Report to Hikers January 2 – January 8

Wednesday January 4

Finger Lakes Trail from Eastman Hill Road

Hike report by Jim

Seven hikers met on Eastman Hill Rd., just inside the Tioga County line, for a hike of the FLT into Eberhard Preserve. This hike was partly a hike of the recently rerouted FLT as it comes off Eastman Hill toward Coddington Rd.

The day was unseasonably warm; any snowpack on the trail had melted, although the small ponds and water-filled ditches we passed still had thin skims of ice on their surfaces.

As you leave the parking area, it’s a steady-but-gradual climb along a seasonal portion of Eastman Hill Rd. Past an unsigned intersection with the seasonal end of Heisey Rd., the trail  goes left and right. We opted for the right, or southerly, direction.

The trail continued a steady climb, and the footpath was often a wet, muddy slog. This section is usually wet except in the driest part of summer, so conditions were not entirely unexpected.

Shortly after reaching the plateau at the top of Eastman Hill, the trail takes a turn, a recent redirection that was the purpose of our hike today. The rerouted section of trail meanders around the top of Eastman Hill for some time, following various old logging roads. Eventually, the footpath dips downhill, and before long we were passing the green metal sign announcing the border of Eberhard Preserve.

From this point on, the trail’s downhill slope becomes more pronounced. We passed by the first blue-blazed side trail and continued downhill on the FLT.

By the time we reached the second side trail, a green-blazed section that connects with the blue-blazed trail, it was our turnaround time, so we opted to take the green trail as part of our return route. We went steadily downhill on the green-blazed trail until we reached the blue-blazed trail.

That section of the blue-blazed trail goes sharply uphill, something not entirely unexpected as we had a copy of the Eberhard Preserve trail map with us. Once the blue-blazed trail levels out, it meets up with the FLT section we’d already traversed.

The return hike to our cars over the FLT was as muddy as the outbound leg, but thankfully more downhill than not. We reached our cars about 10 minutes past our normal hike duration, but as we’d stopped many times during the hike I am sure that future hikes at this location will be quicker.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Saturday January 7

West on the FLT from South Danby Road

Hike report by Jim

Seventeen hikers and one dog met on South Danby Road for a westbound hike of the FLT. It was an overcast morning, and as the hike progressed a haze of fine flakes began to fall steadily. Soon the forest floor was covered in a thin layer of fresh snow, and the faded white blazes were in some cases lost in the sheath of white that clung to the trees.

On the hike’s outbound leg we encountered a fair amount of mud, and sections of the trail were covered by flowing water.

The main group of hikers soon reached David’s Bridge on the FLT. Hikers crossed that and climbed the hill to Curtis Road and beyond. By now, the snowfall had stopped. This group reached Hill Road before turning around and retracing their steps.

A few of the slower hikers turned around at the hour mark, and the main group picked them up along the way as everyone returned to South Danby Road.

Photos by Leigh Ann

Photos by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.

Sunday January 8

South Hill Recreation Way, Ithaca

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-eight hikers and a dog hiked from Crescent Place in Ithaca into the trail system that runs along the South Hill Rec Way. Temperatures were on the cool side, but it didn’t take long to warm up as we traversed the various hills and ridges of the blue-blazed trail.

This was the first time that many of our newer hikers had been on this trail, so it was nice to bring them here on a pleasant day for a winter hike. We met a handful of trail runners and other day hikers along the way, but otherwise we had the trail to ourselves.

I’d been worried that wintry conditions might make water crossings hazardous or prevent us from visiting the lower section of trail near the water. But given the recent thaw, these worries were unfounded.

There was a significant amount of water in all of the water crossings and some parts of the trail were muddy, so eventually I gave up trying to keep my feet dry and simply waded through the crossings or the mud bogs as we encountered them.

Some of the hike’s highlights were the fast-flowing waterways, checking out the old stone staircase, the views out over the second dam area, and the descent to the shoreline across from Mulholland Wildflower Preserve on the return leg.

Welcome to Pat, Yvonne, and Bill on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Photos by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.

Report to Hikers December 26 – January 1

Tuesday December 27

Extra Hike: Shady Corners to Lick Brook Falls and Beyond

A hiker from Connecticut contacted Ithaca Hikers through our Meetup page the week before Christmas to let us know she would be passing through our area and was interested in seeing frozen waterfalls. Maya joined us on our Wednesday hike (see below), but several hikers were able to hike with her on Tuesday, as well. Hike report by Jim.

Six hikers met at the FLLT Shady Corners parking lot for a winter weekday hike of  the Tapan Mitra, Sweedler ,and Thayer nature preserves. This was during a two-week window in which hunting ceases on preserve property, so it was a welcome opportunity to see the preserves in winter conditions since our last hike there two months ago.

We set off, passing through the Tapan Mitra property before crossing the ice-encrusted railroad trestle and entering Cornell nature preserve property. Upon reaching the first stream crossing, we had the first hint that today’s hike was going to be unusual. The stream was full of frozen snow and ice that gave the appearance of half-churned butter frozen in a state of suspended animation.

We crossed the stream and soon arrived at Lick Brook falls. The falls were entirely frozen, with only the barest hint of water still flowing down the stream bed; we could tell some water was still moving both by sound and by glimpses of flowing water in occasional breaks in the ice cover. We stayed at the falls for a long time, taking pictures and conversing with a group of European hikers who arrived at the falls after we did.

We continued on our way, climbing the blue-blazed switchback trail as it traversed the hillside. Every time the trail came close to the gorge we had to stop, take more pictures, and exclaim over the frozen, multi-hued stream bed.

We soon arrived at Townline Road, where the group split up, some of us having previous commitments that required a quick retreat back down the hillside.

Those who stayed crossed Townline Road and took the orange- and blue-blazed Tom’s Trail. Here, too, the stream was entirely encased in ice. We soon completed the loop, and our second crossing of the frozen stream was no less interesting than the first.

We reached Townline Road and started downhill, diverting from our previous route by taking the white-blazed FLT, which snaked down the hillside and ran alongside another streambed, also frozen.

It was here that we had our only real issues during the hike; the trail surface, as it descended along the narrow spine, was much icier than the footpath had been in other places. This forced us to stay to the very edge of the spine, carefully picking our way through the fallen leaves along the trail’s edge despite our foot traction and poles. The snow and ice surface in the center of the trail gave mute testimony to the travails of earlier hikers: long skid marks left by footwear without any traction.

At the valley floor we made quick work of hiking back to the trestle, crossing over that and arriving at our cars with a total hike time of about 2.5 hours–not as bad as I had expected given our slower-than-normal pace.

Welcome to Maya on her first hike with the group!

Photos by Jack

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Wednesday December 28

Woodard Road east into upper Robert Treman SP, Enfield

Hike report by Jim

Fifteen hikers met on Woodard Road for a hike of the FLT into Robert Treman State Park. The weather was good, with minimal wind and decent footing on the route.

We left our cars and made a quick descent along the FLT, crossing Fishkill Creek via the wooden footbridge. We then walked the seasonal portion of Butternut Creek Road to Van Ostrand Road. This route doesn’t directly follow the route of the FLT, but it makes for a nice winter walk.

We walked Van Ostrand Road to Thomas Road. From there, we returned to the seasonal part of Butternut Creek Road, where we again picked up the FLT and followed it into upper Robert Treman SP.

When we reached the Rim Trail, we took it downhill to the Lucifer Falls overlook. This waterfall was not as ice-encased as Lick Brook had been the previous day, but it was still cold enough that only the center portion of the falls had thawed, so we could see the torrent of water flowing there.

After stopping at the overlook for a few minutes, we turned around and took the Rim Trail into the parking lot of upper Treman. We stopped to admire the frozen cascades directly behind the Old Mill before moving on to the CCC trail.

The CCC trail was enjoyable, as the stream it runs along was still mostly frozen and footing on the trail was not a problem.

We arrived back at our cars with a few minutes to spare, but I don’t think that anyone was complaining about needing a longer hike after completing the route we’d followed.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday December 31

Lindsay Parsons Preserve, West Danby

Hike report by Jim

For our last hike of 2022, 16 hikers met in the parking lot of the Lindsay Parsons Preserve in West Danby. Temperatures were pleasant and unseasonably warm, leaving little in the way of snowpack.

The popularity of the preserve with other hikers before us meant that many of the trails were still a bed of slick ice. This was really only an issue on the inclined trail sections, and usually there was enough of a bare shoulder along the edge that the group was able to safely navigate those sections of trail. Any snow still on the ground was that sort of slushy, half-melted snow that provides little in the way of traction when going uphill but on the downhill loves to unexpectedly deliver you to the bottom of the hill!

At the hike’s beginning, we split up into two subgroups; Casey and Joe made a beeline to the bottom of the Pinnacles to bushwhack up the hillside to the top of the hill.

The rest of us completed a more leisurely loop of the red-, blue-, yellow-,  and orange-blazed trails.

Welcome to Stacey on her first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

From Casey:

Four miles out to the Pinnacles and back. Two hours five minutes.

The conquering heroes reach the Pinnacles!

Sunday January 1

Mundy Wildflower Gardens to Beebe Lake Loop, Ithaca

Hike report by Jim

Twenty-one hikers and four dogs met at Mundy Wildflower Gardens for a First Day Hike loop of Beebe Lake, the Forest Home neighborhood, and the Cornell Arboretum. It was unseasonably warm, with temperatures somewhere in the 50s, and sunny, all of which made for a pleasant hike.

We set off from the Mundy Wildflower parking lot. Our loop of the garden’s trails was quick, in part because of trail closures due to fallen trees.

We paused briefly for a group photo before leaving the wildflower gardens to cross Judd Falls Road. We did another quick loop, this time near the Nevin Welcome Center.

We crossed Forest Home Drive and walked over Sackett Bridge. A quick detour into Hemlock Gorge showed us that there was a vast amount of water flowing through Fall Creek due to recent snowmelt and rain. The noise from the water flowing over the cascades was literally thunderous to my ears.

We returned to the Beebe Lake trail and soon completed the first half of the trail loop, passing by the Tang Welcome Center at the Triphammer Falls bridge. The fine, misty spray here from the water flowing over the short dam near the welcome center was cold and bracing.

Turning east, we began to complete the circuit around Beebe Lake — in the process, we missed a trail closure sign. When we got back to the eastern end of Beebe Lake, we found the path blocked by cyclone fencing and the lower wooden steps back to Forest Home Drive entirely removed. So we had to do a bit of bushwhacking to get back on the trail.

We passed through the hamlet of Forest Home. By the time we arrived back at the intersection of Forest Home and Caldwell roads, only an hour had passed, so we entered the Arboretum and completed a lap around the major loop there. We made a short stop so that several hikers could hit the gong to ring in the new year and take pictures of the vista spread out below us.

Completing the Arboretum loop brought us back to Caldwell Road and our cars at exactly the two-hour mark.

A warm welcome to Iona and her canine companion, Fontana; Courtney and her canine companion, Laika; Chris; and Sanae on their first hike with the group!

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Remembering Ruby

In November, we posted a tribute to Diego, a longtime and much-loved canine member of Ithaca Hikers. Sadly, a few weeks later Roger’s other dog, Ruby, also passed away. Like Diego, Ruby hiked with our group for many years. Ruby and Diego had different personalities, but both added much to our hikes. Ruby tended to stick closer to our group and could often be found walking directly behind Roger. She was a sweet dog and will be missed.

Below are some hikers’ reminiscences of Ruby. If you have some memories of Ruby you’d like to share, please email them to Jim or Nancy H.

Photo by Katharine H.
This lovely watercolor painting by Steve Schwartz shows Ruby (on the right side) looking at hiker Jack McGory.
From Jim:

On our recent Saturday hike around Stewart Park and the Farmers Market, I asked Roger how his remaining dog, Ruby, was handling the passing of his other dog, Diego. I was curious about whether Ruby displayed any observable signs of grief at Diego’s passing. We spoke a bit on the topic before we each moved on to conversations with other members in the group, as we so often do on our hikes.

The next day, I received word from Roger that Ruby had also passed away. I am sorry to hear of Roger’s second loss in such a short time, and I thank hiker Katharine for being there for Roger at this stressful time.

In my years with the group I’ve noticed that Roger’s two dogs each had their own personalities. Diego often went tearing off into the woods with exuberance to explore some exciting new thing, and was happy to start off the hike with a Milk Bone or two from my pocket. Ruby inevitably stayed with the group and closer to Roger. She would usually refuse a Milk Bone from me at the beginning of a hike, but somewhere around the middle of the hike she would approach me and accept a treat, staying close by after that if she wanted more.

In contrast to Diego’s boundless energy and devil-may-care attitude, Ruby often reminded me of a disapproving older aunt, sometimes fixing me with a stare that seemed to take me to task for something I was doing at that moment. Even with that, she was a good trail companion.

Roger had recently retired Ruby from hikes, content to let her sit in his car until the hike was over or, in some cases, leaving her home entirely on hike days.

Roger, thank you for sharing the company of  your dogs with us over many years. I’m happy that I was able to share the time on the trails that I had with both Diego and Ruby.

Photo by Leigh Ann
Photo by Cian
From Mary W.:

Ruby’s quiet enjoyment of the trails was often my inspiration. She and her brother Diego have lifetime memberships, their past and future, on the trails and in the memories the Ithaca Hikers.

Rest peacefully, Ruby.

Photo by Leigh Ann
Photo by Leigh Ann
Photo by Cian
From Shannon G.:

I am a relatively new hiker to the group, but I had the sheer pleasure of doing a few hikes with both Diego and Ruby this year.

My oldest pup, who will be 16 in a couple of months, is too slow-moving and car-averse to join.  So it was awesome to see those two zoom about, having a blast. 

Our deepest condolences to Roger and his family. 

Photo by Leigh Ann
Photo by Katharine H.
From Sandra B.:

To Roger: Your dogs were always welcoming to my exuberant border collie, Skye. Sorry for loss of both of your four-legged friends in such a short period of time. 

Thanks to Ithaca Hikers for allowing us to bring our dogs. It is a special privilege.

Photo by Leigh Ann
Photo by Cian
From Bud:

Ruby and Diego were friendly and enthusiastic hikers for a decade or more. Both are missed.

Photo by Cian

See more images of Ruby in photo albums by Leigh Ann and Cian.

Report to Hikers December 19 – December 25

Wednesday December 21

Kingsbury Woods Conservation Area

Hike report by Jim

Nine hikers met in Danby for a hike in the Kingsbury Woods Conservation Area. Overall it was  a pleasant day, and I found it necessary at points to have some eye protection against the sun’s glare off the fresh snow. The snowpack wasn’t deep, but foot traction was still a good idea on the uneven inclines along the way.

The trail starts out following a ravine in the upper reaches of the Lick Brook waterway. The trail winds through the woods with only gradual elevation changes; then, the path makes a turn and crosses over a streambed before running along the preserve property line and an open field on the opposite side of the property line. The trail here is a large loop that follows a nice route through evergreens before returning to an earlier point in the trail.

Completing the loop in one direction takes only about 40 minutes, so we turned around to retrace our route. On the return leg we left the trail, being careful to stay within the property line posted signs, and bushwhacked along what appeared to be an old logging road in another loop back to the blazed trail.

When we to the parking area with a few minutes remaining in our hike time, some of the group opted to leave early; others chose to walk along the road to use up the remaining hike time.

The rest of the group crossed the road and climbed the ridge there, which is still preserve property. We followed the ridgeline a short distance with open fields and preserve boundary markers on one side and the ridgeline on the other. We eventually reached a point where we scrambled down the hill, crossed the streambed, and bushwhacked our way up that hillside back to the parking area.

Photos by Mary W.

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Saturday December 24

Vincent and Hannah Pew Trail, East Hill Recreation Way

Hike report by Jim

The weather forecast kept a good number of people away from this hike. Thankfully, the forecast for the most part was wrong, and those who came out had a decent hike.

Three hikers (plus a late arrival who ended up doing her own route) met in the Snyder Hill Road parking lot for the East Hill Recreation Way. It was sunny, and while temperatures were in the single digits with wind gusts, it was an enjoyable day to be outside. The rain and sleet of previous days had given way to snow, but foot traction made for a safe hike.

As we left the parking lot, the small group almost immediately veered from the paved Rec Way onto the small, winding hiking trail that runs along it. This footpath was narrow, with uneven and icy surfaces underfoot. Portions of the footpath were still wet with runoff from what I assume are area springs.

The footpath winds through low undergrowth and smaller trees along the forests edge, never going deep into the woods, where windy conditions sending limbs to the ground might have been a concern.

After crossing several crosspaths, we continued until we reached smaller open meadows, which we quickly crossed to return to the woods.

Eventually the wooded path rejoins the paved Rec Way, just before it terminates in a residential neighborhood. Here we turned around, retracing our steps and checking out some of the side paths and a small gazebo along the way.

Unfortunately most of the side paths ended up being posted trails that presumably lead to residences further down the hillside. We did follow one such path to Honness Lane, which we walked to the paved continuation of the East Hill Rec Way.

We took this path to the Hawthorne Thicket, a semi-circular loop through the underbrush that returns to the Rec Way. Unfortunately, we lost the foot path about halfway through the loop and ended up bushwhacking our way across a stream and back to the Rec Way, which we took back to the cars with a few minutes to spare.

Along the way we saw a solitary dog walker on the unpaved trail and some joggers on the paved Rec Way portion.

The cold drained my camera battery, so we have no photos of this hike.

Sunday December 25

Rural road walks and FLT, starting from Compton Road

Hike report by Hank

Seven brave hikers and two dogs showed up for the Christmas morning hike, ready to endure the still-frigid temps.

We originally set out to follow the previously hiked and mapped out route as described in the event’s Meetup page; however, some hikers suggested that we may want to be less exposed to the biting windchill factor. After we discussed the issue, we decided to stick to lower ground rather than taking the original route, which would have been higher and more exposed to the elements.

 After waiting for one texted-in latecomer, to ensure that all hikers understood that we were altering the route, we set out at 10 bells.

 After a short jaunt down Comfort Road, enjoying waves from passersby in cars who were most likely on their way to Christmas celebrations, we turned into Buttermilk Park toward Treman Mud Puddle Emoji with the intention of hiking up to the where the Treman trail turns right, then continuing on up through Firelight’s glamping area and ultimately passing La Tourelle, up to 96, then the short jaunt back to the house.

We later discovered that that idea wasn’t going to happen due to encountering a trail closed barrier well before reaching the steps, so we turned back and went into Buttermilk via the Finger Lakes Trail off Yaple Road.

With the new plan of continuing past the west end of Treman and hiking to West King road, turning around and heading back the way we came. No loop hike on this day.

When we finally made it back to the house, it was 1:00 and our distance came out to be six miles! That was according to one hiker’s mileage app on her iPhone.

After the hike, we gathered inside 112 Compton to warm up by the wood stove and enjoy snacks to pass and hot beverages.

Some stayed until 9:00. We even had an experienced blues guitarist perform live for us. Thanks to Andrew G. It was a rocking good time!

Photos by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.

Report to Hikers December 12 – December 18

Wednesday December 14

Finger Lakes National Forest

Nine hikers and one dog met in the parking lot on Mark Smith Road to begin our hike of the Finger Lakes National Forest at the Gorge Trail trailhead. The morning was cold and crisp and the woods were covered in snow, making this a perfect day and place for a winter hike.

We warmed up quickly on the initial climb along the gorge. Mark S. led us on a nice tour of the trails in this part of the national forest, including parts of the Interloken and South Slope trails.

Mark had warned us that his planned route might take a little longer than our usual two hours. In practice, the two-and-a-half hours we were in the woods felt much shorter. Toward the end of the hike, Mark and Ellie’s dog, Marcy, spotted a deer and took off after it. Several of us spotted the deer running through the trees. Marcy gave up and rejoined the group as we got back to our cars.

Photos by Nancy H.

Saturday December 17

Stewart Park, Waterfront Trail, and Farmers Market

Hike report by Jim

I arrived at Stewart Park a little early for this hike, unsure of what conditions I’d find after the recent winter weather. Except for a sheen of ice on the paved surfaces, conditions were good, with well-paved park roads. No cold, biting wind blew off the lake this day; the skies were gray but otherwise mostly clear, with a good view down the lake from the Park. (This is in contrast to last winter’s Stewart Park hike, which started late because some hikers’ cars got stuck in unplowed drifts.) Many geese were in the air or waddling around the park grounds. The occasional early-morning runner passed me as I waited for the group to arrive.

In total, we had 16 hikers on Saturday. Given the icy surfaces, many hikers were glad they had nanospikes for traction on this hike. We set off for a quick circuit of the footpath that circles the old swan pond. Coming around the backside of the boathouse, we followed the paved sidewalk to the first bridge. We crossed it and entered the bird sanctuary.

In the bird sanctuary we made a quick circuit of the blue-blazed trails, picking up a late-arriving hiker along the way. After exiting the bird sanctuary, we crossed the second bridge and entered the golf course. There, we navigated the edge of the greens until we reached the access road for the lighthouse.

We walked to the sea wall leading to the  lighthouse; about two-thirds of the group braved walking on the icy, decrepit seawall out to the lighthouse itself.

After regrouping, we walked to the golf course entrance. From there, we walked along  Willow Ave. and followed the pedestrian path to the Ithaca Farmers Market, which was having its final Saturday before closing for the winter. Hikers spent about 10 minutes prowling the market’s wooden boardwalks, browsing the market stalls and buying a hot cider or other warming drink.

After the group reassembled, we retraced our steps back to the golf course and across the bridges back to Stewart Park, arriving at the cars about five minutes past our normal hike time.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Mary

Photos by Leigh Ann

View Leigh Ann’s photo album.

Sunday December 18

Black Diamond Trail from Kraft Road

Hike report by Jim

Fourteen hikers and one dog hiked at their own, individual paces northward on the Black Diamond Trail from Kraft Road. Skies were clear and there was little wind to contend with. Trail surfaces were uneven due to freezing and refreezing of the churned-up  snow that covered the well-frequented trail.

Hikers enjoyed the views of the distant ridgelines, the snow-covered fields along the footpath, and the nicely flowing  streams that ran along and under the trail. We shared the trail with a good number of other day hikers, dog walkers, and bicyclists.

The fastest hikers in the group made it to the Taughannock Falls overlook before turning around, a total round trip hike distance of just under six miles. Excellent work, pace setters!

Welcome to Brandon on his first hike with the group!

Hiker Nancy L. reports finding a black winter snow mitt type glove on the trail after today’s hike. If anyone in our group has lost such an item, please contact Nancy L. or Randy to retrieve your property!

Did you lose this glove? Contact Nancy L. or Randy.

On a personal note, the county has had its first instance of lost skiers on Hammond Hill this past week. There is currently a missing hiker in an adjoining county. Now that winter conditions are here, please take all reasonable precautions if you intend to hike area trails.

Photo by Jim

Photos by Cian

View Cian’s photo album.