Report to Hikers November 21 – November 27

Wednesday November 23

South Road & Hurd Hill Road, Caroline

Hike report by Jim

Thirteen hikers met on the seasonal Hurd Hill Road where it intersects with South Road. We started with a steady downhill walk of Hurd Hill Road, which for the most part was free of washouts and potholes that otherwise might have slowed us down.

Our route passed through mostly undeveloped state forest land. Not until we approached the intersection with Prospect Valley Road did we encounter any residences or other signs of human habitation.

Hikers turned right at that intersection and then continued on Prospect Valley Road until we reached the seasonal end of Shindagin Hollow Road. Because we’d maintained a good pace, we found ourselves at the FLT crossing on Shindagin Hollow Road exactly an hour into the hike. We turned onto the FLT, hiking to the Shindagin lean-to, where we paused briefly.

We pressed on, hiking to South Road and then walking on that road back to our cars.

For those still tracking their FLT miles toward the FLT60 patch, today’s hike included 1.5 FLT miles.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Thursday November 24

Thanksgiving Hike and Get-Together

Hike report by Hank

Eight hikers and one dog named Thor set out at approximately 9:40 from 112 Compton Road under clear skies and temps in the mid 50s.

We proceeded south on Compton Road, crossing NY-96, and got on Comfort Road. From there, we continued south until we picked up the trail that becomes the loop around Treman Lake.  

At approximately the halfway point, where the road leads into upper Buttermilk SP, we turned right, walked about 100 yards, and then turned left and walked up a service road past a now-defunct water tank and onward, finally ending up at  West King Road. There, we stopped to chat for a moment, then we turned around went back down to Buttermilk park and proceeded around the rest of the Treman lake loop. We picked up the Finger Lakes Trail to Yaple, walked Yaple to Comfort, then returned to 112 Compton. 

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Photos by Cian

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Saturday November 26

Stevens Suspension Bridge, Cornell Natural Areas

Hike report by Jim

Twenty hikers and two dogs met on Forest Home Drive for a hike of the Cayuga Trails and surrounding environs. It was a sunny but cool day, perfect hiking weather.

After crossing the suspension bridge we turned west, weaving our way through the woods along the well-travelled trail system. Eventually we reached the golf course, where we carefully skirted the perimeter of the well-groomed greens.

We cut through the woodline to reach the equine barns via the service road. We didn’t see any horses at first; we were nearly past the barns when suddenly a dozen or more horses thundered to the fenceline as we passed by.

There is some construction in progress between the current pastures and the Pooh tree, but we were able to turn toward the woods and the trails along the forested bluffs above the stream.

We hiked the orange-blazed trails along the bluff until we reached the split between the orange- and red-blazed trails. Normally we turn downhill and follow the orange blazes, but today I’d hoped to take the red-blazed trails and return to our cars from another point in the trail system. However, the hikers within our group had by now become so dispersed that I was afraid that the trailing hikers wouldn’t find the main group. So part of the group continued on the red-blazed trail under Norm’s guidance, while I took another group of hikers to retrace our route back to the orange-blazed trails. We  located the formerly trailing hikers near Stevens suspension bridge.

My group of hikers crossed the bridge and hiked the blue-blazed trails along the stream in a loop, returning to our cars at the two-hour mark. By now, the shoulders on both sides of the road in the parking area were lined with cars. Clearly, this trail system was a popular destination for hikers on this beautiful fall day!

Welcome to Pat K. on her first hike with the group!

Photos by Leigh Ann

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Photos by Cian

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Sunday November 27

Owl Creek Trail, lower Buttermilk SP, and Ithaca College Natural Lands

Hike report by Jim

Thirteen hikers and two dogs met in the lower Buttermilk Falls State Park parking lot for a hike of the Owl Creek Trail and surrounding areas. The morning was overcast, with the threat of rain in the forecast.

We set off up the paved service road before turning onto the Owl Creek Trail. The group paused for a quick group photo before resuming our upward trek. Much of the first section of this hike is a steady climb; we go some distance before reaching a level spot where we can catch our breath.

At the overlook area, we paused to take in the view. The forests across the gorge were shrouded in a watery haze.

We resumed our climb and eventually reached Kings Cemetery on to Stone Quarry Road. Here is where we felt the first raindrops.

The group returned to the woods and walked to the Owl Creek trailhead on Stone Quarry Road. Here we crossed the road and got on the red-blazed trails of the Ithaca College Western Natural Lands.

By now it was raining steadily. We completed several of the loops within that trail system before again crossing Stone Quarry Road and retracing our steps down the hill via the Owl Creek Trail back to our cars.

A warm welcome to Kristin on her first hike with the group!

Photos by Leigh Ann
Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

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Report to Hikers November 14 – November 20

Wednesday November 16

Deputron Hollow, Danby

Hike report by Jim

Seven hikers met at the corner of Miller and Marsh roads in Danby for a hike of the seasonal Deputron Hollow Rd. on a cool November morning. We  left the parking area, quickly passing from the paved roadway to dirt and then turning onto the seasonal road portion of the hike.

As we proceeded downhill and the forest closed in on either side of the road, the evidence of human habitation we’d passed at the beginning of the walk receded into the distance. This portion of the road descends in short stretches, leveling out occasionally before resuming its downhill path. All too soon we reached the lower, maintained and inhabited portion of Deputron Hollow Rd.

The main body of the group reached our turnaround time, while the group that was closer to Coddington Rd. continued at their faster pace, turning around only after reaching that intersection.

The return, uphill portion of the hike was uneventful and seemed to pass by quickly. All too soon we found ourselves at our vehicles, another hike successfully completed.

Saturday November 19

Historic architecture walk, Ithaca

Hike report by Randy O.

A group of close to 30 people met on a very chilly, but sunny morning. There were a couple of new hikers, one from Japan who was visiting for a short time. There were at least two dogs. Because of the cold, we departed right on time, with a few hikers arriving shortly after we started.  

We walked past eight historic buildings before climbing up Cascadilla Gorge. The gate was open, and the trail was mostly ice-free. We were warmed up by the time we reached College Avenue. However, the group had now fractured into two, with about 20 in the lead pack. 

We continued onto the Cornell campus, passing an interesting rock garden, Sage Hall, the A.D. White House, and Bailey Hall, before experiencing a colorfully interactive sculpture. 

From there it was all downhill, through the Arts Quad, past Morrill Hall and the clock tower, with frigid views of the lake. Loping down Libe Slope brought us to the Telluride House, notable for its esteemed residents, then down to Llenroc, home to Ezra Cornell, with brilliant sunshine enhancing its Gothic facade. 

A short stroll through the deserted cemetery brought us to Cascadilla Park Road and a steep descent to the flatlands. Walking along Cascadilla Creek was a pleasant way to end the hike/walk, with Gimme! luring some (me) to grab something warm while waiting for the trailing group. Surprisingly, and to the delight of many, we ended the hike in exactly two hours, covering 4.4 miles.

Click here for a list of the historic buildings we saw.

Photos by Randy

View Nancy L and Randy‘s photo album.

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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Sunday November 20

Finger Lakes Trail from Shady Corners parking area to Thayer Preserve

Hike report by Jim

Twenty hikers and two dogs met at the recently paved parking area outside of lower Robert Treman State Park at the Shady Corners intersection of  state routes 13 and 34/96.

It was a cold morning; snow flurries had been falling as I drove to the trailhead, and as hikers gathered the wind continued, although the snow flurries dissipated.

My plan was to hike into the Lick Brook area and do a hike in a reverse direction from the route we normally do at that location.

The group went east, passing through the land recently acquired by the Finger Lakes Land Trust that surrounds the parking area, before entering the lands of the Tapan Mitra Preserve. We quickly crossed the railroad trestle, hiking through the lands of the Cornell Botanic Garden and into the Sweedler Nature Preserve. After stopping by the ice-encrusted falls (which were deep in shadows) for a group picture, we continued upward on the Finger Lakes Trail, traversing the narrow ridgeline the trail follows as it climbs the hill toward the distant Townline Road.

Around this point, the group split into several speed-based groups as some people lingered to take photos of the valley floor below us.

The freshly fallen snow, light enough to not crush the plant life that still rose along the trail, was a nice visual contrast to the browns and greens of now-dead  but still-standing summer plants and the evergreens that surround the trail.

We met several day hikers along the way, many out enjoying this early winter day with their own canine companions.

By the time my subset of the larger hiking group had reached Townline Rd, the main body of hikers had long since crossed the road and continued on the red-blazed trails of the Thayer Nature Preserve. My small group crossed the bridge and jumped onto the blue-blazed Toms Trail, assuming that we would soon meet the main body of hikers as they completed the loop.

This in fact happened, and the reunited group returned to Townline Rd., picked up the few remaining stragglers and headed downhill, hiking the blue-blazed trail that runs along the cliff’s edge.

As we returned to the valley floor, the serpentine line of hikers compressed into a tighter group and continued on the trail back to our cars. The hike took just a bit longer than our normal two-hour time, so I count this as a successful hike route to do again in the future.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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A Tribute to Diego

For many of us, the dogs who accompany us on the trail are part of the joy of hiking. Seeing the fun they have in the woods — racing back and forth, following intriguing smells, and playing together — adds so much to our hikes. When I first joined Ithaca Hikers, it was great to get out in the woods and make new (human) friends. But as someone who’s always loved dogs and was unable for various reasons have a canine companion, it was a special treat to hike with the dogs who came along with us.

One of the dogs who was always a fixture on our hikes was Roger’s dog Diego, who, sadly, passed away last week. Diego was a sweet, fun, and energetic hiker. Below, hikers share some thoughts and memories of Diego.

If you would like to add your memories of Diego to this post, email them to Nancy H. and I’ll include them here.

Diego, photographed by Katharine
From Jim:

Last week we lost a dedicated member of our hiking family.

Diego has been a regular member of the group over the span of many years, probably longer than anyone else who regularly hikes in the group except Roger himself. Diego was hiking with us as recently as last Sunday in Danby forest; although he was visibly slower that day, he was no less enthusiastic as he followed the group up the FLT from Diane’s Crossing.

Diego was always an eager member of the group on the trail, sometimes too much so; Roger had to wait at hike’s end more than once because Diego had gone off into the woods after one scent or another that caught his interest. Somehow, his free-spirited misdeeds were always forgiven by the next hike, when he would rejoin the group and come up to me in search of the next Milk Bone.

I will miss the little guy.

Diego hoping for a Milk Bone.
From Stephen Hesse:

Susan and I agree that Diego was the most adventurous, enthusiastic, and energetic hiker we ever had in the group, human or canine.  We’re so sorry he’s reached the end of his life.  We think he exemplified the spirit of the group: He just wanted to get out into the woods and see what was happening.

We all know the deep sadness you feel when an animal you love dies.

Jim asked if I had any good photo of Roger and Diego together.  Not that I can recall. Diego was not one to hang around and pose for cute photos with anyone.  He just wanted to get running.  He produced some anxious moments by getting lost, but now I look back on those moments fondly.

Diego and Ruby leading the way.
From Norm:

Each time I met Diego at the start of a hike, I was surprised at how low to the ground he was. I thought of him as bigger. This sort of made sense. He covered a lot of ground compared to us and even compared to the other dogs. And of course he was tough to keep track of — well out of proportion to his mass and his peaceful nature.

It’s fun to be in the field with a wanderer like Diego. Thanks Roger and all who bring their dogs to the hikes and into our minds, whether on or off leash.

From James R.:

Sorry to hear this!  I always enjoyed seeing Diego and his boundless energy, tearing through the woods as we plodded along.  I’m sorry for your loss, Roger.

From Kai:

Diego was always excited for the hikes and certainly seemed to have enjoyed them. He seemed to be a happy and energetic pup. I, like everyone else, will definitely miss him. May he hike and bound around in the next world.

A hiker for all seasons! Photos by Leigh Ann
From Bud:

Diego was a fine hiking companion.  If memory serves, he was a regular part of our group for at least a decade.  In his younger years, his enthusiasm and excitement were overwhelming as the time to start hiking approached.

From Mary W.:

I have long thought of Diego (and his litter mate, Ruby) as seasoned Ithaca Hikers and the dog leaders of the group. Through trail socialization and perhaps some sort of canine osmosis, Diego taught new dog members trail etiquette. He knew to wait until the trail widened before safely passing. He didn’t run on the trails. We didn’t worry that Diego would snap at someone, bump into human hikers, challenge other dogs, or otherwise create concerns for safety. It was all good, except when he’d instinctively run far into the woods and then lose the scent, sound, and sight of the group.

Even so, he had some fun adventures and contributed to the collective stories of the Ithaca Hikers. Thanks for sharing him with us, Roger.  Rest peacefully, Diego.

Diego and friends, photographed by Katharine.
From Eva:

So sorry to hear this. Diego was such a happy, energetic fellow. He will be missed.

We’ll miss you, Diego! (Photo by Katharine)

Report to Hikers November 7 – November 13

Wednesday November 9

Sessions Hill Road and Forbes Road, Homer

Hike report by Jim

This was a new hike for us, although hike leader Steve S. reported that he often hikes the area roads with his own dogs. Fourteen hikers and one dog met in Homer at the junction of Sessions Hill and Forbes Roads in Homer. This intersection is a nice meeting location, with good views in all directions and wide shoulders for ease of parking. Long-distance visibility was quite clear on this sunny but cool hiking day.

We started the hike by walking down nearby Vern King Rd. until we reached Maxson Rd., which offered a nice, gradual climb past a few houses before turning south and passing through some forested areas. With the leaves now fallen, there were still some good views along this portion of the hike.

Maxon Rd. runs into Sessions Hill Rd., on which we returned to the cars, arriving at just about the two-hour mark.

After the hike, we followed Roger to his nearby business, Beck Equipment, where he gave us an excellent guided tour, fed us pizza and wings, and offered the opportunity to operate some of the heavy equipment on site. Nancy L. was the only one to take up Roger’s invitation to try out the equipment.

Thanks to Steve S. for leading the hike!

Thank you, Roger, for your hospitality!

I enjoyed this new location enough to add it to our hike listings as hike #54-2.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Mark S.

View Mark’s photo album.

Photos by Steve S.

Photos by Norm

Saturday November 12

Eberhard Nature Preserve, Caroline

This hike was cancelled due to weather conditions.

Sunday November 13

Hammond Hill State Forest from Star Stanton Road

Twenty-two hikers and four dogs (+ 5 hikers and 1 dog elsewhere) met on Star Stanton Rd. in Dryden for a hike of the green- and yellow-blazed trails within Hammond Hill State Forest. I chose this hike because we’ll lose our access to the trails there to the skiers for a few months once we get some snow on the ground. It was sleeting as hikers arrived, a foreboding of the cold months ahead of us after the long stretch of warm weather we’ve had this fall.

After an initial descent toward Hammond Hill Rd., we turned onto the green-blazed trails  on the north side of Star Stanton Rd. This trail offered a gentle climb before leveling off into wide loops that make their way through the forest. Although the trail network on this side of the forest isn’t as extensive as those found elsewhere in Hamond Hill, there are still enough junctions and intersections that it is easy to get lost without a firm grasp of the network or a map for guidance.

The green trails gave way to yellow-blazed trails, which we took to the intersection of Canaan and Star Stanton Roads, known as “Times Square” for the convergence of many different trails at that junction.

After a stop at Times Square, we continued on trail Yellow 4. From there, I altered our planned route due to time limits; we turned onto trail Yellow 8, which in turn led to Yellow 5, which took us back to Canaan Rd. Crossing that road took us to Yellow 6, which winds through my favorite part of the forest, with towering and very atmospheric evergreens.

Trail Yellow 6 meets Yellow 1, which took us back to Star Stanton Rd. and our vehicles only a minute past our anticipated end time.

I found out later that a second group of five hikers and one dog were led astray by a Google Maps glitch (see below) and met up elsewhere in the Freeville area. These hikers did their own hike, and so I am adding them to the head count for Sunday’s hike.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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Other Issues: Google Maps and Timeliness

From Jim

I would like to comment on the Google Maps accuracy issue. On recent hikes, multiple hikers have reported that Google Maps changes its destination en route, switching from a specific address or intersection to a generic pin that marks the town, but not the location of the original pin. Meeting locations that rely on intersections or coordinates seem especially prone to this problem, which often occurs when Google Maps reroutes during the drive. Nancy H and I are aware of this issue and don’t have a solution. However, if you notice that Google Maps is recaluclating your route, you might want to pull over and check that it hasn’t changed your destination. This appears to be a windespread and ongoing problem with the app.

Because of this issue, we have started adding written directions to our hikes. If you are not familiar with a particular meeting location, do not simply rely on Google Maps to get you there. Read the directions before you set out so you can notice if Google Maps sends you a different way. Have the written directions with you, or contact me or other regular hikers for assistance.

Finally, to echo my comments to our email list about being on time, we had a late arrival on the trail Sunday whom I was unaware of until nearly the end of the hike. For accountability purposes, I need folks to show up early enough that we can know during the hike who is hiking with our group. Thanks!

Report to Hikers October 31 – November 6

Wednesday November 2

Bob Cameron Loop, Connecticut Hill, Newfield

Hike report by Jim

Six hikers met by the radio tower on Connecticut Hill for a hike of the Bob Cameron Loop.

En route to the parking area the morning fog had been dense, and it didn’t disappear until I reached Black Oak Rd.

Hike conditions were good; it hadn’t rained that I was aware of, but the leaves underfoot were still wet from some recent precipitation. Trail conditions were good, much less muddy than I have seen them in the past.

We encountered only a couple of other people along the way but otherwise had the trail to ourselves.

After completing the loop, the group jumped onto the Finger Lakes Trail to use up our remaining hike time.  We crossed Cayutaville Rd. and reached Griffin Rd. before turning around to retrace our steps back to the parking area.

For anyone tracking their FLT miles toward an FLT60 patch, I would say that we hiked about 2.25 FLT miles today, based on the mileage on the back of the FLT map sheet.

Saturday November 5

Tuller Hill State Forest, Cortland County

Hike report by Jim

Saturday’s hike was an unusual one, as the Ithaca Hikers had been invited by Wendy and Gary Wakula (who often join our group when we’re hiking in or near Cortland County) to do a joint hike with the Triple Cities Hiking Club. Triple Cities was planning an all-day figure-8 hike in Tuller Hill State Forest, but would stop for lunch at the parking area midway. Their lunch stop was an opportunity for us to end our hike at about our normal two-hour mark.

In all, I counted 24 Ithaca Hikers, who met approximately 11 Triple Cities hikers in the equestrian parking area on Clute Rd.

The day was moderately warm, certainly warm enough that a hiker would heat up considerably during the hike. Lots of layers were being shed at the pauses along the route. It was overcast, although around the time the group came to the upper part of our route arc the sun briefly broke free of the clouds long enough to light up the foliage and cast a few brief shadows before once again disappearing.

We started from the parking area and completed a loop route in the western portion of Tuller Hill Forest, using a combination of red-, yellow-, and blue-blazed trails.

There was only a small amount of mud along the way. Stream crossings had a slight amount of water flowing but were easily traversed. The fallen leaf cover was thick underfoot, the leaves already having lost their golden hue and reverted to a dull tan. The terrain was enjoyable, both visually and in the amount of hill climbing involved. There were some decent views along the utility lines we followed for a brief time, although there was some haze in the far distance.

Thanks to Gary and Wendy for the hike invitation, and the Triple Cities hikers we shared the trail with. A special thanks to Triple Cities member Larry Blumberg, who stepped in to lead the hike  on short notice when Wendy sustained an injury before hike day. Hoping that you make a full recovery, Wendy!

Welcome to Maureen, Stephen, Barbara, and Lisa on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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Sunday November 6

Comfort Rd. and Bald Hill Rd., Danby

Hike report by Jim

Eighteen hikers and two dogs met in the parking lot at the corner of Comfort and Bald Hill Roads in Danby for a loop hike. The weather was enjoyable, around the mid-60s with intermittent sunshine throughout the hike. Very pleasant for the first week of November!

The hike started with a quick and steeply descending road walk down Bald Hill Rd. At the Dove trail, near the junction with Station Rd., we quickly ascended the hillside, following the older pale pink blazes.

In a few minutes we reached the junction of the older Dove Trail and the new loop portion of the Dove Trail, identifiable by the newer, more pink blazes. We stopped for a quick entry in the almost-new trail journal found there.

In the past I’ve found that the new Dove Trail section is a nice bypass of the muddy portion of the Abbott Loop, with the benefit of going through some very nice scenery along its route.

The path underfoot was concealed by a blanket of leaves, but the newer blazing helped us navigate the hillside.

Eventually we reached the Abbott Loop, where we hiked an enjoyable section of that loop that leads to Diane’s Crossing.

We paused for a group photo and then plunged forward on the Finger Lakes Trail, climbing gradually upward as the trail wound through old roads, along dried-up swamps, and past old foundations along its route back to Bald Hill Road.

We stopped briefly to make a visit to the lean-to so that I could explain to the newer hikers about our tradition of a mid-winter party at that location, but the lean-to was occupied so we didn’t spend much time there before moving on.

When we reached Bald Hill Rd., we found that we still had 20 minutes of hiking time, so we crossed the road and continued toward Comfort Rd. A quick road walk on Comfort Rd. got us back to our cars about five minutes past our normal deadline.

Based on my FLT map sheet and the Dove Trail miles of the loop, I come up with 2.25 FLT miles for Sunday’s hike.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

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Photos by Leigh Ann

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