Wednesday March 29
Dawes Hill Road, West Danby
Hike report by Jim
Ten hikers (plus a local dog) met at the junction of Beech Hill and Dawes Hill Roads in West Danby for a rural road walk. We were joined by a neighborhood dog that chose to come along with us, a first that I can recall, so at Casey’s urging I’m including the dog in our official tally.
It was a sunny day, a far cry from the snow showers we’d been promised when I scheduled the hike. As we began our hike, walking to the end of Dawes Hill Rd., water gurgled in the roadside ditches and the sun warmed the frozen dirt road underfoot. Unfortunately, the long-distance view of distant peaks in Pennsylvania was a little hazy and underwhelming.
We returned to the parking area and walked the seasonal part of Beech Hill Rd. This consists of a steady downhill walk, followed by an often steep climb back to our cars.
About midway down the hill on Beech Hill Rd., there is a Finger Lakes Land Trust holding that I checked out for a few minutes while the main body of hikers continued down the road. The bulk of the property along the seasonal part of the road is owned by Cotton Hanlon and is thoroughly posted against trespassers. The Land Trust property must have been Cotton Hanlon property at one time and still has old logging roads heading downhill toward streambeds. I’m hoping that I can return to the area and plot out a future cross-country hike for the group using the logging roads.
Saturday April 1
Dabes Diversion Loop, Kennedy SF, Cortland County
Hike report by Jim
Saturday started out cool and with a stiff breeze blowing through the trees around us through much of the early hike. The day was overcast, and I was certain that the rainy weather overnight would contribute to a lower-than-normal turnout for this hike.
While waiting for the group to arrive at the trailhead, I took note of the patchy snow on the forest floor and the sections of water-logged trail leading from the trailhead. Deer jumped across the road, and birds sang from the trees. In the calm before the hiking storm, it was an enjoyable and peaceful prelude, even with the cool wind.
Thirteen hikers and a dog ultimately arrived to participate in this hike. After we’d left the parking area it didn’t take long to encounter our first waterlogged trail sections. Snow on the actual footpath was minimal but seemed to be on hillsides and the shaded sides of trees we stepped over, ready to make any hiker slip if they weren’t taking proper care.
The first water crossing was uneventful; quite a bit of water was flowing, so the normal stream crossing rocks were slick and hazardous. I personally gave up and resigned myself to having wet feet for the duration of the hike.
I always think of this hike as having distinct trail sections: the initial downhill combined with a stream crossing and then climbing the hillside on the opposite side of the stream, a couple of level sections of trail, some nice sections of old stone wall, stands of hemlocks that were somewhat brooding on the overcast outbound leg of the hike but had some nice play of shadow and light on our return after the sun came out.
Around the time we reached the open field with the rock pile, the sun decided to make an appearance and the nature of the hike changed immediately. The second half of the hike had a nice warm breeze, and the sun made a distinct improvement to the hike’s second hour. It didn’t take long for hikers to start shedding layers.
After the rock pile, we headed toward the international loop trails, which always fall outside of our time limit for two-hour hikes. Along this section of trail there’s another, more significant water crossing, more stone walls, and the lean-to.
At the hour mark, we turned around and retraced our route back to the cars.
Casey reports FLT mileage at 4.53 FLT miles for those trying for their FLT50 patch this year.
A warm welcome to Brian on his first hike with the group!
And a belated welcome to canine hiker Po Boy! (Apparently I didn’t acknowledge Po Boy by name after his first hike with us.)
Sunday April 2
The Pinnacles from Bald Hill Rd., Danby SF
Hike report by Jim
Twenty-two hikers and one dog met at the junction of Bald Hill and Station Roads for a hike to Thatchers Pinnacles and beyond. The morning was sunny and cold, with a chill wind blowing. The early arrivals were soon voicing a longing for the warmer temperatures of the previous day as we waited for the last hiker to arrive.
Before the hike started, we discussed routes. We’d all hike to the Pinnacles and down the other side of the hill back to the seasonal part of Bald Hill Rd., where hikers would have three options:
(1) Turn around and retrace the route back up to the Pinnacles. (Casey C. led this group. Thanks, Casey!)
(2) Come with me as I hiked a loop around parts of the Abbott Loop and Dove Trails back to Bald Hill Rd.
(3) Cut the hike a bit short and walk directly back to the cars.
In the end, the group split into three fairly even subgroups, one for each option.
After our briefing and a quick group photo, we took off down the seasonal part of Bald Hill Road, which was a mix of semi-frozen mud, running water, and puddles. The line of hikers quickly stretched out as we proceded.
By the time we left the road and began the climb to the Pinnacles, I could see a long line of single-file hikers strung out along the trail ahead of me. As we climbed the hillside and the trail curved around the hilltop, I lost sight of the lead hikers and also those trailing behind me.
Our stop at the Pinnacles was extremely brief, even though the views were great. The wind did little to encourage practicing the art of standing around. By the time I reached the peak, the lead hikers were already disappearing down the trail.
I arrived at the seasonal part of Bald Hill Rd. to find my Dove Trail loop hikers waiting for me. Casey had already taken his faster Abbott Loop hikers ahead on the Abbott Loop section heading down to the stream. My hikers reported that the subgroup who were headed straight back to their cars had already departed.
My group walked a short way down Bald Hill Rd. to access another section of the Abbott Loop. We hiked that section downhill, followed the stream a while, and crossed over to scale the hillside and reach the Dove Trail. We took the Dove Trail back to Station Rd., arriving back at our cars about 10 minutes early. Casey’s group of hikers arrived at the cars right on time.
For those trying for the FLT50 patch this year, I believe that the Abbott Loop qualifies as mileage toward the patch. If so, today’s mileage per Casey and Joe was about 4.5 miles.