Wednesday April 13
FLT from Ridgeway Rd. toward White Church Rd.
Hike report by Jim
Twelve hikers and one dog set out from the FLT parking area on Ridgeway Rd. near Coddington Rd.
It was a warm and sunny morning, with none of the rain predicted for later in the day. I definitely over-dressed for the weather, and it wasn’t long before most of the group took advantage of short pauses to shuck layers of coats and other outer clothing.
The trail initially runs close to residences and ponds located near the parking area. The gentle grades, twists and turns as the trail winds through the pine forest and grasses not yet started towards their summer growth spurt creates an enjoyable rural hike atmosphere.
Soon, before the badly flooded portion of the trail that has been closed for a couple of hiking seasons, we took a short detour that pus us on the old railway right of way that runs along the creek. While the FLT officially uses a roadwalk alternative to avoid the flooded area, after we’d completed a previous hike at this location the nearby residents gave our group permission to use this route over the less preferred roadwalk.
Once on the old railbed the group made good time, quickly reaching the turn that takes the FLT north toward White Church Rd. After crossing White Church Rd., we encountered the only really flooded or muddy portion of the trail on today’s hike, a short stretch between the various fields that is almost always flooded regardless of the season. Aware of the potential for ticks, we walked atop the old rushes from last season that border the FLT treadway in order to avoided the water-logged trail surface. Some members of the group found the view here so enjoyable that they paused to occupy a bench rather than proceed further.
After crossing the fields we re-entered the woodline, crossing over a couple of footbridges and the rushing water below us.
After reaching the base of the mountain at exactly the hour mark, we turned around and retraced our steps. Other than stopping for a couple of quick group photos the return trip to Ridgeway Rd and our cars was unremarkable.
For those hikers who are attempting to earn their FLT60 patch, todays hike total was 3.2 FLT miles.
Saturday April 16
Bob Cameron Loop, Connectivut Hill, Newfield
Hike report by Jim
Twelve hikers and two dogs met on Tower Rd. in Newfield for a hike of the Bob Cameron Loop.
Conditions were generally wet, damp, and foggy, due to the intermittent rain that had been falling through the evening and early morning.
Despite the general dampness, the trail was mostly free of mud except in the lower elevations and around stream crossings. The downhill portions I was expecting to be very muddy were mostly mud-free.
The fogginess lent some excellent atmospherics to the hike.
Before I realized it we had completed the lower loop of the hike and started to ascend the opposite side of the stream crossing. The climb up the hill through the various switchbacks was unremarkable although enjoyable.
We found ourselves back on Tower Rd. half an hour early, so we jumped across the road and took the FLT for several minutes of out-and-back to bring the hike up to the appropriate duration.
Hikers trying to get their FLT60 patch this year can consider today’s hike to be .5 FLT miles toward their goal.
Sunday April 17
Rim trail along Shindagin Hollow gorge, Shindagin Hollow SF
Hike report by Jim
Seventeen hikers and two dogs met on Shindagin Hollow Rd. for a hike of the Shindagin rim and bicycle trails.
Weather conditions changed throughout the hike; it was overcast with occasional sun at the start of the hike. By the time the group completed the rim trail and started down the bike trail to the stream crossing, the first snowflakes were starting to fall. For the remainder of the hike, snow flurries alternated with clear skies, with the sun making random appearances. No one complained that I heard; conditions simply added to the character of the hike.
The rim trail was very appealing. Minimal mud along the path was limited to mainly around the small stream crossings. The lack of leaves on the trees gave us unobstructed views down the embankments and through the forest. The periods of heavy snowflake activity lent a very wintery feel to the hike, and when the snow stopped and the sun shone down on the group, the contrasting shades of light and dark through the trees, combined with the dark tree trunks against the fresh white snow, made for interesting visuals.
The descent to the streambed after the rim trail was uneventful. The stream crossing gave us pause due to the water levels, but Katharine with her rubber boots was soon standing mid-stream assisting the group across the stream.
The bicycle path along the stream was, as always, very enjoyable from a hiking and visual perspective. The group paused at the golden shoe for a group photo before pressing onward.
Coming out onto the seasonal road, we walked Shindagin Hollow Rd. back to the lower parking area across from the Jeep trail; from there we jumped back onto the rim trail and took that back to our cars–a far better option than road walking the entire way back up the hill.
A warm welcome to Rebecca, Remko and Felipe, on their first hike with the group!