Wednesday October 4
Clark Reservation State Park, Jamesville
Hike report by Steve S.
The day of the hike was the hottest October day ever in Syracuse, and it was also humid. At the start of our hike, 10:00 a.m., it was only in the mid-70s but intensely sunny. The day got hotter and more humid as we hiked.
First, we visited an immense abandoned quarry on the edge of the state park. Perhaps unwisely, given the heat and the unrelenting sunshine, I led the group in the open around the top of the quarry to an overlook on I-481.
Fortunately, the rest of the hike was in the shade and went easily and pleasantly. We toured rocky trails and the steep cliffs overlooking the glacial lake at the center of the park. Given the unseasonable heat, we opted for a truncated hike and elected not to go down to the lake.
The rock ravines and cliffs and trail beds at Clark Reservation are limestone, so they’re quite different from the shale characteristic of the Ithaca area.
We circled around the many beautiful trails at the park and got back to the parking lot right on time for a typical two-hour hike.
Saturday October 7
Finger Lakes Trail from Comfort Road through Danby State Forest
Hike report by Jim
Fifteen hikers and a dog met at the junction of Comfort and Bald Hill Roads for an out-and-back hike of the Finger Lakes Trail to Hill Road. This is hike #18 on our list of regular hike locations.
The rain was a steady companion throughout the hike, less noticed under the full leafy canopy but much more obvious on those areas of trail that were open to the sky. The section of trail closer to Comfort Road seemed to be slower in terms of seasonal leaf transformation, with most of the trees still very green. The closer we got to Michigan Hollow Road, the more we could see bare limbs or leaves in their fall colors.
Trail conditions were generally good despite the rain, and we encountered little mud. Stream crossings still had minimal water depth, but the day’s steady rain may have changed that. The main hazard seemed to be the layer of freshly fallen leaves concealing the root and rock hazards beneath them.
Toward the end of the outbound leg, I noticed an interesting effect along the section of trail I was passing through: The newly fallen leaves were spread on the ground around me, and the rain had filled each curled-up leaf to the brim, as if each leaf were a small bowl. It was a very interesting effect as the light glinted off this mass of small leafy bodies of water.
The return leg of the hike was uneventful; the tempo of the rain seemed to pick up as if to encourage everyone to make their best time getting back to Comfort Road. Almost everyone was happy to arrive back at Comfort Road a few minutes early and climb into their dry cars for their drive home.
We did encounter members of a local running club toward the end of their run in the area, but otherwise we had the trail to ourselves.
Thanks to everyone in the group who came out despite the weather!
Sunday October 8
O.D. von Engeln Preserve, Northeast Freeville
Hike report by Jim
Thirty-five hikers and three dogs met on West Malloryville Road for a hike of the O.D. von Engeln Preserve, led by Bob B. This is hike #44 on our website’s hike list.
The weather conditions were much improved over Saturday’s steady rain. Temperatures were cool throughout the hike, and about halfway into our looping route the sun came out, its light filtering through the canopy.
Trail conditions in the preserve were excellent, and Bob stopped frequently to share his knowledge of the area with hikers. I personally enjoyed the eskers, where we walked along the ridgeline with small ponds visible in the low-lying lands below us. Crossing the beaver dam and learning about the acid bog is always of interest to hikers.
Warm welcome to Ben, Qin, and Maria on their first hike with our group!
After the hike, several of us made an impromptu stop at Hopshire for some food, drinks, and conversation.
For those interested in learning more about the creation of the preserve, please note that the old link to Bob’s book, The Journey at Malloryville Bog: Commitment, Teamwork and Tenacity in Defense of Land and Nature, on the hike #44 page was broken. That link has been fixed. This excellent book is available both in print and Kindle formats here.