Tuesday April 5
Leonard Road and Bald Hill School Road, Brooktondale — road walk
If you ever wake up on a hike morning and it seems horribly cold, don’t just say, OK, no hike for me today, and decide to do something else. Pay attention to the thermometer and be patient. It was an unexpectedly frigid 1 above at the airport at 7 AM — two hours later, it had shot up to 19 — by our 10 AM start time, it was plenty mild enough for a nice walk.
This was the first road walk in our new weekly road walk series — we tried out two absolutely deserted deep-country roads in central Brooktondale. No houses at all, and from the tire tracks in the snow it looked like maybe 3-4 vehicles at most had driven on Leonard Road in the past 24 or so hours — on Bald Hill School Road, it was clear just one vehicle had gone by. We were in the middle of the woods the whole time. We had a delightful time.
As a bonus, there was a picturesque farm on the corner of Central Chapel Road and Leonard Road where we parked — always the sign of a good hike.
Official head count: 11 hikers and Yoda
More photos online by Jack V here
Wednesday April 6
Potato Hill SF, Caroline
I was thinking about what to say about this hike and I had a vague sense there was something odd about it — then I realized it was the first time in our entire 2015-16 winter that we walked in snow up over our shoes. Having some real snow cover for a change was a lot fun — but I must say I also enjoyed all the many hikes we did without snow.
This walk has a woods part and a field part — the field’s very dramatic, with deep views into Pennsylvania — the woods are more low-key …. sometimes they can seem a bit scrubby …. but there’s a lot of very atmospheric dark massing along the edges, and for some reason I find them satisfying.
Official head count: 13 hikers and Yoda
You can see more photos by me online here
Saturday April 9
Taughannock Falls rim trail
This was our most beautiful hike in quite a long time. It was snowing on the drive from town to the trail head and for most of the hike, not hard but steadily. The lighting was very dark and it had a wonderful luminous quality. The snow stuck to everything and this really lit up all the fantastic details of the gorge and put a bright layer on the dark pine trees. A lovely mist hung over the whole park. It was an extraordinary scene.
The snow stopped about 11 and the change in mood was striking. It was still a nice morning out but all the special qualities disappeared immediately.
A couple of personal matters:
Regular hiker Robin turned 65. We sang her the special 65th birthday version of Happy Birthday, “Welcome to Medicare.”
Occasional hiker Barbara was just back on the trail after a long period suffering from plantar fasciitis — a number of hikers have been badly plagued with foot and ankle problems recently.
Official head count: 18 hikers, four dogs
More photos online:
(Our regular hike and nature photographer Annie is still laid up with plantar fasciitis)
Sunday April 10
Michigan Hollow Road to Bald Hill Road and The Pinnacles on the south leg of the Abbott Loop, Danby SF
We had a wonderful adventure hike today, the first in a long while — great fun!
Let me get the official head count out of the way before I start the narrative: 32 hikers, eight dogs
The excitement began as we approached a big level area about 1/3 of the way up the hill, where several streams come together and the trail crosses back and forth across the water repeatedly.
We hit high water everywhere and lots of slippery rocks and submerged branches coated with ice on top. It may not look like much in the photos but the crossings were very challenging for many of us. A number of people slipped and slid a bit and got a touch of wet feet, including me. As I mentioned recently, my balance is now messed up (due to a nerve disorder) so crossing a stream can be surprisingly thrilling for me. I’m the bent-over figure in the bright green nanopuff hoody in the shot above — here I am again in the background as Brenda inches her way across.
It’s not very often that I use photos of myself in these hike reports — these shots are from a new photographer we had today, Sabine, filling in during Annie’s absence — Sabine likes to take photos of people but she takes a somewhat different approach than I do — I tend to crop in closely on the hikers, while Sabine takes a somewhat longer approach and shows the hikers in more of the setting. You can get a better idea of what the scenery looked like in her shots.
It was very slow going for a lot of us through the wet area, and the group got extremely spread out. Most people turned around well before they got to Bald Hill Road — but a small group of speed demons pushed on and got all the way to the look-out — Barbara got an iPhone shot to mark the event (if the photo won’t load at the link, click “View Original” up near the top — that should work).
I was urged to give a special shout-out to Carlton, who revealed a talent for improvising stream crossings with well-placed stones that made it possible for some of the hikers to cross spots they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Carlton said he grew up playing in mud and water and he really enjoyed this walk. There was quite a bit of mud but it was semi-frozen so it wasn’t a major problem.
I do take a longer-view photo once in a while myself — that’s Casey off the trail and taking a shortcut up the hill — I thought the scenery looked fabulous in general and I still love this hike just as much.
More photos online:
Jack V, who was really bowled over by the water and the ice