Wednesday June 7
Spur trail from upper Lick Brook/Townline Road to upper Buttermilk Falls SP/Yaple Road
Hike report by Jim
Five people met on Townline Road for a hike of the Thayer Preserve, the FLT spur trail, and part of the loop trail around Treman Lake inside Buttermilk Falls State Park. The day was gloomy at hike’s start. The common word from everyone was “eerie” about the air quality caused by the Canadian forest fires.
The group made its way across the hillside, soon coming out at the Sandbank Road parking area. We returned to the woods and followed the trail there, traversing the root-covered trail surface carefully.
When we emerged into the open field behind South Hill Cidery, we all commented on the sullen orange sun in the sky.
We marched past the empty yurts on the forest edge and once again returned to the woods, finding our way through a section of trail that in normal times is boggy and waterlogged. Today, however, it was very noticeably dry. This would be a recurrent theme of today’s hikes – streams nearly dry, lake beds dry, swamps completely dried out.
We paused for a group photo at the utility pole right of way. Then we quickly made our way to King Road, where we picked up the FLT spur trail to upper Buttermilk. Someone had been nice enough to mow a single track through the grass, so we were fortunate to have a slightly more enjoyable footpath to hike on.
The spur trail passed quickly, although the group stopped frequently to admire the shagbark hickories or take note of the many dead and standing ash trees.
We arrived at Yaple Road and then walked to the nearby park path on Comfort Rd and the trail around Treman Lake. The bridge is still shattered from flood conditions years ago, but we crossed the dry, stony lake bed and returned to Yaple Road via the spur trail.
By now, the air-quality conditions were noticeably deteriorating. The haze was so thick that nothing was visible in any direction beyond the first treeline but a solid wall of featureless grey. The stench of woodsmoke hung heavily in the air. As we passed through the woods, the sunlight filtering through the canopy to show as a splay of sunlight on the forest floor had a distinct orange tint to it.
We retraced our route to the blue-blazed Tom’s Trail segment, which we took. There has been some recent trail work done on this section, with switchbacks now guiding hikers toward the stream crossing, a big improvement over what was there before.
We arrived back at our cars about five minutes later than normal.
The hike was about 5 miles. I’m not sure how much of today’s hike qualifies for the FLT50 patch, but it’s probably at least half of that distance.
Saturday June 1o
Finger Lakes Trail frm Lake Road in Dryden east into Cortland County
Hike report by Jim
Twelve hikers met on Lake Road for a hike of the FLT toward Daisy Hollow Road. The intermittent rain that had been falling before the hike ceased, and for the remainder of the morning temps were cool. The sun randomly broke through the clouds; the skies were no longer the funereal hues of earlier in the week, with actual blue skies appearing for all to enjoy.
We hiked up Lake Road and turned into the open field, following the white blazes. As we paused here for a group photo, everyone commented how, despite the rain in recent days, this section of trail, which normally quite wet underfoot, was still bone dry. The ground has a long way to go before it stops absorbing every drop of water that falls.
Then we crossed the open field and began the ascent. Once over the crest of Havington Hill, hikers descended the other side, paused in the open field to admire the view, and eventually made it as far as the second observation area before turning around and retracing their steps.
For anyone trying for their FLT50 patch, today’s hike counts as 4 FLT miles.
Sunday June 11
Hammond Hill State Forest
Hike report by Jim
Twenty-two hikers and a dog met on the seasonal end of Star Stanton Hill Road in Dryden for an out-and-back hike on the FLT. It was a warm, sunny day, with no hint of the breezes that had aided our Saturday hike.
After a quick group photo, June led the group up the seasonal road under the green canopy, the sunlight filtering to the forest floor in a mosaic of shadow and light.
The first section of seasonal road is fairly straightforward. Eventually, the road curves and its surface becomes a jagged and uneven series of rocky ledges as it climbs.
The FLT makes a left turn into the woods and then winds across a section of forest floor occupied by a mix of evergreens and deciduous trees. A couple of small stream crossings were devoid of running water, with only a few shallow pools of standing water betraying the streams’ normal state. Throughout the hike, we didn’t encounter any of the muddy sections of trail that we normally encounter here.
Eventually the trail makes a short climb and joins the Hammond Hill multi-use trail system. Here we started encountering a mix of other day hikers, cyclists, and trail runners.
Overall, it was a perfect hiking day. After an hour, the group turned around and we retraced our steps to the cars.
A warm welcome to Sarah on her first hike with the group!
This hike counted as 4.5 FLT miles for anyone who’s trying to get their FLT50 patch.
After the hike some of the hikers reconvened at Hopshire for a drink, a bite of food, and some conversation.