Report to Hikers — week of Feb 1 – Feb 7

Hello Hikers!

RIP Boomer

If you look at the photos that illustrate our weekly hike reports, it’s hard to miss noticing our dogs. They’re there almost every time, scurrying around at ground level. But of course the photos give no indication of their personalities.

For those who hike with the group regularly, it’s a different story. The regular dogs have distinct and vivid personalities. I won’t say all the regular hikers appreciate the dogs to an equal degree, but everyone is certainly aware of them.

Boomer didn’t hike with us that often, but he was famous in our group. He was certainly our luckiest dog ever. Perhaps our most adventurous dog — or maybe just our least observant dog.

That’s not Boomer in the photo — I don’t have a shot of him at hand — but the photo illustrates the Varna Cliffs along Fall Creek in the Monkey Run Natural Area. Unfortunately, the shot doesn’t show the full height of the cliffs — it’s very high. Boomer was hiking one day on the opposite side of the creek, atop the cliffs, with Eva B, the hiker he lived with, when he went over the cliff. Eva looked over and realized he was alive — she called the rescue squad — they got Boomer out of the gorge and he lived for quite a few more years. He recently did a long stretch of the Appalachian Trail on a solo hike with Eva.

Late last week I got the following e-mail from Eva:

I know a lot of the hikers know my dog Boomer. The one who is famous for falling off the cliff at Monkey Run. He was doing very well until about a week ago when he stopped eating and lost weight. And slowed way down. I took him to my vet this morning who recommended that I take him to Cornell. He’s been at Cornell all day and it turns out that his heart disease has finally reached the end stage. He has an abnormal rhythm called atrial fibrillation, causing his heart to beat 250 beats per minute. His atrium (upper heart chamber) is dilated and torn, leaking blood into the sac surrounding his heart. So we are on our way to Cornell to say goodby before he is euthanized.

Hike report — Sun Feb 7

Report by Jim. Photos by Cian

Road Walk in rural Newfield

Eight hikers and 2 dogs met at the junction of Seely Hill and Tupper Rds in the town of Newfield

After the snow this week I anticipated that trails would remain mostly impassible, so this was a planned road walk.

The surrounding snow had lost its pristine appearance and had that “dirty snow” look that it acquires after a few days of laying around.

The wind was moving at a brisk pace, encouraging me to quickly move the group in any direction likely to diminish the wind intensity.

I opted to lead the group down Seely Hill Rd, a route that initially gave us a decent view across the valley through the trees. The route has hikers passing between banks with towering trees on either side. Soon enough we reached the junction with Vanbuskirk Rd, where we took a right turn. Walking through residential areas, the lack of leaf cover offered us views of the hills across the valley. Those views were still  largely obscured by residential development as well as truncated trees wrapped in shrouds of grapevine, victims of the utility company pruning back the undergrowth around the power lines.

Vanbuskirk Rd reaches  a point beyond the residential section where the road starts a sharp descent towards Bower RD. The group descended this hill, shortly after which it was time to turn around and return to our cars.

As we climbed the hill up Vanbuskirk Rd the wind returned, along with a decent amount of snow flurries. Soon my fleece coat was shrouded in a layer of fresh snow. Passing through the residential area again, I found the previously observed view across the valley now obscured by a hazy shroud of falling snow.

Reaching Seely Hill Rd the climb continued, at which time we encountered a late arrival ninth hiker who had  opted to walk their own hike after not discerning our route out of the many available options from the parking area.

As a road walk this was somewhat acceptable, although I will always prefer trail hikes.

Thanks to all who participated, and hope to see the rest of you on the trail soon!

You can see Cian’s full photo album here


Meanwhile, in other Ithaca Hiker news ……

Jim cancelled last Wednesday’s hike, and Saturday’s hike, because of the snow. But he wanted to give everyone who follows our adventures something to read, so he urged the hikers who are on our active-hiker list to send in a report of any individual hikes they did during the aftermath of the storm. Here’s what they sent in:

Mark H

I have one to add, snowshoeing with the Cayuga Trails Club Saturday on the Van Lone Hill Loop, but in the opposite direction as described by Hank Spencer. We parked at the Gulf Rd parking area and walked 1/4 mile up the road to begin on the orange blazed trail up Connecticut Hill to Todd Rd to meet the white-blazed FLT. We returned back down the hill via the FLT along Cayuta Creek. We took turns leading, creating some of the tamped down trail Hank experienced the next day. The six-mile loop took almost five hours. It was a beautiful sunny blue-sky day!



Jim asked us to send you our adventures for the week, since two of the hikes were cancelled.

I stayed firmly tucked in at home on Wednesday, but had a fantastic day skiing at Greek Peak on Thursday.

Yesterday (Saturday) I had signed up for the CTC snowshoeing trip on the Van Lone Hill Loop.  I should have read the description more carefully as it was described as 6 miles on strenuous terrain, but I was beguiled by the moderate pace!  As predicted it turned out to be a pretty strenuous 5 hours of hiking on snowshoes in deep snow, but with excellent company.  I showed up without water or sustenance, but was kindly provided for.  At several points I wasn’t sure that I would make it but I did and it was a fantastic day for my first foray on snowshoes (apart from up and down to my house)!

That was partly why I didn’t make it to this morning’s road walk!




HI All, Twas disappointing that no one stepped up to lead a Saturday hike, I should have done so. I had a great hike with Rubie and Diego, Parked at Upper Treman, then to left on Woodard, to left on Stonehouse, past that grand, seemingly, uninhabited, monument. Then to left on Van Osstrand. Then left on Thomas, almost to dead end, and back. A few ups and downs, fews cars.




I’ve got one! 

Sunday: Two Hikers met up at The Van Lone Loop Trailhead @ 10:30 and hiked the entire somewhat snowshoe packed loop. We traveled in a counter clockwise direction, beginning on the white marked FLT trail and ended following the orange blazes. Total distance came to 7.2 miles, time 4 hours. 

Along the way we encountered many tracks. Why, there were weasel tracks, raccoon tracks, fischer, deer, and coyote tracks, yak tracks, snowshoe, snowmobile, backcountry ski tracks, and human foot tracks.

Only saw two other people on entire loop, heading in the clockwise direction. A very nice hike and excellent cardio workout for sure.

Be well, 


…. and more Hank

Here is another: On Friday,I played hookie from workie and under overcast skies with a temperature of 34 degrees, treated myself to a backcountry ski at Onondaga County’s Highland Forest. Conditions were decent, except sticky in a few places due to the warmer weather over the previous day. The downhills weren’t as fast as I would have liked, the uphills definitely had more resistance than I am use to. 

As far as distance, I skied a 7 mile loop. I brought lunch and stopped at a lean to eat at about the halfway point. I was able to sit down on a bench inside the lean to w/o taking my ski’s off. After about 20 minutes of rest, I got up to continue on and the sun came out, the skies cleared and stayed that way for the duration of my ski run. 

Highland forest is an amazing place, with many different outdoor recreational opportunities. It was a very enjoyable day, well worth the hour and ten minute drive to get here. I will definitely return another day. 



Nancy and Randy

I’m sending you this update in response to Jim’ suggestion.  Over the past week I’ve been practicing cross country skiing.  It’s a struggle after letting them languish in the garage for so many years.  Randy and I went skiing several times in Connecticut Hill.  Doll Hill is perfect if you take the trails around the top of the hill.  The slight ups and downs are gentle.  I also explored right across from my house straight across the corn field or in the wood lot across the way.  Finally Saturday I did several miles in the black diamond.  Skiing conditions are not ideal.  Tracks are crusty because of freezing  and thawing.  And breaking trail is tough because the snow is deep and heavy but hey it was fun to be out in the snow.

Here is a link to some pics that include digging out the garage.



Since there was no club hike on Saturday , I ended up hiking around Ithaca with my sister.

I started around Stewart park, but turned around when I saw the condition of renwick trail – we ended up going to Ithaca falls (not all the way in ) , up gun shot hill , up libe slope , across campus to top of cascadilla gorge , since the gorge trail is closed, we went along the rim in the neighborhood above cascadilla gorge , took some pictures at the base of the gorge, and followed cascadilla creek across town, then worked our way back across town past the old clockworks building which houses hickeys music.

My sister Aidan said that when she saw my pictures from our Halloween hike last October, she laughed because she visited pretty much every place I had photographed, but later in the day, and following a different route.   I am hoping that she will be able to come on some of the hikes, but she generally prefers to go out a little later in the day then our club hikes.