Tuesday July 19
Waterman Interpretive Center, Apalachin
Hike report and photos by Jim
No one showed up for the Tuesday “farther away” hike of the Waterman Conservation Education Center outside of Owego, so I opted to do a solo exploratory hike of the center’s trails, as I’d never been there.
Chris, one of the staff members at the center, was nice enough to take a few minutes away from his hectic job of welcoming participants of the center’s summer youth program to talk to me about the various trails and the general geography of the center’s property.
Based on that discussion, I set off on the red-blazed trail outside of the parking area. The first few hundred yards of trail consisted of boardwalk that soon gave way to a more normal hiking footpath. The main trails I walked — the red-, blue-, and green-blazed trails — were all well maintained. The yellow-blazed side trail that led to the ravine area and a dry waterfall was a little more rustic and had some blowdown obstructions.
The red-blazed trail was mainly a needle-covered path under the tree canopy, which put me in deep summer shadows, while the blue-blazed trail was a more open path of mowed grass as it passed through the high ground on center’s property.
I skipped the yellow loop trail that circles what’s essentially an open field, as I had no interest in hiking that trail in the heat of the day under the full glare of the summer sun.
There was little water flowing in the streams, and while the many short wooden bridges indicate that there are normally numerous wet locations along the trails, I found no mud or other impediments on my hike today.
If you find yourself in the Owego area, I believe that this trail system is worth stopping and checking out.
Wednesday July 20
Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve
Hike report and photos by Jim
Twelve hikers met on Ellis Hollow Creek Rd for a hike of the preserve there, on what proved to be a very sunny, hot and muggy day.
The creeks we crossed were bone dry, and mud along the trail was a distant memory. Thankfully the trees and other foliage doesn’t seem to be browning or wilting from the lack of rain we’ve been experiencing.
We shared the trail with a small handful of other hikers and dog walkers we encountered along the way.
The initial clockwise loop was completed at a pace that seemed to be fairly quick. A majority of hikers opted to do a second, counterclockwise circuit, while others chose to tailor the second half of the hike to directions of travel and speed of hiking that they felt comfortable with, given the heat of the day.
A small number of the group opted to call it a day with a single circuit of the trail system; that’s something this particular location is good for — tailoring the hike to fit your own needs.
Saturday July 23
Bald Hill Preserve, Brooktondale
Hike report by Nancy L. and Randy O.
Near the summit of Bald Hill School Road, 15 people and two dogs gathered an hour earlier than our normal hike time to avoid the predicted heat. After parking along the edge of the road, successfully avoiding the ditches, we headed into the Cornell preserve.
It was shady and pleasant in the woods. The trail wound through the preserve for about a mile before reaching a path that was formerly a dirt road which headed down hill, still in shade. After about half a mile we encountered another former road and made a left, continuing down the hill. Although the leader, Nancy L, was unfortunately unaware, at some point along the way we entered private property.
As those in front approached White Church road, an indignant owner appeared and informed the group of 11 hikers and a dog that they could not return the way they had come. Four of the hikers and the other dog met another owner somewhat farther up the hill, who begrudgingly allowed them to turn around and go back. This involved an 800 ft climb back up the hill to the cars.
On the way back, the path along the old road heading uphill was taken all the way to Bald Hill School Road, where we turned left to make our way back down to the cars. By the time the four hikers reached the cars, all of the other hikers and the dog had returned. Fortunately, several cars had stopped to pick up stranded hikers. One of the hikers drove back down and picked up some more hikers, and other hikers were picked up by some very kind Finger Lakes Trail hikers. This is not a hike we will repeat.
Photos by Nancy L. and Randy O.
Sunday July 24
FLT from Carson Rd to Woodchuck Hollow Lean-to, Cortland County
Hike report and photo by Jim
Ten hikers and two dogs met on Carson Rd. for a day hike on the FLT toward the Woodchuck Hollow lean-to. I’ve previously done this as a Wednesday hike for the group, never on the weekend, because I’ve never been certain of the parking along the shoulder of Carson Rd. We have a previous invitation to use a residence driveway down the road for our group to park in, but that would involve a bit of a hike back to the trailhead.
While at the trailhead the group was introduced to “Dingo,” a friendly and inquisitive dog that lives across the street and is, according to its owner, the canine trail guardian.
The day was bright and sunny as we set off, but under the canopy of leaves it was shady and we even had occasional breezes to spur us down the trail. The footpath was bone dry, as were all of the usual mudholes along our route. Roger’s hiking partner Diego managed to find the only standing pool of water along our route and was soon belly deep in it.
There were a fair number of blow-downs, which forced the group to crawl over or bushwhack around the trees and get back onto the footpath. I’ve said it before, but our trail maintainers on the Tompkins sections of the FLT spoil us.
The outbound leg of the hike was uneventful; it was a nice walk overall, although I prefer this route when the water is running in the streams that we pass along.
We stopped at the Woodchuck Hollow lean-to and took a group photo. I replaced the shelter trail register, which I had noticed during my last section hike in the area had been torn apart, probably for its paper content for bonfires.
We pushed down the FLT, soon encountering the blue-blazed trail that allows us to lollipop our route back to the FLT and our vehicles.
We ran into one other day hiker, but otherwise we had the trail to ourselves today.
Welcome to Sara on her first hike with the group!
For those trying to earn their FLT60 patch, today’s hike counts as 4 FLT miles.