Wednesday, January 10
Dryden Rail Trail vicinity of Monkey Run
Hike report by Jim
Eighteen hikers and a single dog met on the unnamed solar farm road off of Stevenson Rd ( near Dodge Rd ) for a walk of the Dryden Rail Trail and Monkey Run area sections of the Cayuga Trail. This is hike # 49B on our list of regular hike locations: https://www.ithacahikers.com/hike-49.
Right away we ran into one issue, as since our last hike here someone has seen fit to sign one side of the solar farm access road (the side we normally park on) as no parking, while the other IS marked as rail trail parking but could be an issue for weekend hikes here for the group due to limited parking on that side. I’ve contacted Cornell Uni PD for some clarification on who has towing authority on that section of road. One side is the Game Farm, while I’m not sure if Cornell controls the solar farm side of the road. I’ll let hikers know what I find out.
On today’s hike temps were warm, which meant that the snow from recent days was actively melting and turning to slush. The Cayuga Trails sections we navigated were quite muddy and slippery, although safe enough if hiked with care. The Rail Trail sections were a mix of bare ground, standing water or slushy snow.
The group encountered three blow downs between the trailhead and Monkey Run Road, one serious enough that we had to enter private property along the trail to navigate the blowdown. The attached photo of Leigh Ann and the last blowdown was the smallest of the three.
Crossing over Monkey Run Road the group continued on the Cayuga Trail until we returned to the Dryden Rail Trail which we walked to Route 13. Due to conditions I scrapped my plan to make a loop on the Cayuga Trail and opted for a return to the cars via the Rail Trail.
On the return leg of the hike, I spoke to a heavy equipment operator who was busy tearing up an open field near the FH Fox bridge (the field where we were chased by a skunk last year) . He advised that the project entails the construction of yet another apartment complex. At least one of our hikers tried to put a positive spin on the construction by saying that residents there will have a hiking trail outside their back doors, but I do hate to see more open land near trails built on.
Warm welcome to Jean on her first hike with the group!
Saturday, January 13
Hike report by Casey C
I believe we had 22 hikers and two dogs. A few of the hikers showed up just as the train was leaving the station, but they knew their way. This was an out and back hike with the optional blue loop on the way back. Just 4 of us made it all the way to Newtown Road and we were just seven minutes beyond the stated turnaround time of one hour in.
The trail was wet, sloppy, and muddy on the flatter early part of the hike. As we gained elevation, the trail became quite snow covered and extra slippery. None of us had spikes because it was 42 and muddy where we started.
In fact at higher elevation the trail was slippery enough that I had what I thought was a rather spectacular crash on the way down the hill. Fortunately I somehow escaped real injury aside from some bumps and bruises.
The front pack managed 5.32 miles with 879’ of elevation gain and we did take the optional blue route loop on the way back.
It was a fun hike with weather that improved as the hike went on.
Sunday, January 14
Van Lone Loop
Hike report by Casey C
We did what I call the Van Lone Loops because we split into two different groups with one group of ten doing the complete loop at 6.04 miles and 938 feet of elevation gain. And the other group of 5 and one dog, led by Nancy L. doing a shorter version which included some special variations that might have made it about as long as the regular loop.
Either way the shorter version group got back just a little before us, and we got back at about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Both groups encountered quite a snow squall just as we crested the first set of serious hills. Otherwise the conditions were, muddy in some places, icy in others and sometimes both. I was happy that I wore the spikes that I should have worn the day before. Given the amount of rain we have had recently, all of the stream and creek crossings were a bit of a challenge. I believe Leigh Ann won the competition for most falls including a good one before the hike even started.
Given the challenges it still looked like a lot of smiles on hikers’ faces.