Wednesday May 4
Eastman Hill Rd. at the Tioga/Tompkins County Line
Hike report by Jim
Eight hikers met at the end of the maintained portion of Eastman Hill Rd. to hike the FLT. Light rain had started to fall as I was driving to the trailhead; this was sufficient to deter a few people from hiking, based on reports of arriving hikers who were not carpooling with anyone that day.
Based on the rain, I opted to alter our normal loop hike and omit the downhill abandoned section of Eastman Hill, which features a lot of loose shale and rock scree that I felt would be unsafe. Instead, the hike would feature two out-and-back sections of the FLT on either side of Eastman Hill Rd.
The initial short section of Eastman Hill from the parking area is usually an uneventful section that’s enough to get your pulse rate up but is an otherwise unremarkable stroll through land that is DEC property on one side and heavily posted private property on the other.
Cresting the short incline we met the FLT crossing and headed east. This short FLT section is always muddy, and today was no exception, with several short muddy bogs before the grade changes and we start an uphill stretch that takes us away from the mud.
As it happened, at this point we ran into a small contingent of CTC hike leaders who were pre-hiking their next section of the cross-county hike series. A convenient excuse to stop and catch up with each other as we don’t often see each other’s groups on trail.
Pressing on, we crested Eastman Hill and started down the opposite side. Here we encountered a heavy fog that obscured the valley below and created a very atmospheric effect on this section of trail.
We continued downhill through the various twists and turns until we reached the steep downhill leg that would have taken us to the abandoned portion of Eastman Hill Rd. that I had opted to avoid, so we turned around and retraced our steps back up the hill to the FLT road crossing we’d first turned on. Crossing Eastman Hill Rd., we continued west toward Heisey Rd. This segment is very overgrown when we hike it in the summer months, and it was nice to not contend with that overgrowth.
The trees were starting to leaf out and flowers were visible across the forest floor, along with a few more boggy muddy portions we encountered along the way.
After reaching Heisey Rd. we stopped and turned around, preferring a forest walk to the road walk alternative back to the cars.
Along the way on the last leg of the hike we checked out a small assortment of farm foundations that I’d never looked at on previous hikes here…Randy always has an eye for such things, and he said this was his first hike of this stretch of the trail.
By this time, the rain had stopped and the skies had visibly brightened.
We got back to the cars a few minutes past our normal hike duration.
This hike counts as four FLT miles for those who are trying to get their FLT60 patch.
Saturday May 7
Hoxie Gorge, Cortland County
Hike report by Jim
Eight hikers and three dogs set out from the parking lot at the dead end of Hoxie Gorge Rd. for a hike of the FLT through Hoxie Gorge. While we were walking to the trailhead, two additional hikers arrived late and said they’d catch up to the main group but never did.
While on the trail we ran into another hiker who started his hike from a different parking location.
This was the second hike our group has done at this location, and none of today’s hikers were here last year when this was one of our “farther away” Tuesday summer hikes. This resulted in some hikers arriving later than normal.
It was an overcast morning at the beginning of the hike. We entered the blue-blazed access trail from Hoxie Gorge Rd., and almost immediately we started finding blowdowns and trail damage from uprooted trees, which slowed our progress. According to signs at the trailhead, this section of trail was previously a section of the FLT until the FLT was rerouted at some point.
The blue-blazed trail wound its way along the stream, making for some enjoyable scenery. It was a cool morning, but temperatures warmed up quickly as we made our way down the trail. Soon, people were shedding layers.
The blue-blazed trail intermingled with portions of the yellow-blazed SUNY Cortland McDermott Nature Trail (Trail Guide – SUNY Cortland); the colors prompted hikers to dub the trail “the Ukraine Trail.” Eventually the conjoined SUNY and blue-blazed trails met the current FLT footpath, and the group turned south.
Unlike our previous hike at this location, the undergrowth has not yet become overgrown, and the trail is extremely pleasing as it winds its way across several streams and through stands of tall hemlocks. Elevation changes are minimal, and water levels at the various stream crossings did not present a problem to the group.
Eventually the trail reached Hoxie Gorge Freetown Rd. We crossed the road and continue on the FLT for another 10 minutes.
We returned to Hoxie Gorge Freetown Rd. and retraced our steps, returning to the fork in the trail. From there we continued north, eventually locating our wayward solitary hiker along the way. We continued on for a few minutes more, then returned to the McDermott Nature Trail and took that directly back to the parking lot and our cars.
For the hikers attempting to earn their FLT60 patch, today counted for 4 FLT miles.
Sunday May 8
Upper Buttermilk State Park
Hike report by Jim
By my best estimate, this hike had 22 hikers and seven dogs. However, there were cars still showing up past the hike start time.
Sunday’s hike was a little odd, as my originally planned route around Lake Treman at Upper Buttermilk had to be altered on the fly a couple of times due to closed or damaged trails/ infrastructure.
I knew that the bridge at the top of the lake was damaged, but found on my check of the lake before the hike was that there was no good alternate way to cross the stream there.
My second plan was to cross at the dam and do things somewhat in reverse. The trail across the dam was still closed, despite all park trails being listed as open on the Buttermilk Falls webpage.
The group ended up hiking from Yaple Rd. along Treman Lake; from there we took the Bear Trail to the upper park entrance, jumped across West King Rd. The group took the gorge trail to the bridge at mid-stream, crossed over and climbed the Rim Trail back to West King Rd.
From there we retraced our route back to Yaple Rd and the cars.
Despite the morning starting out with low temps and frost on the fields on my way to the hike, by hike’s end the temps had risen significantly and the sun was out.
Welcome to Randy S., Janet, Sam, and Sam’s K9 friend, Sparkles, on their first hike with the group!