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picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond Logger's Loop AllTrails - Frick Pond Logger's Loop 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 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 only 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. Shiela 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 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 fecund 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 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 w 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.gle. 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 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 solve 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 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 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 Frock 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 Engiun 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 4th, 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 Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On TTuesday, 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 32 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) 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 North 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 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 Hollow 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 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) 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 a Tyne 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 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 9 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 sp 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 Caf 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) 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 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 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 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) 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) 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 only 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 onBeech 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. Shiela 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 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 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 Ina 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 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 Sheilas 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 Shiela 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 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 Shiela 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 Shiela 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 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 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 Shiela 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 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 staSt 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 Toch-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) 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) 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 paWA high in me right ankle form 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) 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 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 a 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. Flugertiwn 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 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 Shiela 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 lento 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 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 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 Shiela 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 Lind but I could not see what species. We walked down the spur trail to Hickory Hill Campground fro 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 feetI took a shot of the benches and then a few of the pond below and the hills beyond. We confined 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 fro 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 and 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 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 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 Criagie 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 Ina 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 LPomd. 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.

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 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 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 Shiela. 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 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 theMountain 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 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) 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 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 work done. On the way down the trail from the shoulder of Cherry Ridge we came across one blowdown that needed to be cleared but left it for another day. There were also several large logs partly on the trail but they could be walked around. As we descended toward the pond, I could see several people carrying a log, so I put Sheila on her leash. As we walked over the bridge, I had to stop to take a few pictures of the pond. I quickly took my shots and then caught up with the others who were headed down the woods road toward the outlet of the pond. We walked and talked which made the time go very quickly. We met a few family groups on the flat part of the trail. The water in Trout Pond looked high but there was still no water going over the dam. As we continuing downhill toward the falls, we began to meet more and more people coming up the trail and a few headed in the same direction we were. We were soon back at the bridge over Russell Brook and then it was just a short walk up to the cars. It was 1:45 PM and we had hiked 5.5 miles in 4 hours and 15 minutes with a lot of work done along the way!

On Friday, August 19th, I was trying to rest my left leg which I had "tweaked" on Wednesday during racquetball. I decided I wanted to go to Walnut Mountain in Liberty to plan some possible cross country courses. Cindy said she wanted to come and, as always, Shiela was ready to go. We arrived at the main parking area at about 10:35 AM. I needed to find a starting line so we walked over to the area of the Ultimate Frisbee course and we found a wide area on the grass although it was a little uneven. I set my Suunto Traverse watch and Garmin UPS unit and we started to walk a possible course. We walked out the Walnut Loop Trail South to the playground area and then turned and walked under the pines to the beginning of the main trail loops at the gate to the Mountain Overlook Trail. We walked up the trail as it headed uphill winding around to the first trail junction. The trail surface was mostly red shale rock with some grassy areas. We continued straight ahead on the connector trail to the Walnut Loop Trail West. This part of the trail was mostly grass and as we passed by the junction with the Walnut Trail Loop North at .56 miles. We were now on a surface that was sandy with small stones and at about 1 mile we began a steep uphill to a viewpoint. At the top of the hill we turned left on a connector trail that took us up to the Mountain Overlook Trail again. We turned left and were soon at the upper lookout where we turned right on the Sunset Trail. At the next junction we turned right and continued uphill on the Mountain House Trail. At 1.6 miles we hit the highest point on the course and continued to follow the Mountain House Trail downhill until the Mountain House Trail ended at the Sunset Trail. We turned right and followed the Sunset Trail downhill to the Mountain Overlook Trail. We turned left and then left again at the next junction at 2 miles to repeat the loop on the Walnut Loop Trail West. We continued around and back up the hill to the lower lookout. At this point we continued straight ahead through an open, grassy clearing on the Walnut Loop Trail South. The course from this point was all downhill to the finish. We walked down a steep part of the trail which had some loose rock and then the trail began to level out. We continued along the trail to the finish at 3.1 miles just short of the start. We walked back to the car for a break.

I was not thrilled with the uneven start so I looked around fro a better area to begin our cross country races. We walked down toward the entrance to the beginning of the Walnut Loop Trail East. There was a nice grassy area which would be a much better starting area for a cross country race. I again reset my GPS devices and we headed out on the trail staying 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 we began to climb .2 miles up a 17% grade! At .87 miles we passed the turnoff for the Vista Way Trail on the left and continued up the hill. At .95 miles we hit the top of the steepest part of the trail and the surface turned back to grass from dirt. We continued on the Walnut Loop Trail North which was still uphill to the junction with the Walnut Loop Trail West. At this point Cindy returned to the car while Sheila and I turned right around the back of Walnut Mountain on the Walnut Loop Trail West. We climbed the hill at 1.6 miles to the lower lookout. We turned left on the connector trail and then left again on the Mountain Overlook Trail to the upper lookout. We were then on the Sunset Trail and we continued to follow it around the back of the mountain. This trail had a nice soft surface and was a pleasure to walk. We continued on the Sunset Trail until it ended at 2.5 miles on the Mountain Overlook Trail. We turned left and then right at the next junction to follow the Mountain Overlook Trail back to the gate near the parking area. To get to the finish we turned right under the pine trees and walked to the Walnut Loop Trail South. We walked out the trail to the old quarry and to a spot exactly 3.1 miles from the start. I now had two possible courses to present to my cross country team.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Trout Pond (Clockwise) AllTrails - Trout Pond (Clockwise) Gmap4 - Trout Pond (Clockwise) MapMyHike - Trout Pond (Clockwise) On Monday, August 15th, I had planned to leave very early to hike the remaining section of map 14 on the Finger Lakes Trail near Watkins Glen. When my alarm went off at 5:00 AM, I thought about the fact that I had my first cross country practice in the evening and would not be able to really enjoy the hike. I decided I wanted get out and do a hike closer to home since the temperature had finally dropped a little although it was still humid. The weather forecast included no rain for a change and called for partly sunny skies. I decided to go to Trout Pond since it is close and offers some nice views and since I had been to Frick Pond so many times in the last few weeks. I had some things to take care of in the morning so I didn't get out of Livingston Manor until after 10:30 AM. 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. We began our hike down Russell Brook Road at 11:05 AM. The air temperature was cooler than on previous days but was still "heavy" with humidity. I wore a short-sleeved Mountain Hardwear crew neck over an Underarmour baselayer. We continued on down Russell Brook Road to the overlook of the falls. On the way down the road we could hear very loud Latin music coming from the first campsite on the left. As we passed some people seemed to be setting up a large tent. I cannot understand why anyone would come to the quiet of an area like Trout Pond and then spoil it by blasting any music! At the falls overlook I could hear and see a large volume of water going over the upper falls. I stopped to take a few pictures and varied the camera modes in an attempt to get the soft, wispy pictures of the water that I like. I was careful as everything was slippery from the days of rain. We continued down toward the parking area where there were two cars parked in the lower lot. 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. I made a note to plan another trip just to cut it back. I decided to walk to the falls and turned right on the path which was also beginning to grow over. We walked along the path to the falls and then down to the stream bed. A good volume of water was going over the falls but it was not as great as I have seen it. I took some pictures including a few of Sheila. Sheila was enthusiastically running into the water and then dashing around. We walked back up the bank and out to the main trail where we turned right to pass 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 came across one large blowdown that was blocking the trail. Hikers had started to walk around this forming a new trail that encourages erosion. I put this on my list as something I would need to clear. It was not the last blowdown I would find on the path to the trail junction near Mud Pond. It seemed that I was constantly leaning down to pick up a branch and in some cases a rotten tree trunk to move them off the trail. If every hiker took the time to remove a few of these, the trails would be in much better shape! We reached the top of the hill at 11:55 AM after hiking 1.6 miles. The woods road had some ruts from a vehicle that appeared to be a pickup truck but none were new. The trail was very wet with some standing water in places. At 1.8 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 very wet for most of the way to the highest point on the hike. There were areas of both standing and running water and some were deep enough for Sheila to immerse her whole body. This, of course, started a new round of mad dashes up and down the trail. We avoided a few muddy areas and crossed a few small streams. There were quite a few blowdowns on the trail and I removed what I could. Most needed tools to clear them. There were also many areas where branches needed to be lopped to open up the trail and several places where briars and weeds needed removal. The ascent continued for the next 1.2 miles until at 3.0 miles into the hike when we were at the highest point and ready to start the descent to Trout Pond. This part of the trail was drier but there were still more branches to remove and several large blowdowns. The little stream next to the trail actually had enough water to allow Sheila to get a drink and play some. As we approached the bridge at the inlet end of the pond, we could hear people coming down from the upper lean-to. The trail at the bottom of the hill and just before the bridge was very wet. I stopped at the bridge to allow the three young men time to get ahead of us and we never saw them again. I took a few pictures from the bridge and then started the hike back. There were two people at the lower lean-to and we waved to each other as we started down the trail on the eastern shore of Trout Pond. This trail is usually very wet but it was drier than other sections thus time. When we got to the outlet end of the pond, I could see that the sky was a dull gray and I decided to skip the pictures. I did notice that despite the rain the level of the water in the pond was still low and no water was going over the dam. The hike from the outlet to the trail junction is all downhill and really did go quickly. Near the upper end of the trail, we met a single woman and I took Sheila by the collar so the hiker could pass. She seemed oblivious to the gesture and wandered off to pick and eat some berries so we continued down the hill. I was surprised that the stream next to the trail sounded like it had a good volume of water. I could only surmise that the dam leaks of that it was all runoff. As we passed the designated campsite area on the right of the trail, I could see that no one was using it.We did meet four hikers coming up the trail and I made sure I put Sheila on her leash as they had a golden retriever with them. We passed by with a brief "hello". By 1:45 PM we had hiked 5.1 mikes and were back at the trail junction and register box. We continued our hike on the main trail to Russell Brook Road. There were now four cars in the lot. As we walked up the road back to the car, I noticed that the campers who had been at the campsite playing their music were now gone. They had been breaking down the site not setting it up! We finished the hike up Russell Brook Road back to the car. We arrived back at 2:00 PM having covered 5.8 miles and 1120 vertical feet in 3 hours.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Hodge Pond Loop alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, August 12th I wanted to get in a hike close to home since the forecast for most of the area included thunderstorms sometime in the afternoon. After some morning showers, I decided to head to the Frock and Hodge Pond area to do some sort of hike. I was still recovering from twisting my foot during racquetball on Wednesday so I knew I wanted a relatively flat hike of no more than 6 miles. I got my gear and Sheila in the car at about 10:30 AM and headed out the DevRuce Road to Mongaup Pond Road. I turned left and hewed up toward Mongaup Pond but stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road where the road forks. I parked in the smaller parking area t the trailhead and crossed the road to start the hike at 10:45 Am. It was already hot and the humidity made the air feel warmer and "heavy". On the initial trail through the woods I found one small blowdown that I would have to return to cut and a few branches on the trail which I removed. We turned right on the woods road which was once the excision of the Beech Mountain Road and started the 1.7 mile climb up the Flynn Trail to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. The grass was wet from the recent showers and the rocks were slippery to step on. Sheila was roaming around running up and down the rail and I was lost in thought. My foot seemed a little stiff but walking actually made it feel better. We hiked the 1.7 miles uphill in less than 45 minutes including a few stops to remove branches from the trail. There was at least one more blowdown which I would have to come back to cut. We continued on the Flynn Trail toward Hodge Pond and passed through the gate that marks the beginning of the OSI property. At the junction with the jeep trail, we turned right to walk the jeep trail toward the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. At 2.2 miles we turned left to walk down the hill toward Hodge Pond. After descending the short hill, we headed around the back of the Pond on the jeep trail. I had not intended to take pictures but as we rounded the back of the pond I could see the billowing clouds and decided to stop.

picture taken during a hike We walked down to the shore and Sheila promptly jumped in to swim. I took out the camera and took some shots of the pond and the towering clouds. The clouds were not very dark but the wind was starting to blow and I decided to get going. Back on the main trail we Aled toward the Flynn Trail where we turned left to complete the loop around the pond. On the way toward the outlet, we encountered another large blowdown and I took a quick picture. I could remove this one if the people from OSI did not get to it first. At the clearing near the outlet we walked over toward the shore and I again stopped to take pictures. In the few minutes since we had left the upper end of the pond the clouds had grown darker in some places and the wind was turning the leaves over. I decided to walk up the hill next to the pond to walk back up the jeep trail and then out to the Flynn Trail. The trail was a little longer than I remembered but not as steep and we were soon back at the Flynn Trail. We turned left to head for the junction with the Big Rock Trail. We hiked passed the gate and by 12:25 PM we were back at the highest point on the hike. I had originally planned to head down the Big Rock Trail and then walk the Logger's Loop to extend the distance of the hike. I had not heard any thunder yet but I definitely did not want to hike in the rain! I decide to simply hike back down the Flynn Trail which would give me about 5.5 miles of hike which I deemed enough for the day. Then Flynn Trail is all downhill on the way back and I set a pretty fast pace. I did have to keep calling Sheila back as she was setting an even faster pace. Soon we were descending the last part of the hill to the gate. We followed the Flynn Trail through the woods and back to the car. There was one other car parked in the lot. The skies looked blue and sunny but I was glad to finish early. Surprisingly the descent had taken only a few minutes less than the ascent and we had made no stops. We were backs t the car at 1:05 PM having hiked 5.7 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes gaining 820 feet along the way.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Sugar Hill Fire Tower alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, August 8th I was tired after hiking 10.5 miles to cover a section of the Finger Lakes Trail from Maple Lane to Templar Road. I decided as long as I was in the area I would go to the Sugar Hill Fire Tower since the walk seemed very short. I drove north on Maple Lane traveling slowly as the road was all gravel and dirt. At the end I turned right or east on Tower Hill Road and within .2 miles came to the access road to the fire tower and a parking area. I decided to walk up to the tower from the access road even though you can drive directly to the tower. The road is not open at all times and I wanted to know the distance of the walk. I took my pack out of the car even though it was a short walk since it is the easiest way to carry my camera. I put Sheila on her leash as there were some rather unruly dogs in the lot. We headed over to the access road at 3:00 PM and began the walk to the tower. The temperature was in the mid 80's but a breeze made it seem cooler. There was a track in the grass beside the road and we walked most of the way along that track. As we approached the tower there was a loop around the top and we headed to the right even though we could have gone directly to the tower across the grass. At the top of the hill there is a nice recreation area and ample parking. Once at the top we headed over to the tower and I tied Sheila to the sign at the base. I took a few pictures of the tower and then began to climb. As I climbed up each step my leg muscles let me know they were not happy. This tower is a 67'6" International Derrick model 1937 tower and was erected in 1941 by CCC. It was staffed by volunteers until 1951, and then by the State until 1979. When I got to the top of the tower, I found the cab was closed and from my reading this is true all year. Even though I could not get into the cab, the view from the top was still good. On this day there was a lot of green and I imagined how beautiful the view would be during the fall when the leaves change color. The most notable feature was the blue water of Seneca Lake only 6 miles to the east. I took some pictures and then descended the tower. I was surprised Sheila was not barking but she was waiting quietly at the bottom for me. Before leaving, I let her off her leash for a minute and had her pose on the steps of the tower. Sheila would be perfectly willing to climb the steps all the way to the top as she is not afraid of the open steps. I packed up and we walked across the grass to the access road. On the way I saw a USGS marker which indicated the elevation of the hill was officially 2096 feet. The trip down seemed much easier than the trip up. We were back at the car at after hiking .7 miles in 25 minutes with an elevation gain of only 104 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Maple Ln to Templar Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, August 8th I wanted to hike and Cindy didn't feel she was up to it. After considering several options, I decided to make the long trip to the Finger Lakes Trail west of Watkins Glen and hike east toward the point where I had left off. After looking at the maps, the distances and the weather forecast for temperatures in the mid to high 80's, I decided to go to the western end of map 14 and hike from Access Point1 on Maple Lane in Orange, NY to Access Point 3 on Templar Road. The hike on the trail would be a little more than 6 miles but I knew we could hike back on local roads and cut the distance to 4 miles with a less difficult hike. 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. I got up on time but several little problems delayed my departure until just after 7:00 AM. One problem was that Google Maps would not print out a complete set of directions no matter what I did. I switched to MapQuest which would print out the complete directions but had a different route. When I put the destination into the car's GPS, I got a different route. When I left town, I wasn't sure what set of directions I would follow! As I drove north on Route 17, the fog was heavy and this continued all the way to Hancock. As I neared Hancock, signs began to appear that there was an accident ahead and that Route 17 was closed. This was just the first of several annoyances during the day. I got off the exit for Cadosia and took Route 268 north to Route 10. I turned left on Route 10 and followed some very slow traffic along the Cannonsville Reservoir to Deposit where I was able to get back on Route 17. 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 and north toward my destination. I began to see more and more traffic including many large trucks. The lettering NASCAR on the side reminded me that there had been a race at the track this weekend and the teams were finally leaving. After a few delays, I got by the racetrack and deiced to follow the car's GPS. I made the turns as indicated but soon found I was headed too far west. I stopped to figure out where the GPS was taking me and the route was the most round about way to get to where I wanted to be. I decided that I was committed and continued to follow the directions until I was close to Sugar Hill and then used my own sense of direction. Once I was on Sugar Hill Road, I found Maple Lane without much Theproblem. I turned north an drove .75 miles to a small parking area on the right side of the road. A motorcycle was parked in the entrance and the rider sat on a stone taking break. He didn't seem to want to move so I edged between him and his bike with only a little room to spare. I turned around and parked and let Sheila out of the car. The rider spoke to me and turned out to be a very nice guy. The Finger Lakes Trail left the back of the parking lot and as we finally got on the trail at 10:45 Am we wished each other a good day.

picture taken during a hike I had turned on both my Garmin Map 64st GPS unit and my Sunnto Traverse GPS watch to compare their tracks. I also had my cellphone with map 14 loaded into PDFMaps. I have found this app valuable when hiking the Finger Lakes Trail since the trail blazes are sometimes few and far between. The app works by using GPS satellite signals rather than cellphone signal from towers and can therefore work well under most conditions. We walked through a red pine plantation as the trail descended a little. The sun was bright but we were shaded under the trees and there was a slight breeze. Several unmarked trail crossed the Finger Lakes Trail but at .4 miles a blue trail with a "Lean-to" sign headed off to the right. That trail descended to the Parks Hollow lean-to. We followed the Finger Lakes Trail as it stayed on contour around a hill. We had been heading north and northeast but at 1.7 miles we descended to cross a dry creek bed and then the trail bent back to head first south and then east. At 1.8 miles we crossed the Mohawk Trail and at around 2 miles there was a sign on the right that indicated another lean-to and a pond. I thought about taking the trail just to see the pond but continued straight ahead on the main trail. After 2 miles the trail turned south but soon swung east descending all the way. At 2.9 miles we crossed Route 21 where there was room to park along the side of the road. There was no traffic so we crossed quickly and continued heading east and descending. A caution on the FLT map indicated the stream crossing near the end of this section could be a problem if the water was high but everything we had seen so far indicated this would not be a problem. As we walked we came to a spot where there was a large pile of fieldstones. It was the first remarkable feature so I took a few pictures. The trail up to this point was well-marked and maintained but after this location there were stretches with few blazes. Much of the trail in this area was overgrown and there were a few blowdowns. There were also a series of wooden walkways meant to bridge muddy areas but all of these areas were very dry. This section of the trail headed almost due east. We crossed the abandoned part of Locust Lane at 4.5 miles but it was hardly recognizable as a road anymore. There was an old foundation in the area.

picture taken during a hike We continued to head east as the trail continued to descend. I knew that all the descending meant we would have to regain that elevation to get back to the car. At 4.8 miles the trail turned south-southeast along Glen Creek. At about 5 miles there was a viewpoint over the creek and I took some pictures from it of the completely dry creek bed below. It was hard to believe that this creek was the one that cut the gorge I was looking at and Watkins Glen. As the trail started to turn away from Glen Creek, I noticed a solid rock foundation. I had never seen anything like it before and assumed it might have been part of a bridge across the creek. This was also the lowest point on the hike at 1237 feet. The car was parked at 1920 feet! At 5.5 miles we passed the Buck Settlement lean-to on the left side of the trail. We followed the trail along what looked like an old road and then crossed a small stream that had once cut a deep bed. Right after the crossing we turned left on an old road. The road descended to a branch of Glen Creek where there were some picnic tables at a small waterfall. This was "Ebenezer's Crossing" where we met the only other hikers we would see all day. A young couple and their Golden Doodle were hiking west from Watkins Glen toward Maple Lane where I was parked. We talked and I took a few pictures before heading up to Templar Road. The water fall looked like the discharge from a garden hose but I saw the potential for a difficult crossing during high water. When we got to the road, I stowed my poles and put Sheila on her leash for the road walk back to the car. We turned right on Templar Road which was covered with gravel. There was little traffic but we were more exposed to the hot sun. The hike on Templar Road was 1.4 miles and all of it was uphill. We continued straight ahead on Route 21 for .4 miles and it was all uphill but paved. When Route 21 turned right to head north, we continued straight ahead on Sugar Hill Road. I found out why there was a "hill" in the name of the road as we hiked another .9 miles uphill. Before we started to descend, we stopped so that I could give Sheila a drink and get one myself. Sheila seemed very hot and I began to think that I might cut into the woods rather than stay on the roads. We walked another .4 miles downhill until the access road for the Perkins Hollow lean-to came up on the right. We turned right and started to walk down the road. There was a gate and just outside the gate there was a four-wheeler with no rider. I thought we might encounter the owner but we never did. The access road descended to cross a small stream near the new lean-to site. I saw a sign that said "To FLT" so we followed it as it headed first north and then west climbing the whole way. It wasn't a steep climb but my legs were tired. At about 10 miles the Mohawk Trail headed north toward the Sugar Hill Fire Tower and at 10.1 miles we were back at the main Finger Lakes Trail. We turned left and retraced our steps from earlier in the day. We were back at the car at 2:50 PM having hiked 10.5 miles in 4 hours and 5 minutes. The total elevation gain was 1596 feet. After getting drink and enjoying the air conditioning, I headed north on Maple Lane to go to the Sugar Hill Fire Tower.

On Sunday, August 7th Cindy and I decided we would do some more work on Round Top just across the street from our house in Livingston Manor. We had started clearing a trail and wanted to do some more work to get it ready. Our friend Debbie wanted to help also but could not start until 2:00 PM. After church, Cindy and I ate lunch and I decided to head over to Round Top to scout out the correct route for the trail. Cindy and Debbie would join me later. I had a track from a previous trip so I turned it into a geospatial PDF which I could use on the PDFMaps app on my iPhone. I took my saw and wedges and walked across the street with Sheila around 1:00 PM. We walked up the steep road along the side of the cemetery and then turned left into the woods at the top of the hill. I admired the work we had done the day before as we hiked up to the trail junction. We turned right and walked up the woods road below the cliffs to our left. When the woods road turned left we followed it to the spot where Cindy and I had finished clearing. Ribbons marking a possible trail headed off into the woods on the left but I was pretty sure we could follow the woods road to another further up the trail. I got out my iPhone and found that I was right. At the end of the woods road leading up the hill we turned right on another and followed it which kept us right on the track I had on my phone. The farther we went the more the woods road was obscured by branches and weeds. I turned west where the track indicated but tried to stay a little more north since I wanted to lengthen the trail and I was pretty sure I would be on the public land. I continued to walk and soon found I had not turned soon enough and missed the viewpoint. I ended up on the same woods road I had ascended earlier. I walked back up that road to the spot where Cindy and I had stopped and dripped my pack. I got out my saw and started to cut the larger branches and a few blowdowns across the trail. I also picked up sticks and branches that were in the trail. I made the turn at the top and continued along the woods road wishing that I had brought loppers since they were best for some clearing. I continued to work until I reached a larger birch tree that lay embedded on the path. I turned around and walked back to my pack. Sheila alerted as Cindy and Debbie walked up the path. After a short rest, we got busy clearing more of the trail and widening it. Cindy and I used the loppers while Debbie cleared some of what we cut and pulled out other obstructions. It was humid and we were tired but we kept working until we got to the birch log. At this point I decide to leave it where it was and to cut another patch of brush that almost completely obscured the trail. After finishing that job, we decided to walk the loop as I had done before. We started out walking about the same route I had walked and I again missed the correct turn! We hit the woods road below the ledges and turned right to head back to the cemetery.

Along the way we decided to go to Madison's for dinner but it was not quite 4:00 PM. Cindy and Debbie decided to go back to the house to get cleaned up. I decided I wanted one more shot at finding a route from the viewpoint to the trail we had been clearing. This time I walked up to the viewpoint first and then headed east from there. For some reason walking in the direction was easier for me and I ended up on the extension of the woods road we had been clearing. I decided to follow a herd path that I had found to the highest point on Round Top that is on public land. I found the path and started up but it soon became hard to follow. I had been up the hill before and found one path after another and was soon at the top. The problem was that this climb averaged over 20% which would not be appropriate for most hikers. As I started down, I decided to stay a little more to the north and closer to State Route 17 since this was a gentler slope. I watched for "posted" signs to my right and did not see any and was soon on the woods road extension. I turned south and followed the path we had cleared all the way back to the main trail up to the viewpoint and then out to the cemetery. I turned off my GPS devices convinced that I had a good track. When I got home I edited some of my mistakes off the track and then sent it to Doug at the NYNJTC. I knew he could have his cartographer overlay the track on the tax maps to make sure I had stayed on public land. If my track is a good one, we will get a group together to help lay out the trail to connect the end of the woods road with the view point. This trail will have to be cleared and then the whole trail will have to be marked. We will also get a group together to hike to the high point on Round Top and look at possible routes to make a loop.

On Saturday, August 6th Cindy and I took our trail tools and headed across the street with Sheila to the hill called Round Top. On Thursday night the Town of Rockland Board had passed a resolution to create a trail network on the 14 acres of woodland adjacent to the Orchard Street cemetery. The Board seemed very enthusiastic about the project. Doug Senterman, the NYNJTC Program Coordinator, was present to explain some of the details and to offer the support of the trail conference. Lisa Lyons also spoke about the importance of the trail network. The initial trail on Round Top will primarily follow existing woods roads which will require only minimal clearing to "build" the trail. A longer trail will be added that goes to the summit of Round Top. The trail leads to an viewpoint that overlooks the hamlet of Livingston Manor and the Livingston Manor School. Some trees will be removed at the viewpoint to allow an unobstructed view. It is hoped that the initial trail project on Round Top will lead to other project including a River Walk and a rail trail. All of these will be in easy walking distance of the center of town.

Cindy and I waited until some early morning showers had passed and then headed across the street with various tools including axes, saws and loppers. We walked up the steep hill to the beginning of the trail where some stone steps signal the start. We cut out the branches that obscured the start of the trail and continued to do so as we walked into the woods. There were a few blowdowns across the trail and a few larger branches to cut as we continued straight ahead and up the trail to the lookout. The lookout has long been used by individuals who illegal start campfires and leave garbage at the location. Cindy and I noted the amount of garbage that would have to be removed by a team of workers. The lookout has no view with leaves on the trees and I spotted three or four trees that could be cut to improve the view. Cindy and I walked back down to the area where the trail splits and headed up the other side of the loop. We cut a few branches here and there and removed some loose material from the trail. As we neared the end of the woods road, we turned left and continued on another woods road. There were a few more branches to cut here and some thorn apple to remove. We came to s spot where I was not sure of the track I wanted to take. We decided that I would put my previous track on a GPS device so that, on another day, we could clear the correct path. We hadn't been out too long but the humidity was very high so we decided to return home. We will be back to clear the rest of the trail and to walk a route for another trail to the summit of Round Top. The NYNJTC has cartographers who can easily superimpose my GPS tracks on the tax maps to make sure the trails are all on town property. We will also be getting together a crew to clear garbage from the lookout. Our tentative plan is to have the trails completed and blazed and the lookout cleared by October 1st in time for the fall colors!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Kaaterskill Falls (new trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, August 5th I wanted to due a shorter destination hike since I had a slight foot injury from my 11+ mile hike in Chenango County two days before. I decided to visit Kaaterskill Falls as I had not been there in a while and I knew that there had been many changes. In an effort to prevent injuries and deaths the DEC had hired ADK crews to build a viewing platform for the upper falls, install fencing in some of the most dangerous areas and construct a trail from the bottom of the lower falls to the top of the upper falls. Despite these efforts a 17 year old New Jersey youth fell from the top of the falls in late July and died from his injuries. We got our gear ready and put it in the car with Sheila and started out from Livingston Manor a little after 9"00 AM. I chose to drive out DevRuce Road to Route 47 were I turned left to drive passed the Frost Valley YMCA camp. At Route 28 in Big Indian I continued straight ahead on the Route 28 detour to Route 42. I turned north on Route 42 and drove to Route 23A in Lexington. I turned right and drove through Hunter, Tannersville and Haines Falls arriving at the parking area for the falls at about 10:45 AM. We were surprised that it was Friday and the lot was more than full. Cars were trying to find places to park were there were none. We decided to park at the end of Laurel House Road and at least get a look at the upper falls even if the trail to the lower falls was not yet complete. When we arrived at the parking area, I was surprised to see that it had been enlarged and upgraded. The last time I had visited the rail trail had been constructed which included leveling and the application of crushed stone. Now there was also a trail that seemed to head down toward the falls which was also leveled and covered in crushed gravel. We got ready and started our hike at about 11:00 AM. I put Sheila on her leash where she stayed most of the day and I did not take my poles as I would not be able to use them while holding the leash. We started down the older dirt path that leads most directly to the top of the falls and crossed the new gravel path twice. We soon arrived at the path that leads passed the new fencing and down to the viewpoint that looks out from the top f the upper falls and to the pool below. There were signs that warned hikers to be careful but several people were walking around in questionable footwear where a fall would have been fatal. I put down my pack and handed the leash to Cindy as I got out my camera. I took several pictures out over the clove and a few of the falls and Spruce Creek. We were both happy there was enough water in the creek to make viewing the falls worthwhile. I walked back up Spruce Creek on the path along the rocks of the creek. I was looking for blazes on the other side but did not find any so I returned to Cindy. I was disappointed that there was no trail down to the lower falls but I knew we could come back in midweek and park on Route 23A to visit the lower falls.

picture taken during a hike We finally left the top of the falls and headed back along the path. We decided to follow the new trail as it started down the western side of the falls gorge. There was a sign that said "Viewing platform" and the trial wound down to a viewpoint with a new viewing platform. The platform looked out over the clove and have a great side view of the upper falls. It was a much safer alternative to standing at the top of the falls and the view of the falls was certainly better! I took a picture of the platform and then stepped out to take some more shots. I took some pictures down the clove and several of the upper falls from the side. As we got ready to leave I noticed an Assistant Forest Ranger sitting on the rock wall. I asked him when the trail to the bottom of the falls would be ready and he replied "It is already almost completed." The final plan is to install a 120 foot bridge over Spruce Creek upstream from the falls in the area of the previous bridge which is now in ruins. He suggested that we walk upstream and cross the creek to access the new trail. He explained that there would be signs in this area. Cindy and I took Sheila and headed up the stream walking on the rocks since the creek was low. There is also a trail higher up the bank which leads to the same area. Sooner than I expected, we were at the old bridge and we crossed over the stream pretty easily on some rocks. We found a sign that said "To Top of Falls" but could not find any sign of the new trail the AFR had mentioned. Another couple was standing on the blue Escarpment Trail talking about where they would hike next. They asked me some questions which I answered. I asked them about the trail to the bottom of the falls and they told us to get on the Escarpment Trail heading toward the Layman Memorial and we would find the yellow blazed trail to the bottom! We were both happy that we would get to see the rest of the falls. I was happy to be able to create a track for other hikers and add the trail to my list to say I had really hiked ALL the trails in the Catskills. We started to walk out on the Escarpment Trail and in a little more than .1 miles we found the yellow trail on the right. We turned right and followed the trail as it made its way down the steep slope using switchbacks at places to mitigate the grade. The crew had expertly sited the trail and added some crushed stone for drainage. There were several groups of people hiking in the direction we were going and several groups coming up from below.

picture taken during a hike After a walk of about .25 miles we came to the top of the stone staircase installed by the ADK crew. The crew placed 200 steps imported from another site to build a set of steps on the steepest part of the slope. A little over .4 miles from where we started by the "bridge" there was a side trail to the upper pool. Again, the ADK crew had done a very professional job of widening a leveling the existing path. As we hiked along the damp path, it was obvious that the rocks and dirt were slippery and that anyone hiking here should have proper hiking footwear and be extremely careful. Despite this we saw numerous people in sneakers and sandals walking the trails. Above the official trail another old path goes to a point above the upper pool. We could see young children with adults on this hazardous and illegal pathway. Walking these informal trails increases erosion and endangers the hiker. I thought about the family of the most recent fatal mistake and the rescuers that had to retrieve his broken body. Despite the fences, signs, new trails and view platform there is no way to prevent stupid and careless people from putting themselves and others in danger! We walked out the path to the upper pool and I got me camera out to take some pictures. The position of the sun above the falls and the spray made getting pictures difficult. I took a few more of the gorge below the pool and then return to Cindy and Sheila. We headed down the remaining steps to the pool below the lower falls. I again got out the camera and took some shots of the lower falls and pool. I also tried to get the best angle to block some of the bright sun and to get a shot of both falls at the same time. After taking my pictures, I packed up and we headed down the trail toward Route 23A and Bastion Falls. Our plan was to turn around and Route 23A and hike back up the trail to the car as the hike along Route 23A back to Laurel House Road would be long and dangerous! As we headed down the trail there were numerous people coming up toward the lower falls. The trail was damp and wet in some places. I was surprised that little work had been done on this part of the trail and it was a stark contrast to the new trail and steps we had just used. At one point we came to a new set of wooden steps and the ADK crew taking their lunch break below. I stopped to ask them about the line they had strung across the creek and the project they were doing. They explained the line was to help set the stones that made up the rock retaining wall they were completing. The existing steps had been the victim of erosion and had been aging at least six inches in the air where the creek had eroded the bank. I thanked them for their work and asked if any other projects were planned. They said the only other approved project was the placement of the bridge across Spruce Creek. I was hoping that the trail from Route 23A to the lower falls would also be improved but they said they were unaware of any such plans.

picture taken during a hike We continued down the trail toward the Route 23A trailhead followed by at least one band of people. At the bottom we found a photographer was setting up a tripod in the stream directly in front of Bastion Falls. This was another example of someone thinking only of themselves! It was a dangerous move and meant anyone else trying to take pictures would have to shoot around him. To add to the surreal nature of the scene, a rather large man in swim trunks decided to wade into the pool at the base of Bastion Falls. I just marveled at the selfishness of these people and got out my camera to try to shoot around them. I took some shots from near the creek bed and then walked up to the Route 23A bridge and took a few pictures from there. When I walked back down to meet Cindy and Sheila, it was time to pack up and get started back to the car. I did not plan to stop much along the way and we headed back at about 12:40 PM. We walked back to the lower falls as fast as possible until we were at the base of the 200 steps. We started up the steps and met several groups of people coming down. Each time we met a group I would pull Sheila to the side of the trail to allow others to pass. Eventually we made it to the top of the steps and continued to walk the new trail uphill to the Escarpment Trail. We considered hiking a little more but I had to be back for cross country practice so we decided to head back to the car. When we got to the old bridge, we had several choices about how to return. We could walk back down the creek reversing our route from earlier. We could walk up Schutt Road to the access road to North South Lake and then walk down Laurel House Road to the car. We chose to cross the stream by the bridge and walk up a path which I felt would be the access once the new bridge was installed. We walked up the path and found ourselves on the new trail from the parking area at Laurel House Road. I had no idea that we would be that close to the car after crossing the creek. We walked back to the car arriving at 1:30 PM. I decided I wanted to walk the entire new trail so I could get an accurate GPS track of the "right" way to go. I headed down the new gravel covered trail and followed it passed the cutoff to the old bridge and down to the view platform. From here I walked back up the trail to the cutoff to the bridge. I turned right here and walked down the bank to the creek, cross on stepping stones and walked up to the Escarpment Trail. At this point I turned around and recrossed the stream and followed the trail back up to the car. It was 1:45 PM and I had hiked 4.2 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes with and elevation gain of 1165 feet. We thought about stopping at Poncho Vila's in Tannersville but decided we did not want to leave Sheila in the car that long.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT John Smith Rd to Fred Stewart Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, August 3rd I was ready to get out of the house again after almost a weak of rainy weather! For my first hike of August, I decided to head north to Chenango County to hike a section of the Finger Lakes Trail from Jackson Pond on John Smith Road north of North Pharsalia to Fred Stewart Road south of North Pharsalia. I intended to hike south on the trail and then hike back to the car using local roads. I estimated the hike out would be just over 7 miles and the hike back would be only 4 miles for a total of around 11 miles. I chose this hike for several reasons. This section of trail was recently rerouted off roads onto newly constructed trails and included a new bridge. In addition, this was the route of the most recent "named hike" of the FLTC. The hike was the EdSidote hike and my route would pass the bench dedicated to "Mr. FLT" who always said "Happy Hiking". I had planned to do this hike on the previous Saturday with the group but was denied permission to bring my dog. There was really no decision for me since I hike everywhere with Sheila. I had headed north to do the hike with her on Saturday but when I got to Norwich the rain was falling and I turned around and drove home. Now I was ready to try in again with a forecast of fog in the morning and partly sunny skies the rest of the day. I got up early but delayed my departure until just after 7:30 AM so I would be at the beginning of the hike by 9:30 AM. I headed to Deposit on Route 17 and took Route 8 north to Sidney. Just north of Sidney I took the route to Norwich where I picked up Route 23 West. I drove through North Pharsalia and followed the map on my cell phone to John Smith Road just a little to the west. The road started as a gravel road, turned to a paved road briefly and then turned back to gravel. I drove a little less than a mile to a small parking area on the left side of the road. I parked at 9:30 AM and when I got out of the car felt a little cool as the temperature was only 63 degrees. I was glad I had worn a long-sleeved top with a baselayer but I knew it would probably warm up during the day. I let Sheila out of the car, set up all my electronic devices and started the hike at 9:35 Am by walking a little north on the road to where the Finger Lakes Trail crossed. We turned right to head east and were off on our hike. The trail was exceptionally well-maintained which may have something to do with the "named" hike on Saturday. The first mile was downhill and was the same as the previous route. We passed by the remains of the old CCC camp but I decided not to take any pictures as what is left is hard to distinguish even in person. I did stop to take a picture of a magnificent fungus at the base of a tree. At 1.0 miles the trail met Elmer Jackson Road and we turned right or south to follow the road to Lower Pond. I remembered this pond and the small dam at the outlet. I dropped my pack to get out the camera and took some pictures of the dam and then worked by way down the bank of the stream so that I was below the dam. I took some pictures from various angles before walking back up to my pack. At this point the old route passed across the dam and headed out to Grover Brown Road. The new route took us further down Elmer Jackson Road.

picture taken during a hike The walk down the road was about .6 miles until we found where the trail turned left into the woods. The new trail was well done and seemed to follow existing paths. We were only on the trail for .4 miles when it again came out to the road and followed it south for .1 miles until entering the woods on the right side of the road. The trail headed east and then turned south descending now toward Route 23. Some places were a little rocky and rough but most seemed to follow well-defined trails. At the end of the descent we came to a newly-constructed set of bridges across Canasawacta Creek. The first was a simple flat bridge without railings. The second, spanning the main creek, was a beautiful kingpost bridge. I stopped to take a few pictures and the crossed the bridges and headed up to the road. The trail crossed the road and started up the bank on the other side. This part of the trail was a steep climb but it didn't last very long. We were still on the new reroute of the trail and it is a job well done! The trail continued south over the top of a hill and down the other side crossing gravel covered Center Road at 3.8 miles. At 4.1 miles it turned east and then south again at 4.8 miles near a bivouac area. The old trail was marked in blue here and apparently headed out to the bivouac. We continued on the trail which was now the same as the old trail to Nine Mile DEC Truck Trail at 5.7 miles. We turned left and followed the road briefly before following the trail as it turned into the woods on the right. We continued to walk south and slightly downhill to 6.2 miles where the trial turned east. Much of the trail is what I call "roots, rocks, trees" and, while pretty, has no real remarkable features. The trail turned south again at 6.7 miles and I knew the Ed Sidote bench would be coming up soon. When we got to the bench, we stopped and I took some pictures of the bench and Shiela. This is also the point where a spur trail leads west to the Pharslia Woods Lean-to. After getting drink, we continued on the main trail east to Fred Stewart Road.

picture taken during a hike I was now ready for the return trip to the car using local roads so I put Shiela on her leash and collapsed my poles to store them in my pack. We turned left on Fred Stewart Road to head north. After a short distance, we turned left on the DEC Road heading northwest toward North Road. We walked by the area where we had crossed the road earlier and at 8.8 miles we were at North Road. We turned right here to head north toward Route 23. The sun was now behind us and it was much hotter than at any other point on the hike. Sheila was doing a good job of pulling me along and at 9.3 miles we crossed Center Road and hit the paved part of North Road. From where we descended for .5 miles to Route 23. We turned left and walked west meeting only a few cars on the usually busy highway. As we walked along Route 23, I noticed the beautiful blue sky filled with puffy white clouds and the farm that we were approaching. It was the kind of idyllic scene that is becoming less common as more and more farms are abandoned. After walking .4 miles of Rote 23, we turned right and started the final hike up John Smith Road to the car. The first part of the road was uphill and my legs were starting to hurt. I also was feeling a hotspot on the bottom of my left foot. Fortunately, there was a slight breeze nabbing and we were soon at the top of the hill and in the shade. As we approached the car, I checked my GPS watch and found it was 11.01 miles. I decided to take the access trail down to Jackson Pond where I had been before. The Finger Lakes Trail cuts below the dam but we walked out on the dam to get a better look at the pond. A blue heron took off from the area of the dam and flew north toward the upper end of the water. I got out my camera and took a few shots of the pond with the reflections of the sky and clouds. There is a small island in the pond which broke up the water and made the shots more interesting. We walked back up the road to the car and started our trip home. We had walked 11.3 miles in 4 hours and 10 minutes with an elevation gain of 1030 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds (jeep trail) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Thursday, July 28th I wanted to get in a hike close to home after finishing some work around the house in the morning. I got my gear including my Silky saw to remove at least one lowdown I knew about. Sheila was eager to get in the car and we left Livingston Manor around 10:30 AM to head for Frick Pond. The sky was a little overcast without the nice blue hues and puffy white clouds I like for pictures. I had already decided that I would limit my photography to the before and after pictures of the slowdowns I cleared. We were at the parking area and out on the Quick Lake Trail by 10:45 AM. Sheila was more than ready to get going even though we had hiked Monday and Tuesday. The temperature was in the high 70's and it was very humid. I had brought along my MSR Swift 3 poles to give them a try after using the Leki Micro Vario poles almost exclusively for a year. The Swift 3 poles are very light but don't seem quite as sturdy as others I have. They also have a limited number of length adjustments. The woods road passed the register box to Frick Pond was damp but there was no standing or running water. Just before the trail junction I cut one branch. At Gravestone Junction we stayed to the left on the red Quick Lake Trail crossing the stepping stones the Willowemoc Trail Crew had installed last year. I wondered when these stones would actually become necessary again! As we walked down to the pond, I cut another branch that was across the trail. We crossed the bridge over the outlet and the scene was much the same as always. . Looking at the pond I wasn't moved to take any pictures until some birds took off from the pond and one of them was a Great Blue Heron. The heron circled and landed again in the wetlands at the edge of the pond. My CanonSX^) HS has a 65x zoom lens and I used it to my advantage to snap several shots. I took a few more pictures of the pond and then packed up to continue our hike. At the next trail junction we headed left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. We were keeping a pretty steady pace as we headed for Iron Wheel Junction. Sheila was running around following game trails and chasing a few chipmunks and squirrels. I removed a few branches from the trail as I walked along. When we arrived at Iron Wheel Junction, we turned left to head toward Hodge Pond.

picture taken during a hike We kept a quick pace up the hilly part of the trail. Just after the junction with the snowmobile trail, we came to the large blowdown I planned to remove. My memory had not served me well as it was a lot larger than I remembered. I took some before pictures and then got busy sawing off a few smaller branches and dragging them to the side of the trail. I cut the final supporting branch and as it released it flew up just missing my leg! I wasn't satisfied that the trail was clear enough so I cut about three feet off the main trunk leaving the rest for a felling axe at a later date. I packed up and we continued up the hilly part of the trail. We continued on the trail until it leveled off an descended slightly2 to Junkyard Junction. At this intersection, the Quick Lake Trail bears to the left and continues on to Quick Lake. We turned right and headed across the Flynn Trail toward Hodge Pond. The Flynn Trail was surprisingly damp and slippery with mud in some places. The trip across this part of the Flynn Trail went quickly and we were soon at the trail junction. We reached the shores of the pond and turned left to follow the jeep trail around the back of the pond. The sky was still overcast but there were a few areas of blue and some wispy clouds. We stopped at the upper end of the pond and walked down to the shore. Sheila got in a brief swim and I took a few pictures. On the other side of the pond I turned left up the hill toward the ruins of the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. The climb up this trail is steeper than the trail from the outlet of Hodge Pond but it is also shorter! When we got to the top of the hill, we turned right to head back toward the Flynn Trail. Once we were back at the Flynn Trail, we turned left for a straight shot back to the car. We set a fast pace to the junction with the Big Rock Trail and then had about 1.7 miles to go to get back to the car. I must have been deep in thought as the hike to the car seemed to go so quickly. We followed the Flynn Trail to the woods and back to the car arriving at 1:35 PM. We hiked 6.6 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes with 935 feet of elevation gain. This included the stops for pictures and trail maintenance. Our moving average was 2.8 mph!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Shaupeneak Ridge: Blue, Yellow, Orange, Aqua Trails alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, July 26th I wanted to go back to Shaupeneak Ridge where Kurt and I had hiked some of the trails on Monday. My plan was to hike the rest of the trails finish before the temperature rose into the 90's! Shaupeneak Ridge which is located on Popletown Road off Old Post Road just off Route 9W in Esopus. From the previous day I knew the drive was shorter than indicate online and that I could make it in just over and hour. I got up early in the morning and got all my gear ready. Sheila was ready to go and we left home a little after 8:00 AM. The temperature was 63 degrees when we left but I knew that it would rise quickly and that it is always warmer and more humid near the Hudson. The forecast called for a heat index of over 90 degrees in Kingston. At least the forecast did not include any thunderstorms for the area and I was glad since we had gotten soaked the day before! I drove to liberty on Route 17 and then took Route 52 to Ellenville where I picked up Route 209 north toward Kingston. After passing through Accord, I looked for the sign for Rosendale and turned right or east on Route 213. I drove through Rosendale and continued on Route 213 looking for Cow Hough Road. I found it and turned right and then stayed left on Dashville Road which became Old Post Road. I drove until the road made a sharp right turn and I turned left on Popletown Road. I drove up the road until I found the sign for the parking area for Shaupeneak Ridge on the left. I turned into the parking area and immediately got me gear ready for the hike. I set all my electronics and we left the parking area on the blue trail at 9:10 AM heading southwest to complete a clockwise loop around the pond. The trail started off as a gravel path which was very even and well groomed. Almost immediately there was an area with two benches and I walked over to take a few shots of Louisa Pond. We continued along the blue trail and found the kayak launch a few hundred feet further along. We walked down to the shore and I took a few more pictures of the pond including the lily pads and a beaver lodge. When we got back on the blue trail we walked over a wooden walkway after which the trail became more like a trail rather than a path. We walked through a rocky area and then entered a pine forest at the outlet end of the lake to the southwest. Everything was wet and slippery from the rain the day before and the humidity so getting good foot placement was important. At about .4 miles we came to the beaver dam that impounds the water for the pond. There was a nice view over the entire pond so I took a few more shots before we continued on around the pond. We walked up a hill and started heading northeast. I found the blazes for the orange trail and made note of where they were but my plan was to finish the blue trail first. We continued along the trail and passed the second junction with the orange trail and the beginning of the green trail. I was being bothered by biting insects but not so badly I wanted to stop and apply repellent. We continued on the more familiar part of the blue trail and by 9:50 AM we were back at the parking area after covering 1.35 miles.

picture taken during a hike The other trail that leaves from the parking area is the yellow trail which we tackled next. This trail parallels the blue trail around the pond but is a little further away and travels along a series of rock ledges. As we started up the trail, there was a sign that explained the significance of stone walls. I at first thought this was obvious but then realized it might be interesting information for some people. This trail had a series of these signs with some being more informative and understandable than others. The trail was short and we were soon descending to meet the blue trail after hiking the complete length of the .3 mile yellow trail. We turned left and started clockwise around the lake again. At 1.85 miles we turned left onto the orange trail which headed south and then turned west. At 2.15 miles we came to a deep gorge and the trail swung north to loop around the top of this area. We followed the trail continuing to gain elevation as it eventually headed west and then south again along the ravine. Eventually we were at a point directly across from where we had started the loop. We had walked a little over .3 miles to get to a point 170 feet away from where we had been! The trail went west a short distance and then headed north. I was watching for the crossover trail that connected the orange to the green trail. We had missed this trail the day before and I wanted to use it to get to the aqua trail. At 2.75 miles the crossover trail marked in orange and green markers turned off to the left and we followed it. The crossover trail headed north to the green trail and dropped elevation for its entire .2 mile length. When we hit the green trail, we had dropped 100 feet. We turned left and followed the green trail to 3.1 miles where the aqua trail began on the left. We turned left and followed the trail until it split within a few hundred feet. I decided to head left first so we started out on the trail in that direction heading south. It was getting significantly warmer and the humidity was high since none of the sweat was evaporating from my body!

picture taken during a hike The trail soon came to an open forest where the forest floor was covered in ferns. It was so pretty I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take a few shots. I was immediately swarmed by mosquitoes and decided it was time to apply repellant! I also got a drink and gave Shiela one before we continued south to about 3.6 miles where the trail made an almost 180 degree turn north. At 3.85 miles the trail made a large loop to the west before heading northeast. The aqua trail was another trail that, like the green trail, was created for both mountain biking and hiking. There were some impressive rock ledges along the way which made the walk interesting despite the lack of expansive views. Near the end of the loop I found a large pile of stones but I could not determine its purpose or its age. At 4.4 miles we were back at the point where the aqua trail had split. We walked out to the green trail and turned right to retrace our steps back to the crossover trail. This time when we got to the crossover trail, we had to climb out of the hollow that we were in to the top of the ridge. Once we were back at the junction with the orange trail, we turned left to complete the loop of this trail. This trail also had no views but was an interesting walk along a high set of rock ledges. As we approached the end of the orange trail, we both could hear voices approaching. I put Sheila on her leash and soon four hikers/walkers appeared. They were quite a bit older than I am and did not seem to be outfitted for the rougher trails ahead! We walked passed and soon were at the junction with the blue trail. I had a choice to make and decided to turn left to go around the northern end of the wetland since this was a better part of the blue trail. The last .4 miles of the hike went quickly. We were back at the parking area by 11:50 Am having hiked 5.8 miles in 2.5 hours with an elevation gain of only 825 feet. The temperature was now 83 degrees or about 10 degrees warmer than when we had started the hike.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Shaupeneak Ridge: White, Red Green Trails alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, July 25th I had plans to hike with my son Kurt somewhere near his home in Poughkeepsie starting at around 10;00 AM> I always prefer to try a new hike if it is possible and I began to look for one. I settled on Shaupeneak Ridge which is located on Old Post Road just off Route 9W in Esopus. The drive seemed to be almost an hour and a half for me but only held an hour for Kurt. Kurt agreed to meet me there at 10:00 AM. I got up early in the morning and got all my gear ready. Sheila had seen my leave the house on both Friday and Saturday in my hiking clothes without taking here along and she did not let me out of her sight until I opened the door for her! When we left Livingston Manor at about 9:35 AM the temperature was already in the low 70's and the humidity was high. The forecast called for a heat index of over 100 degrees in Kingston by 2:00 PM so I knew we would have to be finishing around that time! There was also a chance of thunderstorms to arrive in the late afternoon. I drove to liberty on Route 17 and then took Route 52 to Ellenville where I picked up Route 209 north toward Kingston. After passing through Accord, I looked for the sign for Rosendale and turned right or east on Route 213. I drove through Rosendale and continued on Route 213 looking for Cow Hough Road. I found it and turned right and then stayed left on Dashville Road which became Old Post Road. I drove almost to Route 9W and found the sign for the parking area for Shaupeneak Ridge on the left just before the train tracks. I turned into the parking area and left the car running to take advantage of the air conditioning. I was surprised it was only a little after 9:30 AM! I stepped out of the car to get a trail map at the kiosk and was hit by a blast of warm, humid air. When I got back in the car, I saw that the temperature was now in the low 80's. Kurt and I conferred by cellphone and I helped to guide him to the parking area. He arrived a little after 10:00 AM and we spent a few minutes getting ready to hike. We left the parking area on the white trail at 10:15 AM. The trail was well packed and traveled first through an open area and then entered the woods. We immediately started to gain elevation although the trail was not steep. At .65 miles a purple trail branched off to the right and we followed it about several hundred feet where it ended. The trail guide description said there would be a waterfall at the end. We could see a rocky stream bed and the rock which the water would fall over. The only problem was there were only a few drips of water coming off the rock! I took a few shots and we returned to the white trail, turned right and continued to climb.

picture taken during a hike Much of the hike seemed to be of the "roots, rocks, trees" variety although it was very pretty. When we started the biting insect were pretty thick but they seemed to diminish in numbers as we got further into the hike. Over the final mile of the white trail, we climbed 560 feet for an average of about a 10% grade. At the top of the white trail we turned right on the red trail and immediately came to a lookout to the Hudson River. Unfortunately the trees have grown up to block much of the view and the Hudson always seems to have a haze hanging over it. I took a few shots and then asked Kurt to pose with Sheila while I took a few more pictures. It was 11:15 AM left the viewpoint to continue on the red trail hiking west and descending some. At 2.4 miles we came to the blue trail and turned left to try to walk to the shore of the wetlands at the north end of Louisa Pond. We couldn't get very close so we turned around and followed true blue trail as it headed northwest around the north end of the pond. At 2.5 miles we came to the beginning of the green trail and turned right to take this trail which is a loop constructed by mountain bikers. The description included some rock ledges. We began a short descent along what looked like a woods road. On our right was an extensive network of stone walls and, at one point, a road built up of rock near a small pond. We continued along the green trail until it forked and we turned right at 2.6 miles to take the more northern route. The trail began to ascend slightly and it headed southwest. Along the way we passed through an area that had some very tall trees where the ground was covered with a dense layer of ferns. I could help but take a few pictures. As we continued there were some nice rock ledges and some stone paved steps. There were also some logs that had been flattened on top for the more skilled bike riders. At one point I looked at a boulder that had a small "cave" at the bottom and saw...a garden gnome. I took a picture but Kurt and I could not discover why it had been placed there. At 3.4 miles the green trail made an almost 180 degree turn to head back toward its origin and the aqua trail branched to the right. I decided I would have to come back to hike the aqua, orange and blue trails so we followed the green trail. At about this time we noticed that there were some dark clouds in the sky but I knew the forecast said the storms would hold off until at least 4:00 PM when we would be long gone!

picture taken during a hike As I looked at the map, I saw a crossover trail from the green to the orange trail which looked like the shortest way back to the car. We knew the trail was not far after the turn and we began to look for it. We hiked and talked and continued to look for the crossover. Soon we were hiking up a slight incline when Kurt and I both noticed that the trail looked very familiar. We saw the stone road and the small pond and knew we had hiked the entire green loop! We continued on the green trail back to the blue trail where we turned left to follow the trail down the east shore of Louisa Pond. As we hiked, I stepped off the trail twice to try to get some shots of the wetland and the pond. Soon we were at the parking area for Shaupeneak Ridge on Popletown Road. We turned left and walked out to the entrance of the lot and crossed the road to pick up the more southern branch of the red trail at 4.65 miles. We walked .55 miles over this part of the red trail which rolled a little but gained some elevation. The skies continued to darken and we heard some noise which I tried to pretend was an airplane. At 5.2 miles we reached the white trail and turned right to follow it southeast back to the cars. The trail was a descent all the way except for one small climb. As we hurried along the thunder increased and then it started to sprinkle. I knew from experience that it was best to prepare for harder rain and I immediately out all by electronics in my pack and got out the cover. As soon as I got the pack on my pack, the heavens opened and we were hike through a deluge. Getting really wet really fast was bad enough but the lightening was much more localized than it had been. I knew there was no option but to keep hiking. Soon we were crossing the small bridge near the bottom of the white trail. I hoped the rain would let up but it did not. We broke out into the open and hurried back to the cars. As we arrived at the parking area, the rain abated and then all but stopped! I got Sheila in the backseat and accepted Kurt's offer of a blanket to cover the driver's seat. I was completely soaked! We said our goodbyes and headed out. It was 2:10 PM and we had hiked 6.8 miles in just under 4 hours gaining 1345 feet along the way. I decided to take Route 9W to Kingston to visit Beer World even though it was a little out of my way. The side-trip was definitely worth the bother!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Bramley Mountain: New Trails alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, July 22nd I decided to respond to a call for help from the Catskill Mountain Club to help do some last minute maintenance on the Bramley Mountain Trails before they officially open on Friday, July 29. Most of the work involved cutting grass, weeds and briars in the more open spots along the trails. The meeting time was 10:00 AM so I left Livingston Manor just after 8:30 AM to make sure I would be on time. I left behind a very disappointed Sheila who always wants to go with me. I felt that since we would be using glowered equipment and sharp blades that she might be in the way. I decided to take the back roads since this was the shortest way. I drove up the Beaverkill Road and took Beech Hill Road to Route 30 where I turned right. Soon I was at the Dunraven Bridge. At the end of the bridge I turned left on Tremperskill Road and followed it into Andes where I turned left on Route 28 North. After 7.5 miles, I turned right on Glen Burnie Road and drove 2.8 miles to the parking area for Bramley Mountain. The parking area is small and it helped that I had been there before. I pulled into the parking area, turned around and parked at 9:40 AM. No other cars were present so I waited for someone else to appear. Just before 10:00 AM Wendell, drove up and I got out to talk to him. I immediately found that the insect problem was still present so I applied a liberal dose of repellent. It was warm and very humid! Wendell and I didn't have to wait too long before Bob and John showed up. We got out the equipment, fuel it and tested it and be that time Brian, the last participant, drove up. The plan was to walk out the Quarry Trail and then take a "shortcut" to the top where most of the work need to be done. We got started at about 10:30 Am by walking out the woods road toward the quarry. Each of us carried a power scythe or a weed whacker plus a few hand tools. After half a mile we arrived at a woods road that headed up the mountain. The road began in an open clearing where the trail was covered in tall grass and a few briars. Wendell decided we would cut this patch and we made short work of the area. We started up the woods road and I immediately noticed that the "shortcut" was still pretty steep especially carrying power equipment!

picture taken during a hike As we walk up the woods roads we made a couple of turns and at .75 miles joined the Quarry Trail as it ascends the mountain. We walked some and then stopped for a rest and to wait for everyone to get together before starting up again. I made sure to drink more than I normally would as the day was both hot and humid with highs forecast to be in the high 80's. We didn't do much work on the way up except to remove a few branches in the trail. At At 1.4 miles we finally hit the top of the climb and just after that the Table and viewpoint to the west. In just over .9 miles we had climbed over 800 feet with an average grade of just over 6%. We stopped at the viewpoint and I took a few pictures of the view and some of the other workers. After getting a snack and a drink, Brian and I pushed on to the top and cut the short path from the edge of the summit to the area of the fire tower. I had to stop cutting a fix the line on my weed whacker as it was wound incorrectly. This would become a problem on and off throughout the hike. After fixing the line, I got out my camera and took some pictures from the summit viewpoint to the south. I decided to hike down the summit trail following Bob who had a power scythe while the others finished at the summit. On the way down I trimmed some tall grass on the road and then cut some at the turn onto the woods road across the ridge. Bob was ahead of me cutting mostly the woody brambles on the side of the trail while I took care of the tall grass and weeds on the trail. Shortly the others came down from the top and we spaced ourselves apart so the we could cut a section of trail and then leapfrog the others to another spot. Wendell let me know that we did not have to cut each blade of grass but just provide a track for hikers to easily follow! Every now and then we would stop to refuel the machines and ourselves. We were making good progress but it was hot and sweaty work. I WA able to extend the line on my machine a couple of times by tapping it on the ground but at other times I had to stop to disassemble it.

picture taken during a hike At one point Wendell went on ahead to see if he could find a place to cut a viewpoint to the south and east along the ridge. The rest of us continued to do we are happy to we had been doing and I could see we were approaching the end of the the open trail on the ridge. I cam across Wendell who had cut a very nice viewpoint through a lot of briars. After getting some fuel< I continued to cut along the open trail until I got to the edge of the woods. I could see John up ahead starting to descend the trail but still cutting as he went. I decided to go back and find the rest of the group cutting the sides of the trail as I went. I found them at the viewpoint Wendell had cut an took the opportunity to get a drink and take some pictures. I took shots from the viewpoint of the Pisgahs which at one time were the site of the Bobcat Ski Area. We discussed what other mountains might be in our view. Since John had arrived, I took a shot of the group relaxing which was the only time we had taken an extended break from the work. We pick up our equipment and started down the trail convinced the work was done. We walked through some grass on the trail but decided it did not need to be cut. We began to run into a few open spots with more grass and a lot of weeds on the trail. Therese areas also had briars encroaching from the sides. We decided to fire up the machines again and trim this part of the trail. We all picked a section to work on and started cutting. I looked at my fuel tank at one point and saw I was almost out of fuel. I tapped the weed whacker on the ground as it was not cutting very well but this did not help. I stopped the machine and found I had almost no line. I took it apart but could not pull then twisted line off the spool. I got out my multitool but the pliers really didn't help. Wendell came along but he couldn't free the line either. We decided to continue on down the trail and we walked and talked until we were well into the woods. We stopped until Bob came along and told us Brian had just a little more to trim. The tree of us continued on down the trail and made the right turn to take us back to the car. We arrived in the parking area around 3:15 PM. I had walked a total of 3.7 miles and gained over 1000 feet in 4 hours and 45 minutes. This, of course, didn't begin to tell the story of how much work we had done.

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 Thursday, July 21st I was ready to hike after taking a couple of days off. I decided to stay local and head to Hodge and Frick Ponds since I was nursing some blisters I got from a recent racquetball match. I was in no real hurry to get started and left the house at about 10:00 AM. The temperature was only 67 degrees but I knew that the highs for the day were forecast to be in the high 80'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 10:20 AM. I have been wearing a pair of Vasque Taku boots which seem to fit well and are no longer sold by Vasque! 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 here swimming as I had just applied Advantix. I walked over to the fire ring and dropped my pack. A quick check of my blister showed the bandage I had applied was in place. I picked up my camera and took a few shots even though I had thought I might be able to resist.

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. Just before the snowmobile trail branched to the right toward Quick Lake, a large tree was partly blocking the trail. I made note that this one would require a saw and an axe to remove. 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 and then 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 12:55 PM we were still the only car in the lot. We had walked 6.5 miles in 2.5 hours gaining 928 feet along the way. The temperature at the trail head was now above 80 degrees but the humidity seemed better than on some days.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Shavertown Parcel AllTrails - Shavertown Parcel Gmap4 - Shavertown Parcel MapMyHike - Shavertown Parcel On Sunday, July 17th, Cindy and I had decided to hike the Shavertown Trail near the Dunraven Bridge across the Pepacton Reservoir after church. I asked Cindy if I should invite Debbie, a friend from church, and she quickly agreed. Even though it was VERY short notice, Debbie agreed and we arranged for her to meet us at our house at around 1:00 PM. We went home a got ready and Debbie arrived promptly at 1:00 PM> After a short introduction to Sheila, we got our gear in Cindy's car and left Livingston Manor. I was glad Debbie was OK with sharing the backseat with Sheila and Sheila for her part behaved well. The Shavertown Trail is one area where trails have been constructed by the Catskill Mountain Club on land opened to public use by the DEP. The trail descriptions has a pond with a view of the reservoir and another trail through the forest along some old access roads. The total distance is about 5 miles. I took Route 17 west to exit 94 at Roscoe and then took Route 206 north toward Downsville. I turned right on Route 30 at the intersection near the Pepacton Reservoir and headed for the bridge across the reservoir. After crossing the bridge, I turned left and found the trailhead about .15 miles up the road. I turned around and parked off the side of the road a little north of the beginning of the trail. We were ready to go almost immediately and crossed the road at 1:50 PM to start our hike. The first .25 miles of trail climbs 200 feet as it heads directly north and up the side of Perch Lake Mountain. Cindy loaned Debbie one of her hiking poles as we climbed the steepest part of the hike. I was surprised at how quickly we arrived at the right turn onto the old access road. We continued to climb through the forest for another .25 miles until we broke out into a field and the trail leveled a little. The skies were blue with puffy white clouds and the temperature was warm with some humidity. We were bothered by some persistent insect that buzzed around us as we walked despite various insect repellents. Along the open part of the trail we found some meteorological instruments with solar panels for power. One had a snow scale next to it while the other had a device to measure rainfall and other data. After some more climbing, the trail turned northeast and descended to the edge of a small pond at .85 miles. The pond was full and had some cattails and white water lilies growing in it. We stopped and I took some pictures as Sheila decided to go for a swim. Debbie threw a stick into the water but Sheila declined the invitation to retrieve it. We walked around the pond on the west side and down to the lower bench where we stopped for a "photo op". I took a few pictures of the reservoir and some of Debbie and Cindy. I walked to the upper each and took a few shots of the pond and some more of the Pepacton. There was little haze and the skies were still nice and blue with contrasting clouds.

picture taken during a hike We continued around the pond and I took some more pictures of the pond, the lilies and the cattails. Cindy spotted some fish in the pond and I managed to get one picture. We continued on the trail around the back of the pond and walked back to the trail that we had descended to the pond. We walked back along the trail and then turned left at the sign that marked the turn for the extra 1.5 miles through the woods. This trail followed another woods road and gained a little over 200 feet in the next .5 miles. At times it was hard to see the next marker but we knew we where we were going from previous trips. We had a great time talking with Debbie. At around 1.5 miles into the hike the trail dipped to the left off the woods road to travel through an area with large boulders. I took some pictures as the sedimentary layers were so clear on the rocks. Many were also covered by interesting mosses and lichens. Once the trail rejoined the road it remained pretty flat for the next .8 miles. The trail began to turn around the mountain heading a little to the east. It seems as if it would continue east and then head south to loop around the mountain but that route is blocked by private property. We followed the markers until we came to the spot where they split to form a small loop at the end of the trail. We headed to the right to do the .3 mile loop. Soon we were back where the loop started and one our way back on the main trail. We followed the trail and woods road back to the pond and then took the access road back to the trail. We made the left on the trail and were soon back at the car. The trip back went much faster as it was mostly downhill. We were back at the car at 4:30 PM having covered 5.1 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes with about a 1080 feet of ascent along the way. Debbie said she enjoyed the trip and would like to do an other one soon!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Palmer Hill alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, July 16th I wanted to continue my hiking for the day after completing the 3.7 mile Andes Rail Trail and Bullet Hole Spur Trail in Andes. I left 266 Depot Street in Andes and drove eat on Route 28 South. Around two miles from town I started watching for Finkle Road on the left. It was easy to find as there are signs for the Palmer Hill lookout. I parked and got out of the car to take some pictures from the viewpoint. The view from the parking area was great. A signboard showed a picture of the view with all the peaks and hills labeled. All the peaks from Balsam Lake and Graham through Doubletop and Balsam were visible. There was less haze in the air than I had seen on other visits. The temperature was in the high 70's and the humidity seemed high. There were only two other cars in the lot when Sheila and I walked out he upper end of the parking area to begin our hike at 11:30 AM. The first half mile of the trail descends to a small brook. The trail passes through wide corridors which have been mowed through the grass and then enters the woods on an old road. I could see a pair of hikers ahead and they had a dog with them. As we approached the brook FOUR dogs came running toward us since the owners had not bothered to have the courtesy tout them on a leash. The dogs also did not listen to their owners when they called them so I raised my poles and got ready to encourage them to go away. Fortunately, the dogs made some noise but were mostly friendly. I passed by quickly wondering how some people could be so irresponsible! Just after the brook crossing are the foundations from a farm and then the first trail junction.

picture taken during a hike The trail junction is sort of a "times square" since at this point you can choose to do the upper meadow or lower meadow loops. I decided that any climbing that had to be done should be at the beginning of the hike as I was already a little tired and very warm. We turned left to start the upper meadow loop with me hoping the other hikers would be smart enough to take the lower loop first. The trail shortly entered the woods and began a half mile ascent to the highest point on the hike. Unfortunately, I could here the other hikers and their dog pack following us to the upper meadow loop! The vertical gain was only about 250 feet and the average grade was around 9%. There were a few steeper areas which were between 15% and 20% for short distances. Along the way we saw some nice stone walls as we looped in a clockwise direction. At the high point we broke out into a field with some since views of the surrounding hills and I stopped to take a few pictures. The trail then began to descend for about .4 miles back to the trail junction losing around 200 feet. We turned left at the junction and almost immediately came to another split in the trail. I chose to take the left fork and started to ascend along the paths mowed through the field. This trail was more out in the open and as we approached the first set of trees I could hear the other hikers calling one of their dogs as if it was lost. I continued to hear them calling as we entered the woods and hoped they would find the lost dog. Irresponsible behavior on the part of owners should not have unfortunate consequences for the dog! We hike through the trees for a while and then broke back into the open turning left and climbing again through the open fields. We eventually hit a high point and then turned right to descend along a powerline right-of-way. At 2.8 miles we completed the 1.4 mile lower meadow loop and turned left to start back to the parking area. We stopped at the stream and I allowed Sheila to play in the water and get a drink. We continued on the main trail through the trees and then through the open trail passed the register to the car. At the register a couple with a dog were signing out. The dog was panting pretty heavily and seemed overheated. We were back at the car at 12:55 PM having covered 3.3 miles in a little under 1.5 hours. The vertical gain was only 650 feet. It was even hotter and more humid so I decided to return home and save the Shavertown Trail for the next day!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Andes Rail Trail: Complete alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, July 16th I wanted to go to Andes to hike the Rail trail and the Bullet Hole Spur Trail. I had thought about doing this the day before after Cindy and I had hiked Bramley Mountain but she was not up for it and I was pretty tired myself. I got all my gear in the car, put Sheila in the back seat and left Livingston Manor just after 8:30 AM for the drive to Andes. Sheila acted as if we hadn't hiked in a week although we been out only yesterday! 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 open the gate if they needed to do so. We started our hike at 9:25 AM 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. 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 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. 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. As we began to descend off Hemlock Knoll, Sheila alerted and I saw two hikers coming toward us with a dog. We both out our dogs an their leashes and we passed each other with a brief "Hello". Sheila and I 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 not impressive but pretty. 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. WE continued straight ahead and walked through a planted red pine plantation. The trail 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. The return trip was now and out and back so we stepped up our pace. On the way across Hemlock Knob we met a small family group followed closely by three young women out for some exercise. 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. On our way back we did meet several groups of hikers. Several groups looked like they might try the spur trail while it was obvious that others were only headed to the end of the flat part of the trail. We arrived back at the depot just before 11:00 AM and I took a few pictures of the depot and kiosk before walking back to the car. It was 11"05 Am and we had covered 3.7 miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes with an elevation gain of 735 feet. After getting a drink and sitting in the air conditioned car, I decided I felt fresh enough to continue my day at Palmer Hill.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Bramley Mountain: New Trails alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, July 15th I wanted to get away from Livingston Manor to hike and decided that the new trails on Bramley Mountain near Delhi would be a good destination. The new trails are scheduled to open in a few weeks and I thought I would like a preview. My wife and I had hiked there a few years ago before there were any trails and had an interesting time fighting through the briars to the summit where a fire tower once stood. I asked Cindy if she would like to go and she agreed but had reservations about the heat and possible thunderstorms. We tried to get out of the house early and did leave Livingston Manor just before 9:00 AM for the hours drive to Bramley Mountain. Sheila acted as if we hadn't hiked Ina week although we had only missed one day! I decided to take the back roads since this was the shortest way. I drove up the Beaverkill Road and took Barkaboom Road to BWS 8. I turned left and followed the road to Route 30 and crossed the Pepacton Reservoir on the bridge. At the end of the bridge I turned left on Tremperskill Road and follows it into Andes where I turned left on Route 28 North. After 7.5 miles, I turned right on Glen Burnie Road and drove 2.8 miles to the parking area for Bradley Mountain. The parking area is small and it helped that we had been there before. I pulled into the parking area, turned around and parked at 10:00 AM. When we got out of the car, we both noticed that it was warm and very humid! It didn't take us long to get on the trail. We had two choices to start the hike. The red Summit Trail went to the right directly to the summit over 1.8 miles. We chose to go straight ahead on the blue Quarry Trail which passes through a quarry and then wends its way to the summit over 2.1 miles. The woods road was very open but damp and muddy in some places. The biggest problem was the cloud of insects that surrounded us both! This was the worst the bugs had been all season. We walked along the road through the woods and eventually broke out into an open clearing where the grass was long and wet. My boots got soaked but it did not seem to penetrate through to my feet. At about .8 miles we came to the quarry and I stopped to take a few pictures and apply some insect repellant. When we started out again, we came to a spot where the trail seemed to split with blue markers going both left and right. There was also a sign that said "Summit 1.2 miles" but it was not clear which way it was pointing. We decided to head to the right as we knew the summit was in that direction.

picture taken during a hike The trail entered the woods and immediately turned almost 180 degrees. As we walked along the trail it would head up the mountain at points and then parallel the ridge leaving me to wonder if we were actually on the trail to the summit. Eventually the trail turned at began a steady climb up to the summit. The trail was obviously new but very well cleared and constructed. It passed by several interesting ledges and rock formations. There were numerous switchbacks which made the walk longer but mitigated some of the steeper climbs. Near the top the trail passed around and went through some rock ledges and the trail crew had expertly created some steps out of natural materials. Both of us noticed the heat and the humidity as we climbed but, as we neared the top, there was a slight breeze and fewer insects. At 1.9 miles and just before the summit was a nice viewpoint with a stone bench. We stopped and I took a few pictures before we hike the last few hundred feet to the top. Over the 1.1 miles from the quarry we gained 770 feet with and overall average grade of 13% despite the many switchbacks. When we reached the summit, I dropped my pack and took out the camera. I took some shots of the old pilings for the fire tower and then walked over to the lookout. There was more haze than I had hoped for but I took some shots anyway. To the south and southeast I could see the Pisgahs near Andes which were once the site of a ski area. I walked down to the lower part of the lookout and took a few more pictures. When I was finished, I returned to the summit where we all had a drink and a snack before starting down. We walked in the direction that the arrow pointed and found the markers for the red Summit Trail that we would take back to the parking area.

picture taken during a hike We started down the Summit Trail which starts out as wide woods road but at .15 miles from the summit markers clearly indicated a right turn. The trail follows another woods road but one that is covered in long grass. We walked for a while until we recognized the trail from our previous visit. I stopped to take a few pictures of the trail and a nice view off to the left. As I was taking pictures I noticed a "bulge" on the branches of a tree on the right. When I zoomed in with my camera, I found this was a hawk and I took several pictures of this raptor. I packed up the camera and we continued to follow the woods road as it entered the woods. There were less insects at this point and the road was dry although the descent was a little steep. We had returned this way on our last visit so I knew this road led out to the upper parking area. I was waiting for the trail to turn right into the woods to connect to the lower parking area. Soon we were almost to the road and I finally saw where the trail entered the woods and started downhill to the car. This part of the trail was soft and easy walking but only lasted .15 miles. As we approached our car, I saw an NYC truck at the gate and the occupants were getting out. One of the men greeted us and I immediately recognized him as a friend from Livingston Manor. We talked for a while before Cindy and I headed over to our car. It was 12:30 Pm and we had hiked 3.7 miles in 2.5 hours with over 40 minutes of time stopped. The elevation gain was 940 feet. To get to the summit the red Summit Trail is both shorter and easier. The blue Quarry Trail and its extension is harder but also more interesting! On the way home we headed toward Delhi and crossed the stream at Fitches Crossing. There is a covered bridge here which was moved from Delhi to its present location. I stopped and took a few pictures of the bridge both exterior and interior.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Angel Falls On Wednesday, July 13thI left the Giant Ledge parking area to head for Angle falls in Yagerville to see how much water was going over the falls. I debated my route and decided to take the backboard through Claryville, over Red Hill and out Sugarloaf Road to Route 55A. At the end of Sugarloaf Road I turned right and then left to take Route 55A to Yagerville Road. There was construction on the main road and on 55A but it only held me up for a few minutes. I drove 4.25 Niles on Route %%A before turning left on Yagerville Road. I continued 1.2 miles to Sholam Road and turned right to drive to the dead end. I parked at the end by a pile of dirt under the powerlines at 11:25 Am and immediately got out of the car to hike. We walked along what is oft of Sholam Road which deteriorates more every year. I was surprised that I could hear a roar coming from the falls apparently indicating a good volume of water. We walked to where a path turned right at the top of the falls and parallels Trout Creek. I looked down at the falls and saw that it was about as high as usual which surprised me. All of the falls I had visited recently had very limited water volume due to the lack of snow this winter and a limited amount of rainfall. Trout Creek is rather long extending around 5 miles from Balsam Swamp. Over its course it picks up a few tributaries. We walked along the path until a steep and slippery path turned to the left to head down to the creek bed. We worked our way down the bank and to some rocks at the base of the falls. All the rocks were slippery which did not bother Sheila but concerned me. I was able to get out my camera and walk out on some of the rocks to get a good view of the falls. I took shots of the falls and some downstream. To capture the volume and character of the falls, I shot a short video before packing up and heading back up to the main trail. Although the trail isn't really maintained, someone had cut a few of the trees that had been across the trail. We continued down the path heading toward the lower falls.

picture taken during a hike The trail was overgrown with weeds which surprised me as this is a popular spot for people in the area. I was happy that there was almost no broken glass around the area. I dropped my pack near the top of the lower falls and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the upper drop of the lower falls from several different vantage points. I was able to get put on a rock in front of the falls and then switched to a rock outcropping that was nearer the top of the falls. Next, I worked my way down the bank to look at the old foundations at the bottom of the falls and then walked down to the creek bed. From the edge of the stream I took some more pictures and then walked upstream a bit and took a few more. I was able to squeeze between some tree trunks near the edge of the stream and stand on a rock to get a good view. I leaned on one large trunk and found that it moved significantly! The end of the trunk was floating on the water and it was precariously balanced near the middle on another tree! I carefully made my way back t the stream bank and returned to where I had left my pack. I took a few shots of the foundations and then headed back to the car. We headed back up the bank to the old road arriving at the car at 11:55 AM. The rain had held off and we were returning dry after hiking just .7 miles in 45 minutes with 180 feet of elevation gain.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Otter Falls On Wednesday, July 13th I wanted to go in search of a waterfall! While hiking Giant Ledge and Panther the day before two different hikers asked me about Otter Falls and I had to say I never heard of it. One hiker showed me a website that talked about the falls so I was able to do some research when I got home. Several websites gave the location as about .5 miles from the Giant ledge parking area toward Big Indian along the stream on the left side of the road. This stream on the maps is labeled as Esopus Creek which seems to originate at Winnisook Lake. The descriptions include a thirty foot drop into a pool below which is 6' to 8' deep even in dry conditions. One website had a description from someone who had actually been there and the directions included looking for a telephone pole labeled 167 1/2. I got my gear and Shiela in the car and left Livingston Manor a little after 9:00 AM. When I left home the temperature was still in the low 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 and the Slide Mountain trailhead. We arrived at the parking area on Route 47 at 9:50 AM to find a no other cars parked there. I got my gear ready including setting up both my Suunto Traverse watch and my Garmin 64st handheld unit. We started to walk downhill on Route 47 toward Big Indian. I checked the label on a pole and it read 176 which indicated we had some distance to go. As we walked I found POSTED signs along the left side of the road. I could also see that the maple trees were connected by plastic tubing indicating a substantial sugaring operation. We continued to walk and I continued to check my GPS watch and the pole numbers. We passed .5 miles and the pole numbers were still too high and the POSTED signs were still on the trees.

picture taken during a hike At around .75 miles I noticed that the POSTED signs had given way to State Forest Preserve signs. A short distance further I found Pole 167 1/2 and just a little farther along a rather well-defined leading into the woods. The path remained easy to follow as we walked west into the woods and toward the stream for about 600 feet. I could see the waterfall and walked out on a little overhang to try to get some pictures. I wanted a head-on view but couldn't find quite the right angle. The light was also behind the falls which did not help. We walked back up to the trail and to the brink of the falls. I guess the TOTAL drop may be 30 feet but the water does not fall as much as it runs over the rocks to the pool below. Even though it was very dry and only a little water was going over the falls, the pool was deep and filled with water. I did not test it but Sheila did and pronounced it good! I took some more pictures of the stream and the falls before packing up and heading back out to the road. I put Sheila on her leash and hiked back to hotter which was uphill all the way. The temperature was rising and the humidity made it seem even warmer. We were back at the car by 10:40 Am having hiked 2 miles in 45 minutes with an elevation gain of 320 feet. It may be possible to park on the side of the road near the falls but it is a short walk from the parking area which is a safer option. Since the hike was so short, I decided to head for Angel Falls in Yagerville just to see how much water was going over the falls.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Panther Mt (Rt 47) AllTrails - Panther Mt (Rt 47) Gmap4 - Panther Mt (Rt 47) MapMyHike - Panther Mt (Rt 47) On Tuesday, July 12, I wasn't planning to hike very far since I had gotten out the day before and hiked 8 miles with Cindy at Morgan Hill State Forest. I got up early and found partly cloudy skies but checked the forecast and found no rain predicted. One of the foresters from DEC Region 3 had told me that the ADK crew had completed their work on the stone steps at Giant Ledge so I decided to go and check out their work. I slept a little later than usual and didn't get started until about 9:30 AM. On the way I decided it was time to hike another 3500 peak and decided to continue from Giant Ledge on to Panther. 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 and the Slide Mountain trailhead. We arrived at the parking area on Route 47 at 10:15 AM to find a few cars parked there. Two young women were getting out of one car and we talked briefly. They were from Buffalo and were visiting family in Poughkeepsie. They had hiked Breakneck Ridge the day before and were now ready to try their first Catsill 3500 foot peak. They had one light pack between them but seemed fit and ready to hike. Sheila and I got started pretty quickly by crossing the road and heading out the trail with the two young women right behind. The rain that had fallen during the week made the trail wet in places but most of the trail seemed dry. 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 almost no water running in the stream. I pointed out the flow to the two hikers and mentioned that the bridge had been washed away by the same stream. They were obviously faster than I was and I let them go ahead. They soon disappeared although their pace looked very natural for them. 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. I did notice that everything looked the same as it had and that no work had been done. Either I had misunderstood the forester or he had some incorrect information! 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. On the way up we met two hikers coming down the trail and I said "Hello" as we passed. We finished the sixth short climb and arrived at the turn to Giant Ledge and Panther at about 10:40 AM. I didn't feel like we were going slow but it took 35 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.

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 11:10 AM after the 1.5 mile climb. Just before we walked down the path to the first lookout, we met a couple who seemed confused about the way to Panther Mountain. I pointed them in the right direction and walked down to the lookout where I met the two girls from earlier and another, older couple. I put Sheila on her leash and attached it to a tree nearby so that she would not bother the other hikers. Sheila is fearless about heights and sometimes scares me a little when she walks right to the edge of the cliffs and looks down! I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take some pictures of the great views of the valley below and the mountains beyond. I talked to the girls about there hiking experience and pointed out the mountains in view. The other couple left and said they were heading toward Panther. I took a few more pictures, got a drink and gave one to Sheila. The girls headed out just before us and were soon out of sight. As we hiked along the ledges, I stopped briefly to look at the other views but decide not to stop on the way out. We continued on the main trail and caught up with the couple that had just left the viewpoint as they were starting down into the col and we walked together for a while and talked. As we worked our way down to the col we met the "confused" couple heading back up. They had decided that they did not want to descend into the col, climb Panther and then have to climb back up to the ledges. I said "Goodbye" to the other couple and quicken my pace through the Col and 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. 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 the entire Burroughs Range 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. One the way we met the two girls headed back down to their car. They asked me about Otter Falls which a website indicated was only a half mile from the parking area. I told them I had never heard of the falls and we went our separate ways. We arrived at the summit of Panther at 12:25 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 then 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. I was on the lookout for the other couple that had headed up behind me.

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 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. A family group was approaching and they had a dog that was not on a leash. I put Sheila on her leash and they leashed their dog. As we passed each other, they asked about the next viewpoint and I told them that there were several. 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 met a woman who was checking here cell phone. She also asked me about Otter Falls and showed me the website that mentioned it as a swimming hole. I told her I had not heard about the falls but I knew I would have to check it out when I got home. As we were talking, a group of four young hikers entered the area just below the climb and discussed the falls with us. Sheila and I made our way down the rocks and continued down the main trail. Just after we made the turn to get back to the car we caught up with the couple who was following us up Panther. They had turned around when it was obvious the climb would be too difficult. We again walked together briefly meeting another pair of young men coming up the trail. Sheila and I continued on ahead through the descents without meeting anyone else. After walking back to the bridge, I decided that this trail might be the rockiest in the Catskills! As we crossed the bridge, Sheila got a drink and cooled off in the stream. We continued out to Route 47 and the parking area which was full. We were back at the car at 2:25 PM having covered 6.4 miles in 4 hours and 10 minutes including numerous stops. The elevation gain was 2348 feet. When I got home, I downloaded the track from the Suunto Traverse watch and my Garmin 64st and found they were very close. I also searched for Otter Falls and found that it is located about .5 miles down the Route 47 toward Big Indian on state land. I will be investigating this very soon!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Morgan Hill: Jones Hill Loop alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, July 11th I wanted to get away from Livingston Manor to hike and decided that Morgan Hill State Forest northeast of Cortland would be a good choice. I was hoping that the recent rain would have increased the volume of Tinker Falls to make it more interesting. Beside the falls Morgan Hill has several small ponds and a nice view from Jones Hill. Cindy decided she wanted to go with me since she agreed getting away would be fun. Morgan Hill is a two hour drive which is a little farther than we normally go when we go together but the forecast for a bright and sunny day convinced us it was a good idea. We left Livingston Manor a little before 9:00 AM with our gear and with Sheila ready to go. Sheila, of course, doesn't care where we hike so she protests when we set out on a long drive! We headed west on State Route 17 to Binghamton and then north on I81 toward Cortland. I took exit 11 and turned north on Route 13 heading toward Truxton. As we passed through Truxton I turned north on Route 91. After just under 4 miles, I turned right on Shackham Road and drove north for about 2 miles to park on the side of the road where the Onondaga Trail crosses the road. This trail is part of the Finger Lakes Trail system and is co-aligned with the North Country Trail which runs from the Missouri River in North Dakota to Lake Champlain in New York! I set both my Suunto Traverse GPS watch and my Garmin 64st GPS unit and we were off. We began our hike at 11:00 AM by crossing the road and hiking up the trail toward the top of the first ridge. The beginning of this section is usually very muddy but on this day it was dry and much easier to hike. The first .4 miles was all uphill at we gained a little over 150 feet. The trail in this area is pretty generic passing through mostly hardwoods and then some evergreens. The warm weather had brought out the trout lilies, some nice maroon trillium and other assorted windflowers. We descended the other side of the hill and then walked along as the trail rolled a little. At 1.75 miles we were on the shores of Spruce Pond. There was no one at the pond and Sheila jumped right in for a swim. We stopped so that I could take a few pictures. We walked along the shore of the pond following the Onondaga Trail which is blazed in light blue and an orange trail that loops around the pond. The trails spilt near the head of the pond and we followed the blue trail. The trail started one of the steepest ascents of the day which was moderated by some switchbacks as we gained 220 feet in about .25 miles or about a 19% grade.

picture taken during a hike As soon as we reached the top of the hill, we started to descend again losing most of the elevation we had gained and crossing a small stream. Much of the hike to this point had been parallel to one small creek or another and none seemed to have much water. I kept hoping that Tinker Falls would have enough water to make it interesting! As we were hiking to Spruce Pond we were headed mostly northwest. The turn and ascent had directed us WSW and we began hiking on private land. The land is owned by a logging company that has granted permission for hikers to cross their property. We made another ascent and I could see as we got to the top that we were on the ridge that overlooks Labrador Pond. We passed over the top of Jones Hill and at 2.9 miles turned south to walk along the ridge. At 3.1 miles we came to the viewpoint which looks out of Labrador Pond and the valley and hills below. There was no one else at the viewpoint as I took my camera out to take some pictures. I took some shots of Cindy and Sheila before we got a drink and a snack and continued our hike. The trail follows the edge of the ridge while a dirt road also descends the hill. I decided to simply walk down the road and pick up the trail where it crosses. We turned left onto the trail and shortly met two young men looking for "Hang Glider Hill" which describes the viewpoint on Jones hill. From 3.0 miles to 4.1 miles the trail descended toward Tinker Falls losing almost 500 feet in the process. As we neared the falls, the descent became steeper. We saw people at the falls so I put Sheila on her leash as we walked down to the top of the falls.

picture taken during a hike There is a trail to the falls from a parking area on Route 91 which makes access to the base rather easy. In the past there was no way to hike between the top and bottom without following a treacherous and steep path covered in loose dirt and slippery leaves. The Finger Lakes Trail Conference worked on a project to install stone steps on both sides of the falls to allow hikes to travel between the bottom and the top. I left Sheila with Cindy at the top of the falls and walked down the steps until I could get a good look at the falls. I was disappointed that the volume of water was so small. There was a group of young children in the area behind the falls. The amount of erosion evident t the falls shows that at some point there was a great volume of water in the stream but I have not found the season when this is the case. I took a few pictures and returned to the top. We walked over to the stream where I took a few more shots. We walked upstream to the wooden stairs that start the long climb to the top of the next ridge. The .7 mile ascent to the 5.1 mile mark ascends almost 400 feet but has several switchbacks. The switchbacks do moderate the climb but also make the trip longer. Some hikers have begun to take shortcuts to cutoff the switchbacks which increases erosion for very little gain! Once we were at the top Of the ridge, we began the downhill hike to Shackham Road. In about .7 miles we lost 430 feet with some of the sections being steep and slippery. We arrived at the road at about 2:05 PM about 5.8 miles into the hike. We turned left and began to walk the road back to our car at the upper parking area. It was about 1.5 miles back to the car but we made good time walking on the road despite the fact it was mostly uphill! Along the way we found several places where there was active logging with loads coming out of the woods to a landing area. Several trucks were being loaded and heading out on Shackham Road. As we neared the car I asked Cindy if she wanted to walk down to Shackham Pond. She declined so I decided to forgo the trip this time. It was 2:30 PM and we had hiked 7.6 miles in just over 3.5 hours. Our elevation gain was 1370 feet and we had stopped for only about 10 minutes.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Mud Pond Only AllTrails - Mud Pond Only Gmap4 - Mud Pond Only MapMyHike - Mud Pond Only On Friday, July 8th, I had planned to go to Trout Pond and hike a loop down Russell Brook and around Mud Pond and Cables Lake. I had not hiked down Russell Brook Road passed the lower parking area for some time and did not know what to expect as the "road" has been in disrepair for years. I did know that the 8+ miles was exactly what I was looking for as far as a distance. Before I went to bed the night before, I got a text from Lisa asking me if I was available to do some trail maintenance cutting the Japanese knotweed at Trout Pond. Even though Lisa wanted to begin at 10:30 AM, late for me, I could not turn down the request for help and agreed. I woke early in the morning and got some things done around the house but by 9:30 AM I could wait no longer. I got Sheila and my tools in the car and headed up Route 17 toward Roscoe. I took with me my Silky saw, Wetterlings axe, Weed whip and new LT Wright machete. I had used the machete only a little but suspected it might be just right for the knotweed. I got off at exit 94 and took Route 206 out the Rockland Flats and turned left on Morton Hill Road just passed the Roscoe Community Nursing Home. I drove up Morton Hill Road to the intersection with Russell Brook Road and turned left to go down Russell Brook Road to the lower parking area. There were no cars in the lot when we parked at about 10:00 AM so I grabbed tools and pack and we headed down to the area of the bridge across Russell Brook. As we crossed the bridge I could see the knotweed had grown out Ito the trail and that the path to the falls was almost overgrown. I dropped my pack and tools and took out the camera to get some "before" pictures. I started by taking the machete to some of the knotweed near the path to the falls. It worked better than I had hoped. The machete easily cut through the knotweed and all the other grasses and weeds around. I cut some and stacked some until I had cut out most of the path and a good part of the main trail. I decided to walk to the beginning of the stand of knotweed and cut from there. I could hear cars on the road and assumed it was Lisa and Beth since was just past the time they were to arrive. Sheila stayed near but was very careful o stay away from the swinging machete. I continued to work and soon Beth and Lisa came walking down the trail. They began working with their loppers and I continued with the machete. After a little bit, I started to move the piles of what I had cut throwing them into the weeds on the other side of the trail. I tried using the grass whip on some of the grass on the path to the falls but found the machete much more efficient. Lisa brought a rake to clear some of the cuttings we had left behind. By 11:40 AM we were finished and started to pick up to walk back to the cars. An older couple walked by and complimented the work we had done. Lisa needed to get back to her shop but I wanted to do a little hiking and Beth agreed to go with me. I stowed my tools and got out my poles. After setting my GPS watch and GPS unit, Beth and I started down Russell Brook Road to do a hike around Mud pond and back to the parking which I estimated was just less than 5 miles.

picture taken during a hike We planned to walk down Russell Brook Road to see if we could get to the lower trailhead and then pick up the trail to Mud Pond from there. The road has been devastated by several floods and is closed just passed the main parking area where the state has placed some large boulders. Just passed this roadblock there is the first of several deep cuts across the road caused by the erosion of water running off the ridge on the left. We walked through the first and then another larger cut. Sheila was happily running down to the stream to get wet and then coming back up to the trail to shower us. We soon came to a spot where the road had been completely eroded by the stream. We tried walking along the bank but it was too steep and slippery so we started to pick our way across the rooks in the stream as the water was low enough to allow this. We slipped a little in places but were soon back on the "road". Since very few people hike this route it is very overgrown with weeds and brush and has a few major blowdowns. At 1.4 miles we were able to cross the stream on a few stepping stones since the water level was so low. In another .2 miles we crossed under the power lines and turned right on the trail. I was surprised to find what looked like a new sign at this "trailhead". Lisa had asked us to look for giant hogweed as someone had reported it along Russell Brook but we had not found any. The trail begins with a short but somewhat steep ascent but then levels off some as it passes by a beaver pond. The trail needs maintenance as the weeds are high and the trail markers very scarce in areas. There were quite a few nettles along most of the trail and Beth was wearing shorts. The trail was pretty wet and everything was damp from the rain and humidity so the insects were out. I finally gave up and stopped to apply some insect repellant. We passed by the beaver pond which was very low and stagnant. The trail remained level as it followed the base of a ridge until about 2.2 miles where it began to climb. The ascent went on for .6 miles and gained 420 feet. The trail was parallel to the stream that flows out of Mud Pond. As we neared the top of the hill we could see Mud Pond through the trees and I was watching for the path that leads to the outlet end of the pond. Somehow I missed the path and we simply continued on the main trail and soon the hiking trail turned right while a snowmobile trail went off to the left. We continued on the trail which was now following an old woods road passing the left turn to the trail around Trout Pond at 3.6 miles. We walked up the short hill and then started down the other side. By the time we were at the trail register box we had "lost" the elevation we had gained walking up the hill to Mud Pond. I decided not to go to the falls as there was so little water in the stream. It was a short walk out to the parking area. We were back at the car by 2:00 PM having hiked 4.6 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes with an elevation gain of 735 feet.

map icon GPSies - Long Pond (Big Loop road first) AllTrails - Long Pond (Big Loop road first) Gmap4 - Long Pond (Big Loop road first) MapMyHike - Long Pond (Big Loop road first) On Wednesday, July 6th, I had planned to hike with Lisa at Long Pond. Lisa was meeting me at my house so that we could ride together to Long Pond. The ambulance pager went off at 8:55 AM and I called Lisa to notify her before responding on the call. Due tog the nature of the call, I was back at home by 9:45. I called Lisa but got no answer and assumed she was out hiking. I decided to take Sheila and do the hike at Long Pond. Sheila was ready to go as we left the house a little after 10:00 AM. The temperature was in the 70's and the humidity stemmed high as I drove out DeVruce Road to Willowemoc. I tuned left on Flugertown Road and drove a short distance to the parking area on the right. When I pulled into the lot at 10:20 Am, we were the only hikers. We got right to hiking by walking out to Flugertown Road and turning right to hike in the direction opposite to the one I normally take. I put Sheila on her leash since there always seems to be some traffic on this back road. The first part of the hike is virtually flat but then starts to climb very gently for some distance. The final descent back to the parking area is the steepest part the of the hike. 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 . 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. I did see one illegal campsite right next to the stream but there were no people present nor was there a vehicle in the area. 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. It was 11:05 Am and we had covered 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 I increased my effort to keep up the pace. The skies were blue with some clouds and it was definitely warmer than when we had left the car. Soon we were approaching the point were we would turn right onto the trail back to Long Pond. We made the right turn and sacred to hike back on the snowmobile trail. Parts of the trail were very 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 11:40 AM about 4.1 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. As we hiked the final leg of the trail I began to notice hundreds of miniature frogs or toads covering the trail especially in the damper spots. I have seen this before at Long Pond but cannot recall it anywhere else. The last part of the hike went quickly as we descended the hill back to the parking area. We were back at the car by 12:15 PM having covered 5.8 miles in just under 2 hours with a 530 foot elevation gain.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Dover Stone Church: All Trails AllTrails - Dover Stone Church: All Trails Gmap4 - Dover Stone Church: All Trails MapMyHike - Dover Stone Church: All Trails On Tuesday, July 5th I asked Cindy if she would like to go to the Dover Stone Church which our son Kurt had highly recommended. This is a grotto or cave near Dover Plains that was formed as Stone Church Brook wore through the bedrock in the area to form a 30 foot waterfall inside a cavern. New hiking trails had recently been added and I thought it might be nice to visit even though it is about a 2 hour drive from home. Cindy said "Yes" so I planned our route and read a little more about the area. A good description of the history of the area can be found here. The weather forecast included showers for the night perhaps extending into the morning so we were not in a hurry to leave. The forecast for Dover Plains was for clearing around noon so we left Livingston Manor a little after 9:30 AM with an eager Sheila in the back seat. The route I planned was through Ellenville and then over Route 44/55 to New Paltz. We made pretty good time on these secondary roads with a few slow cars and some road construction. From New Paltz we headed over the Mid Hudson Bridge through Poughkeepsie and then followed Route 44 before taking some even smaller back roads into Dover Plains. We parked at the Dover Plains Elementary School as suggested on several websites as there is no parking at the entrance to the Dover Stone Church area. We arrived at 11:50 Am and found plenty of parking at the school. When we arrived it was already in the high 70's and the humidity seemed to be at least 75%. We walked out to Route 22, turned right and walked north about 250 feet to a yellow on blue historical sign. We turned left here and walked up a private, gravel driveway. At the top we found the sign for the beginning of the Dover Stone Church area. The Shape of the sign reflected the shape of the opening of the Dover Stone Church grotto! What lay before us was a beautiful lane or walkway lined with maple trees. There were stone steps at either end. We walked down the steps and continued to the other end of the lane to climb the other steps. A short path led us to a sign and kiosk that explained the historical significance of the area and showed a map of the trails. We began to follow the trail along The Stone Church Brook and it was obvious that the trail was well used. As we approached a bridge over the brook a group of hikers approached with an unleashed dog. Fortunately they quickly controlled their pet and we passed each other without incident. They were the only people we saw for the rest of the day. Just after the bridge, there was a sign directing us to the red, blue or yellow trails. Strangely, there was no sign for the Stone Church but I knew it had to be straight ahead along the creek. We began to work our way along the rocks beside the creek which were all wet and slippery from the rain, humidity and water from the brook. In a very short distance we could see the opening to the grotto. I stopped to take a few pictures of the creek and of the opening. The sky had cleared and the sun was little bright to get good shots. We continued to walk along the side of the creek on the stones and entered the grotto where it was very dark. I worked my way around inside and finally found a high spot to place my pack and get out the camera. I took quite a few shots but knew this was one of those places you really have to see in person. The volume of the creek was very low which made it easy to get into the grotto but made the waterfall pretty tame. I thought about returning with water shoes when the volume in the creek was greater! I grabbed my pack and exited the grotto stopping outside to take a few last pictures. We walked back along the slippery rocks to the trail signs and turned right to begin walking the new trails. My intent was to cover all the trails and I thought I had a good plan to do so.

picture taken during a hike All of the trails start out together and begin to climb. The blue trail is the Overlook Point Trail and I knew we would tackle that first. It is marked as 1.75 miles out and back. The elevation at the parking lot was about 400 feet so I knew that any elevation gain could produce a viewpoint. As we climbed the heat and humidity combined to make the ascent seem oppressive. The trail followed a woods road until the very last portion which was a trail cut through the woods and along the edge of an escarpment. The trail headed south before looping southwest and then north with a final turn to the south. After .7 miles on this trail we had gained about 420 feet and were at the lookout. The trail seemed to end at a point where the view was limited. Some unmarked paths led to a rock ledge that was lower but offered a less obstructed view. I took some pictures and thought about how nice this would be in the fall. Cindy said that she was thinking the same things. We got a drink and a snack and headed back at 12:55 PM. We followed the Blue trail back to the upper junction with the yellow Upper Loop Trail and turned right at 1.95 miles to hike this trail. The trail rolled a little as it dropped and then climbed to the top of a little hill. At 2.2 miles there was a partial viewpoint and then the trail began to drop back down to meet they blue trail. The walk was pleasant and descending seemed cooler. At 2.5 miles we were back at the point where all the trails came together. We continued straight ahead to walk the red trail which was marked as the Lower Loop Trail. The first part of this trail passed through some open areas with lots of weeds that needed to be trimmed. It was obvious that the main attraction was the Stone Church with the Overlook Trail a distant second. The Upper and Lower loop trails eked hardly used. We followed the red trail as it headed south ascended a few small hills. At 2.9 miles it made an almost 180 degree turn and headed back to the north. Soon we were back at the trail junction where we headed back down to the brook. We followed the trail back out to the kiosk and then to the lane lined with maples. This area was so pretty IU stopped to take a few pictures before packing up and heading back t the car. We were back at the car at 2:30 PM after hiking about 3.7 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes. The elevation gain was about 830 feet. The temperature was now in the high 80's and the humidity was even higher! The Stone Church was well worth a visit but for those driving long distance I would suggest a visit to another attraction like Ferncliff Forest near Rhinebeck since both hikes are short.

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) Gmap4 - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) MapMyHike - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) On Monday, July 4th I had planned to hike Eagle and Balsam as I have decided to do some of the Catskill 3500's this summer. An early morning ambulance call left me feeling less than fit for that expedition so Cindy and I decided to go for a more local hike. She mentioned she had never hiked east from Big Pond To Alder Lake so I agreed to that hike although I had done it several times recently. We thought this was a good choice since we knew areas like Little Pond and Alder Lake would be packed on the Fourth of July! We got a late start leaving home a little after 10:00 AM with an "as always" excited Sheila in the back seat. I headed out of town on Old Rt 17 and then turned north on the Beaverkill Road and headed toward Lew Beach. I drove through the hamlet of Lew Beach and continued on to Turnwood. As the Beaverkill Road made a turn to the right, I continued straight ahead on Barkaboom Road toward Big Pond. After less than a mile, I turned right into the upper parking area for Big Pond and found cars already parked along the edge of the access road. When I drove up to the parking area, there were a lot of cars but there were also a few empty spaces. It looked like everyone was camped at the primitive camping sites along the pond or back in the woods. The temperature was already in the high 60's and the humidity was high as we started out on the trail toward Alder Lake. We had to pull off the trail several times to let campers who were leaving get by. It seemed they had a LOT of gear for being so close to the parking area! Although the trail has several ups and downs, it is sited so that it travels around the higher ridges in the area and sticks to the lower spots on the shoulders of those ridges. Just after the start of the hike, we began to ascend along a woods road where there were a few blowdowns that would have to be cleared on another day. We continued to walk uphill through a pine forest. The trail had been worked on the previous fall after years of neglect and was in good shape and well-marked. I was surprised that in the month since I last hiked the trail that the nettles and briars were starting to seriously encroach on the trail. It is difficult to keep up with the vegetation especially in the late spring and early summer and I am not sure if there is a volunteer maintainer assigned to this section of trail. It reminded me that I needed to check my section of trail from Big Pind to Beech Hill and be prepared to do some work! There were a few large blowdowns that were easily avoided or easy to climb over. We passed through a more open area where many of the trees were dead from previous years when the tent caterpillars and gypsy moths destroyed many trees. In this area which was exposed to the sun the trail was even more clogged with vegetation. We also walked through some wet spots which surprised me since the rest of the trail was so dry. Some well placed stepping stones helped in these areas. At about a mile we began to descend on another woods road to an area that was once a small pond but is now mostly wetlands. Along the way I pointed out to Cindy the many stonewalls and a few foundations in the area. At 1.75 miles we were at the small stream bed that connects two different wetland areas. In April the stream had enough water to produce small waterfalls but now it was completely dry!

picture taken during a hike We crossed the stream bed and began to ascend to the shoulder of another ridge from the low wetlands. At 2.2 miles the trail turned right heading east toward Alder Lake. Shortly after that we began to descend for .6 miles to Alder Creek.There was some water in Alder Creek but much less than in April. Sheila got a drink and found one deep pool where she could cool off. We crossed Alder Creek Road and began to walk up the access road to Alder Lake. Along the way a convoy of cars started up the road traveling a little too fast and bottoming out several times. We continued toward the lake on the access road and arrived at the parking area at 12:10 PM. The parking lot was full of cars with some parking along the access road leaving little room for the cars parked in the lot to get out. We decided to hike down toward the lake to take some pictures and to see how the construction was coming along. We hiked down to the "lawn" in front of the remains of the Coykendall Mansion and found the same pile of wood spoiling the view. The picnic tables were out but the grass was not mowed. I spoke personally to the forester for Region 3 who seemed to indicate that the mess would be cleared up once the construction on the dam was finished. The chain link fence surrounding two excavators and a truck working on the dam was still there. The dam had always looked pretty sturdy and secure but the Region 3 forester indicated that it was not up to code and had been undermined in several areas. The water level in the lake was low more due to the dry weather than the dam work. Several groups of people were down by the shore. It was not clear if there was a path over the dam so hiking a loop of the lake could be a problem and easy access the campsites on the southern shore could be in jeopardy. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take a few shots before heading back up to the parking area. We continued through the parking area and back down the access road toward Alder Creek Road. We crossed the road and entered the trail. I had kept Sheila on her leash until we crossed Alder Creek Road and the stream. I let her off the leash and she spent a few moments playing in the water. At 4.6 miles we followed the trail as it turned left and began to descend to the wetlands area. We stopped at the dry stream bed at 5 miles to get a drink and a snack. We began to ascend the woods road keeping a good pace and negotiating the few very muddy areas. The trip back seemed to be going fast but the few uphill areas slowed Cindy down a little. At 5.7 miles we followed the trail as it turned to head west toward Big Pond and started our descent. We walked through the pine forest and followed the woods road down toward the pond. We could hear people at the primitive campsites and at the lake. We arrived at the parking area at 1:55 PM to find far fewer cars than when we had parked. We had covered 6.7 miles in 3.5 hours with a total elevation gain of 1530 feet.

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 Friday, July 1st our grandson Bryce was at our house for a few hours. Cindy and I decided to take him to Huggins Lake to hike since it is close and about 4 miles round trip. It is also NOT Frick Pond where we had hiked with him several times! I got my gear in the car along with Sheila who seemed thrilled to be going out. Cindy and Bryce got in the car and I drove out Old Route 17 heading toward Roscoe and turning right on the Beaverkill Road. I took the Campsite Road down toward the Beaverkill Covered Bridge. Since this bridge was closed for repairs, I turned left onto Craige Claire Road and crossed the Beaverkill on the steel bridge. I turned right onto Berry Brook Road to head for the parking area at Huggins Lake. As we drove along Berry Brook Road, we could see the brook was low but had increased in volume some in recent days.We continued on the road toward the parking area for Huggins Lake area where I turned right onto the access road to the parking area. There were no cars in the lot when we parked at 10:05 AM. It took me a while to get my electronics set and Cindy and Bryce began the hike up the woods road that is the "trail" to Huggins Lake. The sky was overcast with some sun shining through and a slight breeze with temperatures in the mid 60's. The trail is not marked on any map but there is a trail register at the start by a gate that blocks the road. I watched this time to see if I could spot any blazes as I hiked quickly to catch up. There were no blazes of any kind to indicate that the road is a hiking or snowmobile trail. The DEC has maintained the trail but I do not know to what end. I do know that I always think of this as an easy hike and am always surprised that the first part is all uphill. Over the first 1.25 miles the elevation gain is about 625 feet. This averages under a 10% grade but it seems like more. It didn't take too long before I caught up with Cindy and Bryce and we started talking about what we were seeing. The key to keeping Bryce happy is to keep him busy and we pointed out some red efts that were sprinkled along the trail. Sheila seemed happy to be out and she stayed near us as we climbed the hill. Along the way we cleared a few branches from the trail. There was one larger blowdown that did not impede our walk but should be cleared for the trail. At the top of the hill we began to walk along some high ground that looks down on Huggins Lake. In the summer, the lake is not clearly visible as the leaves hide it.

picture taken during a hike After the top of the hill, the trail descends gentle at first until at 1.7 miles it turns sharply left and drops a little more steeply to the shore of the lake. When we arrived at the lake, we could see that the water level was high and I suspected we would find that the beavers had dammed up the outlet. I dropped my pack and took some pictures since there was some blue sky and puffy white clouds. I also snapped some shots of the dam the beavers had thrown up at the outlet which was preventing the water from draining properly. I looked for signs of a lodge but did not see one anywhere. I had tried to keep Sheila out of the water but she managed to take a swim coming out smelling less than fresh. I picked up my pack and headed back to the beginning of the climb where Cindy and Bryce were enjoying a snack. 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. We started playing a game naming animals with Bryce so he would forget about being a little tired and the hike went quickly. Since the downhill part of the hike is rather gentle and the road is well-maintained, we could maintain a pretty fast pace down. We again spotted some efts on the way back and identified some birds from their call. As we approached the register and gate two other hikers were standing around. I thought about asking them if they needed help but they seemed very busy looking at a cell phone! We were back at the car at 12:00 PM after hiking 3.9 miles in 1 hour and 50 minutes with a total elevation gain of 955 feet. As we left the parking area, I turned left on Berry Brook Road and headed back to Livingston Manor through Roscoe.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Alder Lake to Millbrook Ridge alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, June 29th I wanted to get out on a beautiful summer day to hike somewhere! I had again thought about going to Indian head and Twin but got GP a little too late to make that trip. I decided to hike nearer to home and chose to go to Alder lake to hike Millbrook Ridge to the Beecher Lake lookout. We left Livingston Manor sometime after 10:30 AM and drove up the Beaverkill Road through Lew Beach and Turnwood. I turned left on Alder Creek Road and drove to the end where turned right onto the access road to Alder Lake. The road was very rough but soon we were at the parking lot where there was only one car present. I parked at got Sheila out of the car. After setting up all my electronic gear, we headed out toward the lake. The construction crew that was "fixing" the dam was wiring and they did seem to be making progress. I did want to ask someone what they were doing but they seemed pretty busy. I had Sheila on her leash as we walked down the left side of the lawn to get on the trail on the north side of the lake. I was AGAIN disappointed to see that no maintenance had been done by the DEC! The "lawn" had not been mowed and it was hard to see the picnic tables through the long grass. The logs that the DEC had cleared from the stream below the spillway were still in a ragged pile on the lawn. What was once a beautiful place to come and enjoy an equally beautiful view was now a shambles. I don't know what the DEC "plan" for the area may be but it appears they have abandoned this very popular spot. As we walked along the trail on the northern side of the lake, we could hear someone at a campsite to our right. There were two men setting up a site and they seemed to behaving a good time. We continued walking along the trail until we came to the bridges across two small streams that run into the lake. I looked at the plants growing there and immediately called Sheila back to me. There were some very tall plants that looked a little like Queen Anne's lace but much taller and with very large leaves. I was pretty sure they were giant hog weed! This plant produces a sap that burns the skin badly when exposed to light! I tool some pictures and then had Sheila follow directly behind me as we worked our way to the other side of the bridges. I was hoping we would not see any more examples of this plant and we didn't. I thought we might return by walking round the lake in the opposite direction butt then realized we might not be able to cross the dam and would have to return the same way. The trail was damp in most places from the rain the night before which I knew might be a problem on the steeper parts of the trail later in the hike. At .8 miles we turned left onto the Millbrook Ridge Trail that ends on Balsam Lake Mountain. The temperature was perfect at about 63 degrees and there was plenty of sun with a slight breeze. The sky was blue with a lot of puffy white clouds. As we hiked up the trail, I noticed a few large blowdowns where someone had cut branches off to easy passage but had left the major part of the tree in the trail. I made a note that I might want to bring one of my axes to work on these next time!

picture taken during a hike Over the next 1.4 miles we gained about 530 feet as we walked on the trail which parallels the brook. We could hear the brook at times and a visual inspection showed more water in the stream than there had been for some time. The trail was wet and slippery in spots especially on the slanted rocks. Everything was very green given the season and the recent rain. We passed by the first beaver meadow and I didn't want to stop as the hike was rat5her long. Around 2.2 miles the trail leveled off as we approached the lean-to. We walked passed the spur trail to the lean-to and continued on the main trail toward the next beaver meadow. I decided that we would stop on the way back if I wanted to do so. The trail began to gain some elevation as we climbed toward Millbrook Ridge which is on the Catskill Highest Hundred list. We passed by some huge and interesting boulders and glacial erratics. The layers in the sedimentary rock were very clear. It was interesting that many of these rocks had trees growing on top of them in only and few inches of soil. At one point I though we had reached the final climb but I was mistaken. We had not hiked this trail in some time and the distance and the amount of elevation gain were greater than I remembered. The rocks were still damp and since this part of the trail is less used the moss made them extra slippery. At 11:55 AM we hit the highest point on the trail after hiking 3.5 miles. We continued on the trail as it began to descend off the ridge. Over the next .6 miles the trail dipped about 360 feet before again climbing toward the lookout. Rather than continuing directly east along the edge of the ridge the trail heads north and then loops around to the viewpoint. This reminds me a lot of hiking Dry Brook Ridge. After hiking 4.5 miles we arrived at the viewpoint at 12:30 PM.

picture taken during a hike I took off my pack and got out the camera. I had to stand on the rock at the lookout to get any view of Beecher Lake. Like ,many viewpoints in the Catskills, this one has been blocked as trees below grow taller. I did take a few shots of the lake and the white clouds in the sky. I also snapped two pictures of Sheila sitting on the rock. I got a drink, gave Sheila one and got out a bar for a snack as I packed up to start back. On the way back I was making good time but had to slow down on several of the descents due to the slippery conditions. The climb back up to the high point on Millbrook Ridge seemed long but I was surprised that I was able to keep a good pace. I took a few pictures along the way of some of the rocks. We also stopped at several of the beaver meadows including the one by the lean-to. Once we were at the lean-to the remaining part of the hike seemed to go very quickly and by 2:45 PM we had hiked 8.3 miles back t the loop trail around the lake. We turned right and followed the trail back through the giant hog weed. I did walk out one of the paths to the edge of the lake to take a few shots of the lake and Cradle Rock Ridge on the south shore of the lake. As I stepped out to the lake shore, I saw a mature, male bald eagle takeoff and begin to circle the lake. The the time I got the camera focused, he was too far away to get a good picture. I did take a few pictures of red-wing blackbird that was hopping around on the mud flats. After the photography session, we walked back to the main trail and continued to the parking area. We had covered 9.1 miles in 5 hours with a 2070 foot elevation gain. I am still experimenting with my Suunto Traverse GPS watch especially when it comes to the accuracy setting which effects battery life. I had set the watch for 1 minute recording intervals on the way out. When we arrived at the viewpoint readings I got disagreed with my Garmin unit and I suspected that the recording interval was not able to able the winding trail. I set the watch for 1 second intervals and the results were dramatically different. When I transferred the track to my computer is was obvious the 1 minute interval was "smoothing" the turns in the trail too much as was shortening the route. I will continue to experiment with this very interesting watch.

map icon GPSies - Frick and Hodge Ponds (Flynn and Big Rock Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, June 27th Bryce was at our house for the day so Cindy and I decided we should go for a hike rather than sit in front of the TV or computers all day! When our grandson Bryce arrived early we asked him if he would like to go for a hike. His enthusiastic "Yes!" convinced me that we all should go to Frick Pond and hike up the Flynn Trail and down the Big Rock Trail. At Times Square we could hike the Logger's Loop back to the Quick Lake trail and the parking area. Sheila was ready to go at any time and Cindy got herself dressed and we left Livingston Manor at 10:00 AM. After driving out the DeBruce Road and up the Mongaup Pond Road we arrived at the Frick pond trailhead parking area at 10:15 AM and got ready to hike. A couple of friends approached us from the area of the cabin and I hoped they had permission to hike through the private property. They also had an unruly dog with them so I put my unruly dog on her leash! We crossed the road and started out by hiking up the Flynn Trail toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. The day was warm with temperatures in the mid-70's and a little humid with a slight breeze blowing. We allowed Bryce to set the pace and he did a good job. Hiking with a five year old Bryce is almost like hiking with another adult. Bryce notices everything and has lots of questions but also contributes to the discussion. At one point he showed us a tree that he thought was a paper birch and explained his reasoning. He was absolutely correct. We came across some coyote scat which he correctly identified and then made a series howls and yelps that made Sheila turn her head. When Bryce gives Sheila commands, he uses a voice that makes her listen to his command most of the time. As we walked up the long ascent, we did begin to hear some comments like "When will we be there?" We told Bryce it was a little longer and then distracted him until we had hiked the 1.7 miles to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. It was 11:15 AM and we stopped to get a drink, have a snack and take a few pictures.

We turned left on the Big Rock Trail and began the descent to Times Square. We all liked the descent and we found that Bryce stopped frequently to clear branches from the trail. We talked and walked so that I hardly knew where we were or how long it was taking. At 11:45 AM we arrived at Times Square after hiking 2.9 miles. We continue straight ahead on the Big Rock trail to walk around the back of Frick pond on the wooden walkways. We had covered this part of the trail on our Father's Day hike and Bryce really liked it. As we walked toward the boardwalks, the trail was relatively dry. We stopped at the first two bridges to look for fish swimming in the streams and saw a few. Tend to gather under the bridge and swim out when someone hikes over the water. We continued our walk through the evergreen forest and turned left on the Quick Lake Trail when the Big Rock Trail ended. We stopped briefly at the bridge over the outlet to Frick Pond to get a drink and a snack. I decided not to take pictures as there was nothing remarkable about the scene on this day. We walked up the hill and through Gravestone Junction. Bryce was doing pretty well and we told him to watch for the trail register box. He found the box and we turned right to follow the Quick Lake Trail back to the parking lot and the car. We did pass a couple headed out to Frick Pond with a small but aggressive dog! We were back at the car at 12:20 PM after hiking 4 miles and gaining just under 700 feet. I wasn't sure I would like the Suunto Traverse GPS watch but it is quickly becoming a favorite! It is very convenient to have it on my wrist and it provides a LOT of information. I just have to remember to set the time between readings to 5 seconds or 1 minute from the default 1 second. The default Setting makes it very accurate but uses up the battery quickly.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Graham and Balsam Lake AllTrails -Graham and Balsam Lake Gmap4 -Graham and Balsam Lake MapMyHike -Graham and Balsam Lake On Friday, June 24th, I wanted to do a challenging hike close to home. I had planned to go north to do Indian Head and Twin but just couldn't bring myself to drive that far to hike alone. I need to get motivated again! I decided than the 8+ miles to Graham Graham Mountain is on private property. Make sure you call the caretaker to get permission before hiking. and Balsam Lake would have to do. I had to go to Liberty before the hike so I put my gear and Sheila in the car and rove to Liberty. After I completed my business, I headed back to Livingston Manor and start out Old Route 17 at just after 9:30 AM. I turned right and headed up the Beaverkill Road. It wasn't long before I got behind a slow moving truck and trailer and I kept wishing they would pull over. The truck soon turned into one of the roads that goes to a hunting camp and I made better time. The drive always seems so long and the tire area including the near side of Balsam Lake Mountain are in our ambulance district! There was only one car in the lot when I parked and I got all my gear ready to hike. I had along my new Suunto Traverse watch and made sure to set it correctly although I did not set the altitude. I put Sheila on her leash and got right on the trail by 10:20 AM. The temperature was already warmer than I expected and was pushing 7 degrees. Sheila and I didn't hurry but we kept a good pace making the first trail junction in about 20 minutes. We continued straight ahead on the trail toward the Millbrook trailhead. I was surprised to see that the trail had not been maintained in some time with branches, briars and nettles encroaching in some places. We kept our pace but I did not remember that the mile of trail between the two trail junctions gains over 400 feet of elevation. It was warm and but not too humid and I regretted not wearing short-sleeved shirt. As we hiked Sheila ran ahead and started into the woods to chase birds and chipmunks. The sky was very blue with puffy white cuds and I was happy to be out. By 11:10 AM we were at the second junction with the trail up Balsam Lake Mountain. We had hiked 1.8 miles and gained 720 feet! We continued on the woods road toward her path to Graham Mountain. We walled another .25 miles and turned right onto what has become a very obvious path.

picture taken during a hike The herd path has become more of a trail over the years and it even seems that someone is clearing some of the blowdowns, nettles and briars along the way. I meant to ask the caretaker about this but forgot. When we reached the herd path, it was in good shape but there were some nettles and briars encroaching on it as well as some additional blowdowns along the way. I hope no one clears these unless they get permission to do so! For the first 1.15 miles the heard path heads almost due east and is flat or even descends some. It is rocky in places and has some blowdowns which are easily walked around. At 3.2 miles into the hike we reached the base of the final climb up Graham as the herd path heads a little more toward the southeast. The distance to the summit from here is only .8 miles but gains 600 feet in elevation. There are a few switchbacks along the way which help make the grade only 15%. By 12:10 PM we had hiked the 4 miles to the summit. I dropped my pack to get a drink and a protein bar. I also took out the camera to take a few pictures. The views are now mostly blocked by the vegetation but I took some pictures of the ruins at the top. Someone decided to dismantle part of the old radio station at the top! There is no reason to do this especially since it is on private property. After a few minutes, I could hear people, on the other side of the building but they did not come around to say "hello" and I didn't want to see what they might be doing. Their dog did amble around to visit us and fortunately it was friendly as the owners did not seem the least bit concerned! There was still a lot of haze in the air so we didn't stay long but headed back down the mountain. When we got to the lookout to the north, I decided not to stop as it is now completely block by trees. The trip down seemed to go fast and by 1:25 PM we had hiked 6.1 miles and were back at the junction with the trail that heads up to the fire tower. I decided we would extend our hike a little so we turned right and started the ascent to the tower. On the last part of the climb up Graham my legs seemed to be tired so I wondered how they would feel climbing another mountain!

picture taken during a hike Since the trail junction is already more than 400 feet above the lower trail junction, there is less climbing to do than if yon start at the trailhead. Sheila and I kept hiking and I was surprised at the pace we were able to maintain and that my legs felt fine. Soon I could hear some noise from the area of the tower. There were half a dozen hikers at the top sitting or standing around talking. We said "Hello" and I leashed Sheila to a tree so she would not bother anybody and got her a drink. I also got a drink before climbing the tower. I grabbed my camera from my pack and headed up the tower to the landing just below the cab. I took some pictures from the upper landing and then dropped down to a lower landing to take a few more. Once on the ground I spent a few minutes talking to the group of hikers who were from Sound Beach on the north fork of Long Island. After a nice conversation, I said "Goodbye" and Sheila and I started down the steep side on the mountain. The first section wasn't too bad and at one point Sheila took off to chase some grouse which seem very plentiful this year. At 7.1 miles we started the steeper descent passed the spring and Sheila got a drink at the spring. We continued down . The hike down to the trail junction was only about .5 miles but the loss in elevation is almost 700 feet among for an average grade of over 25%! The trail was damp near the spring but was dry most of the rest of the way making slipping a real problem. Once back on the main trail we turned right and headed back to the car. We were back at the car at 3:00 PM having hiked 8.7 miles in 4 hours and 35 minutes with a stop at the top of Graham and at the fire tower. The vertical gain was 2223 feet. I was surprised that the detour to Balsam Lake Mountain had only lengthen the trip by about .6 miles. It did increase the ascending by over 500 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Wednesday, June 22nd, I had planned to go to Frick Pond with Lisa to do some light trail maintenance including lopping a few branches and removing one blowdown. We frequently do this kind of work but we were especially interested in making sure everything was well-maintained for the events of June 30. On that day Governor Andrew Cuomo has challenged legislators and staff members to do something in the Catskills. There are several voices including paddling on the reservoirs, trail running and mountain biking. One choice is hiking through the Mongaup Pond Campgrounds and around Frick Pond. Lisa was coming to the house at 9:30 AM and Cindy decided she wanted to go also. When Lisa arrived we got in Cindy car and headed out the DeBruce Road to Frick Pond. We parked at the trail head and I got all my electronics ready! In addition to my GPS unit I use my cell phone with the Avenza app and on this day I was trying out my new Suunto Traverse GPS watch. The watch has a lot of features and I have made myself a promise that I will get to know them unlike my GPS unit and camera. started our hike by walking out the Quick Lake Trail to the woods road that heads out to Frick Pond. Lisa had a pair of loppers and I had my Silky saw. As we walked we trimmed a few branches, removed others from the trail and moved a few rocks. We crossed the bridge across the outlet of Frick Pond and noted the extremely low water levels. At the next trail junction with the Big Rock Trail our intent was to follow the Big Rock Trail around the pond but I wanted to clear a blowdown further along on the Quick lake Trail. We headed to the left to stay on the Quick Lake trail and walked thought the "spruce tunnel". W crossed the small stream in the woods and passed through a small filed where we found the blowdown on the other side of the field. I used my Silky saw to section the tree into pieces that were easy to move off the trail. Of course, I took before and after pictures to document our efforts. We turned around and walked back to the junction with the Big Rock Trail where we turned left to continue around the pond.

picture taken during a hike As we walked the trail there wasn't very much to trim. The wooden walkways were in good shape. I did stop to take a few shots of the upper end of the Frick Pond wetlands and of a few small trout in the water. As we continued toward Times Square, we found a small tree fallen by the side of the trail. Not much of the tree was blocking the trail but I decided the dead leaves were aesthetically unpleasing. Cindy and Lisa had walked ahead so I worked on the blowdown by myself. I sectioned it and removed the pieces to clear it completely. I repacked my gear after takings few shots and then walked to Times Square where the other two were waiting. We elected to continue around the pond on the Logger's Loop rather than climb the Big Rock Trail. The Logger's Loop was recently mowed by the DEC and there was very little trimming to do. As we approached Gravestone Junction There was a nice view of the blue sky with the puffy cuds I had been looking for so I stopped to take a few pictures. We, continued on to the Quick lake Trail and turned left to walk back to the parking area. On the way back we did meet a couple who are just hiking out to the pond and I felt good that our work meant they could have a nice hike. The Suunto Traverse worked well except for my blunder when I paused it at one point in the hike. I was easily able to download the information to the Suunto website and to then export it to a GPX file for my computer.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Hunter (Spruceton) AllTrails - Hunter (Spruceton) CalTopo - Hunter (Spruceton) Gmap4 - Hunter (Spruceton) MapMyHike - Hunter (Spruceton) On Tuesday, June 21stI wanted to do a 3500 foot peak and had decided early in the week that I would do Indian Head and Twin. I got a text from Lisa asking if I had time for a hike and I told her my plans. To my surprise she said she would be at my house at 8:00 AM the next morning. I was excited since I knew it would be nice to have someone else along. I awoke early the next day and soon got a text from Lisa indicating she was bowing out. I was very disappointed as I had planned on the hike but deiced that I would go anyway. Before I left the house, I decided that I would change my plans to hike Hunter from Spruceton mostly because it was closer and I had an afternoon commitment. I had hiked Slide the week before and all had gone well so I thought I would have no problems with the hike from Spruceton which is a well-maintained hiking and horse trail. I left Livingston Manor a little before 8:00 Am with a fully charged Sheila in the back seat. I had decided to wear light summer clothing despite the fact that the temperature was only in the high 50's when I left the house. I headed out DeBruce Road and turned left on Route 47 to head toward Big Indian and Route 28. There were no cars at the Biscuit Brook parking area and only one or two at Slide and Panther Mountain. I had to keep reminding myself it was only Tuesday! As I came to Route 28 in Big Indian, there was a sign indicated that Route 28 was closed and the detour was straight ahead. This was not a problem as this road connects to Route 42 north from Shandaken which is where I needed to be anyway. After driving to the end of the road, I turned left on Route 42 toward Lexington and immediately ran into bridge construction on this road. After a brief delay, I continued north on Route 42 to Spruceton where I turned right on the Spruceton Road. There were signs for some ditch cleaning and mowing on this road! We arrived at the parking area on the left at about 9:15 AM and immediately got on the trail to hike. There were no other cars in the lot and the temperature was still cool. Sheila and I left the parking area and I made up my mind to keep a constant but not necessarily fast pace. There was some water in the brook which made the hike pleasant. The trail showed some grooming and maintenance by machine including water bars and some crushed stone in places. 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.

picture taken during a hike The sun was out and the temperature was beginning to rise as we hiked up the trail. I was watching for some views of Westkill to the right but they were all blocked by the leaves on 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 10:00 AM after hiking 1.7 miles. 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. I kept a good pace which had me sweating and breathing a little more than I had been. The trail continued to be in good shape and I began to think whether or not I would stop at the lean-to on the way up or save it for the way back. We continued to climb and 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 reached the spring at 2.1 miles and Sheila got a drink while I continued up the trail. When we got to the trail to the lean-to, I decided to visit it and turned right to follow the spur trail down through the rocks to the lean-to. There was no one camped in the area and I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The view was as pretty as always although a few big, puffy clouds would have been nice! After taking some shots, I went back and took a few pictures of the trail through the rocks and then returned to my pack. I got us a drink and a snack before picking up the pack and heading back t the main trail. At 10:35 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. As we approached the tower clearing, I could see there was no one at the cabin or on the tower. Sometimes I meet people who have hiked up from Notch Lake or have sued the Becket Hollow Trail to get to the summit. 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 deserted Hunter Mountain Ski Area with the zoom on the camera. 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 lacked the clouds that add 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 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 fast pace down the mountain which would have been faster except for the many small stones strewn on the trail. We passed the spur trail to the lean-to at 11:35 AM. Just after this a mother grouse started the "broken wing dance" and Sheila went crazy chasing her and some chicks. I gave her a few minuets and then called her back so we could continue our hike. We were soon at the left turn where we picked up the pace down the wide woods road. As we approached the brook, Sheila decided to dive in, get out, run around like a maniac and then shale herself of as close to me as she could get. She did this several times. We were back at the parking area at 12:30 PM and there were still no other cars. We had hiked 6.7 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes with an elevation gain of 2000 feet.

Spring 2016

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond: Logger's Loop and Back Trail (clockwise) AllTrails -Frick Pond: Logger's Loop and Back Trail (clockwise) Gmap4 -Frick Pond: Logger's Loop and Back Trail (clockwise) MapMyHike -Frick Pond: Logger's Loop and Back Trail (clockwise) On Sunday, June 19th, I had been told that we were taking a father's Day hike after church. We gathered at the house after church and waited for everyone to arrive. By 2:00 PM everyone was ready and I drove out the DevRuce Road with Karl, Kurt, Bryce and, of course, Sheila. I turned left in DeBruce on the Mongaup Pond Road and then stayed left on Beech Mounatin Road when the road spilt. I parked in the smaller parking where there was only one other car. We started out on the Quick Lake Trail at 2:30 PM. The temperature was in the 80's and I was glad I had chosen a light top and pants! As soon as we made it to the woods road we turned left by the register to walk toward Frick Pond. I kept Bryce busy since otherwise he starts to ask "Are we almost done?" At Gravestone junction we turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and walk down to the bridge at the outlet of Frick Pond. The scene was pretty as always and I took a few shots of the pond from the bridge. Both my sons commented the low level of the pond. I had the rest of the group stand by the bridge and I took a few pictures before we headed out on the Quick Lake Trail. At the next trail junction I stayed left on the Quick Lake Trail and Karl was quick to complain that we would miss the wooden walkways around the back of Frick Pond which is his favorite part of the trail. We continued the way I was going but I made a note that we would return that way from Times Square. We walked the relatively flat part of the trail through the "Spruce Tunnel" and crossed the small stream which was much drier than it had been less than a week before.

picture taken during a hike We walked up hill and at 1.5 miles arrived at Iron Wheel Junction. I told Bryce the name and he immediately spotted the iron wheels that give the junction its name. We turned right on the yellow-blazed Logger's Loop which started to climb a little. Everything was very green but the grass was not very damp. At 1.9 miles the trail started to swing east to start the loop back. At this point the trail is mostly downhill and the walking went more quickly. Along the way we stopped at an area on the ;EDT side of the trail that usually has quite a bit of water forming a small pond. There didn't seem to be much water but a flash of color caught my eye. I walked off the trail to the damp area and found less than a dozen wild irises growing in the area. They were a beautiful purple and I TKO a few shots before walking back out to the main trail. We continued downhill to Times Square where we turned right on the yellow-blazed Big Rock Trail. Bryce was saying he was tired but a little distraction proved he still had some "hike" left in him. We crossed two wooden bridges and watched the small trout in the water below. After that we continued on the main trail under some large evergreen trees and over the remaining walkways. They were dry on this day but when they are shaded and damp they are very slippery! As we got back to the Quick Lake trail we turned left to follow it back to the car. We again crossed the bridge at the outlet to Frick Pond and then continued up the hill. We walked the largely level trail back to Gravestone Junction and then followed the woods road and trail back to the parking area. We had hiked 3.8 miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes which was actually a good pace. The elevation gain was about 415 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Trout Pond: Campbell Brook and Morton Hill Loop AllTrails -Trout Pond: Campbell Brook and Morton Hill Loop Gmap4 -Trout Pond: Campbell Brook and Morton Hill Loop MapMyHike -Trout Pond: Campbell Brook and Morton Hill Loop On Saturday, June 18th, I had planned to hike locally but longer than some of the hikes I had been taking. I decided to hike at Trout Brook but to do a loop that was at least 7 miles long including a walk along Campbell Brook Road and Morton Hill Road. Cindy decided she wanted to go with us so we did some early morning work and then left Livingston Manor just after 10:30 Am to head toward Roscoe on Route 17. Sheila was happy since she was getting used to the increased number of hikes. I got off the Quickies at exit 4 and headed north on Route 206 through Roscoe and across the Rockland Flats.Just after entering Delaware County, I turned left on Morton Hill Road and drove to Russell Brook Road. I turned left here and drive carefully down the dirt road to park at the lower parking area. There were bald a dozen cars already parked when we arrived at 11:00 AM. We were both wearing light, summer hiking gear since the temperature was already in the high 70's and the forecast called for even higher temperatures by the afternoon. We got right on the trail and walked down the woods road to the bridge across Russell Brook below the falls. We both remarked at what a "nice" comeback the Japanese knotted had made considering that a month ago it was dry and lifeless. The plants were very green and very much alive and I took a few shots to confirm this. We could here people at the falls as we hiked up the trail toward Trout Pond passing the register at the trail junction. The trail was dry and in good shape and we kept a fast pace up the trail. As we approached the outlet end of Trout Pond I could see someone in the water and when we arrived I said "Hello" to the young woman. Sheila wanted to make friends but I discouraged her and threw a stick for her to retrieve. I took few pictures of the pond but the sky was missing the puffy white clouds that I like in the background. After a few minutes, we departed and continued toward the lean-tos at the upper end of the pond. The main trail was as dry as it had been lately and we made good time.

picture taken during a hike When we arrived at the lower lean-to, I was surprised to find it unoccupied. We continued to the right of the lean-to and started to ascend the Campbell Brook Trail toward Campbell Brook Road. This trail was obviously less used than the trails round the pond and had a little more ascent than I remembered. Over the next .75 miles we gained 420 feet to the highest point on the hike at 2470 feet which was an average of a 10.5% grade. Near the top of the climb a snowmobile trail heads off to the right but I wanted to make sure we got in over 6 miles so we continued to the left on the Campbell Brook Trail. We immediately began to descend which was easier than the ascent but there were some eroded spots along the trail and a few blowdowns to make it interesting. In the next .75 miles we lost most of the elation we had gained at about the same grade and at 2.9 miles we crossed and recrossed Campbell Brook on two good bridges. We began a slight ascent until we hit Campbell Brook Road at 3.2 miles. We stopped to get a drink and a snack and so that I could stow my poles and put Sheila on her leash for the road walk. As we were getting ready to leave, two young hiker approached from the west on the road and eked about a water fall. We told them it was a little over 3 miles down the trail and they happily set off. As we started walking east on Campbell Brook Road we speculated on where they had parked and how far they planned to walk since they did not have overnight gear. We walked along the road in the shade unit there were no more trees and as we broke out into the sun the difference was noticeable. At 3.7 miles Campbell Brook Road made a left but we continued straight ahead on Morton Hill Road. The road continued to ascend until at 4.1 miles the road turned sharply south and started a long descent. There wasn't much to see along the road although the walk was pleasant. I had hoped to see some herons in one of the ponds but the water level was low and none were present. We contused south on Morton Hill Road until we again entered the shade of the trees and turned right on Russell Brook Road at 6.4 miles. The walk on Russell Brook Road was all downhill and went quickly. I looked at the upper falls and decided that despite the noise there was not enough water to warrant a visit. At 2:00 Pm we were back in the parking lot where a few more cars had been added. We had hiked 7 miles in 2 hours and 55 minutes with an average speed of 2.4 mph and an elevation gain of 1163 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick and Mongaup Ponds Loop AllTrails -Frick and Mongaup Ponds Loop Gmap4 -Frick and Mongaup Ponds Loop MapMyHike -Frick and Mongaup Ponds Loop On Friday, June 17th, I had planned to hike some peaks on the Devil's Path since my hike at Slide Mountain had gone son well. I have been hiking mostly flat hikes and my aerobic capacity is down but my hike on Slide made me want to hike some more 3500 foot peaks! Lisa called me the night before and asked we are happy to I was doing on Friday as she wanted me to check out the trails around Frick Pond. The DEC was supposed to have mowed the Logger's Loop from Gravestone Junction to Times Square and then up the Big Rock Trail and back down the Flynn Trail. This is all in preparation for a visit from some state officials the following weekend. I told her of my plans and she said she would walk it on Sunday. When I got up in the morning, I decided I would go to Frick Pond to check to see if the work had been done and then hike a long loop over and around Mongaup Pond to at least get in some miles! I was up relatively early in the morning and saw no reason to wait around as the temperature was in the high 50's but was supposed to rise throughout the day. I got my gear ready wearing a light long-sleeved top and light, summer hiking pants. Sheila was happy to be going anywhere as we headed out DeBruce Road. I turned left in Debruce on the Mongaup Pond Road and then stayed left on Beech Mo9unatin Road when the road spilt. I parked in the smaller parking area and noticed the grass was not mowed. I assumed the work had NOT been done as promised and that I was wasting a day! There was a pickup with a camper in the larger lot and I could hear people talking as we started out on the Quick Lake Trail at 8:50 AM. As soon as we made it to the woods road and turned left by the register, I could see the tracks from a tractor in the mud and hoped that meant the mowing on the trails had been done. The trail to Gravestone Junction was wet and a little muddy and there were several spots where I could see that the tractor had sunk into the mud. At Gravestone Junction it was obvious that the DEC had mowed down to the Frick Pond bridge and had also mowed the Logger's Loop toward Times Square. I took a few pictures and then we turned right to walk the Logger's Loop to Times Square. The mowing made walking much easier and I stopped to take a few shots. At Times Square it was wet and muddy and there were tractor tire tracks all over the place. I could see that they had turned up the Big Rock Trail and that the sea of ferns had been cut down. Again, I took a few shots before we turned right to take the Big Rock Trail up to the junction with the Flynn Trail. It was obvious the temperature had increased and that combined with the uphill walk had me sweating. We kept a good pace up the hill which is about 1.1 miles and gains 600 feet. At the Flynn Trail the mower had turned right to mow the Flynn Trail back toward the parking area. I was convinced that the job had been completed and decided to head over the snowmobile trail to Mongaup Pond.

picture taken during a hike The first part of the snowmobile trail gains some elevation to a high point. This trail had not been mowed so we had to walk through several stand of ferns and grass. I was surprised when I looked down at my boots to find them relatively dry! So far there hadn't been much too see along the trails and this continued all the way to Mongaup Pond. This didn't mean that the hike was boring or that I didn't enjoy myself. Everything was green and the sky was a nice blue with lots of puffy white clouds. The 2.25 mile walk to Mongaup Pond went quickly especially after we crested the hill and hiked almost 2 miles down will. We arrived at the loop road at 10:45 Am after hiking about 4.3 miles. I put Sheila on her leash although there didn't seem to be anyone around and we turned left to walk the road to the blue Mongaup Hardenburgh Trail. After a short distance a sign appeared on the left and we turned left to follow the trail north around the upper part of the pond. As we walked, I could see a number of geese on the pond and hoped I could get some pictures as we drew closer. At the upper end of the pond, we walked down to the shore where I removed my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the blue water and green trees around the lake with a brilliant blue sky overhead with towering white clouds. I was also able to zoom in on the geese and even get some pictures of them with their heads underwater to feed. As we got back on the trail the Mongaup Hardenburgh Trail turned slightly left to head north toward Hardenburgh and the Beaverkill Road. We stayed on the path around the pond which was also a snowmobile trail. We walked about half a mile on a slight uphill to the junction with the yellow. Mongaup Willowemoc Trail. This trail started out pretty flat which surprised me as I remembered it as being more hilly. I didn't have to worry since in a very short distance we walked up a hill and then down the other side. This part of the trail was almost completely dry but it was rocky in spots which always make walking more difficult. At 6.5 miles we came to Butternut Junction where the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail continues southeast to Willowemoc. We turned right on the snowmobile trail which is named the Azeala Loop. It heads mostly southwest and back toward the Mongaup Road. I knew this trail meandered back and forth and was fairly long. I had hiked it before but nothing really seemed familiar which may be due to the total lack of distinguishing features!

picture taken during a hike We kept hiking as the trail turn one way and then the other until we finally got to an area covered in low ferns with some other much larger clumps. I seemed to remember this was near the end of the trail. We stopped and I took a few shots and the we continued on. We had walked up a hill and won the other side. When we got to another fern glen, I knew the end of this part of the trail was near but, I found, not as near as I thought. After hiking 2.9 miles from Butternut Junction we arrived at a woods road that had once been a public road between the Mongaup Road and Terwilliger Road. We turned right and began hiking downhill for the next .8 miles. Downhill should be fun and relaxing but numerous rocks and washouts along the trail made this downhill harder. Along the way a female ruffed grouse began her "injured dance" to draw Sheila way from her chicks. Sheila plunged into the woods and I waited to see what would happen. I called her back and this time she came back "empty". In the past, she has brought back grouse alive and I have had to explain to her how e have a "catch and release" policy! As we Mongaup Creek, I could hear the waterfalls and debated whether or not to visit. When we got to the small bridge across the creek, I looked at the water volume and decided to head back to the car. I put Sheila on her leash as we walked out to the road and up Beech Mountain Road back to the car. We arrived back in the parking area at 1:45 PM after hiking 10.6 miles and gaining 1922 feet of elevation. The temperature was in the mid 70's. We had seen no other hikers for the entire walk!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Slide Mt (Rt 47) AllTrails -Slide Mt (RT 47) Gmap4 -Slide Mt (RT 47) MapMyHike -Slide Mt (RT 47) On Monday, June 14th, I planned to do a longer hike on the Devil's Path until a morning ambulance call changed my plans. When I returned home at 10:00 AM, I still had the whole day ahead of me but I wanted to get back early to spend time with Mt grandson, Bryce. I had not hiked Ina week as I was preparing an athlete for the state track championships which occurred on Friday and Saturday. Since I had not hiked a 3500 foot peak in some time and had not been to Slide Mountain in 10 months, I decided that would be my destination. As I started to get ready Sheila was very excited and indicated she didn't care where we went as long as we got out of the house. I headed out the DeBrice Road at about 10:15 AM and drove passed Round Pond and down to Route 47. I turned left and drove toward Frost Valley. After passing the YMCA camp, which had a brand new entrance, I watched for the parking area for Slide Mountain. I pulled in just before 10:45 AM and found three cars in the lot. We got on the trail right away. I had worn a light windbreaker but I could feel the temperature was already rising and knew I wouldn't wear it for long especially once we started to climb. Starting out on the main trail we immediately crossed the Neversink River. The "river" in this case was completely dry without a drop of water. This has happened before but always surprises me since in the spring it may be impossible to cross without getting wet! The other small streams had some water but the volume was way down as we headed up to the woods road. In just less than half a mile we turned right on the woods road and hiked passed the first piped spring which was barely running. At .7 miles we turned left and started up the main trail to Slide Mountain which, according to the sign, was 2 miles away. The trailhead for Slide has a relatively high elevation so although it is the highest peak in the Catskills the elevation gain and grade are relatively modest. I was really feeling the gain inclination since I had been doing flat hikes on smooth trails. Sheila alerted and a pair of hikers passed us. We said "Hello" as we passed and commented on the beautiful weather. By the time we reached the designated campsite at 1.2 miles the grade was getting steeper and I was still feeling the effects of the ascent and the rocky trail. We kept a good pace up the trail as we approached the 3500 foot sign at 1.4 miles where the trail is at its steepest. The spring on the right had some water in it since I could hear Sheila getting a drink. Sheila alerted again and I put her on her leash as we approached another pair of hikers stopped on the trail. We stopped and we started a conversation. I found out they were both from New Jersey and had hike some places that I had hiked. They had started at Woodland Valley and stayed overnight between Cornell and Slide. They were on their way to Giant Ledge and then back to Woodland Valley. We wished each other a good hike and continued in opposite directions. The sky was bright blue with only a few clouds and the sun was out. I was glad I had ditched the windbreaker earlier! At 1.7 miles the trail started to level some and was covered with fine quartz sand. The Catskills including Slide Mountain are a plateau that was once under an ocean and have been pushed up to form what are called mountains.

picture taken during a hike We continued up the trail and I began to notice that some of the blowdowns had been cleared from the trail. There were still quiet a few trees leaning over the trail which I do not think is a good situation. Some trees were low and had branches cut in such a way that the remaining pieces formed "spears" that pointed downward. I imagine some taller hikers may have had problems with these. Soon the trail leveled again as we had done most of the climbing. At 2 miles we passed the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail as it came in from the left from the Denning trailhead. The trail leveled some here and I enjoyed walking along the path strewn with pine needles. Soon we were approaching the last climb and at 2.6 miles we were at the viewpoint toward Panther and Giant Ledge. I decided to hike to the summit and stop at the viewpoint on the way back. Based on the number of cars in the lot and the people coming down the mountain, I judged that the summit would be empty. We passed by the highest point on Slide where a cement block marks the location where a fire tower once stood and continued to the rock outcropping to find it deserted. It was 12:15 PM and we had covered 2.7 miles. I made sure I hydrated although I wasn't very thirsty. I tried to take a few pictures of the Ashokan Reservoir, Cornell and Wittenberg and found the views were more open than the last time I had been at the top. There was a haze hanging over the far peaks but I still took a few pictures. I decided not to go down to the spring as I wanted to get home to play with Bryce. We turned around and headed back on the trail after I took a few shots of Sheila.

picture taken during a hike We continued down to viewpoint and walked out onto the rock outcrop. This viewpoint was also more open than it had been and I could see Giant Ledge and Panther to the left and Cornell and Wittenberg on the right. I took a few shots and then got a snack and a drink. Sheila walk over to the trail and gave a "Woof" which scared a young man hiking passed the lookout. I said "Hi" and he continued on toward the summit. We turned right on the main trail and headed back down the mountain. I had hoped to make quick work of the descent but some knee pain slowed me down some. I always hike with poles even when it seems I don't need the. On this hike I was very glad I had them with me. Sheila decided that she would dash madly up and own the trail for no reason other than sheer joy! We passed the 3500 foot sign and continued down the trail. On the ascent I thought there seemed to be less rolling rocks than I remembered but they were all there on the descent. Sheila alerted as we neared the bottom of the descent I put her on her leash for a few minutes. A family of three approached and we exchanged quick greetings. We turned right on the woods road and then left on the trail that leads back to the parking area. This last part of the trail seemed very rocky but we made good time back to the river bed. I could again hear people in the parking area so I put Sheila on her leash. We crossed the dry river bed and I pout Sheila in the car. I got out my camera and followed a family of four down to the river bed. I took a few shots of the dry river bed. As I was leaving the father asked me if I thought the two young children could make the summit. I suspected the answer was "No" but I told him to hike as far as they could. I retired to the car at 1:45 PM. We had covered 5.3 miles in 3 hours with 1800 feet of elevation gain. I rather enjoyed the climb and think I will do another peak soon!

map icon Campbell Mt (loop) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, June 7th I decided to get in some hiking close to home as I had track practice in the afternoon. Lisa had contacted me about hiking at Huggins Lake but I countered with a suggestion to hike the Campbell Mountain Trail from Route 206. She agreed to meet me at my house at 9:00 AM to do the hike. My plan was to hike the trail out and return on the roads since this is about the same distance as hiking out and back on the trail. These roads are almost devoid of traffic except for the last half mile on Route 206. I got my gear ready and put it and Sheila in the car and waited for Lisa who appeared on time. I drove north and west on State Route 17 exiting at exit 94. I drive through Roscoe and Rockland on Route 206 and drove toward Downsville until we arrived at the pulloff on Route 206 just before 9:30 AM. The temperature was in the mid-60's but it was overcast with a slight breeze which made it feel cool. I had on a light pair of summer pants but wore a light windbreaker over a double layer on top. We got on the trail immediately and noticed that there was a lot of high grass which was VERY wet. . After a few hundred feet on the trail, I released Sheila from her leash and she seemed to enjoy this immensely. The first part of the trail descends to a small stream passing by some stone foundations on the left side of the trail. This part has pretty wet with some running water from the showers the night before. We crossed the stream on a bridge and almost immediately started the climb up Campbell Mountain. The trail is never very steep but gaining over 700 feet in a little more than a mile gets the heart pumping. This part of the trail was drier with less grass but it is also highly eroded in places with some blowdowns. We removed several branches and small trees as we walked. At about 1.3 miles we passed the spur trail to the lean-to and continued the climb. At 1.6 miles a snowmobile trail branched off to the right. This is also the new route for the Finger Lakes Trail. When I hiked this route the last time, I was sure there had been a sign, trail blazes and a register box when we hiked it but I saw none of those this time. We made good time to the top of the mountain averaging 2.6 mph even up the hill. We decided we would stick with the original plan and we continued over the mountain and descended the other side.

The temperature seemed to be rising at times and cooling at others but I had long ago shed my jacket! I did notice that the nettles were beginning to flourish in the wetter and sunnier places. We hit Campbell Mountain Road at about 10:40 AM after hiking 2.3 miles. We turned left and hiked slightly uphill toward the intersection with Jug Tavern Road. It didn't take long for us to hike the .7 miles to the intersection and the dirt road seemed almost like a trail with only one car passing us. At the intersection we turned left and continued our hike toward Route 206. There are a few hunting cabins and second homes along the road and several permanent dwellings. One new home was being constructed and the builders were actively working to complete it. We did stop at one small pond hoping to see some wildlife like a blue heron but nothing presented itself. We kept up the quick pace which was enhanced since I had put Sheila on her leash and she was trotting along very quickly. We made the 1.5 miles or so in good time and turned left on Route 206 to complete the loop. It was less than a mile back to the car and we arrived at 11:40 AM. We had covered 5.3 miles in 2 hours and 11 minutes. The elevation gain was 10:20 AM and the hike was not long or difficult but fit easily into our busy schedule.

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) Gmap4 - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) MapMyHike - Big Pond to Alder Lake (out and back) On Saturday, June 4th I was committed to a hike sponsored by Morgan Outdoors to celebrate National Trails Day. The hike was scheduled to be a one way hike from Alder Lake to Big Pond which is about 3.5 miles. I decided that I would arrive, park at Big Pond and then hike to Alder Lake where I would wait for the others to arrive. The hike was not scheduled to start until 2:00 PM so I knew I would have plenty of time if I arrived at Big Pond by noon. I planned to clear some of the nettles and briars from the path on the way to Alder Lake to make the hike back easier for those doing the one way version. I got some chores done in the morning and then got my gear and Sheila into the car a little after 11:30 AM. I headed out of town on Old Rt 17 and then turned north on the Beaverkill Road and headed toward Lew Beach. I drove through the hamlet of Lew Beach and continued on to Turnwood. As the Beaverkill Road made a turn to the right, I continued straight ahead on Barkaboom Road toward Big Pond. After less than a mile, I turned right into the upper parking area for Big Pond and parked my car next to several others that were already there. It was already in the 70's and the humidity was high as Sheila and I started out the trail toward Alder Lake. Although the trail has several ups and downs, it is sited so that it travels around the higher ridges in the area and sticks to the lower spots on the shoulders of those ridges. Just after the start of the hike, we began to ascend along a woods road where there were a few blowdowns that would have to be cleared on another day. We continued to walk uphill through a pine forest. The trail had been worked on the previous fall after years of neglect and was in good shape and well-marked. Some nettles and briars were starting to encroach on the trail and I beat them back with my walking poles which seemed pretty effective. There were a few large blowdowns that were easily avoided or easy to climb over. I did run across one small tree across the trail which as at waist height and I decided to try my new LT Wright Overland Machete. Although a machete is not really meant to chop wood, I thought I would give it a try. The blade is very sharp and I had no problem hacking through the trunk after which I removed it from the trail. At about a mile we began to descend on another woods road to an area that was once a small pond but is now mostly wetlands. Along the way I noted the many stonewalls and a few foundations in the area. At 1.75 miles we were at the small stream bed that connects two different wetland areas. In April the stream had enough water to produce small waterfalls but now it was completely dry! We crossed the stream and began to ascend to the shoulder of another ridge from the low wetlands. I continued to whack some nettles but wanted to make sure I was at Alder Lake on time. At 2.2 miles the trail turned right heading east toward Alder Lake. Shortly after that we began to descend for .6 miles to Alder Creek. On the descent we heard some hikers behind us and I was determined they would not pass us! There was some water in Alder Creek but much less than in April. We crossed Alder Creek Road just as a convoy of cars was turning onto the Alder Lake access road. We continued toward the lake on the access road and arrived at the parking area just after 1:30 AM.

picture taken during a hike I decided to hike down toward the lake to take some pictures. We hiked down to the "lawn" in front of the remains of the Coykendall Mansion and found the same pile of wood spoiling the view. The picnic tables were out but the grass was not mowed. Repeated pleas to the forester for Region 3 have gone unanswered. A bigger problem was the chain link fence surrounding two excavators working on the dam. The dam had always looked pretty sturdy and secure but something made the state decide to reconstruct or repair it! The water level in the lake was low and a large family was allowing their children to through rocks by the shore. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take a few shots before heading back up to the parking area. I did see that there was still a path that led over the dam to allow hikers to complete the 1.5 mile hike around the lake and to access the campsites on the southern shore of the lake easily. In the parking lot, I sat on a rock and got a drink and gave Sheila one also. Sheila seemed very warm so I decided to walk down to the creek so she could cool off. We walked down the bank passing the spring on the way. Sheila went down to the creek but simply walked along the rocks and seemed reluctant to dive in. After a few moments, I called her back and we walked back to the parking area and continued to wait for the other hikers from the Morgan Outdoors group to show up. Cars began to pull in just before 2:00 PM. I walked over to greet the occupants and said hello to Rick Roberts and Bob Moses who had several other people with them. Rick is the president of the Castkill Mountain Club and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference trail supervisor for the Catskill region. He has been instrumental in moving the FLT off local roads by constructing new trails that are located on DEP land. Bob Moses maintains trails and is an avid hiker leading hikes for several different organizations. We talked for a while and when no other hikers appeared we began our hike to Big Pond. Rick had brought his two beagles, Scout and Teddy, and they were getting acquainted with Sheila. I kept Sheila on her leash until we crossed Alder Creek Road and the stream. I let her off the leash and she spent a few moments playing with the other dogs but seemed largely uninterested. She spent most of the rest of the hike close to me on the trail. At 4.6 miles we followed the trail as it turned left and began to descend to the wetlands area. We stopped at the dry stream bed at 5 miles to get a drink and a snack. After a short rest, we began to ascend the woods road. We stopped to take a closer look at the stone walls in the area and a foundation that I had not seen before. We continued to walk along the trail negotiating a few very muddy areas. Bob and I stopped to cut a branch that was blocking part of the trail using his Silky saw which made short work of the blowdown. We caught up to the others and continued along the trail passing through an area that had been devastated by gypsy moths and tent caterpillars many years ago. At 5.7 miles we followed the trail as it turned to head west toward Big Pond and started our descent. We walked through the pine forest and followed the woods road down toward the pond. We arrived at the parking area at 4:00 PM which was a perfect time for me. I had covered 6.7 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes discounting the time I spent waiting for the other hikers. The total elevation gain was 1530 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 Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Wednesday, June 1st Sheila and I were ready to get out of the house after a busy Memorial Day weekend had kept us out of the woods. I got my gear in the car and tried to contain an ecstatic Shiela as I drove out the DeBruce Road toward Frick Pond. I had thought about going somewhere else but I wanted to try using the Avenza app on my iPhone to follow a map of the big loop around Frick and Hodge Ponds. I had created this map myself from a track I had from my GPS and it appeared in the app when I opened it up on my phone. I wanted to see if it would perform like other maps I had downloaded and allow me to follow my progress along the track as I hiked. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Pond and stayed left on Beech Mountain Road at the fork. There was one car in the parking area as I pulled in at just before 10:00 AM. I got my gear ready to go and headed out the Quick Lake Trail toward Frick Pond. The day was warm with the temperature at about 64 degrees and the bugs were out so I applied some insect repellant as a precaution. I wore a light pair of hiking pants and just a single layer long-sleeved shirt. 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. I checked the Avenza app and it was working beautifully! As we made the turn at Gravestone Junction, we heard voices chime from the Logger's Loop to the right. I looked and saw a man and a woman hiking and the man had a small child in a backpack. When we crossed the bridge, I took a quick look at the view and decided it was not worth taking pictures since I have hundreds from this location. (The pictures posted here are from a previous trip in about the same conditions.) 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 is drier every time we hike the loop and as we continued I removed a few branches from the trail. There was one blowdown in the clearing just after the small stream and I knew I would have to return to remove it. 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. Sheila was ranging far and wide to explore the opportunities to chase small, furry creatures. At one point I looked up and saw a streak of dark brown or black move through the trees ahead of us. It was too small to be a bear so I suspected a weasel or fisher. I put Sheila on her leash and we moved passed the area without seeing any animals. 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 and had some water but the muddiest spots were easily avoided. We were soon at the outlet end of Hodge Pond. We turned right and 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. 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 I quickly checked the cell phone app as we kept walking on the Flynn Trail. The app was functioning perfectly. Since the map is downloaded to true phone and the position is determined by GPS satellite, there is no need for a phone signal to use the phone to navigate. I did notice that the battery was draining more quickly than I had hoped. From this high point on 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 12:25 PM when we returned. We had covered 6.3 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes. The elevation gain was a modest 910 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Hodge Lookout and Frick Pond AllTrails - Hodge Lookout and Frick Pond Gmap4 - Hodge Lookout and Frick Pond MapMyHike - Hodge Lookout and Frick Pond On Saturday, May 28th I wanted to hike somewhere with Sheila and son-in-law Brad. I was still tired from 12 hours of track meet the day before and slept a little later than usual. There were thunderstorms predicted by 2:00 PM so I decided to again go to Frick Pond since it was near and would probably less populated on the busy weekend. I thought we might hike the Flynn Trail to the Hodge Pond Lookout and then hike back using the Flynn Trail and Quick Lake trails since I was looking for a longer hike. Brad and I got our gear in the car and put an excited Shiela in the back seat as I drove out the DeBruce Road toward Frick Pond. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Pond and stayed left on Beech Mountain Road at the fork. There a few cars in the parking area as I pulled in at just after 10:00 AM. As I was getting my gear ready to go, a mountain biker stopped to ask about the trails. I directed him up the Flynn Trail and over the snowmobile trail to Mongaup Pond where he was staying. We crossed the road and headed out on the Flynn Trail toward Hodge Pond. Once we hit the wide woods road that is the Flynn Trail, we noticed that the grass has pretty ugh and very wet with dew. The temperature was already in the 70's and I was glad I had worm a single layer and light, summer hiking pants. Brad and I walked and talked as we hiked up the long hill toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 1.7 miles into the hike. The sun was out and there were white, puffy clouds in the sky and there was no indication of any impending rain. It only took us 40 minutes to reach the first trail junction where we continued straight ahead on the Flynn Trail. After walking the relatively for a long time part of the trail through the gate, we arrived at the pout where the Flynn Trail bears left down to Hodge Pond. We turned right on a woods road to hike toward the lookout over the pond. The woods road we were walking on was once Beech Mountain Road leading to the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. After a short walk, a trail turned off to the left to go down to the pond. We continued straight ahead and then passed the left turn toward the area of the camp. We started up the road that leads to the lookout. The grade became steeper as we climbed the hill and at about 2.6 miles the road made a sharp turn to the right. We stopped so that I could take some pictures from a small viewpoint and then continued on the road. As the road made another sharp turn, this time to the left, we turned right into the woods on another woods road. The trail to the lookout is relatively flat and at 2.8 miles we arrived at the flat Rick that allows a view of the pond. I was supplied to see that there actually was a good view down to Hodge Pond since the last time I had visited the view was blocked. I took some shots including one of Brad and Sheila. We got a drink and then started hiking again.

picture taken during a hike We turned right and continued the hike by following the woods road as it circled Flynn's Point on Beech Mounatin. This higher spot to our left is the highest point in Sullivan County at 3118 feet. We continued to circle Beech Mountain until we got back to the road where we turned left and walked back down the hill to the turn down to Hodge Pond. We turned right at 4 miles and walked down toward the pond and as we neared the shore we turned right on the jeep road that goes around the upper end of the pond. When we came to an opening on the left, we walked won to the shore so I could take some pictures. Sheila jumped into the water but did not swim after the two ducks that were already there! I got out my camera and took pictures of the ducks, Sheila and the pond. The trees were very green and the water very blue and all was peaceful. The sky was a beautiful blue with puffy white clouds. After I took a few pictures we returned to the trail and continued hiking around the pond. At the next trail junction, we turned right to again hike up the blue-blazed Flynn Trail. It had gotten much warmer and I was beginning to feel the effects of the heat and humidity. We hiked up the hill and pass through the gate where the Flynn Trail turns to the left. This part of the trail is flat and often muddy. On this day there were a few soft spots but we saw almost no water or deep mud. At 5 miles we arrived at Junkyard Junction where the Flynn Trail ends. We turned left on the red blazed Quick Lake Trail to start back toward the parking area. Our hike back to the car would be mostly downhill which I thought was a good thing. Having someone to talk to on a hike does make the time pass more quickly especially on a trail which is so familiar and does not have exciting lookouts. At 6.6 miles we were at Iron Wheel Junction which is marked by...a set of iron wagon wheels. The Yellow blazed Logger's Loop continues straight ahead so we turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. We did find a few muddy spots along this trail as we hiked towed Frick Pond. The small stream just before the "spruce tunnel" had much less water than the last time I had visited. Sheila found a way to swim for a minute before we continued toward the pond. We passed the junction with the yellow blazed Big Rock Trail on the left and arrived at the bridge across the outlet of Frick Pond at 7.5 miles. We stopped a moment and I took a few pictures of the pond which looked much like all the others that I have taken from this location. I reshouldered my pack and we walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction where we continued straight ahead toward the parking lot. We met two hikers coming toward us and I put Sheila on her leash. The walk to the parking area seemed quick as we continued to follow the Quick Lake Trail passed the register. When we arrived back at the parking area the smaller lot was full and there were several cars in the larger lot. It was 1:40 Pm and we had hiked 8.1 miles in 3 hours and 25 minutes. Along the way we had gained 1330 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Long Pond Double Loop alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, May 25th I wanted to get in a hike close to home before track practice in the afternoon but I wanted a longer hike than then two previous days. Since I had been at Trout Pond and Frick Pond recently, I decided to go to Long Pond and create a hike I had never done 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 10:30 AM and the temperature was already in the 70's. I decided not to wear a jacket and was glad I had worn a lighter top and summer weight pants. We started our hike at 10:30 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 not very wet but there were a few muddy spots that we walked around. 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 too a few shots anyway. What was remarkable was the variety of sounds around the pond. I could easily distinguish the song of the red wing blackbirds and the chirping of the bullfrogs. I took a picture of a blackbird in a tree but could not see the wings. Later inspection of the pictures showed a red and yellow patch on the wind. My eye caught some movement in the pond along the shore. I couldn't see what it was but I zoomed in a took a few shots. When I got home, I was surprise to see a large bullfrog sitting on a rock with his throat fully expanded! I turned 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 rod 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 muddy areas along the way. At 1.6 miles the trail began to descend to cross a long bridge across the stream. I decided to leave the photography for later and paused briefly to allow Sheila to get a drink and swim. We continued on the trail crossing another ridge and arriving at Flugertown Road at 2.0 miles. We turned right and began to hike toward Basily Road. Along the way there were two campsites set up and I out Sheila on her leash as we passed. We continued along the road as it went from pavement to dirt. We gained a little elevation along the road until we broke out of the woods near the Peter's Hunting Camp. 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, the gate was closed but I had permission to cross so we did and walked along the edge of the tilled ground at the camp toward the beaver pond. The beavers had been at work and the road was more of a stream. Sheila had no problem walking through the water and I managed to stay dry by using the small footbridge. We stopped so that I could take a few pictures of the road and 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 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 causes some muddy areas. All of the mud was easily avoided and at 4.6 miles we passed the spur trail on the left to the lean-to.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the main trail passing areas where we had to avoid some mud. At 5.0 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 took some pictures and allowed Sheila to have a longer swim. I got a drink and then we continued out to the road where we turned left to head back to the car. Along the way several cars from the campsites passed us. A little further along a pickup truck came towed us and stopped. I recognized a custodian from the highs cool who had retired several years before I did. We talked about the time we spent together at the school and what had transpired Since. He is the caretaker for the Peter's Hunting Camp and I asked him about hiking across their land. He assured me as others have that it is permissible to hike as long as hikers stay on the trail. We parted ways but I kept Sheila on her leash as we walked the flat and hard packed road. Soon we were on the well paved road and were heading back to the car. As we turned left into the parking area, we found a group of young people standing in the parking lot talking. There was no sign of their transportation but they had hiking and camping gear. We had hiked 7.2 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes with an elevation gain of 760 feet. This indicates a pretty flat hike!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Balsam Lake Mt and Vly Pond AllTrails - Mary Smith - Berry Brook Road to Mary Smith Hill Road Gmap4 - Mary Smith - Berry Brook Road to Mary Smith Hill Road MapMyHike - Mary Smith - Berry Brook Road to Mary Smith Hill Road On Tuesday, May 24th I agree to hike somewhere local with Lisa. She suggested Mary Smith Hill from Berry Brook Road. I wouldn't normally hike this short of a hike but I had been out the previous day and planned to hike the next day so I agreed. I was also happy to have the company as Sheila is so often roaming off the trail following game trails. I picked Lisa up at her house on the Beaverkill Road at around 9:00 AM and drove to the Covered Bridge Road. The Beaverkill Covered Bridge is being renovated so I turned left on Craigie Clarie Road and crossed on the iron bridge. I made a right on Berry Brook Road and drove passed the Covered Bridge Road. After about more 3.7 miles I pulled into the parking area on the right side of the road. It was 9:25 AM as we got right on the trail. I had worn a light pair of hiking pants and a single layer under a light windbreaker as the temperatures were forecast to reach into the high 70's. The bugs were already out so I applied some spray to keep them at bay. The first .6 miles of the trail are pretty steep gaining a little over 500 feet. The surface has some loose rock and on this day that was covered by a layer of slippery leaves. As we climbed we could look back over our shoulders for a view which was partially obscured by the new leaves on the trees. At around .3 miles we heard a bleating noise and I looked back to see that Sheila had found a fawn lying in the leaves by the trail. I called Sheila and she reluctantly came. I think she wanted to play with the fawn! The fawn lay motionless as I took some pictures from the side and then went around to the front and took a few more. I also used this opportunity to get a drink and shed my windbreaker. We continued to climb the hill where some of the grades are over 20%. After climbing to the top of the first, unnamed hill we descended a little before starting up Mary Smith Hill. At .9 miles the trail makes a sharp right turn swinging from ENE to SE and then ascends Mary Smith Hill. Along the way Lisa noticed some interesting rock formations. We also walked through several areas where we had to pass between or climb over large rocks.

picture taken during a hike Just before the top of Mary Smith Hill we stopped at a lookout which has a limited view to the south. I climbed down to get a better view but like many lookouts in the Catskills this one is slowly being blocked as trees grow up. I took pictures although there was a bit of haze. At this point I was fresh enough to continue but we decided to start back which was Ok with me as I had a lot of work to accomplish. I had initially though about hiking to Mary Smith Hill Road but the climb had been tiring and the pull of work at home helped make my decision. The trip back seemed to go quickly although we stopped several times to take pictures of interesting rocks and trees. We were also careful on some of the descents as the dry soil and loose rock covered by leaves was challenging. We noticed that the fawn we had seen mealier was gone. We were back at the parking area by 11:20 AM having hiked 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 55 minutes with a 675 foot vertical gain. When we arrived back in the parking area we noticed a front end loader and a pile of railroad ties across the road on state land. There was no indication of their planned use. On the way back we stopped to see the renovations on the Beaverkill Covered Bridge. The siding has been stripped off the bridge and work is being done to reinforce the roadway. The approach on the Beaverkill side has been redesigned to be more gentle. The complete date is mi-fall of 2016.

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 Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Monday, May 23rd Sheila and I were ready to get out of the house after a week of track and family commitments had kept us out of the woods. I got my gear in the car and tried to contain an ecstatic Shiela as I drove out the DeBruce Road toward Frick Pond. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Pond and stayed left on Beech Mountain Road at the fork. There were no cars in the parking area as I pulled in at just before 8:00 AM. I got my gear ready to go and headed out the Quick Lake Trail toward Frick Pond. The day was warm and the bugs were out so I applied some insect repellant as a precaution. I wore a light pair of hiking pants and a light windbreaker over a single layer. 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 crossed the bridge, I took a quick look at the view and decided it was not worth taking pictures since I have hundreds from this location. 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 and as we continued I removed a few branches from the trail. There was one blowdown in the clearing just after the small stream and I knew I would have to return to remove it. 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.After walking 3.1 miles, we arrived at Junkyard Junction at 9:15 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 MANY wet and muddy spots but they are all lower than the ground surrounding them so it is hard to get them to drain. The trail was drier than the last time we had hiked it. 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 Quick Lake Trail to the outlet of Hodge Pond. The woods road was rutted and had some water but the muddiest spots were easily avoided. We were soon at the outlet end of Hodge Pond. We turned right and 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. 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 kept walking on the Flynn Trail. From this high point on 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. A dog from the cabin approached us but soon last interest. I dislike dog owners who will not or cannot control their pets! We walked down the short section of trail I had refurbished and then hiked through the woods back to the parking area. It was 10:30 AM when we returned. We had covered 6.4 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 Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, May 17th I knew that I had to get in a hike despite having to leave for a track meet in the afternoon. I decided to head to Trout Pond and hike the big loop in a counterclockwise direction. I was more interested in the exercise and just getting out than taking pictures or seeing something new. Sheila was happy as usual as I got dressed and put my gear in the car. The temperature was still cool and hanging right around 50 degrees. I knew it would get warmer so I wore a single layer with my Mammut hood and my MH Winter Wander pants. I headed north on Route 17 and the took Route 206 from Roscoe toward Downsville. Just after entering Delaware County, I turned left on Morton Hill Roadand rove 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 had already risen when I parked at 9:25 AM and immediately started the hike. Sheila was ready to go as always and as we started 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. Sheila disappeared for a moment and I realized there was a pickup truck parked at the upper designated campsite and that Sheila was "investigating" the campsite! I called her back and we continued our hike. As we passed the lookout over the falls, I decided to take a few pictures although I had not planned to stop. I took a few shots and then experimented with the shutter speed to get the soft quality of the water flowing over the rocks. Back on the road, We headed down to the lower parking area and found no cars in the lot. We walked down to the main trail and then across the bridge over Russell Brook. The knotweed that we had trimmed back was completely dead and shriveled. We 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 dry under foot. The sky was still overcast but the sun was peaking through adhere were a few blue spots and just a slight breeze. At the pond, I took off my pack and got out the camera. The water level seemed a little higher but there was still no water running over the outlet of the dam. I took a few pictures of the pond but the sky was not the best for photography. I decide to throw a stick into the pond so that Sheila could swim to retrieve it. Sheila seemed to be excited so I threw the stick and she jumped in but after a few moments she jumped right out! I tried it again with a larger stick and she did the same thing. She started running around like crazy as she often does when she is excited or cold! I concluded she had decided it was a little to cold for swimming! I packed up and we continued up the trail toward the head end of the pond. The lean-tos were not occupied and the view from the inlet end of the lake was less than ordinary. 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 one of the blowdowns I had found last time had been cut and removed from the trail making me think someone had done some trail maintenance. Along the way were several large blowdowns which we could not clear without an axe and saw. There were a few branches down which I 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 quite a bit of water on the trail both standing and running making the conditions muddy. I 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 descent to the trail junction was wet in many spots. As we walked down the will the skies continued to grow darker and the wind came up. By the time we were half way down it was raining very lightly and I hoped it would not get any harder. We passed the large campsite on the left at the bottom of the hill and walked back to the trail junction where we turned right to walk back to the lower parking area. I decided not to visit the lower falls due to the hour and the rain. There was one car in the lot and the occupants were looking at the maps at the trail kiosk. I offered my assistance but they assured me they were "OK". We walked up the road back to our car. At the upper campsite an older man was in the pickup and he asked us where we had hiked. I recognized him from a hike last year at about the same time! We arrived at 11:40 AM. We had hiked 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes gaining 1110 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 Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Thursday, May 12th Sheila and I were ready to get out of the house after TWO WEEKS of heavy rain and track commitments had kept us out of the woods. I got my gear in the car and tried to contain an ecstatic Shiela as I drove out the DeBruce Road toward Frick Pond. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Pond and stayed left on Beech Mountain Road at the fork. There were no cars in the parking area as I pulled in at just before 9:00 AM. I got my gear ready to go and headed out the Quick Lake Trail toward Frick Pond. The day was warm and the bugs were out so I applied some insect repellant as a precaution. I wore a light pair of hiking pants and a light windbreaker over a single layer. 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 very 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 crossed the bridge, I took a quick look at the view and decided to take a few shots even though I have hundreds from this location. 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 and as we continued I removed a few branches from the trail. 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 also wet but it drains better than the flat areas lower down. We passed some of the blowdowns that I had cleared with various other people and it made me feel good to see the work. At one point we did find a small tree across the trail and I made note that it would require a return trip with an axe and saw. After walking 3.1 miles, we arrived at Junkyard Junction at 10:05 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 MANY wet and muddy spots but 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 Quick Lake Trail to the outlet of Hodge Pond. The woods road was rutted and had some water but the muddiest spots were easily avoided. We were soon at the outlet end of Hodge Pond. I decided to go to the shore of the pond and take a few pictures. Sheila immediately went into the water so I decided to throw a stick and let her get in a good swim. I threw the stick, she swam to retrieve it and I took pictures for several minutes. We turned around and 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. 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 kept walking on the Flynn Trail. From this high point on 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 11:30 AM when we returned. We had covered 6.4 miles in 2 hours and 35 minutes. The elevation gain was a modest 910 feet.

picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge (front loop) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, April 29th I had not planned to hike since the forecast called for rain on and off all day. By 10:00 AM no rain had fallen and the forecast showed it holding off until 3:00 PM. I decided to get out and do a quick hike and chose Frick and Hodge Ponds as my destination. I had not hiked UP the Flynn Trail to Hodge Pond in some time and made that my intended route. Sheila was eager to get going as I put my gear in the trunk and opened the backdoor for her. The temperature was in the low 50's but there was a slight breeze and a bite to the air. I wore my MH Winter Wander pants and my Mammut hoody over a single layer top. BY the time I drove out the DeBruce Road and up the Mongaup Road to the trailhead, it was already 11:40 AM. There was one other car in the parking area as we crossed the road and started up the Flynn Trail. The sky was overcast and the air felt damp but despite this I warmed up quickly and was soon opening the zippers on my hoody. I kept a quick pace with Sheila riving out ahead kicking up a few birds as we hiked. By 12:20 PM we had hiked 1.7 miles to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. We continued straight ahead staying on the Flynn Trail heading toward Hodge Pond. We passed through the gate and were soon at the next trail junction where we stayed to the left to stay on the Flynn Trail to Hodge Pond. As we approached the pond, I looked at the scene and decided it was the kind of dreary that does not photograph well and continued passed the shores of the pond without stopping. To this point the trail had been relatively dry but as we continued on the west side of Hodge Pond the Flynn Trail began to be muddy. As we walked along the western shore, we turned left to stay on the Flynn Trail and began a slight up hill to the gate where the trail turns to the left.

This part of the Flynn Trail is pretty flat and the trail is often the lowest point which allows water to collect with nowhere to go. The rain earlier in the week had made the trail wet and I had to walk around several wet and muddy areas. I noticed that Sheila simply walked through them! We arrived at Junkyard Junction at 12:50 PM about 3.25 miles into the hike. From here the rest of the hike is primarily downhill with a few small hills along the way. We turned left on the red Quick Lake Trail and found it was also wet and muddy in spots. Some section of the trail are washed out leaving a lot of rocks behind and making the downhill hiking not as much fun as it could be. There wasn't much to see so we hiked quickly passing the junction with the snowmobile trail. We arrived at Iron Wheel Junction at 1:25 PM after hiking 4.8 miles. We turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail since the yellow Logger's Loop continued straight ahead. The trail continued to be muddy but we made good time as we crossed the little stream in the woods and continued toward Frick Pond. We passed the junction with the Big Rock Trail that goes around the north end of Frick Pond and walked to the bridge across the outlet of the pond. I decided not to stop but to keep walking as I had felt a few drops of rain. We continued back on the Quick Lake Trail to the trail register. Along the way I was pleased to see that the ditching that we had done during our trail maintenance work was draining much of the water off the trail. At the trail register we turned right and continued on the Quick Lake Trail back to the car. The lot was empty when we arrived at 2:00 PM. We had hiked 6.3 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes with only 4 minutes of stopped time and an elevation gain of 910 feet.

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 Wednesday, April 27th, I had planned to do a hike with a friend somewhere close to home. We both had tight schedules for the day as we decided to go to Alder Lake and hike to the Beaver Meadow Lean-to. I picked her up at her house at about 9:00 AM and we headed toward Turnwood and Alder Creek Road. I parked in the Alder Lake parking area at (:20 AM and we started our hike almost immediately. There was a large van parked in the lot and the register indicated four hikers from New York City had signed in. The temperature was in the mid 40's with a slight breeze but the sun was shining brightly. I had decided to go back to my MH Winter Wander pants and the baselayer and Icebreaker light wool top I had worn lost of the winter. We headed down to the left of the "lawn" toward the trail around the left side of the lake. The pile of logs that had adorned the lawn was still present despite my pleas to the Region 3 forester to have them removed. I am not sure what crew placed them there but they ruin the view and prevent adequate maintenance of the lawn which is a shame for such a beautiful and well-used space. There was also a construction trailer setup by the remains of the Coykendall mansion. It seems a contractor has been hired to work on the dam and spillway. I noticed that there was also a roll of chain link fence near the spillway and I could only guess how this may be employed! I took a few pictures of Alder Lake with the sun sparkling off the water before picking up my pack and heading out on the trail. We kept up a good pace stopping once so that I could take a picture of some interesting algae blooms in the water near the first bridge. Sheila was happy to be out and was running around investigating the various campsites along the way. The trail was pretty dry with only a few muddy spots along the way. We crossed the bridges and at about .8 miles and turned left to head toward the lean-to on the Millbrook Ridge Trail. The trail had several blowdowns along the way but some had been cut rasher recently with a chainsaw while others were untouched. There did not see a pattern as to why some were cleared and others left uncut. As we walked, we could here Alder Creek to the right of us and see the sun sparkling off the water. I stopped at the first beaver meadow to take a few pictures while my friend decided not to wait and walked on ahead. After taking a few shots, I got back on the main trail and caught up as she had stopped at a small beaver pond on the right side of the trail. We walked into the woods to investigate and found a dam that did not seem to have any new sticks added to it. There was also the beginnings of a lodge which had not been completed. I took a few pictures and then we walked back to the main trail. 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%. At some point my hiking companion decide we were going too slow and went ahead of me and started to pull away. This continued for the rest of the hike to the lean-to and I decided I would hike at my own pace and enjoy the walk. I was sorry she did not want to hike with me as I very frequently hike alone and would have liked to have a conversation! 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. At one point there was a large blowdown across the trail which would have been easy to clear with a chainsaw but nothing had been touched. I ducked under some large branches and squeezed through an opening. The trail in this area was very wet and I had to find ways to avoid the mud. Soon I arrived at the lean-to to and I dropped my pack to walk down the path to the beaver meadow with my camera.

picture taken during a hike It had taken about an hour an 15 minutes to get to the beaver meadow. I walked out to the edge of the beaver meadow and took pictures of the blue sky which had no clouds to add contrast. I looked for some wildlife but everything was quiet. My friend decided to sit on a rock and eat a snack while I returned to my pack at the lean-to to get mine. I got a drink and ate a bar and waited while she relaxed and took some pictures. Eventually we were ready to leave and walked back to the main trail taking a few minutes to visit the spring which was running nicely. We walked together for a while and then I headed down the bank to Alder Creek to take a few pictures while my friend walked ahead. I eventually caught up with her and we walked together along the trail following the yellow blazes. At one point I noticed that the blazes took us on a detour around the large tree that blocked the trail. The detour was clear on the way back but had been poorly marked on the way out. We continued along the trail to the loop trail around the lake. We turned left to visit he bridge over Alder Creek and I took a few shots of the bridge and the creek before we turned around to retrace our steps back to the parking area. I decided to walk down to the shore of the lake to take a few pictures and when I returned my friend was nowhere to be seen. Sheila and I continued on the trail and I soon spotted some hikers up ahead. I spotted some pink and assumed my friend was hiking with them. When I caught up to the three hikers, I found one was wearing something pink but my friend was not with them. I put Sheila on her leash and they moved to one side of the trail so that we could pass. They had larger packs and camping gear and we said a "Hello" as I passed by. When we got back to the lawn, I dropped my pack and took some pictures of the pile of logs and the chain link fence. We walked over to the dam and I took some more pictures of the lake and of Cradle Rock Ridge on the east side of Alder Lake. I also took some pictures of the spillway and the creek below the dam. The brush and some trees along the creek had been cleared to make it more open but the brush and trees were left piled near the dam in an unsightly pile. As I walked back to my pack I could see my friend approaching and we waited for her. We walked back to the parking area to find the other three hikers ready to leave and two other vehicles parked in the lot. We were back at 12:10 PM having covered 4.8 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes total time. The total elevation gain was just under 700 feet.

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 Monday, April 25th I wanted to hike a little longer and a little farther away from home since I did not have track practice in the afternoon. 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 Appalachian Trail in New Jersey just south of Pine Island, NY. I had ended a section at the Walkill National Wildlife Refuge and I thought Cindy might like this area. My plan was to hike from where I had left off to the northwest along the NY-NJ border for about 4 miles and then hike back. We could stop of the wildlife refuge after the hike. We left Livingston Manor just before 9:00 AM and headed down State Route 17 toward Middletown. Sheila was remarkably animated despite the fact we had hike the day before. I headed west on I84 and took exit 3E to get on County Rt 12. We continued to follow the back roads to Oil City Road and at this point I recognized the area. We found a parking area just before the road crossed Walkill River and decided to park there to begin the hike. We got out of the car to get ready and Sheila began to explore along a fence with some tall grass. When I called her back to the car, I found a tick and brushed it off immediately. After a second look, I found at least a dozen more and promptly got rid of them. Cindy and I talked it over and decided we would not be comfortable hiking with so many ticks around. I don't know whether this was just a bad spot or a bad day but we decided to leave. We headed to Warwick to the Craft Beer Cellar where I made a couple of purchases and then headed out to State Route 17 to start home. In the car we discussed hiking options. We felt the Basha Kill area might have the same problem with ticks. There was a massive forest fire at Sam's Point and Minnewaska State Park was closed. I came up with the idea of hiking the loop at the Neversink Unique area from the Wolf Lake parking area to get a different perspective. I had hiked out that way but had never hiked in. We agreed on the plan and crossed our fingers that the tick problem would not be as bad! 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 decided I wanted to drive through the gate to the parking area further up the hill. The gravel road was washed out in several places and the ride was bumpy but we arrived at the parking area at 11:35 AM. Most of the area was occupied by a huge pile of gravel which I hoped would be used on the road. I parked and we were on the trail by 11:40 AM.

picture taken during a hike The temperature was now almost 60 degrees so I left my Mammut hoody in the car and went without a jacket. I did have a light windbreaker in my pack if I needed it later. We walked behind the gravel pile and found the yellow blazed trail that leads to the main trail loop. Now that I have started to do trail maintenance, I notice trail conditions and the first thing I noticed was a large tree down across the beginning of the trail. We continued on the yellow trail finding a few more blowdowns and finding 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 downhill. I kept wondering if we were going the right way since nothing looked familiar but soon we arrived at the red trail where we decided to turn left. We knew that we would have to walk uphill to the car at the end of the hike so it didn't much matter which way we turned. We walked along the trail finding a few blowdowns here and there and some muddy areas. At .7 miles we crossed the upper bridge over Mullet Brook and then 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 1.25 miles we came to the yellow blazed spur trail to Mullet Brook Falls and turned right to visit this attraction. 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. I took some pictures although the sky was a flat grey without a hint of blue or white clouds. I got Sheila to pose for a few shots and then headed back to Cindy who was enjoying a rest on a rock. I got a drink and a bar and then we headed back out to the main trail. We turned right and walked downhill to the junction where the red trail meets the blue trail at 1.6 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 it looked as if some new markers had been added. As we reached the beginning of the steepest descent Cindy decided to wait on a rock while Sheila and I continued down to the river . 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 gave Sheila the command to stay with me as I took my pack off and got out my camera. The water was flowing nicely over the falls and a fisherman was standing in the river just above the falls. I worked my way down to the rocks just below the falls and started to take some pictures. I managed to get a few of the fisherman casting before returning to my pack. Sheila and I walked up the bank and headed up the trail. As we walked along, I allowed Sheila to run ahead to where Cindy was sitting. We headed back up 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 and found it had deteriorated even more than the last time I had been on this hike. It is a shame that the bridge has gotten to this point and I hope the plans for its replacement will go forward. We continued to hike the blue trail and both of us commented that we were still descending! The trail was mostly dry as were the surrounding woods. At 2.9 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! The trail took us south and then at about 3.4 miles turned to the east. At 3.8 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. The climb was never steep but it was continuous. We turned left on the yellow trail and continued to climb back toward the parking area. We gained another 140 feet over the half mile back to the car. We arrived at the parking area at 2:00 PM having hiked 4.3 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes with about 15 minutes stopped for pictures. I honestly thought we had set a quicker pace but in any case we had great fun. When we got home, I found one tick on Sheila and was not sure whether is was from new Jersey or New York!

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 Gmap4 - Big Pond To Cabot Mt to Little Pond MapMyHike - Big Pond To Cabot Mt to Little Pond On Sunday, April 24th I wanted to get in a local hike after church. I asked Cindy if she wanted to go do some trail work on the TouchMeNot Trail From Big Pond to Cabot Mountain and she agreed. I maintain the TouchMeNotTrail from Big Pond to Beech Hill Road for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. We had worked on the section from Big Pond to the junction with the Campground Trail and on the section from Beech Hill to where the trail levels off on the Cabot Mountain plateau. The only section of the trail remaining was the middle section and I knew there were a few blowdowns to clear. We left Livingston Manor before 1:00 PM and headed up the Beaverkill Road with an excited Sheila in the back seat. Even though the temperature was using into the high 50's I chose to wear my Mammut hoody since it was lots of zippers to dump heat and extra pockets I could use for trail markers. We arrived in the parking area by Big Pond just before 1:15 PM and I was surprised that there were no other cars parked. Big Pond is a popular place but it no one wanted to visit on this day. I had my Fiskars axe which I carry when hiking longer distances since it is harp but light with a hollow handle. I also had brought my Silky curbed saw, a hammer, red trail markers and nails. 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. I was surprised to find the trails quite dry and we set a very fast pace. There were no additional blowdowns and we admired the job we had done marking the trail. We are always careful to make the markers visible but not to place them too closely. Over the first mile we gained 770 feet to the shoulder of Touch-Me-Not Mountain where the trail starts a descent. 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. Along the way we started to place a few trail markers here and there to replace ones that were on trees that had fallen or were faded or missing. Some areas were well-marked and others had no markers at all. We ran across several large trees across the trail but they were old and had been there for some time. We decided to leave them as they were easy to step over. We did remove one blowdown across the trail early on and removed some brush along the trail to widen it. Soon we came across the lowdown I had seen on the last hike that I knew had to be cleared. This was a rather larger mess that all but blocked the trail. I WA able to use the saw to cut it into manageable pieces and we removed it rather quickly. Further on there was a section of trail that had been rerouted to avoid some brush that was blocking the trail. I cut the brush and removed a few old and rotten logs. I placed them across the rerouted trail to block it and marked the original trail correctly. After about 1.6 miles we arrived at the junction with the yellow Little Pond Trail on the left.

picture taken during a hike We continued straight ahead on the red trail toward Cabot Mountain. Sheila was all over the place looking for chipmunks, squirrels and, most of all, birds! We placed some markers along the trail and removed a few old logs that were on the trail. As the trail swung to the left, we placed a few more markers and I cut some brush. Just as we started up Cabot Mountain, we came to the last blowdown I intended to clear. It was a good sized log that lay across the trail and made negotiating the trail difficult. I decided to use the saw to make a cut on the end toward the top. This went better than I had expected as the wood was soft and the weight of the top helped finish the cut. I then moved closer to the end of the tree near the roots and found a place on the other side of the trail to make a cut. This time it took a little longer and I had to be careful not to hit any stones or dig into the dirt with the saw. The cut eventually went through the log and I was left with a rather large section to move off the trail. Fortunately, I was able to pivot the section and gravity helped me get it off the trail. It was now after 4:00 PM and we knew it was time to head back. We retraced our steps to the junction with the Little Pond Trail and decided to turn left and return on that trail by going to Little Pond and then following 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 but we did not have time to cut them. We were soon in the pone 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 and the old foundation before we continued down the trail. We turned off the woods and stayed on 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 moved downstream to take a few pictures of the beaver dam. We did not see and freshly cut stick and there was no lodge in the small pound 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 were immediately confronted by a very large blowdown of two trees across the road. I knew that the DEC staff could easily clear them with a chainsaw. We continued around Little Pond and stopped once so that I could take some pictures. As we neared the bathhouses, we saw two men I assumed were DEC workers which I thought was strange since it was Sunday. They were actually two fishermen seeing what they could catch even though the campgrounds were closed! I put Sheila on her leash and we walked out to 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 5:15 PM having spent 4 hours hiking around 5.5 miles with a lot of time for trail maintenance and photography!

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 Wednesday, April 20th, I planned to hike with Lisa somewhere local to get some exercise but also to get back in time for me to set up for a home track meet. I deiced to ask her if she wanted to hike from Big Pond to Cabot Mountain and back. I texted her the night before and she agreed that I should pick her up at her house at 9:00 AM. The reason I chose the route was because it was short but had some elevation gain. I also wanted to check the section of trail from the top of Touch-Me-Not Mountain to Cabot Mountain for proper trail marker placement and to see how much maintenance work needed to be done. I maintain the trail from Big Pond to Beech Hill Road for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and had placed new markers from Big Pond to the junction with the campground trail on one end and from Beech Hill Road to Cabot Mountain on the other end. I picked Lisa up at the appointed time with Sheba eagerly riding in the backseat and drove up the Beaverkill Road. The sun was bright and starred to increase the temperature from the mid 30's in the early morning to the 50's by the time we started the hike. At the junction with Barkaboom Road I turned left on Barkaboom Road and drove a short distance to the parking area by Big Pond. We parked at 9:10 Am and were ready to hike almost immediately. Because of the early cool weather, I decided to wear my MH Winter Wander pants but did not wear a baselayer. I wore my Mammut hoody over a single layer Mammut top but brought along a lighter windbreaker. We crossed the road and started up the trail stopping for Lisa to sign us into the trail register. We continued up the trail at a good pace and I pointed out the trail markers Cindy and I had placed. I also showed Lisa some of the blowdowns we had cleared. The trail starts rising right from the road and continues to gain elevation for just over one mile to the highest point on Tocuh-Me-Not Mountain gaining almost 800 feet along the way. As we climbed I also showed Lisa where I had cut back prickers and brush last year with the power scythe. Lisa and I talked about various trail projects we are working on as we made the ascent. Just passed the highest point we stopped at the large tree that has split three ways with one trunk crossing the trail and the other hanging over it precariously. I took some pictures and then we continued to the trail junction with the Campground Trail. We stayed to the right on the Touch-Me-Not Trail and I began to evaluate the trail markers and the need for trail maintenance. I had cut out this section of trail with hedge trimmers and loppers last year and it was still in good shape. We did find a few large trees down across the trail but it was easy to walk around or step over most of them. There was one tree with multiple branches across the trail and I decided I would return to get this with axe and saw on another day. We continued out descent to about 1.6 miles where the trail meets the Little Pond Loop Trail. Along the way we had lost about 300 feet as we passed through several different rock formations.

picture taken during a hike At the junction we continued straight ahead on the Touch-Me-Not Trail preparing for our climb up Cabot Mountain. So far the trail marking had been adequate with only a few new markers needed a few spots. We walked along a fairly flat section of trail toward Cabot Mountain clearing a few branches and small tree trunks along the way. At 1.8 miles the trail turned a little to the left and started the ascent up Cabot Mountain. There were a few blowdowns along the way but the nettles which are the bane of the trail section had still not sprouted. Because of this the trail was much easier to negotiate and we were soon climbing the steep section passed and through several different rock formations. I forgot that there are several parts to the climb and each is tricky in its own way. I took a few pictures on the way up. Over the next .4 miles the trail gains 470 feet of elevation at an average grade of 24%. Lisa and I were both happy when we climbed the last section to the flat plateau and walked to the Beaverkill Vista at 2.2 miles. We stopped here and I took my pack off and got out the camera. I took a few shots of Sheila on the viewpoint and then stepped out there to see what I could see. I always think the view from here will be great but I am usually disappointed! The sky was hazy and there were now puffy white loud for contrast. I took a few shots of Little Pond below and a few of the trees and the ledges. We had a quick drink and a snack before I packed up and we headed back on the trail. Descending Cabot Mountain wasn't as easy as it could be. There is a lot of loose dirt and rock on the steepest parts and this is covered in some slippery leaves. As we descended one section, we watched a pair of yellow-bellied sapsuckers chase each other around in what appeared to be a mating ritual. We hit the trail junction with the Little Pond Trail and continued up through the rocks heading toward Touch-Me-Not Mountain. We stopped where the trail passed between some rocks and I took a few shots with Sheila before we continued to the trail junction with the Campground Trail. We stayed on the main trail passing by the triple trunks before starting the decent to the car. The last mile seems to go very quickly as it is all downhill but at a grade that allowed us to keep a good pace. We arrived back at the car at 12:30 PM. I took a few minutes to walk over and take some pictures of Big Pond before returning to the car for the drive home. We had hiked 4.4 miles in 3 hours and 25 minutes with an elevation gain of 1635 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Sunday, April 18th, I was committed to a trail maintenance trip to Frick Pond after church. We met at Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor for an initial introduction before heading off to the trails. Doug Senterman, NYNJTC Catskill Program Coordinator, was on hand to speak briefly about the trail conference and volunteer trail maintenance. All of the 378 miles of trails in the Catskills and many hundreds of miles of trail elsewhere in New York state are maintained by volunteers working for the trail conference that is responsible for a particular area. We headed out the Debruce Road a little after 1:30 PM and arrived just before 2:00 PM to start our work. The ten participants were divided into two groups. Doug and Lisa took one group out on the Quick Lake Trail to work on some drainage problems. I took three people with me to cut one tree that had blown down near the beginning of the Flynn Trail. It was a gorgeous day with temperatures in the high 60's when we started. We walked to the blowdown and decided we could cut it in one spot and then move it off the trail. I grabbed the saw and Glen and I made short work of the medium sized trunk. Lynn and I moved the tree off the trail and out of the way of hikers. Of course, I took pictures before and after our efforts to document our work. We returned to the car where I exchanged my Council Tools Velvicut felling axe for the smaller and lighter Fiskar's axe. We then walked out the Quick Lake trail at the back of the larger parking area. It wasn't long before we came to a slightly larger paper birch across the trail. I took my before pictures of the tree and the other workers and then we got to work. We decided to cut it in two places to make the removal easier. We cut the top on one side of the trail and then went to work on the thicker part of the trunk on the other side. T prevent the saw binding we used felling wedges but Lynn and Janice were a great help as they sat on the other end of the tree causing it to lift off the ground! I took my after pictures and we continued out to the trail register where we found the rest of the group hard at work. They were working to open up some trenches to allow the water to drain off the trail. The trenches become clogged with leaves and other debris which needs to be cleared at least twice a year. We talked for a few minutes and then moved on down the trail as we intended to walk the big loop to Hodge Pond to inspect the trail in that direction. We walked and we talked and soon came to the bridge over the outlet of Frick Pond. I gave the others a running commentary about the areas they had never visited before. I also took a few pictures of the pond before we continued on the trail. We passed the waterhole or mudpit just after the bridge and I hoped the other crew could get some work done on it before the end of the day. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail clearing a few loose branches as we went. Lynn and Glen had completed the Catskill 35's and were starting to work on the CMC all-Trails patch. They also let me know that they used this website often to plan hikes that they have done. This made me feel good!

picture taken during a hike We walked uphill toward Iron Wheel Junction noticing that it was really warm and sunny. We stopped to look at one large branch that was hung up and hanging over the trail but could not see a way to safely remove it. At Iron Wheel Junction Glen and Lynn were ready to continue on the big loop up the Quick Lake Trail to Hodge Pond. Janice and I decided to turn right on the Logger's Loop for a shorter hike and to investigate the condition of the trail. I was pretty sure we wouldn't find anything since I had been over the trail within the previous week. Splitting up allowed me to talk to Janice and the walk went quickly until we came to a small tree down across the trail that had not been there before. I made one cut and we moved it off the trail. As we continued we climbed the last small hill and then descended to Times Square. As we approached the trail junction we met a young couple and their two dogs coming down the Big Rock Trail from Hodge pond where they had been fishing. I was impressed that both dogs were on leashes and both were well-behaved. We said "Hello" and I helped direct them as they decided to go around the back of Frick Pond to get back to their car. I decided we should go the same way so that I could show Janice the wooden walkways around the back of the pond. We set off ahead of the other couple and they gave us some room which was very courteous. We continued our walk looking at some of the wet and muddy areas and trying to determine how they might be remediated. We walked over the bridges over two of the inlets and saw some trout swimming in the deeper pools. We walked across the walkways and I pointed some of the places where pilings needed to be replaced and decking needed to be nailed down. As we came to the end of the "spruce tunnel", we found a large tree across the trail. I decided to cut enough off so we could move one piece out of the way and leave the rest for another day. I used the axe to section the tree and had a little trouble since the wood was filled with pitch. I finished the cut and we moved the smaller piece out of the way. Janice then suggested that we might be able to roll and slide the other piece so that it was not in the trail. I was skeptical but we were able to roll it out of the way and block it so that it would not roll back onto the trail. As we finished the work, the couple with the dogs came walking by and I couldn't help but think that they would have been an asset in moving the blowdown. We continued on around the pond and met the other crew. They were doing a great job working on the mudpit by draining the water downhill toward the pond. We talked to them for a few minutes and then I proudly showed Doug the large cherry tree that Cindy and I had sectioned with axe and hand saw and moved off the bridge. Janice and I then walked back across the bridge and took the Quick Lake Trail back to the car. I was very pleased with the drainage work the other crew had done as it was already allowing the water to flow off the trail. It was about 4:30 PM when we got back to the parking area. Glen and Lynn had not come back but I knew they were experienced hikers and did not worry about them . I was upset that I found a crack in my windscreen that started at a stone bruise on the passenger's side! I was surprised that this incident did NOT negate all the good feelings about the great work we had done in only 2.5 hours!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) CalTopo - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) On Tuesday, April 14th, I wanted to go on a hike close to home. I decided to go to Frick Pond to hike a route and scout out some work for the trail maintenance session on Sunday, April 17th. I was ready to leave the house just after 8:30 AM and Sheila was more than happy to hike two days in a row. I drove out the DebRuce Road and the turned left on Mongaup Pond Road to get to the trailhead for Frick Pond. We arrived in the lot at 8:45 AM and got ready to hike and found no other cars in the lot. The temperature was in the high 30's but it was warming up fast and I was hoping the day would be as nice as the day before! I decided to walk out the Quick Lake Trail and headed out the back of the larger parking area. There was one larger tree across the trail before the register but it looked like it could be cleared with axe and saw. We turned left at the register on the woods road that leads to Frick Pond. The trail here was very wet with some standing and some running water. I decided that this could be remedied by clearing some of the existing channels of leaves and debris. Adding some extra channels would help divert the water from the trail. We stayed left at Gravestone Junction and walked down to the bridge over the outlet of Frick Pond. We stopped at the bridge so I could take a few pictures even though I have many from this location. On this day the sun was still not high enough to illuminate he whole pond so part was in darkness while the rest was in sunlight. We continued along the west side of the pond and found the low spot there filled with water. I made a note that the trail crew could open some drainage for this spot and add a few stepping stone to attack the problem two different ways. At the next trail junction with the Big Rock Trail we turned right on the Big Rock Trail to go to Times Square. There was a culvert that had worked its way almost above ground and I contemplated the various solutions to this problem. The wooden walkways were a little slippery and some boards needed to be nailed down. I took few pictures before continuing around the pond. There were some areas that were wet and muddy and could use some added drainage and a few stones. We stopped at Times Square to see what we thought could be done to alleviate the water problem there. The area was very wet band it was clear the water was running downhill from the Logger's Loop Weber there appeared to be several "springs" on the trail. We continued straight ahead on the Big Rock Trail UP the hill since I thought getting a little aerobic climbing in would be a good idea!

picture taken during a hike From Times Square to the Flynn Trail junction the Big Rock Trail rises 625 feet in 1.1 miles. This doesn't sound like much but it always seems to be a little farther and a little longer than I remember. On this day it seemed I was actually prepared for the trip and kept a pretty good pace as we ascended the hill stopping only to clear a few branches along the way. There were no major blowdowns on the Big Rock trail and by 10:05 AM we had walked 2.3 miles and were at the junction with the Flynn Trail. We turned right to head down the Flynn Trail to the car. This return trip always seems longer than the 1.7 miles that is posted which is the correct distance. The trail is pretty but has no views. I thought about stopping at the clearing but decided that decided not to do so. The clearing is interesting as much of it has a layer a sphagnum moss over bedrock. This moss is usually found in areas with a much deeper and richer subsoil. A small road curves up to the clearing but no one has been able to tell me why the area was cleared. Walking across the clearing and through the woods is interesting since there is a series of ledges that rims Mongaup Pond. There are numerous ways to negotiate these ledges and access the loop road at the state campgrounds. As we walked down the Flynn Trail, we passed many point were I had cleared blowdowns from the trail. There were not additional blowdowns until we made the left turn just before the gate to follow the trail through the woods. There was one tree trunk across the trail which could be removed by saw and axe. We continued on the Flynn Trail back down to the car finding there was now one other car parked in the bigger lot. We arrived in the parking area at 10:45 AM having covered 4.0 miles in 1 hour and 50 minutes with an elevation gain of 680 feet. On the way back home I decided to stop at Mongaup Falls so I turned left at the intersection and parked in the small area on the right side of the road. I took my pack but left the poles behind as we walked back to the road that does down to the outlet stream from Mongaup Pond. We crossed the small bridge and worked our way downstream parallel to the stream bed. I noticed that the small gorge was quite pretty but I also noticed that some visitors apparently considered that broken glass added something to the scene. Once we got to the falls I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the upper falls from the side of the stream and then worked my way down to the base of the falls on the narrow path beside them. There was still some snow in the shade and a very large ice flow that must have been gigantic during the winter! I took some more shots of the falls from slightly downstream and then worked my way down to the stream bed. I stood on a rock in the stream bed to take some still shots and a video of the falls from directly in front. After finishing my photography, I climbed out of the gorge and shouldered my pack for the short walk back to the car. I stooped for a few shots of the gorge from the bridge and then walked directly back to the car.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Alder Lake to Big Pond (out and back) AllTrails - Alder Lake to Big Pond (out and back) CalTopo - Alder Lake to Big Pond (out and back) Gmap4 - Alder Lake to Big Pond (out and back) MapMyHike - Alder Lake to Big Pond (out and back) On Wednesday, April 13th, I wanted to go for a hike on a beautiful day and got in contact with Lisa from Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor the night before. After debating some possible routes, we decided to hike from Alder lake to Big Pond and back. This trail had been a problem in the past but a group from the Catskill Mountain Club had worked on it last fall. We wanted to see the work they had done and make sure we could follow the blazes in both directions. I picked Lisa up at her house since it is on the way and we started toward Alder lake just a little after 9:00 AM. Sheila was happy to be hiking and greeted Lisa enthusiastically. I drove up the Beaverkill Road through Lew Beach and Turnwood. I turned left on Alder Creek Road and drove toward the entrance to Alder Lake. As we neared the end of Alder Creek Road, we watched for the blazes on the left side of the road where the trail crosses the road. We found them at the end of the road just before the entrance to the Cross Mountain Hunting Camp. I turned right and parked on the side of the road just outside the gate which was open. The road into Alder Lake looked a little soft and rough and this was the next best place to park. We got our gear out of the car and started our hike at 9:30 AM by walking down the road to where the trail entered the woods. The first obstacle was crossing Alder Creek which was a little high from the rain during the week. We walked upstream a little and found a narrow spot with some stones to step on. We crossed and started to hike along a broad woods road which was marked with red blazes. The sun was out although it was initially cool. The sun on the leaves left over from the fall and the warmth of the rays set a perfect tone. Over the next half mile we gained about 300 feet climbing to the shoulder of a ridge. The trail was easy to follow and we had a great time talking about various projects we had planned. We noticed that there were posted signs on either side of the state land. From the ridge we started to descend on the same woods road to a small stream. The descent was almost a mirror image of the ascent as we dropped about 300 feet in half a mile. As we approached the stream, the trail markers indicated a slight turn to the west off the woods road and across the stream. The woods had been very open but there was a very large open area just below the stream crossing. I took some pictures of the area and of the stream. I even took a short video of the water flowing over some mossy rocks but the image did not do the scene justice. I walked down the woods road to see where it went and quickly found posted signs so I returned to the stream crossing.

picture taken during a hike We crossed the stream and found that the trail began to follow another well-defined woods road. We also found that we were again climbing to the shoulder of another ridge. In another half a mile we regained 200 feet and at 1.8 miles the trail turned to the west heading directly toward Big Pond. Along the way we began to find some very large trees across the trail which we could navigate but which could be removed. At 2 miles we began a .75 mile descent losing over 400 feet as we headed toward Big Pond. Lisa and I had been debating which body of water was at a lower elevation and this answered our question! As we approached Big Pond, We passed through a nice stand of evergreen trees and the trail made a few turns. This was the area where it had been hard to find the trail but the work by the CMC crew solved the problem. As we approached the upper perking area at Big Pond, we noticed a stone retaining wall on the right side of the trail. The front of the wall was only 18 inches high but one side was about 3 feet and had a pipe coming out of it. We speculated about its origins but in the end it remained a mystery. We hiked out to the parking area and Lisa signed the register before we turned around to start back at 11:20 AM. The hike had taken a little longer than I planned so I wanted to get back as quickly as possible. We set a good pace on the way back stopping only occasionally for a picture or two. On the walk back we began to notice an extensive network of stone walls in the area which we had simply not seen on the way out. The walls were on both sides of the trail and, in some places, the trail crossed the walls. I have always been impressed by the work it took to collect the Stine and the skill needed to turn them into stone walls that have stood for so many years! We were soon back at the initial stream crossing and the short walk back to the car. By the time we returned at 1:00 PM I was very warm as the temperature had risen into the low 50's and the sun's rays were more direct. It had been a beautiful day to hike and the out and back allowed us to see different aspects of the trail. We had hiked 5.9 miles in 3.5 hours with plenty of time for pictures and exploring.

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) Gmap4 - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) MapMyHike - Cabot (from Beech Hill Road) On Saturday, April 9th, I attended a presentation entitled "Tick Talk" at Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor. The talk centered on Lyme disease and other tick bourne diseases and how to prevent them. The presenter from the Sullivan County health department did a great job. Afterwards I did a few errands and waited for the snow to fall. The snow did not seem to be coming ski I asked Cindy if she wanted to go to Cabot Mountain to place some trail markers and assess the trail conditions. She said "Yes" so we got our gear in the car along with Sheila and started for Lew Beach on the Beaverkill Road. Just outside of Lew Beach I turned left on Beach Hill Road and continued 2.6 miles to the trailhead for Cabot Mountain. I had decided not to wear base layer at all and when we got out of the car I thought I might regret the decision. The temperature was 35 degrees and a wind was blowing. There was some snow at the trailhead and the trail right from the beginning was wet. I made sure I had hammer, nails and red markers as well as my Silky saw. I knew that the trail was poorly marked in places but hoped I had enough markers to get the job done. We started out on the woods road at 1:25 PM. We immediately found one 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 very wet with standing water in some areas and running water in others. The water was pretty easy to avoid. We also found that the markers for the trail were either missing or so faded they were impossible to see. I knew from the beginning I would not have enough markers to finish the join and was annoyed. We worked our way up the trail removing useless markers when possible and replacing them. We placed a few new markers but tried to space them at optimal distance to conserve what we had. 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 that was the last one. Some areas would need some lopping but the rest of the trail seemed to be in good shape. We ran out of markers as we approached the top of the steepest section and I knew I would have to return to complete the job. We stopped by a large rock and I took some picture of Cindy and Sheila. I also took a few pictures of the woods which showed several inches of snow!

picture taken during a hike By the time we got to the top of the climb the trail turned from northeast to almost east. At times the trail was barely distinguishable as there were few markers and the trail bed was covered by snow. The further we went and the higher we climbed, the more snow we found. There were places where the snow was 10 inches deep and the average depth as about 6 inches. At .75 miles the trail flattened and then began to roll with a few ups and downs. 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 at a very fast pace. It was hard to keep Sheila with me as she constant wanted to double back to Cindy. We continued up to the summit at 1.4 miles and then descended slightly to the viewpoint at a little over 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 3:00 PM. Sheila and I kept a quicker pace than on the way up in an effort to get to Cindy. I was not sure if she was waiting or had turned around to go back. I kept calling to Sheila to stagy with me but at one point she did not come back. I hurried ahead and found she had caught up with Cindy who had waited and then started back. The way back was quicker for the most part but there were some tricky descent that were slippery from the snow or mud. We did notice the lack of markers on the way back! We were back by 3:45 PM. We had spent 2 hours and 15 minutes on the 3 mile hike including the time it took us to place markers and for me to take pictures. The vertical gain was just under 894 feet. It had taken an hour and a half to go up but only 45 minutes to come down. Part of this was explained by the fact that we placed trail markers on the way out. On the way back home I stopped to take some pictures of the mountain ridges from Beech Hill Road.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Wednesday, April 6th, Lisa contacted me to take a short hike on Round Top, a hill just across the street from my house. The responsibility for maintaining the cemetery had been transferred from the cemetery association to the Town of Rockland. Along with the transfer of the actual cemetery came some acreage including forest land on Round Top. Lisa and I wanted to see if we could scout a route for a trail that would take in a little of this land and the viewpoint that overlooks Livingston Manor. We met at the church at 9:00 AM and started up the steep, paved road to the top of the cemetery. There was almost no snow on the ground until we turned left into the woods. As soon as we made the turn by a set of four stones steps, we were walking through several inches of snow. We walked along a woods road, ducked under agree across the trail and then turned right on another woods road. We walked up the road passing some impressive cliffs on the left until another road cut up to the left. We followed this for a short distance and then turned left on yet another road. We walked on this briefly and then turned left through the brush to head out to the viewpoint. We were trying to be careful to avoid the private property that abuts the town land. There were no signs posting the land but there were some ribbons and we tried to stay on the correct side of them. We walked out toward the ledges and then to the viewpoint. As with many viewpoints, the trees have grown up to block much of the view but on this day we could see the buildings in town since there were no leaves on true trees. I took a few photographs and then we turned to start back down to the car on another convene woods road. Lisa noticed a tree growing on top of a large rock and we took some shots. It did not take us long to get back to the tree we ducked under earlier. We walked out to the cemetery and stopped to take a few pictures before walking down the hill to the parking area. We had walked about a mile in a little over and hour but took time to survey possible trail routes. We discussed the possibilities for trails in this area and others. It was a very enjoyable and productive hike.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond Logger's Loop AllTrails - Frick Pond Logger's Loop Gmap4 - Frick Pond Logger's Loop MapMyHike - Frick Pond Logger's Loop On Monday, April 4th, an early spring snowstorm had dropped 4 inches of new snow overnight adding to the 4 inches that had fallen the night before. All of the schools in the county were closed which seemed like a good idea given the road conditions. I had been on an ambulance call in the early morning and all the roads including State Route 17 were horrendous. Cindy and IU waited until the road crews had a chance to clear most of the snow and hoped the backboards had gotten some attention. My plan was to go to Frick Pond and hike the big loop around Frick and Hodge Ponds. Cindy countered my suggesting we try using our snowshoes. We had not been able to use them even once during the winter in the Catskills due to the lack of snow and now we were contemplating using them in the spring! The only time I got to use snowshoes was when I traveled to Ringwood, NJ after one stir had dumped almost two feet along the coast. We got our gear and Sheila in the car and left Livingston Manor a little after 10:30 AM. 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. This road had been plowed but was still covered in a layer of snow. As I drove up the road the snow began to fall. I stayed to the left where the road spilt and headed up Beech Mountain Road to the trailhead. This road had been plowed once and was covered in snow and snow continued to fall as I parked. We got out our snowshoes and put them on. Cindy War a pair of Atlas Electra 12's and I brought my TSL Symbioz. I had decided to go back to wearing winter gear as the temperature was 26 degrees and I still felt a little chilly as we prepared to hike. I had on tights under my MH Winter Wander pants. ON top I wore a baselayer under an Icebreaker wool top and over this I had my trusty Mammut hoody. I wore my Salomon B52 boots and also had on a light hat and gloves. We left the parking area and headed down the woods road toward the register rather than fight the rocks on the first section of the Quick Lake Trail. 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 but once we got going it wasn't too bad. We stopped ice so that I could take some pictures of the pristine snow on the trail. I was happy no one had gotten there before us as we stayed to the left at Gravestone Junction and walked down the hill to Frick Pond. By the time we got to the pond, it snowfall was heavy and had changed from icy pellets to flakes. I took a few pictures of the bridge which had fresh snowed piled on it. From the bridge I took some pictures of the pond and of Flynn's Point on Beech Mountain which was almost obscured by the falling snow. As we continued on the Quick Lake trail, we found a small drift at the end of the bridge.

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 on the snowshoes than I would have wearing only boots but it was fun. We stopped in the "Spruce Tunnel" where I took a few shots and then crossed the small stream to continue up to Iron Wheel Junction. Working hard on snowshoes tends to magnify even the slightest uphill and the trail to the junction is all uphill. When we arrived at Iron Wheel Junction, we stopped and I took a few photographs of the area. We were both getting tired so we decided to turn right on the Logger's Loop to head for Times Square. 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. I was struggling a little as we walked along the trail and found that taking exaggerated, high steps seemed to help some. Once we hit the high point it was all downhill to Times Square but the downhill did not feel as good as I expected. At Times Square we continued straight ahead staying 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. I had been having some issues with snow clumping on my shoes and now Cindy was experiencing the same problem. The snow was lighter but we found that our tracks were almost completely filled in. We were back at the car at 1:15 PM having taken 2 hours and 20 minutes to hike 3.6 miles with an elevation gain of only 386 feet. As we drove back to town the snow intensified. In town the flakes were huge and I took a few pictures when we arrived home.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Trout Pond (Clockwise) AllTrails - Trout Pond (Clockwise) Gmap4 - Trout Pond (Clockwise) MapMyHike - Trout Pond (Clockwise) On Wednesday, March 30th, I decided I wanted get out and do a hike close to home since the weather was nice and the rest of the following days were looking wet or cold. I decided to go to Trout Pond since it is close and offers some nice views and since I had been to Frick Pond so many times in the last few weeks. I had some things to take care of in the morning so I didn't get out of Livingston Manor until after 10:00 AM. 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. We began our hike down Russell Brook Road at 10:30 AM. The air still seemed cool to me so I wore my Mammut Hoody, a hat and light gloves. I still had on my MH Winter Wander pants 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 but I did not want to wear a baselayer. We continued on down Russell Brook Road to the overlook of the falls. There was some water in the stream and the upper falls did not have the volume I thought it might after some rain during the week. I decided not to stop for pictures on the way out and we continued down toward the parking area. There were two cars parked in the lower lot. We 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 drier than I expected with only a few areas of mud. 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 11:05 AM after hiking 1.4 miles. The woods road had some ruts from a vehicle that appeared to be a pickup truck but none were new. The only access is through the locked gate at the lower parking area which made the tracks somewhat of a mystery. 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 drier than I expect and there was none of the running water I usually encounter. We avoided a few muddy areas and crossed a few small streams. At one point Sheila alerted and I looked up to see alone male hiker headed our way. I put Sheila on her leash and stepped off the trail to let the other hiker go by. We said "Hello" but quickly continued in our opposite directions. 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. We had hiked the southern exposure and there was absolutely no ice or snow on the trail or in the woods. There were a few small branches across the trail and some large pieces that I was able to remove without tools. As we descended toward Trout Pond there were two major blowdowns that would require an axe and saw to clear. I also found a few flakes of snow and crystals of ice underneath a log and hidden from the sun. The trail remained dry 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 dry and firm. At the lower end of the pond I again stopped to take pictures of a scene I had photographed many times! I decided to throw a stick for Sheila and she readily entered the water to swim and retrieve it. After doing this several times and taking some pictures, I decided it was time to continue. Sheila got out of the water, shook herself off and began her mad dash around and around. It seems this is part joy and part an effort to warm herself up! It was obvious that the pond was very low as the water was not even lapping at the outlet dam. The hike from the outlet to the trail junction is all downhill and really did go quickly. As we passed the designated campsite area on the right of the trail, I could see that two hikers had set up camp and had a small fire burning. By 12:30 PM we had hiked 4.7 mikes 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. There was one tree down across the path but it was easy to step over. We walked up the path toward the lower falls and then down the bank to the streambed. I was again surprised at the low volume of the stream despite the recent rain. I took a few quick pictures of thralls including a few with Sheila. We walked back up the bank and out to the main trail to continue our hike back to the car. There were now three cars in the lot but I did not see any of the owners. 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. As I started down two of the cars from the lot drove slowly up the road. I wondered where the owners had been since it only took me a few minutes to hike up the road! I took my pictures and then we returned to the road and finished with the hike up Russell Brook Road back to the car. We arrived back at 1:00 PM having covered 5.5 miles and 1120 vertical feet in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Balsam Lake Mt alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, March 26th, I wanted to hike a 3500 foot peak and decided on Balsam Lake Mountain. Brad agreed to go with me but had not brought hiking clothing. Having more than enough hiking gear to outfit a small expedition, I quickly found some gear and we got ready to go. The temperature was supposed to rise into the mid to high 50's so I wore no baselayers and only a light top. I did put on my Winter Wander pants and my Mammut hoody. I was wondering how the Beaverkill Road had fared but decided the only way to find out was to go there. 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 high 30s's! We passed the Buddhist monastery which was as far as Brad had been on the road. There were a few places where the road had narrowed even further than the last time I had been to Balsam Lake Mountain and at least one spot where the bank had collapsed onto the road. We arrived at the parking area and found two other cars already in the lot. The temperature had risen into the mid 40's and it seemed even warmer in the sun. We were on the trail at 11:30 AM heading toward the first trail junction where we 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. 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 12:00 PM and turned left up the mountain without stopping. This first part of the trail is a gentle climb but I was already feeling the affects of not hiking very much and of not hiking any serious mountains! Over the next half mile the trail gains about 750 feet before leveling off which means an average of around a 28% grade! It is a pleasure to hike with Brad as we both are interested in volunteer EMS. I decided to take it easy on the climb and we stopped several times so that I could catch my breath.

picture taken during a hike Despite the grade, the hike seemed to go pretty quickly and we were soon passing the spur trail to the lean-to and the spring. We passed the 3500 foot sign and ewer soon at the spring. We walked up the stone steps to the summit plateau and continued on toward the fire tower. The trail was frozen in most places and as we passed through a shaded area, Brad spotted some snow on the ground. It isn't unusual to have snow on this mountain in March but the mildness of the winter made this seem surprising. As we approached the tower, we could hear voices. We arrived at the tower clearing at 12:35 PM after hiking 1.7 miles and found about half a dozen people. I tied Sheila to a small sapling and then noticed the hoarfrost and snow on the trees. I spoke to some of the hikers who were seated on the picnic table and then got out my camera. I took some pictures of the snow on the trees and then Brad and I started to climb the tower. Sheila started making a fuss but quieted when I spoke to her. The steps on the tower were wet and there seemed to be water dripping from above. As we climbed we found snow and ice on the treads and snow and ice on the screening on the tower. When we arrived at the landing just below the cab, we looked out to see that the trees had snow and ice on one side and none on the other. It was unusual and I took pictures of the trees and of the snow on the tower. As we started to climb down, we heard a pack of dogs in the woods below. The sound they were making indicated they were on the track of some animal. When we got to the base of the tower, they seemed closer. One of the hikers said they had been on the trail on the Millbrook side when they had ascended the trail. I thought about going back the way we came but decided to complete the loop as planned. Brad and I headed down the trail passed the cabin at about 12:50 PM. Not very far along we found a group of men on the trail simply standing around. We could still hear the dogs and I asked tem if they knew who owned them. One man replied that they belonged to the group. I expressed surprise that they were running loose since it was against the law. He assured me that it WAS legal. Of course, he was wrong. I saw no reason to debate a point when I knew I was right so we continued down the trail.

picture taken during a hike 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 I saw...a pickup truck parked on the trail! I really had to look twice since this was the first time I had ever seen this. The trail is NOT open to motorized vehicles and no one should be parking here! We looked at the truck which had a "dog" sticker and NRA sticker. Immediately we knew that this truck belonged to the group who were illegally running the pack of dogs. I am always annoyed when I meet people who feel that the rules do not apply to them. People like this give hikers a bad name! I have come to accept that there is no way to change these ignorant people except by reporting tem to the authorities. Brad and I 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. On the way back we met a few people hiking up the mountain. We were back in the parking area at 2:00 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!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Thursday, March 24th I planned to do some trail maintenance on The part of the TouchMeNot Trail that runs west from Big Pond to TouchMeNot Mountain. I maintain this trail from Big Pond to Beech Hill Road for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. The Catskill trail supervisor had emailed me that some hikers felt the trail could use a few more blazes. Cindy agreed to go with me which makes trail maintenance and marking much easier. We left Livingston Manor around 10:30 AM with Sheila in the backseat ready to hike anywhere we stopped! I took my Fiskars trimming axe and my smaller Silky saw plus some felling wedges. I also brought a hammer, galvanized roofing nails and the red markers needed to blaze the trail. We arrived at Big Pond just before 11:00 AM and parked in the lot. I got my gear ready to go and we crossed the road to start up the trail. My plan was to place and replace markers on the way up noting any blowdowns that would have to be removed. On our way back we would make sure the blazes were visible in that direction. I also planned to remove a few blowdowns and document the rest for removal at another time. We started up the trail noting that the blazes were easy to spot for some distance since the trail is initially sited on a wide woods road. Just after the register box there was a rather large tree trunk hanging over the trail and supported none too well on the other side. We continued to walk and found a tree bowed over the trail with another supported on top of it. These were in the same position the last time I walked the trail and now I knew it was time to deal with them. We continued up the trail adding and replacing markers as needed. The first half of the trail was pretty well marked but the farther we went the more sparse the markers became. Some were on trees that had fallen, others had faded or fallen off while still others were just missing. At around .6 mules the trail began to get steeper and we had to watch carefully for markers. This is also the area that I had the hardest time clearing of nettles and briars last year. These were pretty much under control as it was early in the spring. We did find a few more blowdowns of various sizes. By about 12:15 Pm we had gotten to the highest point on the trail and walked across a flat area and then down a little to the junction with the Campground Trail. Just before the junction there was a tree that had spilt in three directions. One large truck was across the trail while another was suspend over the top of the trail. We walked to the trail junction where we had a drink and a bar before turning around to start back at 12:20 PM.

picture taken during a hike We stopped at the "triple threat" tree and I took a few shots. This was one I decided to leave for later as it would take some time to remove it and I felt I needed a bigger felling axe and a bigger saw. We continued down the trail watching for the blazes in the return direction. We found several placed where the markers were not clear and placed a few to make the way clear. We ran into a small blowdown which was in the trail and I decided to remove it for aesthetic reasons. I easily sawed through the branch and then cut it again to remove the pieces to the side of the trail. A little farther along there was another larger and livelier trunk that I decided to leave. After taking a few shots we moved on to another rotten tree that lay across the trail. This one was almost broken through in one spot so I only had to cut it in one place. I sued the axe this time to cut through the trunk so that Cindy and I could pull it off the trail. As we walked down the mountain Sheila began to alert as if there was someone on the trail ahead. We heard voices but they seemed pretty far away. We found two more good sized logs that were easy to step over and I decided to leave them for another day. Just after the second blowdown we were coming down to the flatter area and spotted two men below sitting on some rocks. I put Sheila on her leash as we approached and we stopped to talk. The two hikers were coming from Alder Lake and were headed for Little Pond where they expected to camp overnight. I suggested the open meadow on the Little Lind Trail as a nice place to spend the night. They would be hiking through to Beech Hill Road where their second car was parked. Cindy and I continued along removing one more small blowdown on the way before arriving at the place where one tree was bent over the trail with another lying on top of it. We both surveyed the situation since it was unclear how much pressure was on the bent tree and how it would react when the pressure was released. I decided to cut the larger tree off the one that was bent over. I cut most of the way through with the saw but had to finish with the axe. When the weight was released the other tree hardly moved. We cleared the tree I had cut and I turned my attention to the bent tree. I decided to use the axe to cut the truck near the ground. I was very careful as I made the cuts since I was still unsure what forces might be released. As it happened, the tree was relatively easy to cut and simply fell over as I made the last cut. I used the axe to chop through the upper portion and Cindy and I then removed all the pieces. After taking a few shots, we returned to the car at 2:30 PM.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Neversink Unique: Three Falls AllTrails - Neversink Unique: Three Falls CalTopo - Neversink Unique: Three Falls Gmap4 - Neversink Unique: Three Falls MapMyHike - Neversink Unique: Three Falls On Tuesday, March 22nd I planned to hike with my friend Nery who had contacted me the day before. It was his day off from work and college and I was more than pleased to have someone as a hiking companion. I had thought about going to Storm King or Harriman but decided to go to the Neversink Unique Area as it is much closer and Nery had never been there. My plan was to hike to Denton Falls and then walk down to High Falls before doubling back to visit Mullet Brook Falls on the way back. It had been some time since I had been down to High Falls and I was looking forward to the longer route. I got Sheila and my gear in the car and left Livingston Manor at about 8:35 AM to head to Liberty to pick up Nery at his house. I arrived a little before 9:00 AM and Nery soon appeared with his new dog, Laila. She is a cute terrier and pit bull mix that Nery "rescued". She let me pet her but then started to bark at me as Nery put her back in the house. Nery got in the car and I let Sheila get acquainted with him before we headed toward Rock Hill. I drove south and east on Route 17 to Rock Hill and took Katrina Falls Road all the way to the end. I parked in the lot just before 9:30 AM and there were no other cars in the lot. The temperature was 34 degrees but there was no breeze to make it feel colder. We had gotten a slight dusting of snow and as we set off down the woods road, we noticed that there was a little snow still on the trail. We also noticed that the larger blowdowns that had been across the trail had all been cleared. At the first trail junction we turned left to stay on the main trail. As we neared the small bridge that crosses Wolf Brook, we could hear the water rushing in the stream but the large patches of ice that had been there a couple of weeks earlier were gone. We headed up the small hill to the junction where the main trail splits and stayed to the right to head to the lower bridge across Mullet Brook. When we came to the bridge, I warned Nery to be careful as the bridge's condition continues to deteriorate. We crossed the bridge without a problem and walked up the hill to the spur trail to Denton Falls. I might have skipped this if I was alone since I had been there recently but I wanted to give Nery the full tour! As we walked the trail down to the river, we kept up a steady stream of conversation which made the walk go much quicker. The trail was in good shape and there was only a little frozen mud in a few places. Over the quarter mile to the river we dropped about 170 feet in elevation. There was quite a bit of water in the river but there was very little ice on the rocks. We walked along the rocks and I removed my pack to get out the camera. I took some pictures but was disappointed that the sky was a flat blue without very many puffy white clouds. After taking a few more shots, I shouldered my pack and we began the walk back up to the main trail.

picture taken during a hike When we got back up to the main trail, we turned right and walked a short distance before bearing right again to walk the trail to High Falls. It is almost a two mile walk to High Falls and the trail isn't very interesting so I was glad Nery was along. Initially the trail descends but then starts and ascent until it reaches a high point at 2.6 miles where the elation is almost 1300 feet. From Here the trail begins to descend and in 1.3 miles it loses almost 500 feet to the level of the river. As we made our final approach we could hear the water and see the falls. As we walked out onto the rocks near the falls there was only a little ice and we were able to walk to the rocks below the falls. This allowed my to get shots upriver and almost directly at the face of the falls. I was surprised at how different High Falls was than Denton Falls since in my mind they are very much the same. High Falls is only a little higher but the river is wider at this point and there are two distantly different sections to the falls. I took several pictures of the falls and some shots downstream. I even took a picture of Sheila posed next to Nery! We had been drinking along the way and now I got out a bar that we shared. As we started the walk back I could feel that my "up" muscles were getting tired. By 12:45 PM we had walked 5.85 miles and were back at the trail junction just above Denton falls. We turned right to start the loop back to the car. In about a tenth of a mile we came to the spur trail to Mullet Brook falls on the left. We turned and found another hiker coming toward us with his dog on a leash. I put Sheila on her leash and walked back out to the main trail to allow the other hiker to pass. Sheila and his dog seemed to get along so we let then say 'Hello' before heading our separate ways.

picture taken during a hike We walked the spur trail down to Mullet Brook Falls. The last time I visited, I had slipped on a rock and ended up face down but without serious injury. This time I dropped my pack, got out the camera and walked over the rocks to the area in front of the falls. The sun was a little high and I was worried about sunspots in the pictures. I took pictures of the falls head on and then took some of the lower part of the falls and the pool at the base. I repositioned myself to the right side of the falls and took a few more shots from a different angle. I walked back to my pack, packed up and we headed back out to the main trail. We turned left to continue our loop back to the car. We were still ascending as we walked and I noticed how tired my legs had become. At 6.8 miles we again were crossing Mullet Brook but this time on the upper bridge which is in better shape than the lower. A little further on we hit the highest point on the hike at 1473 feet and then began our descent. Over the next the next .9 miles we lost 430 feet in elevation. Soon we were at the trail junction where we turned right to complete the loop and retrace our steps back to the care. We crossed the small bridge over Wolf Brook and then began the last uphill part of the hike. The last half mile back to the car is all uphill and although the grade is only 7% I was glad when we were in the parking lot. It was 2:20 PM and we had hiked 8.4 miles in 4 hours and 50 minutes. The elevation gain was 1840 feet.

On Monday, March 21st, I was in the mood to hike after two weeks of a nasty cold! I had thought about going a little farther away but an early morning ambulance call changed my mind. When I got home, I suggested to Cindy that we go to Trout Pond and she agreed. Once Sheila found out we were going she was beside herself. Sheila really doesn't care where we go as long as we get out. We got our gear and Sheila in the car and left Livingston Manor just before 10:00 AM heading north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe. I got off at the Roscoe exit and followed Route 206 toward Downsville. Just after the Rockland Flats I turned left on Morton Hill Road and drove up the hill to the junction with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road near the intersection. I avoided parking in the lot there as it is on private property. We started our hike at 10:15 AM by walking down Russell Brook Road. The temperature was in the mid 30's but a wind was blowing that made it seem colder. I had worn my Mammut hoody and layers on the top but had decided not to wear a baselayer under my MH Winter Wander pants. I was sorry I made this decision. I did start to warm up as we walked down the road. I decided I was tired of the same old loop and that we would try to follow the snowmobile trails up and over the ridge on the eastern side of Trout Pond. I knew the trails were not maintained and poorly marked but I had followed them before. Some of the trails are sited on the old woods roads used to haul trees for the wood alcohol factories that used to be around Butternut Grove just north of Roscoe. We turned right onto the snowmobile trail opposite the first campsite and walked passed the metal gate. The trail was much wider and easier to follow than I remembered and I was optimistic that we would be able to follow the trail. At about .65 miles the snowmobile trail crossed a stream but the water was a little too high so we walked upstream until we could cross. We spotted what looked like a woods road and began to follow it instead of walking back to the point where the trail had crossed the stream. We angle our way toward the top of the ridge even though I knew we probably weren't far enough along to find the snowmobile trail over the top. At just under a mile we picked up snowmobile markers again and turned right to follow the trail as it headed north and up.

The snowmobile trail had not been cut out in some time and we began to lose any markers. We decided to continue to head north but to stay off the very crest of the ridge and walk a little to the west of it so that we were between the pond and the ridge. I knew that there were some pretty steep cliff bands but wanted to be ready to cut down to the trail around the pond since the slope becomes more manageable farther north. At about 1.4 miles we hit the snowmobile trail and I knew turning left would take us down to the pond. For some reasons Cindy wanted to turn right and head farther north and up! We turned right and followed the snowmobile markers and very soon we lost them and the trail. Cindy decide we should climb up and over the ridge and head out to Morton Hill Road! We headed due east and in .2 miles gained about 120 feet to the top of the ridge. I was definitely out of shape and having trouble breathing from the cold since it seemed much longer and steeper than it was although the elevation of the ridge at the highest point was 2540 feet. We continued east and started down from the highest point fighting through some pretty thick brush in spots. At 2.1 miles we began to find some woods roads and were able to follow them south and east. The roads brought us down the ridge to cross Russell Brook at 2.4 miles. Somewhere along the way I had seen the yellow blazes that mark state land and although I had seen no POSTED signs, I was pretty sure we were on private property. After crossing the brook we headed southeast toward the road and crossed another arm of Russell Brook which had cut a pretty deep channel in the hill. Once up the other side, we walked through a field of prickers and out to the road. I put away my poles and put Sheila on her leash. We turned right to head south along Morton Hill Road back to the car. The walk along the road was less than a lie and went very quickly. I had not been looking at my GPS and was surprised to find that the whole hike was less than 4 miles as it seemed much longer! We were back at the car at 12:30 PM having hiked 3.4 miles in 2 hours and 15 minutes. The vertical gain was 875 feet but felt like much more!

Winter 2015-2016

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Wawayanda SP North AllTrails - Wawayanda SP North CalTopo - Wawayanda SP North Gmap4 - Wawayanda SP North MapMyHike - Wawayanda SP North On Saturday, March 12th, I had decided to take a little longer and more difficult hike. I had settled on going north to hike a 35 like Hunter or south to hike in northern New Jersey. I had planned several times to go to Wawayanda State Park in northern New Jersey just south of Warwick, NY but had been turned back by weather. In the end I decided to visit the park as it had some iron mines I had not yet visited. There is also a section of the AT that runs through the park and I could not remember hiking it either. I checked my records and found that I had hiked this section with Kurt the year before. We hiked from near Surprise Lake to the Pinwheel Vista which is the most memorable point on that section of the AT. I woke early and despite my efforts to get a little more sleep I could not. I decided to get an early start so I got my gear ready much to the delight of Sheila. I knew it would be warm for the hike but I donned my Winter Wander pants and my Mammut Hoody. Under the hoody I had a baselayer and a light wool top. I don't know what I was thinking! We left Livingston Manor a little before 8:30 AM and I headed south and east on Route 17 to exit 124. From here I took Route 17A and Route 94 through Florida to Warwick. I continued through Warwick on Route 94 and turned left on the Warwick Turnpike not far outside of town. After 15 miles, We arrived at the park where I turned right onto the access road. I parked near the office which was closed and surveyed the area to find the blue Hoeferlin Trail that passes by the iron mines. I found the trail and we were hiking at 9:45 AM. There were only a few cars in the lot and no hikers were leaving when we were so I let Sheila roam a little off her leash. The trail was an almost flat woods road that headed north paralleling the Warwick Turnpike. After only a short distance, we met two hikers coming toward us and I said a quick "Hello" as we passed. I had the printed NYNJTC Northern Jeresy 2009 trail map with me but was also using the Avenza app on my iPhone. At .25 miles we crossed the AT and continued north. At .45 miles we were in the vicinity of the first iron mine which was unnamed on the map. We walked off the trail to the right and I began to find depressions in then ground. The depressions had piles of rock next to them which are the "tailing" from these explorations. I found a few bigger pits and was pleased to be seeing a part of history. When the United States was first forming and well into the 19th century the only source of iron or implements made from iron was from other countries. This was expensive and, sometimes, an unreliable source. The hills of northern New Jersey and what is now Harriman State Park in New York, as well as some other locations, proved to be a good source of iron until the mid to late 19th century. After I took some pictures, we walked back out to the trail and continued north.

picture taken during a hike Within a short distance, the trail intersected a gravel road where we kept to the right to continue our trek north tow the Green and Wawayanda Mines. We met a couple hiking toward us and I put Sheila on her leash as they had two large German Shepherds. They did not bother to leash their dogs but, fortunately, they were friendly. We talked briefly before continuing in opposite direction. Almost immediately, Sheila and I both noticed some mountain bikers headed our way. Sheila was good and the bikers asked me the way to the office. I told them and we continued on. From the maps I knew that the green mine was located at about 1 mile along the trail where the Hoeferlin Trail turns sharply to the left. The mine is on the other side of a creek and swamp so I didn't know how accessible it would be. When we arrived at the turn we crossed the creek on a bridge and had easy access to the ridge to the east of the trail. We walked off into the woods and began a slight ascent to the top of the ridge. I immediately began to see a few small depressions but nothing more dramatic than the previous "mine". We walked south along the ridge and I saw ahead some fencing. The fencing surrounded a deeper pit with a collapsed adit. It was hard to tell how deep the mine had been but the tailing next to it indicated it may have been rather large. Some paths continued along the ridge and I found another area where the bank had been cut away. A little further south there was another fenced area. This one was much more interesting as the fence was metal and surrounded a deep shaft with stone sides. The adit was filled with water but I drop a rock in and it sank quickly into the murky water. The light was actually too bright to get very good pictures and the fence spoiled the view. I was able to put my camera over the fence and use the screen viewfinder to frame several good shots. After investigating a few more pits we headed back north to the point where we turned off the road. Where the Hoeferlin Trail headed west, we continued north on the old Wawayanda Road looking for a gate where we would again head off the road to the east to the Wawayanda Mine. After walking less than a quarter mile I began to see paths to the right and piles of we are happy to looked like tailings. The road had no gate so we doubled back and turned east about 1.2 miles from the office. We found I woods road that ran to an area that had been cleared and to a bank that seemed to have been mined. I took a few pictures and then we continued up and over the bank still heading east. I found three or four more pits above the bank and took pictures but was disappointed that they were not very deep. I picked up my gear and we headed a little to the north where I enticed a water filled pit ahead and to the right. I dropped my gear and took the camera to take a few pictures. As I returned I noticed another area with a deep cleft in the one bank and an adit cut into the other. The adit was obviously collapsed but the amount of tailings and the work done in the area convinced me that it was significant. I took many shots before returning to my pack. We investigate another area a little further north and east across a small stream. There were a few small pits here. I decided I wanted to return to the main trail and head toward Wawayanda Lake and the Wawayanda Furnace.

picture taken during a hike We walked south to the junction with the Hoeferlin Trail and turned west to follow the trail northwest to the blue Iron Mountain Trail. At 2.4 miles we turned left on the Iron Mountain Trail which was another wide and well-maintained gravel road. The day was getting warmer and I stopped to open all my zippers and get a drink. I had only brought Ione liter of water which, given my tendency to dehydrate and cramp, was not a good idea. I had been noticing the veritable cacophony of noise coming from all the swampy areas but it was very noticeable along this trail. The spring "peepers" were out in force but here were several different pitches and volumes! We continued along the road crossing the At again at 3.4 miles. At 4.6 miles we came to one of the park roads and crossed it heading for the boat launch on Wawaynada Lake. As we were headed toward the lake we met Ta father and done and both were carrying fly rods. I wondered about the fishing regulations as trout season in New York does not open until April 1. We walked up a small hill and across the parking area at the boat launch to the shores of the lake. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take some photographs. I knew we were only seeing part of a much larger lake but the part we were seeing was beautiful. The water was very blue and I only wished there are a few more puffy white clouds to break up the blue sky. The lake had several island, some small and some much larger. I also too a few captures of the canoes and paddleboats stacked on the beach as well as a few fishing boats. After finishing my photography, we headed around the end of the lake toward the dam on a pathway. At the dam it was not clear which way to go but we followed another archway without crossing the dam. This brought us down a small hill to a junction. There was a large stone structure on the left side of the trail that was protected behind a chain link fence. Although the wooden roof had seen better days, the rest of the structure was well preserved. This was the Wawayanda Furnace which operated from the 1840's to well passed the Civil War. It processed raw iron ore from the surrounding mines turning it into pig iron which could them be formed into implements. I took off my pack, got out the camera and told Sheila to "Stay!" I took some time to walk around the furnace while taking pictures from several different angles. The history of the iron mining in the area has always interested me and this was a high point!

picture taken during a hike From the furnace, we walked a little to the east to pick up the yellow Double Pond Trail. I had Sheila on her leash as there were quite a few people in the area. I decided to stow my poles as carrying them with the dog on the leash is not easy. We followed the paved Double Pond Trail as it wound passed several campsites and then immediately turned back into a trail after passing a gate. Since I saw no more walkers, I let Sheila off her leash but decided to leave my poles stowed. The trail was rocky and headed uphill a little and I debated getting out my poles. At 6.25 miles we were at the trail junction with the Cedar Swamp Trail. I had been sick and I also had not hiked as much as I had wanted during the winter. As a consequence of this and being overdressed, I was a little tired and thought I might simply skip the cedar swap. My GPS was in my pack and I had poised myself I would leave it there! I decided that seeing the Atlantic white cedar swap would be worth the effort so we turned right or south on the Cedar Swamp Trail. Reports said that the trail had a boardwalk that was not completed and that, at times, hikers would find the area to wet to continue. As we headed south we almost immediately ran into the boardwalk which seemed to be in good shape. It initially passed over a wide and open swamp which had a small stream in the middle. I stopped to take a few pictures before continuing on. I noticed s pile of materials that were obviously being used to construct the boardwalk. The boardwalk actually consisted of three tiers. The bottom tier was constructed of crosspieces made of a composite material. They were lighter than cement but heavier than wood and appeared to be built to resist the decay brought on by being immersed in water. On top of the composite crosspieces were wooden ones and on top of that the wooden decking. We walked along the boardwalk hemmed in by laurel in most places. I stopped at one point to get some pictures of the cedars and the boardwalk. There were still some icy patches hidden in the shade under the trees! The boardwalk was under repair in several areas but we were able to continue our walk avoiding some wet areas. Eventually the boardwalk ended and we continued to follow the trail until it ended at the green Banker Trail. The turn where was not completely obvious but I knew we needed to head east and then north so we turned left to follow the trail.

picture taken during a hike The Banker Trail headed north along the eastern edge of the cedar swamp. It was a well constructed trail but had no real surprises or attractions. As we neared the Banker Road trailhead, Sheila noticed some movement off to the left and started into the woods after what she thought was an animals. I saw that it was a mountain biker and called her back. I put her on her leash and we continued on the trail until we Mt the biker. We passed by and found a red trail on the left which was not on my printed map. The new trail was on the newer map on my phone. The new Plymouth Lane Trail headed north to connect back to the Double Pond Trail. The trail avoided walking out to Banker Road and using it to get to another trailhead. I got out my GPS and found we were already ay 8.65 miles. The road walk would be quicker but I knew that I would take the trail!> We turned left and followed the new trail as it wound its way to the west and then headed north. This was the first trail that could have sued a few more blazes and being new was not well worn. I had no problem as I just followed Sheila who never has a problem picking up the trails. At 9.6 mile we hit the Double Pond Trail and turned right to walk to the beginning of the Hoeferlin Trail. The turn was not well marked but at this point I knew just where I wanted to go. We walked toward the parking area on Double Pond Road and turned left or north just before getting there. As sign marked the beginning of the blue Hoeferlin Trail and indicated the office was 1.8 miles away. This was a little more than I wanted to here but at least I knew how far we still had to go. As we started out on the trail it was very rocky which was definitely not what my feet had in mind! The trail headed due north and near the end there were a few small hills just to make the hike memorable. The distance was actually more like 1.6 miles. We arrived back at the car at 3:20 PM. We had hiked 11,4 miles in 5.5 hours with an overall average of 2 mph. I was surprised at the quick pace since we had stopped so many times for pictures and had wandered around exploring. The total elevation gain was 1134 feet but I don't remember much in the way of climbs. On the way home we stopped at the Craft Beer Cellar and Keller's Crisp Suds in Warwick. This craft beer store has a great variety and knowledgeable staff.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) CalTopo - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Down Flynn) On Tuesday, March 8th, Lisa and I had decided to go to the Neversink Unique Area to hike at about 9:00 AM. I had been there recently but Lisa wants to go and I was glad to have company. I was ready at 8:45 AM preparing to walk out the door when the ambulance pager sounded. I might have continued on my way but the call was an Echo response, the most serious, for a cardiac arrest from a drug overdose. I quickly texted Lisa and then headed down to the ambulance building. The rig was already pulled out and we were able to leave immediately. The short story is that the patient survived and we were back in town just after 10:30 AM. Lisa was still ready to hike so we changed our plans and decided to go to Frick Pond to hike a loop. Sheila, who had seemed depressed when I left the first time, was more than ready to go as I put my gear in the car. The temperature was already in the low 50's and I knew it would being increasing. I put on only a light top under my Mammut hoody and left the tights at home. I met Lia in front of her business and we headed out the Debruce Road. We arrived at the trailhead for Frick Pond just before 11:00 AM and immediately headed out the Quick Lake Trail toward Frick Pond. The plan was to hike around the back of the pond on the Big Rock Trail to Times Square. From there we would continue on UP the Big Rock Trail to the Flynn Trail and then take it back to the car. As we got out of the car, it was obvious that it was too warm for a hat and gloves so I left them in the car. I had brought a light windbreaker but decided to wear my Mammut hoody as I knew I could open the zippers to dump some heat. We started out the Quick Lake trail from the larger parking lot and immediately encountered a tree across the trail. I knew there were several more and debated whether I could wait to remove them until the next trail crew work day. Lisa wrote our names in the register and then we headed out to Frick Pond along the wide woods road. The trail was wet and muddy in some places with only a few small patches of ice. We surveyed some areas where the small drainage ditches needed cleaning to help the water exit the trail. At Gravestone Junction we stayed left of the Quick lake trail to head down the hill to the bridge at the outlet end of Frick Pond. We stopped at the bridge to take a few pictures and then continued along the west side of the pond to the first junction with the Big Rock Trail. We turned right on the Big Rock Trail to go to Times Square. There were a few muddy areas and the wooden walkways were a little slippery. We stopped at Times Square to see what we thought could be done to alleviate the water problem there before contusing straight ahead on the Big Rock Trail UP the hill.

picture taken during a hike From Times Square to the Flynn Trail junction the Big Rock Trail rises 625 feet in 1.1 miles. This doesn't sound like much but it always seems to be a little farther and a little longer than I remember. Lisa and I both agreed to stop at intervals to catch our breath! We cleared a few branches as we walked and having someone to talk to made the walk go faster. By 12:20 PM we had walked 2.3 miles and were at the junction with the Flynn Trail. I took a few pictures on the way up the Big Rock Trail just to show that they were free of snow. I was able to get one pictures of some shelf fungus on a fallen tree that seemed to be particularly striking. We turned right to head down the Flynn Trail to the car. This return trip always seems longer than the 1.7 miles that is posted which is the correct distance. The trail is pretty but has no views. I thought about stopping at the clearing but decided that it was getting late and our first outdoor track practice was at 3:00 PM. The clearing is interesting as much of it has a layer a sphagnum moss over bedrock. This moss is usually found in areas with a much deeper and richer subsoil. A small road curves up to the clearing but no one has been able to tell me why the area was cleared. Walking across the clearing and through the woods is interesting since there is a series of ledges that rims Mongaup Pond. There are numerous ways to negotiate these ledges and access the loop road at the state campgrounds. We continued on the Flynn Trail back down to the car. We arrived in the parking area at 1:00 PM having covered 4.1 miles in 2 hours.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Saturday, March 5th, I was in Ithaca, NY for the New York State Indoor Track championships. The previous week had involved preparing for this meet and nursing a cold that just made me feel lousy! Since we did not have to be at the competition until after 1:00 PM, we decided to visit some waterfalls in the area. As I planned the visits the night before I was surprised at the number and quality of falls in the area! Within a 15 minute drive of our motel there were at least 10 waterfalls to visit. We left the motel a little after 10:00 AM headed for Cascadilla Falls at the lower end of the gorge that runs through the Cornell University campus. I was anxious to hike the gorge trail which despite being only half a mile long gains 400 feet in elevation and has several falls along the way. We parked at the corner of East Aurora and Linn street and walked over to the small park where the trail begins. I was crushed to see a sign that stated "Gorge Trail CLOSED for the winter"! We were able to walk to a good viewpoint for Cascadilla Falls but I REALLY wanted to hike the trail. My efforts were thwarted by a large wrought iron gate with a padlock. I wanted to take some pictures so I got out my iPhone 6 and snapped a few shots. I didn't think the camera was much different than on my old iPhone 4s and didn't give it a second thought. We decided next to drive to the Gun Hill area to take a look at Ithaca Falls. As we drove down Gun Hill we turned left at the bottom of the hill and found a small parking area. We walked down a path to the stream and then walked upstream to the falls. We were able to get pretty close to the base and I took some more pictures of the falls, the gorge and the ice on the trees near the stream. There were several signs that warned that the rocks in the area might be contaminated with lead from the now closed Ithaca Gun Factory. Above the falls was a tall brick smokestack which is about all that remains of this factory. We returned to the car and I started to look at a few pictures. As I scrolled through the pictures, I noticed that a few seemed to be videos even though I had not taken any. One of my athletes explained about "live" pictures on the iPhone and I realized I needed to read a little more about the camera.

picture taken during a hike We still had some time left so I drove to Beebe Lake on the Cornell campus and parked in a lot so we could walk down to the footbridge that gave the best view of the dam and TripHammer Falls. The dam had been constructed to enhance the falls and provided waterpower to run a trip hammer. I walked out onto the bridge and took several pictures of the lake and then falls and a couple of the gorge downstream. We noticed that the bridge had high fences and nets below the walkway. Apparently, several students had tried to commit suicide by jumping into the gorge and some had succeeded! I pondered the pressures that would make young and intelligent students so desperate that they would try to end their lives. We returned to the car and drove along a road that paralleled the gorge. In less than a mile we found Fall Creek Road and turned left following the road to a small parking lot near a suspension bridge over the gorge. We walked out on the bridge to view the lower part of Triphammer Falls and the smaller Foaming Falls and the old powerhouse below. This bridge was pretty high up and was completely enclosed with fencing. Below the bridge and slightly downstream I could see people walking down a path to an area near the stream bed. We walked across the bridge and then followed the path down into the gorge. At the end of the path there was a nice view upstream of the falls and I again took pictures including a few where I sued the zoom. We followed the path back to the top and then turned right to head to the Stewart Avenue bridge to view the last of the three falls, Forest Falls. We walked to the middle of the bridge and I again took pictures and for some used the zoom. We continued to walk across the bridge. Turned right on Fall Creek Drive and were soon back at the car. When I arrived home after the meet, I eventually settled in and looked at the pictures. Most were quite good especially for a cell phone. The ones where I had used the zoom were of very poor quality and highly pixelated. I began to read some information on several sites about the camera. All sites warned against using the zoom at all since it is only a digital zoom and this causes poor quality pictures. After thinking about this for a moment, it made perfect sense. The suggestion was to take the pictures without the zoom and then crop and enlarge them. I also read about some other features of the camera like built in HDR, burst mode, the flash and :live" pictures. I downloaded a the HDR Pro X app which several sites suggested does a better job than the built in HDR. I definitely will try the iPhone camera again but I also know I will be using my Canon most of the time!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Hodge Pond Lookout and Sullivan County High Point AllTrails - Hodge Pond Lookout and Sullivan County High Point CalTopo - Hodge Pond Lookout and Sullivan County High Point Gmap4 - Hodge Pond Lookout and Sullivan County High Point MapMyHike - Hodge Pond Lookout and Sullivan County High Point On Sunday, Feb 28th, I asked Cindy if she would like to hike after church and she said "Yes". We decided to go to the Hodge Pond Lookout to see what the view looked like without the leaves on the trees. We had a meeting and a luncheon after church so we didn't get started until after 1:30 PM. I almost decided to put it off until Monday but Sheila seemed to be very excited about going and rain was in the forecast for Monday. The temperature at the house was pushing 50 degrees so I opted to forego a baselayer. We got our gear into them car, put Sheila in the backseat and headed off to the trailhead. We arrived just before 2:00 PM and found another group of hikers getting ready to start. They did not seem to be in any hurry and it appeared they had no idea where the trails were located. As they looked at the maps at the tailed, we crossed the road and headed up the Flynn Trail at 1:50 PM. I hoped they would not follow us since I had put Sheila on her leash and wanted to release her. When we turned right on the woods that is the beginning of the Flynn Trail, it was obvious they had gone in a different direction so I released Sheila and let her run. I immediately opened the zippers on my Mammut Hoody and took off my hat. It was now 50 degrees and the sun was shining. There was no snow on the trail but the ground was still frozen. We could hear the wind blowing through the tops of the trees but near the ground it was still. We set a fast pace up the Flynn Trail powered by the beautiful weather. The Flynn Trail is uphill all the way for the first 1.7 miles to the Big Rock Junction but this section seemed to go very quickly. We continued through the junction and just before the gate on the trail Sheila alerted. I could see other people ahead so I put her on the leash. Cindy told me it was a couple with their dog and that the dog was also leashed. We passed each other at the gate and said a quick "Hello". The other dog was a very large Rottweiler! We continued on the trail to the point where the Flynn Trail heads downhill to Hodge Pond. Here we turned to the right on a woods road and walked along the "high road" to the junction of some roads above the pond. At this junction a road turns left to go down to the pond. Just a little further on the road splits with the left fork passing by the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp and ending up on Shin Creek Road in Lew Beach. We continued straight ahead to climb the road up the hill. The road was a little steeper than I remembered and a little longer but we kept our pace. The sun had started to melt some of the frozen ground creating some muddy spots but these were easily avoided.

picture taken during a hike There were places where there was ice under a thin layer of snow and I thought about getting out my spikes several times. We solved the problem by walking carefully and keeping to the sides of the trail. We stopped briefly as the trail leveled at the old quarry and then continued our hike. We passed by a spring house on the right and at 2.6 miles and shortly after that we came to a lookout on the right. I stopped to take a few pictures before following the road which made a sharp right turn. Just after this the road turned to the left but another trail branched off to the right. We turned onto the trail on the right which was well defined but had a light coating of snow. After a slight incline, we walked to 2.9 miles over flat ground to the Hodge Pond Lookout. I dropped my pack and took some pictures of the pond below and the hills in the distance. The brush had been trimmed back affording a much better view of the pond. I asked Cindy to pose with Sheila on the rock that forms the lookout and I took several pictures. We grabbed a drink then continued on the trail as it circled around Flynn's Point and back to the woods road only slightly further along than where we had turned off. We turned left on the road and headed back down the hill. The trip down was a little more exciting than the trip up. The slippery spots seemed much slipperier on the way down! When we got to the base of the hill at the junction of the roads, we turned right and walked over to what is left of the buildings from the Boy Scout camp. I took some pictures before we headed back to the woods road. We walked out to the Flynn Trail and turned left and were soon at the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 4.6 miles. To give us a little variety, we turned right on the Big Rock Trail and began a 1.1 mile descent to Times Square losing 590 feet of elevation along the way! As we walked down the trail, we stopped several time sot clear branches that had come down in the high winds the week before. At Times Square we continued straight ahead on the Big Rock trail as it passed around the "back" of Frick Pond. As we walked we noticed that the small streams that feed the pond were exceptionally full. We passed through the "spruce tunnel" and then walked over the wooden walkways heading toward the outlet of Frick Pond. Where the walkways were exposed to the sun they were fairly dry and easy to negotiate. At several points the walkways were slippery where they passed under the cover of the trees. We were soon at the junction with the Quick Lake Trail where we turned left. We crossed the bridge at the outlet of Frick Pond at 6.25 miles. Despite the fact that I have hundreds of pictures from the bridge, I stopped to take a few before continuing on the trail. I was surprised to find that the ice that had covered the hill up from the pond and a good part of the rest of the trail back to the parking area was now gone. We had to be careful as there were some wet and muddy areas that we avoided. When we came to the register box, we turned right and walked the trail back to the car. As we approached the parking area, we found a pickup truck with a couple getting ready to start their hike. It was 5:00 PM and they did not seem to be sure of where they were going! We had hiked 6.8 miles in just over 3 hours gaining 1275 feet along the way.

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 Monday, February 22nd I wanted to hike locally but did not want to return to the Frick Pond area AGAIN! I asked Cindy if she would like to go to the Neversink Unique Area and she said "Yes". I thought that the recent rain might have swollen both the Neversink River and Mullet Brook making Mullet Brook Falls and Denton Falls on the Neversink interesting. We left Livingston Manor a little after 9:00 AM and drove south and east on Route 17 to Rock Hill. I took Katrina Falls Road and drove all the way to the end, parking in the lot just before 9:30 AM. There were no other cars in the lot. The temperature was 28 degrees and there was a slight breeze which made it feel colder. When I turned on my GPS a warning told me the battery pack was low. I replaced the pack with AA batteries which seemed to work OK. My only complaint about the the Garmin GPSmap 64st is that the battery pack is really only good for one hike! As we set off down the woods road, we noticed that there was no snow at all on the trail. We also noticed that the larger blowdowns that had been across the trail had all been cleared. At the first trail junction we turned left to stay on the main trail. As we neared the small bridge that crosses Wolf Brook, we could hear the water rushing in the stream and we could see a large patch of ice. I stopped to take a few pictures while Cindy put on her spikes. I did not bother to put on spikes so I hugged the edge of the trail where there was less ice and more dirt. We were soon across the ice and headed up the small hill to the junction where the main trail splits. I knew that there might be a problem with the lower bridge across Mullet Brook so we turned left to do the loop in a clockwise direction. This would allow us to visit both falls and retrace our route back to the car if we could not cross the lower bridge to form a loop. The trail started out flat but soon began to climb. Over the next .9 miles we gained almost 400 feet. The ascent was never steep but we maintained a good pace which elevated my heart rate and generated some body heat. At 1.6 miles we came to another trail junction. The trail to the left leads out to the Wolf Lake Multiple Use Area so we turned right to continue on the main trail which from this point on is mostly flat or downhill. After mailing the turn, we were headed south and soon crossed Mullet Brook on the upper bridge. The stream had a generous layer of ice over it attesting to the low temperatures the previous weekend. I stopped to take a few shots before continuing on the trail. At 1.8 miles we made another right turn causing us to head almost due west starting a long descent toward the Neversink Gorge.

picture taken during a hike As we hiked I was watching for the short spur trail to the right which goes down to Mullet Brook Falls. It was a little farther along than I thought it was but at 2.25 miles we made the right turn and walked down to the falls. The falls were partly frozen and partly open creating the prefect opportunity to take pictures. I dropped my pack and poles and took out the camera. As I worked my way toward the falls, Cindy decided to take a break. I thought I was being carefully climbing over the rock and avoiding the ice. In my haste to get to a good vantage point I forgot how slippery the rocks can be when the mist from the falls freezes on the them! I carefully placed my left foot on a rock and immediately found myself face down on the rocks. I somehow had the presence of mind to hold the NEW camera up so that it did not come to an untimely end. I carefully got up, found I had a few sore spots, and picked a better route to the rocks below and in front of the falls. I took pictures of the falls, the pool below and the ice on either side. I also took a few shots of the stream below the falls as it headed toward the Neversink. I took a video of the falls before looking for a safe way back to my pack. It was even harder working my way back to my pack but I did so without incident. I put the camera back in the pack and we headed back out to the main trail where we turned right. At 2.6 miles we arrived at the junction with the trail to the left that leads to High Falls. I was ready to add the extra 4 miles round trip to our hike but Cindy was not. We turned right and almost immediately turned left on the spur trail down to Denton falls on the Neversink. The trail was clear all the way to the falls as we hiked about .3 miles losing 180 feet. As we approached the river, we were careful to watch for slippery areas so that there would be no more falls.

picture taken during a hike The rocks near the shore were clear of ice so I got out the camera and took some shots. I worked my way down toward the falls over some ice and found the path to the best viewpoint covered in solid ice. I thought about getting my spikes but decided to settle for some nice shots of the falls from where I was. I also took some pictures up and down the gorge and a few of Cindy and Sheila siting on a rock. I returned the camera to my pack and we started back up the hill to the main trail. At the top of the hill we turned left and headed for the lower bridge on Mullet Brook. When we got to the bridge, we found that it was still standing but had not been repaired. Despite my reports to the rangers and the forester nothing had been done to replace the cracked horizontal support on the downstream side. The bridge was sagging on that side and leaning downstream. A little emergency repair would have saved the bridge but I don't know what the plan is at this point. We did see some blue flagging downstream . I took a few pictures of the bridge and the stream before we continued our hike. The trail stayed flat for a long time and even descended a little as we passed the trail junction where we had started the loop earlier. At 4 miles we crossed the icy patch and the bridge over Wolf Brook. Just after that we made the right turn to head back UP to the car. We had commented on the way down that the last half mile of the hike was all uphill. On the way back Sheila alerted and we saw a young man and woman approaching. I put Sheila on her leash and we passed each other with a simple greeting. I left Sheila on her leash and we soon overtook a young man and his two children heading back to the parking area. One was in a backpack but the other was reluctantly walking up the hill. We were back at the car at noon having hiked 4.6 miles in 2 and a half hours. We gained about 980 feet along the way. This was certainly not the fastest I have hiked this route but it was very enjoyable.

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 Friday, February 19th I was ready to hike after 10 days of track meets and practices, family commitments and Bitterly cold weather! The President's Day weekend saw temperatures tying in the single digits with wind lowering the "feels like" temperature into the double digits below zero. Since I had to time basketball game in the evening, I decided to stay local and head to Hodge and Frick Ponds. Cindy was also in the mood to hike and Sheila was overjoyed to be going as we got ready at about 10:15 AM. The temperature was only 30 degrees so I dressed in layers and we left home heading out DeBruce Road. As we drove up Mongaup Road toward the trailhead, the temperature kept dropping until we reached the trailhead where it was 26 degrees. There wasn't much wind blowing as we started to hike and there was some sun peeking through the clouds. There was barely enough snow to cover the ground in places and much of the trail was bare as we crossed the road to get onto the Flynn Trail at 10:30 AM. I had not worn my insulated boots and hoped that my Vasque Taku boots would be warm enough and keep my feet dry. As we walked up the Flynn Trail the amount of snow began to increase and there was enough to make it look a little like winter! Sheila took full advantage by romping through the woods and sticking her nose under the snow when she could. We kept up a quick pace which quickly warmed us up while Sheila was even quicker. Since we had not been out for almost a week, Sheila was dashing up and down the trail. As we hiked I could see some blue in the skies but there were also a lot of clouds. The forecast was for a sunny morning with clouds moving in by the afternoon but that did not seem to be the case. We were at the junction with the Big Rock trail by 11:20 AM having covered the 1.7 miles in about 50 minutes. I was ready noticing a slight discomfort in my upper legs as the slipping and sliding on the snow and the days off took their toll.

picture taken during a hike We continued straight ahead on the Flynn Trail passing through the gate a little further on. At the point where the Flynn Trail heads down to Hodge Pond, I elected to bear to the right on the woods road toward the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout camp. At this point the trail was covered with snow and had been since the Big Rock Junction. Some of the snow was hard packed and some concealed ice making the footing tricky. Just before the remains of the cabins from the camp, we turned left to head down the woods road toward Hodge Pond. At the junction with the jeep trail, we turned right to head around the back of the pond. The pond was frozen completely across but I couldn't judged the thickness of the ice. We continued around the back of the pond. I looked at the sky and the overall scenery and decided I would like to take a few pictures of the pond. I walked down to the edge, removed my pack and got out the camera. I took a few shots as Sheila decided to test the ice! After replacing the camera in the pack, I joined Cindy back on the trail and we continued our hike. We turned right when we came to the Flynn Trail and walked up the Flynn Trail to the gate staying to the left to walk the trail out to Junkyard Junction. Here the trail was covered by a little more than an inch of snow. The trail was frozen and there were some very icy patches along the way. We began to come across some rather large branches and a sew small tree trunks across the trail. Most were frozen fast but a few kicks loosened them so that I could remove them from the trail. We arrived at Junkyard Junction at 12:10 PM about 3.3 miles into the hiked. We turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and began the descent to Ironwheel Junction. The trail remained solid and the amount of show varied from none to a couple of inches. We continued to removed branches and small trees from the trail as we hiked. As soon as we started to descend, we noticed that there was a lot of ice under the snow on the trail. The heavy rains had formed small streams down the trail and then the bitterly cold temperatures had frozen them solid! We had to be careful to walk in the side of the trails where there was more snow and less ice. Following Shiela helped as we could see where she slipped and avoid those places. When we came to Iron Wheel Junction, I could definitely feel the discomfort in my upper right leg. We turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and to head toward Frick Pond. hen we came to the small stream in the woods, the water level was so high that we had to walk upstream to cross. Sheila on the other hand simply launched herself effortlessly across the water sera times. We crossed the stream and continued through the evergreen tunnel toward Frick Pond. The skies were almost completely overcast now and the breeze had picked up a little making the air temperature seem cooler. As we approached Frick Pond we crossed the two small bridges before arriving at the bridge across the outlet stream. We stooped so that I could take a few pictures and then continued back to the car. On the way back to the car, we found the trail was a solid sheet of ice where water had run down the trail and frozen. We knew that spikes would have made the walking easier but we both chose to hit the edge of the trail which got us back to the parking area safely. We were back at the car at 1:45 PM. We hiked 6.3 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes with a 900 foot elevation gain.

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 Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Tuesday, February 9th I had planned again planned to head to northern New Jersey to do a loop in Wawayanda State Park just south of Warwick. Once again snow fell making the roads slick and I decided to alter my plans and head for Frick and Hodge Ponds hoping to get there while the snow was untouched. By the time I finished some things I had to get done at home, it was after 11:00 Am before I left the house. I drove out the DeBruce Road to Mongaup Road and then stayed left where the road split to get tot the trailhead parking which had not been plowed. When we arrived at the trailhead there were no cars parked in the lot and the temperature was 24 degrees. The skies were blue and sunny with some white clouds and there was only a slight breeze blowing. I had brought with me my new camera, a Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, and my new GPS unit, a Garmin 64st. These are upgrades of the previous models and I hoped they would perform in much the same way. We headed out on the Quick Lake Trail at 11:25 AM and I immediately noticed that the few inches of snow covered some very slippery patches of ice! I had brought along my spikes but decided to see if I could avoid using them. I did stop to take a few picture of the newly fallen and pristine snow before continuing on the trail toward Frick Pond. We turned left at Gravestone Junction to follow the Quick Lake Trail to the bridge over the outlet of Frick Pond. When we crossed the bridge, I stopped to take a few pictures of the pond because it was such a beautiful sight. I took some pictures of the outlet stream which was running freely a few of the pond and several of Sheila and then packed up my camera. 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 I had to work our way around several icy areas. We easily crossed the small stream in the forest but stopped several times to remove branches from the trail. At Iron Wheel Junction, I stopped to take a few more pictures and then turned left to take the longer loop to Hodge Pond. by way of the Quick Lake Trail toward Junkyard Junction. The walk is all uphill but the grade is only slight to moderate. As I walked, I watched Sheila follow animal tracks that crossed the trail. The further north we went and the more elevation we gained, the more snow was on the ground. We continued walking quickly and arrived at Junkyard Junction at 12:55 PM after hiking 3.1 miles.

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 several inches of snow which hid some icy spots and frozen mud. 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 Quick Lake Trail to the outlet of Hodge Pond. At this point I noticed some footprints which came from the direction of the outlet and headed around the back of the pond on the old jeep trail. I thought I might meet the other hiker if they had circled the pond. We were soon at the outlet end of Hodge Pond and I decided to go to the shore of the pond and take a few pictures. I removed my pack, got out the camera and took a few shots before picking up and starting back toward the Flynn Trail. We started up the hill staying on the Flynn Trail and the walk up the hill seemed to go very quickly. I was surprised at how fresh I felt walking up the long but gentle hill. Soon we were on the flat part of the Flynn Trail headed toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. We continued on the Flynn Trail passing through the gate to the trail junction. We didn't stop at the trail junction but kept walking on The Flynn Trail. From this high point on the hike, the trail descends 1.7 miles to the parking area. We kept up a fast pace on the descent and found only a few inches of snow on most of the trail. 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 2:15 PM when we returned. We had covered 6.4 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes. The elevation gain was a modest 925 feet.The new electronic devices preformed well but I need to learn to use a few more of their features.

map icon GPSies - Bear Spring (East clockwise) AllTrails - Bear Spring (East clockwise) Gmap4 - Bear Spring (East clockwise) MapMyHike - Bear Spring (East clockwise) On Friday, February 5th I had planned to head south to Wawayanda Park in northern New Jersey just south of Warwick, NY. When I woke up Friday morning schools were closing in the area and 2 to 4 inches of snow was expected. I don't have a problem hiking in snow but I didn't want to chance becoming involved in a motor vehicle accident just to hike in the area. Cindy suggested that we head north away from the snow and we decided to go the Bear Spring Wildlife Management Area where I had hiked on Tuesday. I thought we might start at Middle Pond on East Trout Brook Road and hike up to the ridge. We could then hike south on the ridge to Trail 12 which would take us down to the road again near the Horse Camp. We could then hike the trail or the road back to the car. When we left Livingston Manor just before 10:30 AM, the temperature was 30 degrees and the wind was blowing. The skies were cloudy but there was some blue and the sun was breaking through. We headed north and east on Route 17 to Roscoe and then drove through Roscoe and Downsville on Route 206. As I drove up Bear Spring Mountain I watched for East Trout Brook Road on the left. I turned left and drove 2.2 miles south passing Launt Pond on the right and parking at Middle Pond on the left. When we got out of the car, I noted that the temperature was 28 degrees and the wind was still brisk. We started our hike at 11:00 AM by hiking down to the dam across Middle Pond which also acts as a bridge across the brook. We continued straight ahead and almost immediately started to climb the hill toward the McCoy Hill Cutoff. The skies were overcast and there were no opportunities to take any pictures and this remained true throughout the day. At .7 miles we turned right where the trail split and started to head south while continuing to climb toward the ridge. The trail surface was very level and was still mostly frozen despite the rain the day before. I was glad we were climbing since it was warming me up! At 1.2 miles the trail split again and we turned right to continue east and southeast. It had been a long time since I had been on this trail and I had only hiked it twice. Cindy pointed out that although the trail was pretty and easy to hike one piece looked a lot like the next. At times I thought something was familiar and at other times it looked all new!

At 1.4 mile we followed the trail as it turned south and began to snake along the ridge. At his point there was a "Danger! Keep Out!" sign which I did not remember seeing before. The trail at this point start down off the ridge and I hoped we were not going to be led off course. After descending for a short distance, the trail again headed up the ridge and slightly to the east which did not make me happy. At 2.1 miles we were still headed mostly south when we hit the highest point on the hike at 2300 feet. I knew we had to turn to the west at some point and I kept thinking it should be soon! After the high point, we started to descend and head southwest which made me feel a little better. At 2.5 mile we picked up Finger Lakes Trail blazes which I knew was a good sign as I had hiked the Finger Lakes Trail in this area and I knew it came up from East Trout Brook Road. We hiked up the hill in front of us and at 2.85 miles started a descent but we were still headed south. The trail began to look more familiar and at 3.2 miles we turned sharply right or to the west and began a .75 mile descent to East Trout Brook losing 625 feet in the process. Most of the trail down was old woods road or new logging road so the walk was pretty easy. We started to parallel a small stream which I recognized. Sheila alerted at one point and I called her back to me. I couldn't see or hear anything ahead and Sheila eventually gave up. At 4 miles we were in the field near East Trout Brook. I knew that we could turn right onto the trail and hike back to the car but I also knew that the trail would be very wet. I suspected that crossing East Tout Brook would be difficult as its volume was high because of the rain. I walked ahead toward the small pond near the road and was surprised to see that the bridge near the dam had been replaced. I had no trouble convincing Cindy that we should just walk back to the car on the road. I stowed my poles in my pack and put Sheila on her leash. We set a quick pace walking the 1.7 miles back to the car gaining 300 feet in the process. As we got to the car, the wind again kicked up making us glad that we were back. It was 2:00 PM and we had hiked 5.8 miles in three hours with an elevation gain of 1270 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Bear Spring (East clockwise) AllTrails - Bear Spring (East clockwise) Gmap4 - Bear Spring (East clockwise) MapMyHike - Bear Spring (East clockwise) On Tuesday, February 2nd I wanted to get out for the first hike of February. I was tired of the Frick Pond and Trout Pond areas so I decided to head to Bear Spring Wildlife Management Area between Downsville and Walton. The forecast for the day was for sunny skies and highs in the mid 40's but when I left Livingston Manor at 8:30 AM it was 25 degrees with a completely overcast sky. I drove north and east on Route 17 to Roscoe and then drove through Roscoe and Downsville on Route 206. As I drove up Bear Spring Mountain I watched for the large parking area on the left which would allow access to the trails on the eastern ridge of the WMA. I parked at 9:00 AM and was on the trail soon after. The temperature was still in the low 20's with a slight breeze. I had decided there wouldn't be much snow and had traded in my Salomon B-52 snow boots for a pair of Vasque Taku hiking boots. We headed out the wide woods road marked on the map as Wilson Hollow Road and immediately we were at the first clear-cut area. The sky was dark and overcast so I decided to forego taking any pictures until later. As we walked along the road and approached the eatable to the wooded area of the trail, I decided that the trees against the dark sky were interesting enough for a few shots. After taking some pictures, I put the camera back in my pack and we continued along the trail. As we entered the woods there was still some snow on the ground and the trail was frozen solid. There was some evidence that an ATV or snowmobile had been on the trail and I also saw a few boot prints. The sun began peeking out from behind the clouds at times and I stopped to take a few more shots. At 1.3 miles we passed Trail 11 that goes down to Launt Pond. The hiking seemed to go quickly as I walked and soon we passed the woods road down to the East Trout Brook Road parking. Just after that at 2.3 miles we arrived at the spot where the trail continues straight ahead or turns right. I decided we would turn right and walk the edge of the field and down the McCoy Hill cutoff trail. This walk was easy as it descends almost 500 feet in .8 miles to the lowest point on the hike.

picture taken during a hike On the way down the trail we stopped once to take some pictures of the valley below and the ridges beyond. The lighting was difficult and I was not sure the pictures would be much good. At the bottom of the descent we turned left to start to loop around and back up to the ridge. Just before we made the turn, I again stopped to take a few pictures. Of course, the payment for a descent is an ascent back to the ridge. In just about a mile we had to regain the elevation we had lost on the way down. The climb wasn't as bad as I remembered and went quickly. The pain I had in my right hip disappeared as we hiked. We regained the elevation and began to circle around back to where we had turned off into the field. Along the way we passed a sign on a snowmobile trail to the right that said "Downsville". We continued to walk the woods road finding it covered with a thin layer of hard snow and some frozen mud in spots. We had been walking east but at 4.2 miles the trail turned northwest to circle the summit of a hill on our left and head back toward the parking area. From the point of the turn back to the trail junction where we had turned right was about 1.15 miles. When we arrived back at the junction, we knew exactly how far we had to go to get back! The hike back along Wilson Hollow road was 2.2 miles but it seemed to pass quickly as most was downhill. We stopped again at the clear-cut area so that I could take a few shots. As we were walking out Sheila alerted and I could see some people in the woods ahead. I pit Sheila on her leash and walked toward them. A father and his young son had a fire going and they were cooking meal. He offered me a hot dog for my dog but I declined. I didn't think it was legal or wise to start a fire. When we arrived at Route 206 I found a car parked blocking the woods road and decided that the person just wasn't very aware of what was proper. We were back at the car by 12:00 PM having covered 7.6 miles in 3 hours with a 1050 foot climb.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Norvin Green - Wyanokie HP and the Mines AllTrails - Norvin Green - Wyanokie HP and the Mines Gmap4 - Norvin Green - Wyanokie HP and the Mines MapMyHike - Norvin Green - Wyanokie HP and the Mines On Wednesday, January 27th I wanted to snowshoe somewhere! Since the Catskills had no snow, I decided to head for northern New Jersey where the last storm dumped some snow. I thought Norvin Green State Forest would be a nice place to visit since I had not been there for some time. The use Google maps to find the best route which took me down Route 17 to exit 124 and then through Warwick to West Milford on some back roads. It was not the route I had used before but it looked like the shortest way. I left Livingston Manor just before 9:00 AM and the GPS in the car indicated the same route as Google maps with an arrival time of 10:25 AM. As I passed through Warwick there was no snow but further along as I entered New Jersey I began to see some accumulation. Wawayanda Park had almost enough snow but I stuck to my plan and continued on until I turned onto Snake Den Road. I arrived at the parking area just outside the New Weis Education Center at right around 10:25 AM. The lot was empty and there didn't seem to be much activity at the Center. There was about 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground and the temperature was 33 degrees. When I got out of the car, I noticed a breeze which chilled me just a little. I decided there was enough snow to use my Tubbs Alp Flex snowshoes even though the were certainly not needed. The snowshoes went on quickly which was good since Sheila was clamoring to get out of the car. I was ready by 10:30 AM so I put Sheila on her leash and we headed out toward the trails. We followed the signs indicating "Hikers with dogs" for the most part as we crossed Blue Mine Brook on a small bridge. We followed the green Otter Hole Trail passed the closed Highlands Pool. This is a natural pool on the brook which is fed by the stream. It has Ben "developed" and is a popular swimming area during the warmer season. I stopped for a moment to take a few pictures of the snow and thought how ironic it was that I had to travel from the Catskills to New Jersey to find snow. After the pool we stayed to the left to continued on the trail through the woods. The trail is rocky and several people had hiked it without snowshoes. This meant that my steps were uneven and I was often off balanced which put extra strain on my legs which were certainly not accustomed to being on snowshoes. At .45 miles we crossed the extension of Snake Den Road and continued straight ahead on the blue HB trail toward the Wyanokie High Point.

picture taken during a hike The trail to this point had been ascending but very gently. As soon as we got on the blue trail, we began a more serious ascent with a grade approaching 15%. This is not that steep but I began to feel it in my leg muscles as we began to scramble over rocks on the narrower parts of the trail. I had not been on this specific trail before and parts of it were not well marked but there was one set of tracks from a hiker that I could follow. We ascended to a nice viewpoint where I stopped to take some pictures. I was pretty sure we were not at the high point which my GPS and iPhone confirmed. We continued to follow the trail and the tracks of the hiker. The snow depth increased as we gained elevation until there were spots that had at least 18 inches. There were several lookouts along the way but I stayed on the trail knowing the view from the High Point were best. I kept wondering if each new lookout was the High Point until we descended a little and I saw I huge, rocky mass ahead of us. We walked the trail to the base and found a sign labeled "High Point". There wasn't much snow on the trail here and I almost removed my snowshoes but in the end kept them on and ascended over some open rocks to the High Point. The view was beautiful and largely open in all directions. I took off my pack and took pictures of the snow-covered hills. I also took some shots of the Wanaque Reservoir. After spending some minutes enjoying the sun and the views, I noticed I was beginning to get cold as the breeze had picked up. I had to make a decision about where to go next. I felt the route over Yoo-Hoo Point and Carris Hill would be too much for the first time out on snowshoes. Walking downhill or on the flats seemed to be no problem but the uphill portions were beginning to bother my hip flexors. I decided to take the red WCI Trail down off the High Point and then decided at the bottom whether I would visit the mines or head directly back to the car. The tracks I had been following ended at the High Point so I needed to find the trail on my own. The red trail was aligned with the Highlands Trail so I assumed I would have no problem finding it. I was wrong. I headed east toward the reservoir and down the hill. I could find no blazes so I consulted the Avenza app on my iPhone which showed my I was right on the trail. I continued along and soon found some faded blazes leading down the hill. There were two major problems with the blazes. Many of the paint marks had been placed on the rocks which were now under the snow. The blazes on the trees were old and faded and some were poorly placed. This problem continued throughout the descent off the High Point with me spending a lot of time trying to find the trail. Fortunately, Shiela was often able to detect the trail when I could not.

picture taken during a hike By 1.9 miles we had completed the descent from the High Point and the red trail made a sharp turn to the right. We followed the trail passing by a white trail on the right. Soon a yellow trail appeared on the left which I knew was the quickest way back to the car. I decided to continue straight ahead on the red trail which would lead us to the Blue Mine. At 2.25 miles we crossed a stream on a small bridge and turned right to visit the Blue Mine which is one of the numerous abandoned iron mines found in northern New Jersey. I took a few pictures of the entrance to the mine as the mine itself is mostly underwater. I picked up my pack and we headed north on the yellow and red trails. Where the trail spilt, we stayed to the right on the yellow trail and at 2.6 miles turned left on the orange trail which lead to the Roomy Mine. The walk to the Roomy Mine at 2.8 miles was just slightly uphill and I could feel my legs rebelling. Signs outside the Roomy Mine warned hikers to stay out of the mine to protect the bats which hibernate there. I took a few pictures from the outside and then we continued along on the orange trail. I knew that the trail that lead directly out to the Weis Center had been closed by the landowner so I carefully followed the orange trail as it led out to the yellow Mine Trail. As we approached the yellow trail Sheila and I noticed a hiker ahead of us on the yellow trail. He continued on his way and we never got close enough to say "Hello". We turned right on the yellow trail at 3.1 miles and descended slightly to cross a small brook. From this point the yellow trail began to ascend a small hill. The uphill was only a 13% grade and lasted for about .3 miles but I felt every step. I had tried to drink along the way but felt as though I was not hydrated properly. At the top of the hill we crossed a stream with a small waterfall and then turned right onto the blue trail where we picked up our tracks from earlier in the day. We descended the hill to snow-covered Snake Den Road and continued on the green Otter Hole Trail we had used earlier in the day. We heard voices ahead so I put Sheila on her leash as we walked down the trail along the brook and passed the Highlands Pool. We followed our tracks back to the car arriving in the parking area at 2:00 PM> We had covered 4.4 miles in 3 hours and 25 minutes with an elevation gain of 1053 feet. Our overall speed was an unimpressive 1.2 mph! I was happy to be leaving even though we had good time. On the way home I pulled over to drink some water as I began to have cramps in my legs! This happens every time I fail to hydrate properly but apparently I am a slow learner!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Long Pond (Big Loop) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, January 27th I wanted to get in a hike close to home before track practice in the afternoon. Since I had been at Trout Pond and Frick Pond recently, I decided to go to Long Pond and do the big loop in a counterclockwise direction. 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. The temperature was in the low 30's when I parked at and the skies were overcast. I had not brought snowshoes as I knew they would not be necessary but I had brought my spikes. This turned out to be a good idea as the parking area was icy and I could see the trail up the hill was in much the same shape. A slight breeze made things even cooler as we started our hike at 10:15 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! Along the way I noticed that the trees that had been across the trail had been cut and removed. The trail was very icy going up the hill but the ice almost disappeared under the trees. I could see ahead that the trail remained icy in spots so I kept my spikes on. At 1.1 miles we were at the spur trail that leads down to the shore of Long Pond. I decided I would rather hike quickly and I knew that Long Pond doesn't have much to offer especially on a day with overcast skies. We stayed on the main trail and turned right at the first trail junction. By 10:55 AM we had walked 1.7 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 2.5 miles. We turned left and followed the road until the intersec