Report to Hikers: Week of June 22-June 28

Hello Hikers!


Wednesday June 24

Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve

Ellis Hollow NP 023

Wonderful cool dark morning after three days of oppressive warmth  —  any summer morning where you need to wear a jacket is wonderful by definition, in my book  —  you can see Virginia in the background also wearing our newest fashion item, the EMS insect veil  —

Ellis Hollow NP 005

….  and here’s the full-body version (that’s me inside)  —  in fact it wasn’t actually buggy this morning so I didn’t try out the suit in action  —

Ellis Hollow NP 053

The walk through this nature preserve is in heavy shade pretty much every step of the way, and it gives you a great deep-forest experience

Ellis Hollow NP 090

But now we extend the hike by walking across Ellis Hollow Creek Road into a big field that leads us over to a beautiful meandering creek scene  —  I just love the moment of stepping into a field of early-summer tall grass and weeds  —  though I don’t advise it if you’re a big worrier about ticks.

Ellis Hollow NP 060

Official head count:  17 hikers, eight dogs (better shot pf Virginia in her insect veil)



Saturday June 27

Treman State Park on the Finger Lakes Trail

Stevens Suspension Bridge 007

Our hikers’ luck held once again and we managed to dodge a big rainstorm poised right over the horizon that was supposedly going to clobber us.  It was raining on the way to the trail head, but it slowed way down by the time we stepped off, and we could hardly feel any rain at all under the trees.  I left my camera in the car thinking it might get wet but I wish I’d brought it because it was gorgeous in the woods.  This is a beautiful trail and it looked really spectacular in the gloom  —  the green was intense.  Annie left her big camera behind too but she got some shots with her iPhone  —  here’s one showing the greenery.  I firmly believe the best hikes happen when it’s getting ready to storm or it’s raining a little  —  this one was a perfect example.  Just one downside  —  very buggy, worst mosquitoes we’ve had this year  —  and I left my insect suit back in the car.

You can see all Annie’s iPhone shots online here.



Sunday June 28

Stevens Suspension Bridge, Forest Home

Stevens Suspension Bridge 108

More great atmospherics after an inch of rain overnight, another intensely green beautiful gloomy wet morning

Stevens Suspension Bridge 132

We hit lots of ponds and water, which I think is really fun to navigate  —  the golf course was soaked underfoot and we had it to ourselves

Stevens Suspension Bridge 054

Fall Creek was really rushing by  —  as we walked across the suspension bridge on the outbound leg it was bucking like crazy, more than it ever has before, and I was worried it had been damaged, but it seemed normal when we crossed back on the return leg.

Stevens Suspension Bridge 151

It rained a little toward the end of the hike but just lightly  —  some mosquitoes were out; they were biting Tiger every time we stopped but they left me alone.  The lighting was fantastic everywhere, especially on the golf course and in the pine groves, where it was almost pitch black.

Stevens Suspension Bridge 047

Official head count:  21 hikers, four dogs

You can see seven more shots by me online here.

Annie used her iPhone again  —  you can see her shots online here.


We now have more than 225 people who’ve signed up to get news of the Ithaca Hikers as e-mails from our web site. Most of these people haven’t ever actually hiked with us, so I’m always trying to give an idea of what to expect if any of them do decide to come out and join us. For instance, what do we talk about on the trail? Sometimes it’s birds and wildflowers and the grandchildren. But also weightier things.

This week we talked about why we’re so much worse than people in other rich countries at reading and grasping numerical issues,  Why is the younger set even worse than us older people?   (Results of the latest big international test here — I find them amazing.)

Is it bad teaching? (Lots of teachers who hike with us.) Are our teachers bright enough to do a good job? Is their pay too low to get better people?

Maybe it’s something in the nature of intelligence itself? Do you know what the experts say about intelligence, the psychometricians and cognitive scientists and educational psychologists? You might be surprised. Check it out — Wikipedia summaries of an American Psychological Association report, and a survey of 1020 experts with a 65% response rate.

On Sunday, we talked about the best way to kill yourself.

Report to Hikers: week of June 15-21

Hello Hikers!


Wednesday June 17

Yaple Road at Comfort Road, Danby
Yaple Road, Danby 023
Revolt at the trail head — I planned to walk through the fields over to Lick Brook — but one of the hikers warned the others darkly that this trail would be terribly wet, and tick-infested — so I was unanimously outvoted, and we ended up going back into upper Buttermilk SP for the second time in three weeks
Yaple Road, Danby 059

I don’t really like to repeat hikes so soon — but this is a very beautiful trail and it was fun to check it out three days after the big rain- and wind-storm that caused so much damage in Danby —
Yaple Road, Danby 052

We saw newly downed trees and signs there’d been high rushing water all around — seemed like we weren’t the only ones sightseeing after the storm; we ran into many more other people walking around this area than we’ve ever seen before
Yaple Road, Danby 109

Conditions were lovely and we had a great time
Yaple Road, Danby 056

Official head count: Eight hikers, three dogs

We have a new active daredevil in the group — Hank, 4-5 feet above the ground.

You can see six more shots by me online here

You can see Annie’s online photos here



Saturday June 20

Gorge Trail, Mark Smith Road, Finger Lakes National Forest

Gorge Trail, FLNF 090

Beautiful mild morning in Schuyler County.  There’s some fantastic scenery on this trail, including a wonderful gorge with a stream and two gorgeous ponds, and everything looked great.

Gorge Trail, FLNF 050

We were thinking we might see damage from the big storm last weekend, but we passed a only a few signs of high water.  The trail was a little wetter and muddier than normal, but no big deal.

Gorge Trail, FLNF 037

Official head count:  Nine hikers, five dogs

Gorge Trail, FLNF 119

I have a bad case of nostalgia  for the 40s and 50s (I was born in ’44) and the roads in this part of the national forest always make me feel I’ve gone back to those years  —  in a way it’s almost as much fun walking on these roads as the trails here  —  you don’t need to watch your step and there’s no mud  —  and no poison ivy  —  we had to turn around twice because we suddenly hit poison ivy right along the edge of the path in the woods.

You can see seven more shots by me online here.

You can see Annie’s shots here.



Sunday June 21

The Pinnacles Look-out from the north leg of the Abbott Loop, Danby

Pinnacles from the north leg 038

Steamy, sweaty and somewhat buggy walk to start our summer hiking season  —  I’ll be trying out this new fashion item in the weeks ahead (a gift from Brenda, modeled here by Tiger)  — the early word is that the veil is somewhat hot to wear, but it works.

Pinnacles from the north leg 104

We all made it up to the look-out pretty much on schedule, though the climb was a little more tiring than usual because of the hot conditions

Pinnacles from the north leg 140

Unfortunately, the fringe of trees and shrubs along the rim of the look-out is getting out of hand, and the great views out over the inlet valley have already been wrecked until the leaves drop off  —  I got a shot of everyone standing around in the vicinity of the rim but it doesn’t have any of the drama of the winter views, and the lighting along the rim itself was bad.

Pinnacles from the north leg 075

The leg of the Abbott Loop we walked up the week before suffered massive damage from the storm  that hit that night, but this leg of the loop was fine and we made good progress through the wettest areas.

Pinnacles from the north leg 052

Official head count:  18 hikers, six dogs

You can see seven more shots by me online here.

You can see Annie’s photos online here.

Report to Hikers: week of June 8-June 14

Hello Hikers!



Wednesday June 10

Breakfast at Freddy’s Diner, Newfield – hike in Arnot Forest
Arnot Forest 050

Here’s a test for an aging hiker’s brain:

You’ve been to this remote and undeveloped forest a few times but not in many years — you know there’s a loop walk that can be done because someone led you on it, twice — but there’s no blazes or markings, and no map of any kind. The challenge: Can you remember the loop trail on your own, years later, amid a confusion of unmarked paths and crossroads?

Could I do this? never! That’s why we haven’t attempted this hike in years. But luckily we have the resourceful Tiger — amazingly, she was able to recall the way after so many years and lead us around successfully.
Arnot Forest 095

So now we have another delightful walk to add to our list — with three hikes a week, we need all the good ones we can get. We’ll be coming back out here in the fall before hunting season (we need a cool morning because a lot of the trail is uphill).
Arnot Forest 071

The loop is in deep shade basically the whole time, but we did hit one open sunny spot and I told the hikers to assemble for a photo — as they’ve done before, they insisted I should be taking the shot with the sun shining in their faces — I predicted that wouldn’t look so great.  Judge for yourself  —  (if you don’t know, you can click any photo in these hike reports and you’ll get a high-resolution version  —  click again and you’ll get a blow-up version)

2015-06-10 Arnot Forest1

Official head count: 16 hikers, six dogs.

Freddy’s Diner
A number of the communities outside the city are pretty hip in their own way, with lots of professors living there, or artists or activists or old hippies — Newfield’s not in that group — and Freddy’s is not an enlightened place at all. Official head count for the diner: 12 hikers.

You can see six more photos by me online here.



Saturday June 13

Woodward Road NW to Hines Road, Enfield
Woodard Road to the NW 041

Beautiful mild fresh morning after the awful high 80s heat of Friday afternoon — the path was still wet from the evening’s big storm, and it was muddy and quite slippery on the sharp ups and downs in the woods
Woodard Road to the NW 023

This trail is always beautiful but it seemed especially so this morning, with a pale sun shining through and a lovely breeze.
Woodard Road to the NW 068

We’ve lost the last segment of this walk — the landowner’s withdrawn permission — so now we have to turn around at Hines Road — we miss a couple of great fields but it’s not a fatal change because we can fill in the hike to get two hours by walking east of the cars to look at Fishkill Creek.
Woodard Road to the NW 082

Official head count: 10 hikers, five dogs

You can see seven more photos by me online here



Sunday June 14

South leg of the Abbott Loop from Michigan Hollow Road, Danby

Abbott Loop, south crossing 058

Fantastic walk up my favorite trail

Abbott Loop, south crossing 068

I love everything about this hike, but what I like best is the long level stretch within a ravine about halfway up the hill where several streams converge — they’ve formed a big flood plain that’s full of running water and fallen tumbled-up trees, lush greenery, and mud — this was one of our muddier mornings — I really enjoy navigating mud myself but I realize not everyone else does, so maybe not everyone had quite as much fun as I did

Abbott Loop, south crossing 079

We had to proceed pretty slowly because of the wet slippery conditions so we didn’t get beyond Bald Hill Road — that was good enough for me — it was steamy and the walk is genuinely strenuous so I was happy to turn around and cruise back to the cars just enjoying the gorgeous setting.

Abbott Loop, south crossing 102

Official head count: 21 hikers, eight dogs

You can see eight more photos by me online here.

You can see Annie’s photos online here.

Report to Hikers: week of June 1-June 7

Hello Hikers!


Wednesday June 3

Three obscure side trails, upper Treman State Park

Upper Treman SP 060

There’s lots more to see at upper Treman than just Lucifer Falls  — there are three delightful side trails that take you into some wonderfully varied and beautiful settings  —  but I’ve never gotten the impression many other people are aware of this  —  everyone’s just dazzled and satisfied to see the roaring waterfalls and then call it quits.

Upper Treman SP 099

Our gain  —  we always have the side trails to ourselves, even when the upper parking lot is jumping  —  and you always get the feeling of being off in some isolated part of the county instead of right next to one of the top three tourist attractions in town.

Upper Treman SP 063

We caught a really lovely morning, low 50s, fog hanging on the hillsides on the way to the trail head

Upper Treman SP 023

Official head count:  16 hikers, four dogs

You can see six more photos by me online here.

You can see Annie’s photos online here.



Saturday June 6

Shindagin Hollow Road east to South Road and beyond, Caroline

Shindagin Hollow Lean-to 031

Gorgeous dark cool foggy morning in Shindagin Hollow State Forest  —  it evidently poured overnight when the cold wave came through, and the trail was running with water a lot of the way  —  this is always one of our darkest, most atmospheric walks, and the effect was really intense this time

Shindagin Hollow Lean-to 048

A couple of the hikers had been to the Olympic rain forest in Washington, and they said it felt similar on this trail, especially right around the lean-to, which was built in one of the best pine groves I’ve been to  —  (don’t look too closely at the photo; the lighting was so dim, the photo quality is poor  —  it’s more or less in focus, I think, but terribly pixelated)

Shindagin Hollow Lean-to 069

There’s only a few spots along this entire walk where there’s really enough light to take a decent photo  —  one is this crossing of South Road  —  you can see the fog in the distance  —  I got another photo op when we veered off the trail for a minute to check out this big field, which is actually a very high quality and productive one, according to Jim (far left), who studied crop science at Cornell for some years.

Shindagin Hollow Lean-to 091

A lot of our hikers rate this trail very highly, and it was exceptionally picturesque this time.  One drawback  —  lots of roots and a rough surface on the path, you really need to watch your step.

Official head count:  16 hikers, four dogs

You can see 10 more shots by me online here  —  including this year’s version of the big cairn  —  not the best I’ve ever seen  —  last year’s version was much better.



Sunday June 7

Six Mile Creek from the wildflower preserve to Potter’s Falls

Six Mile wildflower 049

Another great morning on the hiking trail, 10 degrees warmer than Saturday but still delightfully nice

Six Mile wildflower 062

The creek was quite muddy from Friday night’s storms  —  otherwise, picture-postcard conditions, and it’s really wonderful to have the creek in sight for so much of the way on this walk

Six Mile wildflower 111

We had several very good adventures  —  I led one contingent of hikers into the overgrown flood plain upstream from the lower reservoir  —  trying to get to Potter’s Falls by walking the whole way along the creek edge  —  lost my way in the maze of faint trails and marsh grass, hit an un-crossable stretch of water, had to turn back  —  we did some lively creek-jumping in the process  —  one hiker didn’t quite make it across cleanly, got a little wet, all in fun

Six Mile wildflower 132

Then a big contingent of hikers, the dare-devil crowd, kept going after we reached Potter’s Falls, where we always turn around  —  they walked forward along the narrow trail cut into the sheer cliff face of the north gorge wall up to the high dam  —  I foolishly did this trail once myself some years ago  —  most terrifying experience of my adult life.

Official head count:  32 hikers, five dogs.

You can see nine more shots online by me here.

Report to Hikers: week of May 25-31

Hello Hikers!



Wednesday May 27

Finger Lakes Trail from Bald Hill Road to Smiley Hill Road, Danby
Chestnut Lean-to 076

This walk through the northwest corner of Danby State Forest is a great one for a hot day, because it’s almost all in dense shade — it was verging on oppressive at the trail head, but once we stepped into the woods it was mild and lovely. But buggy — the bugs swarmed us as we stood around waiting to start, and they stuck with us throughout.
Chestnut Lean-to 133

One of the high points of the hiking year for me is the emergence of autumn olive blossoms in the woods — I find the intense sweetness almost intoxicating — it was out in full force along this trail and the effect is especially lovely on a sultry morning like this one — regrettably, it’s an invasive species much hated by native-plant types

This is the trail where we had our fabulous early-February hot dog cook-out, and I found myself thinking back on it wistfully as the prospect of a hot summer looms ahead. Since we were last here in February, there’s been considerable logging done along the trail, but it hasn’t changed the character and it’s still a very beautiful walk.
Chestnut Lean-to 112

Official head count: 15 hikers, five dogs

I got some shots of the hikers standing around at the trail head — light not great and some of the shots are a bit overexposed, but they’re usable — click here.

I got seven more shots on the trail — click here.

You can see Annie’s photos here.



Saturday May 30

Upper Buttermilk Falls SP from the Yaple Road spur trail

Upper Buttermilk Falls SP 161

Beautiful dark sultry morning around Late Treman

Upper Buttermilk Falls SP 068

This walk has a great variety of wonderful scenery, but a couple of spots have been damaged recently, in my opinion  —  the charm of this area where Buttermilk Creek flows into Lake Treman under this graceful little bridge was really degraded by a heavy-handed engineering project  —  here’s hoping it’ll recover ….

Upper Buttermilk Falls SP 121

…. damage also at La Tourelle  —  we used to be able to emerge from the woods and stand on the edge of a lovely bucolic lawn and gaze out on the serene resort  —  now the lawn’s been filled with glamping tents and there’s a raw gravel road  —  of course the resort’s entitled to make money, but it’s a shame from our point of view.

Upper Buttermilk Falls SP 096

There’s lots of really gorgeous dark woods along this trail  —  but it’s a waste of time trying to take photos on a gloomy morning like this one  —  here’s a view in an open glade where you  can at least get a glimpse of the woods in the background.

Upper Buttermilk Falls SP 186

Official head count:  19 hikers, five dogs.

You can see nine more shots by me online here.



Sunday May 31

Satterly Hill, Finger Lakes National Forest, Schuyler County

Satterly Hill 131

A cold front moved in overnight  —  the storms that were supposed to hit us kept sailing by just to the north  —  and we had a fantastic atmospheric morning on Satterly Hill, with just a few light sprinkles  —  that’s not to say it was dry  —  we had to wade through long stretches of tall soaking grass and traverse some serious mud

Satterly Hill 089

The clothing of choice for a day like this is official rain pants, in my opinion  —  I wore mine  — roasty toasty  —  but you can’t worry about having a fat-assed look on the trail if you wear this item —  Sue’s actually decidedly slender under her rain gear

Satterly Hill 164

The mud was pretty intense  —  one hiker lost her concentration while crossing this boggy spot, fell over and actually got so stuck in the mud that some other hikers had to pull her out

Satterly Hill 104

The whole hilltop area was foggy so there were no long views to be had  —  but the fantastic lighting and atmospherics more than made up for this loss

Satterly Hill 098

The National Park Service has done some brush cutting and clearing in the last year, and many of the flowering shrubs seem to have disappeared  —  at least I didn’t see or smell any blooming areas  —  but the spring bird-song action was great.

Satterly Hill 088

Official head count:  14 hikers, three dogs.

You can see eight more shots by me here.

You can see Annie’s shots from the hike here.


Annie took photos of last Sunday’s walk at Kennedy SF that I didn’t link to before  —  click here.