Report to Hikers November 7 – November 13

Wednesday November 9

Sessions Hill Road and Forbes Road, Homer

Hike report by Jim

This was a new hike for us, although hike leader Steve S. reported that he often hikes the area roads with his own dogs. Fourteen hikers and one dog met in Homer at the junction of Sessions Hill and Forbes Roads in Homer. This intersection is a nice meeting location, with good views in all directions and wide shoulders for ease of parking. Long-distance visibility was quite clear on this sunny but cool hiking day.

We started the hike by walking down nearby Vern King Rd. until we reached Maxson Rd., which offered a nice, gradual climb past a few houses before turning south and passing through some forested areas. With the leaves now fallen, there were still some good views along this portion of the hike.

Maxon Rd. runs into Sessions Hill Rd., on which we returned to the cars, arriving at just about the two-hour mark.

After the hike, we followed Roger to his nearby business, Beck Equipment, where he gave us an excellent guided tour, fed us pizza and wings, and offered the opportunity to operate some of the heavy equipment on site. Nancy L. was the only one to take up Roger’s invitation to try out the equipment.

Thanks to Steve S. for leading the hike!

Thank you, Roger, for your hospitality!

I enjoyed this new location enough to add it to our hike listings as hike #54-2.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Mark S.

View Mark’s photo album.

Photos by Steve S.

Photos by Norm

Saturday November 12

Eberhard Nature Preserve, Caroline

This hike was cancelled due to weather conditions.

Sunday November 13

Hammond Hill State Forest from Star Stanton Road

Twenty-two hikers and four dogs (+ 5 hikers and 1 dog elsewhere) met on Star Stanton Rd. in Dryden for a hike of the green- and yellow-blazed trails within Hammond Hill State Forest. I chose this hike because we’ll lose our access to the trails there to the skiers for a few months once we get some snow on the ground. It was sleeting as hikers arrived, a foreboding of the cold months ahead of us after the long stretch of warm weather we’ve had this fall.

After an initial descent toward Hammond Hill Rd., we turned onto the green-blazed trails  on the north side of Star Stanton Rd. This trail offered a gentle climb before leveling off into wide loops that make their way through the forest. Although the trail network on this side of the forest isn’t as extensive as those found elsewhere in Hamond Hill, there are still enough junctions and intersections that it is easy to get lost without a firm grasp of the network or a map for guidance.

The green trails gave way to yellow-blazed trails, which we took to the intersection of Canaan and Star Stanton Roads, known as “Times Square” for the convergence of many different trails at that junction.

After a stop at Times Square, we continued on trail Yellow 4. From there, I altered our planned route due to time limits; we turned onto trail Yellow 8, which in turn led to Yellow 5, which took us back to Canaan Rd. Crossing that road took us to Yellow 6, which winds through my favorite part of the forest, with towering and very atmospheric evergreens.

Trail Yellow 6 meets Yellow 1, which took us back to Star Stanton Rd. and our vehicles only a minute past our anticipated end time.

I found out later that a second group of five hikers and one dog were led astray by a Google Maps glitch (see below) and met up elsewhere in the Freeville area. These hikers did their own hike, and so I am adding them to the head count for Sunday’s hike.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Other Issues: Google Maps and Timeliness

From Jim

I would like to comment on the Google Maps accuracy issue. On recent hikes, multiple hikers have reported that Google Maps changes its destination en route, switching from a specific address or intersection to a generic pin that marks the town, but not the location of the original pin. Meeting locations that rely on intersections or coordinates seem especially prone to this problem, which often occurs when Google Maps reroutes during the drive. Nancy H and I are aware of this issue and don’t have a solution. However, if you notice that Google Maps is recaluclating your route, you might want to pull over and check that it hasn’t changed your destination. This appears to be a windespread and ongoing problem with the app.

Because of this issue, we have started adding written directions to our hikes. If you are not familiar with a particular meeting location, do not simply rely on Google Maps to get you there. Read the directions before you set out so you can notice if Google Maps sends you a different way. Have the written directions with you, or contact me or other regular hikers for assistance.

Finally, to echo my comments to our email list about being on time, we had a late arrival on the trail Sunday whom I was unaware of until nearly the end of the hike. For accountability purposes, I need folks to show up early enough that we can know during the hike who is hiking with our group. Thanks!