Wednesday April 26
Sweedler Preserve/Lick Brook, Ithaca
Hike report by Jim
Ten hikers met in the Finger Lakes Land Trust parking lot outside of lower Robert Treman State Park for a hike of Lick Brook’s Thayer and Sweedler preserves.
We set off from the parking lot and crossed the railroad trestle. We paused at the falls at the bottom of the hill inside Sweedler Preserve for a group picture and to link up with an 11th hiker who walked in from Townline Road to meet us.
We continued on the FLT, climbing the hill via the narrow spine that ascends from the valley floor, the slopes on either side of the trail falling away sharply from the footpath. The faster hikers reached Townline Road and crossed it to complete the red- and blue-blazed Tom’s Trail loop in Thayer Preserve.
The rest of the hikers arrived at Townline Road, crossed the bridge, and hiked Tom’s Trail in reverse in order to meet the faster hikers as they returned to Townline Road.
Reconstituted into a single blob of hikers, the group returned to Sweedler Preserve. We hiked down the blue-blazed trail, crossed back over the trestle, and returned to our cars.
Total FLT miles for the FLT50 patch hikers was approximately 2.8 miles.
Saturday April 29
Shindagin Hollow State Forest
Hike report by Mary W.
In temps of 46 degrees F and a light drizzle, 12 hikers and one dog met at the southernmost FLT parking area on Braley Hill Road, which is also spelled Brearley Hill Road (after Joseph Brearley for whom the road is named), depending on which map is referenced. The hike plan was to take the Finger Lakes Trail exclusively east from Braley Hill Rd., west to Shindagin Hollow Road out and back in reverse.
For the most part, this was a pleasant jaunt through the spring-awakening forest. There were ramps, trillium (white and purple), trout lily, viburnum, dogwood, young leaflets of bright lime colors, birds, and a manageable amount of moisture.
The drizzle stopped at the start of the hike and started again at about 11:30 a.m. This may have been good timing, however. Two hikers became distracted and ended back on Braley Hill Road south of the start point, while another hiker (perhaps occupied with a bit of ramp harvesting) was disoriented for a time, which motivated a small search party into action. When all were reunited, it was agreed that a fine adventure was exactly what the morning delivered to the hikers’ delight, albeit a tad wet at the end.
Sunday April 30
International Loop, Dryden
Hike report by Jim
Six intrepid hikers met on Daisy Hollow Road in Cortland County for a hike of the International Trail system. It was a morning of intermittent rain; while I waited for other hikers to arrive the rain had let up, so I decided to leave my wet weather gear in the car. The rain resumed early in the hike, however, becoming fairly steady as we ventured farther into the trail system. By the end of the hike, the rain was light but constant, only bothering hikers when we were out in the open.
After it leaves Daisy Hollow Road, the trail makes a quick, short climb before coming to the first of many intersections. All of the trails are well blazed, and many have accompanying signage that identify the trail or spur and often the length of that section. A few hikers had never been on this section of trails or on the International Loop system at all, so this attention to detail was greatly appreciated and entirely new to them.
I led the group up the Jose Trail, which soon runs into the Irvin Trail. The lower part of the Irvin Trail follows Cristina Creek, which had a good amount of water flowing, thanks to the overnight and morning rains. The small touches along this trail, such as the rock walls lining the footpath or the frequently found chairs along our route, were greatly appreciated by hikers.
The Irvin Trail leaves the creek and begins a series of switchbacks through the pine trees as the footpath climbs away from the water. Soon, the trail levels out until the next intersection, where we normally stop for a trail journal entry and a group photo.
Crossing the first of many utility rights-of-way, we had a good view of the far side of the valley. Because the leaves were not fully out we could still see across the valley through the trees around us. The variety of leaf colors made hikers think of hikes here later in the year. The trees were filled with birdsong, and I saw our first red eft of the season.
Beyond this point, the number of trail junctions become more frequent, so it’s important that any hiker who’s new to this trail system bring a map to avoid getting lost.
We took various sections of the English and Spanish Loops, then stopped at the Tiny Pond, which we have used as our turnaround point in past hikes. I recalled that turning around here always gets us back to our cars early, so I proposed that we continue on the Spanish Loop for a while longer, which brought us to a second pond that’s not indicated on the map.
Upon reaching Adams Road, hikers opted to turn around. Going farther would have involved a significant road walk, something that did not interest me, given the weather conditions.
The return journey used some of the same sections of footpath we had taken coming up the hill, but I soon led the group away from those earlier sections by turning at an intersection. This new section of trail followed a utility right-of-way before going back into the forest.
This final section of footpath skirts along a bluff above Daisy Hollow Road, then intersects with our original path back to the parking area. We did get back to our cars about 10 minutes early. By now the rain was quite steady, so no one seemed to mind the early conclusion to the hike.