Wednesday November 30
Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca
Hike report by Jim
Nine hikers met for a hike of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology trail system. The morning was overcast, and light rain fell at one point during the hike.
We started by taking the outer, looping trails immediately behind the Lab of Ornithology visitor center. Here there has been an obvious attempt to cut back the number diseased and dying ash trees, with many of the fallen trees still strewn around the forest floor. Hopefully, the reforestation and replacement with other species will be successful.
At Sapsucker Woods Road, we crossed over and rejoined the trail system on the far side of the road. Initially we stayed on the outer trail loop, stopping at one point for a group photo.
For the return leg of the hike we jumped onto an inner ring of trails on both sides of Sapsucker Woods Road; this resulted in our arrival back at the visitor center only an hour into the hike.
After a short walk along Sapsucker Woods Road we re-entered the more easterly section of trails at another access point and walked our previous route in reverse. This brought us back to the parking area with about five minutes to spare. As the light rain was then picking up in volume I don’t think that anyone was complaining about being at our cars a few minutes early.
Saturday December 3
Finger Lakes Trail, Lower Robert Treman State Park
Hike report by Jim
Fifteen hikers and one dog met in the newly redone FLLT parking lot at Shady Corners, where state routes 13 and 34/96 converge, for a hike of the FLT through Robert Treman State Park.
The day was overcast, a uniform shade of grey that persisted throughout the hike. Other than a solitary trail runner with a dog whom we encountered along the way, we had the trail to ourselves.
Knowing that different hikers would negotiate the hilly terrain at different speeds, we agreed before setting out that everyone would turn around at a little over an hour to complete this out-and-back hike in our two-hour timeframe.
After passing under the Route 13 bridge, we entered the grounds of R.H. Treman State Park. Soon we encountered the beginning of the nearly continuous uphill outbound portion of the hike. At this point, the group became an elongated line of hikers, the faster hikers quickly pulling away from those walking at a slower pace.
The trail crosses over the YMCA camp access road and then follows along that road for a while before it begins another steep climb, the YMCA pavilion and surrounding areas quickly falling away from view as the trail proceeds to higher elevations.
Eventually the trail reaches a plateau, where it winds route through the woods, and the elevation changes become more gradual. The views here are enjoyable; with summer vegetation died off for winter, the views down the steeply sloping hills on one side and glimpses of open fields on the other make this the most pleasurable part of this hike for me.
The fastest hikers got as far as the junction with the Rim Trail before they turned around. Everyone else simply turned around at the appointed time. The different groups caught up with each other as we all made our way back to the parking lot.
For anyone still tracking their FLT miles for the FLT60 patch, this hike counts as 5 FLT miles.
Sunday December 4
Taughannock State Park Gorge and Rim Trails
Hike report by Jim
Twenty-two hikers and three dogs met in the parking lot at Lower Taughannock Falls State Park for a hike of the North and South Rim trails. It was a popular day to visit the park, and we frequently met other hikers and dog walkers along our route.
We paused for a quick group photo before walking to the lower falls observation area. There was a good quantity of water flowing on this day, so it was an enjoyable day to be at the park. The morning was cool, with a crisp wind blowing through the towering stone cliffs. The trees at the top of the cliffs and the upper cliffs themselves were awash in sunlight.
After returning to the parking area we crossed the bridge. The stone stairs for both the North and South Rim trails are now closed, so we took the alternative path though the campground.
At the upper observation area on Taughannock Falls Road, we stopped for a few minutes to take a look at the falls and regroup. Then we continued our trek, circling the upper side of the falls and continuing on the South Rim Trail.
At the closed stone stairs, hikers took Gorge Road in a steep descent to the Taughannock Inn, where we crossed that property back to the parking lot, the faster hikers in the group only a miniute over on our time.