Tuesday April 12
Bald Hill Road from Station Road to Michigan Hollow Road, Danby — road walk
Another unusually lovely morning in the woods, just three days after our fabulous hike at Taughannock Falls SP in falling snow — this time it had rained heavily a few hours earlier and the trees and shrubs were still wet and sparkling in the bright sun, and there was a lot of moisture in the air — I’ll now generalize and say that most of the very best hikes I’ve done over the years have involved rain or snow, either during the walk or just before, or a storm very close by
This was our second road walk in our new Tuesday morning series — this road runs north-south through Danby SF parallel to Michigan Hollow Road — we cross it when we take the Abbott Loop up to The Pinnacles but I’ve never spent more than a few minutes on the road itself — I was a little surprised at how good a walk it is, generally a smooth and level surface, and the scenery is first-rate. Evidence of logging here and there. You get the sense there’s rarely a vehicle passing.
As many of you know, I love dark pine woods — we came upon a really beautiful stretch here — I can never resist trying to pose the hikers against such an atmospheric setting — we tried a group shot …. though half the group wasn’t in the shot — Sabine took this and you can see me if you’re interested (no more complaints I never use photos of myself)
I took the opportunity to try a few mug shots against the pines too — that’s Good Dennis, who was doing something with his jaw that made him look extremely masculine — Jim R — our nature photographer Jack V — and, without pines, Katharine in a new hair style
Annie reappeared on the trail for a little while after being laid up with plantar fasciitis but she had to turn back quite soon
Official head count, 17 hikers and three dogs
More photos online
Wednesday April 13
Robert Treman SP on the FLT up from Route 13
I’m putting this uphill walk from Route 13 to upper Treman on my forthcoming list of our toughest hikes. It was perfect weather for a hike but we had some grumbling as the climb went on and on — then I got word that our super-regular Brenda had thrown in the sponge — she sat down on a log and said she wasn’t going any higher — Brenda has a chronically very bad back but she generally soldiers on no matter what — so for her to drop out means this one gets a rating of five for steepness.
It’s really beautiful all the way up, and at the top, which makes the tough climb more bearable. And coming back down is great.
Official head count: 20 hikers, two dogs
That’s our newest photographer Sabine wearing the camera around her neck — she takes the photos but she doesn’t know how to download them or edit them, so she uses my backup camera and I take it home and choose and crop her shots — so if you see something you don’t like, blame me, not her
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Saturday April 16
Bob Cameron Loop, Connecticut Hill
Something different this time — I’m using five shots by Sabine and three from Jack V but none of my own to illustrate this report — I put some shots of mine online you can check out if you want; they’re technically OK but I think they’re a little dull compared to the photos I’m using here
“This is the nicest day of the year so far,” one of the hikers said as we turned into the woods — maybe not everyone would agree, but it certainly was beautiful out — no signs of spring but the setting had a gorgeous sun-drenched quality that was delightfully spring-like
I don’t want to sound treacly but I think this shot of Sabine’s captures the springy mood, with the hot colors and the smiling faces lined up like a row of flowers blooming in the sun
Generally terrible conditions for taking photos — sun too blindingly bright, harsh shadows, confusing sun-and-shade effects, very poor contrast between the people and the backgrounds — you can see in this shot that the ladies in the shade look good but the hikers in the background are seriously melted and bleached out.
I was very curious how we’d make out crossing the deep ravine — we brought a rope and trowel as advertised — four of us in the group had handicaps — two significant spine problems, one broken collarbone still not healed, and me — I now have a condition called ataxia that causes me to feel like I’m always going to fall over.
Here’s the ravine, as captured by jack V. As you can see, it’s pretty deep and the walls are steep — luckily the ground was a little muddy and soft and it was possible to just slide down gracefully on your ass. No rope or trowel needed.
Maybe I look a little dazed climbing up the other side but in fact it went very smoothly for me and everyone else.
One group of hikers decided to venture upstream rather than try the deep ravine, and they found an easier crossing, though it involved some bushwhacking. (Photo by Sabine.)
Official head count: 23 hikers, four dogs
Regular hiker Bad Dennis is recuperating from minor leg surgery — he shaped up anyway but he turned back quite early and walked back through the woods alone. He called me in the afternoon to say he’d seen what he was sure was the paw print of a small bear — “what if it was a cub and the mother was nearby and attacked you?” I said — this is why I never want to hike alone around here.
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Sunday April 17
Monkey Run Natural Area, south side of Fall Creek, Varna
Wonderful morning on the trail, wildflowers and green shoots everywhere, creek sparkling and shimmering, just a great day to be outside.
Official head count: 36 hikers, two dogs
Here we are where the trail emerges from the woods and you find yourself abruptly on top of a high bluff that drops precipitously down to the creek more than 100 feet below — our nature photogs always have shots that sort of suggest the scene — but you really need to be there to get the full stunning effect, it’s quite extraordinary
At the big Cornell fields — I herd everyone over here every time because I love the views — but sometimes the hikers are so busy schmoozing they don’t even look up — this time they were good, they actually walked out into the open a little and seemed to be looking around
This isn’t the darkest pine grove we do on our hikes but it’s one of my favorites — I love the atmosphere — the timing of this hike is such that we invariably have to turn back and head for the cars here — I realize I haven’t said anything for a while about precisely how long our hikes have been lasting — don’t think I’ve lost interest in this topic — the little group I was walking with got back to the parking lot in exactly two hours flat.
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