Wednesday March 8
Chestnut Lean-to, Danby State Forest
Hike report by Jim
This was not an organized hike but a volunteer work party. Eight hikers met in Danby and hiked into the Chestnut Lean-to for a work detail to gather, cut, and stack wood in preparation for Saturday’s upcoming winter cookout.
Saturday March 11
Hike and Annual Winter Cookout, Danby SF
Hike report by Jim
Saturday morning dawned after some very wintry weather the previous day and night. When I arrived at the corner of Bald Hill and Comfort roads, the surrounding forest was covered in a fresh layer of new snow. Occasional breezes caused a fine mist of snow to spray to the ground. Stronger wind gusts resulted in what I called “snow bombs” – clumps of snow that fell from trees onto hikers throughout the day.
Approximately 18 hikers came for the hike, the picnic, or both.
Several cars in the parking area were not from our group. After hiking to the Chestnut Lean-to, we found the site occupied by several Ithaca-area Boy Scouts who had spent the night there and were waiting for another contingent of scouts to hike in from the Tamarack Lean-to as training for an upcoming hike. The scouts were kind enough to share the lean-to with us.
A handful of Ithaca Hikers stayed at the lean-to for bonfire and food prep, while Casey led most of the hikers on an out-and-back hike of the FLT to Diane’s Crossing and beyond.
When those hikers returned to the lean-to, the food came out of bags and was passed around, to everyone’s satisfaction. After eating, our group started to dwindle as hikers began to find their way home. We left some food and the remaining firewood for the scouts to use that evening.
Thanks to Mary for her overall planning of the event! Thanks also to Wednesday’s volunteers for donating their time and work to help make Saturday a success!
Photos by Dave R.
Sunday March 12
Ekroos Road, Tioga County
Hike report by Jim
I’m not normally a fan of road walks, but Ekroos Road is rural enough, with some good views along the way, that I make an exception for times when we need a route that is reliably clear of snow on winter hike days.
There were several inches of fresh powder, and when I arrived at our meetup point I found that road crews had not plowed the parking area we normally use. But our group of eight hikers was small enough that we could park single-file on the shoulder along the banks of plowed-up snow
We set off from our cars and quickly spread out as the faster hikers set a lively pace that took them far ahead of the trailing hikers.
On the outbound leg, the road is a gradually descending, winding route that takes us through varying surroundings such as hemlocks that crowd the road so densely that you can’t see beyond the first couple ranks of trees – what we sometimes call “atmospheric” – to open fields that offer sun-drenched views of distant peaks across the valley.
At several points along the route some active brooks cross the road, the water flowing noisily along either side, the streambed dark against the layer of freshly fallen white snow. Cuts into the banks along the roadway offered shadowed havens for a series of icicles at one point along the route.
There is one house under construction midway along the road and another near the end of the maintained portion of roadway. We had the road to ourselves for the duration of the hike, without even a sign of snowmobilers using the snowmobile trail that crosses Ekroos Road.
After passing the sole occupied home, Ekroos Road (which carries another name in Tompkins County) turns into a seasonal road that makes a sharp descent while running along a nice ravine.
At the bottom of the hill, the area surrounding the road opens up into fields, and a couple of homes that are notable mainly for the dogs that let the world know about our group on every hike at this location.
At the end of the road, the lead hikers turned around and climbed the steep hill, collecting the slower hikers along the way and retracing our route back to the cars. Several hikers arrived at the cars early and walked to the intersection with Honeypot Road and back to fill up the two hours.