Wednesday January 18
FLT west from Logan Rd., Finger Lakes National Forest
Hike report by Jim
Ten hikers and a single dog set off from Logan Road for a hike of the Finger Lakes Trail to Satterly Hill Road and beyond. It was a cool January day with minimal snow and ice cover. For most of the early part of the hike, we made our way across the open fields before returning to the woods, dodging a few pools of standing water around the field and occasional blowdowns on the trail.
We crossed the rebuilt hikers bridge and soon arrived at the first real elevation changes. A few semi-frozen muddy spots on the hillside slowed us down a bit, but Jack V nimbly led the group up the hill without any major difficulties.
We left the FLT to take one of the many horse trails that criss-cross the hillside, and we came out at a point on Satterly Hill Road that offered hikers a better panorama than the view where the official FLT footpath crosses the road.
We returned to the FLT footpath, crossed Satterly Hill Road, and began a short downhill hike toward Watkins Glen in order to burn up a few minutes before turning around. It was on this section of trail that we encountered a surprise. Stopping to make an entry at the trail register, I opened the box to find it filled with around 20 mice, one of which came out of the box and launched himself at me for intruding on their personal space. The mouse hung onto the front of my jacket for a moment, fixing me with an angry glare, before jumping away and running into the field. I opted to grant the other little creatures their privacy and didn’t sign the register that day.
At the turn-around time, we reversed our course and took the FLT back down the hill. Along the section of trail we’d missed by taking the horse trail, we encountered the only frozen section of trail: a large pool of standing water on the footpath that had frozen through.
Hikers took the return leg of the hike at their own pace, arriving back at our cars in staggered subgroups.
Saturday January 21
Kennedy State Forest, Virgil
Hike report by Jim
It was a cold, clear, wintry morning as 17 hikers and four dogs met in Cortland County for a lollipop hike of the Kennedy State Forest trails. As we set off, a thin layer of fresh white snow covered everything around us. This trail has minimal ups and downs as it follows Rowland Creek, but we still needed to focus on the path rather than the views of the forest around us, due to the uncertain footing caused by the many roots that lay just under the snow.
The FLT winds through stands of hemlocks, and the damage from the logging just a couple of seasons ago was hidden from view by both the returning forest growth and the fresh snow cover.
At the junction with the Swedish Loop, we moved away from the stream. Its noise receded as we made our way through the forest following the blue blazes.
We had several newer hikers with us, so I took a quick detour down one dead-end, yellow-blazed trail to an observation area overlooking the stream. Then we returned to the Swedish Loop and continued our hike.
At the second yellow-blazed junction, we took that shortcut back to the FLT for the return trip to our cars.
Along the way, we encountered a minimal amount of mud and only a couple of other day hikers. Some stream crossings were a bit challenging due to the volume of flowing water.
As usual, we ended this hike about 15 minutes early, as I had chosen to not extend our time on the Swedish Loop. Some hikers opted for a short, extra out-and-back hike of the FLT to use up the time, but most of us were happy despite the shorter hike.
Sunday January 22
Roy H Park Preserve to Hammond Hill State Forest, Dryden
Hike report by Nancy L.
Twenty hikers and one dog met at the parking lot for the northern portion of the Roy H. Park Nature Preserve on a chilly morning. Jack V led this hike. The initial walk on the boardwalk across the marsh was picturesque as usual. As we entered the woods, an inch of fresh snow on the ground gave the scenery a quiet beauty.
The trail climbed gradually to Hammond Hill Road over about a mile. When the vanguard reached Hammond Hill Road, they waited so hikers could regroup, and then we turned south on the road. We avoided the trails in the Hammond Hill state forest east of Hammond Hill Road so as to leave the snow in prime condition for the cross-country skiers who frequent this area. (Post-holing, which results from attempting to walk in deep snow, spoils the surface for skiing. The snow was not deep, but we still followed these guidelines.)
About a half-mile south, we walked a short way on a trail but turned around when we concluded we were again on a cross-country skiing trail. We proceeded farther south on the abandoned portion of Hammond Hill Road, going about a mile in that direction.
At the one-hour point, we turned around and retraced our steps. It was fun to see several Icelandic horses on Hammond Hill Road getting ready to hike as well!
Welcome to Hillary and Barb on their first hike with us!