continued down the road but the spikes were still handy. As we passed the lookout over the falls, I found the volume to be higher than it had been since the early spring but I decided to wait for the trip back to take pictures. We headed down to the lower parking area where there were no cars. We walked down to the woods road that is the main trail and crossed the bridge over Russell Brook. I stopped to take a few pictures of the snow-covered bridge and the brook upstream and downstream of the bridge. We walked passed the stand of Japanese knotweed that looked harmless and completely dead. I decided to save the visit the falls for the trip back and walked to the register box to head up to Trout Pond. The trail had some running water in places but there was only a little snow and ice. I took off my spikes and stowed them in my pack. The blue sky still had some puffy white clouds and some sun as we continued up the trail toward the pond. Most of the trail continued to have almost no snow or ice and mud became a bigger problem. At the pond, I took off my pack and got out the camera. The water level was high enough for water to pour over the spillway. I took some pictures from above and then walked down to a point below the small waterfalls to take some pictures. There were some interesting ice formations and I was pleased with the shots. We walked back up to the shore of the pond which was covered in a layer of ice that was showing open spots around the edges. The rest of the ice did not look sturdy enough to support people but Sheila showed it would support a medium sized dog! I took a few pictures of the pond and noticed that the ice and water had a deep blue quality that I hoped would show up in the final product. The sky was also blue but the clouds were wispy without much body. I packed up and we continued up the trail toward the head end of the pond.

picture taken during a hike The trail remained much the same but now had a few large areas of standing water which was difficult to avoid in some spots. I did stop at one point to take a few more pictures before continuing toward the outlet. We walked across the bridge and I decided to walk off the trail toward the pond to take a few shots. The skies to the south of the pond were much cloudier with almost no blue showing through which was an interesting contrast to the view from the outlet end. We continued our walk on the main trail and started the ascent up the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. The trail became a stream bed and there was a little more snow especially in the woods. I had been following some foot prints which I could still see in the snow. The footprints looked rather fresh and I thought perhaps they were from the previous day. I expected that as we gained elevation there might be more snow but it never materialized. Along the way were several large blowdowns and many smaller one which were new. I picked up a few branches but most could not cleared without an axe and saw. Since I have begun to do trail maintenance, I always think how much easier it would be if everyone who hiked would just pick up a branch here and there. We made a slight turn to the south and began to climb some more. Sheila was roaming the brush near the trail and seemed to always be on a scent trail. We hit the high point on the hike and started down the other side. There was actually a little more snow on the southern exposure and quite a bit of water on the trail both standing and running. We continued to find blowdowns and branches on the trail. After a short ascent to the "forest of numerous small trees", we walked down to the woods road and snowmobile trail and turned left to complete our loop. The slight ascent had some ice but was mostly mud and running water. I was able to walk on the sides of the trail to try to avoid the mud and water. The descent to the trail junction was wet in many spots but was completely devoid of snow and ice. I stopped to take a few pictures of the nearly bare trail. As we walked down the hill the skies continued to be bright and blue with sun shining. We passed the large campsite on the left at the bottom of the hill and walked over the bridge. We turned right at the trail junction to walk back toward the lower parking area. I really wanted to visit the lower falls so we turned left and walked the path toward the falls. I carefully descended the bank which had a glaze of ice. I dropped my pack and got out the camera. The sun was shining brightly off the deluge of water cascading liver the falls so taking pictures was tricky. I took some pictures of the falls and then a video. Along the banks there were areas where ice had fallen off the trees and had accumulated below. I took some pictures of the trees still encased in ice and the ice piled below them. I also took a few shots of Sheila since she posed for me in front of the falls without asking. I packed up and made it back up to the path and walked out to the trail. There seemed to be less ice but I decided putting on my Microspikes couldn't hurt. We started the walk back up the road back toward the car. There was much less ice on this southern exposure and the sun felt warm ion my back. At the viewpoint for the upper falls, I walked off the road to the left and down to the lookout. The volume of wearer here was even more impressive so I put down my pack and got out the camera. I took various shots before putting the camera away and walked back up to the road. Once we topped the hill there didn't seem to be much difference in the amount of ice and I was glad I had the spikes on. We arrived back at the car at 2:15 PM. We had hiked 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes gaining 1090 feet of elevation. Our moving average was 2 mph which I considered good under the conditions. The temperature was 48 degrees of 10 degrees warmer than when we had set out and the sun made it seem even warmer. A forest ranger's truck was parked at the intersection but no one was in it. I wondered if it was Joe Bink from Region 4 and what he was doing out on a beautiful day. Hiking perhaps?

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Saturday, February 25th I was prepared to go out for a short walk for a third day in a row. The sun was out and the temperatures by late morning were pushing into the 60's. I asked Cindy if she wanted to go across the street and hike on Round Top and she agreed. We were both trying to recover from a cold that had plagued her for several weeks. We decided to head across the street to Round Top with Sheila around 11:00 AM. I decided to forego the pack since most of the snow was gone and what was left behind wasn't very pretty. I did not put on a baselayer and wore a lighter Columbia long-sleeved shirt under a light windbreaker. My Nytro boots were wet from the previous days slog around Hodge and Frick Ponds and I didn't really need the insulation nay way. I put on my Keen Glarus boots and decided not to wear gaiters. Cindy and I both grabbed a set of poles but knew we would not need snowshoes or spikes. I put Sheila on her leash and started out the driveway and across the street. We crossed the street and walked through the field to the base of the cemetery hill. There was very little snow in the field which early in the week had at least 10 inches. There was some snow behind the church but the cemetery hill was showing only pavement. We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, we turned left and entered the woods. I noticed there was NO snow on the trail and very little in the woods. At the first trail junction Sheila headed straight and up the hill to the lookout so I decide to follow. The hill had no snow at all and it looked like a summer day! When we got to the top, I took a quick look at town and then continued to follow the trail as it turned right and continued through the woods. There was no snow on the trail in this location. It was clear that the higher temperatures and direct sunlight had eliminated almost all the snow.

We continued to follow the trail as it made a sharp right turn and headed around Round Top. The north side of the hill had a few small patches of snow and ice but none were of any significance. At the next sharp right turn, we turned left and followed the green ribbons marking the proposed upper trail to the summit. There was almost no snow on this part of the trail. At the summit we continued following the green ribbons as they led downhill and back to the main lower trail. There were a few slippery spots along the way but the decent went smoothly for the most part. At the main trail we turned left and followed the lower trail to the sharp right turn where we headed right. We walked down the trail to the woods road and stopped at the first trail junction. We had walked a figure 8 and this was all Cindy wanted to do. I considered doing at least another figure 8 until a few drops of rain hit my face. The forecast was for rain and violent thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening so I decided I would walk back to the house with Cindy. We turned left and walked the trail out to the trailhead. We turned right and walked down the cemetery hill to the back of the church. From here we crossed the field and walked back to our driveway. We walked back to the house after walking about 1.5 miles in a little less than an hour.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick and Hodge Ponds (Flynn and Quick Lake Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, February 24th I decided it was time to get out hiking to make it two days in a row. I was still getting over a cold that had bothered me for over a week and noticed that I was short of breath on my three mile hike on Round Top the day before. I wanted to try a slightly longer hike and thought that the hike to Hodge and Frick Ponds would be a good one. Although I have done this hike many times I had not done it since the snow had fallen. I got up a little later than usual and finished some things around the house before getting ready to leave. The forecast was for sunny skies with highs in the low 60's but with a chance of ruin around noon. I consulted the radar and it seems that the main part of the incoming storm would pass well north of us. I got my gear ready, put Sheila in the car and left the house a little after 9:30 AM. Given the forecast, I did not put on a baselayer and wore a lighter Mammut pullover instead of the wool I had been wearing for the colder weather. I wore my Salomon Nytro boots which seem to have just the right amount of insulation. I didn't know how much snow there would be so I wanted the extra grip and height of these boots. I donned my Mammut hoody although I thought it might be a little too heavy as the sun made the day feel even warmer than the temperature. I grabbed a set of poles but decided against snowshoes or even spikes. When we arrived at the trailhead there were no vehicles in the main lot. Both lots were almost bare although there was still snow in the woods. At 10::00 AM we crossed the road and started out on the Flynn Trail. It was about 42 degrees but seems much warmer as the sun was shining. I left on my Mammut hoody but kept my hat and gloves in the pack. There was a layer of snow on the trail through the woods but it was bare in spots. When we got to the woods road, we turned right and I stopped to take some pictures of the completely bare trail. The road faces south and its upward slope is exposed to the direct rays of the sun. I took some shots and looked across the road to see if I could find the Old Flynn Road that Fred Fries had described. Last time I could not find the road under the snow but this time it was quite visible. I almost decided to follow the road but deiced to stay with my original plan. As we gained elevation, there was more and more snow on the trail. We set a good pace as we headed for the junction with the Big Rock Trail. At one point we came across a large tree across the trail. Several branches had broken off but I knew it would take an axe or a saw to completely clear the mess. We arrived at the junction at 10:50 AM and stopped to take a few pictures. There was still snow covering the trails and the entire junction. To the south the skies were beginning to cloud over and I worried about the forecast of rain. The skies to the north were still blue and sunny. We started out again on the Flynn Trail heading toward Hodge Pond. There were snowmobile tracks on the Flynn Trail even though it is clearly marked as 'no snowmobiles". At the gate I could see that the gap to the right of the gate was large enough to allow the machines to pass unhindered. I made note that my trail crew would have to do some work to move large boulders to block the gap since the signs do not deter those who want to ignore the signs. At the next trail junction we stayed left to walk down the hill toward the pond. As we broke out of the woods and walked toward the pond, we ran across drifts of at least 10 inches of snow. This made walking a little difficult. We walked over to the pond and I dropped my pack so that I could take some pictures. I took a few pictures of the pond and the blue sky with white clouds. I picked up my pack and headed back to the Flynn Trail continuing across the outlet stream staying on the Flynn Trail. There was several inches of snow on the trail but there were also some wet and muddy areas also. We followed the Flynn Trail when it headed left and up the hill to the gate. After the gate, the trail is relatively flat.

picture taken during a hike The Flynn Trail had pools and streams of water along the entire length from the gate to Junkyard Junction. It was difficult to walk on the side of the trail sine the water was so prevalent. Eventually we made it to Junkyard Junction and turned left on the Quick Lake Trail. We had hiked 3.4 miles and it was 11:45 AM when we made the turn onto the packed snow of the Quick Lake Trail. The trail alternated between areas that were completely covered in snow and areas with standing and running water. I stopped several times to take pictures of the trail conditions. We kept up a good pace passing the snowmobile trail to Quick Lake and arriving at Iron Wheel Junction at 12:30 PM after hiking 4.9 miles. We turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and began the walk to Frick Pond. The trail was covered in snow in some areas but wet and muddy in other spots. We came to the stream across the trail which had enough water to make crossing it difficult. I walked upstream to narrow spot and easily crossed to the other side. I walked back downstream to the trail and out down my pack to take some pictures. I took pictures of the trail and the stream. I also took some shots of the small "waterfall" a little upstream. I shouldered my pack and we continued on the trail. We continued to run across wet spots on the trail. We also began to hear gunshots but it was difficult to determine their origin. We were soon walking down the trail toward Frick Pond and we passed the Big Rock Trail on the left. As we approached the bridge over the outlet of Frick Pond Sheila alerted and I heard voices. I put Sheila on her leash. As the bridge cam into sight, I could see two men standing on the bridge. I said "hello" and led Sheila over the bridge and tied her to a tree. I put down my pack, got out the camera and walked back to the bridge. The scene was the same as many of the times I had been there before but I still wanted to take some shots. I took several pictures of the pond and Flynn's Point. I also took pictures of the stream below the bridge. I talked to the two men and found out the were from Long Island near Stony Brook. I attended Stony Brook University and lived in the area fro seven years while teaching at Harborfields. I walked over to Sheila and took her off her leash. I took a few pictures of Sheila before shouldering my pack and starting up the hill. We walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction and continued on out the Quick lake Trail to the parking area. This part of the trail was also covered with water with quite a bit running down the trail to drain into the stream. We walked out the trail to the register and turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail to the parking area. We arrived back at the car at 1:30 PM after covering 6.5 miles in 3 and a half hours with an elevation gain of 930 feet. The temperature at the car was 62 degrees or 20 degrees higher than at the beginning of the hike.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Thursday, February 23rd I awoke to find the temperature already in the low 40's. I had a few things to take care of in the morning and some basketball games to time in the afternoon. I decided to head across the street to Round Top with Sheila around 11:00 AM when the temperature had risen into the mid 40's. The day was overcast and the snow was a mess from the high temperatures so I decided to forego the pack. I did not put on a baselayer and wore a lighter Mammut pullover instead of the wool I had been wearing for the colder weather. I wore my Salomon Nytro boots which seem to have just the right amount of insulation. I didn't know how much snow there would be so I wanted the extra grip and height of these boots. I donned my Mammut hoody although I thought it might be a little too heavy as the sun made the day feel even warmer than the temperature. I grabbed a set of poles but decided against snowshoes or even spikes. I put Sheila on her leash and started out the driveway and across the street. We crossed the street and walked through the field to the base of the cemetery hill. There was very little snow in the field which early in the week had at least 10 inches. There was some snow behind the church but the cemetery hill was showing only pavement. We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, we turned left and entered the woods. I noticed there was hardly any snow on the trail. At the first trail junction Sheila headed straight and up the hill to the lookout so I decide to follow. The hill had no snow at all and it looked like a summer day! When we got t the top, I took a quick look at town and then continued to follow the trail as it turned right and continued through the woods. There was quite a bit of snow on the trail in this location. It was clear that the amount of direct sunlight had the most impact on the amount of snow as this part f the trail faces north.

We continued to follow the trail as it made a sharp right turn and headed around Round Top. At the next sharp right turn, we turned left and followed the green blazes of the proposed upper trail to the summit. There was a little less snow on this part. At the summit we continued following the green ribbons as they led downhill and back to the main lower trail. Again, there was more snow in this are and the descent was slippery in spots. At the main trail we turned left and followed the lower trail to the sharp right turn where we headed right. We walked down the trail to the woods road and stopped at the first trail junction. We had walked a figure 8 and I decided to turn around and walk a figure 8 in the opposite direction. We turned around and started up the wood road back Ti the sharp left turn. We made the turn and continued to follow the trail until it made a sharp left. At this point we turned right and followed the green ribbons to the summit of Round Top. The ascent was slippery as there was still snow on the north side of the hill. We followed the rakes across the summit and back down to the main lower trail. We turned right on the main trail and followed the yellow blazes back down to the lookout. We turned left at the lookout and walked down the hill to the first trail junction. At this point we had completed two figure 8's but I still wanted to hike a little more. We turned around and hiked back up the hill to the viewpoint and followed the trail in a clockwise direction back around to the first trail junction. The loop is about half a mile. When we arrived at the first trail junction, we turned around and hiked the same lower loop in a counterclockwise direction. Once we were back at the first trail junction, we continued straight out the trail to the trailhead. We turned right and walked down the cemetery hill to the back of the church. From here we crossed the field and walked back to our driveway. We walked back to the house after walking about 3 miles in an hour and a half.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond Logger's Loop AllTrails - Frick Pond Logger's Loop caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond Logger's Loop MapMyHike - Frick Pond Logger's Loop On Monday, February 20th, I was ready to get a hike in even though I was still suffering the effects of a cold. I had not been out since the previous Wednesday due to work and family commitments. The weather had changed from over a foot of snow the week before to temperatures in the 50's which reduced amount of snow and increased the amount if water on the trails. I don't like these conditions very much but the forecast showed they would be around for the rest of the week! My daughter, Krista, and her husband, Brad, were visiting and Brad decided to go with me. We decided to Rae snowshoes along and make a division about using them at the trail head. Sheila would like to go out everyday and was more than ready to go for a hike. When I looked at the temperature just before 11:00 AM, it was already 38 degrees so I opted for one layer top and bottom and wore my Mammut hoody. We got our gear in the car and headed out the DeBruce Road. I turned left on the Mongaup Pond Road to head toward the Frick Pond trailhead. I stayed to the left where the road spilt and headed up Beech Mountain Road to the trailhead. This road had been plowed but was now a mess from thawing which produced muddy ruts. Both parking areas were well plowed with some ice and some completely bare spots. There was one car parked in the smaller lot where we pulled in. I got put to inspect the trail toward Frock Pond and found quite a bit of snow remaining. The snow was hard packed and icy in spots so I suggested we wear snowshoes if only for the grip they would provide. There was a slight breeze at the trailhead and I was a little chilly as we started out. We headed down the woods road toward the register. There was some ice and the hard-packed snow was just as bad. It was clear that quite a few people had taken advantage of the nice weather to snowshoe the loop around Frick Pond. The woods road from the register out to Gravestone Junction had snow but also several areas of standing and running water. We made the best of it by striding over the water or walking in the snow that remained on either side of the road. We stayed to the left at Gravestone Junction and walked down the hill to Frick Pond. By the time we got to the pond, the breeze was still blowing and the view was much the same as it had been on recent hikes. I decided to forego the pictures from the bridge and we continued on the Quick Lake trail around the west side of the pond.

picture taken during a hike At the next trail junction we stayed to the left to follow the Quick Lake Trail through the "Spruce Tunnel" to Iron Wheel Junction. I definitely felt that the snowshoes were giving us the grip we needed but spikes might have been just as good as the snow here was packed also. The last time I had been in the area the Quick Lake Trail to Ironwheel Junction was untouched but now showed use by several snowshoers. There was some water on the trail in this area but we easily walked around it. There was still quite a bit of snow in the woods away from the trail averaging from 6 to 8 inches. We stopped in the "Spruce Tunnel" where I took a few shots and then came to the small stream which was running freely with water from the rain and melting snow. I took some pictures and then we hopped across the stream. We continued up to Iron Wheel Junction still having to avoid water along the way. When we arrived at Iron Wheel Junction, I turned right to get on the Logger's Loop and head toward Times Square. I could feel that I was tired from fighting the cold I had contracted and was not in shape to take on a longer route. The Logger's Loop is part of the snowmobile trail and was well packed which made walking very easy. The sign told us that Times Square was about 1.2 miles away but I knew that we would go through a series of ups and downs along the way before hitting the highest point at 1.8 miles. We stopped so that I could take a few pictures of the packed trail and the untouched snow further off in the woods. The sun was out now and was making the snow sparkle as well as warming us. Once we hit the high point it was all downhill to Times Square. At Times Square I took a quick look up the Big Rock Trail but decided to simply continue out the Logger's Loop. Brad offered no objections as he also had been fighting a cold for over a week. This part of the trail has a slight uphill but is probably the easiest way back to the parking area from Times Square. All along our hike we had been noticing the areas where we had cleared blowdowns. We also noted that the new trail markers we had put up on all the trails were clearly visible even through the snow. Some places on the Logger's Loop were a little wet but the 2+ foot drifts we had found on our last pouting had been reduced by the warm weather. When we crested the small hill and started down to Gravestone Junction I was very happy and my legs felt a little better. At Gravestone Junction we turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and began the walk back to the car. On the way back Sheila alerted and I saw a young couple headed toward us. We talked to them briefly and I asked if they had rented the snowshoes they were wearing at Morgan Outdoors. They had and I am glad that Lisa offers this service as it keeps the trail in good shape. We were back at the car at 1:05 PM having taken 2 hours to hike 3.6 miles with an elevation gain of only 386 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Wednesday, February 15th I had decided to stay inside and see if I could recover from the cold that had come on quickly. I had hiked several days in a row and thought I wouldn't miss going out for a day or two. In the mid-afternoon, around 2:45 PM a storm moved in and snow began to fall rapidly. The rate of snowfall slowed and very large flakes began to come down. The wet snow was sticking to the branches of the trees and bushes coating them in a robe of white. The view from my window was pretty but I knew it would be even nicer if I was outside. I knew I should stay inside but decided to go across the street to Round Top to get a few pictures before the sun came out or the wind began to blow which would ruin the scene. The air temperature was 34 degrees and there was no wind so I knew I wouldn't be too cold. I decided not to wear a baselayer but did put on gaiters and snowshoes as the snow depth on Round Top warranted some traction. Sheila immediately understood what I was doing and demanded to go with me. I took my gear outside, donned my snowshoes and shouldered my pack. I put Sheila on her leash and we headed down the driveway and crossed the street at around 3:00 PM. We walked across the field to the base of the cemetery hill. We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short. As I looked around I could see that all the trees were covered with a layer of snow and ice making a uniquely beautiful scene. At the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The town was almost completely covered in newly fallen snow but snow was also still falling obscuring the far hills. I took a lot of shots of the trees from different angles and different zooms before picking up my pack and entering the woods. There was now enough snow that wearing snowshoes made the hiking easier but the snow was a little wetter and heavier than on previous days. The snow depth varied in most places from 6 to 10 inches with some much deeper drifts.

picture taken during a hike I very seldom stop to take pictures along the trail itself since one part looks much like the next. On this day I stopped almost immediately after entering the woods and took a few shots. At the first trail junction I again stopped to snap a few pictures before continuing straight ahead up the hill to the viewpoint. I follows the spur trail out to the viewpoint on the lower ledges where I took off my pack and got out the camera. From this viewpoint town was covered in snow and the falling snow had begun again. I took shots of the upper ledge with the trees encased in snow and then took shots down into town. I put my camera back in the pack and walked up to the upper ledges to continue on the mainliner trail around the loop. Again I was so impressed by the beauty of the snow on the trees I stopped to take a few photographs. We walked uphill and turned right where the trail joins and woods road. The bushes here were completely encased in snow and deserved, I thought, to be the subject of a few pictures. After taking those shots we walked to the next right turn and started downhill. When we reached the next woods road we followed the marked trail as it continued downhill on another woods road. The ledges on our right were interesting but I kept the camera in the pack. At the first trail junction we turned left and walked out to the trailhead. We turned right band walked down the hill to the church and across the filed to our driveway. We had hiked a little over a mile in around 45 minutes. After we arrived home it wasn't long before the wind began to blow knocking most of the snow off the trees!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond only AllTrails - Frick Pond only CalTopo - Frick Pond onlycaltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond only MapMyHike - Frick Pond only On Tuesday, February 14th I was scheduled to hike at Frick Pond with Lisa. We wanted to get out in the deep snow before any warming trend could take it away. When I went to bed, I felt the beginnings of a cold but thought I would be Ok for a short hi8ke in the morning. In the morning I felt worse and texted Lisa that I would have to back out of our hike. After I got something to eat and was awake for a while, I felt much better and texted Lisa to see if she was still available and would forgive me. She agreed to come to y house at 10:30 AM and then go to Frick Pond to hike. Lisa arrived and we loaded our gear into my car for the drive to Frock Pond. Of course, Sheila went along! She was happy to see Lisa but tried to control her enthusiasm. The temperature was in the high 20 so I opted for a baselayer top and bottom but wore my Lighter Mammut shirt rather than a heavier wool top. I drove out DeBruce Road under partly sunny skies and stayed left at the fork in the road. After a short drive on Beech Mountain Road, I parked at the trailhead where both lots had been completely plowed. Lisa and I got out of the car and I let Sheila out of backseat of the car. We put on my snowshoes and I opted for warm gloves with a lighter pair in my pack. The sun was really shining through as we headed over to the larger parking area to access the Quick Lake Trail. My Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes go on very quickly as the bindings are easy to use. The snowshoes also stay in place and have incredible gripping power. As we stared out the Quick Lake Trail at 11:00 AM, we noticed that the snow was untouched as other hikers had used the woods road from the smaller parking area. It was fun being on freshly fallen and unused snow. When we reached the woods road and the trail register, Lisa signed us in and we headed out toward Frick Pond. There was a pretty good track broken along the woods road to Graveyard Junction. We both commented on the amount of water running across and beside the trail. I stopped to take a few pictures on the undisturbed snow on the Quick Lake Trail. We stayed left on the Quick Lake Trail at the junction and walked down to Frick Pond. When we got to the bridge over the outlet I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took a pictures of Frick Pond with Flynn's Point in the background. The day was much sunnier than it had been at the start of the week. I also took some shots of the water on both sides of the bridge. The water level in the pond was much higher and water was freely flowing in the outlet stream. I picked up my pack and we started around the pond. At the junction of the Quick Lake Trail and the Big Rock Trail I suggested we follow the Quick Lake trail to Iron Wheel Junction and then use the Logger's Loop to get back to Times Square. Lisa wanted to simply hike around the pond. This was a little short for me but I agreed so we turned right on the Big Rock Trail around the back of the pond. Under the tall evergreen trees there was less snow but it still averaged over 6 inches. When we got to the wooden causeways, they were covered in snow and I stopped to take a few pictures.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the Big Rock Trail as it wound around the back of Frick Pond heading toward Times Square. I stopped again to take a few pictures on the bridges over the inlet streams and noticed how much sun was shining. There were a few wet spots under the snow but the temperature was still in the high 20's or low 30's. As we approached Times Square two snowmobiles came down the Logger's Loop and headed up the Big Rock Trail. I again hinted that we could take the Logger's Loop as it was well-packed but Lisa insisted on continuing around the pond! We turned to the right to get on the Logger's Loop to complete the loop around Frick Pond. By this time the sun was shining brightly and beginning to soften the snow. The softer snow made lifting the snowshoes harder and some of it clumped on the bottoms of the snowshoes. Sheila seemed to be unaffected by the cold or the snow and continued to bound ahead of us and then come racing back helping to break trail and keep us entertained. Although she looks like a yellow lab she has a longer coat from a dose of Husky blood. She never seems to get cold. Sheila was following her nose and frequently wound bury it in the snow digging slightly. I never saw what attracted her attention but it was very humorous to see her bury her head! The Logger's Loop climbs slightly from Times Square and I noticed this as I continued to break the trail. When we got to the top of the hill on flatter ground, we ran into some impressive snowdrifts. The winds blow across Frick Pond and some of the snow gets through the trees to form these drifts. We had been following a track set by previous snowshoers but this track disappeared into the drifts only to reappear on the other side. I took some pictures and then we continued on toward Gravestone Junction. At Gravestone Junction we turned left to head back to the car on the Quick lake Trail. We noticed that there were tracks made my cross country skiers after we had hiked the trail earlier. I couldn't tell whether it was one or two sets of skies. At the register, Lisa looked in the book to find the names of the skiers. We turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and retrace or route back to the car. The snow in the larger parking lot had melted quite a bit exposing bare pavement. We were back at the car around 12:45 PM having hiked about 2.4 miles in an hour and 45 minutes. The elevation gain was only 230 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Monday, February 13th I awoke to find several inches of new snow on the ground and a little more falling as predicted. The total snowfall from Sunday morning through Monday was about 10 inches depending on location and elevation. Most of the schools ion Sullivan County were closed due to the poor condition of the roads and the forecast for sustained winds of over 20 mph with 40 mph gusts. I ha decided to stay home and hike the next day at Frick Pond with Lisa especially since the winds were living up to the forecast. I went downtown to get the mail and found it didn't seem too cold to hike. When I got home, Cindy said she would like to go for a short hike across the street. This was encouraging since she had been sick for almost two weeks. We decided the best choice was to simply go across the street and snowshoe on Round Top as we could walk directly from our house and avoid driving on the questionable roads. I wanted to take some pictures and the most convenient way is just to carry my pack. I again decided to use the Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which are overkill for the short hike on hilly terrain but are my favorite snowshoes at this time. These snowshoes have the "boa" system which is supposed to allow tightening the front part of the binding with just a twist a knob. Cindy also decided to try out her new snowshoes which I got her for Christmas. Hers are the women's version of the same Tubbs Alp Flex VRT that I have! Sheila was ready to go as soon as we started getting our gear out but tried to be the well-behaved dog. It didn't take long to get ready and I put Sheila on her leash for the walk across the street. The snow was still falling lightly as we crossed the street at noon and walked across the field to the base of the cemetery hill. We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The town was almost completely covered in newly fallen snow. I picked up my pack and we entered the woods. There was now enough snow that wearing snowshoes made the hiking easier. The snow depth varied in most places from 8 to 12 inches with some much deeper drifts. At the trail junction Cindy decided we would turn right to follow the trail up the old woods road. The trail I had set yesterday was still visible and walking on it was somewhat easier than in the freshly fallen snow. When we reached the sharp left turn, I suggested we continue up the proposed new trail to the summit of Round Top but Cindy felt she couldn't make the climb. We turned left and followed the yellow-blazed lower trail. The trail flattened and then turned left to head back out to the lookout. At the viewpoint I walked down from the upper ledges to the lower ledges. The lower ledges offer a better view of the town and school and I dropped my pack to get out the camera. The wind was more noticeable on the open ledge but it wasn't as cold as I thought it might be. I took some pictures and then packed up to start home. Crossing the small gap in the trail was a little tricky since the snow had blocked the view of the trail. I walked out to the main trail to meet Cindy and we walked down the hill to the first trail junction. We continued straight ahead to the trail head and then walked down the hill to the church. We crossed the field to our driveway. We had hiked a little over a mile in a little less than an hour

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Sunday, February 12th I awoke to find that the forecast for overnight snow had been correct and that there was at least 8 inches on the ground with snow still falling heavily. Church was cancelled so I waited until the snow abated and went out to shovel the walks and driveway. I shoveled a little and then used a neighbor's snow-blower to clear part of the driveway. When I went back into the house at around 1:30 PM, Sheila was frantic to get out in the snow. I was already dressed to hike so I decided we would go across the street and hike on Round Top. Since precipitation was still falling I decided to forego the pack. I had on a baselayer and heavier Patagonia wool top and tights underneath my Columbia Titanium Ominsheild pants. I wore my Salomon Nytro boots which seems to have just the right amount of insulation and put on gaiters. I donned my Mammut hoody and grabbed a set of poles and my Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes with the boa bindings. I stepped out on the porch and put on the snowshoes, I put Sheila on her leash and started out the driveway and across the street. We crossed the street and walked through the field to the base of the cemetery hill. We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, we turned left and entered the woods. I noticed there was significantly more snow than I the last time I had been on the trail. There was now enough snow to so that snowshoes made hiking easier. At the first trail junction turned right and headed up the woods road that is part of the lower trail. This part of the trail ascends gently but continuously to a sharp left turn onto another woods road. We turned left and followed the trail around to the point where it makes another sharp left turn. At this point we turned right to follow the green ribbons marking the proposed upper trail to the summit of Round Top. This climb is steep and the snowshoes certainly helped maintain traction on the climb.

At the top of the hill we followed the green ribbons across the plateau and down the other side. On the descent I got a nice glide on the new snow. We joined the lower trail and turned right walking back to the sharp left turn. This time we followed the yellow marking of the lower trail toward the lookout. We turned left at the viewpoint and started down the hill toward the first trail junction. A quick glance from the lookout showed the town almost completely covered by snow. The view was not much different than in previous days. This viewpoint offers a great view of the school and the buildings downtown.When we reached the first trail junction, I decided we would hike some more. We turned around and hiked back up the steeper hill to the viewpoint. From the lookout we followed the lower trail as it turned right and continued to ascend gently. Where the lower trail turned right, we followed it to the right and walked to the sharp right turn where the trail turns back toward the first trail junction. At this point we turned left and followed the green ribbons and our previous tracks up to the summit of Round Top. We continued to follow the green ribbons across the summit and down the other side. The steep descent provided another opportunity to "ski" down the hill. When we reached the lower trail, we turned left and again followed the yellow markers around to the sharp right turn. This time we turned right and followed the trail down to the woods road and back to the first trail junction. At the junction we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. Some kind of wintry mix was falling combining rain, sleet and snow! I was glad I had decided to head home. We walked back down the hill to the church and then across the field to the driveway. We walked back to our house after hiking for an hour and 20 minutes and a distance of around 2 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Thursday, February 9th I awoke to find that the forecast for overnight snow had been correct and that there was at least 6 inches of the ground with snow still falling heavily. The wind was blowing so I waited until about 11:00 AM to go out to shovel the walks and driveway. The snow had stopped but the wind was still blowing making the 18 degrees air temperature seem much lower. I finished what I could do and came back inside to find Sheila begging to go out for a hike. I decided that we would go across the street and hike some in the fresh snow on Round Top. I put on a baselayer and heavier Patagonia wool top but skipped the tights as we would not be going too far. I wore my Salomon Nytro boots which seems to have just the right amount of insulation and put on gaiters. I decided to take my pack so that I could carry my camera to take pictures. I donned my Mammut hoody and grabbed a set of poles and my Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes with the boa bindings. I stepped out on the porch to a vicious gust of wind. After putting on the snowshoes, I put Sheila on her leash and started out the driveway and across the street. No snow was falling but the wind was still blowing as we crossed the street and walked through the field to the base of the cemetery hill. We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The view was much the same as other times but I decided to rake a few shots anyway. I picked up my pack and we entered the woods. I noticed there was significantly more snow than I the last time I had been on the trail. There may not have been enough snow to require snowshoes but there was recently enough snow to use them effectively. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead up the steeper section to the lookout. When we neared the top, I turned left to walk out to the lower lookout. I didn't want to encourage others to take this route but I did want the pictures. Crossing the little open gulf in the path was easier with my snowshoes than with bare boots. I again got out the camera and took pictures of the town from another angle. This viewpoint offers a great view of the school and the buildings downtown.

picture taken during a hike From the viewpoint we continued on the trail in a clockwise direction checking to make sure the yellow blazes were visible and spaced the correct distance apart. When we got to the green ribbons marking the proposed upper trail, we followed them up the hill to the summit. As we walked across the summit plateau the wind was blowing hard and I was glad to drop down the other side. When the proposed upper trail met the lower trail, we turned left and then right to walk the lower trail and woods road back down to the first trail junction. The downhill isn't very steep but I got a nice glide on my snowshoes. When we reached the first trail junction, I decided I wanted to hike a little more so we turned around and retraced our route back up the woods road to the point where the lower trail makes a sharp left. We continued straight ahead and followed the green ribbons back up to the summit of Round top. We crossed the summit and continued to follow the ribbons back down to the lower trail. Along the way Sheila decided to begin her rampage! She flew by me going down the hill and then turned and ran at full speed back up and around me. She repeated this several times. At the lower trail we turned right to head toward the lookout turning left at the viewpoint to walk back down to the first trail junction. I again gout a nice glide heading down the hills. We walked out to the trail head and turned right to descend the hill toward the church. At the base of the hill I put Sheila on her leash to safely cross Rock Avenue. At the church we continued across the field to our driveway and back to the house. We had been out for about an hour and had hiked a little under 2 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Dry Brook Ridge - Hill Road AllTrails - Dry Brook Ridge - Hill Road caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Dry Brook Ridge - Hill Road MapMyHike - Dry Brook Ridge - Hill Road On Saturday, February 4th, I wasn't sure I wanted to hike again after a cold day at Frick Pond the day before. I looked at the temperature and windchill and decided to wait until later in the day to get started. I got my gear together and got dressed to leave the house at just after 11:00 AM so that I could begin a hike from Hill Road near Margaretville to the Penguin Rocks lookout on Dry Brook Ridge. I dressed warn with tights underneath my Colombia Titanium pants. On top I had a Patagonia Capilene baselayer with a heavier Patagonia wool top. As always I had my Mammut Hoody as my top layer. I wore heavier gloves and rough a pair of mitts in my pack. I was not sure how much snow I would find so I put my Microspikes in my pack and brought along my Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes. When I left the house it was still only 18 degrees with a breeze blowing. I headed out old Route 17 to the Beaverkill Road where I turned right and drove toward Lew Beach. I continued through Lew Beach and turned left on the Barkaboom Road just before Turnwood. The road was snow covered in pots and icy but I eventually came to the intersection with BWS 10 where I turned left. I followed BWS 10 until it changed to Southside Road just outside Margaretville. I continued on Southside Road to Huckleberry Brook Road where I turned right. Shortly after the turn I turned left on Hill Road and 1.3 miles to the parking pulloff on the right. The temperature was 18 degrees when I parked and there was a breeze blowing. I checked the snow depth and found only about an inch of fresh powder over packed snow and ice on the trail. I decided not to wear of carry my snowshoes so we crossed the road and began our hike at noon. The first part of the hike is a nice wide trail that ascends through a red pine plantation. The ascent continues for about 1.9 miles when the trail levels off after gaining 1130 feet. Although the day was cold, I began to warm up immediately because of the climb. As we walked there were several blowdowns across the trail from near the bottom until the trail leveled. Two were very large and probably require the trail to be rerouted around them while the others could be removed. The sun through the pines was beautiful and it seemed warm despite the temperature. After passing through the pines we entered a predominantly hardwood forest before passing again through some pines. Sheila seemed to delight in racing away from me through the snow and then careening headlong back toward me. There were a lot of animal tracks along the trail and some crossing it and Sheila was busy investigating these tracks. Along the way I open the zippers on my hoody and took down the hood. After 1.9 miles, the trail leveled off and Turned almost 90 degrees from northeast to southeast. We walked across a flat area dipping down a little to the junction with the blue Dry Brook Ridge Trail at 2.3 miles. All the way up I had been debating in my mind whether or not I would walk to the lookouts or not as I was both physically and mentally tired. My legs were tired from hiking the day before and An early morning ambulance call had robbed me of some sleep. We stopped and I got a much needed drink. I also took some pictures of the snow on the trail which had increased to from 4 to 6 inches on the ridge. I was still not sure what I was going to do but decided to turn right and walk south toward the viewpoint. I reasoned that I could turn around after walking for a little while or complete the trip to the lookout.

picture taken during a hike As we turned right on this trail, I noticed the sign that said the Hill Road parking was 1.7 miles away. I had to laugh! I expect distances to vary some but .5 miles is a pretty big gap. The trail along the ridge follows the edge until about 2.7 miles where it veers away and heads a little to the east and northeast. Initially the trail ascends a small bump and then descends the other side before leveling off for a while. We were soon climbing the last of three short ascents to the area of the lookout. The total elevation gain from the trail junction to the lookouts is 285 feet and the short ascents were all slippery and covered in snow. I was bale to use my poles to get up each of these but wondered how they would be on the way back down! From 2.95 miles to the lookout the trail gains just under 200 feet in elevation and begins to follow the edge of the escarpment turning almost due south. The snow depth continued to increase and we were regularly walking through drifts of 18 inches. When we arrived at the viewpoint at 2:10 PM, the wind was blowing at about 20 mph. The open rocks that bake up the viewpoint were covered in snow and ice so I stayed on the ridge and took pictures from there. The sky was not very interesting with an odd blue color and no puffy clouds. The Pepacton Reservoir was clearly visible and the view showed the low volume of water. I noticed that my hands were getting very cold so I got a drink and out a bar in my breast pocket to warm up. I also closed the zippers on my hoody to begin the descent on the way back. I was satisfied that we had made it to the viewpoint but concerned that I had overdone It. We turned around and headed back the way we had come. The trip back to the trail junction went more quickly than I had expected and I was able to "ski" down the steeper descents without much problem. I did notice that the few small ascents were taking atoll on my legs. We stopped again at the trail junction so that I could get a drink and then we turned left to head back down the trail to the parking area. The trip down always seems to go quickly as it is mostly downhill or level. I stopped just before the road in the red pine plantation and took some pictures of the sky through the pines and some of the trail. We arrived back at the car at 4:00 PM. We had hiked 6.5 miles in 4 hours with an elevation gain of 1625 feet. The trip down was about 25 minutes shorter than the trip up. I was happy with the pace under difficult conditions. I decided to use Route 30 back to Route 206 to get home as the back roads had been so slick and this worked out well.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Flynn Big Rock Loggers) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Flynn Big Rock Loggers) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Flynn Big Rock Loggers) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Flynn Big Rock Loggers) On Friday, February 3rd, I decided I wanted to get out and hike close to home before heading to Liberty to pick up my grandson at 3:00 PM. The temperature when I woke up at 6:00 AM was 13 degrees but the forecast had it rising throughout the day. I got my gear together and left the house just after 10:00 AM heading for Frick Pond. As always Sheila was in the back seat pretending we hadn't hiked in a month! I had dressed for cold weather by putting on tights and wearing a heavier Patagonia wool top under my Mammut hoody. I took my new favorite Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes along with me since I did not know how much snow there would be. We parked just before 10:30 AM and I went to check out the amount of snow. I decided that snowshoes would not be necessary bit could be fun and put them on. The bindings have the Boa system and are the easiest bindings I have used, the most secure and easy to adjust. We were on the trail a few minutes later crossing the road to the Flynn Trail at 10:30 AM. We started up the Flynn Trail which initially had only a few inches of new snow on top of a packed base. The day was still cold but the sun was shining and Sheila was having a great time running around. She was easily getting too far ahead of me and then heading off the hiking trail to follow animal tracks. I had met a local historian at the gas stations and he had told me the route to the Frick homestead. As we hit the old Beech Mountain Road, I looked for the road he described as the old Flynn Road but could not find it. We turned right and began to climb the long hill to the junction of the Flynn Trail and the Big Rock Trail. I stopped once on the way up to take a few pictures of the snowy trail. I had followed some footsteps up the woods road but they ended a short distance beyond the gate with a small snow castle. I assumed a family group had been out walking and that this was as far as they had hiked! Beyond that point the snow was all fresh with only a few animal tracks. I had several things to think about and must have kept a good pace because before I knew it we had walked the 1.7 miles and 600 vertical feet to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. There were snowmobile tracks coming down the hill from Mongaup Pond and continuing on the Big Rock Trail. There were also snowmobile tracks heading out the Flynn Trail toward Hodge Pond. The trail is clearly marked as "No Motorized Vehicles" but apparently they snowmobilers couldn't read or, more likely, just didn't care. It is a shame that a few irresponsible people can give an entire group a bad name!

picture taken during a hike We turned left to walk down the hill to Times Square. I had hoped to be able to "ski" Dow the hill but the packed snow on the snowmobile track prevented this. The walking was still very easy on the packed track. Once again I got lost in my thoughts which made the walk seem exceptionally short. This is one of those trails that is MUCH shorter on the decent than the ascent! After hiking 2.8 miles we arrived at Times Square. Without hesitation, I turned right and headed up the Logger's Loop which was also packed my snowmobiles. The trail begins A rolling ascent over the next .8 miles. At about 3.3 miles there is an area on the right which is sometimes marshy and often looks like a small pond. The water had collected in this area and partly flooded the trail but we easily worked our way around it. A little further along there were some more wet spots on the trail which we bypassed. We continued on the trail arriving at Iron Wheel Junction at 4 miles. I stopped to take a few pictures and then we turned left to head back toward Frick Pond. The snow here was untouched as no one had hiked the trail and it is too narrow for snowmobiles. The walk is mostly downhill and we were soon at the small stream through the woods. It still had a good flow of water and while Sheila easily jumped across, I walked upstream to a narrower spot to cross. We walked through the pine promenade and the trail became wet in spots on the other side. At the next trail junction we continued straight ahead to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. We walked over the bridge at the outlet of Frick Pond and even though there was nothing remarkable about the view, I took some pictures anyway. We continued back to the car along the Quick Lake trail finding only a few wet spots hidden by the snow. We were back at 1:25 PM having covered 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 55 minutes with an elevation gain of 890 feet. The temperature at the car was about 26 degrees with a slight breeze making it feel cooler.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Tuesday, January 31st I awoke to find snow falling heavily at times and beginning to accumulate on the ground. I was reluctant to head out for a hike as the snow usually brings an ambulance call or two. I also did not want to go too far away as I did not know how much snow would fall or the condition of the roads. I went downtown early and found the streets and roads were in very poor shape. As the day progressed the temperature rose a few degrees but stayed below freezing allowing the snow to accumulate. Sheila seemed bound to convince me to go out for a hike and around 3:00 PM I finally conceded. I decided we would walk across the street and hike the trails on Round Top as they are close and we didn't have too much time. I knew I wouldn't need snowshoes and doubted I would use my spikes. I did decide to take my pack as I though I might want to take some pictures as the snow continued to fall. It didn't take long to get ready and I put Sheila on her leash for the walk across the street. The snow was still falling at a pretty rapid rate as we crossed the street and walked across the field to the base of the cemetery hill. We began the ascent of the steepest hill which is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The town was almost completely hidden by the falling snow but I took a few shots anyway. I picked up my pack and we entered the woods. I noticed there was significantly more snow than I the last time I had been on the trail but not enough to require snowshoes. At the first trail junction we decided to go straight ahead up the steeper section to the lookout. When we neared the top, I turned left to walk out to the lower lookout. I didn't want to encourage others to take this route but I did want the pictures. Crossing the little open gulf in the path was tricky without anything on my boots! I again got out the camera and took pictures of the town from another angle. Again, much of the view was obscured by the falling snow. This viewpoint offers a great view of the school and the buildings downtown.

picture taken during a hike From the viewpoint we continued on the trail in a clockwise direction checking to make sure the yellow blazes were visible and spaced the correct distance apart. When we got to the green ribbons marking the proposed upper trail, I continued on the lower trail on around to where the trail makes a sharp right turn. Here we turned left to follow the green ribbons to the summit of Round Top. Once on the top we continued to follow the ribbons as they headed left and back down to the lower trail. The descent is steep in spots and the snow was pretty slippery. Once we were back at the lower trail we turned left to walk back to the sharp right turn. This time we thieved right and followed the yellow blazes back to the first trail junction. We had now formed a rough figure 8 and I decided we would do it again in the opposite direction. I had not turned on my GPS for the first figure 8 but did so this time knowing I could reconstruct the whole route from the single recording. We turned around and started back up the trail we had just descended. At the sharp left turn we continued to follow the yellow blazes of the lower trail around to the left. When the trail again turned left and the ribbons were on the right we turned right. We followed the ribbons up the steep slope to the top of Round Top and then back down to the lower trail. We turned right on the lower trail, and continued to follow the yellow blazes back to the viewpoint. From the viewpoint we continued down to the first trail junction and out to the trail head. At the trailhead we turned right and descended the hill toward the church. I put Sheila on her leash when we saw that a family was sledding on the hill. At the church we contend across the field to our driveway and back to the house. We had been out for about a little over and hour and had hiked around 2 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Trout Pond and Morton Hill Loop (long upper) AllTrails - Trout Pond and Morton Hill Loop (long upper) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Trout Pond and Morton Hill Loop (long upper) MapMyHike - Trout Pond and Morton Hill Loop (long upper) On Saturday, January 28th I was ready to hike again after a nice hike in the Neversink Unique area the day before. I wanted to get in a longer hike and had planned to tackle a 3500 on the Devil's Path or a loop to Dry Brook Ridge. When I awoke in the morning the skies were completely overcast and it was snowing at a pretty good rate. I decided that I would gain hike locally as I did not want to make the effort to go on a hike with a nice view if I could not take advantage of the view. I got my gear together and got Sheila in the back seat and headed out to Trout Pond at about 10:30 AM. The temperature was still in the high 20's with a brisk wind. The closer I got to Roscoe on Route 17, the more snow was falling. I took exit 94 off the Quickway and headed out the Rockland Flats on Route 206. Just after entering Delaware County I turned left on Morton Hill Road which was covered in at least an inch of snow. When I arrived at the intersection with Russell Brook Road, I found 4 cars parked in the private lot. The lot is clearly marked as private property and the owner does not like people to park there. I parked on the side of the road on the public right-of-way and as far off the pavement as possible. I was glad I had decided to wear a heavier Patagonia wool top under my Mammut hoody. I also had put on a pair of tights. This time I also had on my gaiters and brought along my Microspikes. As soon as I parked, I could see that the parking area was very icy and decided to put on my Microspikes. I had decided to hike from the intersection of Russell Brook Road and Morton Hill Road around Trout Pond and then take the Trout Pond Trail to Campbell Brook Road. I would hike out Campbell Brook Road to Morton Hill Road and then back to the car. I started down Russell Brook Road at 11:05 AM with snow still falling. The small streams were overflowing with water and I stopped for a minute to take a few pictures before continuing down the road. As we approached the upper viewpoint over the falls I could hear the water roaring and looked down to see a large volume of water flowing over the falls. I decided to go down to the viewpoint to take pictures of the upper falls. The descent looked slippery and it seems that someone had been there before me and had slid won the hill. I worked my way down to the lookout and removed my pack. I got out my camera and took some pictures of the falls. After finishing my photography, I worked my way up to the road and continued down to the lower parking area. We walked down the woods road and crossed the bridge on Russell Brook. When we reached the trail on the right to the lower falls, we turned onto the trail and walked over to the falls. I decided to work my way down the bank into the streambed. The Microspikes and my poles certainly helped get me down the slippery slope. Sheila had no trouble at all! I took some pictures of the falls which had a good volume. There wasn't much ice next to the falls as there usually is during the winter. I took a few shots of Sheila and then put my camera away and climbed back up to the trail. When we got back to the main trail, we turned right and at the first trail junction we kept left to walk up the hill toward Mud Pond. The walk up the hill is about .8 miles and gains 400 feet. This isn't really steep but it does get the blood flowing right away.

picture taken during a hike From the top of the hill we descended slightly and then turned right to go north along the west side of Trout Pond. I had been following some fresh footprints but they turned off the trail toward Mud Pond. As we hiked along the trail there were quite a few spots where there was water and slush underneath the snow. This caused the snow to clump on the bottom on my shoes and Microspikes. After spending some time knocking the clumps off, I removed the Microspikes and put them in my pack. Over the next 1.2 miles we gained another 400 feet to the highest pot on the hike on the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. From that point the trail descends 450 feet over .8 miles to the bridge at the inlet of Trout Pond. I stopped briefly to take a few pictures of the pond but the skies were overcast and the pictures just average. We turned left on the Trout Pond Trail to start the hike toward Campbell Brook Road at 3.6 miles. From the lean-tos the trail rises 435 feet over .8 miles to the col between two hills to an elevation almost as great as the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. The trail then descends the same amount over the same distance. At 5.2 miles we crossed the bridge over a small stream and a quarter mile later we were on Campbell Brook Road. I put Sheila on her leash for the road walk as we turned right on the road. Campbell Brook Road climbs a little to the intersection with Morton Hill Road. After that intersection, Morton Hill Road is downhill or flat the rest of the way. Along Morton Hill Road there was several inches of snow abs more was falling as we walked. I was surprised that no vehicles passed us as we hiked on the road. There wasn't too much to look at as the skies were overcast and the snow kept falling. I decided not to stop and we set a quick pace as we returned to the parking area. The walk on Morton Hill Road was about 2.7 miles and took us an hour! We were back at the car at 3:10 PM having covered 8.6 miles in 4 hours and 5 minutes with 1680 feet of ascent. There was a DEC truck parked in the lot and I assumed the forest ranger was going to check out anyone ice fishing on Mud Pond or Cables Lake.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise AllTrails - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise CalTopo - Neversink Unique Northcaltopo  icon Gmap4 - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise MapMyHike - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise On Friday, January 27th, I wanted to do a hike close to home as the windchill temperatures were supposed to be in the low teens and show showers were forecast throughout the day. I decided to go to the Neversink Unique Area since I had not been there in some time and I had exhausted the other hikes in the Livingston Manor area. Cindy wanted to come along so we got our gear together and left home a little before 10:30 AM. Due to the forecast I wore a heavier Patagonia wool top under my Mammut hoody. I also put on a pair of tights. I had not planned on there being much snow I did not bring my gaiters or snowshoes but brought along my Microspikes. Sheila seemed very happy that all of us were going somewhere as she was very alert in the back seat. I got on Route 17 and started for Rock Hill. I got off the Quickway at exit 109 and turned right on Katrina Falls Road. I drove to the end of the road and parked at 10:50 AM in the small parking area. There were no other cars present but we were surprised at the amount of snow still present. As we got ready to hike we found that the parking area was very icy and we decided to put on our Microspikes. I regretted that I had not brought gaiters to prevent snow from entering over the tops of my boots. We started down the woods road toward the river intending to hike the loop to Denton and Mullet Falls. I thought that the recent rain might have augmented the waterfalls making them more interesting. Sheila was certainly anxious to get going as both she and I prefer several hikes a week! The temperature was in the high 20's and the breeze made it seem a little colder. As we walked down the hill passed the trail register, I was glad I had my Microspikes as there was still some ice and hard-packed snow. We turned left at the bottom of the hill to stay on the main trail and came to the small bridge over Wolf Brook. The water was as high as it had been in some time and I stopped to take a few pictures before continuing on the main trail. At the top of the next small hill, we stayed to the right to hike the loop counterclockwise hitting Denton Falls on the Neversink first and then the falls on Mullet Brook. It didn't take long for us to arrive at the lower bridge over Mullet Brook. As we approached, I was surprised to see that the old bridge which was is disrepair had been replaced. The new bridge has a pair of steel I-beams as its main support and should last a long time. I was glad the repairs had been made as this bridge is used heavily by those hiking the trails in the Neversink Unique Area. At 1.4 miles we turned right following the yellow spur trail blazes downhill to Denton Falls.

picture taken during a hike The trail down to the falls is not well marked and hikers trying to follow it have created new paths which compounds the problem. After hiking 1.65 miles, we were at the rocks near the edge of Denton Falls. The descent to the river was icy and the Microspikes helped us to get safely to the river's edge. The river was high and the falls roaring as I dropped my pack and started to take some pictures. Sheila seemed smart enough not to try to jump into the cold and fast-moving water. I was able to walk along the rocks to get just below the falls. I took quite a few pictures of the falls and some both upstream and downstream. Cindy sat on a rock and I was able to get a few "candid" pictures of her and Sheila. The falls are hardly three feet high but the volume of water made the trip worthwhile. We headed back up the spur trail to the main trail and turned right. At the trail junction I asked Cindy if she wanted to hike down to High Falls which adds about 4 miles round trip to the hike. She declined the offer so we kept to the left to start the loop. After a brief walk uphill, we turned left onto the short trail down to Mullet Brook Falls. The trail has no sign and could be easily missed. In fact, there is no signage anywhere in the area! I saw a total of only three yellow blazes on our way down to the falls and on the way back. When the falls came into sight, I was pleased with the amount of water in the stream. I dropped my pack where the trail ended and grabbed my camera to take some pictures. I carefully walked out onto the rocks below the falls. I took some shots of the falls and the pool below. I was disappointed there wasn't very much ice near the falls as there had been in previous years. it was much like the rest of the trip. There was enough water to make it interesting but far less than I had hoped for. I dropped my pack and got out the camera. After a few initial shots, I walked onto the pile of rocks just down from the base of the falls. I had to be careful as the rocks were covered with moss and were wet from the rain and spray from the falls. I took pictures of the falls but the pool that is normally at the bottom was missing! In fact, it was hard to find any flow in the stream below the falls. Eventually it was time to leave. I put away my camera and shoulder my pack to head back out the spur trail. We walked back out to the main trail and turned left to complete the loop. As we climbed we noticed the rocky ledges to our right and I thought about exploring them at some time in the future. Soon we crossed over the upper bridge spanning Mullet Brook. I stopped on the bridge to take a few shots both up and down stream. After a brief walk we were at a trail junction. Walking straight ahead on the trail leads to the Wolf Lake Multiple Use Area. We turned left and began to descend off the ridge. We hiked downhill for some time and eventually came to the trail junction just above the bridge over Wolf Creek. We continued to walk straight ahead to return to the parking area. Once on the other side of the brook we made the right turn on the woods road back to the car and kept a quick pace until we arrived at the parking area at 1:35 PM. We hiked 4.6 miles in just over 2 hours and 45 minutes including the stops at the two falls. The vertical gain was only about 930 feet. The temperature had risen slightly into the low 30's and the wind had subsided.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Monday, January 23rd I was scheduled to play racquetball with some friends but these plans were cancelled by an ambulance call. When I returned from the call, I found my track meet had been cancelled due to the forecast for a wintry mix in the afternoon. I decided I wanted to get in a hike before the bad weather arrived. I suggested to Cindy that we go across the street to hike the trails on Round Top. Cindy agreed to go with me and Sheila seemed to be happy going anywhere. We headed out at 10:50 AM with Sheila on her leash to cross the street. There was no snow remaining in the field next to the church and only some in the snow banks around the church parking lot. The temperature was in the mid-30's but felt cooler due to a stiff breeze. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not intend to take pictures as the day was overcast and dreary. We walked around the back of the church and started up the hill. The hill is short but steep but we made good time as there was no snow or ice. We turned left into the woods at the trailhead and walked along the woods road which did not have any snow. At the first trail junction, we continued straight ahead and up the steep hill to the lookout over town. There was no snow on the woods road all the way to the viewpoint. A quick look at the view showed there wasn't much difference from previous trips. We followed the yellow blazes as the trail turned to the right and continued gently uphill. After a short distance, we picked up the string smell of a skunk and I called Sheila to my side. We continued on the trail to the sharp right turn. At this point we continued straight ahead following the bright green ribbons which marked the proposed upper trail. There was still an inch or more of snow on this side of the hill and it was slippery going uphill. When we reached the top, we continued to follow the ribbons across the summit plateau and down the other side. Soon we were back at the lower trail where we turned left and the quickly right to follow the lower trail down to the first trail junction. When we arrived at the trail junction, Cindy decided to head home. Sheila and I turned right and began to hike another loop.

Sheila and I hiked up the hill again to the viewpoint where we turned right and continued to follow the trail to the point where it turns sharply right. This time we continued to follow the lower trail picking up some branches along the way. When we reached the sharp right turn, we turned right and walked down the trail and then the woods road to the trail junction. At the trail junction, we turned around and walked back up the woods road the way we had come. At the sharp left turn in the trail we continued straight ahead following the bright green ribbons of the proposed upper trail to the summit of Round Top. We turned left on the summit following the ribbons down the slippery hill to the lower trail. We turned right on the trail and walked down to the viewpoint. At the lookout we turned left and headed back down to the trail junction. I decided at this point to complete one more small loop so we headed back up the woods road to the left. This time we turned left at the sharp turn and followed the lower trail on around and back to the viewpoint. Sheila and I kept up a good pace and continued down the hill and back out to the trailhead. We turned right and walked down the hill to the church and then across the field to our driveway. We arrived back at home after hiking a total of 2.6 miles and 930 vertical feet in and hour and 20 minutes. Our pace was just 2 mph which seemed slow but I was satisfied with our hike.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Kelly Hollow AllTrails - Kelly Hollow CalTopo - Kelly Hollowcaltopo  icon Gmap4 - Kelly Hollow MapMyHike - Kelly Hollow On Saturday, January 21st I wanted to get in a hike after Cindy returned from a church meetings round noon. I had gotten in from our track meet the night before at 1:30 AM and had been out on an ambulance call at 6:30 AM so I was not in nay hurry to rush out of the house. When Cindy got home I suggested we go to hike at Kelly Hollow as we had not been there in over two years! The hike is only about 4 miles but there are some interesting sites including a stream that runs between the trail out and the trail back. There is also a beaver pond on the trail with a lean-to. We got Sheila and our gear in the car and headed to Roscoe on Route 17 at about 12:45 PM. Cindy likes to stay off the small back roads as much as possible so I took Route 206 out of Roscoe to Route 30 near the Pepacton Reservoir. As we hit the top of Cat Hollow, there was a lot of fog caused by the warm air temperature and the cold snow still on the ground. Once we turned right on Route 30 and started around the Pepacton, the fog cleared and there was some sun. Every view we had of the reservoir showed that the level was still VERY low despite the days of rain and the snow melt. At the Dunraven Bridge I stayed on the BWS roads passing the intersection with the Barkaboom Road. After a few miles I turned right on Millbrook Road and drove to the parking area for Kelly Hollow which is marked with the yellow on brown signs used in the Forest Preserve. There was no other cars in the lot when we parked and we began our hike at 1:20 PM. The temperature at the parking area seemed cooler than when we had left Livingston Manor but was still right around 40 degrees. There was some snow in the parking area where it had been plowed but the rest of the ground was bare and muddy in spots. We decided to walk the trail in a clockwise direction and entered the woods crossing a small stream.

picture taken during a hike Just after the stream we came to a woods road and turned right heading south and ascending slightly. Along the way the trail was wet in spots and there were some patches of ice. We avoid the ice easily and at .5 miles came to the cutoff to the right for the Short Loop hike. I decided to walk down the cutoff trail to the bridge to take some pictures. The bridge was a little loose and the wet boards were slippery. I took a few shots and then decided to work my way downstream a little to take some pictures of a few small waterfalls. Cindy did not want to bother with this bushwhack so she walked back up to the main trail to wait for us. Sheila and I walked down the bank and along the stream which was difficult as the bank was wet and slippery. I settled on a spot below a set of small falls and took some pictures from there. I packed up my camera and headed back up the bank with some difficulty. I joined Cindy on the main trail and we immediately encountered some large patches of ice. We were able to walk up the side of the trail but then began to find more snow on the trail. Looking across the stream to the bank on the other side showed more snow on that side. The trail passes through a mix of evergreens and hardwoods with higher land to the left and the stream on the right. At about 1 mile Cindy stopped to put on her Microspikes which was a good idea. At 1.2 miles we crossed a bridge over the stream and started to walk along the bank opposite where we had been. It had been so long since I had hiked at Kelly Hollow, I began to wonder if we had someone missed a turn since it seemed we were headed in the wrong direction. We decided to simply let things play out and continued along the trail now heading north. To avoid climbing over the shoulder of a hill the trail headed north and eventually west. At 1.6 miles we came to the spot where I had at one time turned left and bushwhacked up to the top of Millbrook Ridge. From the top of the ridge it isn't far to Alder Lake!

picture taken during a hike The trail turned around the hill and at 1.75 miles headed southwest as we approached the lean-to and beaver pond at the apex of the trail system. The lean-to and its privy were in good shape. I took a few pictures of Cindy and Sheila at the lean-to and then walked to the shore of the beaver pond. We were surprised to see how low the water level had fallen. I expected the volume to be low but there was hardly any water. The edges of the pond were very dry and grassy indicating the condition had existed for some time. The beaver house was well above water and the beavers had abandoned the area. I took some pictures to document the conditions. The sky was blue with some white clouds and the trees around the pond were stark without their leaves. We walked a little around the pond and I took a few more shots before stowing the camera for the return trip. The trail around the pond eventually meets up with another woods road which leads back to the parking area. From the apex of the trail back to Millbrook Road is about 1.3 miles with the trail heading mostly north. It wanders a little to avoid some hills and is always parallel to a stream. At 2.7 miles I spotted another waterfall and started to look for a way down the bank to the streambed. I managed to get down to the level of the stream to take some pictures of a waterfall. I worked my way back up to the trail and Cindy and I crossed another bridge on the way back to the car. Shortly after the bridge we arrived at the trail that forms the short loop. At 3.3 miles the woods road leads to a small cemetery which we had visited before. Some of the grave markers, especially the ones on the hill, are very old and it seems it has been a long time since it has been used for a burial. Several of the graves are from men who fought in the Civil War and there is at least one with a Revolutionary War designation. We decided to walk out the access road to Millbrook Road. Once at Millbrook Road, we turned right and walked .25 miles back to the car. It was 3:40 PM and we had completed the 3.8 mile hike in 2 hours and 20 minutes. The elevation gain was only 630 feet. We drove back to Livingston Manor the way we had come and stopped once to take some pictures of the reservoir.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Friday, January 20th I wanted to get out after several days of rainy weather. An early morning ambulance call and some rain in the morning delayed my plans to go on a longer hike. I changed plans and decided to go across the street to hike on the Round Top trails before I had to leave for an evening track meet. Cindy agreed to go with me and Sheila seemed to be happy going anywhere. We headed out at 11:00 AM with Sheila on her leash to cross the street. There was only a little snow in the field next to the church and some in the snow banks around the church parking lot. The temperature was in the mid-30's but almost felt warm and I wore the lighter version of my winter clothing. I had decided not to bring my pack as I did not intend to take pictures as the day was overcast and dreary. We walked around the back of the church and started up the hill. The hill is short but steep but we made good time as there was no snow or ice. We turned left into the woods at the trailhead and walked along the woods road which did have some snow. At the first trail junction, we turned right to walk up the more gentle slope in the lower loop. There was very little snow on the woods road until we got to the turn up the hill where we encountered significantly more snow. When we got to the sharp left turn, I suggested we continue on the new upper trail that I had laid out. The trail is only flagged with green tape but the path is pretty clear. The trail is a rather direct route to the top of the hill and an equally direct route down the other side. The final trail when constructed may contain some switchbacks to help mediate the steepness. We walked up to the summit of Round Top where there was still some snow and then started down the other side still following the bright green ribbons. This side of the hill faces north so there was till several inches of snow and the steep slope allowed us to glide down in our boots. We were soon back at the yellow-blazed lower trail where we turned right to head toward the viewpoint from the ledges facing town. When we arrived at the ledges, we took a quick look from the upper part of the lookout. The sky was overcast and there was some mist or fog hanging over town. We continued on the main trail down the hill to complete the loop at the first trail junction. At this point, Cindy decided to return home and I decided to do the loop in the opposite direction. Sheila and I turned around and hiked back up the steep hill to the lookout. We didn't stop and continued on around the loop at a quickened pace. As the main lower trail turned right, we walked straight ahead and up the hill toward the summit following the bright green ribbons again. Hiking up through two inches of slippery, wet, icy snow was a challenge but we soon reached the top and started back down. When we arrived at the moan trail, we turned left and then right to follow the trail back down to the first trail junction. We had been out for about an hour and I decided to turn left and walk back out to the trailhead at the top of the cemetery. From the trail head we walked back down the hill to the back of the church and across the field to our driveway.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Hunter (Spruceton) AllTrails - Hunter (Spruceton) CalTopo - Hunter (Spruceton)caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Hunter (Spruceton) MapMyHike - Hunter (Spruceton) On Monday, January 16thI wanted to do a 3500 foot peak and decided the night before to do Hunter from Spruceton. I like the trail and it is relatively easy which is what I wanted as I had not done a 3500 is some time. The temperature was forecast to start out cold but rise to the high 30's by early afternoon. When I woke up in the morning at 6:00 AM, it was 10 degrees and I knew decided to delay my departure. I left Livingston Manor at about 8:00 AM under clear and sunny skies. The temperature was still around 10 degrees but I hoped it would rise on the way to my destination. Sheila was eager to go but laid down to rest in the backseat after a few miles of driving on the DeBruce Road. The further I drove the lower the temperature became until it was 5 degrees near Round Pond. I considered turning back but did not. I turned left on Route 47 to head toward Big Indian and Route 28. There was one car at the Biscuit Brook parking area and only one or two at Slide and Panther Mountain. As I came to Route 28 in Big Indian, the Route 28 detour was gone so I turned right and headed for Shandaken. I turned left on Route 42 toward Lexington and continued north on Route 42 to Spruceton where I turned right on the Spruceton Road. We arrived at the parking area on the left at about 9:40 AM and almost immediately got on the trail to hike. There were no other cars in the lot and the temperature was now about 18 degrees. I had decided to wear tights under my Columbia Omniheat pants along with my insulated Salomon Nytro boots. On top I had on a Patagonia underlayer with a Patagonia wool top over it. As always, I wore my Mammut hoody. I had not even brought snowshoes but was surprised to find almost no snow on the ground! I decided to keep my Microspikes in my packs until I really needed them. The Spruceton Trail to Hunter has several areas that usually have ice flows that cover most of the trail. Sheila and I left the parking area and I made up my mind to keep a constant but not necessarily fast pace. There was good amount of water in the brook which made the hike pleasant. There were a few small patches of ice that were easily avoided as we walked up the trail. We crossed the bridge at .5 miles and shortly after made the hairpin turn where the trail begins to get steeper. There was a pretty obvious path heading in the direction of Rusk and I wondered how well defined it remained further toward the summit.

picture taken during a hike The sun was out and the temperature was beginning to rise as we hiked up the trail and there was still no snow. I was watching for some views of Westkill to the right but they were all blocked by the trees. As we hiked Sheila was following animal tracks in many different directions. The trail was a little longer than I remembered but we made the saddle between Hunter and the Rusk ridge at 10:30 AM after hiking 1.7 miles. Along the way we had come across a few areas of snow on the left side of the trail and I had stopped to open up the zippers on my clothing as I was getting warm. I stopped to get a drink and contemplated the fact that we were half way through the trip as far as mileage went. I knew that the hardest part was yet to come. We made the right turn up the mountain and I immediately noticed that the grade increased. In a short distance we began to encounter ice on the trail but I stubbornly refused to stop on don my Microspikes. I kept a good pace which had me sweating and breathing a little more than I had been. The ice flows began to get larger stretching across the trail and covering large areas. I decided to simply walk on the snow at the side of the trail or bushwhack a little. We continued to climb and came to the area just below the spring. The ice flows here were impressive and the spring was encased in ice. I had decided to refrain from taking pictures until we reached the summit. The spur trail to the lean-to was a little father away than I remembered! I was feeling a little more tired than usual since I had not been hiking mountains for some time. I had been concentrating on the Finger Lakes Trail and Long Path with much longer but flatter hikes. I simply decided to cut my pace a little and relax taking a break when I needed. We passed the trail to the lean-to and I decided to visit it on the return trip. At 11:00 AM we passed the trail to the left that goes to the Colonel's Chair, the top of the Hunter Mountain ski complex. We had hiked 2.5 miles and still had about a mile and 450 feet of elevation to go! Even though I had stopped several times there were no signs of anyone following us on the trail.

picture taken during a hike The final mile has a few spots where the trail levels off and a few where there are some sustained climbs. We passed by a small lookout on the left since I knew better things were to come. Along the way, Sheila alerted and I turned around to see a young man hiking at a faster pace than we were setting. Sheila and I stepped off to the side of the trail to let him pass. We continued on our way hiking the last ascent where the trail was mostly covered in packed snow. As we approached the tower clearing, I could see there was no one at the cabin or on the tower and wondered why the hiker who had passed us had decided not to visit the fire tower. We walked to the cabin where I dropped my pack and got out my camera. I took a few shots of the tower and cabin and then leashed Sheila to the picnic table so that she would not follow me up the tower. I headed up the tower to take more pictures. As soon as I was above the tree line, I noticed a sustained breeze that made me a little cool. I took pictures from just below the cabin on the tower and then came down to another level and took some more. I could see the Hunter Mountain Ski Area with the zoom on the camera and there did no seem to be much activity although there was some snow on the slopes. I took a few shots from the lower levels as I descended the tower including a few of a pitiful dog looking up at me! The skies were a rather solid blue and but had a few clouds that added a nice touch. I went over to the picnic table and released Sheila and got a drink. I looked around for Sheila and saw her halfway up the open stairs on the tower! When I called her, she fearlessly bounded down the steps to the ground. I checked the thermometer at the cabin and found it was just at 32 degrees. I decided to put on my Microspikes for the trip down as I felt it would not only increase my security but also my speed. I got my gear on and we started back at down the Spruceton Trail. I had considered doing the loop to Southwest Hunter but I decided against it for the sake of time. We kept a faster pace down the mountain but I had to slow down for the larger ice flows. The ice was hard and thick and the Microspikes are not very sharp. In addition, my poles were not getting a very good "bite". I stopped a few times to take pictures on the trail. We came to the spur trail to the lean-to at 12:25 PM and turned left to visit the lean-to and the lookout over true Spruceton Valley. I had expected an ice flow on the path to the lean-to but everything was pretty clear. I dropped my pack at the lean-to and walked out to the lookout. The view was beautiful and I took pictures of the valley. I also snapped some shots of Westkill and Rusk. I had Sheila sit on the rocks and took a few photographs of her. After returning to the lean-to for a few more pictures, I shouldered my pack and we headed back out to the main trail. We turned left an I carefully made my way down the icy trail taking few pictures on the way. When we reached the spring, I stopped and took a few shots before continuing down the trail avoiding more ice. We were soon at the left turn where I stopped to remove my Microspikes. We picked up the pace down the wide woods road making the sharp right turn and crossing the bridge. I took a few pictures of the brook and the Sheila alerted again. A couple was walking up the trail with their dog on a leash. I leashed Sheila and we passed each other with a "hello" and not dogs straining to meet each other. We were back at the parking area at 1:45 PM after hiking 6.8 miles in 4 hours with an elevation gain of 2010 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond Logger's Loop AllTrails - Frick Pond Logger's Loop caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond Logger's Loop MapMyHike - Frick Pond Logger's Loop On Friday, January 13th, I was ready to get a hike in after spending the overnight and early morning hours on ambulance calls. The previous two days had seen temperature in the 40's with rain so I knew the trails would be a mess. By Friday at noon the temperature had evened out at about 30 degrees. Cindy said she would go for a walk and we decided to go to Frick Pond as it is close and I had an afternoon basketball game to time. My plan was to go to Frick Pond and hike the big loop around Frick and Hodge Ponds. We got our gear and Sheila in the car and left Livingston Manor a little after noon. We had decided to take our Microspikes but leave the snowshoes at home as we expected there to be very little snow and what was present would be packed. Since it seemed warmer than when I had last been out on Tuesday, I decided not to wear insulated boots and did not put on a wool top or tights under my pants. I drove out the DeBruce Road which was well cleared and then turned left on the Mongaup Pond Road to head toward the Frick Pond trailhead. I stayed to the left where the road spilt and headed up Beech Mountain Road to the trailhead. This road had been plowed but was now a mess from thawing agreeing which produced ruts and a layer of ice. Both parking areas were a sheet of ice so I parked in the smaller lot and pulled in to reach some bare ground. There was already one car parked as we got ready to hike. We decided not to put on our spikes immediately and left the parking area heading down the woods road toward the register. I thought about going up the Flynn Trail but Cindy had other ideas so I followed her. I was not enthusiastic about hiking the Quick Lake Trail from the register to Frick Pond twice since there are a lot of rock and some water which proved to be the case this time. There was a lot of ice and the packed snow was just as bad. Just after the register Cindy began to slip on the ice and stopped to put her spikes on. While I was standing waiting for her, I noticed that the stiff breeze was making me cold and that my feet were colder than normal. I began to regret not upgrading my gear to handle the cooler temperatures. As we approached the trail junction, Sheila alerted and we saw two women headed toward us with their dog. I took Sheila by the collar and stepped off the side of the trail while they politely leashed there dog and passed by us. We stayed to the left at Gravestone Junction and walked down the hill to Frick Pond. By the time we got to the pond, the wind was blowing and as I got out the camera my hands were chilly. The scene was beautiful s there were puffy white clouds in a blue sky and the water level in the pond was up. I took a few pictures from the bridge and the packed up to get back to the hike.

picture taken during a hike At the next trail junction we stayed to the left to follow the Quick Lake Trail through the "Spruce Tunnel" to Iron Wheel Junction. I could definitely feel that I was working harder trying to stay on the side of the trail in the snow to avoid the water and ice that covered the center of the trail. It surprised us that there was still quite a bit of snow in the woods averaging from 4 to 8 inches. I stubbornly refused to put on my spikes and Cindy was having an easier time not having to avoid the ice. We stopped in the "Spruce Tunnel" where I took a few shots and then came to the small stream which was running freely with water from the rain and melting snow. I walked upstream a little and crossed easily. Once on the other side we had to cross a small tributary which had been dry for some time but now had quite a bit of water. We continued up to Iron Wheel Junction still having to avoid ice and water along the way. When we arrived at Iron Wheel Junction, we stopped and I asked Cindy which way she wanted to go. Her reply was "The shortest way!" So we turned right to head toward Times Square on the Logger's Loop. The sign told us that Times Square was about 1.2 miles away but I knew that we would go through a series of ups and downs along the way before hitting the highest point at 1.8 miles. The Logger's Loop is a snowmobile trail which was now an icy glaze as the packed snow had thawed and frozen again to form sort of a skating rink. I continued to resist the obvious solution and Cindy had a much easier time with her spikes on. Once we hit the high point it was all downhill to Times Square but the downhill did not feel as good as I expected since I had to continue to watch out for the icy patches on the way down. At Times Square there were three choices and Cindy chose to continue straight ahead on the Logger's Loop. I knew this trail had a slight uphill but I wanted a good GPS track of the whole Logger's Loop. All along our hike we had been noticing the areas where we had cleared blowdowns. We also noted that the new trail markers we had put up on all the trails were clearly visible even through the snow. Some places on the Logger's Loop were a little wet and the small "bridge" we had built helped us easily get across one of those areas. When we crested the small hill and started down to Gravestone Junction I was very happy and my legs felt a little better. At Gravestone Junction we turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and began the walk back to the car. It seemed that there were more wet areas on the trail and we suspected that the temperate had increased some since we began the hike. We were back at the car at 2:30 PM having taken 2 hours to hike 3.6 miles with an elevation gain of only 386 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Long Pond (Big Loop) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, January 10th I wanted to get for a hike close to home before track practice in the afternoon. Since I had been visited Trout Pond and Frick Pond a number of times recently, I decided to go to Long Pond and do the big loop in a counterclockwise direction. The recent weather had included high temperatures in the teens and I had avoided hiking with Sheila because of the cold. When I awoke in the morning, the temperature was 9 degrees so I decided to wait until it was a little "warmer" to leave for the hike. By 10:00 AM the temperature had risen to 18 degrees so I decided it was time to head out. I decided to dress warmly with a Patagonia wool top and tights underneath my Columbia Omniheat pants. As always, I wore my Mammut hoody which gives me more options for layering. Since there was very little snow, I decided not to bring snowshoes but I did put my Microspikes in my pack. I got Sheila in the car with my gear and headed out DeBruce Road for about 8 miles to Flugertown Road where I made a left. I parked in the lot a short distance up the road on the right. The temperature was 18 degrees when I parked and the skies were overcast. There was more snow in the parking area than in town and there was ice beneath the snow. I set my GPS and decided not to put on my Microspikes until I needed them. I could see the trail up the hill was covered in packed snow from snowmobiles. I felt the snow would give me some traction. A slight breeze made things even cooler as we started our hike at 10:40 AM by walking over the bridge and up the hill. The first .6 miles gains about 350 feet to the highest point on the hike. It isn't very steep but does act as a nice warm-up! The trail was icy going up the hill but I was able to find traction on the packed snow. At 1.1 miles we were at the spur trail that leads down to the shore of Long Pond. I decided to turn right and go down to the pond to take some pictures. At the shores of the pond I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take some pictures. Sheila immediately ran out onto the ice so I took a few pictures of her. The skies were overcast but I still snapped a few pictures before going back to my pack. We returned to the main trail and turned right at the first trail junction. By 11:35 AM we had walked 1.8 miles and were passing the spur trail to the lean-to.

picture taken during a hike After passing the trail to the lean-to, we picked up the pace and continued on the main trail to the point where it intersected a woods road at 2.6 miles. We turned left and followed the road until the intersection with Basily Road at 2.85 miles. The roads were icy and seemed to have been traveled by snowmobiles and ATVS but I was able to keep walking on the snow and avoid using spikes. We continued on Basily Road by bearing to the left. As we approached the Peters Hunting Camp, I got ready to put Sheila on her leash. The area near the footbridge across the outlet to the beaver pond had freely flowing water and I stopped on the bridge to take some pictures. I took a few shots of the beaver pond and marsh. I also took a few close-ups of the water flowing beneath the ice. We continued on the main trail and crossed the bridge to continue the trip back to the car. Just after the bridge, I stopped to take a few pictures of the bridge and the stands of corn. Further along, I took a few shots of the valley which looked peaceful under a covering of snow. There were no tracks to the Peters Hunting Camp so no one had visited in some time. The roads continued to be icy as Basily Road changed to Flugertown Road. Along the way I stopped to take some pictures of the stream which was partly covered in ice. Eventually the road became paved and there was no ice or snow. We walked quickly down the road back to the parking area without meeting anyone. There was a blue pickup parked along the road but we did not see the owner. At 1:20 PM we were back at the car having hiked 6.0 miles in 2 hours and 35 minutes. The elevation gain was only about 550 feet most of which was at the beginning of the hike.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Fishkill Ridge from Route 9 AllTrails - Fishkill Ridge from Route 9 CalTopo - Fishkill Ridge from Route 9caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Fishkill Ridge from Route 9 MapMyHike - Fishkill Ridge from Route 9 On Friday, January 6th I was planning to hike with Kurt along the Palisades section of the Long Path. I wanted to hike a loop from the State Line Lookout to include the Giant Steps and Peanut Leap falls which I had missed the last time I hiked the Long Path in the area. After watching the weather forecast, I found that it was calling fro snow in New Jersey. The forecast was for only about an inch but I did not want to be part of a 20 car pileup on the Palisades Parkway due to the carelessness of other drivers. I weighed the options and decided that hiking Fishkill Ridge might be nice since it is close to Kurt's house in Poughkeepsie. I had never hiked to the ridge from Route 9 although I remembered seeing the trail the few times I had hiked around Fishkill Fudge. I called Kurt the night before and told him to meet me a Nicola's Restaurant about 3 miles south of I-84 and Route 9. I set my alarm for 6:30 AM as I knew the drive would take me about and hour and a half. I awoke at about 6:00 AM to the sound of a snowplow on the street! We had gotten an unexpected inch of snow and I wondered how much had fallen on the east side of the Hudson River. Kurt sent me a text indicating they got only a coating and we agreed there was no reason to postpone our hike. I got my gear together and watched Sheila as she danced around the house. I decided to take my spikes and gaiters but was pretty sure I wouldn't need them. The temperature was only 20 degrees when I left the house so I decided to upgrade my clothing by wearing a Patagonia wool top and tights underneath my Columbia Titanium Omniheat pants. I always wear my Mammut hoody which is made of Gortex Windstopper but has no insulation. This allows me to adjust my temperature by layering and opening or closing the zippers on the hoody. I also packed a heavier hat and mittens. We left Livingston Manor at 7:30 AM and headed south and east on the State Rt 17. The local roads still had a little snow but the main roads were completely clear all the way to Middletown. I took I-84 east across the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge toward Fishkill. I got off at exit 13 for Route 9 south. As I approached the meeting point, I was a little early so I turned right on Old Albany Post Road to see if I could find the trailhead. In about a quarter of a mile I found Reservoir Road on the right and three yellow markers indicating the beginning of the yellow Wilkinson Memorial Trail. There did not appear to be a good place to park. There were several signs placed by residents indicating parking along the side of the road was discouraged. I knew there was a public right-of-way but didn't really want to upset anyone by parking where I was not wanted. I drove out to Route 9 and pulled into the parking lot for Nicola's Restaurant. Kurt arrived a little after 9:00 AM and I suggested we park at the restaurant. I have done this before in various places and no one seems to mind as long as the car is out of the way. We got our gear ready and allowed Sheila time to grant Kurt. I out Sheila on her leash and we carefully crossed Route 9 at 9:10 AM. We walked north on Route 9 and then turned left on Old Albany Post Road. After just less than half a mile, we turned right on Reservoir Road to start hiking on the actual trail. After a short distance, we came to a gate blocking the road. To the right was a DEC facility but it's purpose was not clear. We passed through the gate and started into the forest starting our climb toward the ridge heading west. There was a dusting of snow on the ground but it didn't effect our hiking.

picture taken during a hike Kurt almost immediately noticed that the trees were huge both in height and in girth. Some were so large that they appeared to be first growth. At .9 miles we came to a small reservoir or lake. Part of the lake was frozen over with ice thick enough to support a medium sized dog! Sheila fearlessly walked out onto the ice perhaps attracted by the ducks in the open water beyond. I took some pictures and then we walked around to the north shore where I took a few more shots. After this, I put away the camera and we continued to hike. The trees actually seemed to be bigger as we passed around the north side of the lake continuing west and up. From the lake to 1.45 miles the trail was almost flat Rolling a little but after that it began to climb. At 1.6 miles we began to walk through some switchbacks which made the climb a little easier. The grade still averaged 19% until we hit Fishkill Ridge at 2 miles. At this point the Wilkinson memorial Trail turned left but we headed right on the white Fishkill Ridge Trail.We began walking on the trail following it northeast as it actually descended some until we crossed a stream at 2.8 miles. Along the way we noticed some fantastic stone walls and I stopped to take a few pictures. I was looking for a spur trail to a viewpoint or for some views along the main trail but could not find them. At 2.8 miles we began to climb a little more than I remember still heading northeast and still without any views suitable for photography. We continued to see stone walls and other evidence the area was settled at some time. At 3.0 miles the trail began a sweeping turn to the north and at 3.3 miles it made a sharp turn so that we were heading southwest but still gaining elevation. There were some areas on the trail which had quite a bit of ice and some ice covered rocks that made the climb tricky. As we climbed, we could see we were approaching what looked like it would be an open vista. Soon we were at the top of Bald Hill, the highest point on the hike at 1490 feet, with an almost 360 degree view. Although this elevation pales in comparison to the Catskills it is over 1200 feet above the valley. The skies were interesting as there was some blue sky in one direction and dark skies in another direction. There were even a few snow flakes in the air. I had considered dropping a layer of clothing along the way but was glad that I had not as we stood exposed to the wind on the top of the hill. The views were fantastic and I got out my camera to take pictures. Perhaps the most surprising sight was a small table and rustic rocking chair on the top of the hill. I took several pictures of them with the dark sky in the background. In the valley to the east of the ridge there is a massive sand and gravel operation with terraces cut into the hill. I took done shots in that direction and them tried to get a few of the Hudson river to the south and west. We walked a little farther and got some different angles of the same views. I took a few pictures of Sheila with Kurt and then we packed up and started back on the trail. From the top of the hill the rest of the hike was mostly downhill with a few small climbs along the way. There were no more significant viewpoints which let us concentrate on our hiking.

picture taken during a hike At 4.6 miles we came to an open rock that at one point may have had a view. It was not clear to any of us exactly where the trail went from here. We wandered off in different direction and Kurt found Dozer Junction a little over 200 feet to the west. I found the actual trail to the south and followed it as Kurt caught up. The trail looped clockwise around the rock and ended up in a short but tricky descent to Dozer Junction. The junction is named for a bulldozer that sits at the junction. I took a few shots including one of Kurt in the driver's seat! I have been unable, despite several research attempts, to find out why the bulldozer was abandoned there. We turned left onto the blue trail and headed downhill over some very slippery spots following the blue trail to the yellow Wilkinson Memorial Trail. As we hiked we found more stone walls, several foundations, extensive woods roads and some farm equipment including disk and spring-tooth harrows. When we reached the yellow trail, we turned left to follow the trail back to the car. As we approached the junction with the white Fishkill Ridge Trail, we were walking along a relatively narrow portion of the trail with a high rock wall on the left and a dropoff on the right. The trail took us up and over some rocks which were wet with snow that had melted. This part of the trail had a southeasterly exposure and almost all the snow from earlier in the morning was gone. I took a few shots and then we continued along the trail where, at 5.4 miles, we eventually came to the junction we had been at on the way up from the valley. I had though the descent on the trail might be slippery from the accumulated snow but most of it was gone. Wherever a tree was located on the right side, there was a stripe on snow across the trail since the temperature was still below freezing and only the direct sunlight had caused the snow to sublimate. The descent went quickly but Kurt and I kept noticing the huge trees. There were several across the trail that were at least four feet in diameter with seemingly enough rings to indicate an age of over 100 years. We stopped to observe one monster and Kurt went over to stand by it to give some indication of scale. I snapped a few shots and then we started back toward the reservoir. As we passed through the gate and onto Reservoir Lane, we noticed a large "kettle" by the side of the road. It was iron and perhaps four feet in diameter. Its use was a mystery since there were no ruins around to put it in perspective. We walked back out to Route 9 and from there back to our cars. We were back at 2:30 Pm having spent 5 hours and 20 minutes hiking 7.2 miles with an elevation gain of 1850 feet. We spent almost an hour stopped so I was not too disappointed with the seemingly slow pace. We were both hungry and decided that we would stop at the Maya Café which is at the junction of Route 9 and I-84!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise) CalTopo - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise)caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise) On Monday, January 2nd I was ready to go out for the first hike of 2017. Even though the weekend had been a little tiring, I wanted to get in a longer hike. I checked the weather forecast and found we were supposed to get freezing rain by non so I decided to modify my plans and just head to Frick Pond one more time! When I awoke in the morning the temperature was just above 20 degrees so I was not too eager to get a very early start. I did a few things around the house and then decided to get going before the rain arrived. Because the temperature was only a little over 20 degrees, I decided to wear my Mammut hoody and warmer Columbia Titanium pants with a long-sleeved Patagonia Capilene baselayer. The hoody has lots of zippers to help regulate temperature and I knew I could always take it off. Sheila was happy to be going anywhere and crouched in the back seat with her head on the console. Just after 9:30 AM I headed out the DeBruce Road and it wasn't long before rain started to fall on the windshield and freeze! I almost turned back but kept going as the weather citations often change rapidly and are many times different at Frick Pond than in town. I also thought I could still get a short hike in even if it was raining. By the time we had arrived at the parking area, the rain had stopped but the temperature was only 25 degrees. The lot had been plowed once but new snow had accumulated. There were no other cars in the lot but there were a lot of snowshoe tracks! I put on my Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which have become my new favorites. These snowshoes have the "Boa" system which is supposed to allow tightening the front part of the binding with just a twist a knob. I found ether was a left and a right and put the snowshoes on. I found there was a "stopper" up front which limited how far forward the boot can go which I like. The strap around the back seemed to tighten very smoothly and the Boa system did allow me to tighten the binding very easily. We headed out to the Quick Lake Trail passing the trail register and heading toward Frick Pond. At Gravestone Junction we turned right to get on the yellow Logger's Loop heading toward Times Square. We made good time on the trail as it headed slightly downhill. I was surprised that there were a few muddy spots on the trail as everything else was covered in snow. A good snowshoe track had been laid down by multiple people traveling the same route. It is important when snowshoeing to keep the same track as others and to improve and widen it as you go. At Times Square we continued straight ahead to stay on the Logger's Loop and began to climb an uphill. The trail was well packed by snowmobiles and almost immediately we could hear some machines coming from the direction of Mongaup Pond. Sheila ran right over to me and we both walked off the trail. As the machines approached and saw us, they slowed down to a crawl. We waved as they passed us and accelerated. Some elope complain about the smell of the exhaust but it has never really bothered me. I realized that to me it smells like the exhaust from chainsaws which brings back a lot of good memories from when I was logging with my father 50 years ago. We continued our hike as the trail continued to rise and then flattened a little. It was a pleasure to walk on the packed trail and we ewer soon at Iron Wheel Junction. I stopped to take a few pictures of the contrast between the packed snowmobile trail and the fresh and untouched snow on the Quick lake trail. As I was getting ready to continue, we could hear another snowmobile approaching from the direction of Quick Lake. I assumed it was the machines returning but when it appeared it was a different machine. We waved and then headed back on the Quick Lake Trail.

picture taken during a hike As we started out on the Quick Lake Trail, I was breaking trail through about 6 inches of new snow. The consistency of the snow and the air temperature combined to give the snow and almost "silky" feel. None of the snow stuck to my snowshoes and it was easy to glide along with ease. The trail is slightly downhill and we made good time heading toward Frick Pond. I stopped at the small stream in the woods and took a few shots of the stream and some small waterfalls upstream. There was quite a bit of water in the stream but Sheila cleared it in one leap and I managed to get across without falling in. We walked through the "spruce tunnel" and out the other side. On the way to the pond we encountered several areas where there was water under the snow of no snow and just open, wet areas. When we came to the junction with the Big Rock Trail around the back of the pond I decided to continue to the bridge at the outlet of Frick Pond. My plan was to make another loop around the pond using the Loggers Loop and Big Rock Trail. Despite the fact that I have taken hundreds of pictures ROM the bridge, I stopped to take a few more. I packed up and we continued up the hill and back to Gravestone Junction. We turned left and started another loop by hiking out on the Logger's Loop to Times Square. It was about 11:45 AM but there was no sign of any rain which made me very happy. At Times Square we turned left onto the Big Rock Trail to loop around Frick Pond. This was the route most of the snowshoers had taken as it was well broken in. The walk around the back of the pond was pleasant but I decided not to take any pictures as the scenes were not much different from my previous trip. At the trail junction with the Quick lake Trail we turned left, passed across the bridge and up the hill to Gravestone Junction. This time we continued out the Quick Lake trail and back to the car. We arrived at the car at 12:25 PM having hike 4.8 miles in 2 hours and 25 minutes with an elevation gain of 480 feet. Our moving average of 2.2 mph was better than I had expected.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Bear Spring (east bushwhack) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, December 31st I had decided to hike at Bread Spring Wildlife Management Area since we had aborted an attempted several days before. I hoped that there would be more snow there than in Sullivan County and that snowshoes would be appropriate. The forecast was for temperatures reaching almost up to freezing but with a stiff breeze. There SW also a mention of snow in the afternoon. After straightening some things around the house, I asked Cindy if she would like to go. She declined and I got ready to go by replenishing my pack and getting my other gear ready. I wondered whether or not I should wear something a little warmer than my usual outfit but decided that once I got moving I would be OK. I got my gear in the car, let Sheila jump in the backseat and set out from Livingston Manor at about 11:30 AM. The temperature was in the high 20's as I drove north on Route 17 to Roscoe where I took Route 206 through Downsville toward Walton and almost to the top of Bear Spring Mountain. I turned left on East Trout Brook Road and drove passed Launt Pond to the pulloff near Middle Pond. The parking area had not been plowed but there was only a few inches of light snow. I pulled over and parked without a problem. I got my snowshoes on and set my electronics before releasing a crazed Sheila from the backseat. We set out down the trail to the pond at about 11:55 AM. The first thing I noticed was that there was far LESS snow than in my backyard! We crossed the bridge at the outlet of the pond and came to a trail junction. The trails showed that some snowmobiles had been active as the snow was well-packed. I started up the trail toward McCoy Hill but the wind was blowing hard and making me pretty cold. I knew there was a trail to the left that paralleled the brook and the road and would cut down on the wind. I came to a path to the left and took it even though it was not marked in nay way. It was an immediate relief to get out of the wind. At .4 miles the trail broke out into a field and I could not see where it went. We continued across the field and followed the tree line as I looked for the path. I didn't see a clear trail so I turned around and walked back toward the brook. I found a little path and started to follow it. The path eventually became a game path. I began to bushwhack along the brook. At times the way was pretty open and at others I was pushing through some dense brush. There were several places where we crossed wet areas and small tributaries of the main brook. I decided that as lone as I stayed between the brook and the rising land on my right I had to find the snowmobile trail eventually. Most of the time I could see East Trout Brook Road and an occasional car. At about 1.3 miles I caught a glimpse of the trucks in the parking area and made one final stream crossing to get to the lot. There were three trucks with snowmobile trailers and one machine sitting in the lot. We headed across the parking area to the gate which was open and started up the snowmobile trail. The first part of the trail was very steep averaging a 20% grade but only for about .15 miles. There still wasn't much snow but the snowshoes offered good traction. I flipped the heel supports up and won as needed since this is very easy on these snowshoes. At one point we heard the snowmobile start up and a moment later it came up the trail. We got over to the side and the driver slowed almost to a stop as he passed us.

picture taken during a hike At 1.5 miles the trail turned southeast but continued to climb for the next .5 miles at about a 10% grade. I started to notice a tightness in my right leg and didn't know whether it was just normal tiredness or the beginning of a cramp. I stopped and got out a bar and drank about a 1/3 of a liter of water. At 2 miles the trail stopped climbing and actually descended slightly before flattening out and following the contour of the hill for .4 miles. This made my legs feel better but I was pretty sure we still would have to climb to the top of the ridge to make the loop back to Middle Pond. At 2.4 miles the trail began to climb again and short after turned sharply to the left heading north. This only lasted for about .3 miles when we came to the "main" trail on the ridge. I was familiar with our location and we turned right to follow the trail toward the McCoy Hill Cutoff. The trail was mostly flat which my legs appreciated very much. At 2.95 miles we were at the turnoff for the McCoy Hill Cutoff. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take a few shots of the trail and of Sheila pulling on a buried stick. The signs indicated that Middle Pond was 1.3 miles away by the Cutoff of 2.4 miles on the main trail. I was feeling pretty good at this point except I was a little cold. This was the first hike of the year when I had experienced feeling cold. I decided that we would take the Cutoff as it was flat and then all downhill. We made the turn into the field and headed toward the woods on the other side. I noticed the unusual sky and decided to take a picture. As I snapped a few shots, several "snow devils" kicked up in the field. I took a few pictures hoping that I could capture the effect. I picked up my pack and we headed down the hill toward Middle Pond. The next 1.25 miles was all downhill at a comfortable 10% grade. When we broke out into an open area, I took a few pictures down the valley. As we walked down the trail there was a large blowdown across the trail but Sheila led me around it. At 3.8 miles the main trail came in from the left and I had a moment of regret that we had not traveled the extra mile or so. As we continued down the hill, I stopped to take a few shots of a small pond. A little further along on the trail we came to another trail on the right. Idealized that this was the trail I had meant to take at the beginning of the hike! I did not regret what I did since the bushwhack adventure was nice. Once we were on the bridge at Middle Pond I took a few pictures of the pond, the beaver dam and the brook below the dam. From the bridge we walked up to the car in the parking area. It was 2:25 PM and we had covered 4.4 miles and 940 feet of ascent in 2.5 hours. Our moving average was 2 mph which was good considering the bushwhack and the climb to the ridge.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Friday, December 30th Bryce was over for the morning and the early part of the afternoon. Now that he is in school I miss having him at the house and decided we should go snowshoeing on Round Top. The last time we had gone out was more than a year ago sine there was no snow last winter. At that time Bryce was only mildly enthusiastic and I wondered if that had changed now that he is almost 6 years old. When I mentioned snowshoeing, he seemed very interested and we decided to head out a little after 11:00 AM. Sheila was ready to go with us so I got my gear on while Bryce dressed. Cindy helped him put on his snowshoes and got his poles ready. I walked outside and put mine on and we were ready to go. I had decided to, leave the pack at home just to make things simpler. We walked out the driveway with Sheila on her leash and carefully crossed Rock Avenue. The tracks that Cindy and I had laid down the day before were almost completely filled. Bryce seemed to be making good time as we walked around the back of the church and started up the hill. The hill I short but steep and I worried Bryce would complain about the climb. He seemed to have no problem handling the ascent and we made it quickly to the top. We turned left into the woods at the trailhead and walked along the woods road. Suddenly Bryce spoke up saying "Grampy, I lost a snowshoe!" I expected the snowshoe to be just behind him but a quick look along the trail proved fruitless. We walked back out to the cemetery hill and I looked down the hill but could not see the snowshoe. I told Bryce to stay put and I rapidly descended the hill finally finding the snowshoe in the field almost to the street. I grabbed the snowshoe and turned around to start back to Bryce. I could not believe he had not noticed this problem earlier! I walked back up the hill and put the snowshoe on making sure both had snug and secure bindings. We headed back into the woods and continued straight ahead at the first trail junction to head up to the lookout. Again, Bryce did not seem to have a problem negotiating the uphill even though it is rather steep and difficult on snowshoes. At the upper ledges we walked close to the edge so we could get a good look at Livingston Manor from above. Bryce immediately pointed out the school, Peck's Market and the post office. After a few minutes, we turned around and walked back to the trail to continue our clockwise loop. As we walked up the trail, Bryce asked "When will we get to the tower?" I asked him what we meant and found that when I had said "lookout" he had thought of a tower which is sometimes the case. I explained we didn't have a tower...yet. We continued on the trail which continues to gain elevation. Bryce periodically informed me that he still had on both snowshoes and pointed out the yellow paint blazes. We reached the spot where the trail turns right and I asked Bryce if he wanted to hike up the steep trail to the summit. Bryce politely declined the offer and we continued on the main lower trail. We followed the trail as it made a sharp right and started to descend to the first trail junction. Once we started downhill Bryce was pressing me from behind. At the trail junction we turned left and headed back out to the cemetery. As we started to descend the cemetery hill, I let Bryce go first. He moved very quickly down the hill and I found it hard to keep up. He is much more coordinated and has much more endurance than two winters ago. We walked around the back of the church and through the field to cross the street. Out tracks from earlier were almost filled in by the blowing snow. Back at the house I looked at my watch and found we had been out over and hour!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Thursday, December 29th I awoke to find several inches of snow on the ground and more falling as predicted. I went downtown early and found the streets and roads were in very poor shape. I wanted to go snowshoeing but decided to wait to see what the storm would do. As the day progressed the temperature began to rise. Cindy and I decided to go out before the snow stopped and turned to ice or rain. We decided the best choice was to simply go across the street and snowshoe on Round Top as we could walk directly from our house and avoid driving. I wanted to take some pictures and the most convenient way is just to carry my pack. I again decided to use the Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which I had not had the chance to use last year due to the lack of snow. These snowshoes have the "Boa" system which is supposed to allow tightening the front part of the binding with just a twist a knob. I found ether was a left and a right and put the snowshoes on. I found there was a "stopper" up front which limited how far forward the boot can go which I like. The strap around the back seemed to tighten very smoothly and the Boa system did allow me to tighten the binding very easily. I knew these snowshoes were overkill for the easy trail on Round Top but I wanted to try them again. Cindy also decided to try out her new snowshoes which I got her for Christmas. Hers are the women's version of the same Tubbs Alp Flex VRT that is have! Sheila was ready to go as soon as we started betting my gear out but tried to be the well-behaved dog. It didn't take long to get ready and I put Sheila on her leash for the walk across the street. The snow was still falling at a pretty rapid rate as we crossed the street and walked across the field to the base of the cemetery hill. I stopped to take a shot up the hill and then we beacon the ascent of the steepest hill. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping! When we got to the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The town was almost completely hidden by the falling snow but I took a few shots anyway. I picked up my pack and we entered the woods. I noticed there was significantly more snow than I the last time I had been on the trail. There was enough snow to prevent any damage to the snowshoes and the extra grip made walking easier. The new snow depth varied in most places from 3 to 5 inches. At the trail junction we decided to go straight ahead up the steeper section to the lookout. An the way up I tried flipping up the heel elevators on the snowshoes and they went up and down very easily. When we neared the top, I turned left to walk out to the lower lookout. I didn't want to encourage others to take this route but I did want the pictures. Crossing the little open gulf in the path seemed easier with the grip of snowshoes. I again got out the camera and took pictures of the town from another angle. Again, much of the view was obscured by the falling snow. This viewpoint offers a great view of the school and the buildings downtown. I also took a few shots of Cindy and Sheila on the higher ledge. After taking some shots, I put away the camera and walked up to the higher ledge.

picture taken during a hike From the viewpoint we continued on the trail in a clockwise direction checking to make sure the yellow blazes were visible and spaced the correct distance apart. When we got to the green ribbons marking the proposed upper trail, I wanted to follow them to the summit of Round Top but Cindy declined the offer so we continued on the main lower trail. I stopped a few more times to take some pictures since the trees with the snow on them were so beautiful. We followed the trail as it made a sharp right turn and headed back to the first trail junction to close the loop. Being the first people to walk on the trail through the freshly fallen snow was somehow special. The downhill walk passed the ledges went quickly and we were soon at the trail junction. Cindy turned left to go back out to the trailhead and then home. I took Sheila and turned around to follow the trail back up passed the ledges to start the trail in reverse or counterclockwise. When we reached the sharp left turn that makes a loop of the trail, we continued straight ahead following the green ribbons that I had used to mark the proposed trail to the summit. The ribbons were harder to follow than I thought they would be as many were covered in snow. Some of the branches along the route were heavy with snow and hung down in the path. When we reached the top I followed the ribbons but lost them on the descent. I kept searching for them and found them a little to my left where I picked them up and followed them back to the lower trail. We turned right and followed the trail back out to the lookout where the view wasn't much different than before. I decided I wanted to stay out a little longer and turned left into the woods roughly following the edge of the ledges. I didn't get too near the edge of the cliffs and eventually wound up on the lower trail. We turned left and headed north a short distance before turning right or east and back up the trail to the summit of Round Top. This time I carefully followed the green ribbons and found I had only gone wrong by a few feet on the previous descent. At the top of the hill we continued to follow the ribbons as they led us southwest off the summit and back to the lower trail. We followed the lower trail downhill to the first trail junction. At this point we had been out for about and hour and a half which seemed like enough time. W earned left and followed the trail back out to the trail head. I took a few more pictures of town since the snow had abated. After taking a few shots, I shouldered my pack and headed back down the hill to the back of the church and then home. We had been out for about 1.5 hours and had hiked around 3 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, December 27th I knew that I had to get in a hike after a long weekend of celebration and the ice storm on Monday. Cindy wanted to go too but we had some work to do around the house. Just before noon we decided it was time to get going and headed north and west on Route 17 toward Roscoe. Sheila could hardly contain herself in the back seat as she really loves it when we both go on a hike with her. I got of at exit 94 and headed north toward Downsville on Route 206. Our plan was to hike at Bear Spring WMA between Downsville and Walton as I though there might be enough snow on the mountain to let us use our snowshoes. The further north went, the darker the sky became. Cindy felt it was possible that there might be rain falling and neither of us wanted to drive that far and then turn back. We decided to turn around and go back to Trout Pond where the skies had looked more favorable. As soon as we turned around and started to drive back to Roscoe we could see sun and blue skies which buoyed our spirits. I turned right on Morton Hill Roadand drove to the intersection with Russell Brook Road, I turned around and parked on the side of the road to avoid parking in the large open space which is marked as private property. Unfortunately, two vehicles were already parked in the pulloff and I doubted they had permission from the property owner! The temperature was in the mid 30's when we parked just before 1:00 PM. I knew we would not need snowshoes but Cindy decided to don her Microspikes while I thought I would wait to see if I needed them. Sheila was ready to go as always and as we started down the road which was covered in snow, ice and slush. It was easier for Cindy but I had no trouble walking in the snow. It was obvious that someone had decided to try driving down the road. They abandoned that idea when they got to the first steep descent! As we walked down the road, the stream was making a lot of noise so I expected the falls to have a good volume as they did the last time I had visited. As we passed the lookout over the falls, we found the volume to be about the same as my last visit and I did not see the need to take pictures. We headed down to the lower parking area and encountered three people walking up the road. We said "Hello" and the continued in opposite directions. From their dress and lack of any equipment, I assumed they had visited the falls and were on the way back. walked down to the woods road that is the main trail. We crossed the bridge over Russell Brook and walked passed the stand of Japanese knotweed that looked harmless. We decided not to visit the falls on the way out and walked to the register box and headed up to Trout Pond.

picture taken during a hike The trail still had some running water in places but it was mostly covered in snow and ice. The blue sky still had some puffy white clouds and some sun as we continued up the trail toward the pond. At the pond, I took off my pack and got out the camera. The water level was much higher nearly reaching the spillway and the pond was covered in a layer of ice. There were some breaks in the ice near the shore and it did not look sturdy enough to support people. I took a few pictures of the pond and noticed that the ice and water had a deep blue quality that I hoped would show up in the final product. I packed up and we continued up the trail toward the head end of the pond. The trail remained much the same but now had a few areas of standing water. I did stop at one point to take a few more pictures before continuing toward the outlet. Sheila alerted as we approached the lower lean-to as there was a young man walking form the bridge back to the lean-to. He did not seem interested in talking to us. We walked across the bridge and I decided to walk off the trail toward the pond to take a few shots. The skies were now growing a little more overcast and there was less sun. We continued our walk on the main trail and started the ascent up the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. As we started to climb Cherry Ridge the walking became more difficult as the snow was deeper on the northern exposure. The snow was wet and very slippery and each time I planted my foot I would slide back some. Along the way were several large blowdowns which we could not clear without an axe and saw. There were a few branches down which we picked up and moved to the side of the trail. Since I have begun to do trail maintenance, I always think how much easier it would be if everyone who hiked would just pick up a branch here and there. We made a slight turn to the south and began to climb some more. Sheila was roaming the brush near the trail and seemed to always be on a scent trail. We hit the high point on the hike and started down the other side. There was much less snow on the shouter exposure and quite a bit of water on the trail both standing and running. We continued to find blowdowns and branches on the trail. After a short ascent to the "forest of numerous small trees", we walked down to the woods road and snowmobile trail and turned left to complete our loop. The slight ascent was covered in ice and I almost gave in and put on my Microspikes. I was able to walk on the sides of the trail in the snow while Cindy simply confidently walked up the middle of the trail! The descent to the trail junction was wet in many spots with a few bare places and lots of ice. As we walked down the will the skies continued to grow darker and the wind came up. We passed the large campsite on the left at the bottom of the hill and walked over the bridge which had as much snow as any other place on the trail. I looked up to see the young man who had been at the lean-to walking passed the trail register. We turned right at the trail junction to walk back to the lower parking area. We decided not to visit the lower falls due to the hour and the fact that it would not be much different than my last visit. We walked up the road back to our car. We arrived back at the car at 3:45 PM. We had hiked 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes gaining 1090 feet of elevation. Our moving average was 2 mph which I considered good under the conditions.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) AllTrails - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) CalTopo - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road)caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) MapMyHike - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) On Saturday, December 23rd, I was ready to get out for the second official hike of the winter which started on Wednesday, December 21. Of course, there isn't much difference between fall and winter at this time of year and there had been snow on the ground for some time. I thought about going to Jensen ledges since the walk is relatively short and Cindy wanted to come with me. The view from the Ledges is spectacular but Cindy pointed put is was already late morning and we did not know the condition of the road that leads to the parking area for Jensen ledges. She suggested we hike Cabot Mountain from Beech Hill Road which surprised me since this is a relatively short but steep hike. The suggestion suited me since I like the difficultly of the climb and because I maintain the section of trail from Big Pond to Beech Hill Road for the Finger Lakes Trail and had not been on it since early fall. By the time we were ready to go and got our gear in the car along with Sheila it was 11:45 AM. We decided to forego the snowshoes as the rain had diminished some of the snow but we took along our Microspikes just in case we ran into any ice or packed snow along the way. We started for Lew Beach on the Beaverkill Road and turned left on Beach Hill Road just outside of Lew Beach. I continued 2.6 miles to the trailhead for Cabot Mountain. When we arrived the parking area had not been plowed but there was enough room for me to pull into the soft snow bank on the side of the road. The temperature was about 34 degrees when we got out of the car but it felt a little colder as a slight breeze was blowing. I had on a short sleeved baselayer with a Mammut top and my Mammut Hoody. I wore my Columbia Paso Alto pants with the OmniHeat lining which really does seem to reflect body heat. There was a good coating of snow at the trailhead amounting to several inches. We started out on the woods road at 12:20 PM and immediately found one rather large tree across the trail which made me wonder how many more there would be. The tree was large but I judged it could be removed with axe and saw. As we started through the woods the lower trail was wet in paces with standing water in some areas and running water in others. The water was pretty easy to avoid but we had to be careful of the ice.It was obvious that someone had hiked the trail since the snow had fallen but the tracks were not recent and had been filled ion with snow. At .25 miles the trail began to climb and over the next .5 miles we gained 580 feet with the grade averaging 21%! We found one more tree down across the trail rather early on the slope and one a little higher up. The latter I removed by dragging it of to the side. The patches of ice continued to be a bother and we had to be careful of our footing although Sheila did not seem to be having a problem. At one point I stopped to take some pictures of large sedimentary outcroppings and a few of Sheila on the trail. As I was about to put away my camera, Sheila walked behind one of the outcroppings and climbed to the top to survey the landscape. I took a few shot of her and then we continued to climb. The trail was in pretty good shape and only a few areas would need some lopping

picture taken during a hike As we reached the top of the main climb, I looked at my watch and found it had taken 45 minutes to go a little more than .7 miles. The trail leveled off a little but there were still a few downs and ups along the way. The snow depth on the ridge was between 2 inches and two feet where the snow had drifted. We followed trail as it turned from northeast to almost east. At times the trail was barely distinguishable as there were only a few markers and the trail bed was covered by snow. The further we went and the higher we climbed, the more snow we found. This continued until about 1.25 miles where the final climb to Cabot Mountain began. At about 1 mile the trail had turned southeast and began to follow the edge of the mountain. Cindy did not care whether or not she got to the lookout over Little Pond so I went ahead with Sheila at a very fast pace. I had forgotten how far the lookout was from the road and resolved to go just until I hit 1.5 miles to make a respectable round trip. At some point I found the trail packed by people coming from the other direction. This made walking much easier and we continued up to the summit at 1.4 miles and then descended slightly to the viewpoint at 1.5 miles. I dropped my pack and took some pictures of Sheila on the lookout. I stepped over to the lookout and took shots of Little Pond and some of the mountains in the other direction. I got a quick drink and the shouldered my pack to head back at 1:45 PM. Sheila and I kept a quicker pace than on the way up in an effort to get to Cindy. The fact that the trail was covered in snow made some of the hiking easier and some harder. I was not sure if Cindy was waiting or had turned around to go back. I kept calling to Sheila to stay with me but let her go she I could see Cindy seated on a stump up ahead. I hurried ahead and found she had caught up with Cindy who had waited for us. Cindy had tried to put on her Microspikes but found one chain saw broken which I did not remember from last year. She decided to wear the one but I thought I would wait to see if I really needed the. The way back was quicker for the most part but there were some tricky descents that were slippery from the snow and ice. I descended rather quickly sometimes going off the trail to take advantage of the traction in the snow and to avid the ice. Cindy was a little slows but we both made it down to the flatter part at the base without incident. As we were walking out I heard Cindy call out and turned to find her on the ground after slipping on some ice! Cindy got up and we hiked the rest of the way back to the car arriving at 2:45 PM. We had spent 2 hours and 25 minutes on the 3 mile hike. The vertical gain was 900 feet. It had taken an hour and 25 minutes to go up but only one hour to come down.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Trout Pond (Clockwise) AllTrails - Trout Pond (Clockwise) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Trout Pond (Clockwise) MapMyHike - Trout Pond (Clockwise) On Thursday, December 22nd, I was ready to get out for the first official hike of the winter which started the day before. Of course, there isn't much difference between fall and winter at this time of year and there had been snow on the ground for some time. I wanted to stay close to home and avoid a long drive but also wanted to get away from Round Top and Frick Pond. I decided to head to Trout pond since I had not been there in some time and was excited to see what the recent snow and rain had done to the water levels in Russell Brook. I was hoping the falls would have some water which would make taking some pictures worthwhile. I had some things to do around the house and was also waiting to see whether the skies would clear after some early morning snow. At about 10:45 AM the skies did clear and became blue with white clouds. There was even some sun although the temperature was still in the high 20's. I put my gear in the trunk and an overjoyed Sheila in the back seat and headed to Roscoe on State Route 17. I got on Route 206 and followed it across the Delaware County line to Morton Hill Road. After a left turn on Morton Hill Road, I drove to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road to avoid the parking area which is private. I had decided to bring only my Microspikes as I did not think I would need snowshoes. We began our hike down Russell Brook Road at 11:15 AM. The air still seemed cool to me so I wore my Mammut Hoody, a hat and light gloves. I had on my Columbia Passo Alto pants with the reflective OmniHeat lining but decided I did not need tights underneath. I wore a long-sleeved crew neck Mammut shirt which is a little heavier than some I have and a short sleeved baselayer. Russell Brook Road was not plowed but it looked as if some snowmobiles had been using it. There were areas of packed snow and ice so I was careful to walk in the looser snow which worked just fine. We continued on down Russell Brook Road to the overlook over the upper falls. There was more water in the stream than I had seen since the spring and the upper falls had a volume that made taking pictures a must. I decided to skip the pictures on the way out and take them when I returned. We continued down toward the parking area and got on the woods road that goes down to the bridge that crosses the brook. I decided not to walk to the falls and continued on the main trail to the register. At the trail junction just after the register we turned to the left to climb the steeper hill toward Mud Pond. The trail was covered in snow in most places but also had bare areas and areas with ice! The sun was out and as soon as we started to climb the hill, I stopped to open up the zippers on my hoody. The ascent went quickly and I was glad to see there were no new blowdowns on this part of the trail. We reached the top of the hill at 11:55 AM after hiking 1.4 miles. The woods road was covered in snow over a layer of ice which made negotiating the trail very hazardous. I again used the snow on the side of the road to get some traction and at 1.6 miles we made a right to follow the trail up to the shoulder of Cherry Ridge.

picture taken during a hike This trail was also covered in snow and the more elevation we gained the deeper the snow became. Except for a few drifts the snow depth was never more than 8 inches and I was glad I had opted not to wear snowshoes. We avoided a few icy areas and crossed a few small streams and some standing water. The ascent continued for the next 1.2 miles until at 2.7 miles into the hike when we were at the highest point and ready to start the descent to Trout Pond. Along the way we had come across two or three new major blowdowns but were able to easily hike around them. One concerned me as it was a large branch precariously arched over the trail with little support at the upper end. We had been hiking the southern exposure and as we started down the other side there was a little more snow on the trail. I also noticed that the skies were now grey and the sun had disappeared. Some precipitation was falling from the sky which appeared to be almost snow and almost rain. As we descended toward Trout Pond there were three major blowdowns that would require an axe and saw to clear. The trail remained snowy and slippery as we approached the bridge at the inlet end of the pond. I decided to stop and take some pictures even though there was nothing remarkable about the scene. We continued on the main trail toward the outlet of the pond and the trail remained snow covered with ice in spots. At the lower end of the pond I again stopped to take pictures of a scene I had photographed many times! The water level in the pond was much higher than it had been all summer and fall and the pond was covered in a layer of ice. The skies were still overcast but the precipitation had stopped. The hike from the outlet to the trail junction is all downhill but I had to be careful to avoid many icy spots. Sheila did not seem to mind the icy or snow! By 1:35 PM we had hiked 4.7 miles and were back at the trail junction and register box. I decided that I wanted to walk over to the falls and we turned left on the path to the falls. We walked up the path toward the lower falls and then down the bank to the streambed. There was a lot of snow and ice on the little descent and I slid on my backside the last few feet. I was happy when I saws that the falls was flowing freely and had a "mirror" of ice on the right side. I took a few quick pictures of falls including a few with Sheila and some of the ice in the stream. We walked back up the bank which was not easy as I had only one clean foothold. I found it is important to be able to lift your body weight and pack with the muscles of one leg! We walked out to the main trail to continue our hike back to the car. As we walked up the road back to the car, I stopped at the overlook and decided to walk down to take a few shots of the upper falls. I played with some settings to try to get different pictures of the water. Getting back up to the road wasn't difficult and we continued up the road and back to the car. We arrived back at 2:05 PM having covered 5.5 miles and 1120 vertical feet in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Fall 2016

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond only AllTrails - Frick Pond only CalTopo - Frick Pond onlycaltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond only MapMyHike - Frick Pond only On Saturday, December 17th I headed out to Frick Pond with Sheila after hiking Round Top with Cindy earlier in the day. We had only hiked about a mile and I wanted more! Six to ten inches of new powder had fallen over night and I wanted to try it out before the temperatures rose on Sunday and the predicted rain ruined it. Sheila was happy to be in the backseat as we headed out the DeBruce Road. After about six miles I turned left on Mongaup road and headed toward Frick Pond. As I drove rain started to hit the windscreen but I decided to see what it was doing at the trailhead. At the fork in the road I stayed left Te Beech Mountain Road. At the trailhead parking the rain had stopped but neither lot had been plowed. I decided to chance getting stuck and turned into the lot crossing a rather high snow bank. I let Sheila out of the car and put on my snowshoes. The Tubbs Alp Flex VRT go on very quickly as the bindings are easy to use. We began our hike at about 1:30 Pm by hiking out the woods road toward Frick Pond. I stopped to take a few pictures on the undisturbed snow on the Quick Lake Trail near the register. There was some water underneath the snow as we hiked out the trail to Gravestone Junction where we stayed left on the Quick Lake Trail to Frick Pond. When we got to the bridge over the outlet I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took a picture of Sheila and the snow on the bridge. The water level in the pond was much higher and water was freely flowing in the outlet stream. From the bridge I took a few pictures of the pond. Flynn's Point was almost completely covered in a cloud and the skies were overcast. I picked up my pack and we started around the pond. At the junction of the Quick Lake Trail and the Big Rock Trail we turned right to get on the Big Rock Trail around the back of the pond. Under the tall evergreen trees there was less snow but it still averaged over 6 inches. When we got to the wooden causeways, they were covered in well over a foot of snow and I stopped to take a few pictures.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the Big Rock Trail as it wound around the back of Frick Pond heading toward Times Square. There were a few wet spots under the snow but the temperature was still in the high 20's or low 30's. When we arrived at Times Square, I was surprised to see that no snowmobiles had passed through on the Big Rock Trail and Logger's Loop. We turned to the right to get on the Logger's Loop to complete the loop around Frick Pond. By this time my legs were beginning to get a little tired from lifting and breaking trail by myself. Sheila seemed to be unaffected and continued to bound ahead of me and then come racing back helping to break trail and keep me entertained. Although she looks like a yellow lab she has a longer coat from a dose of Husky blood. She never seems to get cold. Sheila was following her nose and frequently wound bury it in the snow digging slightly. I never saw what attracted her attention but it was very humorous to see her bury her head! The Logger's Loop climbs slightly from Times Square and I noticed this as I continued to break the trail. Soon we were on flatter ground heading back toward Gravestone Junction. I though about taking a few more pictures but there was nothing really interesting to photograph. At Gravestone Junction we turned left to head back to the car on the Quick lake Trail. As we passed the register, Sheila alerted and I could see a young couple starting out from the parking lot. We walked a little farther before I walked to the side of the trail with Sheila to let them pass. I was disappointed that they did not have snowshoes. I greeted them and suggested it was a good day for snowshoes. They said they didn't realize that there would be so much snow and they would follow my trail! Fortunately the snow was not deep enough for them to ruin the trail I had just worked to create with postholes. We were back at the car around 3:00 PM having hiked about 2.3 miles. I put Sheila in the car and my gear in the trunk. I had no trouble backing out of the lot to head home.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Saturday, December 13th I was very happy when I woke up to find at least six inches of new powder on the ground and snow still falling. The snow tapered off by late morning and Cindy and I decided to go across the street to snowshoe on the new trail on Round Top. The thermometer read only in the high 20's when we crossed the street just after 11:00 AM but it didn't seem very cold. I wanted to take some pictures and the most convenient way is just to carry my pack. I again decided to use the Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which I had not had the chance to use last year due to the lack of snow. These snowshoes have the "Boa" system which is supposed to allow tightening the front part of the binding with just a twist a knob. I found there was a left and a right and put the snowshoes on. I found the "stopper" up front limits how far forward the boot can go which I like. The strap around the back seemed to tighten very smoothly and the Boa system did allow me to tighten the binding very easily. I knew these snowshoes were overkill for the easy trail on Round Top but I wanted to try them again. Sheila was ready to go as soon as I started betting my gear out. After crossing the street we headed across the filed and behind the church. We decided to walk up the steepest hill which is the most direct way to the trailhead. I let Sheila off her leash and we started up. The hill is short but the added snow made it a challenge. When we got to the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. I took one of Cindy ascending the hill. The sky was a little overcast but the town looked very pretty covered with a layer of white. I picked up my pack and we entered the woods. I noticed there was significantly more snow than the last time we had hiked the trail. The snow depth varied in most places from 6 to 10 inches. At the trail junction we decided to go straight ahead up the steeper section to the lookout. When we neared the top, I turned left to walk out to the lower lookout. I didn't want to encourage others to take this route but I did want the pictures. Crossing the little open gulf in the path seemed easier with the grip of snowshoes. I again got out the camera and took pictures of the town from another angle. This viewpoint offers a great view of the school and the buildings downtown. Cindy and Sheila were on the upper ledge so I took a few photos of them. After taking some more shots, I put away the camera and walked up to the higher ledge. From the viewpoint we continued on the trail in a clockwise direction checking to make sure the yellow blazes were visible and spaced the correct distance apart. When we got to the green ribbons marking the proposed upper trail, I wanted to go up and over the hill but Cindy expressed a desire to continue on the lower trail. I had plans to do more hiking that she wanted to do but conceded. We followed the lower trail to the right until the next big turn. When we arrived at the sharp right turn that takes the trail back to the first trail junction, we turned right and headed down the wood road back toward the trailhead. We continued our walk down to the trail junction where we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. We decided to return by turning right and gliding down the steepest hill to the church parking lot. From there we walked back across the street to our house. Since we had walked only about a mile, I decided that Sheila and I would head for Frick Pond to get in some more snowshoeing. The weather forecast was for rain on Sunday with highs in the mid 40's so I wanted to take advantage of the fresh snow while it was still around! I put my gear in the trunk and Sheila in the back seat and we headed out the DeBruce Road to Frick Pond.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Tuesday, December 13th I was very tired from snowshoeing at Frick Pond the day before. I decided I wanted to walk the new Round Top Trail and called Lisa to see if she wanted to go. She agreed to meet me in the church parking lot at 9:30 AM. When I got up in the morning it was sunny but the thermometer read only 20 degrees. I did a few things around the house and then started to get my equipment ready. I wanted to take some pictures and the most convenient way is just to carry my pack. I again decided to use the Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which I had not had the chance to use last year due to the lack of snow. These snowshoes have the "Boa" system which is supposed to allow tightening the front part of the binding with just a twist a knob. I found ether was a left and a right and put the snowshoes on. I found there was a "stopper" up front which limited how far forward the boot can go which I like. The strap around the back seemed to tighten very smoothly and the Boa system did allow me to tighten the binding very easily. I knew these snowshoes were overkill for the easy trail on Round Top but I wanted to try them again. Sheila was ready to go as soon as I started betting my gear out. It seemed she couldn't believe we were going out two days in a row. It didn't take long to get ready and I put Sheila on her leash for the walk across the street. Just as I was walking out the driveway Lisa arrived and she went to park by the church where I met her. We talked as she put on her Crescent Moon snowshoes. I set my GPS at the base of the cemetery hill and we were off. Lisa wanted to walk the middle road through the cemetery so we took that route. At the end of that section we turned left to head up the steeper hill to the top of the cemetery where the trail begins. When we got to the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The sun sparkled off the snow and the town looked very pretty covered with a layer of white. I picked up my pack and we entered the woods. I noticed there was significantly less snow than I had encountered the day before at Frick Pond. The snow depth varied in most places from 4 to 6 inches. At the trail junction we decided to go straight ahead up the stepper section to the lookout. An the way up I tried flipping up the heel elevators on the snowshoes and they went up and down very easily. When we neared the top, I turned left to walk out to the lower lookout. I didn't want to encourage others to take this route but I did want the pictures. Crossing the little open gulf in the path seemed easier with the grip of snowshoes. I again got out the camera and took pictures of the town from another angle. This viewpoint offers a great view of the school and the buildings downtown. After taking some shots, I put away the camera and walked up to the higher ledge.

picture taken during a hike From the viewpoint Lisa and I continued on the trail in a clockwise direction checking to make sure the yellow blazes were visible and spaced the correct distance apart. When we got to the green ribbons marking the proposed upper trail, we decided to follow the lower trail to the right until the next big turn. Soon we arrived at the sharp right turn that takes the trail back to the first trail junction. We turned left and followed the green ribbons up to the summit of Round Top. The ribbons were ease to follow and stood out well against the white snow. Lisa and I talked about the need to make sure the final trail would not be too steep for the majority of users. I suggested having a steep ascent going directly to the top with a "snake" of switchbacks as an option. Climbing the hill in the snow was more challenging than without snow. Once we reached the top we continued to follow the ribbons as they turned left and back toward the lower trail. This part of the trail is also steep and we got a nice glide in some sections. This section may also need some switchbacks but it is the route with the least slope that I could find! When we got back to the lower trail, we turned left to retrace our steps back to where we had turned left on the posed upper trail. This time we turned right and headed down the wood road back toward the trailhead. Lisa told me that the grant for the Riverwalk in Livingston Manor had been approved in the amount of $420,000! This grant will help stabilize the stream bank of the Willowemoc Creek and provide a handicapped accessible trail along the river. Lisa was a major reason the grant was approved and it would not have been successful without her work. Eventually the trail on Round Top, the Riverwalk and the O&W Rail Trail will become a network of trails in Livingston Manor offering something for everyone! We continued our walk down to the trail junction where we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. We decided to return by turning right and gliding down the steepest hill to the church parking lot. We arrived back at Lisa's car at 10:50 AM after walking 1.2 miles in 1 hour and 10 minutes. Our elevation gain was a modest 380 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick and Hodge Ponds (Flynn and Big Rock Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, December 12th I woke up to find at least 8 inches of freshly fallen snow in the backyard! I knew it was coming and had been out just after midnight on an ambulance call but it was nice to see it. All the schools in the county were closed and I knew I wanted to go out to snowshoe. Cindy wanted to go too but as we were getting ready Karl showed up with Luke. I decided I would go to Frick Pond and get in a loop and then come back to see how Luke would do on snowshoes in the backyard. The forecast was for some light rain as the temperature started to rise and as I left town just after 10:30 AM I started to see precipitation on my windshield. I was annoyed that I had not started out earlier and almost turned around and went home as I did not want to get wet. I decided to continue on to Frick Pond since the temperature is often lower there and the weather different. The roads were in pretty good shape as I headed out the DeBruce Road to Mongaup Pond Road where I made a left. I continued until the road spilt and then stayed left on Beech Mountain Road. When I arrived at the parking areas, neither was plowed! I took a chance and drove through the snowball left buy the plow and parked in the smaller lot. When I opened my door, I found the snow was right up to the door opening. I let Sheila out and she immediately starting bounding through the snow. I had brought a new pair of Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which I had not had the chance to use last year due to the lack of snow. These snowshoes have the "Boa" system which is supposed to allow tightening the front part of the binding with just a twist a knob. I found ether was a left and a right and put the snowshoes on. I found there was a "stopper" up front which limited how far forward the boot can go which I like. The strap around the back seemed to tighten very smoothly and the Boa system did allow me to tighten the binding very easily. It didn't take long to get ready as I set my GPS and walked across the road to the beginning of the Flynn Trail. My plan was to hike up the Flynn Trail, down the Big Rock Trail to the Quick Lake trail which would let me complete the loop back to the car. The temperature was 33 degrees when I left the parking area but there was no rain falling. The higher temperature had turned the light powder into a slightly heavier snow that easily compacted. I climbed the snow bank at the start of the trail at 10:55 AM and then started through the woods. Everything was beautiful covered in white snow and I shared Sheila's enthusiasm. By the time I made it to the woods road and turned right I remembered how tiring snowshoeing can be especially when there isn't anyone with you to help break trail. I followed Sheila's track as she headed up the trail well ahead of me. It was quiet and I soon noticed I was working up quite a sweat. I stopped and opened the pit zips and front zipper on my Mammut hoody and then continued up the trail. I stopped a few times along the way to take a few pictures of where we had been and where we were going. The snow was sticking to my boots and I stopped frequently to remove the snow from my boots. As we neared the top of the Flynn Trail at the junction with the Big Rock Trail, the skies got a little darker and the wind started blowing. We reached the junction at 12:10 PM and I stopped briefly to get a drink and a snack. We had covered the 1.7 miles and 640 feet of vertical gain in 1 hour and 15 minutes which was very slow. My leg muscles were sore from the workout and I knew we had farther to go than we had come so far. Fortunately, most of the return trip was downhill or flat.

picture taken during a hike We turned left on the Big Rock trail and started down the hill. Going down was much easier than going up but the snow was still clumping on my boots and I had to stop frequently. Along the way was one trunk or branch across the trail and in another spot a substantial blowdown which blocked the trail. The Big Rock Trail is used by snowmobiles and I knew the club that maintains the trails would remove this obstruction. Although the descent was pretty easy I could never get a good glide on the snow and the trip down seemed long. As we approached Times Square, I stopped to take a few pictures. We continued straight ahead through Times Square to stay on the Big Rock Trails round the back of Frick Pond. The walking here was easier and the snow was not clumping anymore. As soon as we started hiking under the evergreen trees, the snow depth diminished to only a few inches. I again stopped to take pictures as we crossed the two bridges. I found another blowdown blocking the trail and made note that I would have to remove this one myself. We continued over the wooden walkways which were coated in snow and I took a few more pictures. When we got to the Quick Lake Trail, we turned left to head toward the outlet of Frick Pond. By the time we got to the bridge, Flynn's Point was almost hidden by a snow squall! I took pictures of the bridge, the pond and the outlet stream. Sheila and I walked up the hill and out to Gravestone Junction. We turned right to head back to the car and found boot prints heading out on the Logger's Loop. I was annoyed that the person had not worn snowshoes but they really weren't necessary. We walked out the woods road to the car. A pickup was parked in the bigger lot and the tracks led back to it. It was 1:35 PM and it had taken us 2 hours and 35 minutes to hike 3.9 miles with 675 feet of vertical gain. I had no trouble getting the car out of the snow in the lot as I drove back home. When I arrived home I found Cindy outside with Luke building snowmen even though a light rain was falling. Luke seemed to be having a lot of fun and seemed adept at creating the balls of snow needed. I took my gear inside and cam back out with the kid's snowshoes. I called Luke over and soon had him outfitted. I lifted him off the porch and set him down in the snow. I was surprised at how well he maneuvered with the snowshoes and how easily he was able to get up after a spill. He almost ran around the whole backyard before I corralled him to take a few pictures.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Tuesday, December 6th I had limited time to hike between ambulance calls and track practice so I decided to go across the street to hike the Round Top Trail. This satisfies Sheila and allows me to stretch my legs. I planned to hike it at least twice since the complete trail is only .6 miles. Sheila has a little Siberian Husky in her and she loves to romp in the snow. The temperatures was 21 degrees at 6:30 AM so I did some work around the housed and waited for it to rise a little. The temperature crept up slowly until I finally decided to leave the house at about 10:30 AM> I put Sheila on her leash and crossed the street. I kept Sheila on her leash and allowed her to pull me up the cemetery hill to the trailhead. I did not bring along my pack and regretted a little as the view from the top of the hill was pretty. We entered the trail where I released Sheila so she could get a good run in. Ain the trail junction Sheila continued straight ahead toward the lookout so I followed her up the hill. I was wearing my standard winter outfit of my Mammut hoody over two layers. The Columbia Titanium pants with the Omniheat lining are fast becoming by new favorite. I had opted to wear my Keen Glarus boots even though they are not insulated and they did a surprisingly good job of keeping my feet warm. There was a good coating of snow on the trail but not enough to use snowshoes. Hopefully we will begin to get more snow with colder weather so it will stay around! As we hiked up the trail I was warm and began to remember that 25 degrees isn't that cold if you are properly dressed. We turned left on the short spur trail out to the viewpoint and got a nice view of town. The small gap we had to cross to get to the lower ledges was beginning to be a little more of a problem now that there was ice and snow present. We walked up to the upper ledges and began the loop that would take us back around to the trail junction. When we reached the point where the new trail intersects the old woods road, I decided to follow the route to the top of Round Top which I had flagged with some students from the high school. Instead of following the woods road to the right, we continued straight ahead up the hill. I was a little hard to follow the flags but we were soon at the top where I turned right to head back down to the existing trail.

As I started down the hill, I found it hard to follow the ribbons and wandering a little too far south where things looked a little less familiar. When I did hit a woods road, I had to walk northwest to get back to the existing trail where the proposed upper trail heads up the hill. We headed downhill on the existing loop and tuned right at the bottom of the hill where to pass by the ledges on the right. Just after the turn thee was a large birch tree newly fallen across the trail. This would require and axe or saw and I immediately decided to walk back to the house to get a tool and return to remove the obstruction. We walked back down to the trail junction and turned left to walk out to the trailhead. The walk down the steep hill was made easier as I decided to stay on the snow at the side of the road. At the bottom of the hill I put Sheila on her leash and headed across the field to my driveway. At the house I deiced I would use an axe and picked up my Fiskars. The Fiskars is far from the heaviest or largest axe that I own but it carries and cuts well. I also grabbed some ribbon to better mark the upper trail. We headed backs cross the street and up the hill to the trailhead. At the trail junction we headed right this time to get to the blowdown. When we arrived I assessed the situation and found I could move all but the biggest trunk off the trail and out of the way. The largest piece had a break on the top end and I hoped I could make one cut near the butt end and then roll the section off the trail. I started to make the cut and remembered, finally, to make it wider so that I would be able to cut all the way through the trunk as I reached the bottom of the V. Although the diameter was about 10 inches the cutting went smoothly and it wasn't long until I was through. I was able to roll the section downhill and off the trail. I sheathed the axe and leaned it against the trunk. I decided to leave it there and take a quick walk around the loop including the upper trail. We walked up the hill to the point where the trail makes a sharp left and continued straight ahead into the woods toward the summit of Round Top. I pulled off long pieces of ribbon and tied them to the trees as I continued up the hill. As I looked back the markers were much more prominent and easy to follow. I continued to walk the route I had laid out with the high school students from Livingston Manor. At the top of then hill I turned left or west and started down the hill. The route looked much more familiar in this direction and the original markers were easier to follow. I added a few more ribbons and was soon back at the existing trail. We turned right to walk back toward the viewpoint. At the ledges we turned left and headed down the steep hill to the trail junction. At the junction we turned left and headed back up the hill to retrieve my axe. I grabbed the axe and we followed the trail back to the trailhead and returned home. I realized just how warm I was after the walk and the work I had done clearing the blowdown. I am looking forward to clearing the upper trail and placing the signs being created by the Livingston Manor Technology classes.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Saturday, December 3rd I wanted to get out and hike after a week of rainy weather. I had planned a hike for Friday in Rockland County along Hook Mountain but Cindy was not interested so I stayed home! I decided with the questionable weather forecast and a concert we scheduled to attend in the evening that I would go to Frick and Hodge Ponds since the area is close. There were a few blowdowns to clear and I was surprised that Cindy agreed to go along. We had some things to take care of around the house so we didn't get started until about 11:00 AM. We got our gear and Sheila in the car and headed out the DeBruce Road. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the split. When we arrived at the parking area there was a truck in the small parking area and two cars parked in the larger lot. We were surprised that there was a layer of snow covering the ground since we had mostly rain in town. I parked and got my electronics ready. At 11:20 AM we headed out on the woods road from the smaller parking area. The temperature was still only in the high 30's and we were dressing in layers for winter. We had both worn our regular hiking boots but opted for gaiters which proved to be a good choice. As we walked out the woods road toward Frick Pond, we saw two hunters at the register box. I put Sheila on her leash as the hunters began to walk toward us. We passed each other with a brief "hello" and continued in opposite directions. The woods road out the Gravestone Junction was well covered in snow but also had some running water. It was a quick walk to the outlet of Frick Pond and when we arrived at the bridge I could see that the water level was much higher than it had been in some time. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take some shots. I walked to the bridge and noticed that the water level in the pond and stream was high. I took a picture of the stream and the outlet before turning my attention to the pond. The sky was flat and grey and there wasn't much color anywhere but this is typical of the season. I packed up my camera and shouldered my pack to continue the hike. At the next junction we stayed to the left on the Quick Lake Trail to head toward Ironwheel Junction. I stopped at one point to take a few pictures of the trail covered in snow. There were quite a few branches in the trail and Cindy and I were both picking them up and throwing them to the side. As we pass through the "spruce tunnel", we encounter one small tree across the trail but it was easily cleared with a quick cut with my Silky saw. When we arrived at the small stream in the woods just after the "spruce tunnel", we found the water level high and flowing nicely. Cindy decided to cross following the trail and placed one boot in the cold water. I walked a little upstream and crossed where the water was narrow. As we continued our hike, I found several branches down across the trail and used the saw to quickly clear them. When we arrived at Ironwheel Junction, we turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail to Junkyard Junction where the Flynn Trail begins. Over the next mile the trail rises about 400 feet heading north. At 2.4 miles it turns northeast and levels off some as it approaches Junkyard Junction.

picture taken during a hike As we started up the Quick Lake trail we found a branch in the trail that I was able to simply drag off into the woods. A little further along there were several more small trees blocking the trail and I cleared them with the saw. As we gained elevation the snow got deeper reaching several inches in places. The skies were getting darker and it looked like it might snow. Because of the snow and the work we were doing, the trip was taking longer than normal and we knew we would have to keep moving to get home in time to get ready for the concert. At 3.1 miles we arrived at Junkyard Junction and turned right on the Flynn Trail heading east and slightly southeast. The trails continued to be snow covered with some running and some pooled water along the way. It wasn't long before we ran into a larger tree across the Flynn Trail. I quickly cut off a few branches and dragged them out of the way. I cut the top out of tree and removed it before pivoting the main part of the trunk out of the way. After removing the tree, we worked our way along the flat expanse and the passed through the gate to descend to the pond. We followed Sheila as she turned right to stay on the Flynn Trail along the west side of Hodge Pond. As we came to the open field near the pond ether were a few muddy spots on the trail. From the field I could see through the trees to the pond. We continued on to the field at the outlet end of Hodge Pond and Sheila and I walked over to the shore while Cindy continued to follow the Flynn Trail to stay in the shelter of the trees. We walked over to the fire ring and I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the grey sky and grey trees. The water level in the pond was right up to the shore and this was the first time I had seen it that way since May! We didn't spend too long at the pond and were soon Back on the Flynn Trail with Cindy climbing the hill up from the pond. It is .7 miles from the pond to the junction with the Big Rock Trail and we gained about 180 feet over that distance but the walk went quickly. From the junction, the Flynn Trail starts a constant descent all the way to the parking area. In 1.7 miles it loses 600 feet in elevation. On the walk down we set a fast pace as there really wasn't much to see. When we reached the gate just before the cabin, we turned left to walk the Flynn Trail back to the car and to avoid the private property around the cabin. We were back at the car at 2:45 PM having hiked 6.4 miles in 3 hours and 25 minutes with an elevation gain of 900 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Hodge and Frick (Flynn and Quick Lake Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, November 26th I was ready to hike after the Thanksgiving holiday madness and a number of ambulance calls. The weather was questionable especially to the north so I decided to stay local and head to Hodge and Frick Ponds. Brad and Krista were in for the weekend and Brad decided to go with me. I was glad to have the company as he and I have things in common since we are both EMS volunteers. We got ready to leave and pulled out of the driveway sometime after 10:30 AM. The temperature was only 30 degrees so I wore my Mammut hoody and Columbia Titanium pants over a long sleeved shirt and baselayer. We decided that snowshoes would not be appropriate since the recent rain had diminished the snow cover. Sheila was certainly ready to hike as she jumped in the back seat and perched on the console. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. When we arrived there were two other cars in the bigger lot and a pickup in the small lot. I was pretty sure at least some of them were hunters. We crossed the road to get onto the Flynn Trail at 11:00 AM. I have been wearing a pair of Vasque Taku boots which seem to fit well and are no longer sold by Vasque but do not seem to be very waterproof. I thought about wearing a pair of insulated winter boots but instead chose a newer pair of Keen Glarus. These have been great boots but Keen has discontinued them which seems to be a common theme among shoe manufacturers! The trail still had quiet a bit of snow but it was wet from the rain and higher temperatures of the last few days. The shows deemed to be shedding water pretty well and my feet were warm enough. Brad and I had both chosen to wear gaiters which given the depth of the snow seemed like a good choice. The walk up the Flynn Trail seemed to go a little more slowly than usual due to the slippery snow which made every step more difficult. I was surprised at the number of footprints in the snow as it seemed a small group of people had hiked since the snowfall. As we neared the top of the trail, there was a minimum of six inches of snow still on the ground with more in most places. I measured one drift at over a foot! I decided we should turn off and visit the clearing on the right side of the trail as I had not been there in some time. We walked off the trail and up a small hill to the edge of the clearing. Nothing much had changed but as I got out the camera it began to snow lightly. I took a few shots and then we returned to the Flynn Trail. The clearing is a mystery as it is large and there is a woods road that connects to it. There are no foundations and the soil is a thin layer over rock in most places. Brad and I made no stops passing through the junction with the Big Rock Trail and continuing straight ahead of the Flynn Trail. We kept up a quick pace as we passed through the gate marking the boundary with the Open Spaces Institute property. At the next junction we stayed to the left to keep on the Flynn Trail and head directly down to Hodge Pond. When we broke out into the clearing at the outlet end of Hodge Pond, we walked over to the fire ring at the shore. I put down my pack and got out the camera even though there was still some snow in the air. I took some shots and then put my camera back in the pack to continue our hike.

picture taken during a hike We continued our hike on the Flynn Trail heading along the west side of Frick Pond. The snow continued to cover the surface of the trail with some standing water and muddy patches. We stayed left at the next junction to continue up the hill on the blue Flynn Trail. We passed through the gate from OSI property to state land and found the trail continued to have some wet and muddy spots and plenty of snow. Brad and I had been picking up branches as we hiked and had moved several large ones off the trail. It seemed that Junkyard Junction came up quickly and we turned left on the red Quick Lake Trail to start our loop back. The Quick Lake Trail is mostly downhill and we made good time with the slippery snow acting as somewhat of an aid. At one point we saw some boot prints headed toward us which turned off into the woods on the left side of the trail. The prints looked fresh and as we looked out into the woods we could see the blaze orange hat of a hunter sitting on a log. We walked downhill to Iron Wheel Junction and turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. We were soon at the small stream just before the "Spruce Tunnel" and we crossed it with ease. The stream was very low but Sheila was able to get a drink since there was more water than there had been for several months. We continued on toward the outlet bridge at Frick Pond. Along the way we noticed some ribbon marking a path to the left of the trail. I assumed some hunters were marking a route and decided to leave the ribbons this time. We continued to stop to remove branches and other debris from the trail and found at least two blowdowns that would need tools. At the bridge I stopped to take a few pictures which I thought might be interesting as there was some mist and snow hanging over the pond. The highest part of Flynn's Point seemed to be covered in mist or fog. We walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction. The trail back to the parking area was a little wet and muddy in places but we had no problems. As we passed the register box, we turned right to stay on the trail. When we got back to the car at 2:05 PM there were two more cars in the small lot and a large SUV in the larger lot. We had walked 6.6 miles in 3 hours 5 minutes gaining 940 feet along the way. The temperature at the trailhead was now 35 degrees.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Monday, November 21st snow was still falling and the wind was still blowing after a storm dumped at least 8" in Livingston Manor on Sunday. Most schools were closed as the roads were in very poor condition. I asked Cindy if she would like to snowshoe on the Round Top Trail we had helped create across the street from our house. She said she would like to go and Sheila was eager to get out. Sheila has a little Siberian Husky in her and she loves to romp in the snow. We both had some things to do around the house before going out. Around 11:15 AM we started to get ready and I was reminded of how much harder it is to prepare for a hike in the winter! We both dressed warmly as the air temperature was in the high 20's and the wind was gusting to over 30 mph! I got our snowshoes out of the basement choosing to wear my Crescent Moon snowshoes which have the best bindings. I decided to wear a pair of insulated Salomon Nitro boots and my Mammut hoody. Eventually we were ready and walked out the driveway to the street. I put Sheila on her leash so that we could cross the street. We walked through the field next to the Presbyterian Church and found about 8 inches of snow. We turned left behind the church and started to walk up the paved road to the top of the cemetery. The wind had blown much of the snow away and I was concerned that there would not be enough snow in the woods to snowshoe. We stopped at the trailhead and I took a few shots of Sheila and Cindy before we walked into the woods. Once we were under the trees we did find enough snow to make using the snowshoes possible but not necessary. At the trail junction we decided to walk straight ahead up the trail to the lookout. The snow was even deeper here which made using the snowshoes more fun. We turned left on the short spur trail out to the viewpoint and I took a few pictures of the small gap we had to cross to get to the lower ledges. We walked out to the lower viewpoint and I took a few shots down into town and of the school. At this point the wind began to blow more fiercely so we retreated back on the trail and walked up to the upper ledges.

picture taken during a hike I took a few pictures from this point and then we continued around the loop on the trail heading east. It was a little hard to see the yellow paint blazes which were covered, in some cases, by the blowing snow. We were still headed uphill until we came to the sharp right turn where the trail flattened out. As we walked along the woods road we had cleared, we found several places where the heavy snow had pulled branches into the trail. Soon we came to the sharp right turn where the trail heads back to the original trail junction. We turned right and started downhill which allowed us to "ski" downhill by picking up the tips of the snowshoes. After a short, steep downhill we followed the trail as it turned right. We continued back to the first trail junction to complete the loop. I suggested we reverse the loop since we had hiked less than a mile but Cindy decided she would go home. I put Sheila on her leash so she would not be tempted to follow Cindy and headed around the loop in the opposite direction. The grade in this direction is much more gentle and I allowed Sheila to give me a little pull as we ascended to the sharp left turn. After making the left turn, I let Sheila off her leash but kept her close to me as we hiked the for a long time ground to the turn off the woods road. After making the left turn, the rest of the hike was mostly downhill. At the lookout we started won the steepest part of the trail where I could pick up my tips and slide most of the way back down to the trail junction. It was a short walk back out to the trailhead where I put Sheila back on her leash. There was enough snow to safely get back down the cemetery hill where we completed the hike by walking across the field back to our driveway. I was surprised to see that our tracks from just a little over an hour before were completely filled in and invisible!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Friday, November 18th I had scheduled a meeting with some Livingston manor students at the Round Top Trail. The students were members of the school's newly formed Interact Club which is sponsored by the local chapter of Rotary International. The purpose of the meeting was to walk the newly completed Round Top Lower Trail and to introduce the students to the trail and to trail maintenance. I wanted the students to react to the trail as it exists and to suggest changes or improvements. I also wanted to show them how to maintain the trail using some "elbow grease" and simple tools. Depending on the time they had available, I thought it would also be a good idea to have them help me plan the next phase of the trail project. This is a trail from the existing lower trail to the high point of Round Top that is on public property. This trail will only be about a quarter mile long but will require more work than the lower trail. The lower trail, follows many existing woods roads while the upper trail has now roads to follow. I parked at the church at about 12:50 PM for the 1:00 PM meeting and was the only car there. I was a little worried but just before 1:00 PM five students arrived. After greeting them and thanking them for their interest, I showed them some of the hand tools we use to maintain trails. I emphasized the safe use of sharp tools and that we are not allowed to use chainsaws or others motorized tools. This means that choosing the path of lest resistance is very important so that we go around obstacles and not through them. After a short discussion, we headed up the road behind the church to the trailhead at the top of the cemetery. At the beginning of the trail I pointed out the triangle of blazes and discussed the standard method of blazing trails. We walked into the forest and began to pick up sticks and branches on the trail. I was surprised after the wind that had blown over the last few weeks that there weren't some larger blowdowns on the trail. At the trail unction I pointed out where some trail sings would be posted and we decided to walk straight ahead to the overlook. When we reached the spur trail to the lower lookout, we turned left. I pointed out the small "gulf" that needed to be crossed and the fact that the lookout will have to be relocated to the upper ledge. Although the crack is easy to cross for the most part, snow and ice would definitely be a problem. Constructing a "bridge" is not possible as that would be an "improvement" that would increase liability for the town. We walked out to the ledge to get a view of the town and the school. The students really enjoyed the view. I mentioned to them the fact that although the lookout appeared to be at the top of a solid mass of rock if is actually a ledge hanging in midair and undercut by the erosion of softer rock. We walked to the side of the ledge and were able to get to the rock shelter underneath the ridge.

picture taken during a hike We walked back out the short spur trail and turned left to walk to the upper lookout. The view from the upper ledge is good right now without the leaves on the trees. After a brief stop, we continued along the trail heading east on the only part of the trail that was cut out from the forest. We walked slightly uphill and caught up with my wife and grandson at a glacial erratic that acts as a nice spot to rest along the trail. When we arrived, I asked the students to pose and they did a great job as I took a few shots. I also asked them to demonstrate lopping a branch from a tree and took some pictures of that also. We continued our walk along the trail and soon turned southeast and south along an old woods road. Soon we arrived at the point where the trail makes a sharp right turn to head back toward the initial trail junction. At this point I asked the students if they would like to help lay out the upper trail and they agreed. I gave some ribbon to two of the students to tie to the trees as we walked a possible track up the hill. As we walked we looked for existing paths or game trails trying to avoid thick brush and extensive blowdowns. We also tried to find a route that wasn't too steep but I knew we might have to put in at least one switchback when we actually cut the trail. Soon we were approaching the top of the hill and we came out exactly where I have come out several times before. We walks along the flat summit to the other side and then began to descend toward the existing lower trail. We again tried to pick the best route choosing the gentler slopes and a route with the least amount of work needed. I had not brought my GPS but was confident I could find the correct path. As we neared the bottom of the hill, I seemed to lose the track but the students immediately picked out the yellow blazes of the lower trail and we headed directly for them. Once we were back on the main trail we turned left and walked back to the sharp right. This time we turned right and walked down the trail to the wide woods road that leads back to the trail junction. Along the way we took a careful look at some of the impressive ledges along the way on the right. At the trail junction we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. The students posed again by the beginning of the trail and I took a few pictures before we walked down the hill back to the church parking lot. I thanked the students and told them I would be in contact with them to schedule a day to cut out the upper trail and to maintain both trails. When I returned home, Sheila would not let me relax in peace. Saturday was the first day of rifle hunting season and Sunday's forests was for cold and snow or rain. I decided that I would take Sheila across the street and hike the trail. Since Sheila doesn't care where we go she was ready as I put her on her leash to cross the street. We walked passed the church and up the hill with Sheila helping to pull me to the top. Once we turned into the trail, I let Sheila off her leash to allow her to roam a little. Sheila stayed pretty close as we turned right at the trail junction. We walked up to the point where the upper trail may start and walked up to the top of the hill following the flagging the students had placed earlier. We followed the ribbons back down to the lower trail where we turned right. We walked out toward the lookout and then followed the trail back to the trailhead. I put Sheila back on her leash as we walked won the hill and crossed the street to the driveway.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Big Pond To Cabot Mt to Little Pond AllTrails - Big Pond To Cabot Mt to Little Pond caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Big Pond To Cabot Mt to Little Pond MapMyHike - Big Pond To Cabot Mt to Little Pond On Wednesday, November 16th I wanted to get in a local hike and decided to check out the TouchMeNot Trail which I maintain for the Finger Lakes Trail. I wanted to start at Big Pond and see how far I could get. The last time I had worked the trail was during the summer and I wanted to make sure it was free of new blowdowns for the winter season. I left Livingston Manor right around 9:15 AM and headed up the Beaverkill Road with an excited Sheila in the back seat. Even though the temperature was pushing into the high 40's I chose to wear my Mammut hoody since it was lots of zippers to dump heat and extra pockets. We arrived in the parking area by Big Pond just after 9:45 AM and got started immediately. There was a pickup in the parking area but I did not see anyone fishing on Big Pond. I had my Fiskars axe which I carry when hiking longer distances since it is sharp but light with a hollow handle. I also had brought my Silky curved saw and some plastic felling wedges. We crossed the road and got on the red Touch-Me-Not Trail to hike over the hill toward Cabot Mt. The trail starts with a nice little ascent to get the heart pumping and then levels off some. The trails were quite wet from the rain the day before making the leaves slippery. I was at a disadvantage since I did not bring my poles. Just passed the trail register there was a small blowdown. I put down my pack and took a few "before" shots. It didn't take long to clear the blowdown and we were soon on our way again. I thought this was a good beginning but we really didn't encounter any other blowdowns that we could clear for the rest of the way to the top of Touch-MeTouch-Me-Not Mountain. I did find several places where small funks or large branches had fallen across the trail but in all cases I was simply able to pick them up and move them off the trail. There were a few places where trees were hanging preciously over the trail but they were too big for me to tackle and had been there for some time. Over the first mile we gained 770 feet to the shoulder of Touch-Me-Not Mountain. Along the way I did cut one small tree that was hanging into the trail. There were several large blowdowns that were old and laying on the ground. I had asked that the Finger Lakes Trail send someone to remove them with a chainsaw but that had not happened. As we approached the junction with e blue Campground Trail we came to a tree that had split three ways. One large trunk lay across the trail while another hung over the trail. I noticed that hikers had begun to hike around this mess and thought about rerouting the trail slightly the next time I was in the area. We continued to the junction with blue Campground Trail where we kept to the right on the Touch-Me-Not Trail and continued our descent. We ran across several large trees across the trail but they were old and had been there for some time. I decided to leave them as they were easy to step over. For the ones that were slightly elevated I scored the tops of the trunks to make them a little less rounded and slippery. I didn't have time to really work on them to make a step. After about 1.6 miles we arrived at the junction with the yellow Little Pond Trail on the left.

picture taken during a hike I decided to make the left and hike a loop back to Big Pond as I did not want to descend the slippery slopes that we had climbed on the way out. I walked a little ways toward Cabot Mountain and found nothing to clear so I returned to the Little Pond Trail to start the loop back. Once we got to Little Pond we could follow the campground access road and Barkaboom Road back to the car. This was slightly longer than staying on the Touch-Me-Not Trail but I had done it before and it was easier. There were a couple of trees across the trail and I decided to remove them since they had been there some time and the DEC crew had not touched them. I took some pictures of both blowdowns and then quickly removed them from the trail. We were soon in the field on the Little Pond Trail that acts as a nice lookout over the valley below. I stopped to take a few pictures of the scenery although there was a heavy haze hanging over the valley. After the field, we continued along the woods road and the turned left onto the trail that would take us down to Little Pond. Along the way we came to what is usually a beaver meadow but found it transformed back into a beaver pond. I stopped to take a few shots and then continued on the trail. I did not see any freshly cut sticks and there was no lodge in the small pond that had formed behind the dam. We continued down to the loop trail and turned left to start toward the gatehouse. We crossed a bridge and continued around Little Pond stopping at the "deck" so that I could take some pictures. As we neared the bathhouses, I put Sheila on her leash. I noticed that there was some yellow tape blocking off an area near the bathrooms and it looked as if a new pipe was being installed. We walked to the bridge over the dam and I took a few more pictures before beginning the walk out passed the gatehouse and down the access road to Barkaboom Road. We turned left on Barkaboom Road and began the .6 mile uphill hike back to the car. We were back at about 1:00 PM having spent 3 hours and 15 minutes hiking around 5.0 miles with a lot of time for trail maintenance and photography! The elevation gain was a modest 1023 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise) CalTopo - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise)caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Loggers Loop Counterclockwise) On Monday, November 14th I wanted to get out and hike locally as the week coming up would be busy and include some rainy weather. I asked Cindy if she would like to go to Frick Pond to clear the blowdowns that we had found on the Logger's Loop on the previous Saturday and she agreed. When I awoke in the morning the temperature was 20 degrees so we were not too eager to get a very early start. I got my gear in the car including my Fiskars axe, Silky Sugowaza saw and felling wedges. Because the temperature was till in the 20's, I decided to wear my Mammut hoody and warmer Columbia Titanium pants. The hoody has lots of zippers to help regulate temperature and I knew I could always take it off. Sheila was happy to be going anywhere and crouched in the back seat with her head on the console. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. Where the road splits I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road and parked in the smaller lot at 10:10 AM and got started almost immediately. The temperature was 28 degrees when we left the parking area. We headed out to the Quick Lake Trail passing the trail register and heading toward Frick Pond. At Gravestone Junction we turned right to get on the yellow Logger's Loop heading toward Times Square. We made good time on the trail as it headed slightly downhill. I was surprised that there were a few muddy spots on the trail as everything else was so dry. We picked up a few large and small branches as we made our way to the four-way trail junction. At Times Square we continued straight ahead to stay on the Logger's Loop and began to climb an uphill. Almost immediately we ran into the first blowdown across the trail. I put my pack down and took a few shots of the "before". I decided to use the axe to cut the thicker end of the tree trunk and then cut the upper end with the saw. The work went quickly as I made the cuts and then moved the pieces off the trail. After a few "after" shots, we were ready to continue on to the next job. Before we started to hike again, I opened all the zippers on my hoody as the work had made me very warm. The trail continued to rise and then flattened a little. Eventually we came upon the second of the three blowdowns I wanted to clear.

picture taken during a hike I put down my pack and took a look at the blowdown. There were two trunks that were a little larger than I remembered and I wished that I had brought my larger KatanaBoy saw. I took some shots and the grabbed the saw to begin the work. I planned to use the saw for most of the cuts and immediately started cutting the tops of the trees and the left side of the trail. I was able to make some quick cuts and pull the tops off the trail. I turned my attention to the stump end of the trees and marked where I would make the cuts. The would was green which made the saw bind a little I started down-cutting and then switch to up-cutting as the saw started to bind. Eventually I heard the wood start to crack but the cut would no separate. I gave the trunk a few kicks and whacked it with the axe a few times and it gave way. I turned my attention to the other trunk which was a little large and thins went much the same way. I was hoping I could move the two trunks off the trail without making additional cuts. I grabbed the end of the smaller trunk and was able to man-handle it off the trail. The larger trunk was also longer but I was able to move it also. I took some "after" shots and we moved on to the last blowdown. We arrived at Iron Wheel Junction and made the left turn onto the Quick Lake Trail. The last blowdown was ahead of us and was a tangled mess of relatively small branches. I took my pictures and we removed the loose branches. I started to cut away the remainder which was made more difficult as many of the branches were so small. I had been thinking that my saw was beginning to get dull right up until the point where I cut my thumb! I took a moment to tape the laceration and then went on with the work. The fact that the branches were so entangled made clearing them like a puzzle! Eventually we got everything cut and cleared off the trail. It was getting a little late so I took a few quick shots and then we set a quick pace back toward the car on the Quick Lake Trail. Just before the stream through the woods we came to some branches overhanging into the trail. I knew I couldn't leave them so I grabbed the saw, cut them and cleared them out of the way. We headed back on the trail crossing the almost dry stream. We crossed the bridge over the outlet of Frick Pond and continued back to the car. We were back at 1:05 PM having spent almost 3 hours on the trail covering 3.9 miles. The time was almost evenly divided between walking and working. Our average speed was 1.3 mph but our moving speed was 2.6 mph! Our elevation gain was modest at about 400 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn) CalTopo - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn)caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Loggers Big Rock Flynn) On Saturday, November 11 I had planned to head to Bath to hike another section of the Finger Lakes Trail on map 10. When I awoke at 5:30 AM, the pain in my right ankle was better but I could still feel some discomfort. I am convinced that this was due to my own stupidity in not putting proper insoles in my shoes on Tuesday for a long hike. Wearing good insoles for the rest of the week an resting from hiking seemed to be helping. I decided to be cautious and do a shorter hike around Livingston Manor. I got a little more sleep and when Cindy and I got out of bed I asked if she would like to hike. She said "Yes" and we decided to head for Frick Pond. My plan was to hike the Quick Lake Trail to Iron Wheel Junction. From here we would hike the Logger's Loop to Times Square an then ascend the Big Rock Trail to The Flynn Trail to get back to the car. There were several ways to shorten the hike if I felt my ankle would not take additional mileage. Although the temperature in the morning as in the low 30's we knew it would warm up throughout the day as the sun came out. When we left the house just before 10:00 AM it was still barely 40. I decided to wear my Mammut hoody and warmer Columbia Titanium pants. The hoody has lots of zippers to help regulate temperature and I knew I could always take it off. Sheila was happy to be going anywhere and crouched in the back seat with her head on the console. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. Where the road splits I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road and parked in the smaller lot at 10:15 AM. It didn't take us long to walk out to the Quick Lake Trail to start our hike. As we started to hike I wondered about my choice of clothing as it felt pretty warm. We stayed left at Graveyard Junction to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. When we arrived at the bridge across the outlet, I decided to stop and take pictures as the colors around the pond and the water itself seemed to be inviting me. The water level was still very low in the pond and the outlet stream was hardly running at all. Every time I see these low water levels I hope that we get a large amount of snow this winter! I took some shots and then we continued on around the pond. We stayed left at the trail junction to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and very shortly ran into a blowdown across the trail. I immediately started to make plans to return to clear it but then noticed that it was broken into pieces. Cindy and I worked to clear each piece and soon had the entire mess cleaned up. We continued on our hike passing through the "Spruce Tunnel". The small stream through the woods was almost dry with only a few pools of water. By 11:10 AM we had walked the 1.5 miles to Iron Wheel Junction. Just before the junction we encounter another blowdown which would need an axe and saw to clear. At the trail junction we turned right on the Logger's Loop Trail. The Logger's Loop is mostly downhill in this direction and we made good time but encountered two more blowdowns which would require tools to remove. By 11:40 AM we were at Times Square and about 2.7 miles into the hike.

picture taken during a hike At Times Square we turned left to start up the Big Rock Trail. From Times Square to The Flynn Trail is about 1.1 miles but the elevation gain is around 600 feet averaging a 10% grade. The route has three different climbs with some flatter areas between them. Before we started up the trail I evaluated my ankle and found it felt pretty good. I had inserted a pair of Sole blue insoles which have even more support than the Superfeet Green which I normally use. We set a pretty fast pace on the climb and as we were walking we encounter a lone women hiking down the trail. I had forgotten to take a leash so I brought Sheila over to the side of the trail to let the other hiker pass. We said "Hi" and then headed in our opposite directions. Despite Sheila's excitement at seeing others on the trail, she always heads in the opposite direction to continue our hike when I release her. We reached the Flynn Trail at 12:10 PM after hiking 3.8 miles. We turned right to walk down the Flynn Trail back to the parking area. There were a few large branches on or near the trail but we were able to move them all out of the way. Sheila was still excited at this point and was running up the trail and back to me. She was taking a few excursions off the trail to follow animal tracks but was pretty close so I let her explore. She started to grab some rather large branches so I picked up a stick and threw it several times for here to retrieve. The trip down the Flynn Trail went quickly and we were soon near the gate that blocks Beech Mountain Road. At this point I decided to wander off to the left into the woods to look for some old foundations. I quickly found the remains of old buildings and what looked like a well. There were also some rather nice stone walls that I had never seen before. There are several websites that detail the history of the area and the possible homeowners. I continued through the woods with Sheila until we were back on the Flynn Trail. A family group with several young children was hiking up the Flynn Trail as we continued down to the parking area on the trail. We were back at 1:00 PM having covered 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Hughes Rd to Sand Pit Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, November 8th I wanted to hike the Finger Lakes Trail again so I looked at Map 11 which is immediately to the west of the section I had just complete. Map 11 runs from Hughes Road and Turnpike Road south of Howard, NY east to Sand Pit Road near Bath, NY. When I saw that the distance was 11.9 miles I knew it would take two trips and planned to do the second leg on Thursday. It bothered me that spotting a car would allow me to do it on one trip but I had no one else that would go with me! I thought maybe Bath was a big town to have a taxi service and I did an Internet search. I found Village Taxi and communicated with them on Facebook. They assured me that they could pick me up in Bath and drop me off on Hughes Road and they would be glad to take Sheila along. I spoke to them on the phone to confirm that I would be in Bath between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM and that I would contact them at that time. I planned to get up at 6:00 AM and get going as soon as possible. The forecast was for temperatures reaching into the 60's with plenty of sun with clouds moving in at the end of the day.I woke up a little earlier than 6:00 AM and got ready to go. I knew I would have to dress for the weather on put on my summer/fall pants and a light baselayer with my Mammut pullover shirt. I did wear my Mammut Hoody since the temperature when I left the house was 28 degrees which also made my through in a light hat and gloves. I wore a new pair of Keen Glarus which had caused some foot problems on the last hike. In retrospect, I should have changed from the Keen footbeds to my Superfeet Green insoles to stop my overpronation. The drive is almost 3 hours but I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. Around 6:30 AM, we headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the high 20's or low 30's and it was dark as sunrise wasn't until 6:58 AM. After a long drive, I took exit 38 to Bath and got on Route 415 North. I turned right on Spalding Drive and then right on Harrisburg Hollow Road. After a short distance, I turned right on Sand Pit Road and found that it was being paved. Rather than park on the left where I had parked before, I found a wider spot on the right and pulled off as far as I could hoping I would not be in the way of the pavers. I called Village Taxi and they were there within 15 minutes. Mr. Wheeler the driver and co-owner was very pleasant as we left my car at about 9:30 AM and headed out to Route 415. We turned right and then left onto Route 15, Knight Settlement Road. After 3.4 miles, we turned right on Turnpike Road heading west. The road was definitely a back road but was in pretty good shape. As we approached Hughes Road after driving about 9 miles, a wind farm appeared on the left and I was pleased since I could at least take a few pictures of the windmills. I was less impressed by a steep downhill and steep uphill to the junction of Hughes Road and Turnpike Road. Mr. Wheeler dropped me at the intersection and I got all of my gear and Sheila out of the taxi. The fee was VERY reasonable and I was happy that I would be able to walk 12 miles and all of it would be trail miles!

picture taken during a hike We started our hike at 9:55 AM by hiking east on Turnpike Road down a long hill and up the other side. As we ascended I stopped to take a few pictures of the windmills and some nice views to the north. After we got to the top of the hill on the road it was time to descended the other side to Craig Road at the bottom of the hill. We turned left and walked along one of the few flat spots on the hike. As we walked some cattle in the field seemed very interested in us and walked towed us in their pasture. At about 2 miles we turned right on McCaddam Road. Despite its name the road soon turned to dirt and we were again hiking up hill between two rows of evergreens. I decided to take some pictures here before topping the hill and turning left on Harris Hill Road. We walked downhill and at 2.9 miles turned right into the woods. I got out my poles and let Sheila off her leash. We had hiked almost 3 miles and all of it had been on the road! The trail was a little overgrown as we passed along the edge of a swamp before hitting a farm lane. I could hear some noise in the field us and suspected it was a combine but I could not see it. We followed the lane for a while and then the trail turned into the woods next to the field. I could see that a combine was at work harvesting the corn. The trail came out onto another farm lane where we turned left and continued on it for some time. I stopped once or twice to take a few pictures. We crossed Route 69 and began another short ascent and then began to walk along the top of a small ridge between two stream beds. Eventually we dropped down to another woods road. As we approached Snell Hill Road we passed an archery range but no one was using it at the time. We walked out to the road and turned left and then right into the woods again. The trail passed through some woods between fields before finally breaking out into some fields. We followed the blazes as the trail descended to Gay Gulf Road. We turned left here and hiked downhill a little to abridge across a stream. The trail turned into the woods and began a slight ascent up a hill. After a short walk in the woods we came to a field and walked the edge near the hedgerow to get up to Robinson Road. We crossed Robinson Road and headed for a lone tree in the middle of a field. The trail continued along a hedgerow which was surprisingly well marked. We had no trouble following the trail through the fields by hugging the edge of the fields. The trail eventually entered the woods again. We began a descent of over a mile dropping 360 feet to Sinclair Road where we turned left and walked out to Campbell Creek Road. We headed left or north on Campbell Creek Road dropping another 100 feet. I had a feeling we would be gaining some of this elevation back at some point. I was having some pain high in my right ankle from the lack of a proper insole which was entirely my own fault.

picture taken during a hike At 7.8 miles we turned right onto Cochran Road and my hunch about gaining elevation proved correct. After the turn, we were looking at a significant hill. Sheila was still in the mood to pull so I allowed her to assist me up the hill. We did stop along the way as there was a very old and interesting farmhouse. By the time we reached the highest point on the hill we had walked about .9 miles and gained 450 feet. The directions about what to do next on the Finger Lakes Trail map were very unclear. It said "immediately after the turn, turn left into the field." The problem was that there were several turns so I consulted the map app on my cell phone. At 8.8 miles the road made a 90 degree turn right and an FLT sign on the corner indicated we should enter the field which we did. It was not so much of a left turn as going straight ahead. Again, the blazes were well-placed and visible and we could easily follow them as they followed the hedgerow. At one point we passed through the hedgerow to the other side descending all the way. At the end of the fields we followed the blazes slightly uphill and the turned to follow them to the right under the powerlines. We descended to Knight Settlement Road trying to avoid several stands of roses along the way. When we arrived at Knight Settlement Road we had hiked 9.5 miles. The trail crosses the road and parallels the road for a short distance. This section is closed for hunting season and I had heard some gunshots in the area of the trail. I decided to turn left on Knight Settlement Road and bypass the trail. I put Sheila on her leash and we started northeast on the road. Initially there was almost no shoulder and there was quite a bit of traffic. After about half a mile the shoulder widened which was good since the traffic remained heavy. I knew we were near the end of the hike and was looking forward to the end. The road was a gentle downhill for 1.6 miles to Route 415 and passed over the railroad tracks and ran right by Knight Settlement Sand and Gravel. Getting across Route 415 took some doing but we mad it across safely and turned right. In a short distance we reached Spalding drive, turned left and continued straight ahead at the next intersection on Harrisburg Hill Road. We turned right on Sand Pit Road and walked up hill to the car. We were back at the car at 2:35 PM after hiking 12.2 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes with an elevation gain of 1430 feet and a descent of 2020 feet. This initially caught me off guard until I remembered we were walking one way. We had actually started at 1835 feet and ended at 1245 feet! The question now is whether or not I will try to get in one more section this season!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Birdseye Hollow Rd to Winding Stair Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, November 5th I wanted to hike the Finger Lakes Trail east from Winding Stair Road near Hammondsport, NY to Birdseye Hollow Road. This would allow me to complete Map 12 and would mean I had hiked from Bath, NY to the eastern terminus of the trail in Claryville, NY. This section of trail has been rerouted onto some roads due to the loss of landowner permission so that 8 miles of the 12.4 mile out and back hike is now on roads. I knew this would make thee hike go faster than a hike which had more trail. After hiking to Winding Stair Road last time, I was doubtful about parking on that road so I decided to park on Birdseye Hollow Road where I had parked before with no problem. This location is also easier to access from Route 17. I had been the school nurse for most of the week and was anxious to get out again as was Sheila. I planned to get up at 6:00 AM and get going as soon as possible. The forecast was for temperatures reaching almost 50 degrees but with some wind. The skies were supposed to be cloudy but no rain was in the forecast. S luck would have it the ambulance pager went off at 4:15 AM but I was the only one that called in. I tried to get back to sleep but could tell that wasn't going to happen. I decided to get a REALLY early start and left Livingston Manor before 5:30 AM! I had decided to dress warmly hoping I would not regret it. This meant a pair of lined Columbia Titanium pants and my Mammut Hoody. My Vasque Taku boots had leaked like a sieve last time so I replaced them with a new pair of Keen Glarus. The problem was I had only worn these once before and the laces were too short. The drive is almost 3 hours but I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the mid 30's and it was dark as sunrise wasn't until 7:48 AM. After a long drive, I took exit 40 to Savona and got on Route 226 heading northeast. I turned left or north on Myers Road and then left on Route 16. After only a short distance, I turned right on Birdseye Hollow Road heading north. The road had been freshly paved and, unlike last time, a shoulder had been added. The Finger Lakes Trail crosses the road a short distance after Birdseye Hollow County Park. I turned around and parked on the western shoulder where there was one other vehicle parked. I had noticed cars and trucks parked along local roads and knew that big game crossbow season was open. I got my gear ready, set my electronics and started the hike at 8:25 AM under very cloudy skies. The temperature was still below 40 degrees but there was no wind as we started into the forest heading west on the trail. I kept Sheila near me as I did not know whether the truck represented hikers or hunters. The trail almost immediately crossed a stream on a set of two bridges. We were walking through mostly hardwoods and a lot of the leaves had fallen. It surprised me how many leaves remained on the trees and hoe colorful they were! The trail was a little wet in places but was in generally good condition and adequately marked. Over the first .9 miles of trail we gained 375 feet with an average grade of 8%. This pleased me as I knew the last part of the return trip would be downhill! I was already getting warm so I removed my Mammut Hoody and put on a light windbreaker. I also removed my gloves and hat. At 1.2 miles we came to Urbana Road which we crossed with a slight jog to the south. The land on the other side of the road is private property but the owner allows hikers on the trails. The trail here were wide lanes but there were several crossing each other so I kept my eyes on the blazes and on Sheila. We were still climbing and at 1.8 miles we crossed VanAmburg Road. At 2 miles we came to a directional sign at the site of Irene's Bivouac. Just passed this area was a very new leanto. We continued on the trail passing the leanto and started to near some houses so I put Sheila on her leash. At 2.25 miles we arrived at Longwell Road and I knew we would be walking on the road for some time. I stowed my poles and put Sheila on her leash. The breeze had come up and I was slightly chilled but knew I would warm up as we walked.

picture taken during a hike We turned right on Longwell Road and walked a short distance downhill to Route 113 where we turned left to head southwest. The road was recently paved and I expected to have to deal with some heavy traffic. It turned out that there was very little traffic on the road both on the out and back. We did encounter a couple of loose dogs but the owner called them back and apologized. The road rolled quiet a bit and was more up hill than down. As we walked along, it seemed that the sun was trying to come out and I could see some bright patches on the far hills. As we came up one hill, I walked to the side of the road and got out my camera to take a few shots. We continued to the intersection with Lockwood Road and walked passed it to continue toward Winding Stair road. As we topped the hill, I looked ahead to find what looked like a very long and steep hill ahead. Fortunately, Winding Stair Road turned right at the base of the hill. After turning right, we started walking down the road. We walked north losing elevation every bit of the way until we had dropped 350 feet to where the Finger Lakes Trail came out of the woods and where we had turned on the previous hike. There did seem to be enough room to park on the right of east side of the road. We walked to where we had stopped on the last hike and I got out the camera to take a few more pictures of the colorful leaves. It was 10:45 AM and we had hiked 6.2 miles. We packed up and started back up the hill with Sheila doing her part to give me a little pull. Although the new shoes were not rubbing by feet, there were areas that felt irritated and soar. I tried to ignore it since I knew there was no choice but to walk back. We turned left at the top of the hill and did some ascend to Lockwood Road. The sun really hadn't broken through the clouds but it did seem warmer. As we passed one house there were several people outside raking leaves and they asked me if we were "walking the trail'> I said "Yes" and told them our route for the day. We walked quickly back to Longwell Road where we turned right and walked back to the spot where the trail entered the woods on the left. After we got on the trail, I let Sheila off her leash but kept her near me. I got my poles out and they helped to alleviate some of the pressure on my feet. I had though about stopping at the leanto to tape my feet but knew that often doesn't work out well. I chose to simply hike carefully using the poles. The trip back through the woods was uneventful as we passed the leanto, crossed the streams and roads we had negotiated on the way out. When we arrived at the last stream just before Birdseye Hollow Road, I stopped to take a few pictures of the stream and bridges. I noticed that the sun had finally broken through as we walked back out to the car. The other vehicle was gone. We were back at the car at 1:10 Pm having hiked 12.4 miles in 4 hours and 45 minutes pausing for only 15 minutes total along the way. We had 1800 feet of elevation gain and had averaged about 1.7 mph. There may still be enough time this fall to hike Map 11!

map icon GPSies - Long Pond (Big Loop road first) AllTrails - Long Pond (Big Loop road first) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Long Pond (Big Loop road first) MapMyHike - Long Pond (Big Loop road first) On Monday, October 31st, I had planned to hike close to home and Long Pond was the only place I had not been recently. As I was getting ready in the morning, I asked Cindy if she would like to go and she agreed. We didn't hurry out of the house as the early morning skies were cloudy and the temperature was only in the mid 30's. Sheila could see we were both getting ready to go and was hard to contain until we finally left the house at about 9:45 AM. I drove out the DebRuce Road and through Willowemoc to the Flugertown Road. I turned left and drove to the first parking area on the right. We got our gear out of the car and I set my electronics. I put Sheila on her leash and we started up Flugertown Road at 10:15 AM. The temperature was still below 40 degrees and there was a stiff breeze blowing into our faces. The first part of the hike is virtually flat but then starts to climb very gently for some distance. The first .5 miles follows the paved portion of Flugertown Road. Once we were on the unpaved, dirt road, I kept Sheila on her leash for a little longer until I felt the chance of meeting a vehicle was minimal and then I let her off the leash. Sheila was good about staying on the road which is important to me especially as small game season is in full swing. The road was shaded by the trees making it a little cooler than the road walk. It seemed to be getting warmer as we kept up a very fast pace passing the first trail junction and the informal campsites along the way. We continued on to the point where Flugertown Road turns into Basily Road and heads over a small hill and down to the Peters Hunting Club. The hunting club has a private bridge over the creek and at one point denied access to hikers. The bridge is now open and the snowmobile trail passes over it so I have hiked it many times. The camp has also repaired some boards that were missing on the bridge. I looked at the scene below which was pretty but I decided not to take any pictures as I had photographed it so many times before. There were several stands of corn around the cabin but no one was home. As we crossed the bridge it was 11:10 Am and we had hiked 2.5 miles.

We crossed the outlet to the beaver pond by walking on the road as it was not necessary to use the small footbridge due to the dry conditions. The only water on the road was the overflow from the beaver pond which had a well-constructed dam. From that point the road began to ascend slightly but we increased our efforts to keep up the pace. The skies were blue with some clouds and it was definitely warmer than when we had left the car. We came to the split in the road at 3.2 miles where Basily Road heads to the left and continues out to Wild Meadow Road. We stayed to the right and soon were approaching the point were we would turn right onto the trail back to Long Pond. We made the right turn and started to hike back on the snowmobile trail. I was surprised that the gate on the trail was wide open! Parts of the trail were slightly muddy which I found strange since the rest of the trail was so dry. There were also tire tracks but I could not tell how old they were. We walked along the trail ands Sheila did a good job of staying close. We passed the trail to the lean-to at 11:50 AM about 4.25 miles into the hike. It wasn't long before we were at the spur trail down to the shore of Long Pond. I decided to let Sheila decide which way we would go and she avoided the spur and stayed on the main trail. The final leg of the trail begins with a slight uphill over some very rocky ground which makes picking a good route difficult. We soon topped out topped out at 2250 feet and 5.25 miles into the hike. The last part of the hike went quickly as we descended the hill back to the parking area. Over the last .7 miles we lost 370 feet. We were back at the car by 12:25 PM having covered 5.9 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes with a 530 foot elevation gain.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Mongaup Loop: Mongaup to Flugertown to Mongaup AllTrails - Mongaup Loop: Mongaup to Flugertown to Mongaup caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Mongaup Loop: Mongaup to Flugertown to Mongaup MapMyHike - Mongaup Loop: Mongaup to Flugertown to Mongaup On Friday, October 25th my plan was to head for the Finger Lakes Trail east of Hammondsport and hike the final section of map 12 east to west from Birdseye Hollow Road to Winding Stair Rd. I decided I would probably hike out and back since a good part of this section is on roads anyway. The round trip mileage is around 12 miles. All week the weather looked good and I was stoked to finish this section. I woke up just before 6:00 AM on Saturday and found that the forecast had changed to include a good chance of rain just after noon. It was a tough decision as I do not like to change plans but in the end I decided I did not want to drive almost 6 hours round trip to have limited views and the possibility of getting wet. I knew that a friend, Wendell, has planning to hike in the Mongaup Pond area to work on the CMC All Trails Challenge so I sent him and e-mail and he responded. We agreed to meet at the Mongaup Pond parking area at 9:20 AM. At 9:00 AM I put my gear in the car and loaded up an eager Sheila to head for Mongaup Pond. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Pond Road after 6 miles. I drove up the road and at the Y in the road I stayed right to go to Mongaup Pond. When I arrived the gatehouse was closed but the gate was open. This meant free use without a parking fee! Wendell was already in the lot with another friend Bob. I parked next to them and to my surprise Sheila jumped out and politely greeted them both. We said "Hello", got our gear ready and started out at 9:30 AM by hiking on the loop road on the east side of the pond. We turned right off the loop road into one of the short loops that goes to some campsites. We found we had turned a little too early and simply bushwhacked through the woods to the next set of campsites where we found the snowmobile trail which heads north paralleling the east shore of the pond. I was surprised to see a lot of snowy slush in the woods and wished I had worn a pair of gaiters. I did have on a pair on Columbia Titanium pants with a reflective lining which were probably too warm for the hike. As always I wore my Mammut hoody over a light baselayer and a Mammut long-sleeved shirt. A light hat and gloves rounded out my wardrobe. After only a short distance we came to a junction with another snowmobile trail not shown on the amp. It took us a few minutes and a peek at the PDFmaps app on my iPhone to confirm that we should continue straight ahead and north on the snowmobile trail. At 1.1 miles we came to the junction with the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail and turned right to start to climb away from the pond. The sun had started to peek through the clouds and the air temperature was rising. The walk was pleasant and it was nice to have company for a change. Sheila was behaving exceptionally well staying close to u on the trail with only a few excursions in the woods. Over the next .7 miles we gained about 270 feet to the highest point on the trail and then began descending. When we reached 2.75 miles we had lost 390 feet of elevation and crossed Butternut Creek, the outlet to Sand Pond. We paralleled the creek for a short distance and at 3.5 miles crossed the access road to Sand Pond which is a private inholding. We had been heading southeast and east but at this point the trail turned slightly northeast to meet the Long Pond Beaverkill Ridge Trail at 3.8 miles. Instead of turning left onto this trail to begin the loop back, we continued straight ahead to walk down to Flugertown Road to complete the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail for the All Trails Challenge. We were at the road by 11:45 AM having covered 4.35 miles.

picture taken during a hike At Flugertown Road we turned around and started back up to the trail junction. I was glad I had opened all the zippers on my hoody as this little climb made me very warm. Flugertown Road was the lowest point on the hike and we ascended 250 feet over half a mile to the trail junction at 4.8 miles. I decided to remove my hoody at this point hoping I would not feel too cold. I need not have worried as I never felt cool or chinked for the rest of the hike. My feet were a different story! My Vasque Taku boot were totally soaked on the outside despite the application of waterproofing. What was worse was that some of the moisture felt like it was getting through to my feet making me wonder if the boots actually had a Gortex liner! We turned right on the Long Pond Beaverkill Ridge Trail and started to head almost due north for 2.5 miles climbing all for most of the trip. The trail had a lot more slush and my feet were now wet and cold. We found that the trail alternated between being clearly marked and not marked at all. We were slowed by the fact that we had to stop and search for the next red marker in several, places. The trail also had not been properly maintained in some time and we removed many smaller branches as we hiked. There were several places where very large trees had fallen across the trail and hikers had worked their way around them essentially rerouting the trail. Most of these blowdowns were quite old and many had been partly cleared with an axe! I admired the person who would be carrying and axe over this distance and had the skill and perseverance to cut through trees which were at least two feet in diameter. I took a few pictures along the way but many of the features such as the impressive rock ledges are much better experienced in person. By 1:55 PM we had hiked 7.3 miles and had ascended to the Beaverkill Ridge at just under 3000 feet of elevation. We turned left on the blue Mongaup Hardenburgh Trail and started to look for a place to take a break for lunch. I knew that we still had to ascents to make and while my feet were uncomfortable they seemed to be mostly wet. After a short distance we took a break for "lunch". I never stop when I am hiking and eat mostly as I walk since I usually feel worse if I take a break. We only stopped for a short time and this break seemed to invigorate me. It certainly energized Sheila s she began a series of mad dashes through the woods.

picture taken during a hike As we continued west along the ridge we found more spots where the trail markers were absent and we had to guess where the trail was located. In each case we found the trail but the delay was annoying. We ascended Middle Mongaup Mountain at 8 miles and found a few limited viewpoints along the way. I knew what was ahead of us as we made a difficult descent on a steep section of trail littered with loose leaves and covered in wet slush. The sun had gone under some clouds which helped to darken my mood. In .6 miles we dropped 370 feet and were looking at West Mongaup Mountain ahead of us. I got a little ahead of my two friends but felt I had to keep moving to keep my feet warm and climbing was better than descending. The climb was steep and slippery at points and in .5 miles we gained 420 feet. I stopped at the summit so that we could regroup and noticed that the sun had come out. Just after the summit, the trail turned south and slightly west to head toward Mongaup Pond. I was dreading the descent but found that there was no slush which made things much easier. There were several poorly marked sections and areas where little maintenance had been done. We continued to pick up branches to clear the trail for others. My feet began to feel warmer but they were still wet! Over the 1.5 miles from the summit we dropped 820 feet to the northern shore of Mongaup Pond. The last .2 miles passed along a stream and through some pine trees and was most enjoyable. When we reached the pond, we stopped for a few minutes to take some pictures. It was 4:30 PM and the sun was dropping low so the lighting for photography was not the best. We had already hiked over 10 miles which was more than the total distance we planned. I knew the rest of the hike was almost completely flat and much of it was on park roads. As we picked up our packs we noticed a canoe near the far shore. We hiked along a wide trail running along the western shore of the upper section of the pond and ended up on a road that loops through some campsites. From here it was a short walk out to the "main" road where we turned right to continue south toward the parking area. I thought about stopping at the observation deck toy take a few shots but I was tired and the views were poor. I did point out to the others that there was a woods road on the right that leads west through some nice ledges to the Flynn Trail near Frick Pond. The walk along the road was not very exciting but it was easier and my feet were now back to normal temperature. We arrived back at the cars at 5:05 PM after hiking 12.1 miles and gaining 2290 feet in just over 7.5 hours. I found hiking with Bob and Wendell very enjoyable which made the time go very quickly.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Trout Pond Loop - Lower Parking Counter AllTrails - Trout Pond Loop - Lower Parking Counter caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Trout Pond Loop - Lower Parking Counter MapMyHike - Trout Pond Loop - Lower Parking Counter On Tuesday, October 25th I wanted to get out and hike after several days of lousy weather and relative inactivity. I decided with the amount of time I had that I would go to Trout Pond since the area is close. I also hoped to find some remnants of fall colors left on the leaves still on the trees. I got my gear and Sheila in the car and headed up the Quickway towards Roscoe just before 10:00 AM. I had waited for the rain showers to abate and for the sun to come out and add some warmth to the raw air. Unfortunately, as I drove towed Roscoe, I could see black clouds and found rain hitting the windshield. Since the weather was changing so rapidly, I decided to continue. I got off at exit 94 and headed north on Route 206 towards Downsville. After crossing the Rockland Flats and passing the Roscoe Nursing Home, I turned left on Morton Hill Road and drove to teethe intersection with Russell Brook Road. I decided to drive down to the lower parking area and was pleased to find the road in pretty good shape. I arrived at 10:10 AM to find one other car in the lot. On the way down the road I stopped to look at Russell Brook and found the water level as low as I had ever seen it in any season! I set my electronics and we started out on the Trout Pond Trail along a wide woods road that leads down to and across Russell Brook. As we crossed the bridge, I could see that the brook was very low. I stopped just after the bridge to take some pictures of the knotweed which was now only a shadow of its former glory. I also took some shots of the old orchard. The scene was interesting since many of the trees were without leaves but a few still had some colorful leaves on the branches which made an interesting contrast. The temperature was only in the mid 30's but the sun was out and the sky was blue. I felt incredibly energized as we continued straight ahead at the trail junction toward Trout Pond. I was surprised that there were no muddy spots on the trail and it seemed only the surface of the leaves was wet. Soon we were at the outlet end of the pond and I walked over to the shore and dropped my pack. Since the spring the water had not come close to touching the dam but now it seemed even lower. I took quite a few pictures looking for the contrast between bare trees and those with a few remaining leaves. Part of the sky was blue but part showed some black clouds moving in. We returned to the main trail and walked the flat woods road toward the inlet end of the pond. I walked off the trail at several point to the shore of the pond to take some pictures. In each case I knew that I was standing on ground that was usually underwater! At the trail junction near the lower leanto we turned to the left on the blue blazed Mud Pond Trail which would take use over Cherry Ridge and form our loop back to the parking area.

picture taken during a hike Even though we were gaining elevation, we continued our rapid pace. From the bridge at the inlet we began a climb of 430 feet over the next .75 miles. The trail headed west from the inlet until turning sharply south at around 2 miles. The highest point on the trail was at 2.2 miles after which most of the rest of the hike is downhill. As we gained elevation, I began to notice that there was some snow or sleet falling. I was hoping that it would pick up a little so that I could take some pictures but it came and went several times without ever becoming more noticeable. At 3.3 miles we had descended 450 feet from Cherry Ridge to the snowmobile trail near Mud Pond. We turned left here to head east and downhill back toward the parking area. The downhill was a little slippery because of the leaves but we made good time as we dropped another 380 feet over the next .7 miles back to the trail junction. I continued to remove branches from the trail and noted a few blowdowns that would require tools to remove. I passed several areas were my crew had removed blowdowns from the trail earlier in the year. At the trail junction we turned right and I decided we would visit the falls just to see what it was like with so little water. We turned left and walked out to the falls on the informal path descending to the stream bed. There was almost no water going over the falls and the stream below was barely a trickled. Dropped my pack and got out the camera to take pictures of the falls and the stream from different angles. The rocks on the face of the falls that would normally be washed clean by the water were covered in colorful leaves. I had Sheila pose in front of the falls and took several shots. I picked up my pack and we returned to the main trail. We walked up to the parking area where the same car was parked as when we had started. We never saw the occupant. We had hiked 4.4 miles in 1 hour and 50 minutes with an elevation gain of 960 feet.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Monday, October 24th Cindy and I were about to leave the house for a hike at Trout Pond when the ambulance pager went off. I have never been able to ignore a page so I went on the call in my hiking clothes. It turned out to be a potentially serious heart problem. By the time I got back there wasn't enough time before cross country practice to do too much traveling to hike. Sheila was in such a state of excitement that we decided to go across the street to hike the Round Top Trail that we had recently constructed. We headed across the street just before noon and climbed the steep hill to the top of the cemetery where the trail begins. The temperature had warmed up some but it was till cool with a mixture of sun and clouds. We walked into the woods and at the intersection we stayed to the right to hike the loop in the counterclockwise direction. As we hiked we picked up a few sticks to help keep the trail clear. When we got to the sharp left turn we followed the trail along the woods road we had cut out. We continued to walk along the trail and were soon at the lookout. We walked down to the short spur trail to the lower overlook. We agreed that the view is nice but that the way to get there is not safe for all visitors. There is a small "gulf" to cross and the viewpoint slopes which might make it dangerous in the winter. We went back to the upper ledge and could get a better view than a few weeks before since the leaves were off most of the trees. After enjoying the view, we walked down the main trail to the junction. I decided to turn around and get a little more hiking in by walking the loop in the opposite direction. Cindy decided she would return home. It was hard to get Sheila to stay with me as she was torn between going with me and staying with Cindy. In the end a few stern "With!" Commands got her to follow me as we walked back around the loop. It didn't take long before we completed the loop in the opposite direction and then headed home. I look forward to placing a few signs and creating an upper trail to the top of Round Top.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Wednesday, October 19th I wanted to get out and hike after several days of being school nurse and a rending weather forecast with rain. I decided with the amount of time I had that I would go to Frick and Hodge Ponds since the area is close. I also hoped to find some remnants of fall colors left on the leaves still on the trees. I got my gear and Sheila in the car and headed out the DeBruce Road just before 10:00 AM. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the split. When we arrived at the parking area there were no other cars in the lot. I parked and got my electronics ready. At 10:20 Am we headed out on the woods road from the smaller parking area. I left my light windbreaker in the car as the temperature had already hit 60 degrees. As we walked out the woods road toward Frick Pond, I wondered if perhaps I should have brought the light jacket as a slight breeze seemed cooler than I had expected. It was a quick walk to the outlet of Frick Pond and when we arrived at the bridge I could see there were still some colorful leaves on the trees. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take some shots. I walked to the bridge and noticed that the water level in the pond was so low that there did not seem to be any water ion the stream. I took a picture of the stream and the outlet before turning my attention to the fall leaves. Many of the trees had already dropped their leaves but some still were painted in their autumn colors. I took pictures of the pond and the puffy white clouds in the sky. I also took a few shots of Flynn's Point. I packed up my camera and shouldered my pack to continue the hike. At the next junction we stayed to the left on the Quick Lake Trail to head toward Ironwheel Junction. I stopped at one point to take a few pictures of the trail as many of the sheltered trees still had colorful leaves. As we approached the small stream in the woods just after the "spruce tunnel", I could see that there was only a shallow pool. The streambed was almost dry and was covered in leaves making it look like just another section of trail. As we continued our hike, I found several branches down across the trail. I cleared most of the branches but two spots would require a saw. When we arrived at Ironwheel Junction, we turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail to Junkyard Junction where the Flynn Trail begins. Over the next mile the trail rises about 400 feet heading north. At 2.4 miles it turns northeast and levels off some as it approaches Junkyard Junction.

picture taken during a hike At 3.1 miles we arrived at Junkyard Junction and turned right on the Flynn Trail heading east and slightly southeast. The trails had been dry so far and even the Flynn Trail had few damp spots as we worked our way along the flat expanse and the passed through the gate to descend to the pond. I followed Sheila as she turned right to stay on the Flynn Trail along the west side of Hodge Pond. As we came to the open field near the pond ether were a few muddy spots on the trail. From the field I could see through the trees to the pond and I stopped to take a few pictures before continuing on to the field at the outlet end of Hodge Pond. We walked over to the fire ring and I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the trees which still had some color. I also took a few shots of Sheila as she played in the water. The sun was out and there was a slight breeze across the pond. We didn't spend too long at the pond and were soon Back on the Flynn Trail climbing the hill up from the pond. It is .7 miles from the pond to the junction with the Big Rock Trail and we gained about 180 feet over that distance. I took a few more pictures along the way but the walk went quickly. From the junction the Flynn Trail starts a constant descent all the way to the parking area. In 1.7 miles it loses 600 feet in elevation. The walk down was pretty with many bright colors. At one point I heard a rather loud disturbance in the woods and called Sheila to me. Several times I have seen bear cross the trail in this area so I began to make some noise. When we reached the gate just before the cabin, we turned left to walk the Flynn Trail back to the car and to avoid the private property around the cabin. We were back at the car at 12:50 PM having hiked 6.3 miles in 2.5 hours with an elevation gain of 900 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Bear Spring (East road loop from 206) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, October 14th I had decided to hike somewhere to see if I could find some more fall leaf colors. I had not been to Bear Spring WMA in some time and decided that was the place to go. Cindy had a morning appointment but said she would like to go if I could wait until a little after noon. I agreed and when she returned home we set out from Livingston Manor at about 12:30 PM. The temperature was in the low 50's as I drove north on Route 17 to Roscoe where I took Route 206 through Downsville toward Walton and almost to the top of Bear Spring Mountain. I parked in the large "bus turnaround" just south of East Trout Brook Road. Cindy and I both decided to keep on our light jackets as a breeze was blowing and the temperature was still in the mid 50's. I set all my electronics and we started out at 1:00 PM. Sheila had on her blaze orange bandana and Cindy was wearing a red/orange jacket so I felt we were pretty safe from bow hunters if we should encounter any. We hiked just a little north on Route 206 and then turned left onto a woods road that is also a snowmobile and hiking trail. The trails in the Bear Spring WMA are truly multi-use and are frequently used by people riding horses. I took a few pictures of an area that I always photograph and we continued to walk along the road just above a clear cut area. I was surprised to find that the smaller trees had grown up quickly along the edge of the road blocking the best views of the valley and the hills on the other side. I could see there was some good leaf colors but it was hard to get a clear view for pictures. I did take a few shots when I could and also took some along the woods road where there were some nice colors. As we were about to enter the woods, I decided to fight through the brush and briars hoping to get to the edge of the clear cut area to get some clear pictures of the trees. It took me a while but I did get to and open area and got some nice shots of some beautiful trees garbed in flaming reds, yellows and oranges. I returned to the main trail and we walked through an area with trees on both sides. Every now and then I stopped to take a few shots along the trail where there were some spectacular trees. The trail started to climb a little and at 1,4 miles and 2.0 miles we passed trails on the right that descended from the ridge to the parking area just south of Launt Pond on East Trout Brook Road. My intent was to hike down the McCoy Hill Trail toward Middle Pond and the turn left to make a loop and return the way we had come.

picture taken during a hike At 2.3 miles we made the turn down McCoy Hill and started a long descent toward a nice viewpoint. When the trail opened up at the viewpoint, I was a little disappointed that the colors were not as bright as on the other ridge. I did take a few shots and we continued down the hill skirting another clear cut area on the right. At 3.2 miles we had descended to the trail junction and a nice view of the trees on top of the ridge above the clear cut where we had just been a few hours earlier. I took a few shots and decided we would take a different route than I planned. We continued to descend on the trail toward Middle Pond. Along the way there were several nice views to the south and west to the Fork Mountain Ridge. I stopped to take a few pictures but we finally made it down to Middle Pond. There was quite a large amount of water in the pond as the beavers had built a dam in the spillway of the pond. I took a few pictures and then stowed my poles and put Sheila on her leash. We had descended almost 700 feet off the ridge and now would have to climb back up to the car. We turned right on East Trout Brook Road which immediately began to ascend toward Route 206. The road walk was easier than the trail and the pace was fast. At 5.2 miles we came to the southern end of Launt Pond after having already gained 300 feet of elevation back. We walked over to the outlet to the pond. The leaves were not as beautiful as in previous years but the colors were still nice. I took many pictures of the pond and the trees before following Cindy over to the observation deck. I got Sheila to sit next to her and took a couple of shots of them. We walked back out to the road and continued our climb. At 6.2 miles we were at route 206 after gaining over 600 feet. I decided to walk back on Route 206 rather than use the trail. We turned right and started walking back to the car on the main road. I regretted my decision jot to use the trail as there was a lot of traffic moving too fast with drivers that seemed unconcerned about their speed or our safety. We gained a little more elevation and were back at the car at 3:55 PM. We had hiked 6.9 miles in 3 hours with 1013 feet of elevation gain. As we were hiking back on Route 206, we noticed some trail on the other side of the road which I would like to explore in a subsequent hike.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Giant Ledge alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, October 12th I had decided to do some work around the house and rest after a 12 mile hike on the Finger Lakes Trail the day before. I go to bed VERY late and then was awakened by an ambulance call at 5:30 AM. When we returned from that call another one came in. The ambulance calls and the cool and very overcast morning which reinforced, in my mind, my decision to stay home. As the morning developed the skies cleared and the sun came out. The temperature started to rise and I began to think about going somewhere to see if I could get some "fall colors" pictures. I decided to head for Giant Ledge since it is a short hike and I assumed that there would not be many people there since it was Wednesday. I got my gear together and pout Sheila in the back seat as we headed out the DebRuce Road around 10:30 AM. The temperature was in the low 50's as I drove along DeBruce Road. I turned left onto the Frost Valley Road and the colors by the YMCA were beautiful. There were no cars parked at Biscuit Brook but quite a few in the Slide Mountain parking area. When we arrived at the big bend in Route 47, the lot was full. I almost decided to head somewhere else since I did not want to deal with so many people. I decided to stick to the plan and turned around and parked off the side of the road below the parking area. We crossed the road to start the hike at 11:10 AM. The trail was very dry with only a few damp places. The stream under the bridge was nonexistent. As I climbed over the normally rocky areas, I was reminded of how many shall but very rocky climbs are on this trail! I could see a young woman ahead of me with a dog so we slowed down to let her get ahead of us. I let Sheila off her leash and she stayed very close. We caught up to and passed another group. Each time we met people, I put Sheila on her leash. Within about 30 minutes we had hiked the .75 miles to the trail junction. I have made this in 15 minutes under ideal conditions but I wasn't in any real hurry on this day. I noticed a father and son at the turn and put Sheila on her leash. The father thanked me for being considerate and we exchange a few more words before I continued on. The trail straight ahead would take us to Woodland Valley but we made a left turn to go to Giant Ledge

picture taken during a hike The next .3 miles or so was almost flat and the trail was still dry. We ascended through a few small climbs. Soon we began the climb up to Giant Ledge passing the sign for the spring on the way. We started the final climb up to the Giant Ledge plateau by passing a few more people. I was surprised at how quickly this last part went and before I knew it we were at the top. I had Sheila on her leash and had stowed my poles. Sheila does a good job of pulling on uphill sections which really helps. It often seems to me that up, down and flat are all the same to her. We walked across the trail and down to the first lookout where the woman with the dog was visiting with some other hikers. I tied Sheila to a tree, got out my camera and went out to the ledge. The colors in front of me were as good as we have had for many falls! I took a lot of shots and the decide to visit and unoccupied viewpoint so that I could take some pictures of Sheila. The woman with the dog was ahead of me and she stopped a the next lookout. Sheila and I continued to the next one which was empty. I took some pictures of Sheila on the ledge and then took more pictures of the ally below and the surrounding mountains. To the left was Panther Mountain and to the right the three members of the Burroughs Range: Slide, Cornell and Wittenberg. At this point I decided that I had too many things to do for the rest of the day and I would not enjoy the hike to Panther. It was 12:15 PM when we turned around after hiking about 1.7 miles. I looked at the views from another lookout but decided they were more of the same. We started back down from the ledges with Sheila on her leash and without the use of my poles. I soon decided that my knees would do better with my poles. The rest of the way back I kept meeting groups still hiking up to the ledges. Each time we met a group I out Sheila on her leash. We did meet one more dog which I think was a Boston Terrier puppy. Going down was easier than going up and at 1:20 PM we were back at the parking lot. More cars were parked on the road but there were a few empty spots in the lot. We covered 3.3 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes with an ascent of about 1210 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Rt 13 to Winding Stair Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, October 11 I wanted to continue to hike Map 12 on the Finger Lakes Trail near Bath and Hammondsport, NY after doing the first section from Sand Pit Road to Route 13. I decided I would park on Route 13 near Mitchellsville where I had left Access 5 and then hike north and east to Winding Stair Road just south of Hammondsport at Access 7. The hike out on the trail would be around 6.4 miles but I knew we could hike back on local roads and probably cut the distance some with a less difficult hike making the round trip between 12 and 13 miles. The drive is almost 3 hours but there was no rain in the forecast. Even so, I knew I wanted to get an early start so I set my alarm for 6:00 AM. When my alarm woke me I looked at the thermometer and is was 30 degrees. I delayed my start a little so that I would arrive at my destination around 10:00 AM when the temperature had risen some. I had gotten my gear ready the night before so I was ready to leave by 6:45 AM with Sheila in the backseat. We had not been out for a few days so she was more than ready to go. She almost seemed to sense we were in for a long ride and settled down immediately. I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the mid 30's and there was dense fog most of the way. I was hoping for some views on this hike and was praying the fog would lift. Between the fog and the early hour it was rather dark for the first part of the trip. After a long drive, I took exit 38 to Bath and got on Route 415 heading east. I turned north on Liberty Street and then stayed to the left on Haverling Street which became Route 13. After just about 5 miles I spotted the area where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses the road. I turned around and parked on the wide shoulder at 10:00 AM. As I got ready to start to hike I found that I had left my Suunto Traverse watch at home and, more important, I had also failed to bring my printed map. I did have my Garmin GPSmap 64st and map 12 in PDFMaps on my iPhone. I knew I would have to rely on the Finger Lakes Trail blazes and these two devices on the hike. The temperature had not yet reached 40 degrees but I exchanged my Mammut Hoody for a very light windbreaker knowing that the temperature would rise and I would get warmer as we hiked. We crossed Route 13 and walked through a mowed area of a field between two fields of soybeans that looked ready to harvest. The grass was wet and as we entered the shadow of the trees there was still frost on the ground. We came to the trail through the woods and started to walk along the Mitchellsville Creek Gorge.

picture taken during a hike The gorge is mentioned as "very special" on the Finger Lakes Trail map description and several websites tout it as an interesting place. I found it to be extremely frustrating and disappointing! Part of the problem was the lack of water in the creek but in addition most of the waterfalls are hidden by trees and are impossible to see. I could get a few glimpses but no good views! The depth of the gorge and the rock walls are impressive and it was a nice walk but I kept looking for a way to see some waterfalls or get down to the creek bed. At .7 miles I could hear some water in the creek and I took a chance walking down a narrow tongue of land at least 50 feet above the creek. The path was steep and no more than 2 feet wide and covered in slippery clay soil and moss. I got a partial view of a falls with almost no water going over it. I did not want to try to get my pack off and get the camera out so I returned, with some difficulty, to the trail. We continued walking along the gorge losing elevation all the way until the trail opened out into a field. I was frustrated as there was no turn indicator to show us where to go. We wandered around before finding that the trail turned left to follow the edge of a field and then reentered the woods. We did take the opportunity to walk down to the creek where there was a very small waterfall. I took a few shots and then we returned to the main trail. At 1.2 miles I again saw a path onto a narrow spit of land. I followed this one until I could get a good look at the gorge which is impressive. I was able to take a few pictures of a small falls far below. We continued to descend on the Finger Lakes Trail and I continued to look for a place to get down to the creek level. Sheila alerted and I saw a couple hiking toward us. We stopped and talked to each other for some time before continuing in opposite direction. I could see that we could probably hike over to the creek and then try to work our way upstream but I knew I did not have enough time for that. We walked out to an unused railroad track at around 2 miles and turned left to walk along the track and then a trail to a bridge at 2.2 miles. We walked up to an open field an walked out to a vineyard. I took some pictures of the vineyard and the hills around. The Finger Lakes Trail followed the edge of the vineyard out to Route 88 where we turned right and followed it out to the town hall. The trail crossed the lawn and turned right on Route 54 by the Vinehurst Motel. We then turned left and walked along a dirt road before the trail continued straight ahead beginning the ascent of a ridge.

picture taken during a hike Strangely, the trail followed one of two parallel woods roads, crossed over to the other, entered the woods on a trail for a hundred feet and then returned to the original woods road! We were headed south or southeast now and over the next .75 miles we gained over 700 feet at an 18% grade. The woods now were mostly hardwoods and at one point we came to a field, walked along the edge and then reentered the woods. I knew we were approaching Keuka Lake and at some point hoped to get some views! At 3.9 miles the trail began to turn north, northeast and then east. Once we had done most of the ascending the trail rolled along the ridge never really attaining the highest point. At 5.4 miles we began to descend and a t 5.8 miles the June Big Trail headed to the north to the Glen Curtiss Museum. I had thought about walking back along the ridge rather than on the roads to avoid losing elevation that we would have to regain. The loss of elevation on the trail cancelled this plan. We continued to descend on the trail until we reached Winding Stair Road at 6.4 miles having already lost over 400 feet. I got us a drink and stowed my poles as I knew the rest of the walk would be on the roads. We turned left and started to descend to the valley. I stopped to take a few pictures of fields and clouds but views of the lake eluded me. Around 6.9 miles a space opened up on the right side of the road and a dirt road headed off into a field. From this spot there were excellent views of the lake and I eagerly put down my pack and got out the camera. I took quite a few shots before packing up and heading down the road to Route 54. When we arrived at the main road at 7.5 miles we had dropped 1030 feet from the top of the ridge. We turned left and began a long walk along Route 54. Fortunately the road had wide shoulders a s there was more traffic than I expected. I knew we had to walk all the way back to the Vinehurst Motel before we could make the next turn.

picture taken during a hike Hiking along the shoulder of a main road is never thrilling but we set a good pace. My feet were getting hotspots but I knew there wasn't much I could do. At 8.2 miles I looked up and saw the entrance to the Glenn Curtiss Museum with a DC-3 parked in a field. I thought this was very interesting and stopped to take some shots. Just after the museum South Valley Road cut off to the right and it seemed a quicker way to Route 88 which headed back toward Mitchellsville and the car. We followed the road and soon were approaching Route 88. Just before the intersection was Pleasant Valley Cemetery on the left. This is the resting place of Glenn Curtiss and a sign detailed his life. We turned right on Route 88 and walked about .3 miles to the intersection with Route 89 where we turned left. I knew that we were in a valley and that the car was parked at about 1400 feet. The road started to climb almost immediately and seemed like it would go on forever. Although it was still cooler than some of the days I had hiked the sun beating down made it seem warm. We started at an elevation of 800 feet and over 1.35 miles we climbed to 1370 feet where the road levels off. As we walked along the level portion heading for Route 13, I could looked down into the Mitchellsville Creek Gorge and across to the trail we had been walking when we first started the hike. At 11.9 miles we reached Route 13 where we turned left and did a little more climbing to get back to the car. The soybean field from earlier in the morning was now bare of soybeans! We were back at 3:25 PM having hiked 12.4 miles in 5 hours and 20 minutes with an total elevation gain of 2100 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Sand Pit Rd to Rt 13 alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, October 7 I wanted to start Map 12 on the Finger Lakes Trail near Bath, NY since it was right off Rt17/I86. I decided I would park on Sand Pit Road at Access 1 and then hike north and east to Route 13 near Mitchellsville. The hike out on the trail would be around 7.6 miles but I knew we could hike back on local roads and probably cut the distance some with a less difficult hike making the round trip between 13 and 14 miles. The drive is almost 3 hours but there was no rain in the forecast until late in the evening. Even so, I knew I wanted to get an early start so I set my alarm for 6:00 AM. I guess I was excited about the hike because I woke up several times during the night and decided to get up just after 5:30 AM. I had gotten my gear ready the night before so I was ready to leave by 6:15 AM with Sheila in the backseat. We had not been out for a few days so she was more than ready to go. She almost seemed to sense we were in for a long ride and settled down immediately. I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the high 40's and there was alternating areas of dense and light fog. Between the fog and the early hour it was rather dark for the first part of the trip. After a long drive, I took exit 38 to Bath and got on Route 415 heading northwest. After just less than a mile, I turned right on Spaudling Drive and then right on Harrisburg Hollow Road at the end. After .4 miles, I turned right on Sand Pit Road and parked at a wide spot on the road just below the point where the Finger Lakes Trail crossed the road. I got my gear ready to go and left on my light windbreaker since the temperatures was still less than 50 degrees. At 9:20 AM we walked up the road and turned left into the woods and immediately began to climb. By the time we got to 1.4 miles heading northeast we had ascended almost 500 feet and gotten some nice views. The trail was wide and well kept following woods roads in many places and breaking out into corn fields. The views from the fields were nice but not spectacular and there was still a haze hanging over everything. I took off my windbreaker along the way as the air temperature had risen and so had my temperature from the climb. At 1.7 miles we passed by a small pond with structure on its southern shore. As we passed some birds flew up off the pond but I could not see what species. We walked down the spur trail to Hickory Hill Campground for only a few feet. I stopped to take a few pictures of the pond before walking back to the main trail to continue the hike.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the trail making a right turn and the arriving at the Hickory Hill leanto at about 1.8 miles. I could see there was a privy, picnic table, fire ring, and a nice view of some far away hills. I decided not to stop and we continued ahead getting a few more limited views here and there. The trail continued north as it ascended Kershener Hill at 1820 feet. From the hill we began a descent to Robbins Road which we reached at 3.1 miles. The direction to turn was not immediately obvious from the blazes but I consulted the map and turned left to walk up Robbins Road for about .3 miles before turning right into the woods. We walked along the woods road and found some of the unusual trail blazing that the FLTC likes to do. In several places we came to a Y in the trail where there was a blaze on a tree indicating turn which was obvious without the blaze. Unfortunately, the FLTC marks turns with one blaze directly above another instead of with the standard offset indicating the direction of the turn. In these cases this method makes the turn blaze completely useless as the hiker is left to search for the next blaze to confirm the direction of the turn. We also ran into turn blazes where the trail took a slight jog and there was no other way to go! Eventually we broke out into a field and started to walk around the edge. I have had some BIG problems trying to follow FLTC blazes near fields in the past but the ones on this hike were very ell placed and visible. I noticed some wooden stakes on a hill in the middle of the field. They were at least six feet tall and I took a picture as I did not know their use. I continued to walk around the field and noticed a little hut just off the trail. My curiosity got the best of me and I went to investigate. The structure had four partitioned stalls with a small bench in each one. It reminded me of an outhouse but there were no holes in the benches or the floor. This was the second mystery. We continued to follow the road along the edge of the field and began to get some nice views to the left. The road ascended a little hill and the views got better. Along the side of the trail were two stone benches and we stopped so that I could take some pictures. This was the highest spot on the hike at 1900 feet. I took a shot of the benches and then a few of the pond below and the hills beyond. We continued our walk and turned right into the woods. There was a sheltered bench called the "Puckerbush Overlook" just inside the woods.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the trail following a woods road as it passed by some houses and then came to Ferris Road at 5 miles. We turned right and followed the road down hill and due east until it eventually became a woods road. The trail followed the road for some time and then entered the woods only to come back onto the road. At 5.3 miles the Bristol Hills Branch Trail headed north. The road was now very eroded and hard to walk. Soon we had descended to a deep ravine where we encountered a few missing blazes. We found the trail and walked down into the ravine which was cut by Softwater Creek but was completely dry. My map description mentioned a bridge but there was none. The walk up the opposite bank was steep but within .3 miles we came to Newton Road. I had considered bailing out at this point but decided to stick to the original plan. We turned right on Newton road and walked downhill for about .4 miles on packed and the loose dirt and gravel. The trail then turned into the woods to the left and began to climb again. The climb was steep averaging 16% even with the switchbacks but it was only .3 miles to the top of the hill. We had been heading east but at the top of the hill we turned north and immediately began a descent on a woods road. This was gentle at first but at 7.3 miles the trail turned east again and began a steep descent to Route 13 at 7.7 miles. All the way down the hill I could detect the unmistakable smell of liquid chicken or duck manure that had been spread on the fields in the valley. At Route 13 we stopped so that I could stow my poles and put Sheila on her leash. We also got a drink before turning right on Route 13 heading toward Bath. The road had a centerline but no real shoulders we walked downhill for some time passing farms and barns which made me feel at home. One field was being harvested by combine but I could not tell what they were harvesting.

picture taken during a hike At 9 miles we started a steeper descent with an uphill on the other side after passing Cold Spring Road. At the top of the hill was a nice view over some fields and I stopped to take some shots. This was the first time there were any interesting clouds in the sky! At this point I had to make a decision. We could continue mostly downhill on Route 13 to Bath and then try to find our way through the local streets back Bo the car. The other option was to stick with my original plan and hike Robbins Road to the Harrisburg Hollow Road. The problem with this choice was that I knew it would mean climbing over the ridge we had hiked along earlier in the day. In the end I decided to stick to my plan and get off the main road onto the back roads. We turned right on Robbins Road and began the hike over the ridge. Now that Sheila was on her leash she could help pull me up the hills and this was a good thing as the road was steep at times. At 10.2 miles we were on the section of Robbins Road that we had hiked earlier. This time we hiked up the hill and then continued on the road instead of turning into the woods. We walked downhill for a pleasant 1.25 miles. I was surprised at the traffic on this largely dirt road. As we neared Harrisburg Hollow Road the surface was paved which made walking easier. At the intersection I stopped to check my feet which had several "hot spots". I changed to dry socks which were a little lighter. As I was sitting on the grass, I looked across the road and saw a strange structure. It was very tall and thin with a door and three stained glass windows with a cross on the side. There was no one to ask about the building so I took a few shots. We continued our hike by turning left on Harrisburg Hollow Road. There was some traffic on this paved road but many of the cars moved over as they approached. The sun certainly seems warm as we walked the final 1.8 miles downhill and south on the road. We turned left on Sand Pit Road and walked 300 feet uphill to the car. It was 2:55 PM an we had spent 5.5 hours hiking 13.6 miles with a total stopped time of about 30 minutes. Our overall speed was 2.5 mph and I was surprised that e total ascent was 2155 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Mud and Trout Ponds - Campbell Brook snowmobile AllTrails - Mud and Trout Ponds - Campbell Brook snowmobile caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Mud and Trout Ponds - Campbell Brook snowmobile MapMyHike - Mud and Trout Ponds - Campbell Brook snowmobile On Monday, October 3rd I had planned to head for Bath, NY to begin map 12 of the Finger Lakes Trail. The weather had looked poor all week but I got up at 5:30 AM anyway. I took one look at the forecast and decided to postpone the trip as the forecast was calling for cloudy skies all day with a good chance of showers. The forecast for Friday looks much more promising if it does not change during the week. The weather forecast for Livingston Manor included showers at around 11:00 m so I waited to see what would happen. By 11:30 AM there had been no rain and, even though the sky looked cloudy and dark in places, I decided to head for Trout Pond. My intention was to hike the loop passed Mud pond over to Trout Pond and then take the Campbell Brook Trail to Campbell Brook Road. From here I would take Morton Hill Road back to the car. I got my gear and Sheila in the car and headed out of Livingston Manor at about 11:45 AM. I headed north on Route 17 to Roscoe and out Route 206 to Morton Hill Road. I had to wait for some paving on the Rockland Flats but the dealt wasn't too long. After turning left on Morton Hill Road, I drove toward the intersection with Russell Brook Road. The town of Colchester was doing some ditching which meant another delay. I finally arrived at the intersection with Russell Brook Road and parked on the side of the road to avoid trespassing on private property. We started down Russell Brook Road at 12:05 PM. I always like to park on Morton Hill Road because the walk down Russell Brook Road to the lower parking area is so enjoyable. The road to the lower parking area is in good shape for the most part and parking at the lower parking area is plentiful. The walk down the road went quickly and as we passed the upper falls I could see there was almost no water in the brook despite the rain that had been on and off for several days. I decided at that point that visiting the falls was pointless. There were two cars in the lower lot as we turned right onto the trail that goes down to the bridge across Russell Brook and I hoped that they were not hunters. We walked to the trail junction and I decided at that point to follow my plan by turning left and hiking toward Mud Pond and to the upper end of Trout Pond. We turned left, walked passed the large campsite on the right and headed up the hill. The hill is about .8 miles and gains around 400 feet which is enough to work up a sweat. When we reached the next trail junction, we turned right to head to Trout Pond. The day was cool, but I was warm from the climb. The skies were almost uniformly cloudy with an occasional break when the sun would shine through.

picture taken during a hike Over the next 1.2 miles the trail gains another 400 feet rising to almost 2500 feet in elevation to the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. The hike is pretty but there are few photographic opportunities. At one point I could see two hikers coming toward me and I put Sheila on her leash as we passed. We said "hello" but quickly continued in opposite direction. As we hiked, we passed several places where my trail dew had worked to clear blowdowns and cut back brush which always gives me a good feeling. From the high point we headed downhill for the next .8 miles losing 460 feet in the process until we were at the bridge across the inlet stream to Trout Pond. I could see that the lower lean-to was not occupied and did not hear any noise at the upper one. I took a look at the pond from the bridge and saw there were some trees changing colors. I decided to take a few shots and we walked down to the edge of the water. The level of the pond was very low as I took a few pictures before packing up and getting back on the trail. The skies were very cloudy now but I decided to follow my plan thinking that at least I had brought along a rain jacket and plastic bags! Over the next .8 miles of trail we gained back 430 feet of elevation and were approaching the junction of the hiking and snowmobile trails. I knew the snowmobile trail intersected Campbell Brook Road and decided to take it for some variety and because I thought it was a little shorter than the hiking trail. The trail began by climbing a little more than the hiking trail but it was well cut out and easy to follow. The trail began to follow the edge of the hill so for the first .3 miles we headed almost due east. This made me a little nervous but I knew we had to hit a road that would take us back to the car. At 4.6 miles we turned north and walked another .3 miles continuing along the edge of the ridge. At 4.9 miles we began to descend heading east and then due north to intersect Campbell Brook Road near the junction with Morton Hill Road. We turned right on Campbell Brook Road and walked about .1 miles to Morton Hill Road. We continued straight ahead to follow the road back to the car. The walk along the road was pleasant and seemed shorter than I remembered. Sheila was well-behaved on her leash and we made good time covering the last 2.85 miles in less than an hour! We were back at the car by 3:20 PM covering 8.2 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes. We stopped for less than 5 minutes and had a vertical gain of 1540 feet. There had been no rain but the snowmobile trail was less than a quarter mile shorter than the hiking trail.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Hodge and Frick (Flynn and Quick Lake Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, October 1st I was ready to hike after spending some time working on the Livingston Manor Round Top Trail. I decided to stay local and head to Hodge and Frick Ponds since the weather looked a little questionable. Brad and Krista were in for the weekend and Brad decided to go with me. I was glad to have the company as he and I have things in common since we are both EMS volunteers. As we were getting ready to leave an ambulance call came in for an overdose and both Brad and I responded. Fortunately, we were able to administer Narcan and saved a life. When we returned from the call, we got ready to leave and pulled out of the driveway just after 10:30 AM. The temperature was only 57 degrees so I wore a light windbreaker over a long sleeved shirt and baselayer. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. When we arrived there were two other cars in the lot and I hoped they were not hunters. We crossed the road to get onto the Flynn Trail at 10:55 AM. I have been wearing a pair of Vasque Taku boots which seem to fit well and are no longer sold by Vasque! The trail was wet from the rain and the humidity meant nothing was drying out. I could feel my feet getting a little damp and I always wonder about the value of Gortex in shoes when this happens! The walk up the Flynn Trail seemed to go very quickly and not very far along Sheila alerted. We saw a couple coming toward us with a dog. I put Sheila on her leash and to my surprise the other couple also leashed their dog. We talked a minute as we passed and they said they had seen no hunters. We continued in opposite directions and Brad and I made no stops passing through the junction with the Big Rock Trail and continuing straight ahead of the Flynn Trail. We kept up a quick pace as we passed through the gate marking the boundary with the Open Spaces property. At the next junction we stayed to the left to keep on the Flynn Trail and head directly down to Hodge Pond. When we broke out into the clearing at the outlet end of Hodge Pond, we walked over to the fire ring at the shore. I put down my pack and got out the camera even though there was a lot of mist in the air. I took some shots and then threw a stick into the water for Sheila. She didn't seem too interested but retrieved it a couple of times.

picture taken during a hike I put the camera away and picked up my pack to continue our hike on the Flynn Trail. This section of the trail was muddy with some standing water in places but it was easily negotiated. We stayed left at the next junction to continue up the hill on the blue Flynn Trail. We passed through the gate from OSI property to state land and found the trail continued to have some wet and muddy spots. It seemed that Junkyard Junction came up quickly and we turned left on the red Quick Lake Trail to start our loop back. The Quick Lake Trail is mostly downhill and we made good time. I stopped several times to remove branches and other debris from the trail. We walked downhill to Iron Wheel Junction and turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. We were soon at the small stream just before the "Spruce Tunnel" and I crossed it with ease. The stream was very low but Sheila was able to get her feet wet and take a drink. We continued on to the outlet bridge at Frick Pond. I stopped to take a few pictures which I thought might be interesting as there was some mist hanging over the pond with a few bright trees. Flynn's Point seemed to be covered in a cloud. We walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction. The trail back to the parking area was a little damp in places but we had no problems. As we passed the register box, we turned right to stay on the trail. When we got back to the car at 1:30 PM there was only one car in the lot. We had walked 6.6 miles in 2.5 hours gaining 928 feet along the way. The temperature at the trail head was now just above 60 degrees and the humidity was still high.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Wednesday, September 28th I had thought again about going to Long Pond to hike the big loop as I only had cross country practice in the afternoon. Just as I was about to live an ambulance call for a rollover MVA came in. Fortunately, the driver was lucky and had relatively minor injuries. When I returned, it was too late for a long hike but there was a text from Lisa suggesting a hike on the new Round Top Trail. I agree to meet her at the trailhead around 11:30 AM. This would give me a chance to scout out another way to site the upper trail to the summit to add a little more length. I walked across the street with just Sheila, my poles and my two GPS devices. Lisa was in the church parking lot and we immediately started up the road into the cemetery. The sky was completely overcast and there was a heavy mist that was just short of rain. We took the middle road and wound our way up to the trailhead. Lisa liked the paint blazes as we headed into the woods. At the intersection we stayed to the right to hike the loop in the counterclockwise direction. As we hiked we picked up a few sticks to help keep the trail clear. When we got to the sharp left urn abet follows the woods road, we continued straight ahead bushwhacking our way toward the summit of Round Top. We kept a fairly straight route but followed a game path here and there. Any trail would require some clearing a and a switchback or two. At the summit we followed a route that I knew would take us back to the trail at the next turn. We followed a few game trails and were soon back at the trail. We walked down to the overlook and out the short spur trail to the lower overlook. We agreed that the view is nice but that the way to get there is not safe for all visitors. There is a small "gulf" to cross and the viewpoint slopes which might make it dangerous in the winter. We walked down the trail toward the intersection and then turned right off the trail to find a way to get below the lookout. I wanted to chart the area where the Town of Rockland had cut some trees to open up the viewpoint to see if we could cut a few more on public property. The area below the ledges is tricky to walk on since there is a lot of talus from the ledges and the fallen trees to climb over. I walked around the area and it was actually well worth the bother since the view up to the ledges is impressive. The ledges are not quite as solid as they look and jut out into the air with caves and voids underneath. At one point I looked up and Sheila was looking down from above. We walked back in the direction we had come from but stayed a little lower and off the trail to investigate an old foundation. We walked back up to the trail and to the trailhead where I turned off my GPS units. We continued down the road to Lisa's car where we parted. I walked back across the street to my house. I deiced to look at the GPS tracks bore going to practice. I was really surprised in a BAD way! The tracks from my Suunto Traverse watch and Garmin GPS 60 differed greatly from each other and from other tracks I had taken in the past. I didn't have much time to resolve the problem and left for practice still wondering what had happened.

When I returned home from cross country practice at 5:30 PM, the GPS issue was still bothering me. I needed to send a track to the NYNJTC so that their cartographer could superimpose the track on the tax maps to make sure that any new trail was on public property. I could only do this with an accurate track. I decided to grab my GPS devices and my dog and head back over to the trail. Sheila and I almost ran up the hill to the trailhead where I turned on the devices as I headed into the woods hoping for the best. At the intersection we headed right around the loop to the viewpoint and continued back down to the trailhead. We turned around and walked the trail in the opposite direction and came back to the trailhead where I turned off the devices and headed back to the house. I loaded both tracks onto my computer and AGAIN found that they did not quite match each other and were slightly off from readings I had taken before. Even more interesting was the fact that the loop in one direction did not completely overlap the loop in the other direction. I was annoyed to say the least! I came to the conclusion that the biggest problem with these tracks is the scale. Most of my hikes are at least 6 miles and an out and back hike shows both tracks virtually on top of each other. This trail is only .6 miles so any variations are magnified. However, this situation had hammered home the fact that no one should depend on a GPS unit alone for navigation especially in critical situations.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Huggins Lake AllTrails - Huggins Lake CalTopo - Huggins Lake Gmap4 - Huggins Lake MapMyHike - Huggins Lake On Tuesday, September 27th I decided I wanted to get out before the rains came during the rest of the week. I thought about going to Long Pond and hiking the big loop. In the end I got a late start and decided to head for Huggins Lake for a shorter hike since I had a cross country meet in the afternoon. I headed out a little after 9:30 AM with Sheila in the backseat. I have come to the realization that she would like to be out everyday and we had not hiked since Friday! I drove up the Beaverkill Road and down the Campsite Road to find the covered bridge STILL closed. I detoured to the steel bridge at Craigie Claire and then drove out Berry Brook Road to the trailhead. There were no cars in the lot when we headed out at 10:15 AM on the wide woods road to the lake. The temperature was in the mid 50's and I was tempted to leave on my windbreaker but decided I would warm up on the hike. The day was mostly sunny with some clouds in a blue sky. The hike isn't long and the trail was well-maintained. The first 1.2 miles is all uphill and gains almost 700 feet. Sheila was running up and down the trail and following game paths into the woods as I did my best to keep up a fast pace up the hill. After the initial climb, the trail descends to Huggins Lake making a sharp turn from southeast to north at about 1.6 miles. Sheila alerted at the turn but I could not see what she saw and we continued to descend to the lake.

picture taken during a hike When we arrived at the lake, I noticed that the water level was very high with the water lapping at the shore near the trail. There had been some rain the night before but I didn't think that alone would explain the level of the water. We walked the path to the outlet and I could, immediately see that the beavers had dammed the outlet causing the level of the water to rise. As I stood at the outlet, I got out my camera to take a few pictures. I could see that there were some bright colors present in the leaves of a few trees but most were still green. Some of the leaves had already fallen and I hoped that we would have a nice array of colors before all of them were down. I dropped my pack and took some pictures. Some of the best colors were in the flowers and shrubs surrounding the pond but the sky was overcast. I did take some pictures of the snow on the trail and around the lake. I snapped some shots of the lake and the leaves. I stowed my camera and picked up my pack and we headed back up the trail. The only negative point about Huggins Lake is that there is only one trail and so there are no variations available. I have tried bushwhacking around the pond but the bushes get pretty thick. We climbed the hill back to the highest point on the trail and then started down the other side. As we continued to descend, I was a little sorry I didn't have more time to be out hiking. When we arrived back at the car, We had hiked 3.8 miles in 1 hour and 30 minutes with a total elevation gain of 950 feet. As we left the parking area, I turned left on Berry Brook road and headed back to Livingston Manor the way we had come. On the way back I stopped at the construction site for the Beaverkill Covered Bridge and took a few pictures. The siding is now on the bridge but there looks like there is quite a bit more to do. I am still stumped by the approach that has been constructed as it looks almost dangerous!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Birdseye Hollow Rd to Rt 226 alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, September 23rd I wanted to finish Map 13 on the Finger Lakes Trail west of Watkins Glen as the first hike of the fall season. I decided I would park on Birdseye Hollow Road at Access 1 and then hike south to Route 226 where I had stopped on my previous hike. The hike out on the trail would be around 6 miles but I knew we could hike back on local roads and probably cut the distance some with a less difficult hike making the round trip between 11 and 12 miles. The drive is almost 3 hours and a heavy thunderstorm was in the forecast for the afternoon so I knew I wanted to get an early start. I got my gear ready the night before and was up and moving by 5:00 AM. Surprisingly, I had all my gear ready and in the car by 5:30 AM as I left Livingston Manor with Sheila in the backseat. She almost seemed to sense we were in for a long ride and settled down immediately. Cindy told me the night before she did not want to drive that far to hike so Sheila and I were on our own. I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still in the low 60's but there wasn't the fog that I had experienced on previous trips. It was, however, very dark! After a long drive, I took exit 40 to Savona and got on Route 226 heading northeast. After about 7.5 miles, I turned left on Rabbit Road which connected to Route 16 where I turned left or east. It was only 1.5 miles to Birdseye Hollow Road on the right. I drove north for 2.3 miles passing Birdseye Hollow County Park. At 2.3 miles the Finger Lakes Trail crossed the road and I turned around to park. The road had been recently paved and although the job was a good one it left a drop from the road to the shoulder. I found a spot where I thought I could pull off and although the car was on quite an angle it seemed safe. I got my gear ready to go and left on my light windbreaker although it did feel like the temperature had risen and the humidity felt high. We walked across the road and a little south before entering the woods to start east on the trail. The forest was an interesting mix of red pines and deciduous trees and the walk was pleasant if not particularly scenic. The trail seems to be well marked but there were a few blowdowns blocking the trail in places. At .35 miles the trail turned south but then went west before turning south again and crossing Rhinehart Road at 1 mile. We walked a little farther and came to the bench dedicated to Mary Years. Across from the bench was the foundation of an old farmhouse and a sign explaining a little bit about the history of the area. The trail continued south following an old woods road until 1.75 miles when it branched off the road to the right and began to descend off the ridge. The trail had been running parallel to the road and now descended to the intersection of Munson Hollow Road and Birdseye Hollow Road at 2.1 miles. We crossed the roads and followed the white blazes for the Finger Lakes Trail and the blue blazes for the park trail. At 2.4 miles we came to a T in the trail where the Finger Lakes Trail turned left and the blue park trail turned right. I decided to follow the park trail as it is an "approved" shortcut despite the fact that the map warned that the trail can be very wet.

picture taken during a hike Since we were coming into a county park, I put Sheila on her leash and followed the trail as it came to an area where there was a parking lot and a pavilion. The blue blazes on the trees clearly showed that the trail crossed the parking lot and followed a paved walkway south of the lake. It was where that we met the only other person we would see on the hike. A man was out walking his dog and it seemed that he did not have complete control of his pet. We passed by quickly and continued on the paved path. To the right was the lake and I could see that it had some interesting trees and some small islands. The upper reaches were more of a wetland than a lake or pond and many dead trees were evident. As we walked I was surprised to find a wooden causeway that spanned what would normally be the out let of the lake. There was no water flowing out of the lake on this day! The middle of the bridge had a covered section. I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take some pictures. I took a few of the bridge and then Sheila and I walked across the bridge to the shore of the lake. It was really very pretty so I took more pictures. There was a weeping willow on one shore and the trees around the lake were reflected in the placid water. The clouds were not puffy but wispy giving an ethereal quality to the scene. I knew we had a considerable amount of hiking to do so we returned to my pack where I stowed my camera and got back on the trail. The blue trail was clearly marked and very nicely maintained. As we approached a swampy area on the right I noticed more dead trees and the word "Wet" painted next to a set of blazes. The trail never did get more than damp and we soon arrived at Route 16. We turned right and followed Rt 16 toward Aulls Road. I did stop to take a few pictures of the wetlands before continuing up a short hill and making the left onto Aulls Road. We walked along the road and crossed Mud Creek on a road bridge. A large flock of ducks took off as we crossed the bridge. Just beyond the bridge we turned into the woods off the road following the trail. The trail headed east paralleling Mud Creek and I could hear but not see various birds and animals in the wetland. At 4.4 miles the creek turned more to the east and the trail headed almost due south and back toward Aulls Road. At 5 miles we crossed the dirt surface of Dumak Road and walked another .3 miles to Aulls Road. I knew I would be on the a road surface for some time so I put Sheila on her leash and stored my poles in the pack. We turned left on the road and walked out toward Route 226. Along the way we passed another interesting wetland. At Route 226 we turned right and walked a short distance to where the trail again entered the woods. This was the point we had ended a previous hike so we turned around and began the hike back to the car. Once we were on Aulls Road, I stopped at the wetland to take a few pictures and then continued to walk the gravel surface of the road north toward Route 16 as I saw no reason to hike the trail, again. The road was exposed to the sun but the temperature was comfortable. At 7.7 miles we were back at Route 16 where we turned right. As we approached the point where we had come out onto Route 16 from the blue shortcut trail, I decided to turn right into the woods to cover the part of the main Finger Lakes Trail which we had missed.

picture taken during a hike We entered the woods and immediately found the blazes. The trail ran parallel to Route 16 for about .3 miles heading east and just before it turned south we came to an old cemetery. The cemetery was mowed and trimmed but many of the stones were skew and some were toppled from their bases. I took some pictures and found one stone that went back to 1827. We got back on the trail and began to head a little south and began to climb the only really significant hill on the whole hike. We crossed Route 16 at 9 miles but the trail continued to climb up a ridge to a hike high point of 1280 feet. From here we began to descend rather quickly and at 9.7 miles it turned east and brought us down to Birdseye Hollow Road. We turned right or north and started back t the car. I had intended to simply walk the road but we soon came to a left turn that led back to the T in the trail where we had been earlier. My obsession to cover every foot of the trail got the best of me and we followed the trail to the T where we turned right and walked back out to the road. We turned left and headed north on the road toward the car. I had thought about hiking a short piece of the trail from the car west on the Finger Lakes Trail which is the easternmost part of map 12. I was certainly fresh enough to hike more but I was developing a "hot spot" on the left heal and was concerned it would get worse. In addition, the wind was starting to come up and the sky ahead was getting darker. As we approached the car, I decided to call it a day. We were back at 1:00 PM having hiked in 4 hours and 40 minutes with an elevation gain of only 855 feet. Our moving average was 2.9 mph which was good. I found it interesting that the difference between our highest and lowest elevation was only 200 feet!

Summer 2016

map icon Hodge and Frick (Flynn and Quick Lake Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, September 20th I wanted to get in hike before leaving the house early to go to a cross country meet in TriValley. I knew I had to stay local and decided to head to Hodge and Frick Ponds and hike then "big loop" which is very familiar. I was in no real hurry until I realized it was getting late and that I did have to levee early for the meet! I got Sheila and my gear in the car and started out from the house at about 10:00 AM. The temperature was only 60 degrees but I knew that the highs for the day were forecast to be in the high 70's. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. When we arrived there were no other cars in the lot and we crossed the road to get onto the Flynn Trail at 10:25 AM. I had on a long sleeved shirt over a baselayer and light hiking pants. The walk up the Flynn Trail seemed to go very quickly and we made no stops passing through the junction with the Big Rock Trail and continuing straight ahead of the Flynn Trail. We kept up a quick pace as we passed through the gate marking the boundary with the Open Spaces property. At the next junction we stayed to the left to keep on the Flynn Trail and head directly down to Hodge Pond. When we broke out into the clearing at the outlet end of Hodge Pond, I kept Sheila near since I did not want her swimming as I had just applied Advantix. The pond was pretty but little different than the last dozens times I had been there. The sky was a nice blue but devoid of clouds and given my time limitations I decided to pass on the pictures.

picture taken during a hike We made the left turn to continue our hike on the Flynn Trail. This section of the trail was muddy with some standing water in places but it was easily negotiated. The rains during the night had added to the standing water and it didn't help that OSI was mowing the grass with a large tractor that leaves huge ruts along the trail. We stayed left at the next junction with the jeep trail around the back of Hodge Pond and continued up the hill on the blue Flynn Trail. We passed through the gate from OSI property to state land and found the trail continued to have some wet and muddy spots. It seemed that Junkyard Junction came up quickly and we turned left on the red Quick Lake Trail to start our loop back. The Quick Lake Trail is mostly downhill and we made good time. I stopped several times to remove branches and other debris from the trail. We walked downhill to Iron Wheel Junction and turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. We were soon at the small stream just before the "Spruce Tunnel" and I was surprised that despite the rain it was lower than it had been earlier in the year when it was much drier. In fact, this part of the trail was only slightly damp and sections that are usually wet were completely dry. It almost looked as if it had rained hard on one side of the pond and little or not at all on the other. Even though the stream was very low Sheila was able to get her feet wet and take a drink. We continued on to the outlet bridge at Frick Pond. Again, I decided to skip the pictures and we walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction. The trail back to the parking area was a little damp in places but we had no problems. As we passed the register box, we turned right to stay on the trail. When we got back to the car at 12:40 PM there was one other car in the lot. We had walked 6.4 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes gaining 900 feet along the way. We had stopped for just over 2 minutes! The temperature at the trail head was still only 70 degrees.

map icon FLT Route 226 to Sexton Hollow Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, September 16th I wanted to hike a portion of Map 13 on the Finger Lakes Trail west of Watkins Glen. I decided I would park at Access 4 at the intersection of County Route 17 and Moss Hill Road and then hike northeast to Access 5 on Sexton Hollow Road. I planned to hike back on local roads and then decide if I wanted to hike from the same intersection to Route 226 to add mileage to the hike and subtract mileage from the next hike. Since the drive is at least 2 and a half hours, I planned to get up at 6:00 AM and be out of the house by 7:00 AM. Cindy told me the night before she did not want to ride that far to hike so Sheila and I were on our own. Surprisingly we were out of the house before 7:00 AM and on our way north and west on State Route 17. I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions except near the very end. The temperature was in the high 40's and there was a layer of fog in most places. The further we went to the north and the later in the day the bluer the skies became and the more the fog dissipated. After a long drive, I took exit 41 and turned right and then left on Clawson Road which shortly became County Route 17. After 6.6 miles, I found Moss Hill Road on the right but the shoulder was marked with NO PARKING signs. I turned around and parked on the opposite side of the road as there were no signs there. I made sure I was off the pavement as far as I could get and got all my gear ready. I kept on my light windbreaker as the temperature was still only 52 degrees! It seemed like the weather would cooperate as the humidity was much lower than on previous hikes. At 9:40 AM we walked across Route 17 to Moss Hill Road and began to hike south on the paved surface. After only a short distance the pavement ended and we continued our hike on a woods road. This road was obviously once part of Moss Hill road but was now abandoned. The trail followed the road and then veered off only to return several times. I do not know why the people who created the trail insisted on doing this! At least the blazes on this section of trail were very clear. There wasn't much to see as we hiked but the walk was pleasant as it was all downhill as we headed south to the Moss Hill Lean-to. After 1.7 miles we arrived in the area of the lean-to after dropping 490 feet. A short spur trail led to the lean-to and the blazes for the Crystal Hills Branch Trail were also visible.

Of course, every descent has its ascent and we began to ascend from the lean-to heading generally north and east. Again, there were no views or specific attractions but I was now warm enough to remove my windbreaker. At 2.8 miles we crossed Dennis Road which had a dirt surface after gaining back 470 feet of elevation. The trail then began to descend again heading for Sexton Hollow Road. At 3.4 miles the trail began to head east rather than north and also began to descend a rather steep grade. There were several switchbacks that helped make the descent easier. There were many side paths and woods roads in the area but the marking remained good throughout and Sheila seemed to know where she was going. At 3.8 miles we crossed what the map designated as a reliable stream but it was almost dry. When we reached 4 miles, I could look up and see Sexton Hollow Road. The trail paralleled the road for a short distance until it crossed the road where we had started our hike on a previous trip. I got a drink and a snack and stowed my collapsed poles in my pack. With Sheila on her leash we started the road walk back toward the car. We walked .85 miles north on Monterey Road gaining elevation as we went. At the end we turned left on Route 17 and walked about a mile back to the intersection with Route 18. I could see the car but we had walked only 6 miles at this point so I decided we would hike out to Route 226 as I had planned earlier. We walked a little more uphill on Route 18 and arrived at what was billed as a viewpoint on the Finger Lakes Trail map. The view was nice but no different than many others in the area. The road started to descend and at 6.6 miles turned sharply left. The trail continued straight ahead on Bozak Road which was labeled as "Seasonal Maintenance" but looked more like "No Maintenance". I let Sheila off her leash and started to use my poles again as my feet were starting to bother me. The gravel road started to descend and at 7.2 miles it turned left while the trail turned right onto a woods road through the forest. We were still descending which meant the return trip would be mostly uphill. At one point Sheila alerted and I put her on her leash as another hiker approached. The hiker wanted to make friends with Sheila but Sheila did not want to be friendly! He was a local gentleman out for some exercise and we went our separate ways. At about 8 miles we came back out onto pavement near Sutryk Road but the trail almost immediately turned left back into the woods. We followed the trail as it continued to descend toward Route 226. This part of the trail was one of the few places where the trail was not following a woods road of some kind. At 8.8 miles we arrived at Route 226 which happened to be the lowest point on the hike. We turned around and retraced our route ascending all the way! When we reached Route 18, I stowed my poles again and put Sheila on her leash for the short walk back to the car. We were back at 2:15 PM having covered 11.8 miles in 4.5 hours with a total elevation gain of 1185 feet. The temperature had risen into the low 70's but the breeze made it feel cooler and very pleasant.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Thursday, September 15th it had been about a week since the Town of Rockland crew had cut some trees to open the viewpoint over the hamlet of Livingston Manor. This was also the day Cindy and I had used yellow paint to blaze the trail. We had marked a short spur trail out to the viewpoint but it still needed to be cleared. The supervisor of the town mentioned that he might bring some board members to hike the trail before the board meeting on Thursday evening. I decided to head over to check the condition of the trail, take a few pictures and clear the spur trail to the viewpoint. I drove my car to the top of the cemetery as I had a few tools I Ned to take with me. I carried my saw and machete but also brought a garden rake. Sheila was anxious to get out so I brought he along. I decided to clear the spur trail first so we walked up the steep section of trail toward the viewpoint. I put down my pack and started by cutting some branches and a small tree that were blocking the trail. I removed some other branches that were lying around and then got out the machete to cut some ferns and other plants to make the trail clear. I finished by using the rake to remove some leaves. The only part I did not like was the small gully that passes between two rocks and runs across the trail. My future plans include a small walkway or bridge to make this area safer. I put my tools in my pack and walked back to the car. I put the rake in the car and got out my camera with the intention of walking the trail to take pictures. It was really too sunny for this but I thought I would try anyway. I took my pack with me so that I would have my saw and machete in case I needed them. We headed out on the trail with me stopping to take a picture every 30 feet or so. My intention was to create an album of the entire trail. We walked up to the viewpoint and then started to walk the loop in a clockwise direction. There were very few new branches on the trail but I did find a few leftover ribbons to remove. We complete the loop back to the trail junction where it begins. The junction still needs a few signs but otherwise the trail is in good shape.

picture taken during a hike When I returned home from cross country practice at 5:30 PM there was a phone message saying that the town supervisor and at least one councilman would be at the trailhead at 6:00 PM. I got a bite to eat and headed over to the trailhead. We met at the top of the cemetery at 6:00 PM and started the walk around the loop. Both men were impressed with the job that had been done and we talked about various improvements and some of the next steps to expand the project. I have another "upper trail" GPS track that needs to be placed on the property maps by the NYNJTC cartographer. Once that is done and I can confirm we are on public land I will ask for volunteers to start to construct this trail. The grade is steep and the brush thick so this route will require some careful planning, a few switchbacks and a lot of work. I began to think about how the trail(s) would fit into a walk around Livingston Manor. When I got back to my car after finishing the walk, I drove to the municipal parking lot and measured the mileage by odometer from the traffic light up Pearl St to Rock Avenue. I turned left on Rock Avenue and then right on Orchard Street and drove to the trailhead. The distance was about .6 miles. I then drove back down to Orchard Street and turned right on Rock Avenue to the intersection with Main Street. I turned left on Main Street and returned to the parking lot. The total distance was 1.2 miles. I began to think of a walking tour along these streets with descriptions of important places along the route. The name "Town and Trail" came to mind!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Neversink Unique North (clockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, September 12th I wanted to hike a close to Livingston Manor but without going either Trout Pond or Frick Pond. Cindy was having lunch with a friend so I decided to take Sheila and head for the Neversink Unique Area. I wasn't sure when I left Livingston Manor at 9:45 AM which route I would hike but I could tell Sheila didn't care as long as we were going somewhere! It was 59 degrees when I left the house so I had on a longsleeved shirt with a light baselayer and a light windbreaker. I drove south and east on Route 17 and took the Rock Hill exit turning right on Katrina Falls Road. I drove to the end of the road and parked in the lot where there were no other cars parked. I had decided on the way down that I would not hike to High Falls as it was a little too long. My plan was to hike the loop to Mullet Falls and Denton Falls and then head back to the car to complete the loop. There were two other spur trails leading down to the Neversink which I had not hiked lately so I thought I might throw them in as well. The temperature had risen to the low 60's and I knew it would continue to rise and I would generate heat on the hike. I ditched the windbreaker in the trunk and we started out on the trail at 10:20 AM. We walked downhill on the woods road and I noticed that some blowdowns had been cleared on the trail. The trail is highly eroded leaving many large round rocks behind which does not make an easy walk. After .5 miles, we turned left to follow the blue trail. We came to the small bridge over Wolf Brook and found that the water was very low. During the spring the water rushes through this area and under the bridge but in this day there was only a trickle. The bridge is in bad shape and I don't know if anyone has a plan to replace it. We continued up the hill after the bridge and turned left on the red trail. I had decided I would rather make the long climb and visit Mullet Brook Falls first. From the turn onto the red trail to the highest point on the hike at 1.5 miles we hiked .85 miles and gained almost 400 feet. The grade is less than 10% and the hike was generally pleasant. I did keep running into spider webs which is not my favorite pastime and there were a few threes on the trail. As we reached the highest point, the yellow trail from the Wolf Brook Multiple Use Area came in from the left.

picture taken during a hike We followed the red trail as it turned sharply right and descended to 1.7 miles where a bridge crosses Mullet Brook. I was surprised to see that the brook was absolutely dry and that the wetlands upstream also seemed to have no water! I took a few pictures and then we continued to hike. I knew that we would visit Mullet Brook Falls but I didn't expect much water to be going over the falls. As we hiked down the trail and neared the brook in several places I did hear some water and I assumed that there was another small tributary or some springs that fed into Mullet Brook. At 2.25 miles we had dropped 275 feet as we came to the yellow spur trail to Mullet Brook falls on the right. We turned and walked mostly downhill to the falls. As we approached I could see that there was only a trickle of water going over the falls. I took off my pack and got out the camera. I was able to easily walk out to the rocks at the base of the falls without worrying about the spray that sometimes makes the rocks slippery. I stood in front of the falls and took some shots and the moved to the side to take a few more. I tried to zoom in as much as I could to cut out some of the sunlight coming from behind the falls. After Sheila got a drink, we returned to my pack and started back out to the red trail. At 2.7 miles we turned right on the blue trail and walked a few feet before turning left on the yellow spur trail down to Denton Falls on the Neversink River. We walked down the hill toward the river following the yellow markers and avoiding some muddy spots on the way. We walked out onto the rocky outcrop at the edge of the river and I took off my pack and got out my camera. I took a few pictures upstream and then was able to work my way down some rocks to a position below the falls. From here I took a few shots of the falls, some pictures downstream and a few more upstream. I went back to my pack and we headed back up the spur trail to the blue trail where we turned left.

picture taken during a hike Within a short distance we came to the lower bridge over Mullet Brook. The bridge has been in poor shape no for over a year and it continues to deteriorate. It is an important bridge as it allows hikers to walk a loop in the area. Unfortunately, no one seems to be willing to make a decision to repair it before it collapses completely and must be replaced. At 3.5 miles we came to the next spur trail down to the river and turned left on the yellow trail. It was a pleasant quarter mile walk down to the water. There are some rapids on the river here but nothing like Denton falls or High Falls. I took a few pictures and the we returned to the blue trail. We walked another .7 miles passing the turnoff for the red trail and the bridge over Wolf Brook. This brought us to the final yellow spur trail on the left. We walked down toward the river and as we got near the water we ran out of markers. There was a road on the right but I chose to continue straight ahead down to the river. This was another nice spot and I took a few pictures. As I picked up my pack, I noticed a path leading upstream and decided to explore some. We walked along the river alternating between a path that followed a stone wall and one that was right at the edge of the water. At times the path seemed to disappear but then we found it again. After walking a quarter mile, I decided to turn around as I had no idea how far the path went or whether I was still in the Neversink Unique Area. We followed a path back and came out on the woods road I had noticed earlier. We turned left and walked back up to the blue trail which we followed back to the car. It was 1:05 PM and we had covered 6 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes with an elevation gain of 1260 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Friday, September 9th I had planned to head to the area west of Watkins Glen to work on map 13 of the Finger Lakes Trail. I got up at 6:00 AM and took a final look at the weather report for that area. There was no rain in the forecast but the forecast was calling for temperatures in the high 80's and high humidity driving the "Feels Like" temperature well into the 90's. I really wanted to go but deiced that the 14 miles I wanted to hike would be better attempted on a cooler day! I got a few things done around the house and then got my gear in the car and tried to contain an ecstatic Sheila. I drove out the DeBruce Road toward Frick Pond. turning left on the Mongaup Pond after about 6 miles. Where the road split, I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road and pulled into the parking area just before 10:00 AM. There was only one car parked in the lot. I got my gear ready to go and headed out the Quick Lake Trail toward Frick Pond. The day was cooler than I had thought it would be and the humidity seemed high but manageable. I noticed a few insects flying around and decided to apply insect repellant. I wore a light pair of hiking pants and short-sleeved shirt with a light baselayer. I like the double top setup as I think it causes less friction on my back from the pack. . We hiked out to the trail register and turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail as it follows a woods road. The trail was damp from the rain overnight but there was little water or mud on the trail. We turned left at Gravestone Junction to follow the Quick Lake Trail to the bridge over the outlet of Frick Pond. When we got to the bridge, I took off my pack and got out my camera to take pictures as this is one of my favorite spots. We got started again after I allowed Sheila to take a quick dip in the cool water. At the next junction with the Big Rock Trail, we stayed to the left on the Quick Lake Trail. We kept a quick pace as we hiked the Quick Lake Trail toward Iron Wheel Junction even though we had to work our way around several wet and muddy areas. We crossed the small stream in the forest which had enough water this time for Sheila to take a dip. She ran through the water at top speed several times and the did her rampage up and down the trail many times. There were a few branches in the trail and I removed them as we headed toward Iron Wheel Junction. There was one place where some branches were down in the trail and I made a note to bring my saw the next time I came. At Iron Wheel Junction, we turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail toward Junkyard Junction. The walk is all uphill but the grade is only slight to moderate. This part of the trail was mostly dry but badly eroded by running water. We passed some of the blowdowns that I had cleared with various other people and it made me feel good to see the work. There was one very large log that I had cleared to make a path but I thought should be eliminated completely. I made a note to ask someone from the snowmobile club to clear it with a chainsaw. Sheila was ranging far and wide to explore the opportunities to chase small, furry creatures. After walking 3.1 miles, we arrived at Junkyard Junction at 11:15 AM.

picture taken during a hike We turned right at the junction onto the Flynn Trail which is relatively flat at this point. The trail had some wet and muddy spots but most were drying up. They are all lower than the ground surrounding them so it is hard to get them to drain. There isn't much to see along the Flynn Trail so we kept up a quick pace. At the gate we followed the trail to the right and down toward the shore of Hodge Pond. As we neared the pond, we turned right to stay on the Flynn Trail to the outlet of Hodge Pond. The woods road was rutted by a large tractor used by OSI to mow the grass but the muddiest spots were easily avoided. We passed the area where Cindy and I had removed a large blowdown the last time we were there. We were soon at the outlet end of Hodge Pond. We turned left and walked over to the fire ring by the shore of Hodge Pond. I took off my pack and got out my camera to take a few shots. After taking some pictures of the pond, I picked up a stick and threw it into the water so that Sheila could swim to retrieve it but she did not seem that interested. The pond had some blue sky and white clouds over it. When I turned around I saw huge dark clouds in the opposite direction. I thought we should get moving since I thought those clouds might bring rain. I went back to my pack and got a drink and a snack. We headed toward the opening in the woods where the Flynn Trail follows another woods road. We started up the hill staying on the Flynn Trail and the walk up the hill seemed to go very quickly. Soon we were on the flat part of the Flynn Trail headed toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. This section of the trail all the way back to the parking area was once an extension of Beech Mountain Road that was paved and led to the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. In some areas the pavement is still visible under the grass and moss that has covered it. Just before the gate we passed the point where Cindy and I had removed a smaller blowdown. We continued on the Flynn Trail passing through the gate and walking on to the trail junction with the Big Rock Trail and the snowmobile trail that comes over from Mongaup Pond. By this time the skies had cleared and there was some blue and no black clouds! We didn't stop at the trail junction but continued straight ahead on the Flynn Trail. From this high point in the hike, the trail descends 1.7 miles to the parking area. We kept up a fast pace on the descent but this final section seemed to drag a little. It is downhill but there isn't much to see and it is very familiar. We continued on the trail and soon were headed down the hill to the gate where we turned left to stay on then Flynn Trail. We walked down the short section of trail I had refurbished and then hiked through the woods back to the parking area. It was 12:30 PM when we returned. We had covered 6.3 miles in 2 hours and 35 minutes. The elevation gain was a modest 910 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Thursday, September 8th I had agreed to meet some workers from the Town of Rockland Highway Department at 8:00 AM on Round Top to cut some trees blocking the viewpoint. I got up early and decided to go to Round Top before the appointed time. I walked over with my camera and climbed the hill to the top of the cemetery. There was still a heavy layer of fog over town so I took out the camera and snapped a few shots. I walked into the woods on the new trail we were creating and came to the junction. At this point visitors can walk directly up the steeper part of the trail to the viewpoint or they can turn to the right and walk a loop to the viewpoint along a gentler incline. I decided I would take pictures of the trail and started at the intersection. I took pictures as I walked up to the viewpoint. At the viewpoint I took some shots that would act as "before" pictures. With leaves on the trees, there wasn't much to see. Since it was still before 8:00 AM, I decided to continue out on the loop to take a few more pictures. I made the turn at the viewpoint and headed out the new section of trail Doug Sentermann and I had created a few weeks before. I took pictures as I went and walked as far as the turn onto the woods road. It was now nearing 8:00 AM so I walked back to the viewpoint to meet the workers who would be cutting the trees. No one was there so I decided to walk back out to the start of the trail where I found the workers waiting with the Town of Rockland Supervisor. They got their equipment ready and we walked to the viewpoint. We looked at the view and talked about the trees that would have to be removed to expand the view. The sawyers walked down below the viewpoint and began to decide which trees to drop. I was very impressed at the skill of Terry as he was able to drop several trees and clear a view very quickly. The view from the top of the lookout was still somewhat blocked but the view from the lower ledge was very good. After another tree or two Rob, the town supervisor, decided that enough trees had been cut for the day. If he had not been present, I probably would have asked for a few more to be cut but I was happy with the work that had been done. The workers started back out to their trucks. I decided that I would walked the rest of the trail and finishing taking my pictures. I walked back out the new trail to the point where I had stopped. I continued to walk and take pictures as I completed the whole loop. When I got back to the intersection, I turned left to walk back out to the cemetery. As I walked out, I turned around and took a few pictures of the trail into the intersection so that I could put together an entire sequence. I walked back across the street to my house.

picture taken during a hike The next step in preparing the trail was to replace the ribbons with painted blazes. I asked Cindy if she would like to go over and mark the trail since there was plenty of time left in the day. She said "Yes" so I went downtown and bought a quart of bright yellow paint and a few sponge brushes to apply the blazes. I decided to leave the camera home and take pictures another day when the sun was not so bright. We did take Sheila with us since she was so anxious to go! We took a plastic takeout container for the paint and headed across the street. We walked to the top of the cemetery hill where I poured some paint into the container. I had wondered if a quart of paint would be enough as I had marked trail before but had never purchased the paint. I marked the beginning of the trail with three blazes and then started out on the trail. I wanted to place blazes close enough so that visitors could easily follow the trail but not too close to distract from the beauty of the forest. At the intersection I continued straight ahead placing blazes with Cindy encouraging me to put the paint higher on the tree and to mark both sides. At the top of the hill, I marked a turn out to the lower ledge which has the best view. I placed a few more blazes and then walked back to the main trail. We would have to wait for another day to clear the trail although there isn't too much work to do. We walked through the upper ledge placing a few blazes and then started out on the new section of trail. As we moved along, we removed all the ribbons that Doug and I had placed as I put up the paint blazes. We were moving quickly but taking time to turn around to make sure the blazes were easily visible. As we turned right on the woods road, we had to pick places for paint carefully as there were fewer trees and more bushes. When we came to the turn to the right I was careful to mark the turn on both sides of the tree. After making the turn, We continued down the woods road to the intersection marking as we went. At the trail junction, we talked about how to mark turns at this junction. We decided that the best approach was to leave the paint blazes as they were an to mark the intersection with signs. Sine our work was done, we turned left and walked back out to the start of the trail. I had paint left over in the container and enough in the can to mark another 10 trails! There is still some work to do on the lower trail but it will easily be ready for an October 1st opening. Our next phase is to mark an upper trail to the lower summit of Round Top taking into consideration the steepness of the terrain.

map icon On Tuesday, September 6th I decided to go to Walnut Mountain to use a wheel to measure the cross country course I had laid out. I had already measured it twice with two different GPS units but wanted to make sure it was exactly 5K which translates to 16,404.2 feet. The GPS units tend to "wander" even when I am standing still. I have stood in one spot for a few minutes and the GPS unit shows I have traveled .1 miles. I borrowed a wheel from Liberty CSD and headed over to Walnut Mountain. I parked and walked down to the starting line south of the baseball filed near the beginning of the Walnut Loop Trail - East. I began measuring the course from the starting line just north of a tree in the middle of the trail. The wheel has a counter and three pegs spaced 1 foot apart. Each time the peg hits the counter it records another foot of travel. I walked down the Walnut Loop Trail - East and made the left turn onto the Walnut Loop Trail - North. I noted that the half mile mark was just after the turn. I continued on the Walnut Loop Trail - North up the hill until the left turn onto the Vista Way. As I walked I noted that some of the paint marks I had put down were beginning to fade. I continued on the Vista Way across the bridge. The 1 mile mark was a little passed the bridge near the point where a new bike trail was being constructed. Soon I was at the northern end of the main parking area where I cut through the fence and headed toward the picnic grove. As I passed through the grove I noted that it was about 1.25 miles from the start line. I turned right up the access road and started up the hill on the Mountain Overlook Trail. I continued up this trail as it made several turns and arrived at the trail junction where the Mountain Overlook Trail turns left. I continued straight ahead eventually passing the point where the Walnut Loop Trail - North joins. At this point I was on the Walnut Loop Trail - West and was walking around the "back" of the mountain. After a short distance, I turned left up the connector trail that Cindy and I had spent so much time grooming. At the top of the trail I turned right on the Sunset Trail. After a hundred feet or so I came to the 2 mile mark and reset the counter. The walk along the sunset trail was very pleasant and I ascended a little hill to the upper lookout. I turned left and finally started downhill on the Mountain Overlook Trail. This trail is mostly red shale but it is not very steep. At the point where the Sunset Trail joins the Mountain Overlook Trail, I turned right on an unnamed path over a grass field. The trail here was steep but eventually the grade flattened. I was worried that the course would be too long but I knew there were ways I could adjust the distance. When I arrived back at the Mountain Overlook Trail, I turned right and walked back down to the picnic grove on the access road. I crossed the road and headed for the start of the Walnut Loop Trail - South noting I was still under the distance I wanted. As I walked through the woods, I hit three miles just before the trail broke out into the road running through an old quarry. I continued to walk until I got to 16,404.2 feet and marked the finish line. I was satisfied I had the most accurate measurement of the trail possible!

I finished measuring the trail at about 4:30 PM and my team was scheduled to arrive at 6:00 PM for practice along with the team from Eldred CSD. I was eager of the Eldred team and coaches to run on the course to get another opinion of the surface, length and difficulty. Since I had time, I decided to take some cans of paint and remark the areas where the paint as faded as I wanted anyone to be able to follow the course without a map. I went back to the starting line and began walking the course again. Some areas were easy to mark while others were more difficult. In some places the only place to spray the paint was on the dusty ground where the paint simply scattered the dust! I took extra care to mark the major turns and the area by the bridge which had several different trails. In places where bike trails crossed I added extra arrows to avoid a mistake on the part of runners. I stopped at the car to get another can of paint as I walked through the picnic grove. I continued along the course marking the turns and straightaways and placing number at the mile marks. I decided to avoid placing a long white mark for the starting and finishing lines. I finished just as some of my team and the Eldred team was arriving. We waited until everyone arrived and then the coaches sent the runners out on the course. The Eldred coaches and I walked down to the starting line and began to walk the course. This would be my third time walking the course in one day! I pointed out some possible pitfalls to the other coaches but they were very happy with the course. They thought it would be challenging but did not object that it was really "cross country". I was happy and relieved that they liked the course. The runners also found it difficult but fair. My team had a race the next day so I dismissed them as Eldred stayed a little longer to complete a workout.

map icon FLT Sexton Hollow Rd to Switzer Hill Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, September 5th I wanted to hike a portion of Map 13 on the Finger Lakes Trail west of Watkins Glen. I decided I would park at Access 5 on Sexton Hollow Road and then hike northeast to Access 6 on Switzer Hill Road. The hike on the trail would be a little more than 5 miles but I knew I would have to hike back on the trail since a route on the local roads added too much mileage. The description of the hike included several areas of numerous switchbacks and at lest two major ascents in each direction. Since the drive is at least 2 and a half hours, I planed to get up at 6:00 AM and be out of the house by 7:00 AM. Cindy told me the night before she did not want to ride that far to hike so Sheila and I were on our own. On two previous hikes Cindy succumbed to Sheila's begging but I was pretty sure she would stick to her guns this time! Surprisingly we were out of the house before 7:00 Am and after a stop for gas we left Livingston Manor by 7:05 AM. I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions except near the very end. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still in the high 50's and there was a layer of fog in most places. The further we went to the north and the later in the day the bluer the skies became and the more the fog dissipated. After a long drive, I took exit 42 and got almost immediately turned right or northeast on Route 16 toward Monterrey. After 7.6 miles, I turned left on Sexton Hollow Road which turned to dirt and gravel and then back to pavement. I watched for FLT signs and found them just after the road became paved again and changed names to Monterrey Road. I pulled over on the shoulder of the road just passed the trail entrance and made sure I was off the pavement I got all my gear ready and kept on my light windbreaker as the temperature was still only 59 degrees. It seemed like the weather would cooperate as the humidity was much lower than on previous hikes. At 9:35 AM we walked down the road to the trail entrance and headed northeast up the hill.

The first part of the trail headed northeast and climbed a hill for .6 miles gaining 275 feet with several switchbacks along the way. I worked up quite a sweat but appreciated the uphill on the way out as I knew it would be nice to walk this part downhill on the way back. I stopped to remove my windbreaker and then continued down the other side of the hill on a woods road which now headed north. All along this woods road there were almost no blazes and I kept wondering if I was on the trail. Just as I was about to give up a blaze appeared. As I started down a steeper part of the woods road, I came to a trail with white blazes that ran perpendicular to the trail I was on! I was surprised but turned left and followed a switchback down the hill. The switchback crossed the woods road several times and it occurred to me it would have been easier to stay on the woods road! At 1.1 miles the trail turned east and then at 1.5 miles it turned south. Along the way we crossed a few small stream that had some water. At one point the trail emptied out onto a gas well access road. We turned left and walked uphill on the road briefly before turning left into the woods again. At around 2 mile we had been paralleling a stream bed for some time and were approaching Corbett Hollow Road. I look down toward the stream through and opening and saw...two gray wolves! My mind immediately began to process the situation to figure out what to do and I was relieved when the owner showed up to manage her dogs. We walked down to Corbett Hollow Road at 2.1 miles and made a sharp left turn. The road wasn't much of a road as it was dirt with a lot of grass which became more and more eroded the further we went. I passed by the dogs and their owner who did not see the need for leashes! Sheila found the turn to the right off the "road" and we entered the woods to continue the hike. The map description indicated a bivouac site north of the turn at the turn around point on the road. I don't know what would be turning around on the road as it looked completely inaccessible. I did not investigate the bivouac area. The map description now describe a section of trail with 12 switchbacks. I am not usually a big fan of switchbacks as they simply lengthen the trail but the slope ahead did look steep. We walked along a stream bed and the started the first switchback at about 2.6 miles. There were a lot of switchbacks although I did not count the number. Over about 1.3 miles from Corbett Hollow Road to the top of the climb we gained 640 feet averaging a 10% grade. At the top of the climb we crossed a gas well access road and walked the flat summit before starting to descend the other side.

We descended the east side of the hill for about .7 miles losing 400 vertical feet to a small stream bed. The stream bed was highly eroded and it was difficult climbing the opposite bank. On the other side was a set a steps and a switchback that led to Goundry Hill Road. We crossed the dirt and gravel road and continued to descend through mixed hardwood and pine forest. At 5 miles we came out onto Switzer Hill Road at an elevation of 1390 feet. We turned left and walked a short distance north to the point where the trail reentered the woods. We stopped to get a drink and a snack before turning around and heading back. The trip back had more ascent than descent since the car was parked at 1550 feet. For the most part the hike back went quickly and even the climbs didn't seem to bad because of the switchbacks. It was interesting that I noticed different aspects of the trail on the return trip. As we neared the point where I was confused about the trail perpendicular to the woods road, I followed the trail across the woods road and found that it was a switchback. This meant that the woods road was not part of the official trail and should not have had any blazes. At the end of the switchback I looked to see if the turn was marked. It was marked and I had missed it because the blazes were old and faded and because the people who mark the Finger Lakes Trail use a non-standard method of indicating turns. A turn should be indicted with a blaze above another blaze. The top blaze should be offset in the direction of the turn. The Finger Lakes Trail Conference simply puts one blaze directly above the other and lets the hiker guess the direction of the turn. Some blazes have been retrofitted with an arrow below the blazes but many have not been changed. I noticed that I was very thirsty and stopped to get a drink and give Sheila one also. He both drank quite a bit and then continued back to the car. There was more uphill than I remembered and less downhill at the end than I thought. We were back at the car at 2:15 PM having covered 10.2 miles in 4 hours and 35 minutes with an elevation gain of 2270 feet! We had stopped for about 20 minutes along the way but our overall average speed was over 2.2 mph which I considered good for the amount of climbing we did.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Maple Ln to Switzer Hill Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, September 3rd I wanted to hike a portion of Map 13 on the Finger Lakes Trail west of Watkins Glen. I decided I would park at Maple Lane where I had parked on a previous hike and then hike west and south to Access 6 on Switzer Hill Road. The hike on the trail would be a little more than 6 miles but I knew we could hike back on snowmobile trail and local roads and cut the distance to 5 miles with a less difficult hike making the round trip between 11 and 12 miles. Since the drive is almost 3 hours, I planed to get up at 6:00 AM and be out of the house by 6:30 AM. Cindy told me the night before she did not want to drive that far to hike so Sheila and I were on our own. I got up on time and was getting ready when Cindy cam downstairs and asked about going with us. I knew that once again Sheila and "begged" her and she had given in! Surprisingly we were out of the house and away from Livingston Manor by 7:15 AM. I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still in the high 50's and there was a layer of fog in most places. The further we went to the north and the later in the day the bluer the skies became and the more the fog dissipated. After a long drive, I took exit 52A and got on Route 14 north toward Watkins Glen. I caught Johnson Hollow Road and headed for Route 414 to head west toward our destination. We turned north on Bronson Hill Road and passed by the Watkins Glen International racetrack. At Route 16 we turned left and after a short distance passed Townsend Road where we had turned on a previous hike. We continued on to Route 21 where we turned right to head north to Sugar Hill Road. We continued to follow Route 21 until it turned north where we continued straight ahead on Sugar Hill Road. The road quickly turned to dirt and gravel and was marked "CLOSED" . I knew the sign was in error and continued on until I found Maple Lane on the right. I drove .75 miles north to a small parking area on the right side of the road. I pulled in a turned around so that I was facing out before parking. We got all our gear ready and both of us kept on light windbreakers as the temperature was still only 62 degrees. It seemed like the weather would cooperate as the humidity was much lower than on previous hikes. At 10:10 AM we crossed Maple Lane and headed out on the trail.

picture taken during a hike The first part of the trail wandered west through some red pines and then hardwoods all the while descending until we crossed a DEC dirt road at .9 miles. Both Cindy and I knew that a downhill at the beginning of a hike feels good but means there will be an uphill at the end! The trail turned a little north and then west again as we continued to descend. We crossed two branches of Meads Creek which did have a little water in them. After crossing the second creek we began to ascend and crossed Route 22 at 1.5 miles. The trail ascended steeply for a short time before meeting a woods road at 1.6 miles. The trail turned to the left but we turned right and walked a short distance to the very old Six Nations Cemetery where there was a spectacular view to the northwest over Lake Lamoka and Lake Waneta. I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take pictures of the lakes and I also snapped a few of the cemetery. The stones in the cemetery are very old, hard to read and in very poor shape. We walked back to the Finer Lakes Trail which now followed a woods road slightly downhill and to the south. There were no marks or blazes anywhere to be seen but I checked PDFMaps and we were headed in the right direction. We walked and talked without seeing a turn even though we knew one should be coming up. I checked PDFMaps on my iPhone again and found we had gone passed the turn. We walked back with me looking at my phone and finally found the turn. It was pretty clearly marked but we, as experienced hikers, had missed it because of the total lack of any blazes before the turn! We had hiked and little over a half mile put of our way which annoyed both of us. We turned west and started up a steep but short climb over a small hill. We hiked down the other side of the hill and eventually broke out into a field. The blazes here were hard to find and required sharp eyes as there were several turns along the edges of different fields. Many of the blazes were old and the brush had over grown them making it difficult to find the way. At one point we came to another nice view over the surrounding valleys and I took a few shots before continuing on. We finished a descent along the edge of a field and followed a woods road out to Sugar Hill Road at 3.6 miles. Just ahead on the other side of the road was a very large oak tree. There had been some large trees on the hike but this was the biggest so I took a few shots. We crossed the road an walked along the edge of someone's lawn which annoyed their dog greatly.

picture taken during a hike From this point the trail on the map headed due south and was very straight for some time. I guessed it either followed an old road or traveled along a ridge line. I was right on both accounts. The trail ascended to a ridge following a woods road and was wide, well maintained and decently marked. On the initial climb we gained 260 feet in .4 miles along a 13% grade. After this, the trail descended a little and then leveled moving off the road and back onto it. We passed one well marked snowmobile trail and I started to look for the second one which I intended to use on the return trip. At 5 miles the trail started to descend and I was worried there would be no second snowmobile trail. At 5.6 miles the trail appeared on our left. I had intended to hike out to access point 6 on Switzer Hill Road but Cindy was getting tired. Hiking to the access point would be about a mile out and a mile back and I wasn't sure how many miles would be left after that. I decided we would turn left on the snowmobile trail. I could hike the remaining section from Switzer Hill Road later in the day or leave it for another time. We turned left on the snowmobile trail and started a short ascent before the trail began a half mile descent toward Route 22. The descent was steep at 13% and we lost almost 350 feet along the way. At 6.1 miles we were ready to cross a bridge over Meads Creek when we heard voices ahead. I put Sheila on her leash and we were surprised as a group of 8 riders on horseback appeared. Sheila was unfazed by the horses but wanted to ay "Hello" to the dog that accompanied them. We waited for the horses to pass and talked to the riders as they went by. We crossed the bridge and walked out to Route 22. My plan was to take Route 22 north to Sugar Hill Road and then walk east to Maple Lane. We would be on the road and Sheila would have to be on her leash but it seemed to be the quickest and easiest way. Cindy suggested that we cross the road and stay on the snowmobile trail since we would be in the shade and Sheila could run free. We crossed the road at 1:10 PM and stayed on the marked snowmobile trail heading toward Maple Lane. Unfortunately, as we headed northeast the snowmobile trail started to climb to another ridge. The climb was not difficult but went on for .7 miles. As we neared a junction, we could hear voices and we could see another group of horses ahead. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked up to the junction. I asked the riders the best way to Maple Lane and they indicated we should turn left or north since we wanted to head in that direction. We took their advice although none of the trail were marked on my map! I was hoping to head east to Maple Lane but the snowmobile trail headed north and, at times, northwest. This did not make me happy as there were no turns to the east to get us to Maple Lane. For some time we paralleled Maple Lane but then the trail turned away from it. We had no choice but to follow it and I knew that we would eventually come to Maple Lane or Sugar Hill Road. We were still walking uphill when the trail turned northeast and then east at 8.5 miles. Soon I could see Sugar Hill Road and at 8.65 miles we came to the intersection of Sugar Hill Road and Maple Lane. We crossed Sugar Hill Road and began our walk up maple Lane for .8 miles. We were back at the car at 2:30 PM after hiking 9.5 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes with an elevation gain of 1500 feet. We had made a .5 mil mistake that is included in these figures

picture taken during a hike After finishing the hike, Cindy was very tired but I was still feeling that I had a few more miles in me. Cindy agreed we could drive to Switzer Hill Road and that I could hike the mile out and back that we had missed. We headed west on Sugar Hill Road to Route 22 and then south on Route 22 to Route 16. I turned right or west on Route 16 and passed through the hamlet on Monterey. Just after this I found Switzer Hill Road on the right so I turned north to follow it to Access 6. Like many of the roads in the area, this one turned to dirt and gravel pretty quickly. The total drive up Switzer Hill was about 1.6 miles and the Finger Lakes Trail sign was very obvious on the right. I parked the car on the side of the road and Sheila and I got ready to hike. We walked into the woods heading east through some red pine. We almost immediately came to the informal bivouac area mentioned on the map next to Pine Creek. The area didn't appear to be very well used as I saw no fire circle or any other signs. The map mentioned that Pine Creek was highly eroded and it was right! The creek was almost dry but the bank on the other side was three to four feet above the creek bed. Sheila had no trouble and I grabbed onto some roots to get up. We followed the white blazes of the Finger Lakes Trail east fro about .4 miles as the trail started to ascend to the ridge we had been on earlier in the day. At this point the trail made a 90 degree turn to the left and continued to ascend the ridge. At exactly 1 mile we came to the snowmobile trail where we had turned earlier. We turned around and headed back to the car. When we got back to the car, I found it had taken us less than 45 minutes to hike the two miles and 350 feet of elevation which brought my total for the day to 11.5 miles in 5 hours with an 1850 foot elevation gain.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Hodge Pond Loop alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, August 30th I decided I wanted to go to Hodge Pond on the Flynn Trail and clear the two blowdowns I had found the day before. Cindy said she would come with me so we got ready and, after doing some errands around town, we headed toward the Frick Pond area. I had brought my smaller Silky saw and Fiskars axe to take care of the blowdowns and decided we would not worry about some of the minor trimming that needed to be done in a few places. We arrived at the parking area just before 10:30 AM and started out almost immediately. We crossed the road and picked up the Flynn Trail and almost immediately found a new branch to clear off the trail. When we reached the woods road, we turned right and headed up the hill toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. What is now a woods road was once the extension of the Beech Mountain Road which led to the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. The Flynn Trail climbs for 1.7 mile climb to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. The grass was a little wet from the dew and the rocks were slippery to step on. Sheila was roaming around running up and down the rail and Cindy and I were both lost in thought. We hiked the 1.7 miles uphill in about 45 minutes including a few stops to remove branches from the trail and one small blowdown which I quickly cut. At one point we both decided that the insects were too annoying and we applied some repellant which did help some. We continued on the Flynn Trail toward Hodge Pond and passed through the gate that marks the beginning of the OSI property. Just after the gate there was a small tree across the trail. I dropped my pack and got out my Silky saw to begin clearing the mess. The branches were smaller than I remembered and I easily cut them and then dragged them out of the way. In less than 15 minutes the job was done and we continued on toward Hodge Pond. At the junction with the jeep trail, we turned left to stay on the Flynn Trail to Hodge Pond. As we approached the pond we stayed to the left on the Flynn Trail rather than go to the shore of the pond. I promised Sheila we would stop on the way back so she could swim!

picture taken during a hike We passed through the open field on the Flynn Trail and then reentered the woods. After a short walk, we encountered the large blowdown that I wanted to clear. The trunk was actually a little larger than I thought and I regretted not brining my Silky KatanaBoy saw! The blowdown had been there for at least a month so I was pretty sure that OSI was not going to clear it. After I put down my pack I took a few "before" pictures and then looked at the blowdown to form a plan. As always I cut away the branches first and Cindy dragged them so distance off the trail and out of the way. I had to be careful as the large tree had brought down several smaller saplings that were very springy. I cut the top branches off the tree and was left with a pretty substantial trunk. I felt that I could make one cut dividing the trunk into two pieces. These pieces might en too large to carry off the trail but I thought they could be rolled out of the way. The cut went more quickly than I thought and I was actually able to lift the top section and get it well off the trail. The lower section was much heavier and I initially rolled it to one side of the trail. It decided it would roll back onto the trail so I lifted one end and then the other until I was able to get it off the trail as well. I took a few after pictures and after getting a drink and a snack we continued around the back of the pond on the old jeep trail. We decided to continue all the way around the pond to the "beach" so that Sheila could have a swim. At the fire ring, I put down my pack and got out the camera. I took a few pictures of Hodge Pond concentrating on the large but wispy white clouds against the blue sky. I picked up a stick a threw it into the water for Sheila to retrieve. I did this many times until Sheila and I were both tired of the game. We picked up and started toward the opening in the woods where the Flynn Trail climbs back up to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. At the junction we knew we had 1.7 miles of downhill ahead of us and we set quick pace. Along the way we met a couple hiking toward us. The gentleman asked if he could pet Sheila but I declined the offer as Sheila can be very protective when Cindy is with us. The hike back to the car was uneventful and we arrived at 1:30 PM. We had spent about 3 hours hiking 5.5 miles and clearing several blowdowns from the trail.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Monday, August 29th Sheila and I were ready to get out of the house after a busy Sunday had kept us out of the woods. As we were about to leave an ambulance call came in and I responded postponing our hike for about 2 hours. When I returned home. I got my gear in the car and tried to contain an ecstatic Sheila as I drove out the DeBruce Road toward Frick Pond. I had thought about going somewhere else but the hike around the two ponds is familiar and seemed like enough exercise before cross country practice in the evening. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Pond and stayed left on Beech Mountain Road at the fork. There were several cars in the parking area as I pulled in just before noon. I got my gear ready to go and headed out the Quick Lake Trail toward Frick Pond at exactly 12:00 PM. The day was cooler than it had been with the temperature at about 70 degrees. I noticed a few insects flying around but decided not to apply insect repellant. I wore a light pair of hiking pants and short-sleeved shirt with a light baselayer. I like the double top setup as I think it causes less friction on my back from the pack. . We hiked out to the trail register and turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail as it follows a woods road. The trail was wet and muddy but these spots were easily avoided. We turned left at Gravestone Junction to follow the Quick Lake Trail to the bridge over the outlet of Frick Pond. When we got to the bridge, I took off my pack and got out my camera to take pictures as this is one of my favorite spots. We got started again after I allowed Sheila to take a quick dip in the cool water. At the next junction with the Big Rock Trail, we stayed to the left on the Quick Lake Trail. We kept a quick pace as we hiked the Quick Lake Trail toward Iron Wheel Junction even though we had to work our way around several wet and muddy areas. We crossed the small stream in the forest which had enough water this time for Sheila to get her feet wet. There were a few branches in the trail and I removed them as we headed toward Iron Wheel Junction. At Iron Wheel Junction, we turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail toward Junkyard Junction. The walk is all uphill but the grade is only slight to moderate. This part of the trail was mostly dry but badly eroded by running water. We passed some of the blowdowns that I had cleared with various other people and it made me feel good to see the work. There was one very large log that I had cleared to make a path but I thought should be eliminated completely. I made a note to ask someone from the snowmobile club to clear it with a chainsaw. Sheila was ranging far and wide to explore the opportunities to chase small, furry creatures. After walking 3.1 miles, we arrived at Junkyard Junction at 1:15 PM.

picture taken during a hike We turned right at the junction onto the Flynn Trail which is relatively flat at this point. The trail had some wet and muddy spots but most were drying up. They are all lower than the ground surrounding them so it is hard to get them to drain. There isn't much to see along the Flynn Trail so we kept up a quick pace. At the gate we followed the trail to the right and down toward the shore of Hodge Pond. As we neared the pond we turned right to stay on the Flynn Trail to the outlet of Hodge Pond. The woods road was rutted and had some water but the muddiest spots were easily avoided. There was one large blowdown that had been there since the last time I hiked. I thought someone from OSI might remove it but I made a note to return to remove it as soon as possible. We were soon at the outlet end of Hodge Pond. We turned left and walked over to the fire ring by the shore of Hodge Pond. I took off my pack and got out my camera to take a few shots. After taking some pictures of the pond, I picked up a stick and threw it into the water so that Sheila could swim to retrieve it. I did this quite a few times taking pictures of Sheila. Eventually, I went back to my pack and got a drink and a snack. We headed toward the opening in the woods where the Flynn Trail follows another woods road. We started up the hill staying on the Flynn Trail and the walk up the hill seemed to go very quickly. Soon we were on the flat part of the Flynn Trail headed toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. This section of the trail all the way back to the parking area was once an extension of Beech Mountain Road that was paved and led to the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. In some areas the pavement is still visible under the grass and moss that has covered it. Just before the gate was another smaller blowdown which would need a saw. We continued on the Flynn Trail passing through the gate and walking on to the trail junction with the Big Rock Trail and the snowmobile trail that comes over from Mongaup Pond. We didn't stop at the trail junction but continued straight ahead the Flynn Trail. From this high point in the hike, the trail descends 1.7 miles to the parking area. We kept up a fast pace on the descent but this final section seemed to drag a little. It is downhill but there isn't much to see and it is very familiar. We continued on the trail and soon were headed down the hill to the gate where we turned left to stay on then Flynn Trail. We walked down the short section of trail I had refurbished and then hiked through the woods back to the parking area. It was 2:30 PM when we returned. We had covered 6.3 miles in 2 hours and 30 minutes. The elevation gain was a modest 910 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Templar Rd to Watkins Glen alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon MapMyHike - FLT Templar Rd to Watkins Glen On Saturday, August 27th I planned to get up at 6:00 AM, get ready and leave to hike the final section of Map 14 of the Finger Lakes Trail from Templar Road to the train trestle in Watkins Glen State Park. I estimated the round trip mileage would be between 9 and 10 miles and that I would have to hike out and back on the trail since the road routes would make the hike much longer. I asked Cindy the night before if she wanted to go and she declined. I got up at 6:00 AM and got my gear ready and at 6:30 AM Cindy came down the stairs asking if she could go! I, of course, was delighted so we got ready and left Livingston Manor around 7:15 AM. There was no rain in the forecast but the "Feels Like" temperature in the afternoon was predicted to be over 90 degrees. As we drove north on Route 17, the fog was heavy and this continued almost all the way to our destination. After a long drive, I exited at exit 52A and got on Route 14 north toward Watkins Glen. I caught Johnson Hollow Road and headed for Route 414 to head west toward our destination. We turned north on Bronson Hill Road and passed by the racetrack. At Route 16 we turned left and after a short distance turned right on Townsend Road. When Townsend Road headed right, we continued straight ahead on VanZandt Hollow Road to the intersection with dirt Templar Road. We turned left on Templar Road and drove about .2 miles to where the Finger Lakes Trail crossed the road just east of Ebenezer's Crossing. I parked the car on the side of the road and we got ready to hike. I turned on all my electronics and put Sheila on her leash. We crossed the road at 10:00 Am to begin our hike. We climbed up the steep bank until the trail leveled off and then descended and crossed VanZandt Hollow Road at .4 miles. The trail entered the woods on the other side for only about .1 miles and then came back out to VanZandt Hollow Road where we turned left and walked up the hill a few steps to an Finger Lakes Trail sign. It wasn't clear where to go and we could see no blazes anywhere! Some parts of the Finger Lakes Trail are well-marked but this was not one of them. There was a mowed lane next to a field which looked promising so we began to walk along it but saw no signs or blazes. This didn't bother me too much as private landowners sometimes give permission for the trail to cross their land but don't want a lot of paint on their trees. I kept getting the feeling we should be closer to the stream to our left but every time I looked into the woods for white blazes I came up empty. I finally got out my iPhone and looked at the Finger Lakes Trail map on the PDFMaps app. It showed we were too far south and too far from the stream bed but we decided to continue. Eventually, after walking over half a mile from VanZandt Hollow Road, we decided to bushwhack north to see if we could pick up the trail. We kept walking north and kept looking for the trail and the white blazes without much luck. Finally, after walking .2 miles through the woods, we could see the rim of the glen and then came to the trail right at its edge. I couldn't wait to hike back on the trail at the end of the hike and see where we were supposed to go!

picture taken during a hike The trail now was wide and well-kept for some time and at 1.6 miles we began a steep descent down into a glen. Sheila decided to run off to chase some birds and we waited until she was ready to come back. At 1.8 miles we came to Julie's Crossing which the map stated could be difficult when there was high water. The crossing was VERY POORLY marked with few blazes but we worked our way along the stream bed to the left until there was a wide open space to cross. We were confused by some orange flagging which served some unknown purpose. As we crossed, we tried to find the white blazes but it wasn't easy! Eventually we found the trail and began a slow ascent out of the glen. The trail climbed a little then levels and then climbed a little more. At 2.1 miles we noticed a body of water on the left of the trail and a path leading down to it. We decided to explore and walked out to what looked like a small pond or lake. Sheila took a swim and got a drink and I had a drink as well. I also took pictures of the water and some geese that were standing on a sandbar. We packed up and walked back to the main trail to continue our hike. A little further on we noticed the body was larger than we thought and then we saw the dam. The dam was a least 40 feet high which we knew meant the lake was a lot deeper than we had thought. The curious thing was that it was not marked on any map and the Finger Lakes Trail descriptions never mentioned it. The trail now was definitely headed downhill and at 2.8 miles we passed by Hidden Valley Camp. Less than a half mile after the camp we were surprised to find some stonework and a stone walkway like the ones found in the main glen. There was a wooden bridge across Hamilton Creek and some more stonework on the other side. We stopped and I took some pictures of the water flowing over the smooth bedrock under the bridge. I walked down into the creek bed and took some shot upstream and downstream under the bridge. We continued on our hike but saw no more of the stone walkways. We both found it interesting that there was this one bridge and stone walkway far away from the main glen. We continued to walk along the rim of the glen until at 3.4 miles we came to Whites Hollow Road where we turned right and walked up the hill about .1 miles before turning left on an old park road. There was a parking area here and the road was flat with a good surface.

picture taken during a hike Soon the trail turned left off the road and followed the rim of the gorge until we got to a clearing with a large pavilion with a fire place. There were some other hikers there with a dog so I put Sheila on her leash. I took some pictures of Punch Bowl Lake and the pavilion and got ready to hike another half mile or so to the train trestle. I discussed this with Cindy and she elected to stay at the pavilion until we returned. Sheila and I headed off on the Finger Lakes Trail toward the dam for the lake. The trail was again poorly marked but we were soon passing by the dam. I stopped to take a few pictures and then continued on the trail as it rolled onward gaining and losing some elevation as it went. At 4.8 miles I passed under the Norfolk Southern trestle and took a few shots. I continued on for another .1 miles to make sure I overlapped my previous efforts and then turned around and walked quickly back to the pavilion to reunite with Cindy. From the pavilion we headed back along the trail retracing our steps as we went. The uphills were beginning to bother me but I knew each step was getting us closer to the car. When we got to Julie's Crossing we got to the other side and followed the orange ribbon which apparently marks an alternate trail! The climb up to the rim of the glen was the steepest on the hike. We continued on our way interested to see where and why we had gone wrong at the beginning of the hike. At about 8.3 miles I began to notice that things did not look familiar and knew that this was the part of the trail we had missed earlier. There were several signs that said "Private Property - Stay on the trail at all times"! Both Cindy and I remarked that it would be easier to stay on the trail if it was properly marked. There were some short and steep little uphills along the way and at one point the trail came very close to the rim of the gorge. We stopped to take some pictures and get a drink. The trail from this point on was poorly maintained and poorly marked. We had to push our way through brush that had overgrown the trail. Eventually we came out into the open and could see the lane we had mistakenly walked earlier. There was one post with a white blaze but no indication of where we should go from there. I guessed and we headed for an opening in the tree line ahead where I finally found a white blaze. We continued walking and were soon at the point where we had turned off VanZandt Hollow Road and followed the lane. There was NO INDICATION at this point where Ti turn or what path to follow. We had technically trespassed on someone's property because the Finger Lakes Trail was so poorly marked! Once on the road we followed it down to Templar Road where we took a left and hiked back to our car. It was 2:50 PM and we had hiked 9.4 miles in 4 hours and 50 minutes. The elevation gain was a modest 1920 feet.

picture album icon On Wednesday, August 24th, I decided I wanted to go back to Walnut Mountain in Liberty to plan some more possible cross country courses. Cindy was willing to help so we left Livingston Manor just before 10:00 AM. We headed for the main entrance to the park off Route 55 between Liberty and Swan Lake. As we drove up the access road to the parking lot, I could see only one other car and hoped for a quiet day. I got Sheila out of the car and put her on her leash. My plan was to clear a tree on the Mountain Overlook Trail and then to rake and lop branches on the connector trail between the Sunset Trail and the Walnut Loop West. We took with use a garden rake, weed whip, loppers a Silky saw and a machete. As we walked up the trail, we trimmed some branches and weeds as we walked. We continued to follow the Mountain Overlook Trail when it turned left but could not find the blowdown as someone had already cleared it. We continued up to the upper viewpoint trimming a lot of small branches as we went. At the top we turned right on the Subset Trail and continued to clear anything that protruded into the trail. Sheila was having a great time ranging far and wide and I had to call her back several times to curb her enthusiasm. Eventually we made it to the connector trail which was easier to find than I thought it would be. I started raking down the trail removing leaves and larger rocks while Cindy went ahead and trimming some branches and brush. Occasionally we cut some roots that I exposed with the rake. We came to an area that was overgrown so I used the weed whip to cut the weeds and brush to make the trail more obvious. We continued down the trail and it seemed much longer than I remembered when I last walked up it. There were several places where I removed rocks and filled in some holes. There were also places with accumulated leaves which I raked to the side of the trail. I finally made it down to the Walnut Loop West where Cindy was waiting. We turned right and headed north trimming and lopping as we went. There were several trees that had been broken and twisted off the trail and we cut them and pulled them off the trail. We passed the large puddle on the trail which I had thought about draining. I knew that I was too tired to work on this job on this day. I decided to leave it for later and began to think the puddle might just stay as it was. We continued to trim until we reached the junction with the Walnut Loop North. We turned left and continued along that trail heading for the Vista Way. We trimmed a little as we descended the steep hill to the Vista Way where we turned right. The Vista way is a much narrower trail than the wider carriageways. We trimmed a few branches and removed some that were laying on the ground. We cut one blowdown that was partially blocking the trail and some larger branches that were hanging down. When we arrived at the bridge, we measured the opening caused buy the collapsed board of the decking. We continued along the trail back to the parking area trimming some branches as we walked. We decided we had done enough work for the day as it was 1:15 PM. We stopped in Liberty to talk to the Town of Liberty Parks and Recreation Director about the bridge. We told me he was headed up to the park and would take a look at the situation.

I returned to Walnut Mountain at about 5:00 PM for cross country practice as I wanted my team to run the new course. Since practice was not until 6:00 PM, I decided to walk the part of the course Cindy and I had not been on earlier in the day. I walked down to the point where the Walnut Loop East starts and walked along the treeline to the point where the trail enters the woods and heads for the West Lake parking area. I trimmed a few branches and removed some from the trail. At .5 miles I turned left onto the Walnut Loop North. There were a few branches and weeds encroaching on the trail and I took the time to trim most of the. When I reached the Vista Way, I turned left to get back to the parking area to meet my team. I trimmed a branch or two on the way. When I reached the bridge, I was surprised to see that the hole caused by the collapsed board had been filled with a gravel mixture which had been packed down forming a very effective patch. I was very happy with the cooperation and support of the Parks and Recreation Department! I continued back up to the parking lot to meet my team.

On Tuesday, August 23rd Doug Senterman from the NYNJTC was scheduled to come to Livingston Manor at 10:00 AM to work on the new trail on Round Top. Cindy and I went over to Round Top and decided to start cleaning up the garbage at the viewpoint while we waited fro Doug. We parked at the top of the hill at the entrance to the trail and took some tools, a plastic sled and a blue tarp up to the viewpoint. The temperature at 10:00 AM was still in the 60's which was perfect for doing some work. We gathered up some of the various bottles and cans and other loose junk and put it in the sled. We loaded the tarp with the old tents and blankets to get it ready for the trip down the hill to Doug's pickup. While we were working Doug appeared with his dog Bailey. We stopped to talk briefly and then started back in on our work. Doug and brought garbage bags so we transferred the loose junk to the bags and packed up some more of the loose blankets. Doug and I pulled the now full tarp down the hill to his pickup where we loaded it into the back ready to take it to the transfer station. We walked back up the hill and loaded some bags onto the sled. Doug grabbed hold of an old mattress, I grabbed a rather heavy bag of garbage and Cindy pulled the sled as we again headed for the truck. We loaded all of it into the truck. Doug and I headed to the transfer station while Cindy went back up to do some more work. Doug and I emptied the truck and the returned to the top of the cemetery hill. We walked back up to the viewpoint and found that Cindy had broken down the two fire circles and scattered the stones. We removed a few logs that were at the viewpoint and then thought about our next task. We decided to walk from the viewpoint toward the woods road that we had already cleared farther up the hill. I used the geospatial PDF I had produced from my previous walk modifying our route only slightly as we picked the easiest path. Doug followed using bright pink ribbon to flag the position of the trail. Soon we were near the point where we had cleared the woods road and after a few tries found best path to connect to it. We walked along the woods road with Doug adding some flagging and the turned down the woods road to travel along the cliffs. The flagging was to act as temporary marking until someone decided how the trail should be marked. Once we were back at the trail junction with the path to the viewpoint, Cindy headed home and Doug and I headed back up to the viewpoint.

We got a drink and a snack since the noon whistle had already blown. We decided to "brush out" the trail. We fell into an effective pattern which helped us efficiently do the work. I walked ahead picking up branches and old logs and throwing them out of the way. I also used my machete to cut some small sapling and brush and my Silky saw to cut bigger obstacles. Doug followed using the grass whip to cut the weeds and ferns along the trail as well as some woody brush. When I looked back, I was surprised to see that what was behind us looked like a trail with bright pink markings! Along the way we found two rocks that looked like perfect places for people walking the trail to rest. The slow pace made me appreciate how beautiful the area really is. At one point we climbed a small incline as we approached the junction with the woods road. I cut one large blowdown across the trail. It wasn't too long before we connected with the area that had already been cleared. We walked along the woods road trimming a few branches as we went and adding a little more flagging. As we walked below the cliffs we talked about exploring the possibility of a spur trail. When we came to the trail junction, we once again turned right and climbed back up to the viewpoint. We had talked earlier about scouting a path to the lower summit of Round Top which is on public property. I had a possible route mapped out but it was steep and needed a few switchbacks. Since it was after 3:00 PM, we decided to leave that trip for another day. Having my track placed on the tax map by the NYNJTC cartographer would also help. We did spend a few minutes looking at the viewpoint and spotting the trees that would need to be cut to open it up. As we gathered our tools and walked back to Doug's truck we talked about how much work we had accomplished. Doug promised to contact the Town of Rockland supervisor to inform him of the work we had done and to arrange for sawyers to come and cut some trees for the viewpoint. He also agreed to ask about the type of mares for the trail. We set October 1st as a goal for the date to open the trail to the public.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Monday, August 22nd, I decided I wanted to go back to Walnut Mountain in Liberty to plan some more possible cross country courses. Cindy was busy babysitting a grandchild so Sheila and I headed out of Livingston Manor alone just before 11:00 AM. We headed for the main entrance to the park off Route 55 between Liberty and Swan Lake. As we drove up the access road to the parking lot, I could see only one other car and hoped for a quiet day. I got Sheila out of the car and put her on her leash. I also grabbed my poles and put on my pack. We headed down to the area behind the baseball diamond where the Walnut Loop Trail East begins. This is a nice wide area that is a perfect starting place for a cross country race. When we got to the appropriate area, I set my Suunto GPS watch and my Garmin handheld GPS and we started to walk north on the Walnut Loop Trail East. The day was cooler than it had been with temperatures still in the 60's and low humidity. As we headed out on the trail we stayed fairly close to the treeline. We entered the woods at about .1 miles and then started downhill toward the West Lake parking area. The trail surface had some round cobbles but also some areas of grass. At .5 miles we turned left just short of the parking area on the Walnut Loop Trail North. This trail started out as mostly grass with a slight uphill until .75 miles where the trail turned to dirt and started to climb. I wanted to avoid the VERY steep hill ahead so we turned left at .85 miles onto the Vista Way trail which I knew headed back to the parking area. This part of the trail was narrower and rolled a little. We crossed a small bridge with one board missing and I made a note to measure the dimensions I would need to replace it. At about 1.15 miles we were at the north end of the parking area where we enter the lot and then cut through the fence in an opening on the left. We followed the fence to the small building and then cut across under the trees and started up the access road to the Mountain Overlook Trail which is the entrance to the main trail system. We passed through the gate at 1.25 miles and followed the trail as it started to climb. At the first intersection we continued straight ahead on the connector trail that would take use to the Walnut Loop Trail West. We passed by true junction with the Walnut Loop Trail North at 1.6 miles and started around the west side of the mountain on the Walnut Loop Trail West. We came across a small "pond" on the trail and I made a mental note to see if I could drain it. At 1.8 miles we turned left on a connector trail that climbs to the Sunset Trail. I found the connector trail in need of some maintenance including raking, lopping and wee whacking. The trail is a short but challenging up hill that led to the Sunset Trail at 2 miles. We turned right on the Sunset Trail which has a nice soft surface. The trail is flat for a little while and the ascends to the lower lookout at 2.25 miles. We turned left here onto the Mountain Overlook Trail and started the downhill portion of the course. At 2.65 miles we turned right at the trail junction to continue back down to the gate and the beginning of the Mountain Overlook Trail. We continued through the gate to the access road where we turned right through an opening in the fence. We walked under the pine trees to the start of the Walnut Loop Trail South and walked along this trail until it opened into the old quarry. We continued along the trail to the area of the Ultimate Frisbee course to the finish line at 3.1 miles. I was happy with the start and the finish and the course between these two points.

picture taken during a hike I was almost ready to go home at this point but decided to add some mileage by walking to the summit of Walnut Mountain. I knew I would have to put Sheila on her leash since there were now more cars in the lot and we had already met many families and camp groups hiking the trails. Sheila and I continued on the Walnut Loop Trail South heading up toward the lower viewpoint. When we got to the lower viewpoint, the scene was nice with blue skies and white clouds. I decided to walk to the upper viewpoint and take some pictures from there. We turned right on the short connector trail and then turned left on the Mountain Overlook Trail. When we got to the viewpoint, There was a rather large number of adults and children. I leashed Sheila to a tree and took some pictures from the viewpoint. It always seems that there is a haze in the direction of Swan Lake and the lake was almost out of view behind the trees. I gave Sheila a drink and got one myself before heading out the Sunset Trail. As we approached the junction with Te Mountain House Trail, a large group of campers came walking toward us. We turned right up the Mountain House Trail and started to climb. I hoped the campers would not follow us and they did not. At the top of the Mountain House Trail where it leveled off I took the bike trail to the right and then another bike trail to the summit plateau. We headed around the summit counterclockwise and soon came to the "bridge" the bike club had built. It is constructed of wooden slats with a wire screen for traction and is very sturdy. A sign before the bridge warns riders to "Dismount" before crossing but I think a few may not take the suggestion. I took some pictures of the bridge and then we continued around the summit on the trail. A short distance beyond we cut to the right down through the ledges to an informal path. I stopped to take some pictures of the rocks and the we walked around to where we had started. I did stop to take a few shot of the foundation of the old Mountain Hose before walking back out to the Mountain House Trail. We turned left to continue down the mountain. At 4.6 miles we turned right on the Sunset Trail and walked down to the Mountain Overlook Trail where we turned left. We follows that trail to the next junction where we turned right and walked back down the trail to the gate and then to the parking lot. We were back at 1:30 Pm having hiked 5.1 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes with an elevation gain of 900 feet. I drove to the Town of Liberty Parks and Recreation Office to talk to the director about the cross country course. He was very helpful and gave permission for me to prepare the course and mark it appropriately!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Trout Pond (Clockwise) AllTrails - Trout Pond (Clockwise) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Trout Pond (Clockwise) MapMyHike - Trout Pond (Clockwise) On Saturday, August 20th, I had scheduled a work day for the Willowemoc Trail crew at Trout Pond. I had though about having the workday on Thursday or Friday but a nagging muscle pull from Wednesday's racquetball had left me a little lame. I was still feeling the leg when I went to bed Friday night but on Saturday morning I barely felt a twinge. The plan was to meet Steve, Judy and Shaun at 9:00 AM at Trout Pond and hike the loop around Trout Pond in a clockwise direction clearing as much as we could on the way. I thought it might take about 4 hours to get a majority of the work done. The weather forecast included no rain for a change and called for partly sunny skies. Cindy and I left Livingston Manor a little after 8:30 AM. I put my gear in the trunk and an overjoyed Sheila in the back seat. We had decided to take Sheila and tether her to a tree as we worked. I had brought a variety of trimming tools included my two Silky saws, two loppers, hedge trimmers, felling wedges, my LT Wright machete and a my full-sized Council Tools felling axe. I didn't think we would need all the tools but wanted to give everyone a choice. We headed to Roscoe on State Route 17 and then took Route 206 across the Delaware County line to Morton Hill Road. After a left turn on Morton Hill Road, I drove to the intersection with Russell Brook Road which I noticed no longer had a road sign. The road did have a "Seasonal Maintenance" sign which should mean there is some maintenance during the summer. As we drove down the road it was hard to see that ANY maintenance had been done with large holes in the road and areas of erosion. When we arrived at the lower lot Steve was waiting for us and the lot was almost completely filled with vehicles. I found a place to park and we got out of the car to say "Hello" to Steve. We chatted while waiting for Judy and found Steve had brought his own tools and was ready to go. A t 9:15 Am we left the parking to begin our hike assuming Judy was not coming since she is always on time. I knew that Shaun was going to try to meet us later as he had a meeting in the morning. The air temperature was cooler than on previous days but was still "heavy" with humidity. I wore a long-sleeved Mountain Hardwear crew neck over an Underarmour baselayer. We got on the woods road that goes down to the bridge that crosses the brook. As we crossed the bridge I could see that the knotweed we had cut back had grown out again to impinge on the path. We decided that we would tackle the heavier work and leave the knotweed for later. We continued on the main trail to the register box. At the trail junction just after the register, we turned to the left to climb the steeper hill toward Mud Pond. The trail was wet and muddy in spots which made the going slippery. The sun was out and as soon as we started to climb the hill, I noticed how warm it seemed. As we climbed, we took it easy and stopped a few times to clear smaller branches and sticks from the path. We also lopped some branches as high as we could hoping to clear the way for snowshoe season! We came across the large blowdown that was blocking the trail where hikers had started to walk around it forming a new trail that encourages erosion. We stopped and started to clean out the blowdown by cutting off a few branches. Steve took control of the Silky Katana Boy saw and quickly cut through the main trunk of the tree. I cut another few branches and Cindy and I cleared away some more branches. As we were finishing up Judy came walking up the trail. I had given her directions to Trout Pond which mentioned Russell Brook Road thinking there was still a road sign on the corner. She eventually found the right turn and I was glad she joined us. Clearing the whole blowdown went much faster than I thought and we were soon packing up to continue up the hill to the next blowdown. We continued to lop a few branches an clear remove loose branches from the trail. The next challenge was to clear what looked like a rather large single truck angled up across the trail. Steve again took the Katana Boy and cut the trunk high on one side of the trail. The cutting went easier than we expected. I made a cut on the other end near the trunk and we rolled the center section off the trail. We continued up the trail toward Mud Pond. As we finally reached the top, we found some briars and other weeds crowding the trail. I used my machete to widen the trail and it once again performed very well. We walked down the trail toward the junction where we turned right to head over Cherry Ridge toward Trout Pond.

picture taken during a hike We didn't hurry our hiking and very much enjoyed the sunny weather with a slight breeze. We passed through the area where there is a forest of very small trees and continued on the main trail. Soon, we ran across our next blowdown which was blocking the trail and forcing hikers to walk around it. We used the same method to clear this blockage as we had before. We removed a few branches and threw them to the side of the trail and then went to work on the trunk. A few cuts and less than 15 minutes later we were ready to continue. It was becoming very clear how much easier the job is when a small group works together. We came across a single birch trunk and made one cut to clear it from the trail before continuing our uphill trek. A little after 10:30 AM we came what appeared to be an easily removed large cherry branch. As we were making our plan, Shaun caught up to us and pitched in with his bow saw on the thickest part of the branch. Steve and I attacked the upper branches finding that the blowdown was a little more complex than we had originally thought. After clearing the top, we helped Shaun saw through the larger portion of the branch and then cleared everything from the trail. As we were finishing, Cindy, who was up ahead, announced there was another jog waiting. The tree was a large dead trunk with a few smaller trees that it had taken down. We cleared the smaller branches and then took a look at the trunk. Steve decided to use the saw to cut the trunk which looked very solid. We took turns working the saw and the trunk gave way quicker than we expected. We were able to muscle the large trunk off the trail and finish the cleanup. We aborted to hike again and in less than 10 minutes came across another blowdown that seemed complex. We cleared away some branches and found that we only needed to make one cut as the rest of the branches had split an were easily removed. It took less than 10 minutes to clear the whole area. By this time is has after 11:00 AM and we were are beginning to tire. As we started up the final section of the trail to the highest point, we entered an area where blackberry briars were starting t overrun the trail. The others used their loppers but I got out my machete and, after putting on gloves, started to hack away at the briars. The LT Wright machete worked well and we had soon worked our way through the area. We walked up the trail and sat to take a short break and get a snack. There was a large blowdown on the trail but it was easy to walk around. We decided that we were through working and would simply hike out to the parking area. I was happy that we had gotten so much wor