Report to Hikers: week of Mar 2-8

Hello Hikers!

Wed Mar 4

Fisher Settlement Road, Danby, road walk to the south

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Wonderful mild morning in Danby SF — the wintery-mix storm that hit us overnight had slid just to our south, and we had mid 30s, calm, and a gorgeous variegated grey sky.

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We made it as far as the Tioga County line — nice mix of forest and an occasional house along the way, with a couple of great distant views — I’m a big fan of rural roads and this was an excellent one.

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One stretch had some of the densest, darkest pine growth I’ve seen, so thickly grown it seemed impenetrable — irresistable to me as a photo backdrop, even though photographing pale-faced people against such a dark screen is technically a bit beyond my current ability — you can see a more formal group line-up shot against the pines here

Official head count: 12 hikers, three dogs

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Walking on these country roads is a little like going back in time — there was almost no traffic, and when a car did appear it was a big deal, we all shouted out warnings and directed each other to stand on one side of the road or the other — one driver actually stopped to wait for a long time while I was standing on one side of the road photographing the group on the other.

You’ll see two hikers carring big backpacks — they’re in training for a planned summer hike in Montana.

You can see five online photos here.


Sat March 7

Snowmobile trail, Fisher Settlement Road to Hill Road, Danby

I sometimes wonder, what impression do these hike reports give you of our hikes? Do we come across as quiet? attentive? organized? serious?

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I was prompted to this line of thought when Mary B, who likes to make snow angels, abruptly plopped down Saturday just as we were laughing at another hiker who’d just stumbled into extremely deep snow. So if it’s not clear from these reports, let the record show: we’re not quiet, not very attentive, sometimes not organized at all, and not very serious.
Snowmobile trail to Hill Road, Danby 054

If that sounds good, you should check us out. Otherwise ….
We had a beautiful hike up into Danby SF Saturday — the first half of the walk was sunny and lovely — then a weather front bringing snow suddenly arrived and it turned grey and damp and a little raw — we didn’t see a single snowmobile — the walk was a bit strenuous but this is a stretch with such great pine tree action that it’s more than worth the effort to hike in.

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Official head count: 13 hikers, three dogs

Click here to see five more photos online



Sunday March 8

Snowmobile trail, Canaan Road, Hammond Hill SF
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Delightful hike on another unfamiliar snowmobile trail — until it took a very alarming turn just as we got back to the cars.
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We never hike in HHSF during ski season — I pictured the place swarming with skiers and snowmobilers on a nice Sunday morning, and us having to dodge and weave to stay out of the way. Actual count: two snowmobilers, 5-6 skiers. We were warned sternly by Jack V (an active XC skier) never to walk in any ski tracks — but the walking was easiest there and I did see some hikers disobeying his stricture.

The scenery along Canaan Road is very beautiful, but the road runs steadily downhill from where we shaped up, and the walk back up in the soft snow, even though it wasn’t deep, verged on grueling, and I was dragging my ass.
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Even so, it definitely beat trying to walk in the woods. The snow’s still exhaustingly deep where it’s not packed down.
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Official head count: 15 hikers, five dogs.

We’d just gotten back to the cars when regular hiker Roger pulled up — he’d arrived a little late and gone to the wrong parking lot, so he’d set out with his dogs Diego and Ruby on a ski trail to try and intercept us. But then Ruby got spooked by a passing skier — with no place to step aside on the narrow ski trail, and deep snow on all sides, she kept running ahead of the skier, ignoring Roger’s calls to come back, until she disappeared in the distance still followed by the skier.

Roger searched for her by himself for an hour before he drove over to meet us. Six of us joined him in the hunt and we split up into three groups and went into the forest in different spots. I was with Tiger and Katharine and we walked for almost an hour up a main ski trail calling for the dog. We passed a group of skiers who said they’d seen the dog some distance away, so we were heartened. But as we kept walking we began to feel it was hopeless, and to get very concerned. Ruby is a small-medium very slender short-haired dog and we worried she might not be able to survive overnight in this isolated place. Finally we turned back — we’d gone back a ways, still calling — Tiger just happened to turn around for some reason — and there she was, trailing nervously behind us. She’d been missing and on the run for 2 1/2 hours.
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Click here to see seven more photos online.

Report to Hikers: week of Feb 23-March 1

Hello Hikers!


Wed Feb 25

Snowmobile trail behind Dandy Mini Mart, Slaterville Springs

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Fantastic morning on an unfamiliar snowmobile trail up into the huge fields north of Slaterville Springs — the setting was truly spectacular, and we had dazzling sunny weather with puffy clouds — result ….

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…. one of the best walks we’ve had in a number of years.

We ended up on this trail by sheer luck — we’d shaped up a few miles away at what I thought was the start of a snowmobile trail into Hammond Hill SF — but then a passing farmer told us that trail wasn’t used any more; instead, he directed us to a trail behind the market in Slaterville Springs

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What a total delight it turned out to be! We kept hitting one beautiful field after another — much of the outbound leg was uphill and the broad valley behind us kept getting more and more dramatic

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Maybe it was the effect of all the sparkling snow, but it seemed like we were in some wonderful space midway between the land and the sky a lot of the time — just one downside — the wind was gusting up to 30 mph straight in our faces on the outbound — but it wasn’t fully awful — the temp was in the low 20s, so the net effect wasn’t that bad.

It’s not very often that everything comspires to produce such a great hike,

Official head count: 15 hikers, three dogs.

Click here to see seven more photos online


Sat Feb 28

Snowmobile trails, Yellow Barn State Forest, Dryden
Yellow Barn snowmobile trails 047

It was 23 below at the Cornell weather station in Harford just two hours before we had to leave for this hike, and I seriously wondered if it would come off — but we lucked out once again, to wrap up a frigid month of many lucky breaks for us — by a little after nine, it was 2 above, the sun was shining brightly, the wind was calm, and we had a lovely hike.
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This was the first time ever I’d been to Yellow Barn in winter — not as many pine trees as I generally like to see in a state forest — on the other hand, the quality of the snowmobile trails was superb, smooth hard surfaces, crisp edges, the main ones almost as wide as a small road
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There was quite a bit of snowmobile traffic but I thought that was fun, not an annoyance, and most of the time we had the still woods to ourselves
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Official head count: 11 hikers, two dogs.

By the time we got back to the cars it was 15 and everyone was toasty — so ended the coldest February on record for us, comfortably enough, and with another delightful walk under our belts.

Click here to see seven more photos online.


Sun Mar 1

Snowmobile trail, Fisher Settlement Road to Travor Road, Danby SF
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Classic winter morning — gloomy grey light, snowy drive out to the trail, fresh powder, brooding snow-covered pines everywhere — fabulous!
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Saturday’s snowmobile trail was jumping with action — Sunday’s was dead — the snow was packed down enough for us to walk pretty easily, but clearly this stretch through the eastern part of Danby SF doesn’t get much use, and there was a wonderful sense of stillness and peacefulness in the falling snow
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It didn’t warm up as much as it was supposed to, and there was a little nagging breeze, but we had a great time
Fisher Settlement Road east 047

One notable thing about this trail is that we get to see two kinds of pines almost side by side, tall straight ones with very little greenery up at the top, and more squatty ones with heavy thick boughs that catch the snow — I’m sure they’re not really pines but I don’t care what the correct names are, I just love the way they look.

Official head count: 14 hikers, three dogs

You can see six more photos by me here.

You can see photos by Iris here.

Report to Hikers: week of Feb 2-8

Hello Hikers!

Wed Feb 4

Chestnut Lean-to, Danby SF
Chestnut Lean-to 048

This was a work-group hike in to the lean-to to get it ready for Saturday’s hot dog cookout. Actually it was a lot of fun, not work — we were all in high spirits and the chores weren’t very hard and they didn’t take very long.
Chestnut Lean-to 054

I’d say everyone else did more than me — I hate work and I always try to avoid it — at least I did a little. We had three saws with us and we sawed up and carried in a huge pile of wood for Saturday’s fire.
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Part of our goal was to pack down the trail in to the lean-to by walking in with snowshoes. I’ve had a pair for some years but this was the first time I ever walked up and down steep slopes in them. I was a bit out of control and I fell a few times but not in a serious way. There was fresh snow on the trail and the scenery was extraordinary — if you want to see scenes like this the only way is by snowshoe or ski; the snow was much too deep for walking.
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Official head count: 12 hikers, one dog

Click here to see six more photos by me online.

Click here to see photos by Jack V at our group photo sharing site.


Sat Feb 7

Hot Dog Cookout, Chestnut Lean-to, Danby SF

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We managed to get a decent morning in what’s been a string of nasty ones, and our cookout was a great success. We had one last-minute false alarm — it started snowing pretty hard shortly before hike time, and the roads were starting to coat up — but it didn’t last long. When we arrived, the trampled path we’d created three days before was full of new snow, but a number of us had snow shoes, and the base we’d laid down underneath was very solid.
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As promised, this year’s fire was fantastic — though a bit smoky at first, and then for a while so hot we had to vacate the log benches that circle it — there was certainly no way any one of us was cold.
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Lots of hot dogs — little bottles of various kinds of firewater — a huge amount of desserts — enough food for 5X as many people as we had. Official head count: 20 hikers, two dogs.
Hot dog cookout in Danby SF 091

Some of the group went off for a hike on snowshoes into the fresh powder while the fires burned down. I didn’t go myself but the report was that it was beautiful.

On the way home we passed the chili festival on the Commons, really jam-packed — I’ve been to the chili festival several times and our cookout was 10X more fun.
Hot dog cookout in Danby SF 072

Click here to see nine more photos by me online.

Click here to see photos by Jack V on our online group photog web site.


Sun Feb 8

Stevens Suspension Bridge, Forest Home

Stevens Suspension Bridge 001

Beautiful mild grey morning along Fall Creek — we were supposed to get hit by the leading edge of the big storm but it arrived later, and the light in the sky and the quality of the air as the bad weather approached was lovely.

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I thought we’d need to break our own trail, and six of us had on snowshoes, but there was actually a nice network of paths broken in by skiers — good thing, the snow was exhaustingly deep where it wasn’t trampled down.

Stevens Suspension Bridge 022

But for all the ski tracks, we saw only a very few skiers — this beauty looked like she’d just flown in from Vail — I wouldn’t mind getting a few babes like this into our group — we’d all need to get flashier, tighter outfits first — actually the young lady looks so incongruous against our plain-spun group you’d think I photoshopped her in (don’t know how).

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I initially thought we’d walk in the upper horse fields but when we got there, the woods seemed more attractive, so we headed right back under the trees after milling around for a minute while I got a few shots.

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I’ve never walked for two hours in snowshoes before — I expected to feel tired after but I didn’t, and it was really fun.

Official head count: 13 hikers, three dogs.

Click here to see six more photos by me online.

Report to Hikers — weekend of Jan 3-4

Hello Hikers!

 Sun Jan 4

Lick Brook

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Beautiful warm, dark and wet morning along Lick Brook  —  supposed to rain but it didn’t  —  some hikers wore their YakTrax for fear of left-over ice from last week, but there was almost none  —  the big problem was mud, it was super-slick in spots and a number of people fell down

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Lick Brook was too full of water for us to cross for the first time that we’ve been here in a few years  —  luckily there’s a work-around by using the railroad tracks  —  I grew up along a train track as a kid and I love walking on ties, but it makes a lot of people nervous

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It was fantastic to be out on such a warm day in January  —  even more fun knowing a cold wave was bearing down on us and the spring-like mood was going to be snatched away.

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Official head count:  24 hikers, five dogs

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I find I never get tired of this hike, it’s just so varied and beautiful.

Clcik here to see seven more photos online


We’ll have a social get-together at Iris’s house in Fall Creek after next Sunday’s hike.  Iris likes to make soup and she’ll have two kinds, both vegan, a lentil soup and a vegetable soup.  Details in Thursday’s weekemd hike announcement.


I urge you to consider joining the Cayuga Trails Club.  They do a great job of maintaining and improving the trails we use, and of promoting hiking to the public.

Report to Hikers: New Year’s morning along Six Mile Creek

Tailgate party 019

Hello Hikers!

It’s no secret I sometimes stage photos and try to make them look candid  —  but this one really was spontaneous, the hikers’ idea, not mine  —  I hope we’re all going into 2015 in pretty good spirits ….

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and here’s to lots of great hikes ahead

Curious who fell into the little stream this year while trying to jump across it?

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no one  —  but a number of hikers chose to follow Tiger up the alternative path rather than give the stream a try

Report on the tailgate party

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Report on the food

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judge for yourself ….

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This was a perfect morning to see this great walk at its wintery best, not too cold, not windy in the woods, slightly sunny

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Official head count:  30 hikers, four dogs

Click here to see 10 more photos on line

Click here to see 20 photos by Jack V on our online group photo-sharing site