Created from 6 pictures from Giant Ledge









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Fall 2017

map icon GPSies - Trout Pond and Morton Hill Loop (long upper) AllTrails - Trout Pond and Morton Hill Loop (long upper) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Trout Pond and Morton Hill Loop (long upper) MapMyHike - Trout Pond and Morton Hill Loop (long upper) On Wednesday, November 22nd I was ready to take a longer hike again after staying close to home for several hikes. The forecast for the day was for clouds and overcast for most of the day but when I got up there was a heavy mist bordering on rain. I was a little discouraged and decided I might not go out at all. BY non the weather was no better but I was itching to get out. It was still only 36 degrees outside so I dressed warmly with tights underneath my Columbia Omniheat pants. I also wore a long-sleeved baselayer underneath a top with my Mammut hoody over that. I did put on a blaze orange hat as it was rifle season in the area. Sheila seemed more than happy to be going out and by 12:30 Pm we were in the car with all my gear and ready to head out. After two quick stops in town I headed north on Route 17 to Roscoe and got off at exit 94. I headed out the Rockland Flats on Route 206 and just after entering Delaware County I turned left on Morton Hill Road. When I arrived at the intersection with Russell Brook Road, I found no 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. As soon as I parked, I could feel the breeze making me colder than the air temperature indicated. 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 1:00 PM with a few snowflakes in the air. The small streams were flowing with water but I had decided I would do this hike as fast as possible without stopping to take pictures. 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. We continued down the road to the lower parking area where there was one pickup truck. 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 simply continued on the main trail and at the first trail junction 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. The first bridge over the stream was very slippery with water and some kind of slime. The walk up the hill was a little wet and muddy but it certainly warmed me up.

From the top of the hill we descended slightly and then turned right to go north along the west side of Trout Pond. I kept watching for hunters along the rail but never saw any. As we hiked along the trail there were quite a few spots where there was water running across the trail or gathered in pools. The skies were still gloomy and the wind picked up. There were also quite a few flakes in the air. 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 was careful as I walked over the bridge as it was also slippery. I now had to make a decision since I was already tired. I decide to stay with the original plan and 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 was damp which made the leaves on the trail slippery. At the top of the hill I relied I had not had any water to drink so I stopped and downed about half a bottle. It was only 2:45 Pm but it was only getting darker. The wind had picked up again and the snow was falling a little more. I decided to continuing on the hiking trail farther than take the snowmobile trail which is a little shorter. The trail descends the same amount as we had just ascended over about the same distance. The descent is steep in places and was slippery. In addition, no trail maintenance has been done in years and we had to leave the trail several times. We crossed the bridge over a small stream and at 5.25 miles we were on Campbell Brook Road. The road was very muddy with a slick layer over frozen and pack dirt. 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 climbs some ore to the top of a small hill. After that point the road is downhill or flat the rest of the way. I was happy that we were on the road and could pick up our pace. Several vehicles passed us as we hiked on the road but none stopped. There wasn't too much to look at as the skies were overcast and the snow kept falling. At one point we heard dogs in the woods but soon found a pickup truck and I assumed the owner was running his dogs. I wondered whether that was legal during deer season. We set a quick pace with Sheila pulling me along at every opportunity as we returned to the parking area. The walk on Morton Hill Road was about 2.7 miles and took us 52 minutes! We were back at the car at 4:15 PM having covered 8.4 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes with 1680 feet of ascent.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Tuesday, November 21st I had time to get in a hike before indoor track practice. Since I had some time, I had decided to take a longer hike at Frick Pond. Before we could get started, Cindy's phone stopped working and we were off to the local store where they were able to get it working rather quickly. By the time we got home, it was too late to go very far to hike. We decided to go across the street and hike on Round Top. We began to get ready around noon when the temperature was still in the low 40's. I wore my Mammut hoody since it has a lot of zippers to dump heat. Sheila was happy to go as I put her on her leash to walk across the street. We walked through the field next to the church and walked up the steep but short cemetery hill with Sheila giving me a little help as she pulled me up the hill. At the top of the hill I took a look back down to town and over to the surrounding hills but all was pretty bleak. I set my GPS to record the track and we entered the trail at 12:30 PM. At the first trail junction Sheila turned right to head up the ore gentle slope and we followed her. Where the trail split we continued straight ahead on the blue-blazed upper trail over the summit of Round Top. When we reached the top we continued down the other side and turned right onto the lower yellow-blazed trail. We followed the trail out to the lookout and turned left to continue down the hill to the first trail junction to complete a big loop. I wanted to hike a little more and convinced Cindy we should do at least one more loop. She reluctantly agreed and we turned around and headed back up to the lookout to do the big loop in the opposite direction. At the lookout we followed the yellow trail to the right and continued to where the trails split. We continued straight ahead on the blue trail to again cross over the summit of Round top. We followed the trail back down to the yellow trail and walked straight ahead and down the yellow trail to the first trail junction. Cindy was done at this point but I knew I wanted to get in at least an hour of hiking. Cindy started back out to the trailhead while Sheila and I turned around and headed back up the shallow climb on the yellow trail. It was hard to keep Sheila with me as she wanted to follow Cindy but soon we were headed over Round Top again. We finished the big loop exactly as we had done the first time and then did another in the opposite direction. After completely four big loops, we headed back out to the trailhead and down the cemetery hill to the church. We walked across the field and back to our driveway. It was about 1:30 PM and we had covered three miles which made the trip worthwhile.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Conklin Hill Bushwhack AllTrails - Conklin Hill Bushwhack caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Conklin Hill Bushwhack MapMyHike - Conklin Hill Bushwhack On Friday, November 17th I had planned to go with Cindy to hike the Conklin Hill Loop and show her the waterfalls we had visited on Wednesday. I also wanted to hike to the upper waterfall which we had missed, pick a route around the blowdowns from Hurricane Sandy and hike the west bank of the small, unnamed brook we had followed back to the Willowemoc. I wanted to do this before the start of rifle hunting season in our area. I don't have a problem walking established trails during hunting season but bushwhacking during this time seems foolish. The loop starts at Willowemoc Covered Bridge and explores a part of the Willowemoc Wild Forest south of Willowemoc Road. The majority of this wild forest is to the north of the road and encompasses the area around Frick and Hodge Ponds and Long Pond. The smaller parcel south of Willowemoc Road has no trails but does have a few woods roads and informal paths to follow. When I got up at 7:00 AM the temperature was 30 degrees and I knew it might be colder where we are going. I put on a baselayer top and bottom and wore my Columbia Omniheat pants with the Mammut hoody. I made sure I wore a blaze orange hat and brought along light gloves. We got dressed and collected our gear to leave the house a little before 10:00 AM. From the caboose in Livingston Manor I drove out DebRuce Road 7.3 miles to Conkin Hill Road. I turned right and followed the road .4 miles passing through the covered bridge. There is a small parking area big enough for three cars just on the other side of the bridge and I parked there. The temperature was still in the low 30's and the wind was blowing making it seems colder. I set my GPS devices and we crossed the stream that runs parallel to Conklin Hill Road at !0:20 AM. We followed the path along the creek which was small but very pretty. This time I walked closer to the creek especially on the lower section to get a good look at the many rapids on the stream and a few small water falls. At about .5 miles we came to the largest water fall with the water dropping over a ledge that extends in both directions. I took a few pictures but the scene was much the same as the last time I hiked here. Just as we were about to walk around of the ledges on the left several rifle shots rang out. There is an old shooting range which the state has closed but not everyone has gotten the message or obeys the signs. The shooting stopped so we continued to hike around the rocks and up to the top of the falls. As we worked our way up the stream several more shots came from across the stream. I yelled a couple of times and the shooting completely stopped which actually surprised me!. We continued walking south and upstream to about .75 miles where there are the abutments for an old bridge. From here we continued upstream heading south to the next waterfall which is about a quarter mile away. As we neared the quarter mile distance, I could see what I thought was the falls ahead but we had run out of room to hike along the creek. The banks were very steep so we walked back downstream slightly and then scaled the bank to a flatter area higher on the bank. As we neared the waterfall, the path became less distinct and we had to sidehill some to get a view. The falls was interesting as it was pretty high with The water flowing down over the rock. They layers in the sedimentary rock look like steps. The view was ok but I could not get any good pictures. I worked my way down the steep bank until I could stand in front of the falls. I took some pictures and then climbed back up the bank to where Cindy was waiting. On our way back we stayed high on the bank and found a much easier route back to the bridge abutments.

picture taken during a hike We turned right and started walking northeast through what was once a farm. I was hoping I could repeat the route we had taken on the previous hike but bushwhacks sometimes seem to have a mind of the their own. We came across the foundation of the farmhouse and I took some pictures which I had nit done last time. As we left the farmhouse I took a route I hoped would lead us to the remains of the barn. My pathfinder abilities are good and soon we were at the barn a little farther up a slope. There were cement feed troughs with stalls for 16 cows. We continued to head northeast into the evergreen forest. The trees were tall,straight red pines planted by the CCC in the 1930's. As we wandered through the forest I was looking for the hill where the trees and been blown down. I thought I was a little too far to the south and corrected my route to head more to the north. Soon I could see the hill and we walked to the base and then worked our way around it through some thick brush. We also had to work our way over or around some trees that had blown down in the storms. In a short distance we descended a small hill and the ground leveled and we began to walk through a wetter area with beautiful moss. We had to work our way around some swampy areas until we turned north to follow another unnamed stream. This stream started out very small and we could easily cross and recross it. As we continued to walk north and downstream the volume of water began to grow. We were walking on the western side of the stream and at 2.1 miles we came to a rather impressive waterfall. This time I wanted to stay high on the western bank to see how this compared to the route we had taken last time along the lower eastern bank. We stopped at a vantage point to observe the falls and I took some pictures. The falls were clearly visible but I definitely preferred the view from the eastern bank where we could get right don to the falls. We continued to work our way down the western side of the stream and found the hiking much more difficult than on the other side. There were few more lookouts with good views to the stream and the ledges and cliffs on the eastern side. Several times we adjusted our route so that we could stay closer to the stream. It wasn't long before I could see the Willowemoc and it was clear we would have to descend off the higher bank down to the stream bed. This proved a little tricky but we were able to get down without too many problems. At 2.5 miles the stream ended at the Willowemoc Creek. We were able to walk along the creek bed for a while and found a nice area of exposed rock. We walked out on the rocks and I was able to take some shots up and down the creek. We returned to the area near the shore and continued to walk along the creek bed until in appeared we would run out of walking space. We headed up the bank to walk the path along the northern side of the Willowemoc. Some cabins and houses began to appear on the other side and the path along the stream was very clear in most places. At one point Sheila alerted and I saw a man standing in the woods. We said "Hello" and talked about the upcoming hunting season. We dropped won off the bank and continued along the flatter path along the creek. It was very pretty and the walking was easy. I took a look at my Suunto watch and could see we were closing the loop quickly. Soon we could see the covered bridge ahead across the stream. We came to the brook we had crossed earlier and walked up to our cars. It was hard to get an exact mileage as we had taken several "side trips" but the loop was about 3.5 miles with an elevation gain of 600 feet. It was 12:50 PM and we had taken 2 hours and 35 minutes to do the walk with about 35 minutes stopped for exploring.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Conklin Hill Bushwhack AllTrails - Conklin Hill Bushwhack caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Conklin Hill Bushwhack MapMyHike - Conklin Hill Bushwhack On Wednesday, November 15th I had planned to go with Lisa and mutual friend Randy and a bushwhacking adventure starting at the Willowemoc Covered Bridge and exploring a part of the Willowemoc Wild Forest south of Willowemoc Road. The majority of this wild forest is to the north of the road and encompasses the area around Frick and Hodge Ponds and Long Pond. The smaller parcel south of Willowemoc Road has no trails but does have a few woods roads and informal paths to follow. Randy lives in the area and has explored it extensively so we planned to follow him. When I got up at 7:00 AM the temperature was 30 degrees and I knew it might be colder where we are going. I put on a baselayer top and bottom and wore my Columbia Omniheat pants with the Mammut hoody. I made sure I wore a blaze orange hat and brought along light gloves. I wasn't sure whether I should bring Sheila because of the hunting in the area but decided she should come with me. Sheila seemed to appealed my decision. I met Lisa at the caboose in Livingston Manor at 8:00 AM and we drove out DebRuce Road to Conkin Hill Road where we turned right and followed the road .4 miles passing through the covered bridge. There is a small parking area big enough for three cars just on the other side of the bridge and Randy was waiting there for us. We parked and got out of our cars to get acquainted. After talking briefly, I set my GPS devices and we crossed the stream that runs parallel to Conklin Hill Road at 8:25 AM. We followed the path along the creek which was small but very pretty. I took a few pictures as we continued south and southeast along the creek. There were many rapids on the stream and a few small water falls. At about .5 miles we came to the largest water fall with the water dropping over a ledge that extend in both directions. I took quite a few pictures including some of Sheila in front of the falls. I also took shots of the ledges as we worked our way to the left around the rocks and up to the top of the falls. We continued walking south and upstream to about .75 miles where Randy pointed out the abutments for an old bridge. He said there was another waterfalls about a quarter mile upstream but we turned left and started walking northeast through what was once a farm. We came across what looked like the foundation of the farmhouse and a little farther up a slope the remains of the barn. There were cement feed troughs with stalls for 16 cows. I took some pictures of the barn and then we continued to head northeast into an evergreen forest. The trees were tall and straight and I think they were red pines planted by the CCC in the 1930's. At 1.1 miles we hit the highest point on the hike on the shoulder of a hill. We walked uphill to a small lookout that gave a vantage point on the forest below. We could see that the trees on the hilltop had been flattened by the storms from Hurricane Sandy.

picture taken during a hike From this highpoint we began to descend through some dense brush and small trees. We also had to work our way over or around some trees that had blown down in the storms. In a short distance the ground leveled and we began to walk through a wetter area with beautiful moss until at 1.4 miles we turned north to follow another unnamed stream. This stream started out very small and we could easily cross and recross it. As we continued to walk north and downstream the volume of water began to grow. We had been walking on the western side of the stream but at 1.5 miles we came to a rather impressive waterfall. We crossed the top of the falls and then worked our way down the eastern side of the stream eventually getting down into the stream bed. It seemed that few people visited this area as there was no garbage strewn around. I took pictures of the falls and the cliffs around it. When I was done, we had to decide whether we were going to backtrack to the top of the falls and follow Randy's normal route or continue along the eastern bank of the creek. We decided to explore a different route and continued down the side we were on carefully picking a route along the stream that revealed several areas of cliffs and ledges. At 1.95 miles the stream ended at the Willowemoc Creek. We were able to walk along the creek bed for a while and found a nice area of exposed rock. We walked out on the rocks and I was able to take some shots up and down the creek. We returned to the area near the shore and continued to walk along the creek bed until in appeared we would run out of walking space. We headed up the bank to walk the path along the northern side of the Willowemoc. Some cabins and houses began to appear on the other side and the path along the stream was very clear in most places. It was very pretty and the walking was easy. I took a look at my Suunto watch and could see we were closing the loop quickly. Soon we could see the covered bridge ahead across the stream. We came to the brook we had crossed earlier and walked up to our cars. It was hard to get an exact mileage as we had taken several "side trips" but the loop was about 3.1 miles with an elevation gain of only 470 feet. It was 11:05 AM and we had taken 2 hours and 45 minutes to do the walk with more than 45 minutes stopped for exploring. I defiantly will return with Cindy to show her this beautiful space.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Monday, November 13th I had a day free without practice as cross country had finished on Saturday and indoor track was scheduled to begin on Tuesday. Lisa and I had been trying to get people to hike the new trails on Round Top so she scheduled some after school and lunchtime hikes to see if they would attract people. A walk was scheduled for noon but only three people had signed up. I decided that I had made a commitment to hike so I would keep it even though I doubted two of us would be needed. In the morning Lisa sent an e-mail indicating two of the people had cancelled which was even more frustrating. I began to get ready around 11:30 Am and Cindy agreed to go with me. The temperature was in the high 30's as we got ready to go so I wore my Mammut hoody since it has a lot of zippers to dump heat. Sheila was happy to go as I put her on her leash to walk across the street. We walked through the field next to the church arriving at exactly noon. We waited around but no one was in the parking lot and at 12:10 PM we decided to go hike on our own. We walked up the steep but short cemetery hill with Sheila giving me a little help as she pulled me up the hill. At the top of the hill I took a look back down to town and over to the surrounding hills but all was pretty bleak. Just as we were about to go into the forest Cindy spotted Lisa and another woman in the parking area. We waited as they walked up the road through the cemetery to the trailhead. The other woman had a dog on a leash and when they arrived we all said "Hello". Sheila and Pepper seemed to get along OK especially when they were both off their leashes. I set my GPS to record the trail and we finally entered the trail at 12:20 PM. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead to the lookout. Lisa and the other hiker took a quick peak at the lookout and we then continued to follow the yellow trail. At the trail unction where the lower and upper trail split we continued to follow the yellow-blazed lower trail which is all that the other two hikers wanted to do. The trails were in good shape but there were some new branches on the trail which I removed. At the next trail junction we turned right and followed the woods road back down to the first trail junction. We turned left and walked out to the trailhead. Lisa and the other woman departed but I had no intention of hiking less than a mile so Cindy and I headed back into the woods. This time we turned right at the first trail junction and headed up the more gradual slope following the woods road and the yellow blazes. At the trail junction we continued straight ahead on the blue trail and worked our way up to the summit. The trail is short but steep. We walked over the summit and started down the other side. When we got to the yellow-blazed lower trail we turned right and walked down to the lookout. We continued to follow the yellow blazes down the hill and back to the first trail junction. We walked straight out to the trailhead. Cindy was finished for the day but I wanted to get in a little more hiking and wanted to record an accurate track of a single figure 8. Cindy walked down the cemetery hill while Sheila and I headed back into the forest. Sheila kept looking back as we separated but soon was running ahead of me. At the first trail junction we turned right again and walked the woods road up to the next junction where we turned left to follow the yellow trail around the base of Round Top. At the next junction we turned right and took the blue trail over the top of the hill and down the other side. When we came to the yellow trail, we turned right and followed the trail along the base of Round Top and won to the lookout. We walked down the hill and out to the trailhead. I now had a GPS track of the lower loop, upper loop and a figure 8. We had only walked 2.4 miles but I was a little bored so I decided to head home. By the time we were at he house we had hiked close to three miles. When I looked at the GPS track, I was surprised to see that even though we had walked the same trail repeatedly the tracks seemed to differ quite bit. I attributed this to the fact that the trails are short and cover a small area so when I zoom in on the tracks they seem not to overlap each other. I was able to separate out the three different routes we had taken.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Mongaup Pond (Flynn  Trail) AllTrails - Mongaup Pond (Flynn  Trail) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Mongaup Pond (Flynn  Trail) MapMyHike - Mongaup Pond (Flynn  Trail) On Sunday, November 12th I wanted to get in a hike after church since I did not know what the rest of the week might have in store. By the time got home from church it was well after noon so I knew we couldn't go far from home. Since we are back on standard time, it starts to get dark as early as 4:30 PM. I suggested to Cindy that we go to the Frick Pond trailhead and hike a loop to Mongaup Pond and use the roads to return as it would be a faster route back that way. She agreed and Sheila immediately sensed a hike was in the works. I had been at the state cross country championship on Friday and Saturday so Sheila had missed two days of hiking! We began to get our gear together which made Sheila watch us very closely. As we got ready to leave the house just before 1:00 PM, the temperature was only 37 degrees but the sun was shining. I wore my Mammut hoody over a heavier long-sleeved shirt and a light baselayer. I wore a pair of Columbia Omniheat pants which have become my favorite since Mountain Hardwear foolishly dropped their Winter Wander pants! I did wear a light hat and took a pair of gloves. We got our gear and Shiela in the car and headed out the DeBruce Road. After 6 miles, at Mongaup Pond Road, I turned left and continued to follow the road bearing left onto Beech Mountain Road at the fork. When we arrived in the parking area there were two other cars parked in the small lot. Sheila was acting as if she hadn't hiked in a month as she ran around and headed for the trail. The temperature was 34 degrees but the sun was shining. I got my gear ready to go and set my electronics. We headed across the road to get ion the Flynn Trail at 1:15 PM. The Flynn Trail was pretty dry without any snow but there was evidence that the rains from a few weeks before had caused small "rivers" on the trails. There were clearly areas where all the leaves had been swept away and deposited elsewhere. When we got to the woods road, we turned right and started to climb the Flynn Trail toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. We set a pretty fast pace as the trail was in good shape. We did stop a few times to move larger branches out of the way and so that I could take a few pictures. It was hard to believe that the last time I hiked the trail it was covered in snow. IT didn't seem long at all until we were approaching the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 1.7 miles into the hike. By the time we were at the junction, we had already gained 600 feet and only had a little more elevation gain until we would start downhill. We turned right at the junction on the snowmobile trail and climbed another 120 feet to the highest point on the hike at a little over 1.9 miles.

picture taken during a hike After hitting the high point, most of the rest of the hike was downhill. The Flynn Trail heads directly north from the trailhead but the snowmobile trail wanders first east, then south, the east, then north before finally heading southeast and south toward Mongaup Pond. As we descended from the high point we found more evidence that there had been a stream of water flowing down most of the trail. We also encountered some snow and I stopped to take some shots. We also found ice crystals protruding up from the dozen ground and I took a few more pictures. At 3.1 miles we followed the trail as it turned southeast and then east still descending toward the pond. We finally hot a woods road and the trail leveled out. Just before getting to the roads that run through the campground we passed by a swamp on the left and crossed a few small streams across the trail. When we got to the roads we turned right and walked out to the main loop road. Before turning right, I took a few pictures of the wetland in that area of the pond. We trend right and walked south on the loop road. After a short walk, I turned where I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took pictures of the pond from the shore including some of the surrounding hills. I stowed the camera and shouldered my pack to walk out to the loop road. After walking a little more than half a mile we came to the observation deck and found some people fishing. I took a few more pictures and then we continued on the loop road out to the entrance of the campground. We walked out the access road to begin the walk back to the car. We both noticed at5h t the sun had dipped low in the sky and it was getting a little darker and a little colder. The access road is easy to walk but is always longer than I remember. From the booth at the campground entrance to the intersection with Beech Mountain Road is only 1.1 miles but it seemed longer even though we pushed the pace. At the intersection we turned right and walked up the hill for .3 mils to the car. One car that had been in the lot was gone and the wiener of the other car, who appeared to be a hunter, was just getting ready to leave. It was 3:55 PM and we had spent 2 hours and 40 minutes hiking 6.4 miles for an overall average speed of 2.4 mph and a total climb of 960 feet.

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 Wednesday, November 8th, I got up to find the trees covered in frozen snow with about 2 inches of snow on then ground. The temperature at 6:30 AM was 27 degrees. I was anxious to get out and take some pictures of the sunlight shiny off the snow-covered trees. As I was getting my equipment ready, the ambulance pager went off! This happens frequently and I have just accepted the fact that my life will be interrupted at inconvenient times. I called in and met my driver at the building. We headed out the DeBruce Road and found increasingly beautiful scenes. We returned from the call at about 10:30 AM and I was hoping that the snow would still be on the trees on Round Top so that I could hike there and take some pictures. Unfortunately the direct sunlight had melted most of the snow on Round Top so I decided to head to Frick Pond where I hoped there would be more snow and colder temperatures. I got dressed and assembled my gear with Sheila watching closely. I got Sheila in the back seat and headed out the DeBruce Road a little before 11:00 AM. There was much less snow on the trees than earlier but at least there was some left. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Pond Road and drove until the road split. I stayed to the left on the Beech Mountain Road and drove to the parking lot at the trailhead. There was already one car parked there and a couple was wandering round the lot. I got out of the car and the couple approached me for some information. They wanted to hike the "big loop" so I instructed them how to hike up the Flynn Trail and then take the Quick Lake Trail back to the parking area. It was 34 degrees at the trailhead and there was quite a bit of snow on the trees. I immediately took some pictures and then set my GPS. I was glad I had chosen to wear tights underneath my pants and had donned my Mammut hoody. At 11:10 AM we walked out the Quick Lake Trail toward Frick Pond. The trail was covered in snow and was also very wet from the rain that preceded the snow. There was plenty of mud that seemed to have been churned up my a vehicle. At Gravestone Junction we stayed left on the Quick lake Trail to head down the hill to the bridge at the outlet end of Frick Pond. The trail here was mostly shaded so there was still a good amount of snow left. I stopped to take a few pictures on the snow on the trail and on the trees. We stopped at the bridge to take a few pictures even though there wasn't much snow left on the trees. The pond was very blue and the trees around it were reflected in the water.

picture taken during a hike We 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 although most of the snow was gone. When we crossed the two small bridges, I stopped to take a few pictures before continuing to Times Square. We continued straight ahead on the Big Rock Trail up the hill. 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. I started to think about some issues that were on my mind and the walk seemed to go faster. I stopped several times to take pictures on the trail. A little less than half way up the trail I noticed a deep ditch along the side of the trail. A large amount of erosion had occurred and there were a lot of large stones that had washed down the trail. I found this strange until I remembered the flooding that had occurred in Livingston Manor several weeks ago. By 12:12 PM we had walked 2.2 miles and were at the junction with the Flynn Trail. I stopped to take a few pictures in all four directions at the trail junction. 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. There was still snow on the trail and I could see the boot tracks of the couple I had directed up the Flynn Trail. I thought about stopping at the clearing but decided that it was getting late. 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 staying to the left at the gate to avoid the private property around the cabin. We arrived in the parking area at 12:50 PM having covered 4.0 miles in 1 hour and 40 minutes with and elevation gain of 700 feet.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Monday, November 6th I had several different chores to accomplish around the house and needed to be at cross country practice by 2:00, PM. I decided the solution was to take Sheila across the street to hike on Round Top. I had not been there since the week before and I like to walk the trails frequently to make sure they are in good shape. The temperature was in the high 40's as I left the house at 12:35 PM. I wore my Mammut hoody since it has a lot of zippers to dump heat. Sheila was happy to go as I put her on her leash to walk across the street. We walked through the field next to the church and then up the steep but short cemetery hill. Sheila gave me a little help as she pulled me up the hill. At the top of the hill I took a look back down to town and over to the surrounding hills but all was pretty bleak. We turned left at the trailhead and walked into the woods on the trail. I immediately let Sheila off her leash but she stayed very close to me for the entire hike. At the first trail junction, Sheila continued straight ahead to the lookout which was fine with me as we had not been that way in some time. I took a quick peak at the lookout and then continued to follow the yellow trail. When the lower trail turned right Sheila continued straight ahead on the blue-blazed upper trail and I followed her lead. The trails were in good shape and we were soon at the summit. We continued over the summit and down the other side of the hill. At the trail junction We continued straight ahead and down the wide woods road to the first trail junction. We turned right and continued back up to the lookout and then on around the lower trail. When we got to the trail junction this time, we turned right to stay on the lower trail. At the next junction we turned right again to follow the yellow trail back to the first trail junction to complete the lower loop. Sheila seemed to want to head back home but I turned around and revered the small loop we had just done. Once again we were back at the first trail junction and I turned left to do one more big loop over the summit of Round Top. Sheila reluctantly followed me. This time we continued straight out to the trailhead at the first junction. At the trailhead we turned right and I pout Sheila on her leash to go back to the house. When we arrived home it was 12:45 PM and we had spent an hour and 10 minutes hiking over 3 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Windham (from Route 23) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, November 4th I again planned to hike the Blacks. The previous Saturday I was headed in that direction but stopped to hike Westkill instead. I checked the weather report which called for a clear and cool day with some sun and no rain. As I was getting ready, Cindy decided she wanted to hike but did not want to do the Blacks. I suggested we head in that direction and hike Windham from Route 23. I had hiked this route before but Cindy had not. It seems like only a short time ago but my records showed it was four years before! It was 31 degrees when I got up at 7:30 Am but the temperature was supposed to rise during the day. As I dressed I put on tights under my pants and chose to wear my Mammut hoody. This outfit had been too warm on Westkill but I though this day might be cooler. I took along a light hat and gloves. Sheila was happy as always to hike and stayed near me as I dressed and packed my gear. We left Livingston Manor just before 9:00 AM as I drove out the DeBruce Road to the Frost Valley Road. I turned left on the Frost Valley Road and drove passed the YMCA camp and the parking for Big Indian, Slide Mountain and Giant Ledge. Each parking area already had quite few cars and hikers preparing to get on their way. I turned right on Route 28 in Big Indian and headed east to Route 42. I tuned left to head north to Lexington where I took Route 23A east toward Hunter. I turned north on Route 296 and followed it all the way north to Route 23 in Windham. I turned right or east on Route 23 and drove 2.5 miles to the parking area near on the left near Cross Road. I was surprised that the lot was almost full. I pulled in and found a parking space and noticed that many of the cars had bikes and bike racks attached. There are over 10 miles of trails on both sides of the road and the area has become very popular. I set my electronics and out Sheila on her leash. The temperature was 45 degrees when we crossed the road at 10:30 AM to begin our hike. The first part of the trail is interesting as it passes through a low area with several bridges and wooden walkways. Near the trail register was a DEC signboard. We were walking along the Escarpment Trail but there were several places where bike trails turned off the main trail. Just passed the register the trail split with the blue Escarpment Trail continuing straight ahead. To the left were some red trails which are part of the Elm Ridge Multiuse Area. These trails are used by hikers who do not want to climb the mountain but are also used extensively by mountain bikers. The walk started to gain some elevation and went through a series of switchbacks starting at .85 miles as it climbed the shoulder of Elm Ridge. I was already beginning to get warm so I opened all the zippers on my Mammut hoody and cooled off some. We had already met a few hikers coming back down the trail and we wondered if they had been to the summit already.

picture taken during a hike At around 1.4 miles we were at the trail junction with the trail from Peck Road. There were two women stopped near the junction and we passed them. From this point on the trail was familiar but pleasant as I had not been on it in some time. As we approached the lean-to, we could see it was occupied which is not unusual. As we passed a small dog ran out and did not listen to its owner calling. We "discouraged" it and the dog return the way it came. This was another example of inconsiderate owners! We climbed a little and found another group of hikers who were stopped perhaps waiting for the other two women. As we approached, one hiker began to continue up the trail. He stopped as others in the group spoke to him. We continued on the trail as the hardwoods gave way to evergreens and we walked over the exposed roots of the trees before passing through some more hard woods. The next section of evergreens had more exposed roots to negotiate and a series of half logs that formed a bridge over areas that can be wet. The trail was damp in places with a few middy spots. It seems that most hikers avoid the logs as a path was prominent to the side. After climbing for a while the trail leveled at 2.1 miles and stayed on contour for about .25 miles passing a stand of evergreens on the left. After this, the trail headed south a little at 2.5 miles and then turned east and eventually northeast for the final ascent to the top of Windham. Several more hikers and small groups came down the trail from the summit and soon we caught up to a pair of hikers and passed them. One other pair of hikers coming down had a beautiful, young German Shepherd and Sheila and the other dog greeted each other. We encountered a few steep areas along the way but they are short. Another couple began to catch up to us so we sped up a little until we were making the last scent to the summit plateau. At 12:35 PM we had hiked 3.3 miles and were on the relatively flat spine that passes over Windham High Point. We stopped at the first lookout that faces south toward the Blackhead Range. The sun hung over the mountains and they were shrouded in a haze. I took some pictures of this iconic view and thought I should remember to do the hike later in the day when the sun would be at a different angle and the haze might be gone.

picture taken during a hike We walked back out to the main trail and to the lookout facing north even though the "main" lookout to the north has the best views in that direction. The view was truly expansive without many distinguishing features but I took some pictures anyway. There was actually some color in the leaves in the valley below. As we approached the high point, we heard voices and I put Sheila on her leash. We met two men sitting on a rock with an older German Shepherd which greeted Sheila. We continued on to the summit and then to the viewpoint to the north. The viewpoint did not have any other visitors and was more open than the previous one although the view was much the same. I could just make out the buildings in Albany through the haze. The view from this lookout is extensive and seems to reach out forever. I took some pictures despite the haze since the sun at least was not a factor in this direction. I also took some shots of Sheila sitting on the lookout and a few of Cindy and Sheila sitting on a rock. Soon it was time to head back down. We were surprised that the large group of hikers who were stopped near the lean-to had not appeared at the summit. We passed the two women we had passed earlier on the trail as they were relaxing on a rock at the side of the trail. We set a pretty fast pace going down the trail since there weren't too many steep areas. Once we passed these steeper areas and the trail was less rocky we were able to move even faster. We met several groups coming up the trail and a few lone hikers. We descended through the "forest of roots" and headed down to the lean-to. One of the hikers coming up the trail was a forest ranger. We stopped to talk to him about the volume of hikers, blowdowns on the trail, and the bike trails. We continued down the trail as the ranger headed over to the lean-to. At the junction with the trail from Peck Roadj, we met a group of mountain bikers but passed by them to stay on the Escarpment Trail. We continued down through the switchbacks and to the level trail that leads out to the road. I stopped at the last bridge to take a few pictures of the high water level in the wetland. We crossed the road and found there were still a number of cars in the lot and parked along Cross Road. We were back at the car at 2:50 PM having covered 7.1 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes with a total ascent of 1900 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, October 31st I had not decided if I wanted to get in a hike or do some pressing work around the house. Lisa emailed me the night before and asked if I would like to hike at Trout Pond. From Sunday night into Monday morning our area had over 4 inches of rain causing local flooding. I knew this would mean that Russell Brook would be higher than my last visit and that the falls might be nice. Lisa and I decided to meet at my house at 9:00 AM and then go to Trout Pond. While I was getting ready Sheila was on my heels the whole time sensing we would be going out. I knew the forecast was for cool weather and the temperature at the house was 31 degrees when I got up at 7:30 AM. I wore a double layer on top with a long sleeved shirt and then put on my Mammut hoody. I decided not to put on tights even though the Railriders Ecomesh pants are really too light for fall. Lisa arrived right at 9:00 Am and we left the house at 9:05 AM. I headed north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe getting off at exit 94. I headed north on Route 206 passing through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road avoiding the private parking area. It was 9:25 AM when I set my electronics and we began our hike. I like the walk down Russell Brook Road and Shiela seemed to be having fun running ahead and coming back to me. I listened for the sound of the water in the brook and it grew louder the farther we hiked. When we came to the viewpoint over the upper falls, the volume of the falls was as great as in the spring. I decided to walk down to take some pictures rather than wait for the walk back to make sure I got some good shots. I took pictures at several different zooms and with several camera settings. I packed up and walked back up to the road to join Lisa. We walked down to the lower parking area where there were no cars parked. We continued down the road and crossed the bridge over Russell Brook where we could see that the water was very high. We found that the Japanese knotweed was dying as it does during the late fall and winter months. We continued on the road and decided to visit the main falls on the way back. At the trail junction just after the register we continued straight ahead to walk up to Trout Pond. Within a short distance we came to a new blowdown across the trail which would require tools to remove. As we walked, Lisa told me she had only planned to go as far as the lean-tos and I told her I thought we would be doing the whole loop. The trail began to get very wet with some standing water and lots of small rivulets running down the trail. All of the small streams running across the trail were running nicely. When we arrived at the pond, we walked to the left to the "beach" at the outlet end of the pond. It was clear that the water level was much higher than it had been in some time and the water was within a foot of the spillway. Ten days earlier the distance from the spillway to the water was at least ten feet! The sky was very blue with some puffy white clouds and the water was completely still. There were some interesting reflections and some colors which made taking pictures a must. I took a number of pictures concentrating on the reflections and the patches of color in the remaining leaves. Sheila seemed consent with wading a little in the water without immersing her entire body.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the main trail on the east side of Trout Pond walking toward the inlet end and the lean-tos. The trail continued to be very wet with pools of water we tried to avoid. There were numerous branches on the trail which we removed and some more blowdown from the storm on Sunday night. We stopped just before the lean-tos and walked to the shore where I took some pictures. We stopped at the bridge over the inlet and I took a few shots of the pond. This area was also very wet from the overflow from the inlet stream. This stream had been completely dry on my previous hike 10 days before. Lisa led the way as we turned right to follow the trail up Cherry Ridge. I was glad she chose to hike the loop rather than return the way we had come. As we hiked, I found it satisfying to look at the many places where I had cleared branches and blowdowns from the trail on my last trip. There were some new branches on the trail and several small blowdowns. Some blowdowns we were able to clear by moving the to the side of the trail and others would require an ax and saw. Soon we were at the highest point on Cherry Ridge and starting down the other side. This part of the trail was more like a stream with flowing water and several large pools. This part of the hike can drag sometimes but it seemed to go very fast as we talked most of the way. We paused at the "forest of many small trees" and then continued on to the woods road and snowmobile trail that runs by Mud Pond. Lisa wanted to visit Mud Pond so we turned right and walked about .1 miles before turning left and following a path down to the pond. When we arrived at the shore of the pond, the skies had become completely overcast and the scene was much more bleak than at Trout Pond. I took a few shots and then we turned around and headed back to the main trail. We walked back to the trail junction and then up the short hill before starting the long descent. At the top of the hill we began the long descent back to the rail junction where we had started. The descent lasts for .7 miles and drops 385 feet to a bridge that crosses the outlet stream from Trout Pond. The trail continued to be very wet but was not as muddy as I expected. We stopped at the bridge over the outlet stream from Tour Pound and I took a few pictures showing the high water. At the trail junction we turned right and headed back out toward the lower parking area. At the path to the falls we turned left and walked out toward the falls. We worked our way down the bank to the streambed. I took pictures of the falls using some different setting. I also shot a short video of the falls and the stream. Before packing up my camera I asked Sheila to pose in from of the falls. We walked back out to the main trail and walked to the lower parking lot. Sometimes the walk back up Russell Brook Road seems long and tedious but I was still feeling fresh and having someone to talk to is always nice. We continued to walk up the road and soon arrived back at the car. It was 12:35 PM when we arrived back at the car after hiking 6.0 miles in 3 hours and 10 minutes with a 1190 foot total ascent. The temperature was 49 degrees.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Westkill (Spruceton) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, October 28th, I was ready to do a more challenging hike than I can do when I have cross country practice in the afternoon. I had planned to go north and do the Blacks getting a start no later than 8:00 AM. I woke up a little later than I thought I might and asked Cody if she would like to go and She said she would. I knew that Sunday would be a washout due to a forecast of heavy rain and that I would be tied up as school nurse on Monday.The temperature in the morning was 33 degrees so we didn't hurry to get ready. I put on tights an wore my Mammut hoody as I do not like to be cold. I also took a light hat and gloves. Sheila was ecstatic to be going anywhere which is her usual state. We got everything in the car and pulled out of Livingston Manor a little after 9:00 AM. We headed out DeBruce Road and turned left on Route 47 at the end to head toward Big Indian and Route 28. There were a few cars at the Biscuit Brook parking area but the Slide Mountain parking area was beginning to fill up. By the time we passed the parking for Giant Ledge and Panther they were beginning to park along the road. As we passed these pots where we have hiked before Sheila would "moan" as if she was asking me if we could stop and hike. I turned right on Route 28 and then left on Route 42 to head toward Spruceton. On the way from Shandaken to Spruceton on Rt 42 there were even a few cars at the Halcott parking area. Along the way Cindy began hinting that Sheila didn't want to ride all the way to the Blacks! I decided that there might not be any parking when we got there and that Weskit would be a good substitute. I was also concerned that Cindy might not be able to handle Blackhead AND Black Dome in the same hike. Westkill is a special place for me as I spread the ashes of a previous hiking partner, Sheba, at the Buck Ridge lookouts. I turned right on the Spruceton Road and was glad that it had been paved nicely. Along the road we passed the Spruceton Inn which was gained a nice reputation and also the West Kill Brewery where I wanted to stop on the return trip. We were following a car that seemed to be looking for something and it continued ahead of us even when the road turned to dirt. The parking lot for Hunter was filled and when we arrived at the parking area for Westkill it was also packed. I decided to drive up the road to see if the smaller loot was also filled. When we arrived at the smaller lot, it was almost empty so I pulled in and parked. The signs warned that this was a snowplow turnaround but I was sure it would not be needed on this day. Several other cars pulled in right after us so we hurried to get ready. The temperature was 51 degrees and a stiff breeze was blowing so I was glad I had dressed warmly. I set my GPS, put Sheila on her leash and we headed out on the woods road toward Diamond Notch Falls at 10:25 AM. The trail was nearly dry with only a few wet spots but there was a good amount of water in the stream. The stream was making quite a noise and I was tempted to stop several times to take pictures. I decided to put this off until the return trip. There was a couple behind us that were dressed as if the falls was their destination. I could see a couple ahead of us and soon they came back to me to sake if they were on the trail to Westkill. I said "Yes" and gave them some suggestions about the hike.

picture taken during a hike At the falls, we turned right on the Devil's Path and then right again at the end of the bridge. I was again tempted to take pictures but decided to wait until the trip back. As we continued to follow the trail it began to get steeper and wetter in spots which made it slipperier. The couple that had asked me some questions were just behind Cindy and were obvious faster than us so we let them pass and they soon were out of site. I was beginning to get very warm so I stopped to take off my hoody. At the same time I decided to take off my tights which I had only done one time before. After ditching these two items I felt light but was a little cold as I had built up a real sweat. As we continued the ascent, I began to remember that the ascent was long and steep in some places. We came to a section of trail that requires some side-hilling and is much more difficult when there is snow. As we continued to hike we met a few hikers and pairs of hikers coming back from the summit. It didn't take us long to get to the spot which is a near vertical climb. This is a short ascent but leads to a longer one. In the winter this is often a sheet of ice and can be exciting on the way up and the way down. Sheila scrambled up without much trouble and we followed making use of the roots as handholds and our poles. Once we passed this point there were still some steep areas to conquer. The mile climb from just after the falls to where the trail begins to level averages a 20% grade and can be very tiring. Once we got to the more level part there were still some small climbs and a few descents but the going was easier. From that point to Buck Ridge and the summit is still well over a mile. On our way to the rock overhang or "cave" we passed the 3500 foot sign. I could have sworn the sign used to be just above the overhand but I checked my GPS and the new placement seems more correct. We continued to meet a few hikers coming down the trail. There were a lot of branches on the trail, and no one seemed concerned about removing them so I did. In one spot a tree had fallen across the trail leaving the choice of crawling underneath or pushing through some dense brush on the sides.

picture taken during a hike We were soon above the "cave" and after this the trail turns almost due west and levels off slightly. A hiker approached and I grabbed Sheila as I always do. We said "Hello" and he looked very familiar. He asked of I was alone and I indicated my wife was not far behind. He continued passed me but stopped to talk to Cindy for a few minutes. When Cindy caught up, she told me it was Mike Dwyer, the Aspirants Chairperson for the Catskill 3500 Club. He had thought I looked familiar and knew my name when Cindy told him. We finally came to the little descent before the final ascent to the Buck Ridge Lookouts. We worked our way down and were soon at the base of the final ascent. We climbed up to Buck Ridge arriving at 12:35 PM. It had taken us 2 hours and 10 minutes to hike 3 miles! So much for keeping a good pace. The couple that had gone ahead of us were relaxing at the lookouts. They were from Albany and had already been to the summit. I leashed Sheila to a tree and gave her a drink. Cindy and I also drank some water and Cindy got out a bar to eat. I decided to take some pictures before continuing on to the summit. I took a few shots from the lookouts toward the south but there was quite a bit of haze. There was some color left on the trees which was mostly yellow from the beeches. I released Sheila and we walked over to the lookout to the north where I had taken my favorite picture of Sheba. Sheila jumped up on the large boulder there but the view is almost completely blocked by trees now. I took a few shots and returned to where Cindy was sitting. I shouldered my pack and headed toward the summit just as a large group of hikers arrived. Hiking to the summit of Westkill is a short trip but serves no purpose other than to allow a hiker to claim they got to the summit. It is only about .1 miles and it took us about 15 minutes to get up and back to the lookouts. There is still a sign at the summit that says "Westkill Mt. Summit and a large stone cairn. When we got back to the lookouts, I rook one more picture of an interesting tree and then we started back down the trail from Buck Ridge at 12:55 PM.

picture taken during a hike We tried to keep a quick pace on the way down without stopping but the going was not easy in some of the steeper spots. We met several individuals hikers, pairs and groups on the way up. One young lady had left the parking area just behind us but was just getting to the top as we were descending. We continued down the trail which was certainly easier than hiking up! We stopped for a few pictures at the rock overhand where we met two pairs of hikers coming up the trail. On the way down toward the vertical climb, I saw a hiker coming up the trail and one coming down behind us. The hiker who was descending was the young lady that had just passed us going up to the summit. It occurred to me then that she was not slow but had probably done Hunter and the Westkill! At one point I looked up to see a dog approaching without a leash. Sheila and the other dog approached each other and seemed to get along. As the other owners approached I called Sheila and they controlled their dog. The other dog was a beautiful red brown color and I asked about his breed. I was surprised to find out he was a Fox Red Labrador since I would have said he was a hound of some kind. I had never heard of this color variation but it was very striking. I was also surprised when the owner said he was only one year old as he was already much larger than Sheila. We continued down the trail and met no ore hikers coming up. Just before the bridge at the falls, I walked off the trail to the left and took some pictures of the bridge and the falls. I also took a shot of Cindy and Sheila on the bridge. I took a few more shot from the rocks under the bridge and then some more from the bridge. We crossed the bridge at the falls and Sheila and I negotiated the short but steep drop to the base of the falls. Sheila did not seem to be interested in a dip in the cold water. I took pictures of the falls with several different settings on the camera trying to get the soft, wispy effect that some people like. The stream has actually changed its course slightly and now flows more on the left rather than the right side of the bed. We climbed back up the bank to trail and continued back to the car. We did meet some more hikers coming up the trail but all looked as if they were only going to the falls. I stooped a couple of times to take some pictures of the smaller rapids along the way. Back at the car the temperature had risen to 60 degrees which was warmer than when we started. We were back in the parking area at 3:05 PM having covered 6.4 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes with plenty of time allowed for photography. The total ascent was 2070 feet. I was tired but glad we had made the trip. On the way back, we stopped at the West Kill Brewery and found it was packed. We parked at the bottom of the hill and walked up to the brewery where there was an "event" happening. A lot of people were "hanging out" drinking beer and having a good time. They had some cheese boards and a wood-fired pizza oven. We got in line which is when I found out Cindy did not intend to have any beer. I was disappointed as I wanted to stay around for a little while and enjoy the happening. I did get a chocolate porter which was very good even though porters are not my favorite. I drank it down as we walked back to the car which was not what I had intended. I scrapped my plans to go to Pancho Villas or The Alamo and drove back to Livingston Manor for supper. There were still quite a few cars parked at the various trailheads on the way home taking advantage of the beautiful day.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Thursday, October 26th I wanted to get in a hike after my early morning men's group at church and afternoon cross country practice. I decided I wanted to stay close to home and would go to Frick and Hodge Ponds for the exercise. My Plan was to hike the loop in a clockwise direction. After doing a few chores around the house, I began to get my gear together which made Sheila watch me very closely. We hadn't been out in a few days and she wasn't letting me out of her sight. When I was ready to leave at 10:00 AM the temperature was only in the high 40's. Despite this I decided to wear only abduct jacket as my Mammut hoody is very warm. I did wear a light hat and threw in a pair of gloves. I also packed a rain jacket as the bright blue skies had suddenly turned cloudy. I got my gear and Shiela in the car and headed out the DevRuce Road. After 6 miles, at Mongaup Pond Road, I turned left and continued to follow the road bearing left onto Beech Mountain Road at the fork. When we arrived in the parking area there was one other car parked in the small lot. Sheila was acting as if she hadn't hiked in a month as she ran around and headed for the trail. The temperature was 44 degrees and the constant breeze blowing, made me a little cool. I got my gear ready to go and set my GPS. The skies were still a little overcast as we headed out the path to the register on Quick Lake Trail at 10:20 AM. The Quick Lake Trail was wet and muddy from the hard rain the day before. At Gravestone Junction we turned left to head down to Frick Pond. The water level in the pond was a little higher than it had been and the beaver dam looked like it might be in the process of reconstruction. Someone had completely pulled out the beaver dam across the outlet stream sometime in the early fall. The sky had a little blue but the leaves were mostly gone from the trees except for the beeches. I decided to take few shots anyway as I almost always do. These shots showed a somewhat bleak picture with a few spots of color. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail around the pond bearing left at the next trail junction to stay on the red trail. This part of the trail was extremely wet and soggy from the rain. It was hared to find a place to get good footing without stepping in water or mud. We were setting a fast pace despite the water and soon came to the "pine promenade" and the little stream through the woods. The water level in the stream was higher than it had been in some time but was still easy to cross. I did remove a few sticks along the way and several larger blowdown. We arrived at Iron Wheel Junction at 1.6 miles.

picture taken during a hike We turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and started the long uphill climb toward Junkyard Junction. The trail continued to be wet most of the way and showed signs that the hard rain had probably produced small streams that had eroded the trail. We were headed for Junkyard Junction at 3.2 miles. With no one to talk to I was lost in my own thoughts as Sheila followed a few game trails. The sun was starting to come through the clouds and I could see some blue. We turned right onto the blue Flynn Trail which is almost flat. It too was wet with some puddles and muddy areas. There were no major blowdowns but I continued to remove branches that littered the trail. When we got to the gate, we turned right to stay on the trail and head down toward Hodge Pond. At 3.75 miles the Flynn Trail heads right but I decided to turn left on the jeep trail around the head end of the pond. At the apex of the pond Sheila turned right and followed a path down to the shore and I followed. I took some shots of the pond since the this time the skies were beginning to show some blue and the clouds were interesting. I packed up and we went back to the trail to walk up the hill and then down to the field at the inlet end of the pond. When we came to the clearing at the outlet end of the pond, we walked over to the shore. I got out my camera again to take some pictures. The colors and Hodge Pond were just as muted as at Frick. As I was taking my last shots, a bald eagle began circling the pond and diving toward the surface. I took numerous pictures of elusive bird before packing up and walking back to the Flynn Trail to the point where it re-enters the woods. We started the climb up the hill and I was feeling quite fresh and concentrated on using my poles to help set a quick pace up the hill. At the top of the hill we stayed to the right to continue on the Flynn Trail. A left turn follows a woods road out to what remains of the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. The Flynn Trail is relatively flat to the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 4.5 miles. Along the way, I saw to hikers coming toad us so I put Sheila on her leash. We said "Hello" as we passed and I let Sheila off her leash soon after. We continued straight through the junction with the Big Rock Trail to follow the Flynn Trail back to the car. The walk was pretty but had no remarkable views or features. We walked quickly and as we approached the gate on the woods road, we turned left to avoid the private property around the cabin and to stay on the trail. We finished our walk and were back at the car by 1:00 PM. We had covered 6.6 miles in 2 hours and with an elevation gain of 930 feet. It still seemed cool as the temperature was only 52 degrees.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Kelly Hollow AllTrails - Kelly Hollow caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Kelly Hollow MapMyHike - Kelly Hollow On Sunday, October 22nd I wanted to get in a hike after church as the weather was warm and beautiful. When we got home I suggested we go to hike at Kelly Hollow as we had not been there in since January! 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 toward Roscoe on Old Route 17 little after 1:00 PM. I turned right on the Beaverkill Road and drove through Lew Beach to Turnwood where I turned left on the Barkaboom Road. I drove to the end of the Barkaboom Road band turned right at the Pepacton Reservoir On BWS 9. After 4.5 miles, I turned right on Millbrook Road and continued 5.25 miles to the parking lot for Kelly Hollow on the right. We parked at 1:40 PM next to the only car in the lot. I took a moment to set my GPS before starting our hike at 1:45 PM by heading out on the trail marked with yellow XC skiing blazes. My plan was to walk the trail in a figure 8 which is something I had not done before. 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 which surprised us as everywhere else we had hiked was bone dry. Almost immediately we could see a couple ahead of us with two dogs on leashes. I put Sheila on her leash and we passed by the other hikers who had moved to the side of the trail. Their dogs were bigger than Sheila and very excited about meeting another dog. Shortly after this encounter we met another hiker who looked like he was a hunter scouting the area. At .5 miles we came to the cutoff to the right for the Short Loop hike. We turned right to walk down the cutoff trail to the bridge. I took some pictures before we crossed the ridge and headed up the trail to the main loop trail on the other side.

picture taken during a hike We turned left on the loop trail heading southwest and then south toward the beaver pond and lean-to. Over the nest .4 miles we gained about 300 feet for an 11% grade. Although this is not a steep climb it was more than I remembered. At 1.2 miles we were at the beaver pond which is quickly becoming a beaver meadow. There are no more beavers in the area and the pond is now a small puddle. There were some nice colors in the leaves remaining on the trees so I took some pictures before we continued around the pond. We stopped again on the other side and I took a few more pictures before continuing on to the lean-to in the woods. The lean-to was in good shape As was the privy but we had no reason to stop and continued on the trail now heading northeast and downhill. The trail made a turn so that we were heading southeast and we crossed a few bridges over small streams. At one point we started to walk through a grove of pines and I stopped to take a few shots including a couple straight up. At 1.75 miles we came to the spot where I had bushwhacked up to Millbrook Ridge to look down on Alder Lake. At 2.1 miles we made and almost 180 degree turn and started heading north. I noted that this would be a good place to try another bushwhack as it was only .7 miles to the trail that runs along Millbrook Ridge. We continued north on the trail still descending. At 2.75 miles we again came to the crossover trail and turned left to cross the middle of the figure 8. As we made the turn two more hikers appeared behind us on the main trail which was strange as we had not noticed them before. We crossed the bridge and walked up the hill on the other side to the main trail. This time we turned right and started to walk 1.1 miles back to the car. The day was very pleasant with a slight breeze blowing. This part of the trail was not well marked but the path was pretty obvious as it followed a woods road. At 3.6 miles we came to the Middletown Cemetery and found a couple with motorcycles enjoying a quiet moment. I decided not to take pictures of the cemetery so we continued out the access road to Millbrook Road. We trend right and walked the final .25 miles back to the car. It was 3:45 PM and we had spent 2 hours hiking 4 miles with an elevation gain of 660 feet. On the way back I decided to go over Cross Mountain Road which is a narrow dirt road that ends up at Alder Lake. I knew that the Town of Hardenburgh had worked on the road in the early summer. I don't know what they did to the road but it was still all dirt and still narrow. There were several stretches where two cars could not pass by each other so I was glad that there were no other cars on this 4 mile adventure!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - WinterClove: Rips Rock, Lost Pond, Ledges AllTrails - WinterClove: Rips Rock, Lost Pond, Ledges caltopo  icon Gmap4 - WinterClove: Rips Rock, Lost Pond, Ledges MapMyHike - WinterClove: Rips Rock, Lost Pond, Ledges On Friday, October 20th I asked Cindy if she would like to go to Winter Clove and hike some of the trails there and she agreed. I checked my records and we had not been there in almost seven years! Winter Clove is primarily a resort which offers room and board and various activities to those who stay there. It is located north of Palenville with the address being Round Top. The drawback for us is that this is around a two hour drive but I did want to hike some of the trails which are really interesting. Winter Clove has miles of hiking trails open to those who are paying guests but they allow non-guests to hike which is very generous. The trails included several nice lookouts and waterfalls. There is even a trail to North Point and Stoppel Point although not all the trails are well-marked or well maintained. We got our gear together and prepared to leave the house. I had created a map for the Avenza app on my iPhone from some GPS tracks from previous visits. The temperature was cool but seemed to be rising so I put on a light jacket and took along a light hat and gloves. I decided to follow the route suggested by Google maps so at 9:10 AM we left Livingston Manor with an excited Sheila in the backseat. I drove through Liberty on Route 52 to Woodbourne and on To Ellenville. In Ellenville I picked up Route 209 north to Kingston. From there I took the Thruway north to Saugerties where I got on Route 32 north. I began to doubt my recollection of the route but found Hearts Conent Road just after the old Friar Tuck Inn. After a short drive, I made another left onto Winter Clove Road. From that point on there were small signs indicating the various resorts in this area and there are quite a few. We arrived at Winter Cove at about 11:10 AM. I got permission the night before so I didn't bother to visit the office although I should have picked up some maps as many of their signs are keyed to their maps. I checked out some signs, set my GPS and we started our hike at 11:10 AM. The temperature was in the high 40's when we started and it was getting warmer under sunny and cloudless skies. We followed the sign in the field just up from where we parked so we headed in that direction to begin our adventure. Just before we started out another hiker went out on the trails ahead of us. We saw him a few more times before we went our separate ways. He was the only person we would see all day!

picture taken during a hike The neatly lettered sign mentioned Indian Lookout and Rips Rock which were the destinations that held the most interest for us. We continued through the field down to a creek and across a small bridge. There were many maples in this area and each had at least one pipe connected to them for the collection of sap. The trail went through a series of switchbacks as it climbed a moderate hill with other trails branching off along the way. Some newer rails looked like single track mountain bike trails and we avoided these. There were some signs to indicate where we were going and red and blue paint blazes were also present. Soon the trail headed east and away from the brook through a field and passed by a small warming hut for skiers.We had been climbing some but not steeply and at about .6 miles a trail continued east toward "The Ledges". I decided to save that for the return trip so we continued on the trail we were on, first west and then south. The trail were all very dry and I knew there was a forest fire alert posted. At one point we could see some elaborate stone work which lined the sides of a stream bed. At .9 miles another sign point to a spur trail to "Lost Pond" on the left but we stayed on the main trail. Around 1.2 miles another spur trail headed to "Lost Bridge" and just beyond that point was a short trail to the left to a campsite. Around this point we headed off the main trail to the west to check out the Webster Homestead. The family owned a large amount of farmland in the area and there was an interesting foundation not far off the main trail. After taking a few pictures we turned around and returned to the main trail. At 1.4 miles there was another sign pointing to The left to "Lost Pond" which made me think we might visit this attraction on the way back. At 1.6 miles we had the choice of turning left to the "Lower Rips Trail" or continuing on the trail we were on. We continued and walked parallel to a small brook that had cut a deep gorge between and into the surrounding rock. At 1.8 miles we cut across the streambed which had no water in it. I checked my GPS and the Avenza app and we were on the correct route to Rips Rock.

picture taken during a hike We had been gaining elevation from the time we left the Webster Homestead aging some 500 feet until the trail began to level a little and at 2.2 miles we arrived at Indian Lookout. This was an opening in the trees that looked out to the east toward the Hudson River. The view was nice and, as always near the Hudson, a little hazy. There was still some color on some of the trees. We stopped for pictures, a drink and a snack. It was clear that we were walking the edge of an escarpment but there was another, higher ridge of rock to our right. To this point the trail was clear and looked used. From this point on the leaves appeared undisturbed but I could the red paint blazes to mark the trail and I had the track on my Avenza app. We continued to follow the paint blazes from the Indian Lookout. The trail was level at first but then began to drop to a small streambed continuing to head south. The trail headed up a hill and we gained some more elevation. At 2.5 miles the a significant gorge began to appear and the trail swung left or southeast and ascended another small hill. I stopped to take a few pictures of the gorge. The trail hugged the edge of the top of the hill and then several views opened up of the opposite side of the hollow. There were interesting rock formations and the sun behind the ridge made for some interesting lighting effects. We stopped to take a few pictures since we had finally found some color in the leaves! We also had some limited views out to the Hudson River.

picture taken during a hike We slid down some slippery rocks and then ducked under and through some brush to find...a beautiful, expansive lookout toward the east and southeast. A small sign declared "Rips Rock 1,809 feet". The deep chasm immediately to the south is formed by Stony Brook and is sometimes called Rip Van Winkle Hollow. The sun pretty high in the sky and I adjusted my camera to avoid it as I took numerous shots up the clove and out over the wide expanse of the valley below. Even the drop down into the hollow offered some nice photographic opportunities. Since we stopped, I took many pictures of the ridge, the hollow and to the east toward the river. Walking along the trail at the edge of the cliff was...exciting. The slippery leaves and overgrown brush tended to push us dangerously close to the edge but we made it in good shape. The views just kept getting better! We stopped two more times to take additional pictures before following the trail into the woods. The trail led us roughly around the top of the hill and we thought it might simply connect to the trail we used on the way up. It did not. After a trip around the summit the trail made a short steep descent between and over some rocks. The steepness and the slippery leaves made for an interesting descent. When I got down, I asked Cindy to pause for a minute and pose with Sheila. After this point, the trail changed character totally becoming wide and well-used. We continued to descend and hit a few switchbacks. The trail continued to parallel the one we took up but at a lower elevation. It became clear this was the "lower" trail from earlier and at 4.0 miles we were back at the junction. We turned right and began to retrace our steps back toward Winter Clove Inn. At 4.1 miles we came to the sign for "lost Pond" and decided we would take this trail as we knew it connected back to the main trail farther along.

picture taken during a hike At 4.6 miles I could see a large cleared area to the right of the trail which almost looked like a parking area. From the green cast of the ground I was convinced it was "Lost Pond. I took off my pack and got the camera to walk down and take a few pictures. As I started down to that area, Cindy yelled "Snake"! I cam back up to my pack and found a small snake coiled as if to strike. I took a few pictures and then used my hiking pole to challenge it. The snake did strike a few times and then slowly slithered off. I walked down to the cleared area to take a few pictures and the returned to my pack. We continued along the trail and at 4.9 miles we were back at the trail we had been on earlier. We turned right and followed the trail until 5.2 miles. At this point the main trail turned sharply left to head back to the car. We turned right to head toward the ledges. Within a short distance we came to a dirt road where we turned left. We walked along the road turning right at a fork and found "The Ledges". From this open lookout there is a great view of what some call "The Great Wall of Manitou" which, in part, includes the Blackhead Range. I took some pictures and then we turned around and followed the dirt road back to our turn. From here we simply retraced our path along the trails back to the field and the parking area. We were back at the car at 3:05 PM having hiked 6.7 miles in 3 hours and 55 minutes gaining a total of 1235 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Trout Pond (Clockwise) AllTrails - Trout Pond (Clockwise) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Trout Pond (Clockwise) MapMyHike - Trout Pond (Clockwise) On Thursday, October 19th, I was ready to get out for a hike after my 6:15 AM men's bible study at church. When I returned to Livingston Manor, I ate breakfast at Café 43 and returned home to do a few chores before heading out. I deiced I would go to Trout Pond since I had not bee there in some time and since it was close enough to get in a hike before cross country practice. When Sheila got wind of my plans, she started jumping around and could hardly contain herself even though we had hiked several times during the week. We left Livingston Manor at about 9:45 AM under sunny skies but with a temperatures just into the mid 40's. I put on my Mammut hoody and brought along gloves and a light hat. I had my gear in the trunk and an overjoyed Sheila in the back seat as we headed to Roscoe on State Route 17. I got on Route 206 and followed it across the Delaware County line to Morton Hill Road. After a left turn on Morton Hill Road, I drove to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road to avoid the parking area which is private. We began our hike down Russell Brook Road at 10:10 AM. The temperature was 44 degrees so I decided to wear the Mammut Hoody but leave the hat and light gloves behind. We continued on down Russell Brook Road and found it very dry. I could hardly hear any water running in the brook beside the road. As we passed the overlook over the upper falls, I could see that there was almost no water in the stream and decided I would not visit either falls unless it was on the way back. We continued down toward the parking area where there were no cars and got on the woods road that goes down to the bridge that crosses the brook. The Japanese knotweed was in the process of dying and some was leaning over into the trail. We continue 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 very dry with almost no water or mud. The stream next to the trail had no water flowing. There were some occasional branches on the trail which I picked up and moved off the trail. 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 major blowdowns on this part of the trail. We reached the top of the hill and walked down the wide woods road to the next trail junction at 1.6 miles. We made a right to follow the trail up to the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. This trail was also very dry with none of the water or mud that sometimes makes the hike difficult. There were several large branches and trucks across the trail. Most of these blowdowns seemed to be rotten and had broken up on impact. I was able to move most of them off the trail without a problem.

picture taken during a hike After passing through an area with many small diameter trees, we started a short descent with the trail remaining dry. 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 a few blowdowns which I removed or hiked around. As we descended toward Trout Pond there were three major blowdowns that would require an axe and saw to clear. The trail remained dry and a little slippery in places from the leaves. As we approached the bridge at the inlet end of the pond, I decided to stop and take some pictures. We walked out through the weeds to the shore and found the water level still very low. There wasn't much color in the leaves but I took some shots anyway. As we walked across the bridge, I noticed there was no water at all in the inlet stream! We continued on the main trail toward the outlet of the pond. The trail was till dry and the hiking was easy. Along the way Sheila alerted and I saw an older couple approaching us. I put Sheila on her leash and moved to the side of the trail but the male hiker insisted on approaching Sheila which did not make her happy. 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 very low and there were no once white clouds in the sky. The hike from the outlet to the trail junction is all downhill and we were able to make good time. On the way down we met a young couple. The woman was carrying a young child in a backpack carrier. We said "Hello" as we passed. By 12:10 PM we had hiked 4.7 miles and were back at the trail junction and register box. I decided that I did not want to walk over to the falls as I was a little short on time. We walked out to the parking area to continue our hike back to the car. There was only one car in the parking lot so I assumed one couple had parked on Morton Hill Road. As we walked up the road back to the car, I did not stop at the overlook over the upper falls but continued up the road. We continued up the road and back to the car. Another car was parking in the pulloff which is on private property and clearly posted. It is thoughtless people like these that cause problems for other hikers! We arrived back at 12:25 PM having covered 5.4 miles and 1105 vertical feet in 2 hours and 15 minutes. The temperature had risen to about 49 degrees as we left.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Wednesday, October 18th I had several different tasks to accomplish around the house and I also needed to leave early for an away cross country meet. I decided the solution was to take Sheila across the street to hike on Round Top. I had not been there since the week before and I like to walk the trails frequently to make sure they are in good shape. The temperature was in the low 50's as I left the house so I wore a light jacket. Sheila was happy to go as I put her on her leash to walk across the street at about 11:30 AM. We walked through the field next to the church and then up the steep but short cemetery hill. Sheila gave me a little help as she pulled me up the hill. At the top of the hill I took a look back down to town and over to the surrounding hills hoping to find a blotch of color somewhere. There were no colorful trees and had not been for the entire fall. Some other areas in the Catskills had some color but not Livingston Manor! We turned left at the trailhead and walked into the woods on the trail. I immediately let Sheila off her leash but she stayed very close to me for the entire hike. At the first trail junction, Sheila turned right and I followed her up the more gentle ascent. Where the lower trail turned left Sheila continued straight ahead on the blue-blazed upper trail and I followed her lead. The trails were in good shape and we were soon at the summit. We continued over the summit and down the other side of the hill. At the junction with the lower trail I found a large branch across the trail. I tried to move it in several ways but it would not budge. I decided we would complete our first loop, walk back to the house to get my saw and return to eliminate this obstacle. We turned right and walked the gentle downhill to the lookout. At the viewpoint we turned left and walked down the steep trail to the first trail junction. We walked out to the trailhead and then down the hill toward the church. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked to our driveway and back to the house. I picked up my smaller Silky saw and we headed back across the street and up the hill to the top of the cemetery. This time we continued straight ahead toward the lookout and then followed the rail to the junction with the blue trail where the tree was across the path. It took me only a few minutes to cut up the blowdown and pull it off the trail. We continued on the lower trail to the next trail junction where we turned right and headed down the lower trail to the first junction. I didn't want to keep carrying the saw so I placed it behind a tree. We turned right and started back up to the lookout where we turned right to follow the trail to the junction with the upper blue trail. We continued straight ahead on the blue trail over the summit ion the opposite direction from before. We walked won the other side to the trail junction and continued straight ahead on the yellow trail back to the first trail junction. At this point Sheila started to run out to the trailhead but I called her back as I turned around to start the final lower loop up the shallower grade. We followed the lower trail in a counterclockwise direction passing the lookout and descending back to the first trail junction. This time Sheila made a mad dash toward the trailhead and I followed her. We continued out to the trailhead and turned right. I put Sheila on her leash for the walk down the hill and back across the street to the house. It was 1:00 PM and we had spent an hour and a half hiking over 3 miles and doing a little trail work.

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 Monday, October 16th, I wanted to get in a hike after two days off for a cross country meet and obligations at church. I got up a little late and was in no hurry as the temperature was in the low 40's and the sky completely overcast. I asked Cindy if she wanted to hike and she said "Yes" and we agreed to go to the Frick Pond area. This is our "go to" spot since it is close to home and there area number of different rails that can be combined into a variety of hikes. I decided against wearing tights underneath my pants but did wear my Mammut hoody since it has several different zippers to vent heat. Cindy and I both took a hat a light gloves since it was only 48 degrees when we left the house at 10:10 AM. Sheila acted as if she had not hiked or a month as she jumped into the back seat. We arrived just before 10:30 AM to find no one else parked in the lots. I checked the temperature and it was 44 degrees at the trailhead! I set Garmin GPS and we crossed the road to get on the Flynn Trail. There was a slight breeze blowing which made it seem even cooler. We immediately noticed that there were still a few green leaves on some trees but not much color remained. Some of the leaves on the ground had some color but they had turned, stayed on the trees for a day or so and then fallen in the wind and rain. We made the turn up the wide woods road that is the Flynn Trail and started up what was once the Beech Mountain Road. The grass was a little wet and there was some mud in places. It was obvious there had been some wind as we were constantly moving branches off the trail. In a few places I had to drop my poles and take a few minutes to lift larger obstacles off the trail. Sheila was having a great time following animal trails and running up and own the main trail. We set a good pace on the ascent but really did not hurry. By 11:20 AM we had made the 1.7 uphill miles to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. We continued on the Flynn Trail toward Hodge Pond. The skies were still overcast and the breeze was still blowing. I was comfortable while we hiked but cool when we stopped.

picture taken during a hike At the next trail junction we turned right off the Flynn Trail to take the wood road toward the old Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. We then turned left at the next trail junction to descend toward the pond. This trail had been scraped by OSI and had been a muddy mess. It was now covered in leaves and some grass was growing back which made the hiking easier. At the next opportunity, we turned right to head around the back of the pond on the old jeep trail. At one point we headed down to the shore of the pond. I took some pictures of the pond which were a little bleak since the trees didn't have many leaves and the skies were gray. Sheila waded in the pond and got a drink but did not want to swim in the cold water. We got back on the jeep trail and headed toward the junction with the Flynn Trail. We made a right on the Flynn Trail, walked up to the gate and headed toward Junkyard Junction. The Flynn Trail was pretty wet with several muddy spots and some standing water. At Junkyard Junction, we turned left on the Quick Lake Trail to descend toward Iron Wheel Junction. The trail continued to have wet and muddy spots but we could walk around them without problems. We did continue to pick up branches and clear a few larger blowdowns as we went. This part of the hike went a little more slowly than usual but by At 12:40 PM we had hiked 4.9 miles and had arrived at Iron Wheel Junction. We turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail which was also wet and muddy in spots. We crossed the small stream in the woods and then walked under the "spruce tunnel". We were soon at the bridge over the outlet to Frick Pond. We stopped and I took some pictures of the pond which were about as bleak as the ones at Hodge Pond. The breeze was now a wind and the light mist that had persisted throughout the day seemed to be turning to rain. It seemed that the never dam was partly rebuilt. I am still waiting for a report as to the reasons that someone thought they could destroy the dam! We continued up the hill on the Quick Lake trail back to the car. We were back in the parking lot at 1:15 PM after hiking 6.3 miles and 1000 vertical feet in 2 hours and 45 minutes. The temperature at the car had risen to 46 degrees but the windchill had to be well into the 30's!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Bear Spring (east loop) AllTrails - Bear Spring (east loop) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Bear Spring (east loop) MapMyHike - Bear Spring (east loop) On Friday, October 13th I wanted to get out for a longer hike after a week of XC races and practice and other commitments that had kept me out of the woods and away from hiking. I planned to hike in the northern Catskills perhaps at North South Lake or in the Blacks. I asked Cindy if she wanted to come along and she said she would like to but had to be back by 3:00 PM at the latest. Cindy likes to hike but 8 miles and 4 hours are about her limit and she is not thrilled with big elevation gains. I suggested we go to Bear Spring WMA where we had not been for some time and where I hoped we might get a glimpse of some elusive fall colors. When I got up in the morning the skies were completely overcast and the temperature was in the low 40's. I was in no hurry to start as I wanted the skies to clear so we delayed leaving until a little before 9:30 AM. I debated whether to wear tights underneath my pants but in the end decided they were not necessary. I did put on my Mammut hoody for the first time since the spring. This jacket is great for layering and has large pit zips on either side to dump heat. The hoody also fits nice in my pack if I need to take it off. We left Livingston Manor and headed north on State Route 17 to Roscoe. I got off at exit 94 and headed north on Route 206 through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after entering Delaware County we ran into a paving project which delayed us for some time. Once we cleared the work zone I continued north on Route 206 to the Pepacton Reservoir where I turned left an drove through Downsville. I continued to follow Route 206 north toward Walton. Soon we were climbing Bear Spring Mountain and I noticed the skies were clearing and the temperature was in the high 40's. Just before the top of the mountain, I pulled off the road into large pulloff and parking area where we would begin our hike. I made sure Sheila was on her leash as the traffic on Route 206 in surprisingly heavy. I set my electronics and we began our hike at 10:20 AM by walking north on Route 206 and then turning into the woods to the left. Bear Spring WMA is a multiuse area but is primarily constructed for use by horses and snowmobiles. Since horse can cross streams more easily than hikers there are few bridges and hikers must take this into account. The area has its own way of marking trails which is not the usual method used on most hiking trails. A map of the trails is available online or by clicking here for those who has not hiked there before. Most of the trails are wide woods roads suitable for riding horses or snowmobiles. We headed south and then southeast on one of the these woods roads labeled on some maps as Wilson Hollow Road. To the left of this trail is a large clear cut area which was begun to grow up over the years. In the past there were some nice views from here across Route 206 to the opposite hillier but these views are now blocked. As we walked along the trail, we could immediately see that we were not going to find much in the way of bright leaf colors. I did stop to take some pictures of the trail and the colors that were present. We entered the woods and I took a few more shots before we continued on. The trail continued to head southeast and rolled a little up and own as it went. At 1.35 miles the trail began to climb some and a trail on the right headed down to the area of Launt Pond. We began to gain some elevation and at 1.95 mile another trail headed off to the right winding its way down to East Trout Brook Road south of Launt Pond. We continued straight ahead until at 2.2 miles the McCoy Hill Cutoff Trail appeared on the right. This was the trail we would use to form our loop as we were hiking a lollipop route. I decided we would continue straight ahead as I had not done the loop in that direction for some time.

picture taken during a hike The trail had been almost dry to this point but now we began to run into muddy areas some of which extended across the trail. We lost some elevation and then gained some as the trail continued to head southeast. The temperature had increased and the sun had come out so I opened the pit zips on my jacket. At 3.35 miles we began a slight climb and shortly after this the trail turned west to start the loop back. At 3.6 miles we hit a high point just before a long descent. Cindy said she was beginning to get hungry and needed a drink so we stopped to eat a bar and drink some water. We didn't stay still for Avery long but I did take a moment to remove my jacket and stow it in the pack. The trail now began a long descent which we both knew meant a long ascent at some point. At 4.25 miles it turned north but continued to descend. Over less than a mile we lost 470 feet of elevation to about 4.5 miles where we came to a trail junction. To the left the trail descended to Middle Pond on East Trout Brook Road. We turned right to head north on the McCoy Hill Cutoff Trail back to Wilson Hollow Road to complete the loop. This was the lowest point on the trail and I knew the hill was a steady climb. We ascended for some time and then stopped in an open area where we could look over to the western ridge and across the valley. There wasn't much color and the skies were overcast but I took a few shots anyway. We continued up the hill trying to make good time and to avoid thinking about the ascent. At 5.4 mile we topped the hill and walked along the edge of a field to complete the loop. The ascent was only 465 feet over .8 miles for around a 10% grade. We turned left and started back toward the car retracing our route along Wilson Hollow Road. At one point Cindy pointed out a great cacophony to the right of the trail which we at first mistook for the wind in the dead leaves. After listening for a time, we came to the conclusion it was a large flock of birds which we could not see. We stood still for a few minutes and saw birds beginning to appear in the trees. After a few more minutes we continued on our way. I said something to Cindy and suddenly there was complete quite and the birds in the trees were gone! It was Friday the 13th! We continued along the trail talking as we went and were soon at the area of the clear cut. As we neared the road, I put Sheila back on her leash as we walked back to the car. We arrived back at the car at 1:45 Pm after hiking 7.6 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes with a little over 20 minutes of stopped time. Our overall average was 2.2 miles per hour and we gained 1070 feet of elevation along the way.

map icon On Tuesday, October 10th I planned to go to Walnut Mountain to make sure the cross country course was in good shape and to mark it with white arrows for our home meet against TriValley and Livingston Mnaor later in the day. I had laid out the course last year and made sure it was exactly 5K which translates to 16,404.2 feet. When I arrived at 9:00 AM, I decided to mark the part of the course nearest the parking area so I walked to the far end of the parking lot and began top spray paint white arrows along the fence. I continued through the picnic grove and across the playground area to the East Trail toward the finish line. There were two large puddles on the course but I decided to allow the runners to choose to run through them or around. When I got to the varsity finish line, I painted it and then continued a little farther up the trail. I knew I needed to extend the modified course to get it to about 1.6 miles. Just as I started walking up the hill, I found a good place and marked a line. I walked back down to the car with an almost empty paint can. I picked up a new can of paint and headed up the Mountain Overlook Trail carrying a rake to remove leaves where I needed to put down arrows. I knew I was short of paint and so only marked intersections with and occasional "assurance" arrow along the way. I followed the wide carriageway as it wound up the hill. Where the Mountain Overlook Trail turned left, I painted and arrow to direct the runners straight ahead on a cut over path to the West Trail. Soon the North Trail came in from the right and I marked arrows to direct the runners straight ahead on the West Trail. The carriageway wound around the base of the mountain and I soon was at the spot where the cross country course turned left up a steep trail. I marked a very large arrow here and turned left to follow the course up the trail. Along the way I raked some leaves off the trail but knew I did not have the time or energy to rake 3 miles of leaves! I continued to the top of the hill where the course turns right on the Sunset Trail. I marked an arrow at the turn and shortly after painted a 2 to show the end of the second mile. The Sunset Trail is flat and wide with only a short hill at the end. As the trail clears the trees several other trails cross the course so I painted arrows to show the runners they should continue straight ahead. At the overlook I painted and arrow to show the runners they must turn left and continue back down the hill on the Mountain Overlook Trail. I continued downhill to the point where the Suet Trail comes in from the left and the course turns right down an unnamed trail. I painted an arrow showing a right turn after which the trail descends steeply down to a field where it heads to the left. I painted a few roots and rocks and continued to follow the trail back to the Mountain Overlook Trail where I turned right to retrace the course back down to the picnic area. Since I had already marked the course to the finish, I went back to the car with an empty paint can. I picked up a new can of paint and walked across the parking area to paint a starting line for the modified race. I painted the line and then walked down the hill and placed an X where I would later place a cone. I turned left and walked to the varsity starting line which I repainted. From that starting line I walked on a wide, mowed path to the point where the trail entered the woods. This part was all downhill but I did have to remove some branches that were on the trail. The course continued for some distance without turns so I sprayed a few assurance arrows to the next junction. Just before the parking area, I painted an arrow indicating a left turn and another just beyond it. I walked along the path cut through the high grasses and shrubs and found it in good shape. I broke off and beat back a few weeds and paint a few arrows along the way. I exited the open area and entered the trees where the course began to climb. After a short time and even longer and steeper hill lay straight ahead. I followed our course as it turned left on Vista Way and painted an arrow to show the turn. This trail is very narrow and does not get much use. The course follows the Vista Way as it turns left and crosses a small bridge. I raked the leaves aside and put a large arrow right at the turn. A short distance after the ridge I put down a 1 to indicate the end of the first mile. I continued along the Vista Way marking a few more arrows. Soon I was back at the parking area and my car. It was just after noon and I was done after 3 hours of work and well over three miles of walking.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Dry Brook Ridge Lookouts (Southside) AllTrails - Dry Brook Ridge Lookouts (Southside) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Dry Brook Ridge Lookouts (Southside) MapMyHike - Dry Brook Ridge Lookouts (Southside) On Saturday, October 7th I had planned to hike Dry Brook Ridge to the lookouts from Southside Drive in Margaretville. This would take me over Pakatakan Mountain which I remembered was a steep climb in several places. I planned to return by descending the German Hollow Trail and then walking the roads back to the car. From what I pieced together from previous trips, this would be about a 9 mile hike. When I went to bed Friday night, the forecast was somewhat unsettled but the chance of rain was out at less than 10%. When I awoke on Saturday morning the forecast had not really changed but there was some rain in the Southern Tier which I thought could reach Margaretville. I decided to take a chance and do the hike anyway despite the fact that I knew that the views from the lookouts would probably be hazy due to the overcast skies. I was looking for some pictures of fall leaves with some vibrant colors. Many of the leaves around Livingston Manor had already fallen from the trees without changing colors. I delayed leaving the house since it was so foggy but I eventually got my gear together and got dressed. I wore a light windbreaker and packed a rain jacket just in case. I decided to take my collapsible Leki Micro Vario poles which are light and easy to stow for the 3 mile road walk. Sheila was very excited since we had not hiked since Tuesday! We left Livingston Manor a little after 9:00 AM with a heavy fog still hanging near the ground. I drove north on Old Route 1& toward Roscoe and then turned right on the Beaverkill Road. I continued north on the Beaverkill Road through Lew Beach. Just outside Turnwood, I turned left on Barkaboom Road and continued up the hill passing Little Pond State Campgrounds and Big Pond. I continued over the hill and the turned right on BWS 9 heading toward Margaretville. BWS 9 changed to BWS 10 and the became Southside Drive as I approached Margaretville. I continued along Southside Drive until I passed Fair Street and a Dead End sign. Just a little farther down the road on the right was the trailhead with room to park a couple of cars on the other side of the road. I turned around and pulled my car off the road just across from the trailhead. I set my electronics including my Suunto Traverse watch and Garmin GPSmap 64st and decided to leave my light windbreaker behind as the temperature was already in the low 60's and the humidity was high. At 9:55 AM we crossed the road to begin our hike. The trail starts climbing immediately and over the first .65 miles gains 525 feet for an average of a 15% grade. This would be much steeper but for a series of switchbacks as the trail heads east along old woods roads. All along the trail are very impressive and interesting rock ledges and I stopped several times to take a few pictures. The shots really don't do these ledges justice as they loom over the trail and have numerous overhangs and "caves". The skies were still very cloudy but there were times when the sun would peek through. It SW very warm and humid and I was glad I had left my jacket in the car as I was working up quite a sweat without it!

picture taken during a hike At .65 miles the trail turned south to travel along the west side of Pakatakan Mountain. At .75 miles the trail began to stay mostly on contour for a little while and then started to climb again but more gently. At 1.15 miles the trail turned east and began a steeper climb until 1.35 miles where it began to head north still climbing but more moderately. At 1.5 miles the trail leveled a little and then went through some turns which eventually resulted in us traveling southeast for some time starting at 1.8 miles. The wind had started to blow and it felt as if a storm was approaching but I was fully committed to my plan at this point. Despite the wind I was still warm as we continued climbing on the wide trail. The footing was a little difficult at times as the trail was covered in leaves which were wet from an overnight shower. The leaves did seem to have some color and I still hoped I could get some colorful pictures of fall foliage somewhere along the way. Along the way Sheila alerted to something behind us and I looked to see a hiker approaching. A man a few years younger than me was approaching quickly so I took hold of Sheila's collar and stepped to the side of the trail. As the hiker passed he thanked me and we wished each other a good day. We saw him once or twice more as we continued southeast on the trail. Just after 2 miles, we passed by the summit of Patatakan Mountain at around 2500 feet as the trail continued to rise toward Dry Brook Ridge. I knew that the German Hollow trail would be coming up soon and at 2.7 miles it appeared on the left. I began to wonder if my mileages were correct as the out-and-back mileage I had for this route was 7 miles to the lookouts and we were not even close to our destination. We passed by the trail junction continuing on the main trail toward the junction with the trail that ascends to the ridge from Hill Road. Not long after the German Hollow Trail junction was a sign that said "Lean-to" pointing to a new path. I decided not to make the side trip but as we continued on the trail I could see the lean-to. I did not realize that the German Hollow lean-to had been relocated so far away from its original site. This section of the trail is one of the most frustrating in the Catskills. We reached a high point at 3.2 miles and then began to descend on the trail which hugged the side of the hill. The trail had not been maintained in some time and the leaves covered many loose rocks. We lost 120 feet of elevation in the next .25 miles all the while pushing through briars and with me watching my footing. At the bottom of the descent the trail turned right heading south and in .15 miles we gained over 200 feet at a 26% grade. We were now at the trail junction with the trail that ascends from Hill Road.

picture taken during a hike At the trail junction we had hiked 3.6 miles and it began to dawn on me that the GPS track I had for this approach only included getting to the trail junction and not the extra mile to the lookouts. The extra miles really didn't bother me as I felt pretty good but it did bother me that I was careless in my planning! The skies were still overcast and the wind was still blowing. We walked straight ahead to continue on the trail to the lookouts. The distance to the lookouts from the trail junction is only a mile with the first .7 miles being relatively flat. After that a series of short but steep climbs leads to the open rock face that makes up the lookouts. These climbs are not really very difficult except when using snowshoes in the winter! I expected that we might see the hiker we had met at the lookouts but no one was present when we arrived. I could only speculate the other hiker had continued on the ridge or taken a different path earlier in the hike. As I looked out from the viewpoint I was disappointed but not supplied that there was a haze hanging over the valley. I could see the Pepacton Reservoir but I knew pictures would be impossible. There were some nice autumn colors on the trees but the haze and the overcast skies made them seem dull. I did take a few shots hoping to get a couple of nice pictures. Sheila and I had a drink and I grabbed a bar to eat on the hike back. The wind was blowing harder and the skies looked at little darker as we started back at 12:10 PM. I negotiated the descents and then walked back on the falter trail to the trail junction. Descending the steep section of trail and sidehilling along the next section proved easier than I thought. Of course, after leaving the lookouts, the skies began to clear and the sun started to shine through. As I walked I began to debate whether I should continue back the way I had come or stick to my original plan of using the German Hollow Trail. S we approached the trail junction at 6.5 miles a few drops of rain began to fall which cemented my decision. We continued straight ahead to follow the main trail back the way we had come. The wide trails made it fairly easy to make good time. It wasn't very long before the rain began to fall in earnest. I was sure that if I got out my rain jacket and pack cover the rain would stop so I did just that. We got moving again and it wasn't long before the rain abated and then stopped. I decided to just keep going and opened the side zippers on my jacket to dump some heat. Descending the final steep parts of the trail back to the car proved interesting as the leaves were now wet but I made it back without actually falling. We were back at the car at 2:15 PM after hiking 9.3 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes with an elevation gain of 2525 feet. On the way back home I stopped on the Barkaboom Road to rake some pictures and then again at Big Pond. I decided to head for Alder lake where I pulled into the parking area and quickly walked down to the lake. I took a few pictures and then headed back to the car. On the way back down Alder Creek Road, I stopped again to take a few shots near the Beaverkill Fish Hatchery.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Tuesday, October 3rd I had several different tasks to accomplish around the house and I also needed to leave early for an away cross country meet. I decided the solution was to take Sheila across the street to hike on Round Top. I had not been there since the official opening last Sunday and wanted to see if everything was Ok on the trails. Sheila was happy to go even though we had hiked the day before and I put her on her leash to walk across the street at about 11:30 AM. We walked through the field next to the church and then up the steep but short cemetery hill. Sheila have me a little help as she pulled me up the hill. We turned left at the trailhead and walked into the woods on the trail. I immediately let Sheila off her leash but she stayed very close to me for the entire hike. At the first trail junction, Sheila turned right and I followed her up the more gentle ascent. Where the lower trail turned left Sheila continued straight ahead on the blue-blazed upper trail and I followed her lead. The trails were in good shape and we were soon at the summit. We continued over the summit and down the other side of the hill. At the lower trail we turned right and walked the gentle downhill to the lookout. At the viewpoint we turned left and walked down the steep trail to the first trail junction. Sheila continued on toward the trailhead but I turned around and started back up the trail. Sheila followed and we began our second big loop in reverse. When we completed this one I turned around again to start another in the same direction as the first. Sheila was a little more reluctant to follow but did turns round to come with me. After completing this third loop, I thought about going home wanted to try one more. Sheila gave me a disgusted look but followed me for our fourth and final loop. Once we were back at the trail junction, we continued out to the trailhead. We turned right and I put Sheila on her leash for the walk down the hill and back across the street to the house. We had spent a little over and hour hiking 3 miles.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Monday, October 2nd I had thought about hiking on Dry Brook Ridge near Margaretville. I wanted to do a loop from Southside Drive to the Penguin Rocks and then back down the German Hollow Trail. I planned to return on the road to the car. Between the drive and the length of the hike I decided to put this off until a day when I did not have practice in the afternoon. I decided that I wanted to go for a hike closer to home and asked Cindy if she would like to go to Frick Pond. The big loop around Frick and Hodge Ponds has become my "go to" hike for a quick walk close to home. It was still in the high 30's and foggy at 8:30 AM so we were in no hurry to rush out the door. Sheila sniffed our clothes and immediately knew we were hiking. She began to run around the house bouncing against the furniture but always keeping a close eye on me. We put our gear in the car and an excited Sheila in the back seat and drove out the DeBruce Road at 9:15 AM. At Mongaup Pond Road I turned left and continued to follow the road bearing left onto Beech Mountain Road at the fork. When we arrived in the parking area there were no other cars parked. Sheila was acting as if she hadn't hiked in a month as she ran around and headed for the trail. The temperature was 41 degrees and I was a little cool as I got my gear ready to go. The skies were still a little overcast as we headed out the path to the register on Quick Lake Trail at 9:40 AM. The Quick Lake Trail was damp but not really wet and there were only a few muddy spots which were easy to avoid. At Gravestone Junction we turned left to head down to Frick Pond. The water level in the pond was low due to the fact that someone had completely pulled out the beaver dam across the outlet stream. It did seem that the beavers were beginning to rebuild the dam and the water level was a little higher. The sky had a little more blue but the leaves on the trees were still dull with almost none of the fall colors we had been expecting. Many of the trees seemed to have already dropped their leaves but I decided to take few shots anyway. I also took a few pictures of Cindy and Sheila on the bridge before we continued our hike. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail around the pond bearing left at the next trail junction to stay on the red trail. This part of the trail was drier than the last time I had walked the trail with almost no mud. We were setting a fast pace and soon came to the "pine promenade" and the little stream through the woods. This water level in the stream was very low compared to almost any other time since the spring. As we continued along the trail I removed some small branches and a few large ones until we arrived at Iron Wheel Junction at 1.6 miles.

picture taken during a hike We turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and started the long uphill climb toward Junkyard Junction. The trail was almost dry all the way to Junkyard Junction at 3.2 miles. We walked and talked to make the uphill part go faster but we also remarked to each other that it is a long way to the junction. The sun was starting to come through the clouds but it was still playing hide and seek. We turned right onto the blue Flynn Trail which is almost flat. It too was only damp with a few spots of mud which were easily avoided. There were no major blowdowns but I continued to remove branches that littered the trail. When we got to the gate, we turned right to stay on the trail and head down toward Hodge Pond. At 3.75 miles the Flynn Trail heads right and we followed it toward the outlet end of Hodge Pond. This part of the Flynn Trail which is a woods road had been graded by OSI leaving bare dirt and quite a mess when it was wet. This time the dirt was covered in leaves and there was almost no water or mud. The field was still wet from the dew and after walking through it the trail again had been "improved" and still a little muddy. The open field is the spot where the mess hall and family camping area for the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp once stood. When we came to the clearing at the outlet end of the pond, we walked over to the shore. Cindy sat by the fire pit and ate a bar while I got out my camera to take some pictures. The colors and Hodge Pond were just as muted as at Frick. Sheila jumped into the water for a dip and a swim. I got a stick and threw it for her to retrieve and took some pictures of her in the water. I grabbed bar while stowing my camera and he got ready to complete the hike. We walked back to the Flynn Trail and followed if to the point where it re-enters the woods to climb up the hill. I was feeling quite fresh and concentrated on using my poles to help set a quick pace up the hill. At the top of the hill we stayed to the right to continue on the Flynn Trail. A left turn follows a woods road out to what remains of the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. Just after the turn I pointed out to Cindy where I had finally removed a small tree that had been blocking the path. The Flynn Trail is relatively flat to the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 4.5 miles. We continued straight through this junction to follow the Flynn Trail back to the car. The walk was pretty but has no remarkable views or features and everything was still very green. We walked quickly and near the end of the trail Sheila alerted. We looked up to see a young couple coming toward us with a very small dog on a leash. I put Shiela on her leash and the dogs greeted each other. We wished the other hikers a good day and continued down the trail. As we approached the gate on the woods road, we turned left to avoid the private property around the cabin and to stay on the trail. We finished our walk and were back at the car by 12:45 PM. We had covered 6.4 miles in 3 hours with an elevation gain of 906 feet. It still seemed cool as the temperature had barely reached 50 degrees.

On Friday, September 29th I had hiked Giant Ledge including a bushwhack along the base of the ledges in the morning. In the afternoon I was scheduled to lead a hike for the staff of the Liberty schools. When I got back from the morning hike, I changed clothes so as not to offend anyone and headed for the main parking area at Walnut Mountain park. I parked at 3:20 PM and found one staff member already waiting for me. Just as I pulled in another car arrived with a staff member and her two small children. A few minutes afterwards another teacher arrived with her two high schoolers. I had hoped more people would attend but there were several conflicts and I had promised to do the walk again. I had brought along several sets of hiking poles and offered them to the staff members present. It was a little after 3:45 Pm when we walked down to the start of the cross country course on the Walnut Mountain East Trail on the third base side of the baseball field. It was a cool day and I had worn a light windbreaker in the morning but left it home for the afternoon hike. I was a little cool standings around but once we started walking I was OK. We went to the starting line and walked out the trail toward the West Lake Street parking area. The trail is downhill and there were a lot of leaves on the trail. As we approached the parking area we followed the course as it turned let onto the Walnut Mountain North Trail. This trail passes through and open area and had been overgrown with goldenrod and other weeds. I had cut it out and as we walked it was relatively clear. There were Dom nay leaves that it was hard to see the white arrows that marked the cross country course and I knew I would have to remark it for our home meet in two weeks. We started up the trail and then turned left on Vista Way. We continued to follow this narrow trail as it was crossed several times by single track bike trails and other paths. We followed it over a small bridge and onto a wood road that led us back to the parking area. The course is routed through the picnic area at about 1.25 miles into the course. No one chose to drop at this point so we all headed up the Mountain Overlook Trail which is one of the main trails on the mountain.

picture taken during a hike For a short distance this part of the course is run in both directions by the runners. There is little chance runners going out will meet runners coming back as the distance on the mountain is over a mile. We continued to the point where the Mountain Overlook Trail turned left. At this junction we continued straight ahead on the cross country course as it follows a connector trail to the Walnut Mountain North Trail. This trail follows an old carriageway around the back of the mountain and continues up a big hill to an overlook. Before the big uphill we followed the course as it turns left up a narrow and winding trail to the Sunset Trail. This trail was very overgrown and full of rocks and branches when my wife and I cut it out and cleared it before the XC season last year. The trail is rather steep and rough. At the top of this trail we turned right not the Sunset Trail which is another carriageway and is wide and flat. Near the end of the trail there is a little uphill that leads to a viewpoint over Swan Lake. There area also several other trails that cross the XC course in this area. Even though the course does not go to the lookout we took a side trip and got a nice view. We returned to the XC course and followed the Mountain Overlook Trail back toward the intersection where we had been earlier. Along the way we met several photography students from the high school along with their teacher. They took a few pictures of our group before we continued our walk. Before we got to the trail junctions we turned right and walked down a short steep hill following the cross country course. The course winds through a filed and passes a water tank before jointing the Mountain Overlook Trail. We turned right onto the Mountain Overlook trail and walked back down to the parking area. The cross country trail continues to the right through the playground and out the Walnut Mountain East Trail to the finish line. The group decided we did not need to finish the course. It was 5:00 PM and we had walked a little under 3 miles in 1.5 miles. Everyone thought the course and the walk were enjoyable and I will definitely lead another hike.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon On Friday, September29th I was scheduled to lead a hike for the staff of the Liberty schools at 3:30 PM at Walnut Mountain. I wanted to get hike in before what I knew would be a modest walk in the afternoon. I considered Ashokan High Point but the drive coupled with the hike was cutting it too close for me. I settled on going to Giant Ledge to try to find some fall colors. I thought I might return by bushwhacking along the base of the cliffs which I had not done in some time. I got my gear together and got dressed with Sheila watching my every move she could be sure I did not leave without her. The temperature was only 44 degrees when we were ready to leave the house at 9:15 Am so I put on a light windbreaker on top of my normal double layer top. I headed out the Debruce Road and drove through DebRuce and Willowemoc to Route 47. I turned left on route 47 and drove passed the Frost Valley YMCA Camp. There were no cars at the Biscuit Brook parking area and only three at Slide. I drove by Winisook Lake and down the hill to the Giant Ledge parking area. There were four or five cars already parked when we arrive. The temperature was 48 degrees so I decided to keep my windbreaker on. I set my electronics and we crossed the road to start the hike at 10:10 AM. I had Sheila on her leash but let her off after we crossed the road. I immediately noticed that the trail was dry with only an few wet spots. The stream under the little bridge had only a small flow of water. I decided to count the ascents along the way to the first trail junction just for fun. As we climbed the third ascent Sheila alerted and I saw a man and woman descending the rocky trail very quickly. It lament looked like thee were trail running or racing! I held Sheila as they passed and then we continued our hike. Within a few minutes another couple went by and they also seemed to be in a hurry. After another short walk, we met another young man descending and he had a moment to converse before we went our opposite ways. We made good time without really hurrying making the trail junction by 10:35 AM after climbing the seventh rocky ascent. We turned left toward the ledges. As we walked the air seemed to be warming up as the sun was out but I decided to keep the jacket on. I though I could hear voices ahead but we did not encounter anyone. The trail was dry with virtually no water or muddy spots. The skies were blue with some clouds but as we hiked it seemed the clouds were closing in which I knew would not be good for photography from the ledges. We reached the first lookout and there were no other hikers so I took some pictures. I was disappointed because the leaves had only just begun to change colors in isolated spots. As I was taking these shots the sun came out and gave a completely different look to the landscape so I took some more pictures. I packed up the camera and we moved on by continuing along the trail. I passed up several ledges but stopped at one more to take a few more pictures. At the end of the plateau, we dropped down to the col between Giant Ledge and Panther. Even though I had hiked the route this summer, I had forgotten that this was a significant drop.

picture taken during a hike At about 2.1 miles we turned right or ENE and dropped about 150 feet from the trail to around 2875 feet of elevation. The descent wasn't too hard but it wasn't easier either. The trees and brush were definitely much thicker than the last time I hiked the route. Eventually we made it down to the broad flat area that runs along the base of the cliffs. This area was beautiful and much drier than I had ever seen it. We started to walk along the base of the cliffs heading south. There were large expanses of what is usually swamp with green moss. We walked along this area and dropped and gained elevation as we hiked. All the time the cliffs were to our right barely visible through the trees. I stopped to take pictures of some large trees and a few of some trees that had changed color. I also tried to get a view of the cliffs but didn't have much luck. The views from many mountains have disappeared over the years as the vegetation has grown and I think that also happened in this area. The views of the cliffs that had been pretty open were now hidden behind the trees.At times I would see what looked like a possible viewing spot and we would fight our way through the rocks and brush only to find there was no view. I looked at the time and decided I did not have the luxury of exploring but would return when the leaves were off the trees. We continued to hike parallel to the cliffs heading at first south and then southwest. We started to wrap around the cliffs to join the trail again but I got a little turned around. I consulted my compass and made the right decision. Just to make sure I consulted Sheila by saying "Back. Trail." When she headed in the direction I though I should go, I knew we were headed the right way. We intersected the trail much further away from the ledges' viewpoints than I thought we would. We were below the spring about a half mile from the trail junction. This was exactly the place I had come out on several previous hikes. We made a left turn and followed the trail to the junction. At the junction I saw a young man standing and before I could put Sheila on her leash she approached him. He had a dog on a leash and I apologized for my dog's lack of manners. We talked and he advised me his friends were just behind and they also had dogs. His friends were ascending the last rocky climb and all the dogs were pit bulls. The dogs were very well behaved and we talked for a little while. They were from the city and were up for the weekend to attend a wedding. We were talking about hiking to views and one young man said he had been to the Mount Tremper fire tower. We continued our opposite ways. On the way down one of the descents, I met two more young men with their dog. They were also in the area for a wedding and were from NYC. After a brief discussion we continued down the trail and back to the car. We were back at the car by 1:30 PM covering the 4.6 mile hike in 3 hours and 20 minutes. The total elevation gain was 1270 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FlynnLedgesMongaup alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, September 26th I knew I was going to hike somewhere but had really not worked it out when I got a text from Lisa saying she was available at 10:00 AM. She suggested Trout but I told her I had been there on Monday and countered with the ledges between the Flynn Trail and Mongaup Pond. She readily agreed and we agreed to meet at my house at 10:00 AM. I got some work done in the morning and then got ready to go.At 9:30 AM it was already almost 70 degrees but I stuck to my double layer outfit with a long-sleeved top suitable for bushwhacking. I was ping to find some color in the leaves around Mongaup Pond but was not optimistic since I had not found any color in other locations. Around Livingston Manor the leaves were falling but failing to display any bright colors. While I was getting ready Sheila was on my heels the whole time sensing we would be going out. Lisa arrived just after 10:00 AM and we left the house to drive out DeBruce Road for about 6 miles to Mongaup Pond Road. I turned left and drove to where the road split and stayed left on Beech Mountain Road. I parked in the small lot tat he trailhead and found no other cars present. I set my electronics and we started our hike by crossing the road at 10:25 AM. The trail was very dry as we hiked through the woods on the Flynn Trail to the woods road. We turned right on the woods road which was once an extension of Beech Mountain Road and started our climb. We kept up a quick pace talking as we walked until we came to the spot where there is a clearing a little off the trail on the right at 1.15 miles. We turned into the woods and walked a path up to the clearing. I took my pack off and got the camera to take some pictures of the clearing. No one seems to know eagerly why the clearing is there but some speculate the dirt was used to build the Beech Mountain Road up to the Boy Scout camp. The clearing has a thin layer of dirt over bedrock and is unusual since it supports a wide variety of plants. There is a thick layer of moss in most place and the moss represents several different species. The area is often quite wet but on this day it was very dry. I picked up my pack and walked easy toward the tree line trying to find a break where we could begin our bushwhack east to Mongaup Pond. I found a spot and we started walking through the mostly open woods heading east and slightly southeast.

picture taken during a hike In less than a quarter mile from the clearing we me to the first series of ridges and found a path to descend through them. Just before I started down, I looked ahead and saw the water of Mongaup Pond ahead. I look at my GPS and we were only .25 miles away from the pond. I took a few shots of the rocks and then we continued to work our way down. The grade was pretty steep averaging about 18%. We worked our way down through another level and I took a few more pictures. We continued to descend and turn a little more to the southeast. At one point Lisa pointed out there was a nice overgrown woods road heading southeast so we started to follow it. The road paralleled a drainage which normally conducts water down toward the pond but was bone dry. Sooner than I though we were at the loop road around the pond. We wanted to make sure we visited the deck and boat launch which we thought were to our left We turned left and walked a short distance before we both came to the conclusion that we had turned the wrong way. We turned around and walked the road south and came to the deck within .3 miles of where we had exited the woods. I let Sheila off her leash to take a swim and get a drink. I walked out onto the deck and took some pictures of the pond. I was not surprised that all the leaves were still green although there appeared to be more leaves on the trees than in town. We continued our hike by walking along the shore until we were at the beach. I took some pictures of the deserted beach with the boats, canoes and kayaks. We wandered over to the bathrooms and met a couple from Chicago. Lisa gave them some advice on hiking and then we headed out Mongaup Road to complete our loop. The road walk went very quickly and didn't seem boring at all. We both noticed that the creek was quite far below the road level which is hard to notice from a car. After 1.1 miles we turned right on Beech Mountain Road and walked .3 miles back to the car. The temperature at the car had risen from 68 degrees when we started to 82 degrees. It was 12:30 PM and we had hiked 3.8 miles in two hours with a total elevation gain of 675 feet. When I checked the GPS track at home I found our bushwhack almost exactly followed the route I had taken before!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, September 25th I decided I wanted to get in a hike close to home before cross country practice in the afternoon. A morning ambulance call further shortened my window for wing and convinced me that Trout Pond was a good option. I had not been to that area in some time and was still searching for some fall colors in the leaves. Around Livingston Manor the leaves were falling but failing to display any bright colors. While I was getting ready Sheila was on my heels the whole time sensing we would be going out. I knew the forecast was for warm weather but I wore a double layer anyway with a long sleeved shirt on top. We left the house at 9:50 AM and headed north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe. I got off at exit 94 and headed north on Route 206 passing through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned around and parked on the side of the road avoiding the private parking area. It was 10:10 AM when I set my electronics and we began our hike. I like the walk down Russell Brook Road and Shiela seemed to be having fun running ahead and coming back to me. I listened for the sound of the water in the brook but didn't hear very much. When we came to the viewpoint over the upper falls, I could see there wasn't much water going over the falls but decided to walk down to take some pictures anyway. I dropped my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the upper falls and then packed up and walked back up to the road. We walked down to the lower parking area where there was one car parked. We continued down the road and crossed the bridge over Russell Brook. I found that some of the Japanese knotweed we had cut back was now leaning over into the trail. We continued on the road turning right on the path to the falls. We walked over to the path down the bank to the streambed and descended to the brook. There was very little water in the stream and very little water coming over the falls. Sheila immediately ran over to the small pool below the falls and jumped in to take a swim. I got out my camera and took some pictures of her in the water and some as she posed sitting just in front of the falls. After Sheila walked away, I took a few more pictures before putting away the camera and walking back out to the main trail. At the trail junction just after the register we continued straight ahead to walk up to Trout Pond. As we walked, I noticed that the trail was very dry with only a few damp spots along the way. All of the small streams running across the trail had disappeared. When we arrived at the pond, we walked to the left to the "beach" at the outlet end of the pond. It was clear that the water level was very low with the water at least ten feet from the outlet. I was disappointed that the leaves were only a dull and dusky green without any of the brilliant colors I had hoped to see. There were some interesting reflections and some colors so I decided to take a few pictures. After I took some pictures of the pond, I threw a stick into the water for Sheila to retrieve. She initially seemed a little reluctant to retrieve the stick but eventually swam out to get it. When she returned to the sore, she shook herself off and then began to dash around as I got ready to continue the hike.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the main trail on the east side of Trout Pond walking toward the inlet end and the lean-tos. The trail continued to be dry which was surprising as it is usually very wet. I stopped at the bridge over the inlet and took a few shots before continuing on the trail. This area can also be wet from stream overflow but was bone dry on this day. We turned right to follow the trail up Cherry Ridge. As we hiked I found it satisfying to look at the many places where I had cleared branches and blowdowns from the trail on my last trip. There were some new branches on the trail and several small blowdowns I was able to clear by moving the to the side of the trail. Soon we were at the highest point on Cherry Ridge and starting down the other side. This part of the trail is often more like a stream but on this day there were only a few small pools and puddles at the side of the trail. This part of the hike can drag sometimes but it seemed to go very fast and we were soon at the woods road and snowmobile trail that runs by Mud Pond. We turned left and start the short walk uphill. At the top of the hill we began the long descent back to the trail junction where we had started. The descent lasts for .7 miles and drops 385 feet to a bridge that crosses the outlet stream from Trout Pond. At the junction we turned right and headed back out to the lower parking area. Sometimes the walk back up Russell Brook Road seems long and tedious but I was still felling fresh. The same car was still in the lot but we had not seen anyone on the hike. We started up the road and soon saw a woman walking toward us. I put Sheila on her leash and said "hi" to the other hiker as we passed. She did not look like she was dressed or equipped for a long hike. We continued to walk up the road and soon arrived back at the car. Unfortunately, the woman had decided to park on private property probably without even thinking or caring. The posted signs are quite prominent. It was 12:35 PM when we arrived back at the car after hiking 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 35 minutes with a 1120 foot total ascent. Throughout the hike I had noticed that I was feeling a little warm and had been sweating profusely. I assumed that I was warm because of my double layer but then I looked at the temperature display on my car which registered almost 90 degrees!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Sunday, September 24th I wanted to attend the "official" opening of the Round Top Trails in Livingston Manor. The plan was to meet on Round Top at 1:00 PM to have a brief ceremony and then hike the trails with the people attending the ceremony. After church, Cindy and I returned home and changed our clothes to hike. I explained to Sheila she could not go with us but that I would take her across the street to hike when the other people had left. It was over 80 degrees at the house when Cindy and I walked down the driveway to cross the street . I brought my pack so that I could carry my camera and a saw. I brought my hiking poles to prevent “sausage fingers”. We crossed the street and the field by the church and started up the hill to the top of the cemetery. As we passed through the parking area by the church two cars parked in the lots. I knew that Lisa was meeting a group of people in the municipal parking lot to walk up Pearl St. to the cemetery. I missed Sheila pulling me up the hill and noticed that it was really warm. We stopped at the top of the hill to wait for the others to arrive. There was a green ribbon across the trail and the sign was in place. The sign was very simple but very effective. The Sherwoods arrived shortly after us as did Kitty Vetter. We talked for some time waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. Soon we saw Lisa leading group of about a dozen people up the middle road in the cemetery. When they arrived, there was another period of waiting before Rockland Town Supervisor Rob Eggleton began his short presentation. During this time I spoke to Fred Fries who knows more about the history of the area than any person I have met. Rob called up Lisa Lyons, Helen Budrock and myself as people who had in some way, contributed to the creation of the trails. Rob explained briefly how the Town of Rockland acquired the land when the cemetery association could no longer maintain it and how the idea of a trail system came about. At the end of his presentation Lisa and I played tug-of-war with the ribbon until it toke signifying the official opening of the trails. People began to walk up the trail and I soon followed. Most people in the group seemed to want to climb to the lookout first so I follows them in that direction. At the lookout, Autumn, the reporter from the Sullivan County Democrat took some group pictures and asked some questions about the various people involved.

picture taken during a hike After a brief stop at the lookout, the hike continued around the yellow lower loop. Since I had brought along my Silky saw, I cut one small "trunk" that stood by the side of the trail before continuing up the trail. At the point where the trail split, some people decided to stay on the yellow trail while others chose to hike over the summit on the blue rail. I invited Autumn to come with me on the blue trail to get the full experience and she readily agreed. We hiked up to the summit of Round Top. Along the way I noticed that the white birch that had formed an arch over the trail now lay on the ground. The tree was quite sturdy which is why I had left it in place so I assumed someone had purposefully knocked it down. Further along another small sapling lay twisted on the side of the trail indicating that some had again vandalized the trail. It is disappointing to realize there are so many ignorant people in your twin who prefer destruction to construction! We continued over the top and down the other side. Autumn was impressed with the trail. I mentioned to her that the high school INTERACT Club had helped me layout the upper trail and had flagged it. We walked down to the yellow trail and continued to the first trail junction. From there we walked out to the trailhead. All of the people gathered seemed happy to have a short but beautiful trail system in their community. We walked down the cemetery hill and Cindy and I walked back to the house arriving at 2:15 PM.

picture taken during a hike When we arrived home, Sheila barked at us from the upstairs window and then rushed down to meet us at the doer. She seemed to know where we had been. She could probably hear us talking on Round Top! It almost seemed she knew I had promised to take her out and she was ready to collect on that promise. I couldn't deny her since it was her sixth birthday! I got a quick drink and then we started out the driveway. I picked up Sheila's leash and used it as we crossed the street, walks through the field and sacred up the cemetery hill. Part way up the hill I let Shiela off the leash and used my poles to get up the hill. At the trailhead we turned left into the woods. There was a slight breeze which made the hot weather more bearable. At the first trail junction we turned right and started up the yellow trail. Where're yellow trail turned left, we continued straight ahead on the blue trail. The climb seems a little harder than before. As we hiked across the summit of Round Top, I stopped to cut a "stump" that remained in the middle of the trail. After that, we started down off the summit. When we came to the twisted sapling, I got out my saw and cut off flush with the ground and dragged it off the trail. We continued down the trail to the white birch. I removed one piece and then cut the remaining stump straight across, This made it look a little better and eliminated the sharp parts that had been sticking up. I then used the saw to cut the downed trunk into two pieces and maneuvered the piece across the trail to the side. I again thought about the kind of person that would do these things for the sole purpose of destroying something somebody else had created for the community. Sheila and I walked down the blue trail and turned right on the yellow trail. We followed it to the lookout where I took a few pictures and then Dow to the first trail junction. I was hot and tired but would have hiked some more. I gave Sheila the choice and she headed straight out to the trailhead. We turned right on the cemetery road and I put Sheila on her leash for the walk home. We were back at 3:00 PM having hiked about 2 miles and spent 3 hours on Round Top.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Indian Head and Twin AllTrails - Hodge Pond (Flynn) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Hodge Pond (Flynn) MapMyHike - Hodge Pond (Flynn) On Friday, September 22nd, I decided that I wanted to return to the Catskill High Peaks for the first hike of the fall. I also wanted to hike some of the 35 peaks as I had the time and had not done one for some time. I decided to go to Tannersville to hike Indian Head and Twin from Prediger Road hiking up the east side of Indian Head and continuing over to Twin. I planned to return down the Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail, one of my least favorite trails in the Catskills. The weather forecast was for sunny skies with highs reaching into the 70's with no rain in the forecast. Around Livingston Manor the leaves were beginning to fall without really changing colors. The leaves still on the trees shoed non of the bright colors typical of fall in the Catskills. I dressed in my "summer" outfit but did not take even a light jacket as I knew the temperatures would warm quickly. I made sure I had two water bottles and I also took my Suunto Traverse watch to back up my Garmin handheld unit. Sheila was ready to go as she always is as we started out a little after 9:00 AM by driving out the DeBruce Road to Route 47. I turned left on Route 47 and drove by the Frost Valley YMCA Camp. There were no cars at the Biscuit brook raking area and only a few at Slide. The parking area at Giant Ledge was almost full and I wondered how many people I would encounter on Prediger Road. The drive was longer than I remembered and I kept getting behind drivers who wanted to o no more than 30 mph! When we reached Route 28, I turned right and then turned left on Route 42 north to Lexington in Shandaken. When I reached Route 23A, I turned right and drove through Hunter to Bloomer Road just outside Tannersville. I turned left on Plate Clove road and followed it 4.3 miles to Prediger Road where I turned right and rove to the end where there is a parking area at the trailhead. There were plenty of parking spaces but there were also quite a few cars already parked when I arrived at 10:40 AM. I set my electronics and Sheila and I were on the trail by 10:45 AM under sunny skies with the temperature in the high 60's. The first part of the Devil's Path from Prediger Road to the Old Overlook woods road is usually wet and muddy but on this day the trail was drier. There was some mud but it was drying out and the few really wet spots were easily avoided. Where the trail splits I stayed straight ahead on the red blazed Devil's Path. My plan was to return on the blue blazed Jimmy Dolman Notch Trail which turns to the right at this junction. I stopped at a small stone bridge to take the first pictures of the day before moving on. This first mile is deceptive as the grade is gentle but the climb is around 325 feet. As we approached the woods road, we both saw a trail runner who had come in from Platte Clove along the Old Overlook Road. I put Sheila on her leash but he took a quick drink and then was gone heading toward Overlook. At 1.6 miles we turned right on the old road. To the left a short distance is a nice stone quarry but I decided to skip it this time since I knew we had a long hike ahead of us. In only about 300 feet we turned right as the Devil's Path started its climb up Indian Head Mountain. I noted the sign that indicated another 1300 feet of climbing to the top. Sheila and I were making good time but I was not really trying to push it. I noticed I was a little tired and I was not surprised. I had hiked quite a bit over the summer but not on the High Peaks!

picture taken during a hike The trail was dry in most places with only a few muddy spots. I had Sheila off the leash most of the time which allowed me to use my poles. The trail ascends and levels several times while climbing toward the summit of Indian Head. The flatter portions were very a little muddy. I was looking forward to the lookouts on the east side of Indian Head and the view from the east peak of Twin but I knew there was a lot of to do to get there. By 12:30 PM AM we had hiked 2.8 miles and had 1370 feet of elevation under our belts. We stopped at the lookout so that I could take some pictures. There was a young couple at the viewpoint so I put Sheila on her leash. The couple volunteered to let us come and out and soon left to continue their hike. They most likely were descending since I did not see them at all again during the hike. From the lookout, the Catskill Community was clearly visible to the north with Kaaterskill High Peak and Round Top in the background. There was some color beginning to show in the leaves but not much. A little more to the east Plattekill Mountain blocked a clear view of the Hudson River. I did catch glimpses of the river and they were clearer than many other times I had been at this viewpoint. Further south, I found the fire tower on Overlook Mountain. I got out my camera and took quite a few shots. Before leaving I got a drink and a bar from my pack and also gave Sheila a drink. We moved on as I knew the hardest climbs were yet to come. A little after the lookout was the hardest climb of the day, an almost vertical section of rock face. I looked around for Sheila and found she had already made it to the top. I took a few shots of her. As I climbed this section grabbing onto roots and protruding rocks, I thought how easy it was for Sheila to climb the rocks. At the top of this climb was another nice lookout with slightly different views than the previous one. I took a few pictures and the continued on toward the summit. As we hit a more level section of the trail a young man came walking toward us listening to his "tunes". We said "Hi" and shortly after that we met another young man coming toward us. I began to wonder of it was a trend but we didn't see any more people for some time. Our next stop after a short distance was the lookout to the south from the east or false peak of Indian Head. After a few pictures, we walked down off the false peak and started the final ascent of Indian Head. The final obstacle was a narrow rock and root scramble with no other way around. I am not sure exactly how this spot has been modified but it is much easier to climb now than a few years ago! We climbed another steep pitch before the trail leveled off some. We continued to move along the trail until we hit the 3575 foot summit at 1:15 PM after hiking 3.8 miles and gaining about 1800 feet of elevation. It was the hardest 3.8 miles I had done in some time but I felt a sense of accomplishment. This sense of well-being began to fade as we started the steep resent into the col between Indian Head and Twin.

picture taken during a hike There was a small lookout near the summit of Indian Head but the views were not as good as from the other viewpoints. We did meet another woman hiking with her dog. I saw her coming and put Sheila on her leash. She immediately let me know her dog was not on a leash and was "friendly". I was annoyed that she didn't have the courtesy to restrain her dog. We began our descent to Jimmy Dolan Notch and I watched for the viewpoint toward Twin which had always given me good pictures in the past. The further we descended the bore I realized that there was no longer a spot to get this view and that it had probably been obscured by trees and bushes. Most of the trail on the descent was dry and I almost fell several times. The trail was steep and rocky and not very enjoyable in this direction dropping 400 feet in about a third of a mile for an average grade of 23%. There are no other hikers in the col so we immediately started up Twin. We scrambled up some rather steep pitches which I remember from winter hiking. These steeper areas are challenging when dry as everything is loose and rolls under foot. I lifted myself up through one spot and squeezed between a rock and a tree. Several other spots seemed to have developed alternate approaches created by hikers who did not want to attack the difficult scrambles head-on. In the winter and early spring these areas tend to accumulated impressive ice flows which make hiking an adventure! We stopped at the lookout toward Indian Head and I took some pictures of Twin and Overlook. The skies were clear and blue with some nice clouds. At 2:00 PM we broke out onto the rock ledges on the east peak of Twin after hiking 4.5 miles. This point is one of my favorite viewpoints in the Catskills and this day was no exception. The views to the east were not the best but those to the south and west made up for it. The only disappointment is that the trees are growing up to obscure the views which were once very open. I took a lot of shots especially toward the west peak of Twin and Sugarloaf. After my photography session, Sheila and I had a drink and a snack and I debated continuing to the west peak which is the one that actually counts. I decided I would not be happy if I did not "tag" the other peak and decided to "go for it" despite the fact I was tired and the time was getting late. We continued on toward the west and higher peak of Twin. The descent to the col was minimal, just over 100 feet, and the ascent not too rigorous. The views from the west peak were not as broad or as beautiful as from the east peak but there was a nice view of Sugarloaf. I took a quick look and then we turned around to begin the long hike back. I was not looking forward to the descent from Twin to the col or for the long, rocky trip down the Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail.

picture taken during a hike Other than the reclimb to the east peak I knew the rest of the way was downhill or flat. I also knew that we would have to descend Jimmy Dolan Notch which is one of the worst trails in the Catskills! When we got back to the east peak of Twin we had hiked about 1.2 miles between the peaks which took us just less than an hour. The descent down Twin was slow since negotiating the steep descents is no easier than negotiating the steep ascents. As we neared the col, I could see two hikers with what looked like fairly large packs getting ready to head down the Jimmy Dolan Notch Trail. When we got to the col, we turned left and headed down the trail but only got a glimpse of the other two hikers who were descending faster than I wanted to go. The first part of the trail is steep and rocky. At one point I looked ahead to see a tree down across the trail. I guess I was concentrating a little too much on the tree and not where I put my feet because I fell pretty hard. Fortunately, I landed on a pretty well padded part of my body and when I got up I was only a little sore. I squeeze through the blowdown and contused on the trail. A couple came up the trail toward us with there dog which, typically, was not on a leash. The woman said 'She is friendly and is just learning about the trails!' I thought to myself that the dog had a poor teacher. After the steep descent the trail gives way to roots and then rocks and roots. At times the trail would be hard to locate without the markers or without a skilled trail dog like Sheila. The trail made several twists and turns that I did not remember and seemed like it would never end. It was every bit as annoying as I remembered. As we approached the Prediger Road parking area, we stayed to the left a the trail junction where we had been many hours before on the hike out. The rest of the trail was pretty easy and we arrived in the parking area to find only a few remaining cars. It was 4:35 PM and we had spent 5 hours and 45 minutes hiking 8.4 miles with a total scent of 2590 feet.

Summer 2017

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Thursday, September 21st I decided I wanted to go to the Round Top Trails and remove some small "stumps" and roots that remained in the trail. The trails were due to have their "official" opening on Sunday and I did not ant anybody to trip. Around 11:00 AM I put a round pointed shovel and a pick mattocks in my trunk. I put Sheila in the back seat and rove across the street to the cemetery and up the hill to the trailhead. I let Sheila out and grabbed the two tools from the trunk. We walked into the woods on the trail and turned right at the first trail junction to head up the yellow trail. Where the yellow trail turned left we continued straight ahead on the blue trail toward the summit of Round Top. As we climbed I stopped several times to remove some stumps and a few roots that ran across the trail. Most of the roots were easy to cut with the pick mattocks which did not seem that sharp but did a nice job. In a few cases I used the shovel to cut and then fill in some of the dirt that was removed. We continued up to the summit where I found a few more roots to removed. Some stumps proved stubborn as they were thicker than the rest but I persevered and was able to remove them all. There were a few well-formed stumps that were just two big to remove. I tried to remove what I could from these in an effort to allow rain to seep in and accelerate their breakdown. Soon we were back down at the lower yellow trail where we turned right and walked down to the lookout. From there we walked down to the first trail junction and back out to the car. It had taken just less than and hour to do the work and I still had enough time and energy to do more. Since the work was done, I decided to return home knowing I had accomplished all that I could.

map icon GPSies - Hodge Pond (Flynn) AllTrails - Hodge Pond (Flynn) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Hodge Pond (Flynn) MapMyHike - Hodge Pond (Flynn) On Tuesday, September 19th, I had decided I would stay home and do some work around the house. On Monday night I got an e-mail from Lisa asking if I would like to go for a hike in the morning. I said I would go and she suggested a hike to Hodge Pond. I had been in this area several times recently but agreed to go with her. We decided to meet at 9:30 AM at my house. In the morning I got a few things done by getting up early and waited for Lisa. She appeared promptly at my house at 9:30 AM. I went out to meet her with an excited Sheila bounding out ahead of me. It was already very warm and a little humid. We loaded up our gear, put Sheila in the backseat and headed out the DeBruce Road. After about 6 miles, I turned left on Mongaup Road and drove to where the road split. I stayed left at the Y and drove up Beech Mountain Road to the parking area. There were no other cars when we parked at 9:50 AM in the smaller lot. I set my electronics and we crossed the road to begin our hike at 9:55 AM. We hiked the Flynn Trail passed the register toward the woods road that would take us to Hodge Pond. We kept a quick pace up the trail as we talked about various subjects we have in common. One specific discussion concerned the ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday to "officially" open the trails on Round Top. We made the 1.7 mile climb to the junction with the Big Rock Trail in less than 40 minutes. Along the way I pointed out some of the blowdowns I had cleared recently. At the next split in the trail we stayed left to continue to Hodge Pond on the Flynn Trail. When we reached the clearing, we walked over to the shore of the pond. I had been there the day before and not much had changed. Sheila took a brief dip in the pond. It was very sunny and quite warm. Lisa wanted to see what OSI had done to the Flynn Trail on the west side of Hodge Pond so we walked out the Flynn Trail in that direction. I showed her how the trail and been scraped leaving dirt behind which had turned into mud. We walked through the field to the spot where the trail again enters the trees. At this point we could hear machinery and Lisa went to investigate. I had no desire to slog through the mud so Sheila and I waited for her. She came back after talking to the person running the machinery. He explained that he had been told to scrape the trail and then replant grass seed. This seemed odd as the grass that had been there was in great shape! He did tell Lisa that someone else had come in with a vehicle and left tracks and deep ruts which had ruined his work. We walked back on the Flynn Trail to the clearing at the outlet end of Hodge and then started back up the hill. Both of us had mentioned hiking back along the outlet stream from Hodge Pond but we decided to leave it for another day. We hiked up the hill from the pond and back along the Flynn Trail. We continued on to the junction with the Big Rock trail arriving there at 11:20 AM. We started down the Flynn Trail which is all downhill from the junction and did not stop at all along the way. Near the gate we followed the Flynn Trail into the woods to the left to avoid the roseate property around the cabin. Lisa signed the register and we walked back out to the car arriving at 11:55 AM. We had hiked 5.2 miles in 2 hours with an elevation gain of 808 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick and Hodge Ponds (Flynn and Quick Lake Trails) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, September 18th I had decided that I wanted to go to the Hodge and Frick Pond area to do a fitness hike and clear a blowdown on the Flynn Trail that I kept forgetting to cut. The weather forecast was calling for high humidity and temperatures approaching 80 degrees. I got my gear together to go do some trail maintenance taking only my Silky Sugowaza saw in my pack. I got dressed and then put Sheila in the back seat and my gear in the trunk. We left the house a little after 9:30 AM and drove out the DeBruce Road for about six miles. I turned left on Mongaup Pond Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road when it split. When we arrived at the trailhead, there were no vehicles in either parking area. The temperature was 64 degrees when I set my GPS and we crossed the road at 10:05 AM to begin our hike. We quickly walked along the Flynn Trail to the woods road that was once the extension of Beech Mountain Road. We turned right on the woods road and started the long climb toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. A one point there was a branch that had partially broken off a tree and was in the trail. I moved it off the trail. We continued up the trail with me picking up big and small branches and throwing them off the trail. At about 1.25 miles we came to the point where I sometimes turn off the trail to visit an interesting clearing. Just after this point there was a tree across the trail which I did not remember from previous hikes. The trunk was only about 8 inches in diameter but there were some branches that ended to be cut before I could remove three rest of the tree. I put down my pack and got out the saw and started to trim beaches and clear away those that were loose. I took some before pictures and a few as I finished various stages. Eventually I had only the main trunk to cut. The work went quickly but I was sorry I had not rough my wedges to prevent the saw from binding. It took a little more than 15 minutes to clear the mess. We continued up the trail to the Big Rock Junction at 11:10 AM after hiking 1.8 miles. As we passed through the junction, I noticed that there were vehicle tracks on the trail. It looked too wide for an ATV but could have been a side-by-side with tractor tires.

picture taken during a hike We continued along the Flynn Trail and found the blowdown I had wanted to cut just before the trail split. I did take pictures of this one before attacking it with the saw. There wasn't too much to clear so we moved on after I took some "after" pictures. At the next trail junction, we stayed to the left to follow the Flynn Trail down to Hodge Pond. The grass on the trail had been mowed which was a big improvement from the tall grass on the first part of the Flynn Trail. We walked out into the field by Hodge Pound and then over to the fire circle near the shore. The circle neatest the shore had been cleaned up. Sheila immediately went for a swim while I took some pictures of the pond. The sky was blue with nice white clouds which made for some nice shots. I was hoping for some bright colors in the leaves but they were just beginning to turn and were still dull. I had though we might take the jeep trail to avoid the muddy mess that OSI had created on the Flynn Trail but decided I wanted to stay on the hiking trails. After a drink, we walked back to the Flynn Trail and continued on the west side of Hodge Pond. The mud was worse than before with deep ruts caused by some machinery. At the next trail junction we stayed to the left to take the Flynn Trail up the hill rather than the jeep road around the back of the pond. We passed through the gate and found the trail was still wet with muddy patches along the way. The trees and bushes were beginning to close in on the trail and really needed several people with loppers to cut them back. I cut a few of the worst until we came to the Quick Lake Trail at Junkyard Junction. It was 11:55 AM and we had hiked 3.5 miles which is almost exactly halfway through the hike. We turned left to start the loop back. The trail initially rolls some but eventually descends toward Iron Wheel Junction. The trail was wet and muddy in many places and the vehicle racks were even more pronounced. Whatever ha passed over the trail had really chewed it up in spots. I picked up a few branches and chucks of wood along the trail but there were no major blowdowns.

picture taken during a hike At 12:30 PM we turned right at Iron Wheel Junction after hiking 5.1 miles. The turn allowed us to stay on the Quick Lake Trail heading for Frick Pond. As we walked, I continued to pick up branches and cut a few that were in the trail. We came to and crossed the small stream through the woods. Despite the act that the trails were wet, the stream was very low although Sheila took a quick dip. There was a large hardwood tree down across the trail in the "spruce tunnel" but it was flat on the ground. I decided to leave that one for another day since it would take a lot of work with the axe. There was another older tree a little farther along. We walked out of the spruce tunnel and found some more branches on the trail which was no match for the Silky saw. This part of the trail was as wet and muddy as it had been all summer. We passed by the junction with the Big Rock Trail on the left and were soon at the bridge over the Frick Pond Outlet. I dropped my pack and got out the camera. I have taken hundreds of pictures form the bridge but can't resist stopping to take a few more. The beaver dam was still out but it looked like a few sticks had been replaced. I still have not been able to determine who removed the am. Several other people had noticed this vandalism and are as mad as I am about it! It was getting late so I stowed the camera and shouldered the pack. We walked up the hill from Frick Pond to Gravestone Junction and continued straight ahead on the Quick Lake Trail. The trail was still wet for almost the entire way back to the car. We passed by the register and turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail back out to the car. There was now one other car in the lot. We were back at the car at 1:15 Pm having hiked 6.6 miles in 3 hours and 5 minutes with a vertical gain of 908 feet. This is very slow but included half an hour of stopped time.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Huggins Lake AllTrails - Huggins Lake CalTopo - Huggins Lakecaltopo  icon Gmap4 - Huggins Lake MapMyHike - Huggins Lake On Sunday, September 16 I decided I wanted to get out to hike locally after church and thought a quick hike to Huggins Lake might be nice. I was hoping to find some nice fall colors in the leaves. Huggins Lake is not my favorite but I chose it for its shorter length, under 4 miles, and for the fact that it was not Frick Pond or Trout Pond. When I saw my grandchildren in Sunday School I got the idea that we should ALL go on the hike. I asked Kathleen and she was in favor of the idea as were the kids. I left it up the Kathleen to break the news to Karl. I saw Kathleen after Sunday School and she said Karl had agreed and would bring appropriate clothing for everyone and would meet us in Livingston Manor after church. After church we all headed to our house and waited for Karl. We got the kids some lunch and Karl soon arrived. We got everyone dressed and out the gear in the car. Sheila seemed extra energetic as if she didn't ant to get left behind in the confusion. We loaded everyone into the cars and headed out a little after 1:00 PM with Sheila in the backseat. I have come to the realization that she would like to be out everyday! I drove up the Beaverkill Road and down the Campsite Road to cross the covered bridge. At the end of the road we turned right and followed Berry Brook Road to the trailhead. We arrived at the road to the parking area to find it very rough with some erosion and a high ridge in the middle. I chose to chance it and easily made it to the small lot parking jut before 1:30 PM. I got my equipment ready and set my GPS while Karl got Brynn the backpack. There were no other cars in the lot when we headed out at 1:30 PM on the wide woods road to the lake. The kids love to hike but it is a good idea to keep them occupied to prevent the whining! The temperature was in the high 60's but the humidify was high making it a little uncomfortable to hike. There was some sun and the skies were mostly blue as we started the climb up the hill. The hike isn't long and the trail is 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. The kids did pretty well stopping to look at some efts on the trail as well as some beech nuts. As we continued to climb there were a few complaints but they were quashed with pleas to help the adults hike and a few goldfish crackers. After the initial climb, the trail descends levels some and then climbs again until the final descent to Huggins Lake. The trail makes a sharp turn from southeast to north at about 1.6 miles. Everyone enjoyed the downhill trek to the shores of the pond.

picture taken during a hike When we arrived at the lake, I noticed that the water level was a little lower than normal. There was a wet area and patches of mud on the trail just before it goes out along the shore. We avoided the mud and walked out along the dam. The leaves had not really changed colors and the sun had gone under some clouds. In fact, the clouds had gathered and it seems they were threatening rain although it had not been in the forecast! I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take some pictures of the blue sky with some white clouds in one direction and the blacker clouds in the other. At the outlet I could immediately see that the beavers had dammed the water flow. I took a few more pictures of the lake before returning to my pack and stowing the camera. Sheila decided to dive into the pond water several times until a stern warning stopped her. The kids explored the edge of the pond until raindrops started falling and we started back up the hill. The rain continued briefly and then stopped. The only negative point about Huggins Lake is that there is only one trail and so there are no variations available. The kids were not too thrilled about hiking back UP the trail but they didn't complain too much and the ascent went smoothly for the most part. We climbed the hill back to the highest point on the trail and then started down the other side. I was surprised that I had labored a little climbing the hill at the beginning of the hike but felt very fresh on the way back. The kids really like to hike downhill and they were ahead of the adults most of the time. When we arrived back at the car, we had hiked 3.8 miles in 2 hours with a total elevation gain of 960 feet.

picture taken during a hikepicture taken during a hike picture album icon On Friday, September 15th I decided that I wanted to go to the Frick Pond area to clear a major blowdown on the Loggers Loop a short distance from Gravestone Junction. Cindy agreed to go with me to help so we got our gear together including my KatanaBoy Silky saw and Council Tool felling axe. I also put in my felling wedges to make sure the saw would not bind. We put all the gear in the car and put Sheila in the back seat. We left the house a little after 12:20 PM and drove out the DeBruce Road for about six miles. I turned left on Mongaup Pond Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road when it split. When we arrived at the trailhead, there were no vehicles in either parking area. We got our gear out of the trunk and started out on the woods road to the trail register at about 12:40 PM. We continued out to Gravestone Junction on the Quick Lake Trail. We turned right on the Logger's Loop and walked about a quarter mile to the blowdown I wanted to clear. There was one large trunk across the trail, another one beyond this and several trees leaning over the trail. I took some before pictures and then began to work on the trunk. I used the axe to split the trunk in the middle. Cindy and I moved that piece off the trail and then I started to cut another piece off the trunk with the saw. The larger saw did a good job of cutting through the trunk and I used the wedges to keep the kerf open. Once the trunk was cut all the way through, I was able to flip the piece I had cut off the trail. I took some "after" pictures and then turned my attention to the next part of the blowdown. At this point another hiker appeared coming from Gravestone Junction with his dog. Sheila seemed to want to meet this dog so the hiker decided it would be best to Reese his dog from the leash. Fortunately, the dogs did seem to get along well. The hiker asked us if we knew who had removed the beaver dam at Frick Pond. I told him I had contacted a number of people at the DEC and none could answer that question. When Cindy told him our names, we found out he knew our son who is a lawyer and had done some work for him. He thanked us for our work and continued on his way.I cut a few branches and pieces off this blowdown until I felt the trail was clear. I decided that the one tree hanging over the trail had to go as it was nearly dead and might fall at any time. I cleared some brush out of the way and then used the saw to cut down the tree. Unfortunately the saw became bound up in the cut and was hard to clear. I ended up using the axe to make a cut to free the saw. This also brought down the tree which was a little taller than I thought.I began to use the axe to trim branches and piled them off the trail as I went. I then used the saw to cut up the trunk into pieces I could move off the trail. When I was done I took a few pictures. By this time the skies had gotten much darker and a few raindrops began to fall. We decided to walk back to the car. The rain never came down very hard but some began to fall as we headed back to the car. We were back at the car at 2:35 PM after spending about 2 hours working on the trail.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Hodge and Frick (Loggers, Quick Lake, Flynn, Big Rock) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, September 13th I wanted to get in a hike close to home before cross country practice in the afternoon. We had not hiked since Friday due to my family and work commitments so both Sheila and I were ready to get out! I decided to go to the Frick Pond area and hike out the loggers loop to Iron Wheel, up the Quick Lie trail to Junkyard Junction, over to Hodge Pond on the Flynn Trail, up the Flynn Trail to the Big Rock junction, down the Big Rock Trail to the Quick Lake Trail and then back out to the car. I thought it would be about 8 miles which was good with me. The weather was beautiful with bright sun and blue skies but with highs in the high 50's. I saw no reason to wait and Sheila agreed so I got ready to leave and pulled out of the driveway at 9:15 AM. 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 no other cars in the lots. I got my equipment ready and set my GPS. We started out to the trail register on the woods road. The trail was damp and muddy in spots and the one tree hanging over the trail looked even lower than in the past. The Quick Lake trail from the register to Gravestone Junction was wet with standing water. It was muddy in places and it looked as if a vehicle had passed down the trail recently. Near Gravestone Junction the bushes started to close in and I made a note to bring a pair of lopper and hedge trimmers in the near future to open up the trail. We turned right on the Loggers Loop and began to walk the trail. After a short detainee I had to stop and take some pictures of the blue sky and white clouds. The trees were beginning to start to change colors and the scene was beautiful. We continued along the trail and soon found some new blowdowns across the trail. There was one large tree squarely across the trail which I knew would have to be cut at lest three times to be able to clear it and move the pieces. There were other smaller trunks and branches that could be easily cut and moved. I took a few pictures and then continued on the hike. The entire Loggers Loop was wet and muddy in many places. Ironically, when we reached Times Square the trail was relatively dry and the Loggers Loop after Times Square was in pretty good shape. I continued to pick up some small branches and moves some larger pieces of debris off the trail. The first part of the Loggers Loop is uphill as it heads north and northwest for about .85 miles gaining 195 feet. The trail was wet in places but any muddy spots were easy to avoid. The grass was wet which made my boots wet but I had no complaints as it felt so good to be out. We crested a small hill and then walked the rest of the way downhill slightly to Iron Wheel Junction.

picture taken during a hike At the trail junction we continued straight ahead toward Junkyard Junction beginning a long and uphill climb. The trail climbs about 500 feet in 1.6 miles as it heads primarily north. At 3.3 miles the trail, turns northeast and continues uphill to Junkyard Junction. At 3.8 miles we reached the junction and turned right on the Flynn Trail heading southeast toward Hodge Pond. After passing through the gate, we walked downhill toward the shore of Hodge Pond. At this point I could hear machinery operating on the other side of the pond. I assumed it was OSI mowing the trails which they often do but for reasons I do not understand. I decided to turn left to follow the jeep trail round the head end of the pond. After a short walk, we turned right and walked down to the edge of the water. It was a beautiful scene with sun shining on the blue pond. The skies had some nice white clouds and a few of the trees had begun to change colors. I took quite a few pictures from different angles before packing up and continuing along the jeep trail. We turned right and continued down the trail and woods road to the outlet end of Hodge Pond. This was also a nice view so I put down my pack and got out my camera. OSI had removed one fire ring to clear the filed but had left another one. I took more pictures of Hodge Pond while Sheila took a quick dip. When she came out of the pond, she decided to run around wildly on shore. I got a drink, packed up and headed toward the Flynn Trail where it heads up the hill from Hodge Pond. This half mile stretch gains only 150 feet but sometimes seems very tiring. On this day it seemed to go quickly and we were soon turning right to stay on the Flynn Trail as it heads toward the junction with the Big Rock Trail. This section of the trail is very flat and we were soon at the junction. We turned right at 5.6 miles and started down the Big Rock Trail heading west to 5.8 miles where the trail turned south. In the 1.1 miles from the junction with the Flynn Trail to Times Square the Big Rock Trail drops 600 feet. It was a pleasure to walk downhill and south toward Times Square. The trail was mostly clear and I only had to pick up a few blowdowns along the way. At 5.6 miles we passed straight through Times Square continuing on the Big Rock Trail around the back of Frick Pond. The trail was wet and muddy which made the steeping stones we had installed come in handy. I stopped at the first bridge to take some pictures as the trees in the area were changing colors. We walked along the boardwalks and I stopped again to take some shots of these walkways. We continued out to the end of the big Rock Trail and turned left on the Quick Lake Trail. It was a short hike to the bridge over the outlet stream at Frick Pond. I have hundreds of pictures from this one spot but almost always stop to take another. I put down my pack and got out the camera. Some trees were changing color and the blue sky had a few white clouds. The beavers seem to have given up on the dam if they are even still in the area. This is one of saddest things I have seen and I wish I could find out who is responsible for destroying their dam! I packed up again and we headed up the hill to Gravestone Junction. At the junction we stayed to the right on the Quick Lake Trail and walked back to the car. We arrived back at 12:50 PM after hiking 7.8 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes for an average speed of 2.5 mph. Pour elevation gain was 1102 feet. The temperature at the car was 73 degrees.

map icon On Friday, September 8th I decided to go to Walnut Mountain to make sure the cross country course was in good shape and to mark it with white arrows for our home meet against Eldred on Tuesday, September 12th. I had laid out the course last year and made sure it was exactly 5K which translates to 16,404.2 feet. Bryce was with us so he and Cindy came along to help with the work. We headed toward Liberty with Sheila in the back seats with Bryce and parked at 11:00 AM. The runners had told me there was a tree down on the Sunset Trail and I wanted to clear it and the trail between the Sunset Trail and the West Lake Trail-North first. We grabbed the loppers, rake, Fiskars axe and Silky saw and started up the main Mountain Overlook Trail which is really a carriage path. Where the trail turned left we followed it until the Sunset Trail turned right. We trued right onto the Sunset Trail and followed it as it climbed and then leveled off. We passed the point where the trail comes up from the West Lake-North Trail and continued along. I began to wonder if we would ever find a tree. After a short walk, I looked ahead And saw a large tree blocking about three-quarters of the trail. There was enough room to get by but I thought it would be best to remove as much as I could. I sized up the tree and found it was water-logged and rotten. I used the axe to cut almost all the way through and then finished it off with the saw. Bryce and I rolled the piece of trunk off the trail. We returned to the trail down to the West Lake-North trail and I took the rake from Cindy and started to rake small branches and leaves off the trail. Cindy trimmed some overhanging branches and Bryce went ahead to remove some larger branches. I didn't think the trail would need much clearing but I was wrong. There were a lot of leaves on the trail and many small branches. There were also some nasty roots ready to trip runners. I cut these with the loppers or just pulled them out of the dirt. The skies were getting darker but I really wanted to finish the work. I finally reached the bottom of the trail. We turned right on the West Lake-North Trail and began to walk back to the car. As we walked, we picked up some branches on the trail. T one point Cindy trimmed a few branches and I picked them up off the trail. We came to a few pine trees near the intersection with the Mountain Overlook Trail and I took some time to trim them back out of the way. We walked back down the hill to the parking area. I put away the tools and got two cans of paint to start marking the trails. At this point Cindy and Bryce decided they were too tired to continue to help me!

I walked down to the starting line and headed out the West Lake-East trail toward the West Lake parking area. As the trail entered the woods, I used a spray can to place a white arrow although there was really no other way to go. I decided I would use as little paint as possible by marking areas where other trails crossed the course and places where the course turned. I also decided to put a few marks on long stretches just to reassure runners they were on the right trail. I put a few more marks down and then marked the turn to the left onto the West Lake-North Trail. I continued along the trail placing arrows where they were needed. I had previously cut out the trail and it was in good shape. There were two small muddy areas along the way but that makes a good cross country course. Just before the trail entered the trees there was a stretch where the weeds were leaning onto the course. It was passable but I thought I might bring my string trimmer to widen that area. I started up the hill and placed an arrow marking the turn to the left onto the Vista Way Trail. Several bike trail cross the Vista Way so I put down arrows to indicate to runners that they needed to continue straight ahead. As we neared a small footbridge I put an arrow indicating a turn to the left following the Vista Way over the bridge. I walked a little farther and put a 1 on the trail to mark the first mile. From there I followed the trail as it continued toward the main parking area. The gate was closed into the parking lot so I marked the route just to the right of the fence and made note to trim the grass and weeds in this area. I continued marking into the picnic area and toward the main Mountain Overlook Trail. Just as I started through the gate, the first can of paint ran out. I went back to the car and got another can and Bryce decided to join me for the last part of the course. I was happy because I knew things would go much faster if I had someone to talk to me. We walked up the Mountain Overlook Trail marking double headed arrows since this is the only part of the course that runners traverse in both directions. We continued to follow the trail until the intersection where it turned left. I marked an arrow to go straight ahead on a short section of trail that leads to the West Lake-North Trail. We continued along with me putting marks where they were needed. We came to the trail that goes up the mountain to the Sunset Trail and I placed a big arrow showing a left turn. The trail looked well-maintained after I had spent time raking it. I marked a couple of roots and rocks along the way. At the Sunset Trail i put a big arrow showing the right turn and shortly after that a 2 to mark the second mile. I told Bryce that there was only one small uphill and then it was all downhill. As we neared the end of the Sunset Trail, I had to place several arrows as there are a couple of different trails come together here. At the end of the trail Bryce noticed the overlook and I told him to go take a look while I put down a left turn arrow onto the

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Thursday, September 7th I knew I needed to get out after several days of family commitments but I had to do it before my cross country meet. I decided to simply head across the street to Round Top and do some figure 8's just for the exercise. Sheila was happy to get out as we headed down the driveway and across the street for a hike on Round Top at about 10:40 AM. We crossed the street with Sheila on her leash and walked to the back of the church. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". Sheila helped me along by pulling me up the hill. When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead to walk the steeper path to the viewpoint. At the lookout I noted that there was no garbage and everything was in order. We followed the trail to the right and started the gentle climb through the woods. When we reached the next trail junction, we stayed to the right to follow the lower trail around the base of Round Top to the next junction. At this junction we turned left and started up to the summit of Round Top on the steeper blue trail. Along the way I noticed several stumps sticking up and a few rocks and roots that could trip hikers. I decided we would return another day to eliminate these hazards. We walked across the summit of Round Top and down the other side which is also a little steep. When we got to the yellow trail, we turned left to follow it to the second trail junction. This time we turned right and followed the yellow trail back to the very first trail junction. We turned around and retraced our steps taking the more gentle path this time. When the yellow trail turned left, we followed it to the next trail junction were we turned right and headed up the blue trail to the summit. We walked over the top and down the other side to the yellow trail again. We turned right and followed the trail along the base of Round Top. Where the yellow trail turned left, we followed it to the left and down to the lookout. From the lookout we walked down hill to the first trail junction. Since I had done three figure 8's with grandson Bryce the last time he was with me, I thought it might be nice to try for four this time. It takes me about 20 minutes to do one. We repeated the frost two figure 8's with me taking time to think about various topics. Sheila was pretty good staying with me most of the time except on the final round. She decided to go absolutely crazy and dash up and down the trail as she sometimes does. After finishing the last figure 8 8, we walked out to the trailhead. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked down the cemetery hill and across the field to our driveway. It was 12:10 PM and we had hiked about 3.3 miles in 1 hour and 30 minutes. It must have been a good workout as I was tired.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Monday, September 4th I decided I wanted to get out and hike before attending a family reunion in the afternoon. Rather than spend time driving somewhere, I decided to simply go across the street to Round Top and hike some loops for an hour or so. It was 70 degrees at the house and a little humid when I put Sheila on her leash and started down the driveway. I elected to leave my pack behind but to take my hiking poles to prevent “sausage fingers”. We crossed the street and the field by the church and started up the hill to the top of the cemetery. Sheila was willing to pull so I let her help me up the steep but short hill. At the trailhead we turned left into the forest and after a few feet I let Sheila off her leash. It was a little cooler out of the direct sun but not much cooler. At the first trail junction I decided to let Sheila chose the way. She turned right and started up the more gentle slope of the trail and I followed. When the lower trail made a sharp left, we continued straight ahead on the upper trail. The trail was easy to follow with the bright blue blazes. Some places did need some trimming and there were a few stumps and roots that I will have to remove. We followed the trail across the flat summit and down the other side to the lower trail. We turned right to continue on the lower trail. We continued downhill to the lookout where I found no garbage or recent indications of fires. We turned left to follow the lower trail back to the first trail junction. We had completed one long loop.

We immediately turned left and started up the gentler slope in the same direction we had gone on the first lap. This time when the yellow trail turned left we continued to follow it along the base of Round Top. At the next trail junction we turned left again following the yellow trail. At the lookout we turned left and walked down to the first trail junction. We had now completed a long loop and a short loop. I started back up the trail by turning left but Sheila started out to the trailhead. She saw me start back up the trail and followed me. We walked another long loop exactly the same way we had walked the first. When we arrived back at the first trail junction, Sheila ran ahead of me toward the trailhead. I made the left turn intending to do one more short loop. Sheila was pretty far along the trail to the trailhead and did not want to turn around. I made up my mid that I would win this battle and continued up the trail. Before long Sheila ran by me and I could almost hear her sigh. I don’t think she was tired but just bored. We completed the short loop and this time we headed out to the trailhead. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked down the cemetery hill and across the field by the church to the driveway and home. We had taken about 1 hour and 5 minutes to hike 3 miles. It was not an interesting hike by it was good exercise.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Graham and Balsam Lake AllTrails -Graham and Balsam Lake caltopo  icon Gmap4 -Graham and Balsam Lake MapMyHike -Graham and Balsam Lake On Friday, June 24th, I wanted to do a more challenging hike close to home. Cindy and I had taken the previous two Saturdays to visit mansions In Milford, PA and Ringwood. NJ. We liked this so much that I tried to plan another such trip but the tours for most of the mansions were sold out due to the fact that it was Labor day weekend. We knew that other popular hiking spots would be busy so we agreed on hiking Graham and Balsam Lake Mountains. I knew that the 8+ mile hike would be difficult but satisfying. Graham Mountain is on private property. Make sure you call the caretaker to get permission before hiking. It was very cool in the morning so we waited to leave the house until 10:15 AM which made Sheila a little crazy. I put on my usual summer clothing but forgot to bring along a jacket. I drove out Old Route 17 and turned right and headed up the Beaverkill Road. It wasn't long before I got behind a slow moving car and I kept wishing they would pull over. The car turned into a driveway just after the Beaverkill Valley Inn and I made better time. The drive always seems so long and I thought about the fact that the entire area including the near side of Balsam Lake Mountain is in our ambulance district! There were two or three cars in the lot when I parked at 11:00 AM and I got all my gear ready to hike. I had along my Suunto Traverse watch and made sure to set it correctly although I did not set the altitude. I also set my Garmin handheld unit for comparison. We got right on the trail at 11:05 AM. The temperature was barely 60 degrees and I though I might regret not having a jacket. We didn't hurry but we kept a good pace making the first trail junction in about 25 minutes. The trail was a little muddy in places but it was easy to avoid them. We continued straight ahead on the trail toward the Millbrook trailhead. I was surprised to see that the trail had been well-maintained with few branches, briars and nettles encroaching. 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 getting warmer or at least I was getting warmer as we hiked. As we hiked, Sheila occasionally ran ahead and started into the woods to chase birds and chipmunks. The sky was very blue with puffy white clouds and I was happy to be out. By 12:05 PM we were at the second junction with the trail up Balsam Lake Mountain. We had hiked 1.8 miles and gained 760 feet! We continued on the woods road toward the herd path to Graham Mountain. In .25 miles we were approaching the herd path and I though I saw hikers turning onto the path. We 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. We did no see any hikers ahead of us as we started toward Graham. For the first 1.2 miles the 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 or over. At 3.2 miles into the hike we reached the base of the climb up Graham as the path heads a little more toward the southeast. The distance to the summit from here is only .8 miles but gains 625 feet in elevation. There are a few switchbacks and flatter spots along the way which help make the grade only 15%. As we hiked up, we met one man hiking down toward us. There are many spots along the way that look like the final ascent to the summit. We finally passed a path on the left to what used to be a viewpoint and I knew we were near the top. This viewpoint ion now blocked by trees and bushes and there isn't much to see. On the final climb we were surprised by two young girls running down the trail. They were followed by their parents and another sibling. We said "Hello" and in the course of conversation they informed us that all three children had complete the 3500 foot peaks! By 1:30 PM we had hiked the 4 miles to the summit. I dropped my pack to get a drink and a protein bar while Cindy sat on some cinder blocks. 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. We took a break Effie starting back down the mountain. When we got to the lookout to the north, I decided not to stop as it is now completely blocked by trees. The trip down seemed to go fast and by 2:30 PM we had hiked 6.0 miles and were back at the main trail. We turned left and started to walk back towed the trail up Balsam Lake Mountain. Along the way we met several groups of three to six people headed back to the Millbrook trailhead. At the next junction with the trail that heads up to the fire tower I turned right to start up the mountain. I though Cindy might be too tired but she followed right after me. I was happy to be hiking a longer and more difficult hike but wondered how easy the steep descent on the other side would be. My legs felt surprisingly fresh as we made our way up the trail. As we were going up we met several groups of Korean hikers headed down the mountain.

picture taken during a hike Since the trail junction is already more than 430 feet above the lower trail junction, there is less climbing to do than if yon start at the trailhead. The slope is also much more gentle averaging about 12%. Sheila and I kept hiking and I was surprised at the pace we were able to maintain and that my legs felt fine. We stopped to wait for Cindy a few times. I definitely had an advantage as I put Sheila on her leash and she pulled me up the trail. Right around the 3500 foot sign I caught the unmistakable smell of balsam fir as we transitioned from hardwood to softwood forest. Soon I could hear some noise from the area of the tower and we broke through to the clearing. Another dog immediately came over to visit and I tied Sheila to a tree. I wish people with dogs would be courteous enough to keep them on a leash. I love all dogs but not all hikers appraise a strange animal approaching them! There were half a dozen hikers at the top sitting or standing around talking. One of those people was Laurie Rankin and we recognized each other immediately. Laurie's father was a fire tower observer in the late 50's and my grandfather, Ralph Phillips, was anew York State forest Ranger. He was responsible for an area in southern Sullivan County including the Conklin Hill Fire tower near the Toronto Reservoir. We said "Hello" and caught up on what we were doing before I ascended the tower. I grabbed my camera from my pack and headed up the tower. As I climbed I noticed the wind and the chill that it brought. Laurie's husband Tom had the cab open and I was the only visitor. I took some pictures from the cab and spent some time talking to Tom who showed me some points of interest. I dropped down to a lower landing to take a few more picture unobscured by the windows of the cab. I continued to descend and once on the ground I spent a few minutes talking to the group of hikers. We said "Goodbye" and started down the steep side on the mountain. The first section wasn't too bad but as we approached the spring the rocks were very wet and slippery making getting a good foot plant and pole placement important. Below the side rail to the lean-to the trail got much steeper. The hike down to the trail junction was only about .5 miles but the loss in elevation was 730 feet for an average grade of over 28%! The trail was dry most of the rest of the way after the spring making less of a problem. As we descended we met several groups of people coming up the mountain. Once back at the main trail we turned right and headed back to the car. This part of the trail was all downhill or flat which was a welcome relief from the steep descent. On the way out we met two young parents with two children no more than 5 years old. They asked us about the lean-to and we told them we had not visited it. We were back at the car at 4:25 PM having hiked 8.5 miles in 5 hours and 20 minutes with a stop at the top of Graham and at the fire tower. The vertical gain was 2213 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! On the drive back to Livingston Manor it began to rain.

map icon Round Top Figure 8s AllTrails - Round Top Figure 8s caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Figure 8s MapMyHike - Round Top Figure 8s On Friday, September 1st my grandson Bryce was again at our house. Bryce is extremely intelligent and can carry one conversations about many topics. He is also energetic and athletic and likes to hike. We did some work around the house and played some games. Around 11:00 AM we headed across the street for a hike on Round Top. We crossed the street with Sheila on her leash and walked to the back of the church. We began the ascent of the steepest hill behind the church. The hill is short but really gets the circulation pumping and is the steepest and longest climb on the "trail". Sheila helped me along by pulling me up the hill. When we got to the top of the hill, we started out on the trail by turning left at the trailhead. As soon as we entered the trees I released Sheila from her leash. At the first trail junction we continued straight ahead to walk the steeper path to the viewpoint. At the lookout I noted that there was no garbage and everything was in order. We followed the trail to the left and started the gentle climb through the woods. Bryce and I started to tell each other Bible stories and what the meant which pleased both of us. As we reached the next trail junction, we stayed to the right to follow the lower trail around the base of Round Top to the next junction. At this junction we turned left and started up to the summit of Round Top on the steeper blue trail. Along the way we noticed several stump sticking up and a few rocks and roots that could trip hikers. We decided we would return another day to eliminate these hazards. We walked across the summit of Round Top and down the other side which is also a little steep. When we got to the yellow trail, we turned left to follow it to the second trail junction. This time we turned right and followed the yellow trail back to the very first trail junction. We had not decided exactly how many figure 8's we would do but three sounded like a good idea. We turned around and retraced our steps taking the more gentles pat this time. When the yellow trail turned left, we followed it to the next trail junction were we turned right and headed up the blue trail to the summit. We walked over the top and down the other side to the yellow trail again. We turned right and follow the trail along the base of Round Top. Where the yellow trail turned left, we followed it to the left and down to the lookout. From the lookout we walked down hill to the first trail junction. We immediately turned around and started back up the steep trail to the lookout to repeat the first figure 8. Once we were back at the first trail junction again, we ended our adventure by turning left and walking out to the trail head. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked down the cemetery hill and across the field to our driveway. It was 12:15 PM and we had hiked about 2.75 miles in 1 hour and 15 minutes.

map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Wednesday, August 30th I decided that I wanted to go for a hike close to home. The big loop around Frock and Hodge ponds has become my "go to" hike for a quick walk close to home so I decided to head there. Sheila sniffed my clothes and immediately knew we were hiking. She began to run around the house bouncing against the furniture but always keeping a close eye on me. I put my gear in the car and an excited Sheila in the back seat and drove out the DeBruce Road at 9:40 AM. At Mongaup Pond Road I turned left and continued to follow the road bearing left onto Beech Mountain Road at the fork. When we arrived in the parking area there were no other cars parked. Sheila was acting as if she hadn't hiked in a month as she ran around and headed for the trail. The temperature was 57 degrees and I was a little cool as I got my gear ready to go. The skies were overcast and there was a breeze blowing . We headed out the path to the register on Quick Lake Trail at 10:00 AM. The Quick Lake Trail was wet with some muddy spots which we tried to avoid. At Gravestone Junction we turned left to head down to Frick Pond. The water level in the pond was low due to the fact that someone had completely pulled out the beaver dam across the outlet stream. I was disappointed to see that the beavers had not begun to rebuild the dam. Either they had moved on or someone had trapped them. The DEC rangers and the wildlife division claim no knowledge of this action so my conclusion is that someone is doing this on their own for reasons I cannot understand! I hope someone catches these vandals in the act. The sky was still overcast so I decided I would pass up taking pictures and go for a fast hike. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail around the pond bearing left at the next trail junction to stay on the red trail. This part of the trail was drier than the last time I had walked the trail but it was still damp in spots with some mud. We were setting a fast pace despite having to avoid the water and the mud. We soon came to the "pine promenade" and the little stream through the woods. This water level in the stream was higher than it had been and Sheila was able to get a drink and take a "dip". She immediately began a mad dash up and won the trail at a very high speed. As we continued along the trail I removed some small branches and a few large ones until we arrived at Iron Wheel Junction at 1.6 miles.

We turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and started the long uphill climb toward Junkyard Junction. The trail was almost dry all the way to Junkyard Junction 3.2 miles. The sun was starting to come through the clouds but it was still playing hide and seek. We turned right onto the blue Flynn Trail which is almost flat. It too was only damp with a few spots of mud which were easily avoided. There were no major blowdowns but I continued to remove branches that littered the trail. The entire trail does need to have some branches lopped to make a clear path. When we got to the gate, we turned right to stay on the trail and head down toward Hodge Pond. At 3.75 miles the Flynn Trail heads right and we followed it toward the outlet end of Hodge Pond. This part of the Flynn Trail which is a woods road had less water than other places and was not as muddy as the previous trip. It looked like OSI had decided to smooth out the trail by using a grader to dig it up and level it off. The problem is that this removed all the grass that held the dirt together and left behind an unpacked dirt surface. This surface can absorb a lot of water to form muddy areas. The field was still wet from the dew and after walking through it the trail again had been "improved" and was muddy. The open field is the spot where the mess hall and family camping area for the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp once stood. When we came to the clearing at the outlet end of the pond, I again decided to skip the pictures. We turned right to continue on the Flynn Trail climbing up the hill. I was feeling quite fresh and concentrated on using my poles to help set a quick pace up the hill. At the top of the hill we stayed to the right to continue on the Flynn Trail. A left turn follows a woods road out to what remains of the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. Just after the turn there was a small tree across the trail. The Flynn Trail is relatively flat to the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 4.5 miles. We continued straight through this junction to follow the Flynn Trail back to the car. The walk is pretty but has no remarkable views or features so we walked quickly. As we approached the gate on the woods road, we turned left to avoid the private property around the cabin and to stay on the trail. On a previous trip I had cleared and reblazed the old trail and I could see that it was easy to follow. We finished our walk and were back at the car by 12:15 PM. We had covered 6.2 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes with an elevation gain of 900 feet. Our average overall speed was 2.7 mph and we had stopped for less than 2 minutes.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Bishopvillel Rd to Webb Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Monday, August 28th I planned to again go to the Hornell area to hike a part of the Finger Lakes Trail on Map 9. The section of trail from Bishopville Rd to Webb Rd had been relocated just as I was hiking it a little more than a week ago. The old route turned left on Bishopville Road and then ducked into the woods before coming out onto Wilson Karr Road. From there it was a road walk over Wilson Karr Road, Bishopville Road and Pennsylvania Hill Road where the trail again entered the woods. The new section of trail turned right on Bishopville Road and then followed dirt Hopkins road to a new trail along the right of way for I86 into Kanakadea Park. The trail again followed the I86 right of way before turning left on dirt Fitzgerald Road. From Fitzgerald Road the trail went through the forest before breaking out into a field and crossing Webb Road. From there the trail rejoined the old portion of the trail and headed east. I wanted to hike this new section before part of it closed on September 1st for hunting. I set my alarm for 5:00 AM but was awakened at 2:30 AM for an ambulance call. I got back home a little after 4:00 PM and decided that I would simply leave for the hike as soon as I could get ready. I was a little tired but thought I could safely do the drive and hike. I got my gear together and got dressed. I had to calla sleepy and confused Sheila from upstairs as she could not believe we were leaving so early! I had on my summer/fall pants and a light baselayer with my Columbia long-sleeved pullover shirt. I decided to try my Keen Glarus boots even though on a previous hike they had bruised my left ankle a little. I made sure I put in two full water bottles and had my water purifier with me. I also wore a light windbreaker as the temperature was in the mid 40's when I left the house at 4:45 Am. The drive is more than 3 hours but I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. At 6:00 AM, we headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. It was very foggy all the way to Binghamton and beyond. I stopped in Windosr at 6:45 AM to get some gas and breakfast and then continued on I86. I headed west toward Hornell but went one more exit west to Almond getting off at exit 33. I turned left off the exit onto Route 2 and then left onto Bishopville Road. After a short distance I turned right onto dirt McIntosh Road and drove to where it ended at the intersection with dirt Hopkins Road. I immediately saw the new section of the Finger Lakes Trail. I had decided to park here since the there was no parking available where the trial met Bishopville Road. My plan was to first hike from the car to the point where the trail met Bishopville road and then turn around and hike back to the car. I would then hike out to Webb Road and back. When I got out of the car, the skies looked okay but there was no sun and the temperature was 48 degrees. I decided to keep my windbreaker on and to leave my pack in the car for the hike out to the point where the trail met Bishopville Road and back to the car. I set my electronics including my Garmin GPS handheld and Suunto Traverse GPS watch. We began our hike at 8:00 AM by hiking .5 miles north on Hopkins Road and then turning right on Bishopville Road and hiking another .4 miles to where the trail met the road. We kept up a very fast pace and immediately turned around a hiked back to the car. We covered the 1.7 miles in 30 minutes for a speed of 3.4 mph.

picture taken during a hike Back at the car I took off the windbreaker although it was still only 50 degrees. I shouldered my pack and we started out at 8:37 AM on the trail which was a wide swathe mowed in the grass. We walked down a short, steep bank to a wide trail cut next to the I86 right-of-way which opened up into a field. The trail was new but the goldenrod was already beginning to lean over and encroach on the newly cut area. We could hear the traffic on I86 an but it was hard to see it until we were almost ready to enter the woods once again. Just before two miles we began to descend a series of switchbacks to a small stream which turned out to be the lowest point on the hike. We paralleled the stream for a little while and then began to ascend the bank on another series of well-planned switchbacks. The trail began to look more defined and the surface was packed possibly indicating the FLT was not following a trail that had already existed. At 2.2 miles we came to the Kanakadea Lean-to with a fire pit out front and an outhouse in back. The outhouse seemed to be constructed of composite sheets rather than wood. The lean-to was large but the front was very high off the ground requiring a ladder to enter. Also, the front supports of the lean-to looked at little worse for wear giving it a somewhat unstable appearance. We were now walking through Kanakadea County park, a park maintain by Steuben County. The park borders Canacadea State Forest. The trail flattened out a little but only for a short distance when a long descent began lasting for .35 miles and losing 240 feet. Even though the park has existing blazed trails the FLT was clearly marked with white blazes. The turns were marked but in the non-standard way with one blazes directly below another so that no direction is given. Just before 3.o0 miles, we descended to cross another little stream and then ascended the opposite bank. On the left side of the trail was an impressive construction not marked on the map. Someone had collected many branches and placed them between standing trees to create walls on three sides. The shelter was large with some branches supporting a tarp to form a roof. It wasn't clear whether this structure is on park or private property. Soon after this we came to the fence which is the boundary of the I86 right-of-way and began a .8 mile section of almost perfectly straight trail heading northeast toward Fitzgerald Road. This trail definitely followed a pre-existing trail as some of the white blazes clearly were painted over older blue blazes. Unlike the previous section along I86 which was in the open, this section tabled through a predominately pine forest. Unfortunately, the trail builders relied on the previous trail and did not do much to clear this part of the trail. There were numerous spots with trees across the trail and others with untrimmed brush encroaching on the trail.

picture taken during a hike At 3.3 miles we came down to cross another stream and the bank was very steep on both sides and needed some work. We continued waking the trail with me dodging overhanging brush and branches. At 3.8 miles we came to a small stream with a bridge across it which was further evidence that there had been a trail there before at some time. The bridge was built by a summer BOCES class in 2012. The western end of the bridge was almost suspended in the air as the stream had eroded the dirt supporting it. This allowed the whole bridge to twist. If there is any more erosion, this bridge will be unsafe. Like so many things, a little work ahead of time can save a lot of work later. We turned left on dirt Fitzgerald Road and began another uphill climb watching for the point where the trail would enter the woods again on the right. We walked about .8 miles north and then followed the trail to the right into the woods. The trail started to head northeast climbing through the mixed pine and hardwood forest. This section is the one that closes on September 1st but the bypass is too simply walk up Fitzgerald Road and then east on Webb Road. It was a short walk until we came to an open area that had been mowed and then to an open field. We walked along the west side of the field still climbing without benefit of any blazes. There were round bales in the field to the right and a large Christmas tree farm on the left. It was just beginning to get sunny as we topped the hill in the field at 4.4 miles and started downhill to Webb Road. We crossed Webb Road where there was a cemetery on the right. The trail descended through some hardwoods to a wetland crossed by several streams. The banks of the streams were almost vertical and there were no bridges to cross. I found a place to jump across but it was not the ideal situation. Again, the trail is now blazed but it needs some work to complete it.

picture taken during a hike We continued through the woods along a woods road and I checked my Avenza app to make sure we would intersect the trail I had already hiked. The app showed that trail was just ahead and when we got to the spot I recognized it. At 10:00 AM we turned around to hike back to the car. We walks down the woods road to the wetland. I thought getting backs cross the stream would be easier but it wasn't. I had decided to take a few pictures n the way back so I stopped at the wetland for a few shots. We hiked back up hill to the cemetery where I spent a few minutes looking an the inscriptions on the headstones and taking some pictures. We crossed Webb Road and walked along the edge of the field. I stopped to take a few pictures but the skies where still overcast without color or clouds. Further along we turned right from the field and entered the forest. The trip downhill certainly went faster than the uphill journey earlier. We turned left onto Fitzgerald Road, walked downhill to the end and came to the bridge. I took a few pictures and then we continued on the trail retracing our route from earlier. The section of trail parallel to I86 went quickly and we were soon back at the shelter in the woods. I stopped to take some pictures of this inventive project and then we got back on the trail. The walk back up the hill to the Kanakadea Lean-to seemed longer and more difficult than it really was. We stopped at the lean-to so that I could take some pictures since this one was a little different than others I had seen. Sheila managed to climb the steep ladder so I had her pose and I too a few shots. Soon we were back on the open trail next to I86. I stopped to take a few pictures of the trail surrounded by goldenrod. We walked back to the car arriving at 11:30 AM after hiking 8 miles in 3.5 hours for a speed of 2.3 mph including stops. The elevation gain was a modest 1560 feet. I was surprised that we were done so early and I would have found some more hiking to do but I had to be back for cross country practice.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Ringwood Manor alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, August 26th I had planned to visit Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, New Jersey with Cindy. After visiting the house and grounds, I though we might hike the 3 mile loop trail in back of the manor house. The first tour of the house was at 11:00 AM so we did not hurry to leave the house. As we were getting ready, Sheila was excited until I explained she could not go on this adventure. I always feel bad when I leave her behind but we had been on a long hike the day before and I promised to take her out after church on Sunday. We left Livingston Manor at 10:00 AM and headed south and east on State Route 17 to exit 131 at Harriman. From here we took Route 17 south through Tuxedo to the village of Sloatsburg. I turned right on Sterling Mine Road and continued until I saw the sign for Ringwood Manor on the right. We drove in paying only $7 to park in the lot which was almost empty at about 11:40 AM. We walked over to the park office and bought tickets for the noon tour for $3 each. While we were waiting we strolled around the house and I took some pictures of the buildings and the garden. On the front lawn we found some interesting articles. There was a large chain which I knew was supposed to be from the chain use to block the Hudson River during the Revolution but was a fake. There was a Civil War era mortar with an iron base which made it sturdier than those made with a wooden base. There was also a small cannon from the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides. Promptly at noon our guide opened the door to the house and all five of us who were on the tour gathered around. After a few preliminary comments we entered the house. I was disappointed that photography was not allowed inside! The Ringwood area produced much of the iron for the American colonies throughout the Revolution and after it as well. The once belonged to Robert Erskine who was the cartographer for Washington during the Revolution. After his death, the land was sold to the Ryerson family who built a modest 10 room house in 1810 and continued to mine iron. This part of the house still stands. In 1853 the 19,000 acres of land was purchased by Peter Cooper and this included the Ringwood Manor area. Cooper bought the land to exploit the iron mining and to add it to the holdings of the very successful Cooper Hewett Company. At some point Mrs. Hewett decided to expand the existing house starting in 1864 until it had over 50 rooms and more than 20 fireplaces. Her hand in the design can be seen in most of the rooms as Mr. Hewett had a say in only three of the rooms! The Hewetts also improved the grounds of the manor with gardens. The house was lighted by gas lamps been after electricity became popular. At one time the family owned 40 custom made carriages of different types. As we toured the rooms of the first and second floors, Cindy and I were both impressed. The building from the outside is not that impressive but the inside is magnificent. Much of the building and the furnishing are original as are the numerous collections the family accumulated. The guide was very informative about the house, the ground and the people who lived there. It is definitely a place to visit and I would go back to see the whole thing again! The family donated the house and grounds to the State of New Jersey in 1938. The tour lasted almost exactly and hour an 15 minutes but I easily could have listened for another hour. After the tour concluded we decided to hike the blue Ringwood Manor Loop Trail to the north of the Manor.

picture taken during a hike Cindy went to the car to change into hiking shoes and to lose her sweater. I decided not to take my pack and to just carry my camera. We walked to the back of the manor house to a gate in the fence. The Avenza app on my phone came in handy to tell us we were in the right spot. I turned the GPS tracking on in the app so that I did not have to carry a separate GPS unit. The results from the app are very good but it does use a lot of battery. We started off heading west until the blazes directed us to turn right or north at .1 miles. The trail started uphill gently as a wide and almost flat trail. We passed by some very large trees and at .25 miles the white connector trail headed off to the right as we stayed left on the blue trail. It was nice to walk the trail but there wasn't much to look at. At .5 miles the rail headed west and then at .7 miles it turned southwest. We crossed a couple of small streams and then approached the area where the yellow Hasenclever Iron Trail crosses the blue trail. This trail connects many of the iron mines in northern New Jersey and there was one marked on the Mao that I though I might like to visit. Just before the point where the trail crossed I spotted a pit that was not marked on the map. It looked very much like a small mine except I could see no tailings. I took a picture and then continued along the main trail to 1.15 miles where the yellow trail crossed. Just beyond this point we crossed a larger stream without any problems. The trail ran parallel to the stream for a short distance and then turned more to the southwest and began to climb. At 1.55 miles we hit the highest spot on the trail at which point we began to descend and head due south. The trail was rocky in places which made walking difficult. When we reached 1.9 miles the trail made a loop so that at 2.1 miles we were headed northwest on a woods road. The road continued to descend and I was desperately looking for something interesting to see. At 2.5 miles the trail came out from under the trees and we could see a pond off to the right. We walked over to the pond which had a rather substantial stone dam. On the map it was labeled as Sally's Pond after one of the Hewett children but it served as a mill pond. I took pictures of the dam and the pond. We then walked back up towed the road and spotted the cemetery a little further on. When we got to the cemetery, I took some pictures and then walked over to two graves surrounded my an iron fence. These were the graves of Robert Erskine and one of his workers. We walked won toward the shore of the pond and found the graves of some of the Hewett family. Abram and Sarah Hewett are buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in New York City as he was mayor and a three term congressman. We continued back to the point that we started on the blue trail and from there went to the car. We had spent 1 hour and 20 minutes hiking 3.1 miles and exploring the pond and the cemetery. As we drove away from the manor, we took a moment to stop at the carriage house. The carriage house was well laid out with three different carriages in good condition and several displays related to equestrian events. I took pictures and then we returned to the car for the drive home.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Bully Hill Rd to Slader Creek Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, August 25th I awoke to my alarm at 5:00 AM to get ready to hike the westernmost section of Map 9 of the Finger Lakes Trail. Map 9 runs from Slader Creek Road southwest of Canaseraga to Hornell and has more north to south hiking than west to east. My plan was to park at Access 1 on Slader Creek Road and have a taxi pick me up there and drop me further south at Access 6 on Bully Hill Road. I would then hike back to my car. I would have preferred to hike in the opposite direction as that is the way the FLT sets up their map descriptions but there is no place to park on Bully Hill Road! The forecast for the Hornell area showed no chance of rain but clouds mixed with sun and highs only in the low 70's. This is almost ideal hiking weather! I was tired from a number of serious ambulance calls during the week an thought about postponing the trip. In the end I decided to go since I knew I would feel better once I was on the road. I got all my gear together while Sheila hovered around me making sure that she was going on the hike. I put on my summer/fall pants and a light baselayer with my Columbia long-sleeved pullover shirt. I decided to try my Keen Glarus boots even though on a previous hike they had bruised my left ankle a little. I made sure I put in two full water bottles and had my water purifier with me. The drive is mare than 3 hours but I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. At 6:00 AM, we headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was in the high 50's but I knew it would get warmer. It was very foggy all the way to Binghamton and beyond. I stopped in Bath at 9:00 AM to get some gas and to call Village Taxi to pick me up on Slader Creek Road southwest of the village of Canaseraga. I gave specific directions for the route of travel and then hewed back out onto i86 heading west toward Hornell. I took exit 34B toward Arkport on Route 36 north. In Arkport I turned left or west on West Avenue which is Route 961F on some maps and Route 70 on others. I headed north toward the village of Canaseraga looking for Tildon Hill Road on the left. After 3.8 miles I turned left on Tildon Hill Road and drove west to County Route 13. I turned right or north and drove north only .7 miles to Slader Creek Road (Route 13C) on the left. I followed this road until I came to the Finger Lakes Trail trailhead just before the road meets Gas Spring Road. I parked on the right shoulder to wait for the taxi at about 9:40 AM. While I was waiting I decided to go check out how wide and deep Slade Creek was at this point. The map description warned that it could be deep enough to require wading at times. I walked across the road, opened the pasture gate, closed it behind me and walked down to Slader Creek which ran through the pasture. When I saw the stream, I had a good laugh as I would have trouble getting the bottom of my boots wet since there was so little water. I returned to the car to wait but by 10:00 Am the taxi had not appeared and I had no cell service. I began to plan alternate ways to hike but decided to see if I could find cell service somewhere. I drove up a hill and found service to call the taxi company. For some reason the taxi had driven to the village of Canaseraga ignoring my directions. I gave the driver explicit instructions to get to my location and drove back to park a the trail head. Within 15 the taxi appeared and I transferred my gear and Sheila to the taxi. There were several routes to get to Bully Hill Road but the shortest seemed to be via Gas Spring Road. We drove to the end of Slader Creek and turned south on Gas Springs Road. The pavement lasted only a few hundred feet when the road turned to dirt. After a short distance it became a seasonal use road with ruts and rocks. I mentioned to the driver t5hat we could turn around but he continued. Eventually we made it to paved Route 32 and turned left to head east. After taking a look at another side road, I decided we would take the longer route along paved road. We continued east on Route 32 and then took Bishopville Road South to Route 2 or Karr Valley Road. From here we headed west a few miles to Bull Hill Road. We turned right to head north on the road for .7 miles. We pulled over and the driver took my money and departed after I unloaded Sheila and my gear. It is an interesting feeling to know you are over 10 mile from your car and have no choice but to hike all the way back to it! The skies looked good and the temperature was only in the mid 60'. I set my electronics including my Garmin GPS handheld and Suunto Traverse GPS watch. We began our hike at 10:45 by hiking a short distance north on Bully Hill Road and then turning left into the woods.

picture taken during a hike The first 1.5 miles of the trail paralleled Bully Hill Road heading northwest and uphill. The trail was muddy in spots but very well marked and the track was very obvious. The trail also was parallel to a deeply cut stream bed which showed a lot of erosion but was absolutely dry. At one point we crossed over the stream bed an then began to walk parallel to another deeply cut gorge but this one had some water in it. As we neared our first turn we walked through one of the many red pine plantations found along the Finger Lakes Trail. I was sweating a little from the uphill hiking but the temperature was still cool and the humidity low. A slight breeze was blowing and it seemed like the sun was obscured by clouds much of the time. When we reached Karr Road which is a dirt road at this point, I found a turn marked but with the typical FLT blaze that lets the hiker guess which way to turn. I looked both ways and saw no blazes! After a more careful search, I could see blazes far up the road on the left. We turned left and walked a few hundred feet on the dirt road before walking straight into the woods on a woods road that began a steeper climb. The trail was easily visible and well marked but was littered with stick and branches which no one had seen fit to clear. It seemed like this portion of the trail went on longer than it did and soon we were at another dirt road. We walled almost straight ahead onto this road and followed the white blazes walking along the almost flat road until turning right into the forest at about 2.0 miles. We walked along another woods road which eventually turned left to head toward Mike Dixon Road. After a little more than an hour, I checked my Garmin GPS and found we had hiked 2.4 miles which was a good pace. For some reason my watch had not recorded so I reset it and it seemed to work OK. We walked over some small bridges over a wet area and crossed the road at 2.4 miles. The trail was directly across from us and paralleled the road before turning and heading northwest. The walk was now through hardwood forests and we began a rather long descent which concerned me as I knew what goes down must go up again at some point! The trail was very rocky reminding me of some spots in the Catskills as we continued to follow some impressive streambeds. At 3.2 miles we passed a spot that used to be a bivouac area but now had a nice new lean-to. I did not visit as lean-tos tend to look much the same and I wanted to continue along the main trail. At 3.7 miles we came out onto Bush Road and turned right to walk down to Route 32. The road is a dirt road but in good shape. There hadn't been many photographic opportunities so far but I stopped to take a few shots of the rolling farmland and the blue skies with puffy white clouds. When I put my pack on the straps caught on my watch and I found out why the watch had not been running at the start of the hike. The buttons on the watch are so poorly designed that the watch will pause if they are accidentally pressed as happens when they catch on a pack strap. I reacted the watch and we walked down the road. A man was working at a house and we waved to each other. He was the only person I saw at any point on the hike. Just before we hit the paved road we crossed a bridge over a substantial stream which the map labeled as the Canisteo River. This was also the lowest point on the hike.

picture taken during a hike We turned left on paved Route 32 and walked west for about .2 miles. I didn't bother to put Sheila on her leash as she walks so nicely next to me and is very careful when there is traffic. When we got to Gas Springs Road we turned right and started to hike uphill on this forest access road with Klipnocky State Forest on the left and private land on the right. Just after the turn there were some snowmobile trails crossing the road but the white blazes of the FLT continued up the road. We walked up hill for about .3 miles until at 4.6 miles the trail left the road to the right. The trail was sighted along a woods road which was eroded and covered in branches and small tree trunks. This is a choice that FLT trail builders make that I will never understand. It would have been far easier to walk on the access road which has no vehicle traffic than to walk on this unmaintained trail. We crossed a small road and the trail turned into a drainage which made the hiking even more unappealing. At about 5.0 miles the trail veered away from Gas Springs Road to the right along a woods road. At 5.2 miles we entered a stand of nettles where the trail turned right and descended on a few switchbacks to cross a small stream. After heading east briefly the trail turned northeast and then north at about 5.6 miles as we continued to ascend toward another dirt road. When we got to the road we crossed it diagonally to the left and continued hiking north. The trail was very rocky in this area as we made a steep descant for .3 miles to cross a stream and then immediately regained that elevation on the other side. At about 6.9 miles the trail passed what looked like a stone quarry. The quarry was old and it was impossible to get any pictures that would show what it was. A quarry was marked on the map but as we walked I found two or three separate places that looked as if they had been quarried. Perhaps the map marked them as one because they had been part of the same operation. At 7.0 miles we turned right onto roots road and walked east briefly before turning left or north on Bill Morris Forest Road. In a short distance the road came to a nice pond. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take some pictures. I also got another drink and a snack at this point before continuing north on the road. The skies were very blue and there were some clouds but the darker clouds that I thought might bring a shower had disappeared.

picture taken during a hike We walked along the road for about .4 miles until the trail turned left on an access road at 7.6 miles. We followed the road to a small bivouac area on the shore of a pond. I checked out the pond but jut was not as nice as the previous one so we continued north on the trail transitioning from Klipnocky SF to Gas Springs SF. This part of the trail headed almost due north but rolled a little through hardwood forest. It was very generic and had no really memorable sections. The trail continued to be well blazed and the track was worn in enough to follow even without a map. At 9.1 miles we came to a trail register which had fallen off a tree. At trail lead to the right o a camping area which must be popular by the number of tracks leading to it. From this point on the blazes on the trees faded and were hard to find. The trail had some muddy spots and quite a few branches across the trail. This seemed strange as the area is so near to an access point. We were descending most of the time and soon I could see a cabin in the woods. The trail passed the cabin and continued to meander between one woods road and the next always heading north and descending. At about 9.8 miles we broke out into some fields passing through an open gate. The farmer asks that all gates be left as they were found so I left the gate open. I stopped to take a few pictures and then continued won a farm lane on the edge of the field. The next gate was closed with a chain and tied with a rope. I didn't want to take the time to undo everything just to redo it so I slipped underneath. The farm lane now passed through a more wooded area leading down to a pasture and Slade Creek. As we crossed Slader Creek, I could see the farmer's cows downstream. We passed through the gate by the road and walked over to the car. It was 3:25 PM and we had hiked 10.2 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes with only 15 minutes of stopped time and an overall pace of 2.2 mph. The total ascent was 1562 feet but I was surprised to find the beginning and ending elevations were identical! The temperature was just 70 degrees and it was still very pleasant. This hike was a nice walk through the woods but it may have been the least memorable hike I have taken in some time. I may return to the area one more time in the bear future as the trail from Bully Hill Toad to Hornell had a recent reroute of about 3 miles that I would like to hike as an out and back.

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 Wednesday, August 23rd I wanted to get in a hike close to home and, after trying to come up with a new hike, I decided to head for Frick Pond To hike the Flynn and Quick Lake Trails to Hodge and Frick Ponds. The weather was beautiful with bright sun and blue skies but with highs in the low 60's. I saw no reason to wait and Sheila agreed so I got ready to leave and pulled out of the driveway sometime after 10:15 AM. 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. We crossed the road to get onto the Flynn Trail at 10:35 AM. The trail seemed a little damp as we walked through the woods from the rain we had over the previous couple of days. We turned right onto the woods road as we came out of the woods and the trail continued to be wet and was now muddy. It wasn't long before I looked up to see another hiker headed down the trail in our direction. I put Sheila on her leash and the hiker stopped to talk. His name was Marv and he was from New Jersey. He was in the area to finish the trails around Frick Pond that he had not covered for the CMC All Trails Challenge. I told him that I was #2 on that list. We talked about other lists and he said he was working on the grid of the Catskill 3500 foot peaks. We talked about the Long Path, the Finger Lakes Trail and the Catskill Highest Hundred before heading in our opposite directions. I was happy Sheila behaved even when we shook hands! I had been feeling a little sluggish but meeting another hiker with similar goals energized me so that I picked up the pace of my hike. Soon we were at the junction with the big Rock Trail where we continued straight ahead on 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 right to walk the woods road which is not part of the Flynn Trail. OSI had decided to level the Flynn Trail from Frick Pond to where the trail turned into the woods and it was a muddy mess the last time I passed through. I hoped to avoid this. At the next trail unction we turned left to walk down the hill toward the pond and found they had made the same strange decision to remove all the grass on this trail and allow erosion to wash away the soil! At the bottom of the hill we turned right to follow the old jeep road around the northern end of Hodge Pond. I had almost decided not to stop to take any pictures but the view was so nice I turned off the trail and walked to the shore to take a few shots. Sheila jumped in the pond to get a drink and take a dip. She came out and started to dash madly around me running in tight circles for the pure joy of it. We walked back to the main trail and continued to the point where the Flynn trail turns up into the woods. We walked up the hill and through the gate that marks the end of the OSI property.

picture taken during a hike We found the trail continued to have some wet and muddy spots but wasn't any worse than the last time we had walked the trail. 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 after getting passed some very wet spots on the flat area right after the junction. We walked downhill to Iron Wheel Junction finding the trail almost dry. At the junction we turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and ran into some more wet spots along the way. We were soon at the small stream just before the "Spruce Tunnel" and I crossed it with ease. The stream was low but Sheila was able to get a drink and get another dip. We continued on toward the outlet bridge at Frick Pond. We continued to stop so that I could remove branches and other debris from the trail. The trail was wet but passable to the junction with the Big Rock Trail. At the bridge over the outlet stream to Frick Pond I stopped to take a few pictures which I thought might be interesting. The sky was blue with puffy white clouds and the highest part of Flynn's Point was clearly visible. It was disturbing that the beavers had not begun to rebuild the dam which some vandals had removed. No one at the DEDC seemed to know about this so I assume it was a private citizen who for some reason thought it was a good idea. 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 and caught up to an older woman from Phoenicia. We talked at we walked and were soon in the bigger parking area. Two young men sat on some stones and we exchanged greetings. We were back a the car at 1:10 PM hiked 6.4 miles in 2 hours 35 minutes gaining 920 feet along the way. The temperature at the trailhead was now 64 degrees.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Slide Mt (Rt 47) AllTrails -Slide Mt (RT 47) caltopo  icon Gmap4 -Slide Mt (RT 47) MapMyHike -Slide Mt (RT 47) On Monday, August 21st, I decided I wanted to hike Slide Mountain as I had not been there is a year and it is close to home. I like to throw in a 3500 foot peak every now and then for the challenge and to prove to myself I can still hike elevation as well as distance. I asked Cindy if she wanted to go and was a little surprised when she said yes. The start of the day was very foggy and we decided to wait a little while before heading out. This was also the day of the long awaited solar eclipse but tat was supposed to occur in the mid afternoon. As we 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 DeBruce Road at about 10:00 AM and drove passed Round Pond and down to Route 47. I turned left and drove toward Frost Valley. After passing the YMCA camp, I watched for the parking area for Slide Mountain. The Biscuit Brook parking area had six cars in it and I wondered if Slide would be crowded. I pulled in just before 10:30 AM and found three cars in the lot. Another car pulled in just as we were getting ready to leave. I set my electronics and we got on the trail right away. Starting out on the main trail we immediately crossed the Neversink River which had some water flowing in it. This was the first time in a long time I had seen water there. The other small streams along the trail were also flowing freely. A crew from the ADK had done some work on the trail and I was looking for the results of their efforts. The e-mail said they had worked on a new rock staircase, drainage strictures and wooden steps but did not specify where. In just less than half a mile we turned right on the woods road and hiked passed the first piped spring which was running well. The trail was wet with some standing and some running water and some muddy areas. 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 pretty good as we hiked even though I had been doing flat hikes on smooth trails. Sheila alerted and a pair of hikers passed us coming down from the summit. We said "Hello" as we passed and commented on the beautiful weather. This happened several more times along the trail until we were sure we would have the summit to ourselves. By the time we reached the designated campsite at 1.2 miles the grade was getting steeper and I was still feeling fresh although Cindy had slowed down a little. The trail was every bit as rocky as it ever was which makes ascending difficult and descending worse. We kept a good pace up the trail and I kept looking for the 3500 foot sign. Soon we started to enter the transition zone from Hardwoods to evergreens and OI asked Cindy if she had seen the sign. She told me she had and it was sometime back. The spring on the left had some water in it since I could hear Sheila getting a drink. The glimpses I could get of the sky showed bright blue with white clouds and the plenty of sun. 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. There were several lookouts along the way bit most were not interesting and what I could see was very hazy. 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. The trail continued to be muddy which was unusual this high up on Slide. Soon we were approaching the last climb and I found a viewpoint that clearly showed Cornell and Wittenberg and the col between them. After taking a few shots, I returned to the main trail and at 2.6 miles we were at the viewpoint toward Panther and Giant Ledge. I decided to stop and take a few shots even though the trees in front of the lookout have all but obscured the view. 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 12:20 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 I wanted to go down to the spring since I had not yet seen any of the work the ADK crew had done and I knew the only wooden steps were on the Cornell side of Slide! Cindy did not want to go so I left my poles with her since there are several rock scrambles and the poles get in the way. Sheila and I headed down the trail to the spring. We made our way through three or four rock scrambles and I bypassed several picture taking opportunities which I decided I would take damage of on the way back. We finally got to the wooden ladders and at first glance they seemed unchanged. On closer inspection, the had hewn logs which had been rotting away were replaced with new 4by4's making it much safer. I had intended just to go to the steps but changed my mind and headed down to the spring. I could hear it running and I could hear Sheila getting a drink. When I arrived, Sheila was frolicking in the outflow and drinking the cool water. I took a few pictures and then we started back.

picture taken during a hike And the way up I kept looking for viewpoint and I found a few good ones with views toward Cornell and Wittenberg. I also took a few pictures of Sheila posed on the ladders and above me at the rock scrambles. Our last stop on the way up was a small campsite on the right where someone had pushed down a few trees to make a nice viewpoint. After taking a few shots, we continued up the main trail to the summit. As we approached the summit, I could hear Cindy talking to someone and I pout Sheila on her leash. As we cleared the trees, I saw a very large white dog above us and two young men talking to Cindy. We continued up to the rocks at the summit where the two dogs said "hello" in dog fashion. Cindy was ready to go but the hikers had a few questions about the other peaks. I gave them the distances and route to Cornell and Wittenberg and they decided to stay at the summit of Slide and wait for the eclipse. We said "goodbye" and headed back done the mountain at 1:00 PM. We knew the eclipse was supposed to start at about 1:45 PM and reach its peak at 2:45 PM. As we passed the viewpoint on the right there was a couple taking in the view. I had hoped to make quick work of the descent but the rocks make the descent difficult to accomplish safely. As we hiked own we met several groups of people headed up the mountain and some of them also had dogs with them. 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. Near the bottom of the trail Cindy remarked that she hoped the intersection was coming up soon. It did! We turned right on the woods road and hiked along the wet and muddy trail to the left 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 stopped to take a few pictures of the water in the river before returning to the car. We had noticed that the light seemed odd and that the eclipse was in progress but we could not get a good look through the trees. We arrived at the car at 2:30 PM having covered 6.0 miles in 4 hours with 2072 feet of elevation gain. On the way home Cindy and I both caught a glimpse of the eclipse and I pulled over to take a picture. By the time I got the camera out, the sun had gone behind a cloud!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Saturday, August 19th Cindy and I had spent some time at Grey Towers in Milford, PA and were on the way home via Route 6 to Shohola. I asked her if she would like to stop by Shohola Falls as it was on the way. She agreed and we turned left onto Route 6 from the Old Owego turnpike and headed west. The turn for Shohola Falls is a left about 9.6 miles from the Owego Turnpike at the sign for then Shohola Falls Inn. We turned left and drove up the road until a left turn led us down to the parking area for Shohola Lake. We parked and I got my camera to take some pictures. I really didn't know what to expect as it seemed dry in the area but I could see water leaving the spillway of the dam. We walked down the steps to the rock shelves that line the edge of the falls. New wooden steps with railings had replaced the old slippery stone steps. There was quite a bit of water flowing over the falls and I took several pictures from the side before walking down over the rocks to get some more shots. The water flows over bedrock at about a 45 degrees angle before dropping 20 feet to the pool below. I found the narrow path that skirts the edge of the gorge and walked along it until I was directly opposite the falls. This was a great vantage point to take pictures of the falls head on. I took some shots and the realized Cindy was not with me. She was still on the rocks where we had first stopped. This didn't surprise me much as she does not like to get hear the edge of any cliffs and the path was a little narrow. I walked back to her and we ascended the stairs to the top. Cindy went back to the car while I walked over to the clearing just below the dam and took a few pictures of the dam. I then walked a path from the lower parking area toward the shore of the lake. As I approached a blue heron flew up from the lake and crossed over to the other shore. The lake is large with marshland all around a several small islands. I took a variety of shots before heading back to the car. It was still hot with some humidity so we decided to head home after two great adventures for the day.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon On Saturday, August 19th I was tired from the FKT hike I had done the day before near Hornell. The 9.7 miles hike wasn't too hard but the temperature was in the high 80's with a handily level to match it. Also, the round trip drive is almost 400 miles which is more tiring than the hike. I wanted to do something with Cindy and suggest we go to Grey Towers in Milford, PA. Grey Towers is a National Historical site maintained by the US Forestry Service. The mansion was built in 1886 by James Pinchot as a summer house. James Pinchot made a fortune selling imported wallpapers and curtains to the wealthy in New York. Gifford Pinchot, James' son, inherited Grey Towers in 1914 was the person responsible for developing the idea of the National Forestry Service. He was also the first director of the USFS. Gifford Pinchot later served as the Governor of Pennsylvania. He and his wife Cornelia made several changes to the mansion to accommodate new ideas and to entertain many important guests. Gifford's son Gifford Bryce inherited the mansion and 120 acre grounds in 1960 but did not use it much. In 1963 he donated it to the USFS. On September 24, 1963, President John Kennedy dedicated Grey Towers speaking to a crowd of over 10,000 gather in the amphitheater and on the grounds. President Kennedy was assassinated only two months later. Grey Towers does not open until 11:00 AM so Cindy and I decided to go to Milford and eat at 11:00 AM before continuing on to Grey Towers for a tour of the mansion and a walk around the grounds. We left a sad Sheila at home and headed out of Livingston Manor at 9:50 AM. I drove east on State Route 17 to Monticello where I picked up Route 42 south to Port Jervis. We crossed the river and drove through Matamoras to pick up I84 west to Milford. The drive on I84 was quick and after getting off at the Milford exit, I drove into town on Route 6. We had decided to eat at the Tequila Sunrise Mexican restaurant and found it easily. It was a few minutes before 11:00 Am so we waited and they opened on time. We went inside and found the place to be small but the food excellent. After eating our meal, we headed back north and west on Route 6 to the Old Owego Turnpike. I turned left and stayed to the left at the next sign for Grey Towers. I parked in the lower lot. Cindy took her fanny pack and I grabbed my camera as we started up the stairs toward the mansion. We stopped at the bathrooms at the entrance and then continue up the path to the mansion hoping to get in on the noon mansion tour. When we arrived, we waited in line and found that the noon tour was filled. I paid for the 1:00 PM tour using my senior citizens discount for the first time! Since we had about an hour to kill, we decided not to sit around but to do some walking around the grounds.

picture taken during a hike We walked around the back of the mansion and I took a few pictures of the impressive towers before walking up a set of steps looking for the Forest Adventure Trail. We walked up a paved roadway and found the sign indicating the trail but could not tell whether we were supposed to turn onto the trail at that point or continue up the pavement. We turned right and started walking on a well-groomed trail through a pine forest. We came to a gate that allowed us to pass through a high wire fence. The sign stated that people were allowed in but not deer. We walked along the trail ascending the hill using several switchbacks. The trail was pleasant but we didn't feel that sense of adventure. As the trail levels off at the top we came to a large canvas tent which is a recreation of how Yale Forestry students lived over 100 years ago. Further along several signs explained the diseases and parasites that are killing many of the trees. Just before we started back on the pavement, there was a wooden water tower partially collapsed at the side of the trail. This was the original water tower that supplied the mansion. We walked back down the hill and sued the steps to get back down to the mansion. Since we still had a few minutes before the tour, we walked won to the walled garden in front of the house. The wall now separates public and private property but through the gate we could see some magnificent urns. I took some pictures through the gate before we headed up to the east terrace to wait for the tour to begin. While waiting, I took pictures of the mansion from this vantage point as well as some pictures of the view. The tour guide appeared promptly at 1:00 PM and gave some interesting background information to our group of 24 people.

picture taken during a hike After completing her introduction, the guide led us around to the front of the house and through the massive oak door into the Great Hall. The room would have been very dark but had some artificial lighting and was very cool. We were allowed to look around before the guide began to explain the various features of the room and its furniture. I took some pictures and waited until the group started to me into the library to take a few more. The library was created by Cornelia Pinchot in the 1920's and has a more "modern" look than some of the other rooms. There were some very interesting original books and a lobe that is about 100 years old. Various pieces of furniture of different eras were in the room. Gifford Pinchot's study was a small room off to the side. I again took as many pictures as I could knowing that the lighting conditions were far from ideal. We then made our way to the sitting room which had several large couches and a huge fireplace. There was a small dining table but the family preferred to eat outdoors whenever possible. The walls had several murals with nautical themes which had to be completely restored after 1963 due to extensive water damage. Doors in the room led to the kitchen and pantry and to an elevator to the upper floors. We walked out the door and around to the side of the house where there was a patio originally constructed of marble. When the marble deteriorated it was replaced with granite which in turn in showing wear. In the center of the patio is a stone engraved with the outline of a ship. The ship is the Mary Pinchot which took the family on a South Seas adventure. From here we passed to a somewhat circular, raised pool about three feet above ground and 15 feet across. Chairs were set around the pool which was known as the "finger Bowl" and severed as the dining "table". Food was passed by floating it across the pool in wooden bowls! The whole was enclosed by a stone structure with a wooden frame over the top. This was covered in wisteria which was quiet impressive. Our final stop o the tour was outside the Letter Box a building used by Gifford Pinchot' staff when he was Governor of Pennsylvania. This building is now used for a series of film clips about the mansion and grounds. The Bait Box was constructed as a play house for the Pinchot family and is now being restored. Below the Bait box was a small forge to allow Gifford Bryce to practice his iron working skills. Leading from the Letter Box to the Bait Box is a long pool called the Long Garden. Water was leaking from the pool so it was drained and is being repaired. The guide also mentioned the immense European copper beech trees that Gifford Pinchot planted. The tour was very informative and we would like to go again when the upper two floors are open.

picture taken during a hike After completing the tour we walked down the lawn passed the moat where I took a few shots. We ended up passing through the amphitheater and walking to the upper part of the entrance building. I took some pictures from and of this vantage point before walking out the back. We turned right and followed the signs toward the Laurel Hill Cemetery which was the first cemetery for Milford. Many of the Pinchot family are buried here while some are interred at the newer cemetery. The grounds are fenced to keep the deer out and there is an extensive project in progress to identify both the marked and unmarked graves and to restore headstones whenever possible. We walked around looking at the graves stones and many "Possible site of an unmarked greave" markers. We also noticed some VERY tall oak trees whose first branches were very high off the ground. I continued to take a lot of pictures as we walked. Soon we had circled the grounds and headed back to the gate for the walk back to the car. The whole trip and tour had been worth the time and we would both go again. As we left Grey Towers, I suggested we head home on Route 6 and visit Shohola Falls and, to my surprise, Cindy agreed.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Bully Hill Rd to Hornell alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Friday, August 18th I awoke to my alarm at 5:30 AM to get ready to hike the easternmost section of Map 9 of the Finger Lakes Trail. Map 9 runs from Slader Creek Road southwest of Canaseraga to Hornell and has more north to south hiking than west to east. The forecast from the night before for the Hornell area showed an almost 40% chance of showers until 11:00 AM. The forecast remained the same in the morning but the radar seems to indicate a higher probability. Saturday looked better at least until the mid-afternoon so after much deliberation I decided to put the hike off until Saturday. I went back to bed but could not sleep and thought more an more about my decision. In the end I decided to go and take my chances. I got all my gear together while Sheila hovered around me making sure that she was going on the hike. I knew I would have to dress for the warm weather and put on my summer/fall pants and a light baselayer with my Columbia long-sleeved pullover shirt. I decided to try my Keen Glarus boots even though on a previous hike they had bruised my left ankle a little. I made sure I put in two full water bottles and had my water purifier with me. 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 7:30 AM, we headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was in the high 60's but I knew it would get warmer. The bigger concern was that it was raining all the way to Binghamton and beyond. I seriously considered turning around but stuck to my plan and the rain ended somewhere west of Corning. It seemed that it had not rain at all and the skies were sunny and bright blue with puffy white clouds. I stopped in Bath at 10:30 AM to get some gas and to call Village Taxi to pick me up in Hornell. He was already on another call but told me it would only be 15 minutes/ I continued west on 17/I86 and took exit 34 to Hornell. After getting off the exit I turned right on Route 66 and drove to the railroad tracks where I parked in the new parking area. I let Sheila out and walked her on her line for a few minutes and then went back to the car. Just as I was about to call, the taxi pulled up at 11:00 AM. He had another fare with him that we had to drop off in Hornell which did not thrill me. Fortunately the dropoff went smoothly and we were soon on Route 21 south To Almond. We turned west on Route 2 and the north on Bully Hill Road. As we drove north on the road I used my Avenza app to pinpoint the exact location of the trail which was .7 miles from Route 2. The driver took my money and I gave him a map of the next hike. I unloaded Sheila and my gear and got ready to start. The skies still looked good but it was hotter and very humid. I set my electronics including my Garmin GPS handheld and Suunto Traverse GPS watch. The trail began to climb immediately although not too steeply and it paralleled a stream which was almost dry. The trail was much drier than I had expected and even the muddy areas were drying out. I immediately notice that the trails were well maintained and well marked. This was a stark comparison to the poorly maintained and poorly marked trails on Map 10 to the east in Steuben County! At 1.0 mile we crossed Karr Road and continued on an old woods road on the other side. The trail was well-marked and level and it was a pleasure to walk through the woods.

picture taken during a hike The trail started to descend traveling east and ENE toward Bishopville Road. There were a few places on the descent that could have been marked better and a long stretch where the trail builders chose to sidehill rather than pick a woods road. Along the way I took my first pictures of an interesting orange fungus. The trail descended steeply at times following an old barbed wire fence until we reached Bishopville Road at 2.1 miles. It seemed that we were making good time which made me happy since we had gotten a late start. We had lost 440 feet since the top of the hill and I knew we would have to regain some of that along the hike. We turned left on the road and walked north crossing a creek on a road bridge. Just passed the bridge was the FLT sign and some white blazes but the trail was a mass of weeds. We pushed our way through until the trail entered the woods where it was more clearly defined. The trail headed north but only for .4 miles where it met a dirt road used by the highway department. We turned left on the road and continued to walk downhill to the intersection with Bishopville Road and Wislon Karr Road. We made a hard right onto Wilson Karr Road which had a road sign. The map description stated that it was a dirt road but it was paved for its entire length. We walked due north and uphill before starting down the other side. I stopped to take some pictures of the green countryside and the blue sky with interesting white clouds. We continued down the hill to Bishopville Road which was not marked with a sign and did not have any FLT blazes! We turned right and started to walk north to Pennsylvania Hill Road, The walk was only .8 miles and was downhill but the sun beating down on us made it feel longer. My watch said the temperature was over 80 degrees and I believed it! We turned right on Pennsylvania Hill Road which, true to its name, was an uphill climb. I kept getting hotter but promised myself we would get a drink once we were back on the trail in the woods. It was about .4 miles up the hill until the trail cut into the woods on the left. We walked up a little hill into the trees and it immediately was noticeably cooler with a slight breeze. I stopped and gave Sheila water and drank quite a bit myself. We continued on the trail as it wound through some brush and then began to climb gently in the woods. At 4.8 miles a path led to the left to the edge of a field. We walked out and I took some more pictures of the fields and the sky. Around 5.1 miles we crossed another woods road or farm lane and continued along a woods road in the forest. I noticed that there were no blazes and backtracked a few steps to find the turn I had missed. Eventually the trail started to open up and I could see a field ahead. The trail was choked with weeds but we got to the field where I saw a tree with a blaze to the left. We turned left and walked uphill along the edge of the field following the path to Fitzgerald Road. The trail was direct across from us so we crossed the road an continued on the trail.

picture taken during a hike After crossing Fitzgerald Road our troubles began. The trail was not well defined or maintained and was poorly marked in many places. We had crossed from Allegany County into Steuben County and I wondered if that made any difference. Within a short distance the white blazes disappeared completely. I noticed some orange ribbons that are sometimes used for trail reroutes and followed them to the blazes. Next we came to a field where the blazes seemed to indicate a left turn to walk along the edge of the field. There were some old and faded blazes along the edge of the field but it was not clear exactly where the trail was located. My Sheila CPS chose to walk to the left into then high grass which was fortunate since that is where the trail was located. We walked in the woods for a while and then came to another field with no indication of where to go. I caught a glimpse of a white blaze at the northern edge of the field so we headed through the tall grass to the blaze which brought us to a woods road heading east. At 6.7 miles we began to cross some small stream or one stream several times. The map mentioned beaver ponds and a electric fence but we saw neither. After the third crossing, we walked up a steep bank to Webb Road at 6.8 miles. We turned left on Webb Road and then right on Doorley Road to cross over I86. At 7.2 miles we turned left on Route 66 which had a lot of traffic. We walked uphill on the shoulder to the top of a small hill and then down the other side to 7.6 miles. We quickly and carefully crossed the road to head south on what the FLT map described as a tractor lane. This lane was covered in weeds which had not been cut making the climb even more difficult. I stooped in the shade to take a last drink for the final push over the hill. At 8.0 miles the trail entered the woods which eliminated the weed problem and turned east. It continued to climb reaching a little over 1700 feet at 8.25 miles. From the high point the trail descended for .7 miles to the railroad tracks. The elevation drop was 540 feet which made the descent rather steep which bothered my already hot and aching feet. I wondered it the light Zamberlain Airbounds would have been a better idea. The trail was reasonably well-marked but could have used a few more blazes in spots. Just before the tracks, the trail opened up some and we again had to fight our way through weeds, brush and briars. We crossed the tracks carefully and I took a few pictures before turning left on the rail trail to walk back to the car. The rail trail follows the railbed of the old Pittsburg Shawmut and Northern RR for .7 miles back to the parking area near Route 66. Walking the flat rail trail was easy but very boring. This is an example of taking the trail off the road but adding little value to the experience. The 2 mile stretch of trail "avoided" a .7 mile walk along Route 66! We were back at the car at 3:40 PM having hiked 9.7 miles in 4 hours and 15 minutes with only 15 minutes of stopped time. Our overall average was 2.3 mph and we had 1600 feet of ascent but 2005 feet of descent on this one-way hike. We encountered no rain but the temperature was 88 degrees as we pulled out of Hornell.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise AllTrails - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise CalTopo - Neversink Unique Northcaltopo  icon Gmap4 - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise MapMyHike - Neversink Unique Denton Mullet Counterclockwise On Wednesday, August 16th, I wanted to do a hike close to home with my grandson Bryce. Cindy said she wanted to go also so I picked the Neversink Unique Area from Katrina Falls Road since it is a relatively short drive and is around 5 miles of hiking. Also, Bryce had not been there before and I thought the two waterfalls might interest him. Bryce arrived and seemed very enthusiastic about the hike. We got our gear together and left home at 10:30 AM. 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 was one other car in the parking area and that had a DEC logo on the door. As we were about to leave another car pulled up. Eventually the driver and assenter got out to look at the map on the kiosk. The man asked me about the trails and I gave him the best advice I could based on what they were wearing and the time they had to hike. I set my GPS and 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 low 70's and the breeze made it seem a little colder. As we walked down the hill passed the trail register, I got out a small voice recorder I had recently purchased. It is a 4 GB USB drive with a microphone and an On-Off switch. It starts to record when you switch it on and saves a WAV file each time you turn it off. The WAV files can be played on your computer. It is very basic and very easy to use. 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 not as high as I had expected so I did not stop to take pictures. The condition of the bridge continues to deteriorate and soon will be impassable. . 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. The bridge has been replaced with a new one that has a pair of steel I-beams as its main support and should last a long time. We stopped and I took a few pictures of the bridge and the stream. I also posed Cindy, Bryce and Sheila for a couple of shots. 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 wet and muddy. The river was at medium volume and the falls were making some noise as I dropped my pack and started to take some pictures. Sheila seemed smart enough not to try to jump into the 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 on Bryce sat on a rock and ate a snack. The falls are hardly three feet high but the volume of water made the trip worthwhile. Just before we were getting ready to start back up the trail, a fisherman appeared and Sheila had a fit. I apologized to the startled man and he was very understanding. I informed Sheila that this was not acceptable behavior. We headed back up the spur trail to the main trail with Bryce lagging just a bit. At the top we turned right. At the trail junction I asked Bryce which way he wanted to go. After I informed him that the right fork led to High Falls which adds about 4 miles round trip to the hike, he decided the left fork was the better choice! After a brief walk uphill, we turned left onto the short trail down to Mullet Brook Falls and immediately met a couple chime up from the falls. They said it was their first time and that the falls were nice. 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 taking Bryce with me. Sheila had already run ahead and was cavorting in the water. I took some shots of the falls and the pool below. There was enough water to make it interesting but far less than I had hoped for. Eventually it was time to leave. I put away my camera and shouldered 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 show bridge the beginning of the large swamp on the right. 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. As we started to walk downhill Bryce said "that's a relief!" 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. None of us were enthusiastic about the uphill walk back to the car. We arrived at the parking area at 1:55 PM. We hiked 4.7 miles in 2 hours and 55 minutes including the stops at the two falls. The vertical gain was only about 980 feet.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails AllTrails - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails MapMyHike - Frick and Hodge Ponds - Quick Lake and Flynn Trails On Monday, August 14th I decided that I wanted to go for another hike and Brad was also up for a walk. The weather for the rest of my week was looking variable with showers or moderators possible on several days. We had been up for ambulance calls the night before so we got up rather late. After eating breakfast, we got our gear ready and got dressed. Sheila sniffed our clothes and immediately knew we were hiking. She began to run around the house bouncing against the furniture but always keeping a close eye on us. We put our gear in the car and an exited Sheila in the back seat and drove out the DeBruce Road a little before 10:30 AM. At Mongaup Pond Road I turned left and continued to follow the road bearing left onto Beech Mountain Road at the fork. When we arrived in the parking area there were two other cars parked in the bigger lot. Sheila was acting as if she hadn't hiked in a month as she ran around and headed for the trail. The temperature was in the low 70's but the humidity seemed a little high. The skies were sunny and blue with some white clouds. We headed out the path to the register on Quick Lake Trail at about 11:45 AM. The Quick Lake Trail was very wet with a lot of muddy spots which we tried to avoid. Just before the register we looked up to see a young couple walking toward us with a very small dog on a leash. The dog started to make a lot of noise when it saw Sheila so they picked it up as we passed. At Gravestone Junction we turned left to head down to Frick Pond. The water level in the pond was low due to the fact that someone had completely pulled out the beaver dam across the outlet stream. The DEC angers and the wildlife division claim no knowledge of this action so my conclusion is that someone is doing this on their own for reasons I cannot understand! I hope the beavers rebuild the dam quickly and someone catches these vandals in the act. I stopped to tale a few pictures including some of the destroyed dam. We continued on the Quick Lake Trail around the pond bearing left at the next trail junction to stay on the red trail. This part of the trail was very wet even in places where it did not look wet. We were setting a fast pace despite having to avid the water and the mud. We soon came to the "pine promenade" and the little stream through the woods. This water level in the stream was higher than it had been and Sheila was able to get a drink and take a "dip". She immediately began a mad dash up and won the trail at a very high speed. As we continued along the trail we removed some small branches and a few large ones until we arrived at Iron Wheel Junction at 1.6 miles. We turned left on the Quick Lake Trail and started the long uphill climb toward Junkyard Junction. The trail continued to be wet along the way with evidence that a large volume of water had been flowing down the trail. At 3.2 miles we arrived at Junkyard Junction and turned right onto the blue Flynn Trail. The Flynn Trail is almost flat and on this day it was wet and muddy in many spots. There were no major blowdowns but I continued to remove branches that littered the trail. The entire trail does need to have some branches lopped to make a clear path. When we got to the gate, we turned right to stay on the trail and head down toward Hodge Pond. At 3.75 miles the Flynn Trail heads right and we follows it toward the outlet end of Hodge Pond.

picture taken during a hike This part of the Flynn Trail which is a woods road had less water than other places but was very muddy. It looked like OSI had decided to smooth out the trail by using a grader to dig it up and level it off. The problem is that this removed all the grass that held the dirt together and left behind an unpacked dirt surface. This surface absorbed a lot of water to form a see of mud! We did our best to stay to the side of the trail until we got to the clearing at the end. The field was also wet and after walking through it the trail again had been "improved" and was very muddy. The open field is the spot where the mess hall and family camping area for the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp once stood. After negotiating the mud, we came to the clearing at the outlet end of the pond. We walked over to the shore so that I could take a few pictures. Sheila immediately jumped into the water and after taking a few shots I found a stick. I threw the stick into the water and Sheila immediately retrieved it. On the second throw I got a little more distance and the stick promptly sunk. Sheila swam around and around trying to find it before coming back to shore. We turned around and continued on the Flynn Trail climbing up the hill. I was feeling quite fresh and concentrated on using my poles to help set a quick pace up the hill. Brad is younger and did not seem to be having a problem on the ascent. At the top of the hill we stayed to the right to continue on the Flynn Trail. A left turn follows a woods road out to what remains of the Beech Mountain Boy Scout Camp. Just after the turn there was a small tree across the trail. We tried to move it but it wouldn't budge. We broke some branches off and I made a note to return with a saw. The Flynn Trail is relatively flat to the junction with the Big Rock Trail at 4.5 miles. We continued straight through this junction to follow the Flynn Trail back to the car. The walk is pretty but has no remarkable views or features so we walked quickly. As we approached the gate on the woods road, we turned left to avoid the private property around the cabin and to stay on the trail. On a previous trip I had cleared and reblazed the old trail and I could see that it was easy to follow. We finished our walk and were back at the car by 2:25 PM. We had covered 6.2 miles in 2 hours and 35 minutes with an elevation gain of 900 feet. Our average overall speed was 2.4 mph and we had stopped for less than 5 minutes. We covered the last 1.7 miles in 36 minutes for a speed just under 3 mph.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Long Pond (Big Loop) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Sunday, August 13th I wanted to get for a hike close to home after church in the morning. Krista and Brad were staying with us for a few days and we went to eat at Madison's after church. This meant we got a late start to go on a hike. I asked Brad if he wanted to go and he said "Yes". It's always fun to hike with Brad because he is a great guy and we have a lot in common despite the age difference. I decided to head for Long Pond as I had not been there in some time. I thought doing the big loop in a counterclockwise direction would be long enough but get us back for dinner on time. The recent weather had included some rain so I knew the trails might be wet. When we left the house at about 2:15 the skies were partly sunny and the temperature was in the low 70's. I got Sheila in the car and we put our gear in the trunk 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. Sheila had not hiked in two days and she was ready to go when we got to the parking lot. I set my GarminGPS and we started out on the trail at 2:35 PM. There was a slight breeze and the humidity seemed manageable so there weren't too many insects around to bother us. There was one truck in the parking area with a trailer as we crossed the bridge and headed up the hill. Right from the start the trail was wet and muddy and we walked to the side in several places to avoid the wettest spots. 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! At 1.1 miles we were at the spur trail that leads down to the shore of Long Pond. We turned right and went down to the pond so that I could take some pictures. At the shores of the pond I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take some pictures. Sheila tried to follow me through the mud but we discouraged her. The skies were very blue with towering, puffy, white clouds so I snapped a few pictures before going back to my pack. We returned to the main trail and turned right at the first trail junction at 1.3 miles. By 3:25 PM 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. This part of the trail was also very wet and there were some pretty large "ponds" on the trail. There were also some muddy areas which we tried to avoid. We turned left on the woods road and followed the road until the intersection with Basily Road at 2.85 miles. The roads were wet and a little muddy in spots. 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 the bridge seemed to be almost superfluous with weeds growing around it. The bridge is starting to show its age and is not in good shape. I stopped to take some pictures before we continued on the trail. I took a few shots of the beaver pond and marsh. We continued on the main trail to the bridge and found it blocked with 2 by 4's with the remaining gate closed. The deck of the bridge is showing a lot of wear with some rotting boards. We crossed the stream to continue the trip back to the car. The ford downstream of the bridge looked like it had been getting a lot of use by vehicles but the water can be a little deep and wide for foot traffic. It was not clear whether the bridge will be replaced or not! As we started up the little hill from the hunting camp, I took a few shots of the valley which looked peaceful with the nice skies behind it. From this point on the roads are packed dirt and gravel and they were dry which made hiking faster. We kept a fast pace on the roads and eventually the road became paved. I had forgotten Sheila's leash but she stayed near us as we walked quickly down the road back to the parking area without meeting anyone. The pickup with the trailer was gone but there were now three or four other cars in the lot. We were back at the car at 5:00 PM having hiked 6.0 miles in 2 hours and 25 minutes. The elevation gain was only about 525 feet most of which was at the beginning of the hike.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Hornell to Upper Glen Ave alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Thursday, August 10th I wanted to hike the remaining section of Map 10 of the Finger Lakes Trail. Map 10 runs from Hornell to Hughes Road south of Howard, NY. I had already hiked from Upper Glen Ave and Lain Road to Hughes Road and Turnpike Road so the reaming section was from The parking area near the railroad tracks in Hornellsville to Upper Glen Ave. The distance is only 5.1 miles so I planned to hike out and back. I planned to get up at 5:30 AM and get going as soon as possible. The forecast was for temperatures reaching into the low 80's with sun in the morning giving way to clouds. Much of the hike appeared to be on roads which would make it go faster as I planned to hike out and back on the same route. I woke up a little earlier than 5:30 AM and got ready to go. I knew I would have to dress for the weather and put on my summer/fall pants and a light baselayer with my Columbia long-sleeved pullover shirt. On the hike two days before my Keen Glarus boots had bruised my left ankle a little making it painful to wear high boots. My choice was to put off the hike or wear low shoes. I chose to wear a pair of Zamberlain Airound GTX trail shoes which are cut low enough to prevent further irritation of my foot. I made sure I had taken out the footbeds and put in my Superfeet Green insoles to stop my overpronation. Sheila was anxious to get going as she had not been out in three days. I made sure I put in two full water bottles and had my water purifier with me. 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 6:00 AM, we headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the high 50's but I knew it would get warmer. After a long drive, I took exit 34 to Hornell. After getting off the exit I turned right on Route 66 and looked for a parking spot. I had to drive all the way to the railroad tracks where I found a new paring area with plenty of room. When I consulted the map and the Avenza app I found that this was exactly the place I was supposed to be! I turned on my Suunto Traverse watch which found satellites immediately. When I turned on my Garmon GPSmap 64st, it had trouble finding satellites. I waited but it was still having problems so I put it in my backpack assuming it would straighten itself out en route. I compared my printed map which I had photocopied from an old set of FLT maps to the newer map on Avenza and found a major change. Instead of hiking on the roads there was now a trail that avoided some of the road walk. This was good news and bad news as it is more fun to hike on trails but also more difficult which translates into a longer hike. We started off by hiking east on Route 66 to a traffic light on Route 36. We crossed the intersection and continued on Route 66 looking for a turn on Seneca Road North. There were no blazes so I overshot the turn by a little. We walked back to the intersection and turned south to hike along Seneca Road North crossing a branch of the Canisteo River. At .9 miles we turned left into the driveway of the Econolodge to hike the section of trail that eliminated the road walk.

picture taken during a hike As we walked up the driveway there were some blazes on the trees and poles to follow. We continued to the right of the motel on paved road and then the blazes disappeared. I chose to continue up the hill and found a blaze behind some vines on a pole. We walked up the hill passing the Hornell Water Filtration plant and a large water tank farther up the hill. I was able to let Sheila off her leash which pleased us both. At this point my Garmon GPS had been beeping as it found and lost satellites so I turned it off and decided to rely on the Suunto watch. We continued up the hill which was challenging but not very difficult. There were places where other roads branched off but the trail was clearly marked until we got to the top of the hill. I continued straight ahead while Sheila turned left into the woods. Sheila was correct as we followed the trail through a bower. We headed generally northeast and the east through mixed hardwood and evergreen trees and at 1.7 miles hit the highest point on this section. We had gained 480 feet in .8 miles and now started to descend toward Route 70A. We were on a wide woods road but as I looked ahead I saw no blazes. I noticed a well-worn path to the left but did not see any blazes for a turn. I looked ahead and saw white blazes and then looked at the trees on the woods road to find some faded and hidden blazes for the turn. At 1.8 miles we turned right and began the descent through the woods. This turn is NOT mentioned on the description that comes with the map. When we arrived at Route 70A, I put Sheila on her leash and we turned right to walk down the road. I knew we had to turn left but at the first road I did not see any blazes. At the next road there was an FLT sign and blazes. At 2.4 miles we made a hard left and started up the hill on Beltz Road. After a short distance the trail turned to the left off the road following an old woods road. The road began to parallel a streambed but there was little or no water in the stream. There were wide gullies that seemed to have been cut by a lot of running water but none was present on this day. There was even a pretty good sized bridge on the trail. The trail had few blazes and there were a lot of blowdowns and branches that no one had bothered to remove but the worst was yet to come. As the woods road opened up a little weeds and briars completely blocked the trail. I was lucky to have Sheila along as she led me through this mess. I beat back the vegetation the best I could while ducking under low-hanging trees. It was obvious no one had done any maintenance on this part of the trail this year and perhaps not for several years. We ducked back into the woods and then at 3.5 miles we turned right on a farm lane. The lane headed south until 3.7 miles when it turned east. At 4.0 miles it turned south and met up with Dewey Road. Hiking along the lane and Dewey Road there were some nice views to the north and cornfields on both sides of the road. Dewey Road met Upper Glen Road at 4.7 miles where we turned right and walked uphill passed some houses to the highest point on the hike at 4.8 miles. From here we walked down Upper Glen Avenue to the intersection with Lain Road at 5.1 miles. This complete the out part of the hike.

picture taken during a hike We stopped for a few minutes at the intersection so that I could get a drink and let Sheila have one. I also ate a bar since it was almost 11:30 AM and I had last eaten at 6:00 AM. I got out my Garmin GPS and turned it on but it was still having problems finding satellites. I tried a few different settings and found one that worked so I reset it and put it in my pack for the trip back. We turned around and headed back up the hill on Upper Glen Avenue retracing our steps to Dewey Road. I stopped on the corner to take a few pictures and then we continued to the farm lanes through the fields with a problem. We turned left into the woods and started back down the hill on the woods road. Going downhill through the weeds that clogged the trail was easier but I stop to take some pictures of the mess. When we cleared the weeds, I stopped to check my watch and the Garmin GPS unit. The Garmin was working fine but the watch had stopped recording the trail at the corner of Dewey Road and Upper Glen Avenue. I hoped that I could piece together tracks from the two units to get one that represented the whole hike. This failure of electronic devices illustrates why all hikers should carry printed maps and a standard compass. All hikers should also know how to use these two invaluable aids. We continued down the woods road stopping to take a few pictures at the bridge. We came out on Beltz Road and hiked down to the intersection with Route 70A at the base of the hill. I decided we would walk the roads back as it was warm but not really hot. The walk back on the roads was only 2.5 miles and was downhill or flat the whole way. I put Sheila on her leash and turned left onto Route 70A at 7.7 miles. It was only .9 miles to Seneca Road North and the walk seemed to go very quickly. We turned right and started to hike back toward Hornellsville. The road had a wide shoulder in most places and we kept a good pace. We passed the Econolodge, crossed the river and at 9.6 miles turned left onto Route 66. We walked back to the car arriving at 1:25 PM. I put Sheila in the car and my gear in the back. I took a few pictures of the rail trail and the railroad tracks. We had hiked 10.5 miles in 4 hours and 10 minted with an elevation gain of 1400 feet. Our overall average was 2.4 mph with a moving average of 2.8 mph. We did the last 2.5 miles in 44 minutes for a speed of 3.3 mph! I will now have to decide how I will hike the rest of the rail as 6 hours of driving is too much driving.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon FLT Upper Glen Ave to Hughes Rd alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, August 8th I wanted to hike the Finger Lakes Trail again so I looked at Map 10 which is immediately to the west of the section I had just complete. Map 10 runs from Hornell to Hughes Road south of Howard, NY. When I saw that the distance was 15.7 miles I knew it might take three trips. 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 decided to call Village Taxi in Bath as they had given me rides for a very reasonable cost last year. When I called, I got the owner, Mike Weaver, who remembered me from last fall. He said he would be happy to pick me up at Hughes Road and drop me off at the intersection of Upper Glen Avenue and Laine Road near Hornell. I told him 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 5:30 AM and get going as soon as possible. The forecast was for temperatures reaching into the mid 70's with fog and cloudy skies in the morning but clearing as the day went on. I woke up a little earlier than 5:30 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 Columbia long-sleeved pullover shirt. I took along a light rain jacket but did not expect to use it. I wore my newer pair of Keen Glarus which seem to work as well as any shoe but tend to be not as waterproof as I would like. I had just treated them with NikWax which I hoped would do the trick as it had just rained and I expected wet and muddy trails and wet grass . I made sure I had taken out the Keen footbeds and put in my Superfeet Green insoles to stop my overpronation. Sheila was anxious to get going as she had not been out in three days. I made sure I put in two full water bottles and had my water purifier with me. 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 6:00 AM, we headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the high 50's but I knew it would get warmer. After a long drive, I took exit 38 to Bath and stopped to get gas and call the taxi company. When Mr. Weaver answered, I told him I was in Bath and he told me he was already waiting for me at the pickup point. It took me a few minutes to plan my route and set the GPS. I went back out to I86 and took it to exit 35 for Howard. From there I headed south on Route 27 to Turnpike Road. I turned left on Turnpike road and drove less than a mile to Hughes Rd where I found the taxi waiting. I said "hello" and put my gear in the taxi. I led Sheila over and she got right in and after a few words of encouragement laid down for the trip to out drop off point. We headed west on Turnpike Road and as we drove it seemed like a long ride. I almost told the driver to let us off at a closer drop off but knew I could hike the 11 miles. We turned right on Laine Road and drove to the intersection with Upper Glen road. I did not see the sign for the Finger Lakes Trail but knew I could find it. I paid the $18 fee plus a tip which I thought was very reasonable. I got Sheila and my gear out of the taxi and said "good bye". It is an interesting feeling watching the taxi pull away knowing the only choice is to hike back to the car. I set my Garmin GPSMAP64st handheld GPS and my Suunto Traverse GPS watch. I decided not to record the track on my iPhone to save the battery. I would use the Avenza app on the phone to locate my position on the Finger Lakes Trail.

picture taken during a hike We started our hike at 9:45 AM by hiking east on Lain road a short distance and then turning right or south into the woods. There was a nice pine plantation here and I would have stopped to take pictures but I was to anxious to get into the hike. The skies were very dark and there was a stiff breeze. I hoped the forecast of no rain would hold! We walked into a hardwood forest and downhill crossing Lower Glen Road and .5 miles and then starting an ascent toward Turnpike Road. We broke into a field and continued to walk uphill with some nice views except for the clouds and fog. I decided to take a few shots and stopped in the field at about 1.2 miles. After taking a few pictures we continued through the wet grass and turned into the woods just before Turnpike Road. After a brief walk in the pines, we came out on Turnpike Road where I put Sheila on her leash so that we could walk east to Laine Road. We turned south on Laine Road and began to ascend to a hilltop. A little after the turn I noticed an interesting tree on the other side of the road and took a few pictures. I noticed that the long, straight road was interesting and that the skies were still dark and cloudy in one direction but clearing to the north. I stopped to take a few pictures and get a drink before continuing downhill to the next turn. At 2.4 miles we turned left off Laine Road heading east through the woods descending through a hardwood forest. When we reached Cunningham Creek Road we had traveled .6 miles from Laine Road and lost 400 feet of elevation. The FLT emerged next to Cider Creek Hard Cider in Canisteo but I could see no indication of where the trail went from there. After consulting the map and the description, I turned right on the road and walked less than .1 miles to the point where the FLT turns left on an ATV trail. This is just one of the many examples of the poor markings on the trail since I had to look at papers to find out where the trail went. More of these situations were to come! The ATV track was one of the steeper climbs on the hike at 19% but it only lasted about .2 miles. I missed the turn for the trial and continued up the woods road for a short distance. I didn't see any blazes but the FLT has the attitude that if you are on a woods road then there will be very few blazes. When I couldn't find any blazes, I consulted Avenza and backtracked down the hill where the trail turned left. The trail followed Cunningham Creek for about a mile with the creek far below and to the west. At 4.2 miles we turned right onto a logging road and started uphill before turning left on another woods road which seemed flat but was slightly uphill. We passed a tree that was across the trail and had been cut by a chainsaw. The tree had some ribbons on it and as I passed I found they might be a warning. Where the tree had been cut I could see an extensive honeycomb with bees still using it! I imagined that cutting into this was quite a surprise for the sawyer. The trails had been damp and muddy in places until now but the logging road was very wet with many areas of deep mud. It wasn't very pleasant to hike along this and I was glad that it soon ended when the trail came to a field. I continued to follow the road out into the field even though I did not see any blazes. I wasn't too concerned since it is difficult to put blazes in fields. After few minutes, I consulted Avenza and could see we were off the trail. We walked back to the point where the trail came out of the woods and found some faded blazes indicating a turn to the left. We followed the blazes as they led us through the woods very near the edge of some fields and up toward Windfall Road. This trail was poorly marked and the showed little signs of use. There was almost no track to follow so I let Sheila lead the way. At 5.3 miles we came to Windfall Road as described on the map and found some nice views. I took out my camera and took a few shots and also got a drink and a bar.

picture taken during a hike We crossed Windfall Road and walked along the edge of a field until we entered the woods and turned left following the trail. We were now headed east and crossed Burt Hill Road at 5.6 miles traveling along the northern boundary of Burt Hill State Forest. We entered another red pine plantation and I stopped to take a few shots of the tall, straight trees. The trail was muddy and there were a lot of roots along the way. The trail began to descend and at 6.2 miles we passed the spur trail to the right to a lean-to. At 6.4 miles we crossed South Woods Road and continued straight ahead on Spencer Hill Road which is a seasonal use road. I was getting tired of climbing so I put Sheila on her leash and let her pull me to the top of the hill. When we reached the top of the hill the wind farm came into view and I stopped to take some pictures. A little farther along ion the right was a small "park" with some signs explaining how the wind farm operated. We were at the highest point on the hike and now continued down the hill passing a farmhouse on the left. The trail continued to follow Spenser Hill Road until just before it met Stephens Gulch Road. The trail went off the road to the left following a shady path next to a creek. As we neared Stephens Gulch Road I heard a snort and looked up to see a horse walking over to the fence to see what we were doing. I looked a little to the left and saw some goat faces looking down at use. Next to a barn was a shaggy burro looking at us with interest. I took pictures of the menagerie and then continued down to the road. I didn't see any blazes so I asked two men working by a barn it the farm lane ahead of me was the trail. They confirmed my choice and told me there was a well with water a little farther along. Since we had descended over 550 feet from the top of Spender Hill, I knew there was some climbing to do to get back to the car. When we came to the well, I wasn't going to stop but decided to fill my one almost empty bottle. The water was cold and very refreshing. We continued up the farm lane until it met Burleson Road where we turned left. There were some nice views here so I took a few more shots before turning right on the trail. The trail followed a path cut through a brushy field until it again entered the woods. From this point on the trail was poorly maintained and poorly marked. There were few blazes and they seemed to be randomly spread through the woods. There was almost no path to follow as the trail had not been cleared of branches and looked much like the rest of the forest. At 8.8 miles the trail came out of the woods to a junction where paths led in three directions. A blaze indicated a turn but I could not find any more blazes. Finally I let Sheila lead me and she found the trail without a problem. The turn was more than 90 degrees and was the least obvious of the choices.

picture taken during a hike We were now headed east walking uphill on a steep but short ascent through the forest. At 9 miles the trail turned north and began to follow the contour lines so there was less climbing. In about a quarter mile the trail came out to an open area with mowed paths. There were, again, several ways to go but no blazes to guide us. I turned right but found no trail. I tried going left and then right on the paths and finally found a blaze. We walked along the edge of the field until the mowed path started to curve to the right. This didn't seem like the right way so I walked back to a break in the woods. I started to walk down this path even though there were only some ribbons and no blazes. After a short distance, there were white blazes and we again started to follow the trail. At 9.5 miles we descended to a small stream where a blaze indicated a right turn. The trail was completely washed out and no blazes were visible on the other side. I guessed right and found a blaze to follow which led us along the west bank of a stream. The trail turned north briefly and then at 9.6 miles it turned east continuing toward Hughes Road. We wandered through the woods trying to find blazes until we made it out to the road at 10.1 miles. The sun was hot and we still had to walk north on Hughes Road to the car. The last .35 miles were downhill or flat and seemed to go quickly. We were back at the car at 3:10 PM after hiking 10.5 miles on the trails or a total of 11.3 miles including the misdirections. The hike had taken 5 hours and 20 minutes with 48 minutes of stopped time. The elevation gain was 2244 feet which surprised me as there were no large climbs. I hope to complete this map soon and then will have to decide what to do next as the drive time is getting too long!

On Saturday, August 5th, I had planned to attend a hiking pole demonstration at Morgan Outdoors and then go with the group for a short hike on Round Top. This all changed when I read a news release from the DEC that said a hiker was lost. The 60 year old man had left his home on Dry Brook Ridge on Tuesday morning apparently headed into the Big Indian Wilderness which covers 33,500 acres and is bounded by the Slide Mountain Wilderness and Balsam Lake Wild Forest. On Tuesday at about 6:30 PM the hiker used his cell phone to call 911 in Delaware County. The control center could not determine the hiker's location and turned the information over to the DEC. Searchers began to look for the hiker who was reported last seen around the Seager Trailhead at the end of Dry Brook Road. The search continued through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday directed by the Forest Rangers with members of local fire departments and search teams assisting. Search teams from as far away as Gloversville joined the search. I texted one of the rangers in charge on Saturday morning and asked if they could use another searcher. He texted me back almost immediately and I got my gear ready and headed for Margaretville. I arrived at the Margaretville Fire Department at about 10:30 AM. I reported to the ranger who introduced me to my operant who is the Assistant Forest Ranger at Alder Lake. She is 21 years old and a senior at ESF in Syracuse and I immediately wondered if I could keep up with her and how we would work together. I will say right now that this young lady was a pleasure to work with and a great hiking companion. We drove from Margaretville east on Route 28 to Route 47 and turned right. We passed Clove Road and McKenley Hollow Road and turned right on Burnham Hollow Road. I had never been on this road as there are no trails and some of the area is private property. We drove to the end of Burnham Road where the private "trails" begin and continued straight ahead on the Huron Trail to where we thought we belonged. I turned on my GPS unit and found we should have parked right at the end of Burnham Road. We drove back to that parking spot and got out of the car. It wasn't completely clear where we should go but we decided to start on the road marked as the Algonquin Trail. We turned right to follow the road which led us passed two houses on the right and then ended at the edge of the forest.

We began to bushwhack through the woods following no path or trail in particular. We knew we had to parallel the stream but gain elevation to make it to the ridge where Eagle Mountain is located. At times we found some woods roads and followed them as far as we could. At one point we ran out of paths and ran into a sea of nettles at least two feet tall. We decided to gain some elevation and headed up and slightly north. We eventually found a path under the trees which limited the amount of nettles. The going was slow because of the heavy brush, downed trees and numerous drainages we had to work around. We stopped to get a drink at about 12:55 PM and each of us ate a protein bar. I was beginning to feel each step and tried to drink as much as I could. We started in again walking through high weeds and over and under large trees lying on the ground. We tried to head west but the ground kept getting steeper. From 1.5 miles to 2.0 miles the grade averaged 23%. Just after this there was a short and flatter area and then a climb up a 42% grade. At this point we were about half a mile from the Pine Hill-West Branch trail that passes by Eagle Mountain but we had at least 700 feet to climb in this short distance. We decided to backtrack and see if there was an easier way up to the ridge. My partner turned on her radio and we almost immediate heard "the subject has been located. It is unconfirmed." Minutes later we got the confirmation and the call to return but there was no indication of whether the hiker was dead or alive! We started back with partner leading. She was able to stay almost exactly on the track we had taken on the way out but avoided some of the worst nettles on the return trip. We found a few more woods roads we could follow and were able to drop down to the level of the stream since we no longer had to stay on the ridge. Soon we could see houses and we walked back out to the Algonquin Trail. We talked to a resident and them walked back to the car. We had hiked about 5 miles in 4 hours and 10 minutes with an elevation gain of 1620 feet! We drove back to the fire house and parked. We were immediately told that the hiker had walked out of the woods on his own to Hiram Todd Road near which is just off Dry Brook Road near the Segar Trailhead. He was without shoes and a little confused but we were told his vital signs were good. We went upstairs to the command post for a quick debriefing and so that my GPS could be downloaded. I ate a tasty burrito supplied by the Salvation Army and grabbed two Powerades before heading home. We were all very happy at the outcome.

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 Thursday, August 3rd, I decided I wanted to get out and hike close to home after attending the men's bible study in the morning. The forecast was for thunderstorms in the afternoon so I decided to get going as son as possible. I got my gear together and left the house at 9:15 AM heading for Frick Pond. As always Sheila was in the back seat pretending we hadn't hiked in a month! There were no cars in the lot when we parked at 9:30 AM. The temperature was 66 degrees when we crossed the road to the Flynn Trail at 9:35 AM. We started up the Flynn Trail and turned right on the woods road when we came out of the woods. The grass was wet and it was obvious that the recent rains had hit this area hard. Sheila was having a great time running around on the trail and taking little side trips off the trail. She was easily getting too far ahead of me and then heading off the hiking trail to follow animal tracks. We began to climb the long hill to the junction of the Flynn Trail and the Big Rock Trail. I kept a steady pace thinking about my sermon for church and the walk seemed really short. We 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. It was 10:15 Am when we turned left and started down the Big Rock Trail toward Times Square. There were a few branches on the trail that I picked up and threw to the side. My feet were beginning to get pretty damp since there were several patches of very wet grass along the way. The walk down the Big Rock Trail to Times Square is 1.1 miles and the elevation drop is 570 feet. We were at Times Square at 10:40 AM under bright and sunny skies. The area around Times Square was very wet and muddy with most of the water draining down the hill from the Logger's Loop. We turned right and started up the yellow blazed Logger's Loop which continued to be wet.

picture taken during a hike 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. I walks over to take a few pictures of this area which looked much like a field of ferns. I put my pack down and got out the camera. After taking two pictures, I realized I was covered with mosquitoes and there were more hovering waiting to land. I quickly packed up and left not even taking time to put on some insect repellant. We continued along the trail and I found the insects were following me. The trail continued to be wet and muddy which apparently was what the insects liked! I looked down at my arms and they were even biting me through my long-sleeved shirt! Eventually I got to a slightly drier spot and applied some natural insect repellant. I continued along the trail and was surprised that the repellant actually worked. We came across a small tree with some branches across the trail and I decided that I would removed it. I took some "before" pictures and then started to cut the blowdown. I cut three branches off and moved tem off the trail. I cut another piece of the trunk and threw it off the trail. It really only took a few minutes to clear the branches and we continued on our hike after I took some "after" shots. As we walked along, I found two more trees on the trail but I was able to lift and rotate them off the trail. Just before we got to Iron Wheel Junction, I found another larger tree lying across the trail. I took some pictures and then got started. I was able to make a cut on each side of the trail leaving a piece of the trunk that I could carry off the trail. After taking a few more pictures, we continued on the trail to Iron Wheel Junction at 4 miles. We turned left to head back toward Frick Pond. The walk is mostly downhill but it was very wet and muddy most of the way. We were soon at the small stream through the woods which had a good flow of water. Sheila decided to take a dip while I was able to use a stepping stone to get across. We walked through the pine promenade and the trail became very wet on the other side. In places it was impossible to avoid the water so I just walked through it. 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 which was surprising since the rest of the hike had been so wet. We were back at 12:00 PM having covered 5.6 miles in 2 hours and 25 minutes with an elevation gain of 870 feet. The temperature at the car was about 73 degrees but the skies were still sunny.

map icon Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Tuesday, August 1st I decided to go back to Trout Pond for a fourth and what I hoped would be the final time. I put my Silky saw, hedge trimmers and loppers in my pack. I decided to forego my poles. As I knew I would be carrying some trimming tool for most of the hike. Sheila was on my heels the whole time sensing we would be going out. We left the house at 8:35 AM and headed north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe. I got off at exit 94 and headed north on Route 206 passing through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I drove down to the lower parking area since I had gear to carry and I knew I would not want to hike up Russell Brook Road at the end of the hike. There were two cars in the lower lot and a car parked at the upper camping area. The temperature was about 70 degrees when I got my gear out of the car at 8:55 AM to start my adventure. We got on the woods road that leads down to the bridge and crossed the stream. We passed the knotweed I had cut on a previous hike and the path to the falls. Both looked like work had been done and both were in better shape than we had found them We continued on the main trail and turned left at the trial junction to start up the steep hill toward Mud Pond. Near the bridge over the small stream there were some weeds to trim but I decided I wanted to leave them for later. On the way up the hill there were a few more branches sticking out into the trail than I remembered. I got out the loppers and started to trim them as I went. We continued up the hill to the highest point trimming branches, brush and small trees the whole way. The air was beginning to warm up and I was really beginning to feel the heat. At the top of the hill there is a more open area and there were quite a few briars and weeds growing here. I walked through and then dropped my pack exchanging the loppers for the hedge trimmers. I started cutting down the weeds, briars and occasional bush. The work seemed to go quickly at first and then monotony set in as well as some lower back pain. I stopped for a moment to get an ibuprofen and the started in again. Finally the work in this areas was done and I stow the clippers, got out the loppers, took a drink and shouldered my pack. We walked downhill a little to the junction with the trail to Trout Pond trimming a few branches here and there and moving others. The trail was drier than it had been a few days ago. We turned right and started up the trail and I immediately started picking up loose branches and throwing them off the trail. I trimmed a few branches but this area was pretty clean.

I continued to walk along the trail trimming as I went. Some areas needed more attention than others. On the last trip over this trail we did not have loppers so some of the branches that I had not been able to cut with the hedge trimmers remained for me to deal with this time. The trail continued to climb and we eventually reached the area where I had cut down a lot of briars. There were still a few standing so I cut them and then continued up the trail. As we approached the high point, I decided to do something I seldom do and sit down on a rock for a drink and a break. After a short time, I started out again and realized that there was still a lot of trimming to do. We had gone in the same direction on the last trip and as we grew tired we trimmed less! I continued won the hill trimming branches as I went. I trimmed a lot of branches. Fortunately, as we turned to the right and began to head down to the pond ether were fewer branches to trim and most were not really blocking the trail. I tried not to give up and leave anything behind that needed to be removed. I even reached up as high as I could to bring down some branches. We finally came out to the bridge at the inlet end of the pond. There was some grass and weeds that could be trimmed here but I was too tired. We walked across the bridge and turned right to head down the woods road along the east side of Trout pond. After crossing over another small bridge, we came to a campsite on the left of the trail. Two young men had their tent set up and a fire burning. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. As we approached the "beach" at the outlet end, I decided to walk over and take a short break. I put my pack down as Sheila rushes to take a swim ion the pond. We didn't stay very long before walking back out to the main trail and turning right to head down the hill. The skies were growing a little darker and I was concerned it might rain before we got back. There wasn't much to see along the trail so we kept a good pace down the hill. As we passed the trail junction, I remembered that there were some weeds that needed trimming near the lower bridge. I decided that it was too late and I was too tired. We followed the trail across Russell Brook and back up to the car. It was 2:05 PM when we arrived at the car. We had spent about 5 hours and 15 minutes hiking and working. About 12 and a half hours was stopped time for work and our overall speed was barely 1 mile per hour. The elevation gain was 810 feet. When I looked at the thermometer on the car is was over 80 degrees! I could feel my muscles starting to cramp so I drank the rest of the water in my bottle before leaving the parking area.

picture album icon On Monday, July 31st Cindy and I head to Trout Pod again to do some trimming on the trails that we had not done on Saturday. I put my Silky saw and hedge trimmers in my pack and made sure Cindy had the loppers this time. I decided to carry the hedge trimmers and forego my poles. Sheila was on my heels the whole time sensing we would be going out. We left the house at 10:00 AM and headed north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe. I got off at exit 94 and headed north on Route 206 passing through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I drove down to the lower parking area since we had gear to carry and I knew we would not want to hike up Russell Brook Road but the road at the end of the hike. There was only one car in the lower lot but there was a car parked at the upper camping area. The temperature was in the low 80's when I got my gear out of the car and was ready to start at 10:30 AM. We got on the woods road that leads down to the bridge and crossed the stream. We passed the knotweed we had cut on another trip and the path to the falls. Both looked like work had been done and both were in better shape than we had found them. We continued on the main trail continued straight ahead toward Trout Pond. I had intended to walk up the trail and to start trimming after the bridge at the inlet. I began to notice some brush along the trail up to the pond and some weeds along the sides. Cindy started to use the loppers on the stray branches and I used the hedge trimmers on the brush and weeds. I soon found that bending over to do the trimming as starting to make my back ache. At some point Cindy went ahead of me and I was left alone. I have found that when I do this type of hard work I like to have someone to talk to so the work goes faster. Being alone was a little discouraging. I was cutting briars, nettles and weeds as well as some brush. Doing the cutting made the walk up the trail seem MUCH longer. I finally saw the pond and Cindy who was waiting for me. I was tired and very hot and decided I was done for the day. We turned around and headed back down the trail. I was a little disappointed that some of the trimming looked a little haphazard and incomplete. We were back at the car at 12:30 PM having spent two hours trimming about a mile of trail.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Sunday, July 30th I met Don and Alyce at 1:00 PM by the Presbyterian Church for some work on the Round Top trails. I drove up with my car and the tools while Don and Elise chose to walk up to the trail head. I parked my car at the trailhead and met them. We got started immediately by trimming some of the branches from the evergreens at the beginning of the trail. We walked along the trail to the first junction and found a pile of "firewood" on the left side of the trail. It was unclear who put the pile of sticks in a neat pile or why they did it. We decided we did not want them on the trail and moved them off to the left side. We started to hike up to the viewpoint and encountered a thick layer of leaf cover. Don volunteered to rake these leaves off the path while Alyce and I continued on around the lower trail trimming branches. I was happy to see no more damage had been done at the trailhead and I pointed out the trees that had been cut by vandals. We made the right turn and headed up the trail. It seemed that the trail has gotten some use as it was more distinct. I had thought about brining the string trimmer to cut out the path but decided most of the plants were ferns and not much of a threat to hikers. When we reached the right turn we continued to follow the lower trail with the yellow blazes. There were some branches to lop here and Alyce and I took turns leapfrogging each other to trim the brush. We tried to trim as high as we could so that the trail would be ready for snowshoeing this winter. When we got to the next right turn, we decided to go back and see how Don was doing with the raking. When we walked back to the lookout, Don was just finishing up his work. We decided to walk on the blue trail over the summit of Round Top. We walked back up the yellow trail away from the viewpoint and at the right turn we continued straight ahead on the upper blue trail. There wasn't much to trim but we did catch a few branches here and there. We walked across the top and then started down the other side clipping a few stray branches as we went. We talked about the possibility of putting a switchback on the upper trail but decided there is not enough room. The total distance up the trail is less than 500 feet although the grade is about 18%. When we reached the lower yellow we turned right and walked back to the lookout. As we started down the trail from the lookout, I noticed that Don had raked the leaves right down to the underlying dirt! We walked out to the trailhead and talked for a few minutes before heading home. It was 2:30 PM and we had spent 2.5 hours working on the trails for a total of 7.5 man-hours!

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Saturday, July 29th I had planned to work with some people on Round Top but had postponed the work until Sunday since the forecast was for rain on Saturday. When I went to bed on Friday night the forecast had changed to partly sunny with no rain on Saturday. In the morning I drove to Goshen to get the hood scoop on my Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart replaced. I was back by 9:45 AM and Cindy was home soon after. I asked her if she wanted to return to Trout Pond to clear the trail loop and she agreed. I put my Silky saw and hedge trimmers in my pack and asked Cindy to bring the loppers. I decided to carry my Fiskars axe and forego my poles. Sheila was on my heels the whole time sensing we would be going out. We left the house at 10:15 AM and headed north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe. I got off at exit 94 and headed north on Route 206 passing through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I drove down to the lower parking area since we had gear to carry and I knew we would not want to hike up Russell Brook Road but the road at the end of the hike. There was only one car in the lower lot but there was a tent near the beginning of the road and a car parked at the upper camping area. The temperature was about 66 degrees when I got my gear out of the car and it almost felt chilly. We got on the woods road that leads down to the bridge and crossed the stream. We passed the knotweed we had cut the day before and the path to the falls. Both looked like work had been done and both were in better shape than we had found them We continued on the main trail and turned left at the trial junction to start up the steep hill toward Mud Pond. There were a few barnacle sticking out into the trail so I asked Cindy to us the loppers to cut them off. It was then that I found out that she had not brought the loppers which was a real blow since they were the best tool to do much of the work I had planned! We continued up the hill to the highest point and then walked downhill a little to the junction with the trail to Trout Pond. The trail was almost dry compared to three days before when we had walked the same trail and found it wet with standing and running water. I wondered if the rest of the trail would be the same. We turned right and started up the trail and I immediately started picking up loose branches and throwing them off the trail. When we got to the new growth forest, there were several small saplings across the trail. Most of these we were able to pick up and drag off the trail or throw into the surrounding forest. We continued along the trail clearing a few bigger branches here and there. After a short walk I found a large branch hanging over the trail. I cut the branch which promptly hung up in another tree. I pulled and yanked on it until it came down. I cleaned up the whole mess as Cindy watched. It was then I began to realize she was mostly there for the walk and to watch me work!

picture taken during a hike The next obstacle consisted of two small trees that were bending over the trail. Trying to cut just the part hanging over the trail would have required a pole saw. Both trees were small enough to allow me to "legally" cut them and I made short work of them with Silky saw. To get them off the trail I had to cut them up a little but this also went quickly. I was glad the temperature seemed to still be in the 60's as this was "hot" work. The next thing I stopped to cut was not actually blocking the trail but I wanted to cut it to improve the look. It was a trunk and some branches on the side of the trail> I removed the loose branches and dragged them away by myself. I started to cut up the cherry branches and the work went pretty quickly. When I was done, I got out the hedge trimmers and cut some branches and briars impinging on the trail which I knew was a precursor to what was coming up. After walking a short distance there was another trunk that had fallen so that the upper branches were across the trail. I took some pictures and the removed what I could. I cut the two major branches and was lucky they fell easily as both cuts were above my head. To get them off the trail I had to make some more cuts to make the removal easier. Each one of these efforts was not too hard by itself but I was beginning to feel the cumulative effect. We walked a little farther and found a large cherry tree that had fallen almost parallel to the trail but with several branches blocking it. I followed the same procedure of taking "before" pictures and clearing anything that was loose. I began to cut the branches and drag them off into the woods well away from the trail. I noticed the strong scent from the cherry and stopped a minute take it in. Soon I had cleared everything and after taking some pictures I moved on. As we began to near the highest point on the trail, we started to run into brush and briars starting to overgrow the trail. I dropped my pack and got out the hedge trimmers. I used the trimmers to cut what was near the trail and throw it back as far as I could. Without any help this was a tough job! I also cut some of the longer canes which had not reached the trail but would soon do so. I continued up the trail cutting both side until I reached a spot in the shade of the trees where there were fewer briars. I went back to et my pack, picked up the hedge trimmers on the way by and continued up the trail to the next stand of briars. I was a little dismayed to find that this area was the bigger and denser than the previous. I put my pack down and got out the trimmers determined not to give up and let the briars beat me! It seemed that Cindy had tried to do some work here but without the right tools it was hard for her to make much headway. Although I was tired and my back was hurting, I trimmed a pretty wide swath on either side of the trail even though some of the briars were over my head. I continued until the end of the patch and then walked back toward my pack cutting as I went. I stowed everything in my pack and the walked back up the trail. I found Cindy resting in a shady spot on a rock.

picture taken during a hike We continued on the trail until we started to walk through some brush and briars. At first it wasn't too bad so I left it alone. After a while the briars grew thicker so I dropped my pack and got out the trimmers. I trimmed back up the trail clearing most of the worst of the briars. I picked up my pack and we walked further on the trail, starting downhill, until we came to the largest tree of the day which lay directly across the trail. I took pictures and then developed a strategy to clear this blowdown. I cut the three biggest branches well off the trail so that they were out of the way. This left the trunk of the tree still across the trail. I tried to lift and pivot the whole thing off the trail but it was much too heavy. I got my Fiskar's axe and chose a spot on the trunk near the edge of the trail where I could make a cut. This time I made sure the cut was at least as wide as the diameter of the log. The chopping went fairly well and I changed side to even out it out. I was soon all the way through the trunk. The upper, smaller piece I muscled off the trail by lifting one end and flipping it into the woods. When I tried lifting and pivoting the remaining piece, it was heavier than I thought. I finally got the grip that I wanted and was able to get it off the trail. We continued down the hill and cut a large branch and two more saplings off the trail on the way down. I though we were don but we came to a spot where there were some small trees with branches nearly blocking the trail. I knew I would have to come back one more time with loppers to finish the job but I just couldn't leave these branches. I took off my pack and got out the hedge trimmers to cut these branches. There were more than I thought with another small stand beyond the first. It was hard to have to cut and pick up the branches to dispose of them all by myself. As I was working two young men with cameras passed with a "hello" but no other comment. I finished what I was doing and knew I could not start any other real work. We walked down the trail removing a few small branches. Sheila alerted and I put her on her leash as a man and a woman approached. They immediately realized what I was doing and said "thank you for the trail maintenance." We walked down the hill and were soon at the inlet bridge. The skies were sunny and blue with white clouds. I took a few shots from the bridge and then we walked down the east side of the pond. The trail to this point had been almost dry with on damp spots where pools had been three days before. This flat trail Walong the pond was no exception as it was also only damp. As we neared the "beach" at the outlet, we could see a family group getting ready to leave the area. They made it to the main trail before we could pass but moved to one side of the trail to let us go by. I did not need to visit the inlet end of the pond so we kept a quick pace down the trail to the first trail junction. We continued straight ahead and were soon climbing the road toward the car. Where we met six more people who seemed to be headed down to the falls. We turned up the path to the parking area and found it almost full. Two cars were unpacking with what looked like enough equipment afford to last a week! It was 3:15 PM and we had spent 4 and a half hours hiking and clearing the trail. At this point I was exhausted and was again glad the temperature was just 70 degrees. The distance we had covered was about 4.5 miles with an elevation gain of 875 feet including some backtracking along the way.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon icon"> On Friday, July 28th I decided to go to Trout Pond to cut out the trail to Russell Brook Falls and to beat back the Japanese knotweed that threatened to overrun the trail. I decided that I would use my Stihl string trimmer to cut out the grass, briars and weeds on the path to the falls and then handle the knotweed with a machete and loppers. Cindy agreed to go with me and we took Sheila even though we would have to tie her up for most of the time. I loaded all the supplies for the trimmer and the trimmer into the Outlander and also put in my regular pack with my Silky saw and machete. We left the house at 12:30 PM and headed north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe. I got off at exit 94 and headed north on Route 206 passing through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I turned left and drove down Russell Brook Road to the lower parking area since we would have to have access to the car to change tools and I did not want to carry the trimmer any farther than necessary. We arrived at 10:45 AM to find only one car parked in the lot. I got out the trimmer and the pack with the gas and we headed down the road to the falls. When we arrived in the area of the knotweed, we leashed Sheila to a tree. I gassed up the trimmer and started in on the path to the falls which was barely a foot wide and bordered by briars and weeds. As I began to cut, I realized that most of the weeds had very woody stems and there were a lot of old and thick briar canes. I had to keep bumping the trimmer for more line and trying to cut high and then low. About a third of the way down the path I realized I had not taken any "before" pictures so I asked Cindy to get the camera from the car.Since the trimmer had just run out of line, I rewound lien on the reel as Cindy retrieved the camera. Before I started in again on the trail, I took a few pictures. The trimmer was doing a good job of cutting down the briars and weeds as long as I remembered to bump it as the line got shorter. I even found it would cut through the knotweed with no problem.

picture taken during a hike I finished cutting the path to the falls and decided not to cut the one that led down to the stream as there was no safe way to get over to the falls from there. One the way back I cut the remaining stalks closer to the ground to make the path smoother and wider. Cindy had already started in on the knotweed with her loppers. She was cutting stalks and throwing them on the other side of the road to let them dry and die in the sun. I walked passed her and used the trimmer to cut some of the knotweed. It did a good job of cutting some of the vegetation to expose the larger stalks underneath. I also trimmed some weeds near the bridge and on the other side of the road. Eventually, I put down the trimmer and started suing the nacelle to cut the knotweed. It was a little harder work but I have to admit the quite was appreciated. The machete is the ideal took to cut the knotweed stalks as I can use one hand to fold the stalks and the other to swing the machete. I keep the machete very sharp and the knotweed offers little resistance. Once I had a handful of stalks, I walked to the other side of the road and three them as far as I could. Cindy and I continued to work this way until we had cut the knotweed back so that it would not annoy hikers walking by. We trimmer a little more by the bridge and the picked up all the remaining stalks that we had cut. I wished that I had brought a rake but our cleanup job was pretty good. It was 12:15 PM when we finished and I was ready to start on the trail loop to cut blowdowns. Cindy said she was tired so we packed up and left. On the way home I though about dropping Cindy off and returning to Trout Pond. When we arrived at home, I realized I did not feel like driving all the way back and working for another 3 to 4 hours. Clearing the loop would have to wait until another day! We spent and hour and a half doing a large amount of work and hiking very little.

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon Trout Pond (Counterclockwise) alltrails icon caltopo  icon gmap4  icon mapmyhike  icon On Wednesday, July 26th I wanted to get in a hike since the weather forecast for the rest of the week was questionable. Since it had rained, I asked Cindy if she wanted to go to Trout Pond and see how high the water was at Russell Brook Falls. She agreed even though we knew the trail would be wet. In the morning when I awoke there was actually some sun peeking through the clouds and the forecast was only calling for partly sunny skies. I got some things done around the house and got out my gear while Cindy got ready to go. Sheila was on my heels the whole time sensing we would be going out. We left the house at 12:30 PM and headed north and west on State Route 17 toward Roscoe. I got off at exit 94 and headed north on Route 206 passing through Roscoe and then Rockland. Just after the Roscoe Nursing Home I turned left on Morton Hill Road and followed it for 3 miles to the intersection with Russell Brook Road. I considered driving down to the lower parking area but the road can be washed out at times. I also like the hike down the road as it parallels Russell Brook. I turned around and parked on the side of the road near a large pulloff that looks like a parking area. This pulloff is on private property and the owner does not like people parking on his land. I got my gear and electronics ready and we started our hike at 12:50 PM with Sheila leading the way down Russell Brook Road. The temperature was in the high 60's and felt very comfortable compared to the previous week. The road was a little damp but did not appear to be washed out. I could hear what sounded like a large volume of water in the brook as we descended toad the lower parking area. As we walked down the road, I could see that the water level was high. When we got to the viewpoint for the upper falls, I decided to walk down to the lookout to take some pictures. I dropped my pack and took some shots of the large volume of water going over the falls. After finishing my photography, I packed up and headed back to the road. We walked down to the parking area where there were two cars with one pulling in right behind us. There was also a forest ranger's truck in the lot and I wondered which ranger in was and if he had hiked the trails. We got on the woods road that leads down to the bridge. We crossed the bridge over Russell Brook and walked along the woods road. I noticed the knotweed was back and already was green and growing nicely. In some places it was almost across the trail! I decided to walk over to the falls as the light was good. We turned right onto the path to the falls which was almost overgrown by tall grass and briars. We found the path that leads down to the stream bed and found that it is becoming more distinct as more and more people access it. The rocks were slippery as there was a lot of spray from the falls and the wind was blowing downstream. We all worked our way down to the stream where I put my pack down and got out the camera. I took shots of the falls and the stream from different angles and zooms and with different exposures. I also took a few of Sheila posing in front of the falls. When I was done, I changed the battery in the camera and the stowed it in my pack. Two women had walked to the path that leads to a little overlook of the falls so I put Sheila on her leash. It appeared the other hikers were not going to attempt the descant to the streambed. We walked back up the bank and out to the main trail. We turned right on the main trail and then walked straight ahead at the trail junction to go directly up the hill to Trout Pond. This was the direction I had gone on the last hike here but Cindy and I both thought we would have the best chance of meeting the ranger if we hiked in this direction.

picture taken during a hike The trail to Trout Pond was wet for almost the entire length. In some places the water was directed in channels but in others the entire trail was wet. Soon we were at the pond and we walked over to the shore by the outlet. The water level was not as high as I thought it would be and no water was flowing over the spillway at the dam. There were a few ducks by the spillway and Sheila dove in to make friends! The ducks were not friendly ducks and moved away quickly. I got out my camera and took pictures of the pond and the shores even though the sky was a little cloudy. I threw a stick in the pond for Sheila to retrieve but she only did it once. It was at this time that Sheila decided to dash madly back and forth. I tried to capture a few pictures of her and then packed up to get back on the main trail. The trail from the outlet end of the lake to the lean-tos was covered in water most of the way and it was sometimes impossible to easily avoid the puddles. As we passed by a large unoccupied campsite on the right, we could hear people at the lower lean-to. I put Sheila on her leash as we approached and found RnagerDylan McCartney just starting toward us. Trout Pond is in Dec Region 4 and Ranger McCartney is stationed in Stamford, NY. We talked about trail maintenance and the problem of the knotweed before heading in opposite directions. We walked over to the bridge over the inlet stream and I decided not to stop for pictures. The trail to the right up the hill had a stream running down the middle. After a short distance, the stream headed off to the left and the trail was drier. We climbed the trail heading toward the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. There were some new blowdowns along the way and several older larger logs. All should be cleared but the larger logs might need a chainsaw crew. I knew once we hit the top of the hill and started down that the trail would be very wet. I picked up quite a few branches and small limbs off the trail and even moved some larger logs that had broken onto section. I was right about the trail down to Mud Pond as it was covered in standing water in places and ran like a stream in others. We had to walk on the sides of the trail and, at times, well off the trail. We came across one large branch that had broken off a tree and had one end lodged in the ground. The other end was hung up high in s small tree. It looked very dangerous and I know it will be hard to safely remedy the situation. Eventually we were walking through the area where there are a lot of small white birches. We descended the hill to the trail that runs past Mud Pond. We turned left here to head back to the car by completing the loop. The trail was wet with surface water which also made it very muddy so we used the sides of the trail in places. We hit the top of the small hill and started the long descent back to the register box. The trail remained wet and muddy with several small streams flowing across it. The stream to the right of the trail had a volume greater than I had ever seen in it. When we arrived at the trail register, we turned right and walked back out the trail to the lower parking area. From here we walked back up Russell Brook Road to the car without seeing another vehicle or person for the entire trip. We were back at the car at 3:45 PM after hiking 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 55 minutes. The elevation gain was 1115 feet.

map icon Round Top Lower Trail AllTrails - Round Top Lower Trail caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Round Top Lower Trail MapMyHike - Round Top Lower Trail On Tuesday, July 25th I decided I wanted to check the trails on Round Top and get out after spending the early part of the day chained to a computer. The weather forecast was calling for rain when I got dressed and ready to go at 1:30 PM but the skies I could see looked only a little cloudy. I put Sheila on her leash as we started down the driveway and I looked north toward Roscoe. The skies were grey and almost black and I nearly decided to turn around. In the end we continued by crossing the road and walking through the field by the church. We started up the steep hill along the edge of the cemetery. I elected to leave my pack behind and to go without hiking poles. My heart was beating faster when we got to the top of the hill even though Sheila helped by pulling me up the hill. We turned left into the forest and I let Sheila off her leash. As we walked the woods road to the first trail junction, I picked up a few branches that had fallen in the wind over the past few days. At the trail junction we continued straight ahead up the steep little climb to the viewpoint. I continued to remove a few branches here and there. At the lookout I found no more vandalism so we followed the trail to the right. I noted that the ferns had grown up some and would soon need a good whacking. Where the lower trail turned right we continued straight ahead following the blue paint blazes up toward the summit of Round top. I was glad to see that the blazes had held up well to the rain but had dried a little darker than I expected. As we climbed the hill a cleared a few spots. We continued across the summit and descended the other side. At the bottom of the hill we continued straight ahead on the woods road back to the first trail junction. Since we had missed a section of the lower trail, we turned around and hiked back up the woods road to the sharp left turn. We followed the lower trail this time as it skirted Round Top. Along the way I noticed that the bushes were starting to close in and needed to be trimmed back. We continued to follow the yellow trail as it turned left and headed down to the lookout. At the lookout we turned left and completed the loop back to the first trail junction. I was a little bored doing repeated loops but though about doing at least one figure 8. As I was trying to make my decision a few drops of rain began to fall. I don't mind a little train but I remembered the dark clouds I had seen and thought it would be better to head home. We continued straight ahead back to the beginning of the trail. I put Sheila on her leash and we walked back down the cemetery hill, across the field and down the driveway. We had spent 45 minutes walking and doing some minor trail work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter 2016-2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

picture taken during a hike picture album icon map icon GPSies - Frick Pond (Flynn Big Rock Loggers) AllTrails - Frick Pond (Flynn Big Rock Loggers) caltopo  icon Gmap4 - Frick Pond (Flynn Big Rock Loggers) MapMyHike - Frick Pond (Flynn Big Rock Loggers) On Friday, February 3rd, I decided I wanted to get out and hike close to home before heading to Liberty to pick up my grandson at 3:00 PM. The temperature when I woke up at 6:00 AM was 13 degrees but the forecast had it rising throughout the day. I got my gear together and left the house just after 10:00 AM heading for Frick Pond. As always Sheila was in the back seat pretending we hadn't hiked in a month! I had dressed for cold weather by putting on tights and wearing a heavier Patagonia wool top under my Mammut hoody. I took my new favorite Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes along with me since I did not know how much snow there would be. We parked just before 10:30 AM and I went to check out the amount of snow. I decided that snowshoes would not be necessary bit could be fun and put them on. The bindings have the Boa system and are the easiest bindings I have used, the most secure and easy to adjust. We were on the trail a few minutes later crossing the road to the Flynn Trail at 10:30 AM. We started up the Flynn Trail which initially had only a few inches of new snow on top of a packed base. The day was still cold but the sun was shining and Sheila was having a great time running around. She was easily getting too far ahead of me and then heading off the hiking trail to follow animal tracks. I had met a local historian at the gas stations and he had told me the route to the Frick homestead. As we hit the old Beech Mountain Road, I looked for the road he described as the old Flynn Road but could not find it. We turned right and began to climb the long hill to the junction of the Flynn Trail and the Big Rock Trail. I stopped once on the way up to take a few pictures of the snowy trail. I had followed some footsteps up the woods road but they ended a short distance beyond the gate with a small snow castle. I assumed a fam