Wednesday May 5
This hike report was written by Jim
Star Stanton Road west into Hammond Hill SF, Dryden
Ten hikers and one dog met at the end of the maintained portion of Star Stanton Hill Rd, for a hike of the FLT in the area of Hammond Hill. An eleventh hiker arrived late and met the group on trail.
There was some concern about expected weather conditions at the beginning of the hike; a weather front moving through the area had the trailhead in a misty rain that was barely noticeable.
Hikers climbed the seasonal portion of Star Stanton Hill Rd in a Westerly direction. Passing into the abandoned section of Star Stanton Hill Rd, hikers found this portion of the FLT well-blazed with fresh paint, which I believe was a change from the last time we’d hiked this section.
Passing a chained off split in the road, hikers soon found where the FLT takes a sharp turn off of Star Stanton Hill Rd and into the forest.
Stepping into the woods we were soon passing through small clumps of evergreens and passing over small well-supplied water crossings. Our last time through this area the evergreens had been covered in fresh snow. This time, the forest floor was springing forth with new growth that had not yet grown so high as to screen our view of the surrounding forested area.
Climbing a small hill we found ourselves on the yellow blazed trails of Hammond Hill, whose multi-use trails share this part of the woods with the FLT.
The group made quick progress, following the white FLT blazes as we travelled from yellow to red blazed trails. It seemed that a mist hung in the air, resulting in a sort of diffused lighting along the trail in places. While there were the occasional muddy patches and standing pools of water of trail, even the worst of these were easily circumvented and our journey continued.
I had not planned on using any of the Hammond Hill trails to create a lollipop or circuitous route of travel, and had only brought an FLT map with me, not the more detailed Hammond Hill trail map with which to alter my original thoughts for an out-and-back hike. After an hour we simply stopped, turned around and re-traced our steps along what was now a mostly downhill trek back to the cars. As we made the return trip, weather conditions worsened slightly, with a rain that was more noticeable, and intermittent winds that seemed to push me down the trail as if to encourage me to leave the hill and return to civilization.
Sat May 8
Hike report and photo by Jim
Kennedy SF, Cortland County
The trip to Saturdays hike in Kennedy State Forest was as unique as the actual hike.
Those who travelled to the trailhead via Virgil Rd ( State Route 392 ) were treated to picturesque low lying fog hanging over the mountains, and fresh snow layered in the fields almost as soon as crossing into Cortland County
Five hikers set off from the trailhead; two late arrivals met us on the trail in mid-hike.
It was a cool, damp day, the forecasted rain holding off until after the hike was completed.
The chill at the beginning was enough to require gloves and an extra outer layer, much of which were cast off during the hike.
The forest floor, in places where the trail had not been made into a muddy stream, had a unique shock-absorbing quality today which gave the hiker the sensation of walking across a spongey surface. The roots and mud, often a hazard on this trail on wet days, was not particularly bad today for me. A few near-spills, quickly arrested by poles or by sliding onto firmer ground. One hiker wandered far enough off trail at one point to run into the barbed wire, but nothing life threatening.
Water levels in the streams were higher than many hikes in this forest in the past, but this was not unexpected. Hikers were able to find narrower areas to bound across the streams to continue our journey.
The loggers were active in the far distance, and the muddy trails they’re using were encountered a couple of times as we made our way through the forest.
I reversed our normal direction of travel once reaching the intersection with the blue blazed trails; this time we remained on the FLT until reaching the yellow blazed side trail which in turn led to the blue blazed trails which returned us to the FLT on our return leg to the parking lot. There was no particular benefit to this route today, but it seemed to be a nice break from our traditional routes of travel for this forest.
This was a great hike.
Sun May 9
Hike report by Jim
Yellow Barn SF, Dryden
Ten hikers and three dogs met for a hike of the Yellow Barn State Forest area
The day was cool, with only intermittent short periods of sunlight.
Hikers set off down the seasonal road from the parking area, skirting carefully around the various pools of water which were at their maximum capacity and overflowing due to recent rains. Despite this, the sections of trail were mostly passable, with little in the way of mud to impede our progress.
We initially tried a secondary approach to the horse fields that involved a woods walk along various ATV and snowmobile trails. Green growth of flowers and vegetation stood out on the forest floor along our path. The group eventually chose to return to the seasonal road and approach the fields along a route we use more regularly on this hike.
Entering the equestrian fields we found them to be unoccupied; we quickly skirted the fields to arrive at the entrance to the loop trail on the opposite end of the equestrian fields which was our ultimate destination.
The loop trail was an enjoyable mud-free hiking experience, and at the hour mark the group opted to press ahead to complete the loop rather than turn around immediately to return to the fields.
After completing the loop trail the group returned to the equestrian fields, where we countered the only horse and rider of the day.
A quick retreat down the seasonal road brought the group back to our cars ad the successful completion of another hike.