What You Missed
On Saturday, December 17th I headed out to Frick Pond with Sheila after hiking Round Top with Cindy earlier in the day. We had only hiked about a mile and I wanted more! Six to ten inches of new powder had fallen over night and I wanted to try it out before the temperatures rose on Sunday and the predicted rain ruined it. Sheila was happy to be in the backseat as we headed out the DeBruce Road. After about six miles I turned left on Mongaup road and headed toward Frick Pond. As I drove rain started to hit the windscreen but I decided to see what it was doing at the trailhead. At the fork in the road I stayed left Te Beech Mountain Road. At the trailhead parking the rain had stopped but neither lot had been plowed. I decided to chance getting stuck and turned into the lot crossing a rather high snow bank. I let Sheila out of the car and put on my snowshoes. The Tubbs Alp Flex VRT go on very quickly as the bindings are easy to use. We began our hike at about 1:30 Pm by hiking out the woods road toward Frick Pond. I stopped to take a few pictures on the undisturbed snow on the Quick Lake Trail near the register. There was some water underneath the snow as we hiked out the trail to Gravestone Junction where we stayed left on the Quick Lake Trail to Frick Pond. When we got to the bridge over the outlet I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took a picture of Sheila and the snow on the bridge. The water level in the pond was much higher and water was freely flowing in the outlet stream. From the bridge I took a few pictures of the pond. Flynn's Point was almost completely covered in a cloud and the skies were overcast. I picked up my pack and we started around the pond. At the junction of the Quick Lake Trail and the Big Rock Trail we turned right to get on the Big Rock Trail around the back of the pond. Under the tall evergreen trees there was less snow but it still averaged over 6 inches. When we got to the wooden causeways, they were covered in well over a foot of snow and I stopped to take a few pictures.
We continued on the Big Rock Trail as it wound around the back of Frick Pond heading toward Times Square. There were a few wet spots under the snow but the temperature was still in the high 20's or low 30's. When we arrived at Times Square, I was surprised to see that no snowmobiles had passed through on the Big Rock Trail and Logger's Loop. We turned to the right to get on the Logger's Loop to complete the loop around Frick Pond. By this time my legs were beginning to get a little tired from lifting and breaking trail by myself. Sheila seemed to be unaffected and continued to bound ahead of me and then come racing back helping to break trail and keep me entertained. Although she looks like a yellow lab she has a longer coat from a dose of Husky blood. She never seems to get cold. Sheila was following her nose and frequently wound bury it in the snow digging slightly. I never saw what attracted her attention but it was very humorous to see her bury her head! The Logger's Loop climbs slightly from Times Square and I noticed this as I continued to break the trail. Soon we were on flatter ground heading back toward Gravestone Junction. I though about taking a few more pictures but there was nothing really interesting to photograph. At Gravestone Junction we turned left to head back to the car on the Quick lake Trail. As we passed the register, Sheila alerted and I could see a young couple starting out from the parking lot. We walked a little farther before I walked to the side of the trail with Sheila to let them pass. I was disappointed that they did not have snowshoes. I greeted them and suggested it was a good day for snowshoes. They said they didn't realize that there would be so much snow and they would follow my trail! Fortunately the snow was not deep enough for them to ruin the trail I had just worked to create with postholes. We were back at the car around 3:00 PM having hiked about 2.3 miles. I put Sheila in the car and my gear in the trunk. I had no trouble backing out of the lot to head home.
On Saturday, December 13th I was very happy when I woke up to find at least six inches of new powder on the ground and snow still falling. The snow tapered off by late morning and Cindy and I decided to go across the street to snowshoe on the new trail on Round Top. The thermometer read only in the high 20's when we crossed the street just after 11:00 AM but it didn't seem very cold. I wanted to take some pictures and the most convenient way is just to carry my pack. I again decided to use the Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which I had not had the chance to use last year due to the lack of snow. These snowshoes have the "Boa" system which is supposed to allow tightening the front part of the binding with just a twist a knob. I found there was a left and a right and put the snowshoes on. I found the "stopper" up front limits how far forward the boot can go which I like. The strap around the back seemed to tighten very smoothly and the Boa system did allow me to tighten the binding very easily. I knew these snowshoes were overkill for the easy trail on Round Top but I wanted to try them again. Sheila was ready to go as soon as I started betting my gear out. After crossing the street we headed across the filed and behind the church. We decided to walk up the steepest hill which is the most direct way to the trailhead. I let Sheila off her leash and we started up. The hill is short but the added snow made it a challenge. When we got to the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. I took one of Cindy ascending the hill. The sky was a little overcast but the town looked very pretty covered with a layer of white. I picked up my pack and we entered the woods. I noticed there was significantly more snow than the last time we had hiked the trail. The snow depth varied in most places from 6 to 10 inches. At the trail junction we decided to go straight ahead up the steeper section to the lookout. When we neared the top, I turned left to walk out to the lower lookout. I didn't want to encourage others to take this route but I did want the pictures. Crossing the little open gulf in the path seemed easier with the grip of snowshoes. I again got out the camera and took pictures of the town from another angle. This viewpoint offers a great view of the school and the buildings downtown. Cindy and Sheila were on the upper ledge so I took a few photos of them. After taking some more shots, I put away the camera and walked up to the higher ledge. From the viewpoint we continued on the trail in a clockwise direction checking to make sure the yellow blazes were visible and spaced the correct distance apart. When we got to the green ribbons marking the proposed upper trail, I wanted to go up and over the hill but Cindy expressed a desire to continue on the lower trail. I had plans to do more hiking that she wanted to do but conceded. We followed the lower trail to the right until the next big turn. When we arrived at the sharp right turn that takes the trail back to the first trail junction, we turned right and headed down the wood road back toward the trailhead. We continued our walk down to the trail junction where we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. We decided to return by turning right and gliding down the steepest hill to the church parking lot. From there we walked back across the street to our house. Since we had walked only about a mile, I decided that Sheila and I would head for Frick Pond to get in some more snowshoeing. The weather forecast was for rain on Sunday with highs in the mid 40's so I wanted to take advantage of the fresh snow while it was still around! I put my gear in the trunk and Sheila in the back seat and we headed out the DeBruce Road to Frick Pond.
On Tuesday, December 13th I was very tired from snowshoeing at Frick Pond the day before. I decided I wanted to walk the new Round Top Trail and called Lisa to see if she wanted to go. She agreed to meet me in the church parking lot at 9:30 AM. When I got up in the morning it was sunny but the thermometer read only 20 degrees. I did a few things around the house and then started to get my equipment ready. I wanted to take some pictures and the most convenient way is just to carry my pack. I again decided to use the Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which I had not had the chance to use last year due to the lack of snow. These snowshoes have the "Boa" system which is supposed to allow tightening the front part of the binding with just a twist a knob. I found ether was a left and a right and put the snowshoes on. I found there was a "stopper" up front which limited how far forward the boot can go which I like. The strap around the back seemed to tighten very smoothly and the Boa system did allow me to tighten the binding very easily. I knew these snowshoes were overkill for the easy trail on Round Top but I wanted to try them again. Sheila was ready to go as soon as I started betting my gear out. It seemed she couldn't believe we were going out two days in a row. It didn't take long to get ready and I put Sheila on her leash for the walk across the street. Just as I was walking out the driveway Lisa arrived and she went to park by the church where I met her. We talked as she put on her Crescent Moon snowshoes. I set my GPS at the base of the cemetery hill and we were off. Lisa wanted to walk the middle road through the cemetery so we took that route. At the end of that section we turned left to head up the steeper hill to the top of the cemetery where the trail begins. When we got to the top of the hill, I dropped my pack to take some pictures. The sun sparkled off the snow and the town looked very pretty covered with a layer of white. I picked up my pack and we entered the woods. I noticed there was significantly less snow than I had encountered the day before at Frick Pond. The snow depth varied in most places from 4 to 6 inches. At the trail junction we decided to go straight ahead up the stepper section to the lookout. An the way up I tried flipping up the heel elevators on the snowshoes and they went up and down very easily. When we neared the top, I turned left to walk out to the lower lookout. I didn't want to encourage others to take this route but I did want the pictures. Crossing the little open gulf in the path seemed easier with the grip of snowshoes. I again got out the camera and took pictures of the town from another angle. This viewpoint offers a great view of the school and the buildings downtown. After taking some shots, I put away the camera and walked up to the higher ledge.
From the viewpoint Lisa and I continued on the trail in a clockwise direction checking to make sure the yellow blazes were visible and spaced the correct distance apart. When we got to the green ribbons marking the proposed upper trail, we decided to follow the lower trail to the right until the next big turn. Soon we arrived at the sharp right turn that takes the trail back to the first trail junction. We turned left and followed the green ribbons up to the summit of Round Top. The ribbons were ease to follow and stood out well against the white snow. Lisa and I talked about the need to make sure the final trail would not be too steep for the majority of users. I suggested having a steep ascent going directly to the top with a "snake" of switchbacks as an option. Climbing the hill in the snow was more challenging than without snow. Once we reached the top we continued to follow the ribbons as they turned left and back toward the lower trail. This part of the trail is also steep and we got a nice glide in some sections. This section may also need some switchbacks but it is the route with the least slope that I could find! When we got back to the lower trail, we turned left to retrace our steps back to where we had turned left on the posed upper trail. This time we turned right and headed down the wood road back toward the trailhead. Lisa told me that the grant for the Riverwalk in Livingston Manor had been approved in the amount of $420,000! This grant will help stabilize the stream bank of the Willowemoc Creek and provide a handicapped accessible trail along the river. Lisa was a major reason the grant was approved and it would not have been successful without her work. Eventually the trail on Round Top, the Riverwalk and the O&W Rail Trail will become a network of trails in Livingston Manor offering something for everyone! We continued our walk down to the trail junction where we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. We decided to return by turning right and gliding down the steepest hill to the church parking lot. We arrived back at Lisa's car at 10:50 AM after walking 1.2 miles in 1 hour and 10 minutes. Our elevation gain was a modest 380 feet.
On Monday, December 12th I woke up to find at least 8 inches of freshly fallen snow in the backyard! I knew it was coming and had been out just after midnight on an ambulance call but it was nice to see it. All the schools in the county were closed and I knew I wanted to go out to snowshoe. Cindy wanted to go too but as we were getting ready Karl showed up with Luke. I decided I would go to Frick Pond and get in a loop and then come back to see how Luke would do on snowshoes in the backyard. The forecast was for some light rain as the temperature started to rise and as I left town just after 10:30 AM I started to see precipitation on my windshield. I was annoyed that I had not started out earlier and almost turned around and went home as I did not want to get wet. I decided to continue on to Frick Pond since the temperature is often lower there and the weather different. The roads were in pretty good shape as I headed out the DeBruce Road to Mongaup Pond Road where I made a left. I continued until the road spilt and then stayed left on Beech Mountain Road. When I arrived at the parking areas, neither was plowed! I took a chance and drove through the snowball left buy the plow and parked in the smaller lot. When I opened my door, I found the snow was right up to the door opening. I let Sheila out and she immediately starting bounding through the snow. I had brought a new pair of Tubbs Alp Flex VRT snowshoes which I had not had the chance to use last year due to the lack of snow. These snowshoes have the "Boa" system which is supposed to allow tightening the front part of the binding with just a twist a knob. I found ether was a left and a right and put the snowshoes on. I found there was a "stopper" up front which limited how far forward the boot can go which I like. The strap around the back seemed to tighten very smoothly and the Boa system did allow me to tighten the binding very easily. It didn't take long to get ready as I set my GPS and walked across the road to the beginning of the Flynn Trail. My plan was to hike up the Flynn Trail, down the Big Rock Trail to the Quick Lake trail which would let me complete the loop back to the car. The temperature was 33 degrees when I left the parking area but there was no rain falling. The higher temperature had turned the light powder into a slightly heavier snow that easily compacted. I climbed the snow bank at the start of the trail at 10:55 AM and then started through the woods. Everything was beautiful covered in white snow and I shared Sheila's enthusiasm. By the time I made it to the woods road and turned right I remembered how tiring snowshoeing can be especially when there isn't anyone with you to help break trail. I followed Sheila's track as she headed up the trail well ahead of me. It was quiet and I soon noticed I was working up quite a sweat. I stopped and opened the pit zips and front zipper on my Mammut hoody and then continued up the trail. I stopped a few times along the way to take a few pictures of where we had been and where we were going. The snow was sticking to my boots and I stopped frequently to remove the snow from my boots. As we neared the top of the Flynn Trail at the junction with the Big Rock Trail, the skies got a little darker and the wind started blowing. We reached the junction at 12:10 PM and I stopped briefly to get a drink and a snack. We had covered the 1.7 miles and 640 feet of vertical gain in 1 hour and 15 minutes which was very slow. My leg muscles were sore from the workout and I knew we had farther to go than we had come so far. Fortunately, most of the return trip was downhill or flat.
We turned left on the Big Rock trail and started down the hill. Going down was much easier than going up but the snow was still clumping on my boots and I had to stop frequently. Along the way was one trunk or branch across the trail and in another spot a substantial blowdown which blocked the trail. The Big Rock Trail is used by snowmobiles and I knew the club that maintains the trails would remove this obstruction. Although the descent was pretty easy I could never get a good glide on the snow and the trip down seemed long. As we approached Times Square, I stopped to take a few pictures. We continued straight ahead through Times Square to stay on the Big Rock Trails round the back of Frick Pond. The walking here was easier and the snow was not clumping anymore. As soon as we started hiking under the evergreen trees, the snow depth diminished to only a few inches. I again stopped to take pictures as we crossed the two bridges. I found another blowdown blocking the trail and made note that I would have to remove this one myself. We continued over the wooden walkways which were coated in snow and I took a few more pictures. When we got to the Quick Lake Trail, we turned left to head toward the outlet of Frick Pond. By the time we got to the bridge, Flynn's Point was almost hidden by a snow squall! I took pictures of the bridge, the pond and the outlet stream. Sheila and I walked up the hill and out to Gravestone Junction. We turned right to head back to the car and found boot prints heading out on the Logger's Loop. I was annoyed that the person had not worn snowshoes but they really weren't necessary. We walked out the woods road to the car. A pickup was parked in the bigger lot and the tracks led back to it. It was 1:35 PM and it had taken us 2 hours and 35 minutes to hike 3.9 miles with 675 feet of vertical gain. I had no trouble getting the car out of the snow in the lot as I drove back home. When I arrived home I found Cindy outside with Luke building snowmen even though a light rain was falling. Luke seemed to be having a lot of fun and seemed adept at creating the balls of snow needed. I took my gear inside and cam back out with the kid's snowshoes. I called Luke over and soon had him outfitted. I lifted him off the porch and set him down in the snow. I was surprised at how well he maneuvered with the snowshoes and how easily he was able to get up after a spill. He almost ran around the whole backyard before I corralled him to take a few pictures.
On Tuesday, December 6th I had limited time to hike between ambulance calls and track practice so I decided to go across the street to hike the Round Top Trail. This satisfies Sheila and allows me to stretch my legs. I planned to hike it at least twice since the complete trail is only .6 miles. Sheila has a little Siberian Husky in her and she loves to romp in the snow. The temperatures was 21 degrees at 6:30 AM so I did some work around the housed and waited for it to rise a little. The temperature crept up slowly until I finally decided to leave the house at about 10:30 AM> I put Sheila on her leash and crossed the street. I kept Sheila on her leash and allowed her to pull me up the cemetery hill to the trailhead. I did not bring along my pack and regretted a little as the view from the top of the hill was pretty. We entered the trail where I released Sheila so she could get a good run in. Ain the trail junction Sheila continued straight ahead toward the lookout so I followed her up the hill. I was wearing my standard winter outfit of my Mammut hoody over two layers. The Columbia Titanium pants with the Omniheat lining are fast becoming by new favorite. I had opted to wear my Keen Glarus boots even though they are not insulated and they did a surprisingly good job of keeping my feet warm. There was a good coating of snow on the trail but not enough to use snowshoes. Hopefully we will begin to get more snow with colder weather so it will stay around! As we hiked up the trail I was warm and began to remember that 25 degrees isn't that cold if you are properly dressed. We turned left on the short spur trail out to the viewpoint and got a nice view of town. The small gap we had to cross to get to the lower ledges was beginning to be a little more of a problem now that there was ice and snow present. We walked up to the upper ledges and began the loop that would take us back around to the trail junction. When we reached the point where the new trail intersects the old woods road, I decided to follow the route to the top of Round Top which I had flagged with some students from the high school. Instead of following the woods road to the right, we continued straight ahead up the hill. I was a little hard to follow the flags but we were soon at the top where I turned right to head back down to the existing trail.
As I started down the hill, I found it hard to follow the ribbons and wandering a little too far south where things looked a little less familiar. When I did hit a woods road, I had to walk northwest to get back to the existing trail where the proposed upper trail heads up the hill. We headed downhill on the existing loop and tuned right at the bottom of the hill where to pass by the ledges on the right. Just after the turn thee was a large birch tree newly fallen across the trail. This would require and axe or saw and I immediately decided to walk back to the house to get a tool and return to remove the obstruction. We walked back down to the trail junction and turned left to walk out to the trailhead. The walk down the steep hill was made easier as I decided to stay on the snow at the side of the road. At the bottom of the hill I put Sheila on her leash and headed across the field to my driveway. At the house I deiced I would use an axe and picked up my Fiskars. The Fiskars is far from the heaviest or largest axe that I own but it carries and cuts well. I also grabbed some ribbon to better mark the upper trail. We headed backs cross the street and up the hill to the trailhead. At the trail junction we headed right this time to get to the blowdown. When we arrived I assessed the situation and found I could move all but the biggest trunk off the trail and out of the way. The largest piece had a break on the top end and I hoped I could make one cut near the butt end and then roll the section off the trail. I started to make the cut and remembered, finally, to make it wider so that I would be able to cut all the way through the trunk as I reached the bottom of the V. Although the diameter was about 10 inches the cutting went smoothly and it wasn't long until I was through. I was able to roll the section downhill and off the trail. I sheathed the axe and leaned it against the trunk. I decided to leave it there and take a quick walk around the loop including the upper trail. We walked up the hill to the point where the trail makes a sharp left and continued straight ahead into the woods toward the summit of Round Top. I pulled off long pieces of ribbon and tied them to the trees as I continued up the hill. As I looked back the markers were much more prominent and easy to follow. I continued to walk the route I had laid out with the high school students from Livingston Manor. At the top of then hill I turned left or west and started down the hill. The route looked much more familiar in this direction and the original markers were easier to follow. I added a few more ribbons and was soon back at the existing trail. We turned right to walk back toward the viewpoint. At the ledges we turned left and headed down the steep hill to the trail junction. At the junction we turned left and headed back up the hill to retrieve my axe. I grabbed the axe and we followed the trail back to the trailhead and returned home. I realized just how warm I was after the walk and the work I had done clearing the blowdown. I am looking forward to clearing the upper trail and placing the signs being created by the Livingston Manor Technology classes.
On Saturday, December 3rd I wanted to get out and hike after a week of rainy weather. I had planned a hike for Friday in Rockland County along Hook Mountain but Cindy was not interested so I stayed home! I decided with the questionable weather forecast and a concert we scheduled to attend in the evening that I would go to Frick and Hodge Ponds since the area is close. There were a few blowdowns to clear and I was surprised that Cindy agreed to go along. We had some things to take care of around the house so we didn't get started until about 11:00 AM. We got our gear and Sheila in the car and headed out the DeBruce Road. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the split. When we arrived at the parking area there was a truck in the small parking area and two cars parked in the larger lot. We were surprised that there was a layer of snow covering the ground since we had mostly rain in town. I parked and got my electronics ready. At 11:20 AM we headed out on the woods road from the smaller parking area. The temperature was still only in the high 30's and we were dressing in layers for winter. We had both worn our regular hiking boots but opted for gaiters which proved to be a good choice. As we walked out the woods road toward Frick Pond, we saw two hunters at the register box. I put Sheila on her leash as the hunters began to walk toward us. We passed each other with a brief "hello" and continued in opposite directions. The woods road out the Gravestone Junction was well covered in snow but also had some running water. It was a quick walk to the outlet of Frick Pond and when we arrived at the bridge I could see that the water level was much higher than it had been in some time. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take some shots. I walked to the bridge and noticed that the water level in the pond and stream was high. I took a picture of the stream and the outlet before turning my attention to the pond. The sky was flat and grey and there wasn't much color anywhere but this is typical of the season. I packed up my camera and shouldered my pack to continue the hike. At the next junction we stayed to the left on the Quick Lake Trail to head toward Ironwheel Junction. I stopped at one point to take a few pictures of the trail covered in snow. There were quite a few branches in the trail and Cindy and I were both picking them up and throwing them to the side. As we pass through the "spruce tunnel", we encounter one small tree across the trail but it was easily cleared with a quick cut with my Silky saw. When we arrived at the small stream in the woods just after the "spruce tunnel", we found the water level high and flowing nicely. Cindy decided to cross following the trail and placed one boot in the cold water. I walked a little upstream and crossed where the water was narrow. As we continued our hike, I found several branches down across the trail and used the saw to quickly clear them. When we arrived at Ironwheel Junction, we turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail to Junkyard Junction where the Flynn Trail begins. Over the next mile the trail rises about 400 feet heading north. At 2.4 miles it turns northeast and levels off some as it approaches Junkyard Junction.
As we started up the Quick Lake trail we found a branch in the trail that I was able to simply drag off into the woods. A little further along there were several more small trees blocking the trail and I cleared them with the saw. As we gained elevation the snow got deeper reaching several inches in places. The skies were getting darker and it looked like it might snow. Because of the snow and the work we were doing, the trip was taking longer than normal and we knew we would have to keep moving to get home in time to get ready for the concert. At 3.1 miles we arrived at Junkyard Junction and turned right on the Flynn Trail heading east and slightly southeast. The trails continued to be snow covered with some running and some pooled water along the way. It wasn't long before we ran into a larger tree across the Flynn Trail. I quickly cut off a few branches and dragged them out of the way. I cut the top out of tree and removed it before pivoting the main part of the trunk out of the way. After removing the tree, we worked our way along the flat expanse and the passed through the gate to descend to the pond. We followed Sheila as she turned right to stay on the Flynn Trail along the west side of Hodge Pond. As we came to the open field near the pond ether were a few muddy spots on the trail. From the field I could see through the trees to the pond. We continued on to the field at the outlet end of Hodge Pond and Sheila and I walked over to the shore while Cindy continued to follow the Flynn Trail to stay in the shelter of the trees. We walked over to the fire ring and I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the grey sky and grey trees. The water level in the pond was right up to the shore and this was the first time I had seen it that way since May! We didn't spend too long at the pond and were soon Back on the Flynn Trail with Cindy climbing the hill up from the pond. It is .7 miles from the pond to the junction with the Big Rock Trail and we gained about 180 feet over that distance but the walk went quickly. From the junction, the Flynn Trail starts a constant descent all the way to the parking area. In 1.7 miles it loses 600 feet in elevation. On the walk down we set a fast pace as there really wasn't much to see. When we reached the gate just before the cabin, we turned left to walk the Flynn Trail back to the car and to avoid the private property around the cabin. We were back at the car at 2:45 PM having hiked 6.4 miles in 3 hours and 25 minutes with an elevation gain of 900 feet.
On Saturday, November 26th I was ready to hike after the Thanksgiving holiday madness and a number of ambulance calls. The weather was questionable especially to the north so I decided to stay local and head to Hodge and Frick Ponds. Brad and Krista were in for the weekend and Brad decided to go with me. I was glad to have the company as he and I have things in common since we are both EMS volunteers. We got ready to leave and pulled out of the driveway sometime after 10:30 AM. The temperature was only 30 degrees so I wore my Mammut hoody and Columbia Titanium pants over a long sleeved shirt and baselayer. We decided that snowshoes would not be appropriate since the recent rain had diminished the snow cover. Sheila was certainly ready to hike as she jumped in the back seat and perched on the console. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. When we arrived there were two other cars in the bigger lot and a pickup in the small lot. I was pretty sure at least some of them were hunters. We crossed the road to get onto the Flynn Trail at 11:00 AM. I have been wearing a pair of Vasque Taku boots which seem to fit well and are no longer sold by Vasque but do not seem to be very waterproof. I thought about wearing a pair of insulated winter boots but instead chose a newer pair of Keen Glarus. These have been great boots but Keen has discontinued them which seems to be a common theme among shoe manufacturers! The trail still had quiet a bit of snow but it was wet from the rain and higher temperatures of the last few days. The shows deemed to be shedding water pretty well and my feet were warm enough. Brad and I had both chosen to wear gaiters which given the depth of the snow seemed like a good choice. The walk up the Flynn Trail seemed to go a little more slowly than usual due to the slippery snow which made every step more difficult. I was surprised at the number of footprints in the snow as it seemed a small group of people had hiked since the snowfall. As we neared the top of the trail, there was a minimum of six inches of snow still on the ground with more in most places. I measured one drift at over a foot! I decided we should turn off and visit the clearing on the right side of the trail as I had not been there in some time. We walked off the trail and up a small hill to the edge of the clearing. Nothing much had changed but as I got out the camera it began to snow lightly. I took a few shots and then we returned to the Flynn Trail. The clearing is a mystery as it is large and there is a woods road that connects to it. There are no foundations and the soil is a thin layer over rock in most places. Brad and I made no stops passing through the junction with the Big Rock Trail and continuing straight ahead of the Flynn Trail. We kept up a quick pace as we passed through the gate marking the boundary with the Open Spaces Institute property. At the next junction we stayed to the left to keep on the Flynn Trail and head directly down to Hodge Pond. When we broke out into the clearing at the outlet end of Hodge Pond, we walked over to the fire ring at the shore. I put down my pack and got out the camera even though there was still some snow in the air. I took some shots and then put my camera back in the pack to continue our hike.
We continued our hike on the Flynn Trail heading along the west side of Frick Pond. The snow continued to cover the surface of the trail with some standing water and muddy patches. We stayed left at the next junction to continue up the hill on the blue Flynn Trail. We passed through the gate from OSI property to state land and found the trail continued to have some wet and muddy spots and plenty of snow. Brad and I had been picking up branches as we hiked and had moved several large ones off the trail. It seemed that Junkyard Junction came up quickly and we turned left on the red Quick Lake Trail to start our loop back. The Quick Lake Trail is mostly downhill and we made good time with the slippery snow acting as somewhat of an aid. At one point we saw some boot prints headed toward us which turned off into the woods on the left side of the trail. The prints looked fresh and as we looked out into the woods we could see the blaze orange hat of a hunter sitting on a log. We walked downhill to Iron Wheel Junction and turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. We were soon at the small stream just before the "Spruce Tunnel" and we crossed it with ease. The stream was very low but Sheila was able to get a drink since there was more water than there had been for several months. We continued on toward the outlet bridge at Frick Pond. Along the way we noticed some ribbon marking a path to the left of the trail. I assumed some hunters were marking a route and decided to leave the ribbons this time. We continued to stop to remove branches and other debris from the trail and found at least two blowdowns that would need tools. At the bridge I stopped to take a few pictures which I thought might be interesting as there was some mist and snow hanging over the pond. The highest part of Flynn's Point seemed to be covered in mist or fog. We walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction. The trail back to the parking area was a little wet and muddy in places but we had no problems. As we passed the register box, we turned right to stay on the trail. When we got back to the car at 2:05 PM there were two more cars in the small lot and a large SUV in the larger lot. We had walked 6.6 miles in 3 hours 5 minutes gaining 940 feet along the way. The temperature at the trailhead was now 35 degrees.
On Monday, November 21st snow was still falling and the wind was still blowing after a storm dumped at least 8" in Livingston Manor on Sunday. Most schools were closed as the roads were in very poor condition. I asked Cindy if she would like to snowshoe on the Round Top Trail we had helped create across the street from our house. She said she would like to go and Sheila was eager to get out. Sheila has a little Siberian Husky in her and she loves to romp in the snow. We both had some things to do around the house before going out. Around 11:15 AM we started to get ready and I was reminded of how much harder it is to prepare for a hike in the winter! We both dressed warmly as the air temperature was in the high 20's and the wind was gusting to over 30 mph! I got our snowshoes out of the basement choosing to wear my Crescent Moon snowshoes which have the best bindings. I decided to wear a pair of insulated Salomon Nitro boots and my Mammut hoody. Eventually we were ready and walked out the driveway to the street. I put Sheila on her leash so that we could cross the street. We walked through the field next to the Presbyterian Church and found about 8 inches of snow. We turned left behind the church and started to walk up the paved road to the top of the cemetery. The wind had blown much of the snow away and I was concerned that there would not be enough snow in the woods to snowshoe. We stopped at the trailhead and I took a few shots of Sheila and Cindy before we walked into the woods. Once we were under the trees we did find enough snow to make using the snowshoes possible but not necessary. At the trail junction we decided to walk straight ahead up the trail to the lookout. The snow was even deeper here which made using the snowshoes more fun. We turned left on the short spur trail out to the viewpoint and I took a few pictures of the small gap we had to cross to get to the lower ledges. We walked out to the lower viewpoint and I took a few shots down into town and of the school. At this point the wind began to blow more fiercely so we retreated back on the trail and walked up to the upper ledges.
I took a few pictures from this point and then we continued around the loop on the trail heading east. It was a little hard to see the yellow paint blazes which were covered, in some cases, by the blowing snow. We were still headed uphill until we came to the sharp right turn where the trail flattened out. As we walked along the woods road we had cleared, we found several places where the heavy snow had pulled branches into the trail. Soon we came to the sharp right turn where the trail heads back to the original trail junction. We turned right and started downhill which allowed us to "ski" downhill by picking up the tips of the snowshoes. After a short, steep downhill we followed the trail as it turned right. We continued back to the first trail junction to complete the loop. I suggested we reverse the loop since we had hiked less than a mile but Cindy decided she would go home. I put Sheila on her leash so she would not be tempted to follow Cindy and headed around the loop in the opposite direction. The grade in this direction is much more gentle and I allowed Sheila to give me a little pull as we ascended to the sharp left turn. After making the left turn, I let Sheila off her leash but kept her close to me as we hiked the for a long time ground to the turn off the woods road. After making the left turn, the rest of the hike was mostly downhill. At the lookout we started won the steepest part of the trail where I could pick up my tips and slide most of the way back down to the trail junction. It was a short walk back out to the trailhead where I put Sheila back on her leash. There was enough snow to safely get back down the cemetery hill where we completed the hike by walking across the field back to our driveway. I was surprised to see that our tracks from just a little over an hour before were completely filled in and invisible!
On Friday, November 18th I had scheduled a meeting with some Livingston manor students at the Round Top Trail. The students were members of the school's newly formed Interact Club which is sponsored by the local chapter of Rotary International. The purpose of the meeting was to walk the newly completed Round Top Lower Trail and to introduce the students to the trail and to trail maintenance. I wanted the students to react to the trail as it exists and to suggest changes or improvements. I also wanted to show them how to maintain the trail using some "elbow grease" and simple tools. Depending on the time they had available, I thought it would also be a good idea to have them help me plan the next phase of the trail project. This is a trail from the existing lower trail to the high point of Round Top that is on public property. This trail will only be about a quarter mile long but will require more work than the lower trail. The lower trail, follows many existing woods roads while the upper trail has now roads to follow. I parked at the church at about 12:50 PM for the 1:00 PM meeting and was the only car there. I was a little worried but just before 1:00 PM five students arrived. After greeting them and thanking them for their interest, I showed them some of the hand tools we use to maintain trails. I emphasized the safe use of sharp tools and that we are not allowed to use chainsaws or others motorized tools. This means that choosing the path of lest resistance is very important so that we go around obstacles and not through them. After a short discussion, we headed up the road behind the church to the trailhead at the top of the cemetery. At the beginning of the trail I pointed out the triangle of blazes and discussed the standard method of blazing trails. We walked into the forest and began to pick up sticks and branches on the trail. I was surprised after the wind that had blown over the last few weeks that there weren't some larger blowdowns on the trail. At the trail unction I pointed out where some trail sings would be posted and we decided to walk straight ahead to the overlook. When we reached the spur trail to the lower lookout, we turned left. I pointed out the small "gulf" that needed to be crossed and the fact that the lookout will have to be relocated to the upper ledge. Although the crack is easy to cross for the most part, snow and ice would definitely be a problem. Constructing a "bridge" is not possible as that would be an "improvement" that would increase liability for the town. We walked out to the ledge to get a view of the town and the school. The students really enjoyed the view. I mentioned to them the fact that although the lookout appeared to be at the top of a solid mass of rock if is actually a ledge hanging in midair and undercut by the erosion of softer rock. We walked to the side of the ledge and were able to get to the rock shelter underneath the ridge.
We walked back out the short spur trail and turned left to walk to the upper lookout. The view from the upper ledge is good right now without the leaves on the trees. After a brief stop, we continued along the trail heading east on the only part of the trail that was cut out from the forest. We walked slightly uphill and caught up with my wife and grandson at a glacial erratic that acts as a nice spot to rest along the trail. When we arrived, I asked the students to pose and they did a great job as I took a few shots. I also asked them to demonstrate lopping a branch from a tree and took some pictures of that also. We continued our walk along the trail and soon turned southeast and south along an old woods road. Soon we arrived at the point where the trail makes a sharp right turn to head back toward the initial trail junction. At this point I asked the students if they would like to help lay out the upper trail and they agreed. I gave some ribbon to two of the students to tie to the trees as we walked a possible track up the hill. As we walked we looked for existing paths or game trails trying to avoid thick brush and extensive blowdowns. We also tried to find a route that wasn't too steep but I knew we might have to put in at least one switchback when we actually cut the trail. Soon we were approaching the top of the hill and we came out exactly where I have come out several times before. We walks along the flat summit to the other side and then began to descend toward the existing lower trail. We again tried to pick the best route choosing the gentler slopes and a route with the least amount of work needed. I had not brought my GPS but was confident I could find the correct path. As we neared the bottom of the hill, I seemed to lose the track but the students immediately picked out the yellow blazes of the lower trail and we headed directly for them. Once we were back on the main trail we turned left and walked back to the sharp right. This time we turned right and walked down the trail to the wide woods road that leads back to the trail junction. Along the way we took a careful look at some of the impressive ledges along the way on the right. At the trail junction we turned left and walked back out to the trailhead. The students posed again by the beginning of the trail and I took a few pictures before we walked down the hill back to the church parking lot. I thanked the students and told them I would be in contact with them to schedule a day to cut out the upper trail and to maintain both trails. When I returned home, Sheila would not let me relax in peace. Saturday was the first day of rifle hunting season and Sunday's forests was for cold and snow or rain. I decided that I would take Sheila across the street and hike the trail. Since Sheila doesn't care where we go she was ready as I put her on her leash to cross the street. We walked passed the church and up the hill with Sheila helping to pull me to the top. Once we turned into the trail, I let Sheila off her leash to allow her to roam a little. Sheila stayed pretty close as we turned right at the trail junction. We walked up to the point where the upper trail may start and walked up to the top of the hill following the flagging the students had placed earlier. We followed the ribbons back down to the lower trail where we turned right. We walked out toward the lookout and then followed the trail back to the trailhead. I put Sheila back on her leash as we walked won the hill and crossed the street to the driveway.
On Wednesday, November 16th I wanted to get in a local hike and decided to check out the TouchMeNot Trail which I maintain for the Finger Lakes Trail. I wanted to start at Big Pond and see how far I could get. The last time I had worked the trail was during the summer and I wanted to make sure it was free of new blowdowns for the winter season. I left Livingston Manor right around 9:15 AM and headed up the Beaverkill Road with an excited Sheila in the back seat. Even though the temperature was pushing into the high 40's I chose to wear my Mammut hoody since it was lots of zippers to dump heat and extra pockets. We arrived in the parking area by Big Pond just after 9:45 AM and got started immediately. There was a pickup in the parking area but I did not see anyone fishing on Big Pond. I had my Fiskars axe which I carry when hiking longer distances since it is sharp but light with a hollow handle. I also had brought my Silky curved saw and some plastic felling wedges. We crossed the road and got on the red Touch-Me-Not Trail to hike over the hill toward Cabot Mt. The trail starts with a nice little ascent to get the heart pumping and then levels off some. The trails were quite wet from the rain the day before making the leaves slippery. I was at a disadvantage since I did not bring my poles. Just passed the trail register there was a small blowdown. I put down my pack and took a few "before" shots. It didn't take long to clear the blowdown and we were soon on our way again. I thought this was a good beginning but we really didn't encounter any other blowdowns that we could clear for the rest of the way to the top of Touch-MeTouch-Me-Not Mountain. I did find several places where small funks or large branches had fallen across the trail but in all cases I was simply able to pick them up and move them off the trail. There were a few places where trees were hanging preciously over the trail but they were too big for me to tackle and had been there for some time. Over the first mile we gained 770 feet to the shoulder of Touch-Me-Not Mountain. Along the way I did cut one small tree that was hanging into the trail. There were several large blowdowns that were old and laying on the ground. I had asked that the Finger Lakes Trail send someone to remove them with a chainsaw but that had not happened. As we approached the junction with e blue Campground Trail we came to a tree that had split three ways. One large trunk lay across the trail while another hung over the trail. I noticed that hikers had begun to hike around this mess and thought about rerouting the trail slightly the next time I was in the area. We continued to the junction with blue Campground Trail where we kept to the right on the Touch-Me-Not Trail and continued our descent. We ran across several large trees across the trail but they were old and had been there for some time. I decided to leave them as they were easy to step over. For the ones that were slightly elevated I scored the tops of the trunks to make them a little less rounded and slippery. I didn't have time to really work on them to make a step. After about 1.6 miles we arrived at the junction with the yellow Little Pond Trail on the left.
I decided to make the left and hike a loop back to Big Pond as I did not want to descend the slippery slopes that we had climbed on the way out. I walked a little ways toward Cabot Mountain and found nothing to clear so I returned to the Little Pond Trail to start the loop back. Once we got to Little Pond we could follow the campground access road and Barkaboom Road back to the car. This was slightly longer than staying on the Touch-Me-Not Trail but I had done it before and it was easier. There were a couple of trees across the trail and I decided to remove them since they had been there some time and the DEC crew had not touched them. I took some pictures of both blowdowns and then quickly removed them from the trail. We were soon in the field on the Little Pond Trail that acts as a nice lookout over the valley below. I stopped to take a few pictures of the scenery although there was a heavy haze hanging over the valley. After the field, we continued along the woods road and the turned left onto the trail that would take us down to Little Pond. Along the way we came to what is usually a beaver meadow but found it transformed back into a beaver pond. I stopped to take a few shots and then continued on the trail. I did not see any freshly cut sticks and there was no lodge in the small pond that had formed behind the dam. We continued down to the loop trail and turned left to start toward the gatehouse. We crossed a bridge and continued around Little Pond stopping at the "deck" so that I could take some pictures. As we neared the bathhouses, I put Sheila on her leash. I noticed that there was some yellow tape blocking off an area near the bathrooms and it looked as if a new pipe was being installed. We walked to the bridge over the dam and I took a few more pictures before beginning the walk out passed the gatehouse and down the access road to Barkaboom Road. We turned left on Barkaboom Road and began the .6 mile uphill hike back to the car. We were back at about 1:00 PM having spent 3 hours and 15 minutes hiking around 5.0 miles with a lot of time for trail maintenance and photography! The elevation gain was a modest 1023 feet.
On Monday, November 14th I wanted to get out and hike locally as the week coming up would be busy and include some rainy weather. I asked Cindy if she would like to go to Frick Pond to clear the blowdowns that we had found on the Logger's Loop on the previous Saturday and she agreed. When I awoke in the morning the temperature was 20 degrees so we were not too eager to get a very early start. I got my gear in the car including my Fiskars axe, Silky Sugowaza saw and felling wedges. Because the temperature was till in the 20's, I decided to wear my Mammut hoody and warmer Columbia Titanium pants. The hoody has lots of zippers to help regulate temperature and I knew I could always take it off. Sheila was happy to be going anywhere and crouched in the back seat with her head on the console. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. Where the road splits I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road and parked in the smaller lot at 10:10 AM and got started almost immediately. The temperature was 28 degrees when we left the parking area. We headed out to the Quick Lake Trail passing the trail register and heading toward Frick Pond. At Gravestone Junction we turned right to get on the yellow Logger's Loop heading toward Times Square. We made good time on the trail as it headed slightly downhill. I was surprised that there were a few muddy spots on the trail as everything else was so dry. We picked up a few large and small branches as we made our way to the four-way trail junction. At Times Square we continued straight ahead to stay on the Logger's Loop and began to climb an uphill. Almost immediately we ran into the first blowdown across the trail. I put my pack down and took a few shots of the "before". I decided to use the axe to cut the thicker end of the tree trunk and then cut the upper end with the saw. The work went quickly as I made the cuts and then moved the pieces off the trail. After a few "after" shots, we were ready to continue on to the next job. Before we started to hike again, I opened all the zippers on my hoody as the work had made me very warm. The trail continued to rise and then flattened a little. Eventually we came upon the second of the three blowdowns I wanted to clear.
I put down my pack and took a look at the blowdown. There were two trunks that were a little larger than I remembered and I wished that I had brought my larger KatanaBoy saw. I took some shots and the grabbed the saw to begin the work. I planned to use the saw for most of the cuts and immediately started cutting the tops of the trees and the left side of the trail. I was able to make some quick cuts and pull the tops off the trail. I turned my attention to the stump end of the trees and marked where I would make the cuts. The would was green which made the saw bind a little I started down-cutting and then switch to up-cutting as the saw started to bind. Eventually I heard the wood start to crack but the cut would no separate. I gave the trunk a few kicks and whacked it with the axe a few times and it gave way. I turned my attention to the other trunk which was a little large and thins went much the same way. I was hoping I could move the two trunks off the trail without making additional cuts. I grabbed the end of the smaller trunk and was able to man-handle it off the trail. The larger trunk was also longer but I was able to move it also. I took some "after" shots and we moved on to the last blowdown. We arrived at Iron Wheel Junction and made the left turn onto the Quick Lake Trail. The last blowdown was ahead of us and was a tangled mess of relatively small branches. I took my pictures and we removed the loose branches. I started to cut away the remainder which was made more difficult as many of the branches were so small. I had been thinking that my saw was beginning to get dull right up until the point where I cut my thumb! I took a moment to tape the laceration and then went on with the work. The fact that the branches were so entangled made clearing them like a puzzle! Eventually we got everything cut and cleared off the trail. It was getting a little late so I took a few quick shots and then we set a quick pace back toward the car on the Quick Lake Trail. Just before the stream through the woods we came to some branches overhanging into the trail. I knew I couldn't leave them so I grabbed the saw, cut them and cleared them out of the way. We headed back on the trail crossing the almost dry stream. We crossed the bridge over the outlet of Frick Pond and continued back to the car. We were back at 1:05 PM having spent almost 3 hours on the trail covering 3.9 miles. The time was almost evenly divided between walking and working. Our average speed was 1.3 mph but our moving speed was 2.6 mph! Our elevation gain was modest at about 400 feet.
On Saturday, November 11 I had planned to head to Bath to hike another section of the Finger Lakes Trail on map 10. When I awoke at 5:30 AM, the pain in my right ankle was better but I could still feel some discomfort. I am convinced that this was due to my own stupidity in not putting proper insoles in my shoes on Tuesday for a long hike. Wearing good insoles for the rest of the week an resting from hiking seemed to be helping. I decided to be cautious and do a shorter hike around Livingston Manor. I got a little more sleep and when Cindy and I got out of bed I asked if she would like to hike. She said "Yes" and we decided to head for Frick Pond. My plan was to hike the Quick Lake Trail to Iron Wheel Junction. From here we would hike the Logger's Loop to Times Square an then ascend the Big Rock Trail to The Flynn Trail to get back to the car. There were several ways to shorten the hike if I felt my ankle would not take additional mileage. Although the temperature in the morning as in the low 30's we knew it would warm up throughout the day as the sun came out. When we left the house just before 10:00 AM it was still barely 40. I decided to wear my Mammut hoody and warmer Columbia Titanium pants. The hoody has lots of zippers to help regulate temperature and I knew I could always take it off. Sheila was happy to be going anywhere and crouched in the back seat with her head on the console. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. Where the road splits I stayed left on Beech Mountain Road and parked in the smaller lot at 10:15 AM. It didn't take us long to walk out to the Quick Lake Trail to start our hike. As we started to hike I wondered about my choice of clothing as it felt pretty warm. We stayed left at Graveyard Junction to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. When we arrived at the bridge across the outlet, I decided to stop and take pictures as the colors around the pond and the water itself seemed to be inviting me. The water level was still very low in the pond and the outlet stream was hardly running at all. Every time I see these low water levels I hope that we get a large amount of snow this winter! I took some shots and then we continued on around the pond. We stayed left at the trail junction to stay on the Quick Lake Trail and very shortly ran into a blowdown across the trail. I immediately started to make plans to return to clear it but then noticed that it was broken into pieces. Cindy and I worked to clear each piece and soon had the entire mess cleaned up. We continued on our hike passing through the "Spruce Tunnel". The small stream through the woods was almost dry with only a few pools of water. By 11:10 AM we had walked the 1.5 miles to Iron Wheel Junction. Just before the junction we encounter another blowdown which would need an axe and saw to clear. At the trail junction we turned right on the Logger's Loop Trail. The Logger's Loop is mostly downhill in this direction and we made good time but encountered two more blowdowns which would require tools to remove. By 11:40 AM we were at Times Square and about 2.7 miles into the hike.
At Times Square we turned left to start up the Big Rock Trail. From Times Square to The Flynn Trail is about 1.1 miles but the elevation gain is around 600 feet averaging a 10% grade. The route has three different climbs with some flatter areas between them. Before we started up the trail I evaluated my ankle and found it felt pretty good. I had inserted a pair of Sole blue insoles which have even more support than the Superfeet Green which I normally use. We set a pretty fast pace on the climb and as we were walking we encounter a lone women hiking down the trail. I had forgotten to take a leash so I brought Sheila over to the side of the trail to let the other hiker pass. We said "Hi" and then headed in our opposite directions. Despite Sheila's excitement at seeing others on the trail, she always heads in the opposite direction to continue our hike when I release her. We reached the Flynn Trail at 12:10 PM after hiking 3.8 miles. We turned right to walk down the Flynn Trail back to the parking area. There were a few large branches on or near the trail but we were able to move them all out of the way. Sheila was still excited at this point and was running up the trail and back to me. She was taking a few excursions off the trail to follow animal tracks but was pretty close so I let her explore. She started to grab some rather large branches so I picked up a stick and threw it several times for here to retrieve. The trip down the Flynn Trail went quickly and we were soon near the gate that blocks Beech Mountain Road. At this point I decided to wander off to the left into the woods to look for some old foundations. I quickly found the remains of old buildings and what looked like a well. There were also some rather nice stone walls that I had never seen before. There are several websites that detail the history of the area and the possible homeowners. I continued through the woods with Sheila until we were back on the Flynn Trail. A family group with several young children was hiking up the Flynn Trail as we continued down to the parking area on the trail. We were back at 1:00 PM having covered 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes.
On Tuesday, November 8th I wanted to hike the Finger Lakes Trail again so I looked at Map 11 which is immediately to the west of the section I had just complete. Map 11 runs from Hughes Road and Turnpike Road south of Howard, NY east to Sand Pit Road near Bath, NY. When I saw that the distance was 11.9 miles I knew it would take two trips and planned to do the second leg on Thursday. It bothered me that spotting a car would allow me to do it on one trip but I had no one else that would go with me! I thought maybe Bath was a big town to have a taxi service and I did an Internet search. I found Village Taxi and communicated with them on Facebook. They assured me that they could pick me up in Bath and drop me off on Hughes Road and they would be glad to take Sheila along. I spoke to them on the phone to confirm that I would be in Bath between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM and that I would contact them at that time. I planned to get up at 6:00 AM and get going as soon as possible. The forecast was for temperatures reaching into the 60's with plenty of sun with clouds moving in at the end of the day.I woke up a little earlier than 6:00 AM and got ready to go. I knew I would have to dress for the weather on put on my summer/fall pants and a light baselayer with my Mammut pullover shirt. I did wear my Mammut Hoody since the temperature when I left the house was 28 degrees which also made my through in a light hat and gloves. I wore a new pair of Keen Glarus which had caused some foot problems on the last hike. In retrospect, I should have changed from the Keen footbeds to my Superfeet Green insoles to stop my overpronation. The drive is almost 3 hours but I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. Around 6:30 AM, we headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the high 20's or low 30's and it was dark as sunrise wasn't until 6:58 AM. After a long drive, I took exit 38 to Bath and got on Route 415 North. I turned right on Spalding Drive and then right on Harrisburg Hollow Road. After a short distance, I turned right on Sand Pit Road and found that it was being paved. Rather than park on the left where I had parked before, I found a wider spot on the right and pulled off as far as I could hoping I would not be in the way of the pavers. I called Village Taxi and they were there within 15 minutes. Mr. Wheeler the driver and co-owner was very pleasant as we left my car at about 9:30 AM and headed out to Route 415. We turned right and then left onto Route 15, Knight Settlement Road. After 3.4 miles, we turned right on Turnpike Road heading west. The road was definitely a back road but was in pretty good shape. As we approached Hughes Road after driving about 9 miles, a wind farm appeared on the left and I was pleased since I could at least take a few pictures of the windmills. I was less impressed by a steep downhill and steep uphill to the junction of Hughes Road and Turnpike Road. Mr. Wheeler dropped me at the intersection and I got all of my gear and Sheila out of the taxi. The fee was VERY reasonable and I was happy that I would be able to walk 12 miles and all of it would be trail miles!
We started our hike at 9:55 AM by hiking east on Turnpike Road down a long hill and up the other side. As we ascended I stopped to take a few pictures of the windmills and some nice views to the north. After we got to the top of the hill on the road it was time to descended the other side to Craig Road at the bottom of the hill. We turned left and walked along one of the few flat spots on the hike. As we walked some cattle in the field seemed very interested in us and walked towed us in their pasture. At about 2 miles we turned right on McCaddam Road. Despite its name the road soon turned to dirt and we were again hiking up hill between two rows of evergreens. I decided to take some pictures here before topping the hill and turning left on Harris Hill Road. We walked downhill and at 2.9 miles turned right into the woods. I got out my poles and let Sheila off her leash. We had hiked almost 3 miles and all of it had been on the road! The trail was a little overgrown as we passed along the edge of a swamp before hitting a farm lane. I could hear some noise in the field us and suspected it was a combine but I could not see it. We followed the lane for a while and then the trail turned into the woods next to the field. I could see that a combine was at work harvesting the corn. The trail came out onto another farm lane where we turned left and continued on it for some time. I stopped once or twice to take a few pictures. We crossed Route 69 and began another short ascent and then began to walk along the top of a small ridge between two stream beds. Eventually we dropped down to another woods road. As we approached Snell Hill Road we passed an archery range but no one was using it at the time. We walked out to the road and turned left and then right into the woods again. The trail passed through some woods between fields before finally breaking out into some fields. We followed the blazes as the trail descended to Gay Gulf Road. We turned left here and hiked downhill a little to abridge across a stream. The trail turned into the woods and began a slight ascent up a hill. After a short walk in the woods we came to a field and walked the edge near the hedgerow to get up to Robinson Road. We crossed Robinson Road and headed for a lone tree in the middle of a field. The trail continued along a hedgerow which was surprisingly well marked. We had no trouble following the trail through the fields by hugging the edge of the fields. The trail eventually entered the woods again. We began a descent of over a mile dropping 360 feet to Sinclair Road where we turned left and walked out to Campbell Creek Road. We headed left or north on Campbell Creek Road dropping another 100 feet. I had a feeling we would be gaining some of this elevation back at some point. I was having some pain high in my right ankle from the lack of a proper insole which was entirely my own fault.
At 7.8 miles we turned right onto Cochran Road and my hunch about gaining elevation proved correct. After the turn, we were looking at a significant hill. Sheila was still in the mood to pull so I allowed her to assist me up the hill. We did stop along the way as there was a very old and interesting farmhouse. By the time we reached the highest point on the hill we had walked about .9 miles and gained 450 feet. The directions about what to do next on the Finger Lakes Trail map were very unclear. It said "immediately after the turn, turn left into the field." The problem was that there were several turns so I consulted the map app on my cell phone. At 8.8 miles the road made a 90 degree turn right and an FLT sign on the corner indicated we should enter the field which we did. It was not so much of a left turn as going straight ahead. Again, the blazes were well-placed and visible and we could easily follow them as they followed the hedgerow. At one point we passed through the hedgerow to the other side descending all the way. At the end of the fields we followed the blazes slightly uphill and the turned to follow them to the right under the powerlines. We descended to Knight Settlement Road trying to avoid several stands of roses along the way. When we arrived at Knight Settlement Road we had hiked 9.5 miles. The trail crosses the road and parallels the road for a short distance. This section is closed for hunting season and I had heard some gunshots in the area of the trail. I decided to turn left on Knight Settlement Road and bypass the trail. I put Sheila on her leash and we started northeast on the road. Initially there was almost no shoulder and there was quite a bit of traffic. After about half a mile the shoulder widened which was good since the traffic remained heavy. I knew we were near the end of the hike and was looking forward to the end. The road was a gentle downhill for 1.6 miles to Route 415 and passed over the railroad tracks and ran right by Knight Settlement Sand and Gravel. Getting across Route 415 took some doing but we mad it across safely and turned right. In a short distance we reached Spalding drive, turned left and continued straight ahead at the next intersection on Harrisburg Hill Road. We turned right on Sand Pit Road and walked up hill to the car. We were back at the car at 2:35 PM after hiking 12.2 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes with an elevation gain of 1430 feet and a descent of 2020 feet. This initially caught me off guard until I remembered we were walking one way. We had actually started at 1835 feet and ended at 1245 feet! The question now is whether or not I will try to get in one more section this season!
On Saturday, November 5th I wanted to hike the Finger Lakes Trail east from Winding Stair Road near Hammondsport, NY to Birdseye Hollow Road. This would allow me to complete Map 12 and would mean I had hiked from Bath, NY to the eastern terminus of the trail in Claryville, NY. This section of trail has been rerouted onto some roads due to the loss of landowner permission so that 8 miles of the 12.4 mile out and back hike is now on roads. I knew this would make thee hike go faster than a hike which had more trail. After hiking to Winding Stair Road last time, I was doubtful about parking on that road so I decided to park on Birdseye Hollow Road where I had parked before with no problem. This location is also easier to access from Route 17. I had been the school nurse for most of the week and was anxious to get out again as was Sheila. I planned to get up at 6:00 AM and get going as soon as possible. The forecast was for temperatures reaching almost 50 degrees but with some wind. The skies were supposed to be cloudy but no rain was in the forecast. S luck would have it the ambulance pager went off at 4:15 AM but I was the only one that called in. I tried to get back to sleep but could tell that wasn't going to happen. I decided to get a REALLY early start and left Livingston Manor before 5:30 AM! I had decided to dress warmly hoping I would not regret it. This meant a pair of lined Columbia Titanium pants and my Mammut Hoody. My Vasque Taku boots had leaked like a sieve last time so I replaced them with a new pair of Keen Glarus. The problem was I had only worn these once before and the laces were too short. The drive is almost 3 hours but I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the mid 30's and it was dark as sunrise wasn't until 7:48 AM. After a long drive, I took exit 40 to Savona and got on Route 226 heading northeast. I turned left or north on Myers Road and then left on Route 16. After only a short distance, I turned right on Birdseye Hollow Road heading north. The road had been freshly paved and, unlike last time, a shoulder had been added. The Finger Lakes Trail crosses the road a short distance after Birdseye Hollow County Park. I turned around and parked on the western shoulder where there was one other vehicle parked. I had noticed cars and trucks parked along local roads and knew that big game crossbow season was open. I got my gear ready, set my electronics and started the hike at 8:25 AM under very cloudy skies. The temperature was still below 40 degrees but there was no wind as we started into the forest heading west on the trail. I kept Sheila near me as I did not know whether the truck represented hikers or hunters. The trail almost immediately crossed a stream on a set of two bridges. We were walking through mostly hardwoods and a lot of the leaves had fallen. It surprised me how many leaves remained on the trees and hoe colorful they were! The trail was a little wet in places but was in generally good condition and adequately marked. Over the first .9 miles of trail we gained 375 feet with an average grade of 8%. This pleased me as I knew the last part of the return trip would be downhill! I was already getting warm so I removed my Mammut Hoody and put on a light windbreaker. I also removed my gloves and hat. At 1.2 miles we came to Urbana Road which we crossed with a slight jog to the south. The land on the other side of the road is private property but the owner allows hikers on the trails. The trail here were wide lanes but there were several crossing each other so I kept my eyes on the blazes and on Sheila. We were still climbing and at 1.8 miles we crossed VanAmburg Road. At 2 miles we came to a directional sign at the site of Irene's Bivouac. Just passed this area was a very new leanto. We continued on the trail passing the leanto and started to near some houses so I put Sheila on her leash. At 2.25 miles we arrived at Longwell Road and I knew we would be walking on the road for some time. I stowed my poles and put Sheila on her leash. The breeze had come up and I was slightly chilled but knew I would warm up as we walked.
We turned right on Longwell Road and walked a short distance downhill to Route 113 where we turned left to head southwest. The road was recently paved and I expected to have to deal with some heavy traffic. It turned out that there was very little traffic on the road both on the out and back. We did encounter a couple of loose dogs but the owner called them back and apologized. The road rolled quiet a bit and was more up hill than down. As we walked along, it seemed that the sun was trying to come out and I could see some bright patches on the far hills. As we came up one hill, I walked to the side of the road and got out my camera to take a few shots. We continued to the intersection with Lockwood Road and walked passed it to continue toward Winding Stair road. As we topped the hill, I looked ahead to find what looked like a very long and steep hill ahead. Fortunately, Winding Stair Road turned right at the base of the hill. After turning right, we started walking down the road. We walked north losing elevation every bit of the way until we had dropped 350 feet to where the Finger Lakes Trail came out of the woods and where we had turned on the previous hike. There did seem to be enough room to park on the right of east side of the road. We walked to where we had stopped on the last hike and I got out the camera to take a few more pictures of the colorful leaves. It was 10:45 AM and we had hiked 6.2 miles. We packed up and started back up the hill with Sheila doing her part to give me a little pull. Although the new shoes were not rubbing by feet, there were areas that felt irritated and soar. I tried to ignore it since I knew there was no choice but to walk back. We turned left at the top of the hill and did some ascend to Lockwood Road. The sun really hadn't broken through the clouds but it did seem warmer. As we passed one house there were several people outside raking leaves and they asked me if we were "walking the trail'> I said "Yes" and told them our route for the day. We walked quickly back to Longwell Road where we turned right and walked back to the spot where the trail entered the woods on the left. After we got on the trail, I let Sheila off her leash but kept her near me. I got my poles out and they helped to alleviate some of the pressure on my feet. I had though about stopping at the leanto to tape my feet but knew that often doesn't work out well. I chose to simply hike carefully using the poles. The trip back through the woods was uneventful as we passed the leanto, crossed the streams and roads we had negotiated on the way out. When we arrived at the last stream just before Birdseye Hollow Road, I stopped to take a few pictures of the stream and bridges. I noticed that the sun had finally broken through as we walked back out to the car. The other vehicle was gone. We were back at the car at 1:10 Pm having hiked 12.4 miles in 4 hours and 45 minutes pausing for only 15 minutes total along the way. We had 1800 feet of elevation gain and had averaged about 1.7 mph. There may still be enough time this fall to hike Map 11!
On Monday, October 31st, I had planned to hike close to home and Long Pond was the only place I had not been recently. As I was getting ready in the morning, I asked Cindy if she would like to go and she agreed. We didn't hurry out of the house as the early morning skies were cloudy and the temperature was only in the mid 30's. Sheila could see we were both getting ready to go and was hard to contain until we finally left the house at about 9:45 AM. I drove out the DebRuce Road and through Willowemoc to the Flugertown Road. I turned left and drove to the first parking area on the right. We got our gear out of the car and I set my electronics. I put Sheila on her leash and we started up Flugertown Road at 10:15 AM. The temperature was still below 40 degrees and there was a stiff breeze blowing into our faces. The first part of the hike is virtually flat but then starts to climb very gently for some distance. The first .5 miles follows the paved portion of Flugertown Road. Once we were on the unpaved, dirt road, I kept Sheila on her leash for a little longer until I felt the chance of meeting a vehicle was minimal and then I let her off the leash. Sheila was good about staying on the road which is important to me especially as small game season is in full swing. The road was shaded by the trees making it a little cooler than the road walk. It seemed to be getting warmer as we kept up a very fast pace passing the first trail junction and the informal campsites along the way. We continued on to the point where Flugertown Road turns into Basily Road and heads over a small hill and down to the Peters Hunting Club. The hunting club has a private bridge over the creek and at one point denied access to hikers. The bridge is now open and the snowmobile trail passes over it so I have hiked it many times. The camp has also repaired some boards that were missing on the bridge. I looked at the scene below which was pretty but I decided not to take any pictures as I had photographed it so many times before. There were several stands of corn around the cabin but no one was home. As we crossed the bridge it was 11:10 Am and we had hiked 2.5 miles.
We crossed the outlet to the beaver pond by walking on the road as it was not necessary to use the small footbridge due to the dry conditions. The only water on the road was the overflow from the beaver pond which had a well-constructed dam. From that point the road began to ascend slightly but we increased our efforts to keep up the pace. The skies were blue with some clouds and it was definitely warmer than when we had left the car. We came to the split in the road at 3.2 miles where Basily Road heads to the left and continues out to Wild Meadow Road. We stayed to the right and soon were approaching the point were we would turn right onto the trail back to Long Pond. We made the right turn and started to hike back on the snowmobile trail. I was surprised that the gate on the trail was wide open! Parts of the trail were slightly muddy which I found strange since the rest of the trail was so dry. There were also tire tracks but I could not tell how old they were. We walked along the trail ands Sheila did a good job of staying close. We passed the trail to the lean-to at 11:50 AM about 4.25 miles into the hike. It wasn't long before we were at the spur trail down to the shore of Long Pond. I decided to let Sheila decide which way we would go and she avoided the spur and stayed on the main trail. The final leg of the trail begins with a slight uphill over some very rocky ground which makes picking a good route difficult. We soon topped out topped out at 2250 feet and 5.25 miles into the hike. The last part of the hike went quickly as we descended the hill back to the parking area. Over the last .7 miles we lost 370 feet. We were back at the car by 12:25 PM having covered 5.9 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes with a 530 foot elevation gain.
On Friday, October 25th my plan was to head for the Finger Lakes Trail east of Hammondsport and hike the final section of map 12 east to west from Birdseye Hollow Road to Winding Stair Rd. I decided I would probably hike out and back since a good part of this section is on roads anyway. The round trip mileage is around 12 miles. All week the weather looked good and I was stoked to finish this section. I woke up just before 6:00 AM on Saturday and found that the forecast had changed to include a good chance of rain just after noon. It was a tough decision as I do not like to change plans but in the end I decided I did not want to drive almost 6 hours round trip to have limited views and the possibility of getting wet. I knew that a friend, Wendell, has planning to hike in the Mongaup Pond area to work on the CMC All Trails Challenge so I sent him and e-mail and he responded. We agreed to meet at the Mongaup Pond parking area at 9:20 AM. At 9:00 AM I put my gear in the car and loaded up an eager Sheila to head for Mongaup Pond. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Pond Road after 6 miles. I drove up the road and at the Y in the road I stayed right to go to Mongaup Pond. When I arrived the gatehouse was closed but the gate was open. This meant free use without a parking fee! Wendell was already in the lot with another friend Bob. I parked next to them and to my surprise Sheila jumped out and politely greeted them both. We said "Hello", got our gear ready and started out at 9:30 AM by hiking on the loop road on the east side of the pond. We turned right off the loop road into one of the short loops that goes to some campsites. We found we had turned a little too early and simply bushwhacked through the woods to the next set of campsites where we found the snowmobile trail which heads north paralleling the east shore of the pond. I was surprised to see a lot of snowy slush in the woods and wished I had worn a pair of gaiters. I did have on a pair on Columbia Titanium pants with a reflective lining which were probably too warm for the hike. As always I wore my Mammut hoody over a light baselayer and a Mammut long-sleeved shirt. A light hat and gloves rounded out my wardrobe. After only a short distance we came to a junction with another snowmobile trail not shown on the amp. It took us a few minutes and a peek at the PDFmaps app on my iPhone to confirm that we should continue straight ahead and north on the snowmobile trail. At 1.1 miles we came to the junction with the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail and turned right to start to climb away from the pond. The sun had started to peek through the clouds and the air temperature was rising. The walk was pleasant and it was nice to have company for a change. Sheila was behaving exceptionally well staying close to u on the trail with only a few excursions in the woods. Over the next .7 miles we gained about 270 feet to the highest point on the trail and then began descending. When we reached 2.75 miles we had lost 390 feet of elevation and crossed Butternut Creek, the outlet to Sand Pond. We paralleled the creek for a short distance and at 3.5 miles crossed the access road to Sand Pond which is a private inholding. We had been heading southeast and east but at this point the trail turned slightly northeast to meet the Long Pond Beaverkill Ridge Trail at 3.8 miles. Instead of turning left onto this trail to begin the loop back, we continued straight ahead to walk down to Flugertown Road to complete the Mongaup Willowemoc Trail for the All Trails Challenge. We were at the road by 11:45 AM having covered 4.35 miles.
At Flugertown Road we turned around and started back up to the trail junction. I was glad I had opened all the zippers on my hoody as this little climb made me very warm. Flugertown Road was the lowest point on the hike and we ascended 250 feet over half a mile to the trail junction at 4.8 miles. I decided to remove my hoody at this point hoping I would not feel too cold. I need not have worried as I never felt cool or chinked for the rest of the hike. My feet were a different story! My Vasque Taku boot were totally soaked on the outside despite the application of waterproofing. What was worse was that some of the moisture felt like it was getting through to my feet making me wonder if the boots actually had a Gortex liner! We turned right on the Long Pond Beaverkill Ridge Trail and started to head almost due north for 2.5 miles climbing all for most of the trip. The trail had a lot more slush and my feet were now wet and cold. We found that the trail alternated between being clearly marked and not marked at all. We were slowed by the fact that we had to stop and search for the next red marker in several, places. The trail also had not been properly maintained in some time and we removed many smaller branches as we hiked. There were several places where very large trees had fallen across the trail and hikers had worked their way around them essentially rerouting the trail. Most of these blowdowns were quite old and many had been partly cleared with an axe! I admired the person who would be carrying and axe over this distance and had the skill and perseverance to cut through trees which were at least two feet in diameter. I took a few pictures along the way but many of the features such as the impressive rock ledges are much better experienced in person. By 1:55 PM we had hiked 7.3 miles and had ascended to the Beaverkill Ridge at just under 3000 feet of elevation. We turned left on the blue Mongaup Hardenburgh Trail and started to look for a place to take a break for lunch. I knew that we still had to ascents to make and while my feet were uncomfortable they seemed to be mostly wet. After a short distance we took a break for "lunch". I never stop when I am hiking and eat mostly as I walk since I usually feel worse if I take a break. We only stopped for a short time and this break seemed to invigorate me. It certainly energized Sheila s she began a series of mad dashes through the woods.
As we continued west along the ridge we found more spots where the trail markers were absent and we had to guess where the trail was located. In each case we found the trail but the delay was annoying. We ascended Middle Mongaup Mountain at 8 miles and found a few limited viewpoints along the way. I knew what was ahead of us as we made a difficult descent on a steep section of trail littered with loose leaves and covered in wet slush. The sun had gone under some clouds which helped to darken my mood. In .6 miles we dropped 370 feet and were looking at West Mongaup Mountain ahead of us. I got a little ahead of my two friends but felt I had to keep moving to keep my feet warm and climbing was better than descending. The climb was steep and slippery at points and in .5 miles we gained 420 feet. I stopped at the summit so that we could regroup and noticed that the sun had come out. Just after the summit, the trail turned south and slightly west to head toward Mongaup Pond. I was dreading the descent but found that there was no slush which made things much easier. There were several poorly marked sections and areas where little maintenance had been done. We continued to pick up branches to clear the trail for others. My feet began to feel warmer but they were still wet! Over the 1.5 miles from the summit we dropped 820 feet to the northern shore of Mongaup Pond. The last .2 miles passed along a stream and through some pine trees and was most enjoyable. When we reached the pond, we stopped for a few minutes to take some pictures. It was 4:30 PM and the sun was dropping low so the lighting for photography was not the best. We had already hiked over 10 miles which was more than the total distance we planned. I knew the rest of the hike was almost completely flat and much of it was on park roads. As we picked up our packs we noticed a canoe near the far shore. We hiked along a wide trail running along the western shore of the upper section of the pond and ended up on a road that loops through some campsites. From here it was a short walk out to the "main" road where we turned right to continue south toward the parking area. I thought about stopping at the observation deck toy take a few shots but I was tired and the views were poor. I did point out to the others that there was a woods road on the right that leads west through some nice ledges to the Flynn Trail near Frick Pond. The walk along the road was not very exciting but it was easier and my feet were now back to normal temperature. We arrived back at the cars at 5:05 PM after hiking 12.1 miles and gaining 2290 feet in just over 7.5 hours. I found hiking with Bob and Wendell very enjoyable which made the time go very quickly.
On Tuesday, October 25th I wanted to get out and hike after several days of lousy weather and relative inactivity. I decided with the amount of time I had that I would go to Trout Pond since the area is close. I also hoped to find some remnants of fall colors left on the leaves still on the trees. I got my gear and Sheila in the car and headed up the Quickway towards Roscoe just before 10:00 AM. I had waited for the rain showers to abate and for the sun to come out and add some warmth to the raw air. Unfortunately, as I drove towed Roscoe, I could see black clouds and found rain hitting the windshield. Since the weather was changing so rapidly, I decided to continue. I got off at exit 94 and headed north on Route 206 towards Downsville. After crossing the Rockland Flats and passing the Roscoe Nursing Home, I turned left on Morton Hill Road and drove to teethe intersection with Russell Brook Road. I decided to drive down to the lower parking area and was pleased to find the road in pretty good shape. I arrived at 10:10 AM to find one other car in the lot. On the way down the road I stopped to look at Russell Brook and found the water level as low as I had ever seen it in any season! I set my electronics and we started out on the Trout Pond Trail along a wide woods road that leads down to and across Russell Brook. As we crossed the bridge, I could see that the brook was very low. I stopped just after the bridge to take some pictures of the knotweed which was now only a shadow of its former glory. I also took some shots of the old orchard. The scene was interesting since many of the trees were without leaves but a few still had some colorful leaves on the branches which made an interesting contrast. The temperature was only in the mid 30's but the sun was out and the sky was blue. I felt incredibly energized as we continued straight ahead at the trail junction toward Trout Pond. I was surprised that there were no muddy spots on the trail and it seemed only the surface of the leaves was wet. Soon we were at the outlet end of the pond and I walked over to the shore and dropped my pack. Since the spring the water had not come close to touching the dam but now it seemed even lower. I took quite a few pictures looking for the contrast between bare trees and those with a few remaining leaves. Part of the sky was blue but part showed some black clouds moving in. We returned to the main trail and walked the flat woods road toward the inlet end of the pond. I walked off the trail at several point to the shore of the pond to take some pictures. In each case I knew that I was standing on ground that was usually underwater! At the trail junction near the lower leanto we turned to the left on the blue blazed Mud Pond Trail which would take use over Cherry Ridge and form our loop back to the parking area.
Even though we were gaining elevation, we continued our rapid pace. From the bridge at the inlet we began a climb of 430 feet over the next .75 miles. The trail headed west from the inlet until turning sharply south at around 2 miles. The highest point on the trail was at 2.2 miles after which most of the rest of the hike is downhill. As we gained elevation, I began to notice that there was some snow or sleet falling. I was hoping that it would pick up a little so that I could take some pictures but it came and went several times without ever becoming more noticeable. At 3.3 miles we had descended 450 feet from Cherry Ridge to the snowmobile trail near Mud Pond. We turned left here to head east and downhill back toward the parking area. The downhill was a little slippery because of the leaves but we made good time as we dropped another 380 feet over the next .7 miles back to the trail junction. I continued to remove branches from the trail and noted a few blowdowns that would require tools to remove. I passed several areas were my crew had removed blowdowns from the trail earlier in the year. At the trail junction we turned right and I decided we would visit the falls just to see what it was like with so little water. We turned left and walked out to the falls on the informal path descending to the stream bed. There was almost no water going over the falls and the stream below was barely a trickled. Dropped my pack and got out the camera to take pictures of the falls and the stream from different angles. The rocks on the face of the falls that would normally be washed clean by the water were covered in colorful leaves. I had Sheila pose in front of the falls and took several shots. I picked up my pack and we returned to the main trail. We walked up to the parking area where the same car was parked as when we had started. We never saw the occupant. We had hiked 4.4 miles in 1 hour and 50 minutes with an elevation gain of 960 feet.
On Monday, October 24th Cindy and I were about to leave the house for a hike at Trout Pond when the ambulance pager went off. I have never been able to ignore a page so I went on the call in my hiking clothes. It turned out to be a potentially serious heart problem. By the time I got back there wasn't enough time before cross country practice to do too much traveling to hike. Sheila was in such a state of excitement that we decided to go across the street to hike the Round Top Trail that we had recently constructed. We headed across the street just before noon and climbed the steep hill to the top of the cemetery where the trail begins. The temperature had warmed up some but it was till cool with a mixture of sun and clouds. We walked into the woods and at the intersection we stayed to the right to hike the loop in the counterclockwise direction. As we hiked we picked up a few sticks to help keep the trail clear. When we got to the sharp left turn we followed the trail along the woods road we had cut out. We continued to walk along the trail and were soon at the lookout. We walked down to the short spur trail to the lower overlook. We agreed that the view is nice but that the way to get there is not safe for all visitors. There is a small "gulf" to cross and the viewpoint slopes which might make it dangerous in the winter. We went back to the upper ledge and could get a better view than a few weeks before since the leaves were off most of the trees. After enjoying the view, we walked down the main trail to the junction. I decided to turn around and get a little more hiking in by walking the loop in the opposite direction. Cindy decided she would return home. It was hard to get Sheila to stay with me as she was torn between going with me and staying with Cindy. In the end a few stern "With!" Commands got her to follow me as we walked back around the loop. It didn't take long before we completed the loop in the opposite direction and then headed home. I look forward to placing a few signs and creating an upper trail to the top of Round Top.
On Wednesday, October 19th I wanted to get out and hike after several days of being school nurse and a rending weather forecast with rain. I decided with the amount of time I had that I would go to Frick and Hodge Ponds since the area is close. I also hoped to find some remnants of fall colors left on the leaves still on the trees. I got my gear and Sheila in the car and headed out the DeBruce Road just before 10:00 AM. After about 6 miles, I turned left on the Mongaup Road and stayed to the left on Beech Mountain Road at the split. When we arrived at the parking area there were no other cars in the lot. I parked and got my electronics ready. At 10:20 Am we headed out on the woods road from the smaller parking area. I left my light windbreaker in the car as the temperature had already hit 60 degrees. As we walked out the woods road toward Frick Pond, I wondered if perhaps I should have brought the light jacket as a slight breeze seemed cooler than I had expected. It was a quick walk to the outlet of Frick Pond and when we arrived at the bridge I could see there were still some colorful leaves on the trees. I dropped my pack and got out the camera to take some shots. I walked to the bridge and noticed that the water level in the pond was so low that there did not seem to be any water ion the stream. I took a picture of the stream and the outlet before turning my attention to the fall leaves. Many of the trees had already dropped their leaves but some still were painted in their autumn colors. I took pictures of the pond and the puffy white clouds in the sky. I also took a few shots of Flynn's Point. I packed up my camera and shouldered my pack to continue the hike. At the next junction we stayed to the left on the Quick Lake Trail to head toward Ironwheel Junction. I stopped at one point to take a few pictures of the trail as many of the sheltered trees still had colorful leaves. As we approached the small stream in the woods just after the "spruce tunnel", I could see that there was only a shallow pool. The streambed was almost dry and was covered in leaves making it look like just another section of trail. As we continued our hike, I found several branches down across the trail. I cleared most of the branches but two spots would require a saw. When we arrived at Ironwheel Junction, we turned left to stay on the Quick Lake Trail to Junkyard Junction where the Flynn Trail begins. Over the next mile the trail rises about 400 feet heading north. At 2.4 miles it turns northeast and levels off some as it approaches Junkyard Junction.
At 3.1 miles we arrived at Junkyard Junction and turned right on the Flynn Trail heading east and slightly southeast. The trails had been dry so far and even the Flynn Trail had few damp spots as we worked our way along the flat expanse and the passed through the gate to descend to the pond. I followed Sheila as she turned right to stay on the Flynn Trail along the west side of Hodge Pond. As we came to the open field near the pond ether were a few muddy spots on the trail. From the field I could see through the trees to the pond and I stopped to take a few pictures before continuing on to the field at the outlet end of Hodge Pond. We walked over to the fire ring and I took off my pack and got out the camera. I took some pictures of the trees which still had some color. I also took a few shots of Sheila as she played in the water. The sun was out and there was a slight breeze across the pond. We didn't spend too long at the pond and were soon Back on the Flynn Trail climbing the hill up from the pond. It is .7 miles from the pond to the junction with the Big Rock Trail and we gained about 180 feet over that distance. I took a few more pictures along the way but the walk went quickly. From the junction the Flynn Trail starts a constant descent all the way to the parking area. In 1.7 miles it loses 600 feet in elevation. The walk down was pretty with many bright colors. At one point I heard a rather loud disturbance in the woods and called Sheila to me. Several times I have seen bear cross the trail in this area so I began to make some noise. When we reached the gate just before the cabin, we turned left to walk the Flynn Trail back to the car and to avoid the private property around the cabin. We were back at the car at 12:50 PM having hiked 6.3 miles in 2.5 hours with an elevation gain of 900 feet.
On Friday, October 14th I had decided to hike somewhere to see if I could find some more fall leaf colors. I had not been to Bear Spring WMA in some time and decided that was the place to go. Cindy had a morning appointment but said she would like to go if I could wait until a little after noon. I agreed and when she returned home we set out from Livingston Manor at about 12:30 PM. The temperature was in the low 50's as I drove north on Route 17 to Roscoe where I took Route 206 through Downsville toward Walton and almost to the top of Bear Spring Mountain. I parked in the large "bus turnaround" just south of East Trout Brook Road. Cindy and I both decided to keep on our light jackets as a breeze was blowing and the temperature was still in the mid 50's. I set all my electronics and we started out at 1:00 PM. Sheila had on her blaze orange bandana and Cindy was wearing a red/orange jacket so I felt we were pretty safe from bow hunters if we should encounter any. We hiked just a little north on Route 206 and then turned left onto a woods road that is also a snowmobile and hiking trail. The trails in the Bear Spring WMA are truly multi-use and are frequently used by people riding horses. I took a few pictures of an area that I always photograph and we continued to walk along the road just above a clear cut area. I was surprised to find that the smaller trees had grown up quickly along the edge of the road blocking the best views of the valley and the hills on the other side. I could see there was some good leaf colors but it was hard to get a clear view for pictures. I did take a few shots when I could and also took some along the woods road where there were some nice colors. As we were about to enter the woods, I decided to fight through the brush and briars hoping to get to the edge of the clear cut area to get some clear pictures of the trees. It took me a while but I did get to and open area and got some nice shots of some beautiful trees garbed in flaming reds, yellows and oranges. I returned to the main trail and we walked through an area with trees on both sides. Every now and then I stopped to take a few shots along the trail where there were some spectacular trees. The trail started to climb a little and at 1,4 miles and 2.0 miles we passed trails on the right that descended from the ridge to the parking area just south of Launt Pond on East Trout Brook Road. My intent was to hike down the McCoy Hill Trail toward Middle Pond and the turn left to make a loop and return the way we had come.
At 2.3 miles we made the turn down McCoy Hill and started a long descent toward a nice viewpoint. When the trail opened up at the viewpoint, I was a little disappointed that the colors were not as bright as on the other ridge. I did take a few shots and we continued down the hill skirting another clear cut area on the right. At 3.2 miles we had descended to the trail junction and a nice view of the trees on top of the ridge above the clear cut where we had just been a few hours earlier. I took a few shots and decided we would take a different route than I planned. We continued to descend on the trail toward Middle Pond. Along the way there were several nice views to the south and west to the Fork Mountain Ridge. I stopped to take a few pictures but we finally made it down to Middle Pond. There was quite a large amount of water in the pond as the beavers had built a dam in the spillway of the pond. I took a few pictures and then stowed my poles and put Sheila on her leash. We had descended almost 700 feet off the ridge and now would have to climb back up to the car. We turned right on East Trout Brook Road which immediately began to ascend toward Route 206. The road walk was easier than the trail and the pace was fast. At 5.2 miles we came to the southern end of Launt Pond after having already gained 300 feet of elevation back. We walked over to the outlet to the pond. The leaves were not as beautiful as in previous years but the colors were still nice. I took many pictures of the pond and the trees before following Cindy over to the observation deck. I got Sheila to sit next to her and took a couple of shots of them. We walked back out to the road and continued our climb. At 6.2 miles we were at route 206 after gaining over 600 feet. I decided to walk back on Route 206 rather than use the trail. We turned right and started walking back to the car on the main road. I regretted my decision jot to use the trail as there was a lot of traffic moving too fast with drivers that seemed unconcerned about their speed or our safety. We gained a little more elevation and were back at the car at 3:55 PM. We had hiked 6.9 miles in 3 hours with 1013 feet of elevation gain. As we were hiking back on Route 206, we noticed some trail on the other side of the road which I would like to explore in a subsequent hike.
On Wednesday, October 12th I had decided to do some work around the house and rest after a 12 mile hike on the Finger Lakes Trail the day before. I go to bed VERY late and then was awakened by an ambulance call at 5:30 AM. When we returned from that call another one came in. The ambulance calls and the cool and very overcast morning which reinforced, in my mind, my decision to stay home. As the morning developed the skies cleared and the sun came out. The temperature started to rise and I began to think about going somewhere to see if I could get some "fall colors" pictures. I decided to head for Giant Ledge since it is a short hike and I assumed that there would not be many people there since it was Wednesday. I got my gear together and pout Sheila in the back seat as we headed out the DebRuce Road around 10:30 AM. The temperature was in the low 50's as I drove along DeBruce Road. I turned left onto the Frost Valley Road and the colors by the YMCA were beautiful. There were no cars parked at Biscuit Brook but quite a few in the Slide Mountain parking area. When we arrived at the big bend in Route 47, the lot was full. I almost decided to head somewhere else since I did not want to deal with so many people. I decided to stick to the plan and turned around and parked off the side of the road below the parking area. We crossed the road to start the hike at 11:10 AM. The trail was very dry with only a few damp places. The stream under the bridge was nonexistent. As I climbed over the normally rocky areas, I was reminded of how many shall but very rocky climbs are on this trail! I could see a young woman ahead of me with a dog so we slowed down to let her get ahead of us. I let Sheila off her leash and she stayed very close. We caught up to and passed another group. Each time we met people, I put Sheila on her leash. Within about 30 minutes we had hiked the .75 miles to the trail junction. I have made this in 15 minutes under ideal conditions but I wasn't in any real hurry on this day. I noticed a father and son at the turn and put Sheila on her leash. The father thanked me for being considerate and we exchange a few more words before I continued on. The trail straight ahead would take us to Woodland Valley but we made a left turn to go to Giant Ledge
The next .3 miles or so was almost flat and the trail was still dry. We ascended through a few small climbs. Soon we began the climb up to Giant Ledge passing the sign for the spring on the way. We started the final climb up to the Giant Ledge plateau by passing a few more people. I was surprised at how quickly this last part went and before I knew it we were at the top. I had Sheila on her leash and had stowed my poles. Sheila does a good job of pulling on uphill sections which really helps. It often seems to me that up, down and flat are all the same to her. We walked across the trail and down to the first lookout where the woman with the dog was visiting with some other hikers. I tied Sheila to a tree, got out my camera and went out to the ledge. The colors in front of me were as good as we have had for many falls! I took a lot of shots and the decide to visit and unoccupied viewpoint so that I could take some pictures of Sheila. The woman with the dog was ahead of me and she stopped a the next lookout. Sheila and I continued to the next one which was empty. I took some pictures of Sheila on the ledge and then took more pictures of the ally below and the surrounding mountains. To the left was Panther Mountain and to the right the three members of the Burroughs Range: Slide, Cornell and Wittenberg. At this point I decided that I had too many things to do for the rest of the day and I would not enjoy the hike to Panther. It was 12:15 PM when we turned around after hiking about 1.7 miles. I looked at the views from another lookout but decided they were more of the same. We started back down from the ledges with Sheila on her leash and without the use of my poles. I soon decided that my knees would do better with my poles. The rest of the way back I kept meeting groups still hiking up to the ledges. Each time we met a group I out Sheila on her leash. We did meet one more dog which I think was a Boston Terrier puppy. Going down was easier than going up and at 1:20 PM we were back at the parking lot. More cars were parked on the road but there were a few empty spots in the lot. We covered 3.3 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes with an ascent of about 1210 feet.
On Tuesday, October 11 I wanted to continue to hike Map 12 on the Finger Lakes Trail near Bath and Hammondsport, NY after doing the first section from Sand Pit Road to Route 13. I decided I would park on Route 13 near Mitchellsville where I had left Access 5 and then hike north and east to Winding Stair Road just south of Hammondsport at Access 7. The hike out on the trail would be around 6.4 miles but I knew we could hike back on local roads and probably cut the distance some with a less difficult hike making the round trip between 12 and 13 miles. The drive is almost 3 hours but there was no rain in the forecast. Even so, I knew I wanted to get an early start so I set my alarm for 6:00 AM. When my alarm woke me I looked at the thermometer and is was 30 degrees. I delayed my start a little so that I would arrive at my destination around 10:00 AM when the temperature had risen some. I had gotten my gear ready the night before so I was ready to leave by 6:45 AM with Sheila in the backseat. We had not been out for a few days so she was more than ready to go. She almost seemed to sense we were in for a long ride and settled down immediately. I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the mid 30's and there was dense fog most of the way. I was hoping for some views on this hike and was praying the fog would lift. Between the fog and the early hour it was rather dark for the first part of the trip. After a long drive, I took exit 38 to Bath and got on Route 415 heading east. I turned north on Liberty Street and then stayed to the left on Haverling Street which became Route 13. After just about 5 miles I spotted the area where the Finger Lakes Trail crosses the road. I turned around and parked on the wide shoulder at 10:00 AM. As I got ready to start to hike I found that I had left my Suunto Traverse watch at home and, more important, I had also failed to bring my printed map. I did have my Garmin GPSmap 64st and map 12 in PDFMaps on my iPhone. I knew I would have to rely on the Finger Lakes Trail blazes and these two devices on the hike. The temperature had not yet reached 40 degrees but I exchanged my Mammut Hoody for a very light windbreaker knowing that the temperature would rise and I would get warmer as we hiked. We crossed Route 13 and walked through a mowed area of a field between two fields of soybeans that looked ready to harvest. The grass was wet and as we entered the shadow of the trees there was still frost on the ground. We came to the trail through the woods and started to walk along the Mitchellsville Creek Gorge.
The gorge is mentioned as "very special" on the Finger Lakes Trail map description and several websites tout it as an interesting place. I found it to be extremely frustrating and disappointing! Part of the problem was the lack of water in the creek but in addition most of the waterfalls are hidden by trees and are impossible to see. I could get a few glimpses but no good views! The depth of the gorge and the rock walls are impressive and it was a nice walk but I kept looking for a way to see some waterfalls or get down to the creek bed. At .7 miles I could hear some water in the creek and I took a chance walking down a narrow tongue of land at least 50 feet above the creek. The path was steep and no more than 2 feet wide and covered in slippery clay soil and moss. I got a partial view of a falls with almost no water going over it. I did not want to try to get my pack off and get the camera out so I returned, with some difficulty, to the trail. We continued walking along the gorge losing elevation all the way until the trail opened out into a field. I was frustrated as there was no turn indicator to show us where to go. We wandered around before finding that the trail turned left to follow the edge of a field and then reentered the woods. We did take the opportunity to walk down to the creek where there was a very small waterfall. I took a few shots and then we returned to the main trail. At 1.2 miles I again saw a path onto a narrow spit of land. I followed this one until I could get a good look at the gorge which is impressive. I was able to take a few pictures of a small falls far below. We continued to descend on the Finger Lakes Trail and I continued to look for a place to get down to the creek level. Sheila alerted and I saw a couple hiking toward us. We stopped and talked to each other for some time before continuing in opposite direction. I could see that we could probably hike over to the creek and then try to work our way upstream but I knew I did not have enough time for that. We walked out to an unused railroad track at around 2 miles and turned left to walk along the track and then a trail to a bridge at 2.2 miles. We walked up to an open field an walked out to a vineyard. I took some pictures of the vineyard and the hills around. The Finger Lakes Trail followed the edge of the vineyard out to Route 88 where we turned right and followed it out to the town hall. The trail crossed the lawn and turned right on Route 54 by the Vinehurst Motel. We then turned left and walked along a dirt road before the trail continued straight ahead beginning the ascent of a ridge.
Strangely, the trail followed one of two parallel woods roads, crossed over to the other, entered the woods on a trail for a hundred feet and then returned to the original woods road! We were headed south or southeast now and over the next .75 miles we gained over 700 feet at an 18% grade. The woods now were mostly hardwoods and at one point we came to a field, walked along the edge and then reentered the woods. I knew we were approaching Keuka Lake and at some point hoped to get some views! At 3.9 miles the trail began to turn north, northeast and then east. Once we had done most of the ascending the trail rolled along the ridge never really attaining the highest point. At 5.4 miles we began to descend and a t 5.8 miles the June Big Trail headed to the north to the Glen Curtiss Museum. I had thought about walking back along the ridge rather than on the roads to avoid losing elevation that we would have to regain. The loss of elevation on the trail cancelled this plan. We continued to descend on the trail until we reached Winding Stair Road at 6.4 miles having already lost over 400 feet. I got us a drink and stowed my poles as I knew the rest of the walk would be on the roads. We turned left and started to descend to the valley. I stopped to take a few pictures of fields and clouds but views of the lake eluded me. Around 6.9 miles a space opened up on the right side of the road and a dirt road headed off into a field. From this spot there were excellent views of the lake and I eagerly put down my pack and got out the camera. I took quite a few shots before packing up and heading down the road to Route 54. When we arrived at the main road at 7.5 miles we had dropped 1030 feet from the top of the ridge. We turned left and began a long walk along Route 54. Fortunately the road had wide shoulders a s there was more traffic than I expected. I knew we had to walk all the way back to the Vinehurst Motel before we could make the next turn.
Hiking along the shoulder of a main road is never thrilling but we set a good pace. My feet were getting hotspots but I knew there wasn't much I could do. At 8.2 miles I looked up and saw the entrance to the Glenn Curtiss Museum with a DC-3 parked in a field. I thought this was very interesting and stopped to take some shots. Just after the museum South Valley Road cut off to the right and it seemed a quicker way to Route 88 which headed back toward Mitchellsville and the car. We followed the road and soon were approaching Route 88. Just before the intersection was Pleasant Valley Cemetery on the left. This is the resting place of Glenn Curtiss and a sign detailed his life. We turned right on Route 88 and walked about .3 miles to the intersection with Route 89 where we turned left. I knew that we were in a valley and that the car was parked at about 1400 feet. The road started to climb almost immediately and seemed like it would go on forever. Although it was still cooler than some of the days I had hiked the sun beating down made it seem warm. We started at an elevation of 800 feet and over 1.35 miles we climbed to 1370 feet where the road levels off. As we walked along the level portion heading for Route 13, I could looked down into the Mitchellsville Creek Gorge and across to the trail we had been walking when we first started the hike. At 11.9 miles we reached Route 13 where we turned left and did a little more climbing to get back to the car. The soybean field from earlier in the morning was now bare of soybeans! We were back at 3:25 PM having hiked 12.4 miles in 5 hours and 20 minutes with an total elevation gain of 2100 feet.
On Friday, October 7 I wanted to start Map 12 on the Finger Lakes Trail near Bath, NY since it was right off Rt17/I86. I decided I would park on Sand Pit Road at Access 1 and then hike north and east to Route 13 near Mitchellsville. The hike out on the trail would be around 7.6 miles but I knew we could hike back on local roads and probably cut the distance some with a less difficult hike making the round trip between 13 and 14 miles. The drive is almost 3 hours but there was no rain in the forecast until late in the evening. Even so, I knew I wanted to get an early start so I set my alarm for 6:00 AM. I guess I was excited about the hike because I woke up several times during the night and decided to get up just after 5:30 AM. I had gotten my gear ready the night before so I was ready to leave by 6:15 AM with Sheila in the backseat. We had not been out for a few days so she was more than ready to go. She almost seemed to sense we were in for a long ride and settled down immediately. I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still only in the high 40's and there was alternating areas of dense and light fog. Between the fog and the early hour it was rather dark for the first part of the trip. After a long drive, I took exit 38 to Bath and got on Route 415 heading northwest. After just less than a mile, I turned right on Spaudling Drive and then right on Harrisburg Hollow Road at the end. After .4 miles, I turned right on Sand Pit Road and parked at a wide spot on the road just below the point where the Finger Lakes Trail crossed the road. I got my gear ready to go and left on my light windbreaker since the temperatures was still less than 50 degrees. At 9:20 AM we walked up the road and turned left into the woods and immediately began to climb. By the time we got to 1.4 miles heading northeast we had ascended almost 500 feet and gotten some nice views. The trail was wide and well kept following woods roads in many places and breaking out into corn fields. The views from the fields were nice but not spectacular and there was still a haze hanging over everything. I took off my windbreaker along the way as the air temperature had risen and so had my temperature from the climb. At 1.7 miles we passed by a small pond with structure on its southern shore. As we passed some birds flew up off the pond but I could not see what species. We walked down the spur trail to Hickory Hill Campground for only a few feet. I stopped to take a few pictures of the pond before walking back to the main trail to continue the hike.
We continued on the trail making a right turn and the arriving at the Hickory Hill leanto at about 1.8 miles. I could see there was a privy, picnic table, fire ring, and a nice view of some far away hills. I decided not to stop and we continued ahead getting a few more limited views here and there. The trail continued north as it ascended Kershener Hill at 1820 feet. From the hill we began a descent to Robbins Road which we reached at 3.1 miles. The direction to turn was not immediately obvious from the blazes but I consulted the map and turned left to walk up Robbins Road for about .3 miles before turning right into the woods. We walked along the woods road and found some of the unusual trail blazing that the FLTC likes to do. In several places we came to a Y in the trail where there was a blaze on a tree indicating turn which was obvious without the blaze. Unfortunately, the FLTC marks turns with one blaze directly above another instead of with the standard offset indicating the direction of the turn. In these cases this method makes the turn blaze completely useless as the hiker is left to search for the next blaze to confirm the direction of the turn. We also ran into turn blazes where the trail took a slight jog and there was no other way to go! Eventually we broke out into a field and started to walk around the edge. I have had some BIG problems trying to follow FLTC blazes near fields in the past but the ones on this hike were very ell placed and visible. I noticed some wooden stakes on a hill in the middle of the field. They were at least six feet tall and I took a picture as I did not know their use. I continued to walk around the field and noticed a little hut just off the trail. My curiosity got the best of me and I went to investigate. The structure had four partitioned stalls with a small bench in each one. It reminded me of an outhouse but there were no holes in the benches or the floor. This was the second mystery. We continued to follow the road along the edge of the field and began to get some nice views to the left. The road ascended a little hill and the views got better. Along the side of the trail were two stone benches and we stopped so that I could take some pictures. This was the highest spot on the hike at 1900 feet. I took a shot of the benches and then a few of the pond below and the hills beyond. We continued our walk and turned right into the woods. There was a sheltered bench called the "Puckerbush Overlook" just inside the woods.
We continued on the trail following a woods road as it passed by some houses and then came to Ferris Road at 5 miles. We turned right and followed the road down hill and due east until it eventually became a woods road. The trail followed the road for some time and then entered the woods only to come back onto the road. At 5.3 miles the Bristol Hills Branch Trail headed north. The road was now very eroded and hard to walk. Soon we had descended to a deep ravine where we encountered a few missing blazes. We found the trail and walked down into the ravine which was cut by Softwater Creek but was completely dry. My map description mentioned a bridge but there was none. The walk up the opposite bank was steep but within .3 miles we came to Newton Road. I had considered bailing out at this point but decided to stick to the original plan. We turned right on Newton road and walked downhill for about .4 miles on packed and the loose dirt and gravel. The trail then turned into the woods to the left and began to climb again. The climb was steep averaging 16% even with the switchbacks but it was only .3 miles to the top of the hill. We had been heading east but at the top of the hill we turned north and immediately began a descent on a woods road. This was gentle at first but at 7.3 miles the trail turned east again and began a steep descent to Route 13 at 7.7 miles. All the way down the hill I could detect the unmistakable smell of liquid chicken or duck manure that had been spread on the fields in the valley. At Route 13 we stopped so that I could stow my poles and put Sheila on her leash. We also got a drink before turning right on Route 13 heading toward Bath. The road had a centerline but no real shoulders we walked downhill for some time passing farms and barns which made me feel at home. One field was being harvested by combine but I could not tell what they were harvesting.
At 9 miles we started a steeper descent with an uphill on the other side after passing Cold Spring Road. At the top of the hill was a nice view over some fields and I stopped to take some shots. This was the first time there were any interesting clouds in the sky! At this point I had to make a decision. We could continue mostly downhill on Route 13 to Bath and then try to find our way through the local streets back Bo the car. The other option was to stick with my original plan and hike Robbins Road to the Harrisburg Hollow Road. The problem with this choice was that I knew it would mean climbing over the ridge we had hiked along earlier in the day. In the end I decided to stick to my plan and get off the main road onto the back roads. We turned right on Robbins Road and began the hike over the ridge. Now that Sheila was on her leash she could help pull me up the hills and this was a good thing as the road was steep at times. At 10.2 miles we were on the section of Robbins Road that we had hiked earlier. This time we hiked up the hill and then continued on the road instead of turning into the woods. We walked downhill for a pleasant 1.25 miles. I was surprised at the traffic on this largely dirt road. As we neared Harrisburg Hollow Road the surface was paved which made walking easier. At the intersection I stopped to check my feet which had several "hot spots". I changed to dry socks which were a little lighter. As I was sitting on the grass, I looked across the road and saw a strange structure. It was very tall and thin with a door and three stained glass windows with a cross on the side. There was no one to ask about the building so I took a few shots. We continued our hike by turning left on Harrisburg Hollow Road. There was some traffic on this paved road but many of the cars moved over as they approached. The sun certainly seems warm as we walked the final 1.8 miles downhill and south on the road. We turned left on Sand Pit Road and walked 300 feet uphill to the car. It was 2:55 PM an we had spent 5.5 hours hiking 13.6 miles with a total stopped time of about 30 minutes. Our overall speed was 2.5 mph and I was surprised that e total ascent was 2155 feet.
On Monday, October 3rd I had planned to head for Bath, NY to begin map 12 of the Finger Lakes Trail. The weather had looked poor all week but I got up at 5:30 AM anyway. I took one look at the forecast and decided to postpone the trip as the forecast was calling for cloudy skies all day with a good chance of showers. The forecast for Friday looks much more promising if it does not change during the week. The weather forecast for Livingston Manor included showers at around 11:00 m so I waited to see what would happen. By 11:30 AM there had been no rain and, even though the sky looked cloudy and dark in places, I decided to head for Trout Pond. My intention was to hike the loop passed Mud pond over to Trout Pond and then take the Campbell Brook Trail to Campbell Brook Road. From here I would take Morton Hill Road back to the car. I got my gear and Sheila in the car and headed out of Livingston Manor at about 11:45 AM. I headed north on Route 17 to Roscoe and out Route 206 to Morton Hill Road. I had to wait for some paving on the Rockland Flats but the dealt wasn't too long. After turning left on Morton Hill Road, I drove toward the intersection with Russell Brook Road. The town of Colchester was doing some ditching which meant another delay. I finally arrived at the intersection with Russell Brook Road and parked on the side of the road to avoid trespassing on private property. We started down Russell Brook Road at 12:05 PM. I always like to park on Morton Hill Road because the walk down Russell Brook Road to the lower parking area is so enjoyable. The road to the lower parking area is in good shape for the most part and parking at the lower parking area is plentiful. The walk down the road went quickly and as we passed the upper falls I could see there was almost no water in the brook despite the rain that had been on and off for several days. I decided at that point that visiting the falls was pointless. There were two cars in the lower lot as we turned right onto the trail that goes down to the bridge across Russell Brook and I hoped that they were not hunters. We walked to the trail junction and I decided at that point to follow my plan by turning left and hiking toward Mud Pond and to the upper end of Trout Pond. We turned left, walked passed the large campsite on the right and headed up the hill. The hill is about .8 miles and gains around 400 feet which is enough to work up a sweat. When we reached the next trail junction, we turned right to head to Trout Pond. The day was cool, but I was warm from the climb. The skies were almost uniformly cloudy with an occasional break when the sun would shine through.
Over the next 1.2 miles the trail gains another 400 feet rising to almost 2500 feet in elevation to the shoulder of Cherry Ridge. The hike is pretty but there are few photographic opportunities. At one point I could see two hikers coming toward me and I put Sheila on her leash as we passed. We said "hello" but quickly continued in opposite direction. As we hiked, we passed several places where my trail dew had worked to clear blowdowns and cut back brush which always gives me a good feeling. From the high point we headed downhill for the next .8 miles losing 460 feet in the process until we were at the bridge across the inlet stream to Trout Pond. I could see that the lower lean-to was not occupied and did not hear any noise at the upper one. I took a look at the pond from the bridge and saw there were some trees changing colors. I decided to take a few shots and we walked down to the edge of the water. The level of the pond was very low as I took a few pictures before packing up and getting back on the trail. The skies were very cloudy now but I decided to follow my plan thinking that at least I had brought along a rain jacket and plastic bags! Over the next .8 miles of trail we gained back 430 feet of elevation and were approaching the junction of the hiking and snowmobile trails. I knew the snowmobile trail intersected Campbell Brook Road and decided to take it for some variety and because I thought it was a little shorter than the hiking trail. The trail began by climbing a little more than the hiking trail but it was well cut out and easy to follow. The trail began to follow the edge of the hill so for the first .3 miles we headed almost due east. This made me a little nervous but I knew we had to hit a road that would take us back to the car. At 4.6 miles we turned north and walked another .3 miles continuing along the edge of the ridge. At 4.9 miles we began to descend heading east and then due north to intersect Campbell Brook Road near the junction with Morton Hill Road. We turned right on Campbell Brook Road and walked about .1 miles to Morton Hill Road. We continued straight ahead to follow the road back to the car. The walk along the road was pleasant and seemed shorter than I remembered. Sheila was well-behaved on her leash and we made good time covering the last 2.85 miles in less than an hour! We were back at the car by 3:20 PM covering 8.2 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes. We stopped for less than 5 minutes and had a vertical gain of 1540 feet. There had been no rain but the snowmobile trail was less than a quarter mile shorter than the hiking trail.
On Saturday, October 1st I was ready to hike after spending some time working on the Livingston Manor Round Top Trail. I decided to stay local and head to Hodge and Frick Ponds since the weather looked a little questionable. Brad and Krista were in for the weekend and Brad decided to go with me. I was glad to have the company as he and I have things in common since we are both EMS volunteers. As we were getting ready to leave an ambulance call came in for an overdose and both Brad and I responded. Fortunately, we were able to administer Narcan and saved a life. When we returned from the call, we got ready to leave and pulled out of the driveway just after 10:30 AM. The temperature was only 57 degrees so I wore a light windbreaker over a long sleeved shirt and baselayer. I drove out DeBruce Road and turned left on Mongaup Road. When we arrived there were two other cars in the lot and I hoped they were not hunters. We crossed the road to get onto the Flynn Trail at 10:55 AM. I have been wearing a pair of Vasque Taku boots which seem to fit well and are no longer sold by Vasque! The trail was wet from the rain and the humidity meant nothing was drying out. I could feel my feet getting a little damp and I always wonder about the value of Gortex in shoes when this happens! The walk up the Flynn Trail seemed to go very quickly and not very far along Sheila alerted. We saw a couple coming toward us with a dog. I put Sheila on her leash and to my surprise the other couple also leashed their dog. We talked a minute as we passed and they said they had seen no hunters. We continued in opposite directions and Brad and I made no stops passing through the junction with the Big Rock Trail and continuing straight ahead of the Flynn Trail. We kept up a quick pace as we passed through the gate marking the boundary with the Open Spaces property. At the next junction we stayed to the left to keep on the Flynn Trail and head directly down to Hodge Pond. When we broke out into the clearing at the outlet end of Hodge Pond, we walked over to the fire ring at the shore. I put down my pack and got out the camera even though there was a lot of mist in the air. I took some shots and then threw a stick into the water for Sheila. She didn't seem too interested but retrieved it a couple of times.
I put the camera away and picked up my pack to continue our hike on the Flynn Trail. This section of the trail was muddy with some standing water in places but it was easily negotiated. We stayed left at the next junction to continue up the hill on the blue Flynn Trail. We passed through the gate from OSI property to state land and found the trail continued to have some wet and muddy spots. It seemed that Junkyard Junction came up quickly and we turned left on the red Quick Lake Trail to start our loop back. The Quick Lake Trail is mostly downhill and we made good time. I stopped several times to remove branches and other debris from the trail. We walked downhill to Iron Wheel Junction and turned right to stay on the Quick Lake Trail. We were soon at the small stream just before the "Spruce Tunnel" and I crossed it with ease. The stream was very low but Sheila was able to get her feet wet and take a drink. We continued on to the outlet bridge at Frick Pond. I stopped to take a few pictures which I thought might be interesting as there was some mist hanging over the pond with a few bright trees. Flynn's Point seemed to be covered in a cloud. We walked up the hill to Gravestone Junction. The trail back to the parking area was a little damp in places but we had no problems. As we passed the register box, we turned right to stay on the trail. When we got back to the car at 1:30 PM there was only one car in the lot. We had walked 6.6 miles in 2.5 hours gaining 928 feet along the way. The temperature at the trail head was now just above 60 degrees and the humidity was still high.
On Wednesday, September 28th I had thought again about going to Long Pond to hike the big loop as I only had cross country practice in the afternoon. Just as I was about to live an ambulance call for a rollover MVA came in. Fortunately, the driver was lucky and had relatively minor injuries. When I returned, it was too late for a long hike but there was a text from Lisa suggesting a hike on the new Round Top Trail. I agree to meet her at the trailhead around 11:30 AM. This would give me a chance to scout out another way to site the upper trail to the summit to add a little more length. I walked across the street with just Sheila, my poles and my two GPS devices. Lisa was in the church parking lot and we immediately started up the road into the cemetery. The sky was completely overcast and there was a heavy mist that was just short of rain. We took the middle road and wound our way up to the trailhead. Lisa liked the paint blazes as we headed into the woods. At the intersection we stayed to the right to hike the loop in the counterclockwise direction. As we hiked we picked up a few sticks to help keep the trail clear. When we got to the sharp left urn abet follows the woods road, we continued straight ahead bushwhacking our way toward the summit of Round Top. We kept a fairly straight route but followed a game path here and there. Any trail would require some clearing a and a switchback or two. At the summit we followed a route that I knew would take us back to the trail at the next turn. We followed a few game trails and were soon back at the trail. We walked down to the overlook and out the short spur trail to the lower overlook. We agreed that the view is nice but that the way to get there is not safe for all visitors. There is a small "gulf" to cross and the viewpoint slopes which might make it dangerous in the winter. We walked down the trail toward the intersection and then turned right off the trail to find a way to get below the lookout. I wanted to chart the area where the Town of Rockland had cut some trees to open up the viewpoint to see if we could cut a few more on public property. The area below the ledges is tricky to walk on since there is a lot of talus from the ledges and the fallen trees to climb over. I walked around the area and it was actually well worth the bother since the view up to the ledges is impressive. The ledges are not quite as solid as they look and jut out into the air with caves and voids underneath. At one point I looked up and Sheila was looking down from above. We walked back in the direction we had come from but stayed a little lower and off the trail to investigate an old foundation. We walked back up to the trail and to the trailhead where I turned off my GPS units. We continued down the road to Lisa's car where we parted. I walked back across the street to my house. I deiced to look at the GPS tracks bore going to practice. I was really surprised in a BAD way! The tracks from my Suunto Traverse watch and Garmin GPS 60 differed greatly from each other and from other tracks I had taken in the past. I didn't have much time to resolve the problem and left for practice still wondering what had happened.
When I returned home from cross country practice at 5:30 PM, the GPS issue was still bothering me. I needed to send a track to the NYNJTC so that their cartographer could superimpose the track on the tax maps to make sure that any new trail was on public property. I could only do this with an accurate track. I decided to grab my GPS devices and my dog and head back over to the trail. Sheila and I almost ran up the hill to the trailhead where I turned on the devices as I headed into the woods hoping for the best. At the intersection we headed right around the loop to the viewpoint and continued back down to the trailhead. We turned around and walked the trail in the opposite direction and came back to the trailhead where I turned off the devices and headed back to the house. I loaded both tracks onto my computer and AGAIN found that they did not quite match each other and were slightly off from readings I had taken before. Even more interesting was the fact that the loop in one direction did not completely overlap the loop in the other direction. I was annoyed to say the least! I came to the conclusion that the biggest problem with these tracks is the scale. Most of my hikes are at least 6 miles and an out and back hike shows both tracks virtually on top of each other. This trail is only .6 miles so any variations are magnified. However, this situation had hammered home the fact that no one should depend on a GPS unit alone for navigation especially in critical situations.
On Tuesday, September 27th I decided I wanted to get out before the rains came during the rest of the week. I thought about going to Long Pond and hiking the big loop. In the end I got a late start and decided to head for Huggins Lake for a shorter hike since I had a cross country meet in the afternoon. I headed out a little after 9:30 AM with Sheila in the backseat. I have come to the realization that she would like to be out everyday and we had not hiked since Friday! I drove up the Beaverkill Road and down the Campsite Road to find the covered bridge STILL closed. I detoured to the steel bridge at Craigie Claire and then drove out Berry Brook Road to the trailhead. There were no cars in the lot when we headed out at 10:15 AM on the wide woods road to the lake. The temperature was in the mid 50's and I was tempted to leave on my windbreaker but decided I would warm up on the hike. The day was mostly sunny with some clouds in a blue sky. The hike isn't long and the trail was well-maintained. The first 1.2 miles is all uphill and gains almost 700 feet. Sheila was running up and down the trail and following game paths into the woods as I did my best to keep up a fast pace up the hill. After the initial climb, the trail descends to Huggins Lake making a sharp turn from southeast to north at about 1.6 miles. Sheila alerted at the turn but I could not see what she saw and we continued to descend to the lake.
When we arrived at the lake, I noticed that the water level was very high with the water lapping at the shore near the trail. There had been some rain the night before but I didn't think that alone would explain the level of the water. We walked the path to the outlet and I could, immediately see that the beavers had dammed the outlet causing the level of the water to rise. As I stood at the outlet, I got out my camera to take a few pictures. I could see that there were some bright colors present in the leaves of a few trees but most were still green. Some of the leaves had already fallen and I hoped that we would have a nice array of colors before all of them were down. I dropped my pack and took some pictures. Some of the best colors were in the flowers and shrubs surrounding the pond but the sky was overcast. I did take some pictures of the snow on the trail and around the lake. I snapped some shots of the lake and the leaves. I stowed my camera and picked up my pack and we headed back up the trail. The only negative point about Huggins Lake is that there is only one trail and so there are no variations available. I have tried bushwhacking around the pond but the bushes get pretty thick. We climbed the hill back to the highest point on the trail and then started down the other side. As we continued to descend, I was a little sorry I didn't have more time to be out hiking. When we arrived back at the car, We had hiked 3.8 miles in 1 hour and 30 minutes with a total elevation gain of 950 feet. As we left the parking area, I turned left on Berry Brook road and headed back to Livingston Manor the way we had come. On the way back I stopped at the construction site for the Beaverkill Covered Bridge and took a few pictures. The siding is now on the bridge but there looks like there is quite a bit more to do. I am still stumped by the approach that has been constructed as it looks almost dangerous!
On Friday, September 23rd I wanted to finish Map 13 on the Finger Lakes Trail west of Watkins Glen as the first hike of the fall season. I decided I would park on Birdseye Hollow Road at Access 1 and then hike south to Route 226 where I had stopped on my previous hike. The hike out on the trail would be around 6 miles but I knew we could hike back on local roads and probably cut the distance some with a less difficult hike making the round trip between 11 and 12 miles. The drive is almost 3 hours and a heavy thunderstorm was in the forecast for the afternoon so I knew I wanted to get an early start. I got my gear ready the night before and was up and moving by 5:00 AM. Surprisingly, I had all my gear ready and in the car by 5:30 AM as I left Livingston Manor with Sheila in the backseat. She almost seemed to sense we were in for a long ride and settled down immediately. Cindy told me the night before she did not want to drive that far to hike so Sheila and I were on our own. I knew a good part of the route from previous trips and did not have to worry much about directions. We headed north and west on Route 17/I86 toward Binghamton. The temperature was still in the low 60's but there wasn't the fog that I had experienced on previous trips. It was, however, very dark! After a long drive, I took exit 40 to Savona and got on Route 226 heading northeast. After about 7.5 miles, I turned left on Rabbit Road which connected to Route 16 where I turned left or east. It was only 1.5 miles to Birdseye Hollow Road on the right. I drove north for 2.3 miles passing Birdseye Hollow County Park. At 2.3 miles the Finger Lakes Trail crossed the road and I turned around to park. The road had been recently paved and although the job was a good one it left a drop from the road to the shoulder. I found a spot where I thought I could pull off and although the car was on quite an angle it seemed safe. I got my gear ready to go and left on my light windbreaker although it did feel like the temperature had risen and the humidity felt high. We walked across the road and a little south before entering the woods to start east on the trail. The forest was an interesting mix of red pines and deciduous trees and the walk was pleasant if not particularly scenic. The trail seems to be well marked but there were a few blowdowns blocking the trail in places. At .35 miles the trail turned south but then went west before turning south again and crossing Rhinehart Road at 1 mile. We walked a little farther and came to the bench dedicated to Mary Years. Across from the bench was the foundation of an old farmhouse and a sign explaining a little bit about the history of the area. The trail continued south following an old woods road until 1.75 miles when it branched off the road to the right and began to descend off the ridge. The trail had been running parallel to the road and now descended to the intersection of Munson Hollow Road and Birdseye Hollow Road at 2.1 miles. We crossed the roads and followed the white blazes for the Finger Lakes Trail and the blue blazes for the park trail. At 2.4 miles we came to a T in the trail where the Finger Lakes Trail turned left and the blue park trail turned right. I decided to follow the park trail as it is an "approved" shortcut despite the fact that the map warned that the trail can be very wet.
Since we were coming into a county park, I put Sheila on her leash and followed the trail as it came to an area where there was a parking lot and a pavilion. The blue blazes on the trees clearly showed that the trail crossed the parking lot and followed a paved walkway south of the lake. It was where that we met the only other person we would see on the hike. A man was out walking his dog and it seemed that he did not have complete control of his pet. We passed by quickly and continued on the paved path. To the right was the lake and I could see that it had some interesting trees and some small islands. The upper reaches were more of a wetland than a lake or pond and many dead trees were evident. As we walked I was surprised to find a wooden causeway that spanned what would normally be the out let of the lake. There was no water flowing out of the lake on this day! The middle of the bridge had a covered section. I dropped my pack and got out my camera to take some pictures. I took a few of the bridge and then Sheila and I walked across the bridge to the shore of the lake. It was really very pretty so I took more pictures. There was a weeping willow on one shore and the trees around the lake were reflected in the placid water. The clouds were not puffy but wispy giving an ethereal quality to the scene. I knew we had a considerable amount of hiking to do so we returned to my pack where I stowed my camera and got back on the trail. The blue trail was clearly marked and very nicely maintained. As we approached a swampy area on the right I noticed more dead trees and the word "Wet" painted next to a set of blazes. The trail never did get more than damp and we soon arrived at Route 16. We turned right and followed Rt 16 toward Aulls Road. I did stop to take a few pictures of the wetlands before continuing up a short hill and making the left onto Aulls Road. We walked along the road and crossed Mud Creek on a road bridge. A large flock of ducks took off as we crossed the bridge. Just beyond the bridge we turned into the woods off the road following the trail. The trail headed east paralleling Mud Creek and I could hear but not see various birds and animals in the wetland. At 4.4 miles the creek turned more to the east and the trail headed almost due south and back toward Aulls Road. At 5 miles we crossed the dirt surface of Dumak Road and walked another .3 miles to Aulls Road. I knew I would be on the a road surface for some time so I put Sheila on her leash and stored my poles in the pack. We turned left on the road and walked out toward Route 226. Along the way we passed another interesting wetland. At Route 226 we turned right and walked a short distance to where the trail again entered the woods. This was the point we had ended a previous hike so we turned around and began the hike back to the car. Once we were on Aulls Road, I stopped at the wetland to take a few pictures and then continued to walk the gravel surface of the road north toward Route 16 as I saw no reason to hike the trail, again. The road was exposed to the sun but the temperature was comfortable. At 7.7 miles we were back at Route 16 where we turned right. As we approached the point where we had come out onto Route 16 from the blue shortcut trail, I decided to turn right into the woods to cover the part of the main Finger Lakes Trail which we had missed.
We entered the woods and immediately found the blazes. The trail ran parallel to Route 16 for about .3 miles heading east and just before it turned south we came to an old cemetery. The cemetery was mowed and trimmed but many of the stones were skew and some were toppled from their bases. I took some pictures and found one stone that went back to 1827. We got back on the trail and began to head a little south and began to climb the only really significant hill on the whole hike. We crossed Route 16 at 9 miles but the trail continued to climb up a ridge to a hike high point of 1280 feet. From here we began to descend rather quickly and at 9.7 miles it turned east and brought us down to Birdseye Hollow Road. We turned right or north and started back t the car. I had intended to simply walk the road but we soon came to a left turn that led back to the T in the trail where we had been earlier. My obsession to cover every foot of the trail got the best of me and we followed the trail to the T where we turned right and walked back out to the road. We turned left and headed north on the road toward the car. I had thought about hiking a short piece of the trail from the car west on the Finger Lakes Trail which is the easternmost part of map 12. I was certainly fresh enough to hike more but I was developing a "hot spot" on the left heal and was concerned it would get worse. In addition, the wind was starting to come up and the sky ahead was getting darker. As we approached the car, I decided to call it a day. We were back at 1:00 PM having hiked in 4 hours and 40 minutes with an elevation gain of only 855 feet. Our moving average was 2.9 mph which was good. I found it interesting that the difference between our highest and lowest elevation was only 200 feet!