Report to Hikers: week of Nov 20-Nov 26


Hello Hikers!


Monday Nov 20

Special hiker event  —  tour of Wagner Millwork sawmill, Owego

This trip to Owego completed our crash introduction to the sawmill industry in Central NY.  A few weeks back we toured a small old-fashioned sawmill in Cayuta  —  the Wagner mill is the most up-to-date sawmill of its type in the country  —  it was built from scratch a few years ago after the existing mill burned down.  The fellow in the yellow “Team Wagner” vest, Bruce Richards, designed the new mill and led us around.

Hiker PJ brought along her 91-year-old dad, who worked in a sawmill when he was younger.

The sawing operation of the mill sits in one huge room, and involves several levels of stairs and catwalks

This is where the lumber enters the mill  —  you can see the logs look quite neat and uniform  —  the company generally buys logs only after they have been professionally check out first

The wood travels around the giant building on a series of continuous conveyors without anyone having to handle it manually.  At a number of spots we were able to stand amazingly close to the operation going on at that point.

This is where the first sawing of the log occurs.  The sawyer sits in the black booth.  By this point, the logs have been debarked.

Here’s another view of the sawyer’s cabin.  We couldn’t go into the cabin because disturbing the sawyer throws off his concentration and causes the skill of his cutting to drop off for several minutes.

This is the room where the huge saws are continually resharpened and straightened

This is the end of the sawing operation, after the wood has been additionally sawn and sorted a number of times.  This sorting and stacking work is the entry level job for those who want to work here.

The photos in no way convey the amazing nature of this sawmill.  It was one of the most fascinating and oddest places I’ve ever been, maybe rivaled only by a steel mill I toured in Alabama in the late 70s.  The noise level is tremendous  —  we were offered soft ear plugs at the start but they never work for me so I skipped them  —  I could bear the noise for a while but then it became overwhelming and I had to cram my fingers into my ears  —  I felt I would have had a breakdown if I’d had to endure the racket much longer.  The mill has a state-of-the-art sawdust collection system but it was still pretty dusty inside.

The small door behind Dave is where the wood is dried.  Much of the wood produced here is used for furniture and it must be dried very carefully.  The operation inside the drying room uses steam  —  I stepped a half-step into the room and the atmosphere was so hot and steamy and thick I had to spin on my heel and get out.

Hiker Mark made a five-minute YouTube video showing some of the main operations in the mill  —  for those of us who went on the tour, it’s a really good way to reinforce what we saw in a relatively quiet setting.

This was an extraordinary place and a fantastic experience.



Thursday Nov 23

Lick Brook

Official head count:  28H, six D

More photos:

Jack V

Get-together after the hike at Katharine’s

A major success.   Official head count:  49

I have a few comments about this at the bottom of this hike report.


Saturday Nov 25

Woodard Road, Enfield, east on the FLT through Treman SP

This turned out to be a much easier way to get into the lovely woods along the south edge of the park without having to grind your way up a series of very steep hills from Route 13, as we’ve always done until now.

Official head c9unt:  28H, seven D

More photos:


Jack V

Two very brief waterfall videos by Steve S

Lucifer Falls

Grist mill falls


Sunday Nov 26

Monkey Run Natural Area, north side  —  Hanshaw Road

Official head count:  28H, eight D

More photos:



Here’s a few words about our get-togethers

I’d like to take this occasion to thank all the hikers who host get-togethers for our group, especially Katharine and Scott, who do most of our holiday-related events, and Roger and Gunilla, who run our big summer cook-outs.  I like the get-togethers because they give the hikers more opportunity to get to know each other  —  I think this makes for a lively group spirit and makes the hikers more comfortable with each other on the trail in the woods.  We’ve been having get-togethers for a while now and they’ve become very popular.  I know they’re a lot of work for our hosts, and I appreciate the efforts they put in.

I asked Katharine if she wanted to write up a report on her Thanksgiving party.  She sent me this:


Hi Stephen

Dennis sent me this lovely note

 I then asked him if I could send it to you to incorporate in the Thanksgiving message which I still have to write for you but the most important thing of course is to let everybody know how much we’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching everybody and chatting with everybody(49) and wedging ourselves between the people stuffed in the kitchen (next year we’ll set up the food in the dining room –great suggestion by Monica)

it was wonderful I can probably improve on the message

And here’s the note Dennis sent to Katharine that she’s referring to above:

I waddled off to the car, wedged myself in, and got home in time to take a very necessary nap.   I had no turkey or potatoes, proving scientifically, that it isn’t necessary to ingest turkey (tryptophane), or potato starch, to get a “Thanksgiving high”.  The veggies and pies were great all by themselves (the vegan stuffing was delicious, as were the Brussel sprouts).   Good G-d, am I turning vegan?

Incredibly good time.  Lots of fun.  Met people I haven’t seen in a long time.  Thanks giving—to you.  Va had a good time as well–we came separately and so I ate what and as I wished, without commentary…  Dinner will be mushroom soup and a salad (for me anyway), if that.