Report to Hikers — week of Sept 13 – Sept 19

Hello Hikers!

Special update — our oldest active hiker Eckhart turns 90

He hasn’t been able to do our official hikes recently — plantar fasciitis, can’t walk for two hours straight — but he’s been aggressively doing a shorter hike all along, the killer climb up the Lick Brook trail, several times a week.

He’s also had two major demands on his time. His wife Dorothea, who’s just a few years younger, had to stop driving because of eye problems, so Eckhart now does all the chores she used to do. And he’s really gone all in this year on his garden. He moved out of town a few years back to a farm neighborhood in Enfield, and began to create a fruit and vegetable garden. The soil is terrible — hard, rocky and poorly drained — so Eckhart had to do a massive soil enrichment and drainage project before the garden could begin to flourish. This year the work began to really pay off, and the garden is now producing heavily. But the time demands are tremendous, Eckhart said. “I always have 30 things to do at any one time,” he said Saturday when Tiger and I visited him.

Here’s Eckhart, Dorothea and his son Martin and Martin’s family in from Chicago for the big birthday.

Eckhart’s enthusiasm, energy and optimism are a wonder to experience.



Wed Sept 15

Hike report by Jim

Roy Park Preserve to Hammond Hill SF, Dryden

7 hikers and 3 dogs met in the North parking lot of the Park Preserve on Irish Settlement Rd in the Town of Dryden.

Weather was nice although somewhat humid, with omens of the approaching storm that would arrive later in the morning just as the hike concluded.

The group walked along the boardwalk; a recent addition to the end of the boardwalk provides a gradual ramp rather than the former abrupt end which necessitated a quick jump back to terra firma. I prefer the additional section of boardwalk over the previous arrangement.

The walk through the pines was relatively mud-free, which is never a sure thing on this particular hike.

Climbing the hill, the trail soon brought the group out onto Hammond Hill Rd. After a quick pause there, hikers continued onto the Hammond Hill trails, burning up the remaining out-bound hike time until the appropriate turn-around time was reached.

The return leg of the hike was uneventful, with the group running into a couple of other recreational trail  users but otherwise having the forest to ourselves.

Passing over the boardwalk back to our cars the first drops of approaching rain were seen to be falling into the surface of the flowing stream beyond the wooden concourse; another perfectly timed hike for the group.


Sat Sept 18

Hike report by Jim. Photos by Cian

Level Green Road to Old 76 Road, Caroline

16 hikers and 4 dogs met on Level Green Rd for a hike of the FLT towards ( Old ) 76 Road.This section of trail is often quite wet and muddy , and with recent rains this hike was no different.

An initial stretch of the Trail just off Level Green Rd is actually quite nice and draws positive comments from new hikers, but soon the footpath turns Southerly and heads downhill. This portion of the Trail is often an active stream with the accompanying mud which, by the end of the serpentine group of passing hikers, is a churned up mess that sucks at your boots and slows your progress along the footpath.

A couple of stream crossings were notable for recent blowdowns that at least partially blocked the Trail and obscured the trail route on the return leg of the journey.

As the hill climbs away from the last of the stream crossings, the Trail passes through tall patches of person-high weeds that obscure a footpath that acts as an eroded streambed during rainy times.

Eventually the Trail breaks out of the weeds and into some nice stands of trees. The official FLT footpath turns downhill again towards ( Old ) 76 Rd, but that section of Trail is so heavily eroded and we reach that point so late in the hike that I find it better to use a near-by field with some nice views of the surrounding countryside as the turn-around point.

The return trip to our cars was unremarkable except for a chance encounter with a solitary section hiker who spoke to the group for a while.

Arriving back at our cars somewhat early, hikers made a short road-walk down the recently paved Level Green Rd to burn up the remaining hike time.

You can see Cian’s complete photo album here


Sun Sept 19

Hike report by Jim. Photos by Cian

Eastman Hill Road at the Tompkins/Tioga County line

16 hikers and 4 dogs met on the end of Eastman Hill Rd at the Tompkins and Tioga county lines, for a hike of the FLT on Eastman Hill. This hike was significant because it is one of the trail sections we will lose access to in October with the arrival of hunting season. With a planned re-route of this part of the FLT in the next year or so, we will also lose access to a part of the Trail that has some nice scenery. That’s assuming that the property owner will no longer allow hikers access to their property and the old sections of the FLT.

It was  a great day for a hike; the sun was out and temperatures were just about perfect. Bugs were at a minimum.Hikers crossed into the seasonal portion of Eastman Hill Rd, walking through DEC posted land. Passing the junction of Eastman Hill and the FLT, the group continued down the abandoned part of Eastman Hill Rd towards Coddington Rd.

Here the old road surface is heavily eroded in places, making the going somewhat difficult. With recent rains some portions of the roadway were an active streambed.

Soon we encountered the uphill portion of the FLT, and veered off into some steep inclines and hill climbs. This part of the hike is always the most difficult for me personally, and by the time the group reaches to actual summit of Eastman Hill, I feel like I’ve had a pretty decent workout. This hike proved to be no different. Reaching the summit doesn’t mean that there is no more climbing left on the route, just that the climbs ahead are shorter and less severe.

The group continued on the Trail, looping through some nice areas of pines and mixed hardwoods, interspersed with face-high stretches of goldenrod.

Approaching the crossing of Eastman Hill we ran into the only muddy part of this hike that I’ve ever known to be a muddy stretch. We got through that area and soon had plunged back into the woods on the other side of Eastman Hill Rd, heading towards Heisey Rd.

Reaching our turn-around point on Heisey Rd opposite a residence whose occupants have decorated the rock at the end of their driveway with a shamrock, we turned around and re-traced our route to the seasonal end of Eastman Hill Rd. From there it was a quick walk back to our cars, ending at just about the perfect two hour mark.

Some members of the group (such as Cian, who took a slightly slower pace in the interest of his photography efforts) made their own route for the hike.

Cian passed along this note: “Amadou & I did this as a helicopter hike  – so we took an altered route”

You can see Cian’s complete photo album here