Report to Hikers: week of April 18-April 24

Hello Hikers!

Tuesday April 19

W Seneca Road and Burdick Road – Seneca County – road walk
Burdick Road, Trumansburg 098Our new Tuesday road walk program is only three weeks old and it’s already a huge success in my book. Some people like to walk only in the woods — maybe they like to see certain trees or flowers or birds or whatever — I don’t care about any of those things — what I like is to be out in the country — I care most about the mood and the feelings that a walk creates — a country road can be just as satisfying as a forest.
Burdick Road, Trumansburg 063I would certainly never have come out to this deserted area of mostly abandoned farmland right across the border in Seneca County if we didn’t have an organized walking program. We saw a handful of cars and a couple of working farms, but basically there’s nothing out here except empty fields, some still clear, the others filling in with brush and brambles and scrubby trees. This area is officially on the eastern edge of the Finger Lakes National Forest but it doesn’t at all resemble the parts of the FLNF we’re familiar with. The land rolls a little but it’s pretty much level, and it has a great deserted and slightly melancholy feeling to it.
Burdick Road, Trumansburg 068**

Burdick Road, Trumansburg 082**

Burdick Road, Trumansburg 073It was chilly, grey, surprisingly raw and drizzling a bit when we got to the meet-up, but once we got moving the drizzle ended and we all warmed up. It was fun to come upon the few active farms, but the expanse of empty land was very pleasing too.
Burdick Road, Trumansburg 091Toward the end the sun came out and the clouds piled up into a really dramatic formation and it was just gorgeous.

Official head count: Six hikers and Yoda.

More photos online:

Jack V

Wednesday April 20

Fischer Old Growth Forest, Newfield
Fischer Old Growth Forest 129This woodland preserve is advertised as a place of uniquely special character, and I imagine most of the people who come here are really into trees and plants. This typically means walking slowly and stopping a lot and looking at everything. Now, it’s a fact that, if you walk slowly enough, you can manage to get up even the steepest trails without too much effort. I once got my overweight and out-of-shape younger brother up the Buttermilk gorge trail by walking almost at a crawl — it took forever, but we succeeded.

Fischer Old Growth Forest 124But I’m much too impatient to go inching along here with our hikers, no matter how great the trees may be — so we always do this trail at our usual somewhat fast shuffle — the only stopping we do is to catch our breath.  And this time I realized clearly that the walk is an official ass-breaker — several of the ups and downs are genuine killers. So it’s going on my list-in-progress of our toughest hikes.
Fischer Old Growth Forest 093**

Fischer Old Growth Forest 101That’s not to scare anyone away — the woods here are exceptionally beautiful, and the terrain is wonderfully varied, with probably the most rapid and extreme changes in grade that we do anywhere.
Fischer Old Growth Forest 152The forest is owned by Cornell, and they recently bought an adjacent area of old fields, which makes a pleasing contrast to the shady gloom of the forest.
Fischer Old Growth Forest 052Official head count: 15 hikers and Yoda.

More photos online:

Jack V


Saturday April 23

South Danby Road west to the Abbott Loop, Danby SF
So Danby Road west 087Chilly grey dark morning — great atmospherics for this piney trail
So Danby Road west 061**

So Danby Road west 070We turned around at the little swampy area just beyond the junction with the Abbott Loop  — I directed the hikers to walk across the planks and then immediately turn and walk back so I could get a candid-looking photo — you can see how Susan L appreciated taking my directions
So Danby Road west 106Official head count: 21 hikers, three dogs
So Danby Road west 034More photos online:

Jack V


Sunday April 24

Virgil Creek Dam, Dryden
Virgil Creek Dam, Dryden 153Spectacular morning for walking around this odd flood-control earthworks project,
Virgil Creek Dam, Dryden 060This is a pretty minimalist place and you sometimes need some imagination to make it lively. So, for example, on the way out to the dam, we walked up a side hill and then back down the side hill. It happens to be private property and the farmer saw us and asked us to leave. (I generally have mixed feelings about high tension lines, but in this specific spot I find them very attractive on a sunny day when the sun is gleaming off them.)
Virgil Creek Dam, Dryden 082I myself love mud in the spring and we hit a good patch. I did get my feet wet navigating — no matter, mild morning and I had good socks on so my feet felt fine.

Not everyone appreciated our morning’s agenda. One hiker said it was boring to climb up a hill and then back down. “It’s a Zen thing,” I said. “No,” she said, “it’s like Sisyphus.” I thought that was funny, but the reality is, there’s not all that much to do here except to stretch things out with dumb little amusements.
Virgil Creek Dam, Dryden 212We came upon a seasonal pond with a bit of a racket coming from it. Sunday regular Jack B-2, who’s an animal behavior expert, said it was toads mating, which occurs only very briefly every year. Interesting sound.
Virgil Creek Dam, Dryden 172Here we are on top of the main berm, which is about 90 feet or so above the level of Virgil Creek far below — on a gorgeous morning like this one, you actually feel a bit like you’re on top of the world
Virgil Creek Dam, Dryden 223On the way out I challenged our resident daredevil Roger to touch an electrified cattle fence. He grew up on a farm so he knew how to proceed — he used a piece of grass. Very slight shock, he said. I was hoping for something more dramatic.

Our nature photographer Annie came out late and met up with us as we were heading back to the cars. She continues to have plantar fasciitis so she had to do a very truncated hike.
Virgil Creek Dam, Dryden 046Official head count: 27 hikers, seven dogs

More photos online:

Jack V
Annie took some shots but she wasn’t able to get them online. I’ll send the link on Thursday when I announce next weekend’s hikes. If you can’t wait, you can check the main home page of our nature photographers in a while — click here — the photo albums are sorted by date.