Wed Mar 9
Hike report by Jim
Hurd Hill Road, Caroline
9 hikers met in the Town of Caroline for a wintery hike of seasonal Hurd Hill Rd.
Snow was starting to fall when I arrived early at the intersection of Hurd Hill and South Rds. Arriving hikers reported to the group that they had encountered increasingly poor road conditions while en route to the hike.
The snow, now falling steadily, never let up throughout the hike and my return drive home to Freeville. The falling snow and the fresh snow under foot made for a very winter-like hike experience, with each hiker individually sheathed in a coat of fresh snow by the end of the hike.
Hurd Hill Rd, from its junction with South Rd, gradually descends through state land. While on todays hike, hikers encountered streams running vigorously alongside and under the roadway; evergreens shielding short sections of the roadway from the falling snow, creating small cocooned sections of road with still air that were protected from the steady snowfall, and nearly bare ground under the limbs. For much of the walk we had hard crusty snow surfaces underfoot, with random hidden patches of ice concealed by the rapidly accumulating snow. One hiker went down to the ground on one of these ice patches, but thankfully sustained no injury.
The road receives no maintenance during the winter, so the accumulated fallen evergreen boughs and leafless downed deciduous branches along the way added to the appearance of a very rural hike that’s hard to fully describe. There had been a single vehicle at some recent time that had plowed its way down the road through the hard snow, but otherwise we were walking along an unbroken tract of snow on the roadway.
Most hikers wore some form of foot traction, but the nanospikes proved to be entirely ineffective due to the fresh snow clumping up on the soles of hikers using that form of traction. The hikers with micro-spikes had a much easier go of things.
Reaching the bottom of Hurd Hill Rd ( now in Tioga County ), hikers meet the junction of Hurd Hill Rd and Prospect Valley Rd. On todays hike we made a right turn, choosing to walk along a portion of the Shindagin Hollow basin that we don’t normally get to see on our other hikes of the area. Prospect Valley Rd itself was as -of-yet unplowed when we were hiking there, so it gave the sense of being a seasonal road like Hurd Hill Rd, the only difference being a slightly better road surface that made walking easier.
Soon the group reached the hour mark and turned around to re-trace our steps. The return trip back up Hurd Hill Rd found that our footprints from the outbound leg were already well on the way to being filled in with fresh snow. The incline on the return leg of the trip is so gradual that none of our group experienced any difficulties.
Sat Mar 12
Hike cancelled — snow, ice and high winds
Sun Mar 13
Hike report by Jim
Cornell arboretum and Mundy Wildflower Garden, Forest Home
11 hikers met at the Flat Rock parking area, for a hike of Cornell’s FR Newman arboretum, Mundy Wildflower Gardens, the area around Hemlock Gorge near Beebe Lake and the hamlet of Forest Home
As hikers were arriving before the hike the sun shone with a brilliant intensity across the fresh snow from the previous nights winter storm. Fresh snow lay on the tree limbs, offering a sharp contrast in shading to the eye. Soon enough the cloud cover set in and we resumed our normal overcast Ithaca weather.
Hikers left the parking area and entered FR Newman Arboretum. The roads here had been plowed at some point in the recent past so that while the lanes were a little filled in from blowing snow, it was not an unpleasant hike. There was a layer of ice underfoot that made some form of foot traction much preferred. The air was filled with the sound of birdsong from the trees around us. Other day users of the arboretum were out in small numbers, but for the most part we had the place to ourselves.
The group circled Houston Pond on the Arboretum Rd before exiting onto Caldwell Rd
We crossed into the Mundy Wildflower Gardens but stayed there only long enough to reach the stairs that lead to Judd Falls Rd and the Nevin Welcome Center. The group found that all of the paths we used outside of FR Newman were well-used, and the snow depth did not impede the hike in any noticeable way
Passing by the welcome center we reached Forest Home Drive, crossing at Sacketts Bridge towards Beebe Lake.
The group took the short side loop trail to Hemlock Gorge, where we found the water flowing vigorously over the short falls.
Returning to Forest Home Drive we walked the short distance to the hamlet of Forest Home, passing through the hamlet on our way back to the arboretum.
Once back in the arboretum we jumped on the orange blazed trail which took us back to our cars without incident
Warm welcome to Lori and Judith on their first hike with the group!
Photos by Leigh Ann
You can see Leigh Ann’s complete photo album here