Thursday Feb 4
Shindagin Hollow State Forest, bike trails
This is one of a number of really good hikes that, unfortunately, we can do only on a weekday. In some other cases it’s because parking is too limited if there’s a big weekend turnout. For this Shindagin hike, the problem is that we’re walking on the main mountain bike trails in the county — a weekday morning is the only time we can be sure the bikers are all at work or in school.
A few minutes after leaving the cars, you enter what I regard as one of the two-three best pine woods areas we do — every time we come here, I’m determined finally to get the photo that captures the fabulous mood — failed once again — but now I realize what I’ve been doing wrong — our nature photographer Annie was making her first hike on this trail, and she did a much better job than me, though even her shots don’t do full justice.
It was in the high 30s and it seemed like an early spring day — lots of mud and water on the trail, streams very full, a tiny bit of ice in spots — beautiful morning
Aside from our hard-core skiers, no one seemed the least bit upset that there was no snow
This was the first time doing this walk that we didn’t get lost or turned around the wrong way or arrive back at the cars late — Tiger has been making a special effort to understand the trails here and it was a total success — made it back within a minute or so of our two-hour goal — there are maps of the forest but they don’t show all the trails, and the trails on the ground are not all marked — also, the scale of the maps seems wrong
Official head count: 17 hikers, two dogs
More photos online:
Saturday Feb 6
Gorge Trail, Finger Lakes National Forest, Reynoldsville
I’m sorry this hike is so far from town way off to the west — it’s a delightful walk but a lot of our regulars live east of the city and many of them just refuse to make such a long drive — so turnout for our hikes in the national forest is often on the lowish side — this was our smallest group on a weekend hike in six months
Too bad — there’s lovely scenery everywhere, and lots of variety
In fact we almost never see other hikers when we’re walking in the national forest — again, too bad, since this is probably the best maintained set of trails around, thanks to being under the jurisdiction of the federal government, which obviously has a decent maintenance budget for this tract — you rarely see an obstacle like this fallen tree in the path
More unseasonable weather, just a little below freezing so again it felt like early spring, with water on the trails and the streams running full — I managed to be the only person crossing this stream to plunge his foot in deeply — good socks, so no problem being a bit wet
Some of the trails were a bit choppy where people had sunk in the mud and then the deep footprints froze — there are some nice country roads here and they certainly have the benefit of being easier to walk on
Sun came out toward the end and it was above freezing by the time we wrapped up — really nice morning all around
Official head count: 13 hikers, two dogs
More photos online:
Sunday Feb 7
Jim Shug Trail east into Cortland County on the Finger Lakes Trail
Another beautiful mild morning — I didn’t even need gloves to take photos at the meet-up — pretty amazing for the middle of winter!
We got off to a sizzling pace on the first leg of the walk, for reasons involving a dog — very energizing, but people were joking they might collapse — pace stayed lively throughout and we did the whole hike a bit faster than normal
As soon as you leave the big fields the trail starts to climb up an old woods road — it’s quite steep and, for whatever reason, it’s covered with a layer of small flat rocks — we find this same treatment on some other old roads too — must have served some purpose in the past but the stony cover makes for terrible walking, especially going downhill — real ankle-breaker
Pressure is building on me to stop categorizing this hike as moderately strenuous — a number of hikers now think it’s one of our steepest — OK, I agree, it is pretty steep in spots — but I don’t want to scare people away by making it sound too awful
This look-out is definitely one of our most beautiful — a wonderful serene quality
Official head count: 30 hikers, four dogs
More photos online:
Update: Seems like the clickable feature is working well, so you can ignore what I wrote below before I had a chance to test the clickability out.
As I mentioned above, we now have clickable photos again, but I liked it before when you could double-click and get a big blow-up. If you enjoy seeing the close-up details like I do, you can click here and see all the photos in this hike report online — click “View Original” for any one and you’ll get a very satisfying large version — all the wrinkles and protruding tongues and moist noses clearly shown