Report to Hikers: week of April 13-19

Hello Hikers!

Wed April 15

Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve
Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve 055

April 15 in Ithaca is just about my favorite day of the year — to my mind, it’s the start of six straight months of weather that’s pretty much guaranteed to be good — and we got off to a really auspicious start this year, with a perfect morning for hiking in Ellis Hollow
Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve 133

…. upper 40s, a little breezy, beautiful light in the woods, just a bit of mud ….
Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve 142

This is an amazingly nice place to hike considering it’s in the middle of a basically residential neighborhood — it feels completely wild and there’s a wonderful variety of terrain and scenery — including some very lively stream crossings where it’s often touch and go whether you’ll get your shoes wet
Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve 182

For the first time ever, we walked across Ellis Hollow Creek Road and then up a right-of-way that runs underneath some big Nyseg power lines — we didn’t get very far but it seems worth exploring in the future
Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve 066

Official head count: 23 hikers, three dogs

Click here to see seven more shots online



Saturday April 18

King Ferry: Informal lakefront trail
King Ferry lake-front 034

This was a new hike for us in an area where we never go — fantastic in every way, and well worth the extra drive time for those of us who don’t live north of town
King Ferry lake-front 058

Gorgeous morning, mid 60s with a little breeze — we hit a number of small highly picturesque gorges pretty much the equal of the ones we normally see on our regular trails — lots of off-trail walking but almost no underbrush …. the only problem was small branches lurking in the leaf litter to trip you up
King Ferry lake-front 140

Our walk had a festive quality — maybe it was the unfamiliar surroundings plus the spectacular weather — I watched everyone scoot under this downed tree — was anyone able to do it without propping themself on the ground?
King Ferry lake-front 141


We had two mishaps, one generally worrying and one worrying to me — but they both worked out — a hiker recovering from a bad cold came out a day too early and got heat exhaustion — cold and clammy, sweating heavily, a little vomiting — it passed in a few minutes but we were all concerned — a little later I realized my new $580 camera was missing — I was wearing it clipped to my belt in a brand new holster-pouch — search party activated — Katharine found it within two minutes — she seems to have a knack because she’s found other things in the woods before.
King Ferry lake-front 171

The get-together at Scott’s was great fun — minestrone.

We didn’t have enough time to see the high point of the walk, a fantastic lake view — next time — this hike is definitely worth redoing — the ride’s slightly long but if you take a secondary road for the last leg you see some fantastic huge flat farm fields

Official head countL 21 hikers, three dogs

Click here to see nine more shots online



Sunday April 19

Bald Hill Road to The Pinnacles, Danby SF
Bald Hill Road to The Pinnacles 102
(there’s more)
Bald Hill Road to The Pinnacles 118

(Want to see the the group lined up in one single shot?  Click here)

This is the best of the various look-outs we encounter on our hikes, in my opinion — and early spring is the perfect time to check it out — mild but not so warm you get sweated up climbing the hill, no bugs, no leaves to block the view — a sense there’s many more beautiful days soon to come ….

Bald Hill Road to The Pinnacles 074
…. just a little mud in a few scattered spots
Bald Hill Road to The Pinnacles 087

There’s really something to be said for starting the walk to The Pinnacles at Bald Hill Road the way we did this time — you don’t arrive at the top with your ass totally dragging, and you feel fresher walking up and down through the gorgeous pine groves
Bald Hill Road to The Pinnacles 126

Even so, a number of hikers chose the short cut back to the cars on the road instead of going the long way back up the hill on the trail to The Pinnacles — here’s more or less everyone before we split up
Bald Hill Road to The Pinnacles 159

Official head count: 25 hikers, six dogs

Click here to see eight more shots online










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Report to Hikers: week of April 6-12

Hello Hikers!

Thursday April 8

Buttermilk Falls SP, lower parking lot to Lake Treman

Buttermilk Falls SP 133

First hike since Sun Jan 4 with no snow on the ground …. three full months! — we had to postpone this hike for a day because of heavy rain on Wednesday — Buttermilk Creek was really roaring 12 hours after the rain stopped — lovely dark damp morning, beautiful under the evergreens that flourish all along this trail

Buttermilk Falls SP 070

One excitement — a mysterious large animal pelt was lying along the path at the start of the Bear Trail — several of the hikers were willing to pick it up ….

Buttermilk Falls SP 080

…. Steve even put his mouth down next to it when I asked him to pretend to bite it

Buttermilk Falls SP 071

We also had a brief moment of false excitement —

Vicki, an avid birder, thought she saw a loon on Lake Treman …. but not so

Buttermilk Falls SP 097
Otherwise, uneventful, and a real pleasure to be back in the woods.

Buttermilk Falls SP 041

Official head count: 11 hikers, two dogs

Click here to see six more photos online



Saturday April 11

Lindsay Parsons Nature Preserve, West Danby

Lindsay Parsons 085

Wonderful morning on one of our most varied and picturesque trails — raw and blustery in the parking lot, but lovely once we dropped down into the preserve — upper 30s, dark and snowing lightly part of the time

Lindsay Parsons 204

The huge rolling fields got a boot-camp style buzz cut since we were here last, in September — in some spots, the effect was really extreme — no matter, it still looks great, and Elizabeth assured us the goldenrod, an annual, will all grow back, and we can expect the usual spectacular display when it’s in full bloom later in the year.

Lindsay Parsons 109

We had one of our best adventure hikes ever when we did this hike a year ago — then, we walked up un unfamiliar trail ad ended up in a huge bushwhack — this time we played it safe and stayed on the marked trails — the one excitement came from a bit of water crossing — Katharine’s feet are both in the air, if you look closely at the shot above — our hikers are all getting older and a little battered, but they can still jump ….

Lindsay Parsons 118

and balance ….

Lindsay Parsons 188

Official head count: 13 hikers, three dogs

The transition from snow and ice to puddles and mud seemed to happen almost overnight this year — that’s fine with me, I love puddles and mud — I sometimes wish I was a dog at this time of year, they have much more fun on the trail than I do (that’s Arlo, normally gold in color).

Click here to see nine more shots online.



Sunday April 12

Robert Treman SP on the Finger Lakes Trail

Robt Treman SP 028

A fast-moving warm front arrived just before hike time — temps shot up more than 25 degrees from 8 am to noon, below-freezing to nearing 60 — we set off in hats and scarves and finished in shirtsleeves

Robt Treman SP 064

Gorgeous morning, of course — who would complain? — but I’d rather move a little more gradually from early spring to early summer than in the short span of two hours

This trail has dramatic dark masses of beautiful pines all along the way — but almost always off to the side — I’m always trying to work them into a photo, but failing — somehow I managed this time — though you’ll probably need to look twice to discern the hikers

Robt Treman SP 160

Lots of fantastic sun-and-shade scenery and long shadows, very moody and satisfying to walk through — but a bit of a challenge for my new camera, which is exceptionally small and light but doesn’t do that well in bright glare and high-contrast settings because of the compromises needed to stay so small

Robt Treman SP 081

Official head count: 23 hikers, nine dogs

The parking lot off Route 13 was unusually full when we stepped off, and when we got back to the cars, we found a strange sight — drivers from a college in Pennsylvania sitting idling their motors and waiting for parking spaces to open up — just like at a bustling mall — some kind of special outing for them

Hiker Virginia left a hiking pole by a tree and failed to retrieve it — if you saw it and picked it up, contact me.

Click here to see seven more shots online.

Report to Hikers: week of March 30-April 5

Hello Hikers!


Wed April 1

Mount Pleasant Road from Baker Hill Road to Midline Road, Dryden

Mount Pleasant Road 076

We got an unexpected benefit from all the snow and ice in the woods this winter — forcing us to seek out unfamiliar places to walk — we ended up discovering some really fantastic scenery — and the sights along this latest country road were the best of all, in my opinion.

Mount Pleasant Road 127

It was a lucky combination — a dramatically grey sky that turned sunny with beautiful puffy clouds all of a sudden — huge expanses of snow with a fringe of trees in the distance — rolling terrain that created wonderful perspectives — it added up to a bit of a surreal look that I just loved.
Mount Pleasant Road 196

Mount Pleasant Road goes past the Cornell Observatory, and the view from the road right at the observatory is amazingly far-reaching, of course — but I thought some of the other scenes along this road were more interesting —
Mount Pleasant Road 182

This stretch has a reputation for being windy, and evidently there’s lots of blowing snow that has to be plowed often, because there were enormous walls of frozen mounded-up snow along the edge of the road in some spots …. created a really odd effect — I got Vicki and Jack to climb up to the top — Vicki did a little dancing and Jack did some posing — I also got atmospheric mug shots of Rich, Vito and Norm that reflect some of true feeling along the road – click here to see the photos online.

Mount Pleasant Road 128

Official head count: 24 hikers, three dogs

Click here to see seven more photos of the walk online.


Saturday April 4

Hunt Hill Road, Irish Settlement Road and Hurd Road , Dryden

Hunt Hill Road 156

Classic early-spring morning, blustery, the sky bouncing back and forth from clouds to gorgeous sun, a couple of super-brief snow squalls …. birds singing, the streams and ditches brimming with snow-melt ….

Hunt Hill Road 130

These are quiet country roads with some rural touches – but this is Cornell-professor, well-to-do territory too ….

Hunt Hill Road 120

lots of big houses and fancy houses all along the way — great fun to gawk at

Hunt Hill Road 050

Official head count: 12 hikers, three dogs

Click here to see six more photos online.



Sunday April 5

Fisher Settlement Road, Danby, east to Travor Road

Fisher Settlement Road 116

Beautiful mild dark snowy morning in Danby SF

Fisher Settlement Road 045

We finally got back into the woods — still too messy for walking on the Finger Lakes Trail but the snowmobile trail that runs through the state forest was decent — just a little bumpy — but a number of us broke through the top crust at times — no serious damage reported but if you’re unlucky this can really mess up your ankle or knee

Fisher Settlement Road 066

I’ve enjoyed all the road walks we’ve done while the snow in the woods was so deep, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm for walking on roads — and everyone was happy to be out in the pine woods on such a gorgeous atmospheric morning

Fisher Settlement Road 099

Official head count: 18 hikers, one dog

Fisher Settlement Road 156

Surprisingly big turnout for Hobit’s Easter lunch got-together after the hike, considering it was one of the major family holidays of the year — we had a great time — that’s Emmie, age six —

Click here to see seven more shots online

Report to Hikers: week of March 23-29

Hello Hikers!

We did four hikes this week, all road walks in order to avoid the choppy snow and ice in the woods.



Monday March 23

Braley Hill Road and Chestnut Road, Caroline

Braley Hill Road 056

This was a special hike to make up for the disappointment of not being able to hike Sunday because of bad weather.

Braley Hill Road 085

We walked in the wide picturesque valley that slopes up into Shindagin Hollow SF from the north. There’s a wonderful feeling of openness, but it was cold (13) and we were completely exposed to a sharp north wind — this was a group of our most cold-hardy hikers, but even so, several of them got uncharacteristically chilled this time.

Braley Hill Road 141

We’re increasingly hitting scattered patches of ice as the snow season winds down — one minute you need shoe traction, the next the traction is slowing you down — I love YakTrax and microspikes but I find them pretty much impossible to put on and pull off by myself — so I identified completely with Brenda here needing help to get hers off — we walked up a snowmobile trail for a while and that was really treacherous in a few spots — one hiker fell down three times in quick succession

Braley Hill Road 046

The valley was dead quiet on a Monday morning — one car, one snowplow — many lovely and peaceful views — official head count: Nine hikers, two dogs

Braley Hill Road 158

Part of the walk took us through the northern end of the state forest — it’s always gorgeous here and it was really beautiful with a dusting of fresh snow — though more treacherous ice in a few spots.

Click here to see seven more shots online.




Wed March 25

Station Road and Brown Road, Danby

Station Road, Danby 102

Quite a bit milder and a lovely slight feeling of spring in the air two days later — another great mix of scenery, from masses of brooding pines to sweeping open views

Station Road, Danby 071

Again, basically no traffic — couple of brief encounters with dogs excited by the group of strangers

Station Road begins in Danby SF near the access trail to the Pinnacles Look-out, and runs down the steep hillside to Route 34-96 in the valley below. The first part of our walk, in the state forest, was extremely picturesque, with great pine tree action.

Station Road, Danby 036

One curiosity: We passed several large areas of rock cut that I thought were quite appealing as a backdrop for some photos — pale rocks on one side of the road ….

Station Road, Danby 048

darker ones on the other side of the road ….

such are the low-key pleasures of walking on unfamiliar country roads. Official head count: Eight hikers, one dog.

Click here to see six more shots online




Saturday March 28

Comfort Road from Bald Hill Road to Gunderman Road, Danby

Comfort Road south 057

Back to winter! 15 and snowing at the trail head, fresh snow on the ground, a raw wind gusting from the north into our faces ….

Comfort Road south 092

…. notwithstanding, we had a great morning — the snow soon stopped and the sun came out a little and the wind was at our backs pushing us along on the return leg

Comfort Road south 175As promised, fantastic scenery — interesting newer houses buried in the woods in the south near Danby SF, farms and fields

Comfort Road south 147

…. horses, chickens — delightful walk — we went by Ithaca Beer Co on the way home — first ones through the door as it opened at noon — I ate a huge amount of french fries ….

Click here to see six more photos online




Sunday March 29

Layen Road, Gunderman Road and Jersey Hill Road, Danby

Layen Rd-Comfort Rd, Danby 197

Fast forward into spring! 24 hours after our frigid wintery hike on Saturday, we had a beautiful mild morning on the northern part of the Comfort Road corridor — spring birds singing sweetly in the scrubby fields, sun shining brightly, no wind in the face —  lambs cavorting in a pasture  —  we even saw some kind of horned steer ….

Layen Rd-Comfort Rd, Danby 155

I’d never been on part of this route before and it felt a little like we were somewhere far away from Ithaca, like Iowa, which I drove across 50 years ago — huge vistas and rolling hills and flat plains — I can’t actually remember what Iowa was like so I’m just going on impressions — anyway, more fantastic scenery — and a wonderful feeling of more lovely mornings soon to come

Layen Rd-Comfort Rd, Danby 099

It’s oddly fatiguing to walk on a road for two hours straight — you really start to feel it where your lower body joins your trunk, in your upper buttocks and hips and groin-thigh connectors — you might assume our woodland trails would be more challenging, but they’re actually easier to walk on.

Layen Rd-Comfort Rd, Danby 068

We hit more traffic than on any other of the road walks we’ve done this year, which surprised me — but it still wasn’t much and it trickled off pretty soon — maybe people going to church ….?

Official head count: 19 hikers, four dogs.

Click here to see seven more shots online