Report to Hikers: week of Oct 5-Oct 11

Hello Hikers!


Wednesday Oct 7

Lick Brook + lunch at Ithaca Beer Co

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A question: How much time needs to pass before you’re up for hiking a given trail again? For me, it takes about three months — repeat a trail too soon and the walk can feel tame and a little stale — unless there’s been a big change of seasons. The timing was just right on this Lick Brook walk — three months almost exactly — I’ve done it many times but it seemed amazingly fresh and beautiful — what a great hike!
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The torrential rains we had in June did quite a bit of damage to the lower part of this walk that hasn’t been repaired yet, if it ever will be — you can see a big mass of fallen trees heaped up in the background of this photo, and the stream beds are full of new rocks. So there are new things to look at.
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The hairiest part of this hike in my opinion is the long narrow spine path on the white trail where the land falls away abruptly on both sides — there are roots and trees in the way and the trail shrinks to only a few inches wide in spots — interestingly, more people seem to get stressed crossing this railroad bridge …. they hate navigating the cross ties.

As we neared Town Line Road after the steep uphill, we came upon a lone person 20-30 feet below the trail, down in the dramatic stream bed — it was our hiker-photographer Hobit, who shoots and sells nature photos to help make a living — she’s heavily into water shots — when we passed by on the way back to the cars 45 minutes later, she was still down in the gorge.
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We drove up Route 13 a mile or so for lunch at Ithaca Beer Co — it’s the time of year when there are lots of yellowjackets hanging around — always check your beer glass before you drink — I was there two years ago, not paying attention — took a sip of my beer  —  very painful sting in the tip of my tongue.

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Official head count: 18 hikers, two dogs

You can see seven more photos by me online here.

You can see Annie’s photos online here.


Saturday Oct 10

Virgil Creek dam flood control project, Dryden + get-together at Norm’s

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Every one of our hikes is great, of course — but some are more great than others — and this one was really great

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Cool enough to make you feel energetic but not chilly — beautiful slanting sunlight — puffy clouds — red and orange leaves finally out — the acres and acres or grass freshly cut — this walk is always striking but the conditions all added up to make it really stand out Saturday, and everyone had a wonderful time

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Here’s the heart of this unusual flood control project — that’s Virgil Creek behind the hikers, flowing toward them — in periods of intense rain, the water rushes down the creek and then backs up into the giant basin you see here, held back from flooding downstream by the huge berm our hikers are climbing — the only way the water can get out of the basin is through a narrow channel under the berm, so it trickles out slowly, and Dryden doesn’t get inundated.

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It would certainly be interesting to visit here in a flood, but I’m perfectly happy when it’s dry — I love the sweep of the landscape and the distant views and the terrific sensation of openness

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We’ve expanded the walk to include a neighboring farm field with some great views of its own — grass a little longer and I soaked my shoes

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Official head count: 25 hikers, five dogs

Get-together at Norm’s

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Norm lives a simple and frugal life that I admire, but from time to time it doesn’t work out as planned. He cooks hot dogs in a small hibachi using twigs from his property as fuel — he collected twigs for his cook-out ahead of time but then they got soaked in Friday’s rain —

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…. the resulting fire was enough to give everyone instant emphysema — so he had to boil the hot dogs on the stove

You can see 14 more photos by me online here.

You can see Annie’s photos online here.

You can see some panoramic photos by new hiker Charlie here.


Sunday Oct 11

Shindagin Hollow SF lean-to

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Perfect fall day, great hike — nothing memorable to report, just the kind of morning where it’s pure pleasure to be out in the woods
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I know I’m always saying such-and-such trail is one of our shadiest — well, this stretch of the FLT is really one of our shadiest — here’s the scene at the lean-to — I have a decent camera but the sun-shade effect really messes up the photos — the people in the bright sunlight look melted, while some of the faces in the shade are vaguely in focus. Photos taken in such mixed lighting also tend to lack contrast, so you can’t distinguish the subjects from the background.
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The lighting is bad even out on Shindagin Hollow Road where we shape up — same light and shadows combo that confuses the camera sensor, same melted-face effects
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The only unshaded open space on the whole trail sector is where the big cairn stands — the only place where I can hope to get an OK photo, though it’s actually a bit too bright on a sunny day — that’s Margaret — I’ll take the opportunity to mention that her two sons, who grew up here, have an alternative rock band that’s achieving national stature
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Official head count: 35 hikers, five dogs (photo at the South Road crossing)

You can see nine more photos by me online here.

You can see Annie’s photos here. (Annie sometimes uses a flash in the shade — my camera doesn’t have one.)