Report to Hikers: week of Aug 24-Aug 30

Hello Hikers!


Wednesday Aug 26

Bald Hill Road to Thatcher’s Pinnacles, Danby SF

Bald Hill Road to the Pinnacles 086

This walk is the lazy hiker’s way to get up to The Pinnacles look-out  —  you start two-thirds of the way up the long hill from the valley below, and by the time you get up to the top, you’re barely even breathing hard

Bald Hill Road to the Pinnacles 102

For half the year, The Pinnacles is a wonderful place with a fantastic view into the inlet valley and out across West Hill  —  the other half year, when the leaves are out, it’s a bit of a dud

Bald Hill Road to the Pinnacles 056

I always take a group shot to mark the occasion, but it really lacks drama with all the trees blocking the view and covering the distant hill.  The state DEC has just done a good bit of logging along this trail segment  —  they need to do some serious cutting right behind where our guys are posing.

Bald Hill Road to the Pinnacles 066

One thing I really like about this hike is that it gives us the chance to walk back and forth through one of my favorite pine woods of all, along the southern leg of the trail between the look-out and Bald Hill Road  —  I love to come here, and doing it the lazy way, without a big huffing-and-puffing climb, is especially fun.

Bald Hill Road to the Pinnacles 095

Official head count:  14 hikers, five dogs.

You can see seven more photos by me online here.

You can see Jack V’s photos online here.



Saturday Aug 29

South Danby Road east to the Tamarack Lean-to on the FLT, Danby SF

Tamarack Lean-to 176

Fantastic morning on a great pine trail

Tamarack Lean-to 131

Nothing notable to report on  —  just a wonderful hike.  A lot of the trail is underlain by a thick carpet of pine needles  —  makes for delightfully springy walking, especially during a long dry spell like we’ve been having

Tamarack Lean-to 148

Tamarack trees at the lean-to

Tamarack Lean-to 158

The drinkable spring just beyond the lean-to

Tamarack Lean-to 140

Travor Road crossing

Tamarack Lean-to 069

Official head count:  20 hikers, seven dogs

You can see eight more photos by me online here.



Sunday Aug 30

Monkey Run Natural Area, south side of Fall Creek, Varna

Monkey Run - Varna 041

I’d never want to suggest that our hikes are ever remotely exciting  —  but neither are they all trudging quietly through the woods looking at wildflowers and mushrooms  —  we do have lively moments from time to time  —  here we were about to step off when a huge dog suddenly emerged from the woods, barely restrained by its powerfully built young owner, and got into a wild barking match with our newest hiking dog, tiny 10-pound Gonzo, who looks to be a breed known for fearless behavior  —  very amusing spectacle.

Monkey Run - Varna 057

This is the point on the trail where we first emerge from the deep woods and abruptly find ourselves a few feet away from a spectacular section of the Fall Creek gorge  —  there’s a sheer drop-off of 100 feet or more straight down  —  I’ve never been able to capture the full scene in a photo

Monkey Run - Varna 063

Here’s what the edge of the gorge looks like  —  Eckhart’s less than a foot from the edge and his dog Tori is only inches away  —  the pale overly bright area between Eckhart and Tori is the stream far below  —  fabulous spot, but terrifying for those of us afraid of heights.

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One bee sting  —  visiting hiker got it in the leg  —  aside from that, great morning

Monkey Run - Varna 050

Official head count:  31 hikers, four dogs

You can see six more photos by me online here.

You can see Jack V’s online photos here  —  including Gonzo.

Report to Hikers: week of Aug 17 – Aug 23

Hello Hikers!



Wednesday Aug 19

Sledding hill, north end of Taughannock Falls State Park

Sledding hill, Taughannock SP 025

We’ve been coming here every six months or so on Wednesdays for years trying to figure out how to complete what looks on the map like a very nice loop hike — never could figure it out, always had to turn back in confusion — finally did it — thanks to new hiker Mark (foreground), who comes here all the time and knows his way around.

Sledding hill, Taughannock SP 087
It’s a delightful walk — starts in an area of extensive fields, some mowed more or less periodically, some that haven’t been cut in quite a while — there isn’t the drama of the best fields we routinely hike through like Lindsay Parsons or Layen Road — but the effect is very pleasing in a low-key way

Sledding hill, Taughannock SP 096
After a while you get into an area of woods — some very nice action here, I’d rate it good to excellent in quality

Sledding hill, Taughannock SP 102

No trip to Taughannock is complete without some kind of look at the falls, even though we’ve all seen them a million times  —  the overlook area where I took this shot is currently a big mess while they’re building a new visitors’ center  —  there was some suspicion among the hikers that this will become an excuse for charging money to park there

Sledding hill, Taughannock SP 047

Official head count:  14 hikers, six dogs.

The reason we always get lost here is that the trail is full of forking paths that aren’t marked  —  I just realized in writing this report that there’s a new map that actually shows all the forks and side trails (dashed lilnes), so now we can get around here ourselves any time, even when Mark’s not around.

Click here to see seven more shots by me online.



Saturday Aug 22

Taughannock Falls SP, rim trail and cook-out

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Back in the park three days later  —  lovely cool morning, too cool to swim as we’d intended, but perfect for walking around and having a cook-out

Taughannock hike and cook-out 177

One mishap  —  two hikers got stung, one of them twice  —  otherwise, great fun

Taughannock hike and cook-out 072

Official head count:  41 people, seven dogs (not everyone did both the hike and the cook-out)

Taughannock hike and cook-out 088

You can see eight more photos by me online here.

You can see more photos of the cook-out by Jack V online here.



Sunday Aug 23

Carter Creek Loop, Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area

Carter Creek Loop 036

Another beautiful cool morning

Carter Creek Loop 127

One of the hikers was quizzing me about this walk the day before  —  how good is it?  would it be worth doing?  —  I had to be a little vague because I’d only done it once before, and my memory was a bit blurry  —  anyway, now I can say for the record, this is an excellent hike, very beautiful

Carter Creek Loop 056

Dave brought knowledge of four Connecticut Hill hikes with him when he started hiking with our group last fall  —  all four are technically illegal  —  they follow convoluted ski trails created without the state’s permission, and pretty much impossible to figure out unless you come here all the time  —  legally, the huge Connecticut Hill WMA is mainly intended for hunting and trapping  —  creating and maintaining trails for hiking and skiing is a big no-no

Carter Creek Loop 077

Anyway, it’s full of great scenery and I’m delighted we have someone to lead us around here

Carter Creek Loop 063

Official head count:  26 hikers, six dogs

To my mind, a perfect hike is one that finishesup in precisely two hours flat  —  Dave brought us in at 1:59  —  yeah!

You can see eight more photos by me online here.



Special hike report: Bud and Scott’s Montana fishing trip

This report is by Bud Norvell and Scott Davis:



Montana Trip Summary (July 25 – August 13, 2015)


“Piscatorial Insanity Drives Old Guys Into Wilderness”


Two of our regular hikers, Scott Davis and Bud Norvell, returned last week from a trip to Montana where they spent 12 days hiking, fishing and camping in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, south of Glacier National Park.


Planning for the trip began in early spring with conditioning initiated by carrying increasingly heavy packs on many of our regular hikes. Needless to say, they took much stuff, carried extra heavy packs, and backpacked long distances – but they reached remote and pristine trout streams where the trout were almost as enthusiastic about meeting fishermen as the fisherman were about catching trout.


Countless numbers of wild Western Cutthroat Trout were caught and released, but a select few were kept on most days for truly fresh fish dinners.


Days were hot, nights were cold, and rain was never a problem. Although often tired and foot-sore, there were no serious mishaps and they have returned somewhat reluctantly to real life. A fuller account of their adventures is available using the link below, and additional photographs will be posted on the hiker photo website.


Here’s the link to the full report  — if you encounter a screen telling you to log in or sign up, just hit the “Escape” key (PC) or “Quit” key (Mac) and you should get right in.


Report to Hikers: week of August 10-August 16

Hello Hikers!



Monday August 10

Special exploration hike — Newfield State Forest

Shindagin bike trails 001

I first noticed this forest on a map some years ago, but I never heard any of our fellow hikers mention it, even people who are very knowledgeable about other trails — I started to ask around — most people had never heard of it, and no one I talked to had ever been there. I was curious because I’m always looking for new trails for our hikes.

Tiger and I checked it out with two of our regulars who live in Newfield, June and Liz. First we had breakfast at Freddy’s Diner in downtown Newfield, where we had a lively discussion about skin cancer surgeries. The forest is five miles south, off Route 13. I knew enough from the scant information online not to expect much. In fact, unless you’re satisfied with simply walking through thick woods on a gravel road, this place hasn’t much to offer. There are no trails and the woods aren’t the type you’d ever want to bushwhack through. June, who doesn’t like to apply insect spray, was immediately bitten by a black fly, and she turned on her heels and went home. We other three kept walking on the road for a while but we were all swarmed by mosquitoes the whole time, so we soon called it quits.



Wednesday August 12

Shindagin Hollow State Forest, bike trails along Braley Hill Road

Shindagin bike trails 072

This hike takes us on a maze of mountain bike trails through some delightful woods It’s a wonderful walk except that we always get lost, even though we’ve now done this hike a number of times. Actually we did manage to find our way smoothly once, but then the next time we reverted to getting lost. In any case, we definitely lost our way again this time.

Shindagin bike trails 078

We’re never actually truly lost because we have Braley Hill Road as a spine, and it’s always theoretically possible to bushwhack over to it and find it eventually. Our chronic problem is that we end up walking in the wrong direction as we try and make our way back to the cars.

Shindagin bike trails 058
This walk takes us through a fantastic dark pine forest — it’s not very extensive and I’m always sorry when it ends.

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Lost of dramatic sun-n-shade lighting in these woods — I like this particular photo because Sandra (wearing the earrings) is in focus — you can click the photo twice and check out her bangs to see what I mean.

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Official head count: 13 hikers, two dogs

We encountered one lone mountain biker.  He was completely lost  —  on the other hand, he was able to cover ground to where he wanted to be a lot faster than us.

You can see six more photos by me online here.



Saturday August 15

Roy H Park Preserve into Hammond Hill SF, Dryden

Roy H Park Preserve to HHSF 147

Lovely morning

Roy H Park Preserve to HHSF 134

We had a brief moment of excitement on an otherwise quiet hike  —  we don’t often encounter horses so it’s always an event for me  —  you can’t tell from the horses’-ass view here but this batch of riders was atypical  —  usually they’re pretty rustic; this group looked like babes to me  —  you can see more shots of the horse group by me and Annie online

Roy H Park Preserve to HHSF 075

The walk had a really nice feeling to it  —  it was lovely in the deep pine woods on the Park Preserve ….

Roy H Park Preserve to HHSF 116

…. and beautiful on the ski trails on Hammond Hill

Roy H Park Preserve to HHSF 056

Official head count:  13 hikers, two dogs

You can see 10 more photos by me online here.

You can see Annie’s photos online here.



Sunday August 16

Shindagin Hollow SF, rim trail along the upper gorge

Shindagin Hollow rim trail 022

This hike’s got to be in the Top Five for shadiest summertime trail as well as in the Top 12 for beauty

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From the time you get out of your car until you get back in, there’s really only small scattered patches of sunlight

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That’s great on a hot morning like this one  —  it was over 80 by the time we wrapped it up, but it wasn’t too humid and it felt fine under the trees

Shindagin Hollow rim trail 143

There are a couple of uphill climbs on this trail but they’re not long enough to get you overheated even on a hot day.  In general, this is a pretty easy hike.

Hiker-photographer Annie went off with a small group that bushwhacked through a swamp  —  that was out in the sun  —  I’ve always admired this swamp on the way down Shindagin Hollow Road  —  she has views of it in her album from this hike I’ve never seen and it’s really beautiful.

Shindagin Hollow rim trail 072

Official head count:  25 hikers, three dogs

You can see seven more photos by me online here

You can see Annie’s photos online here.

We made it through the week without any hikers getting stung.  But I did learn that one of the hikers who got stung earlier this summer was stung 16 times on her leg that morning, far more stings than I’d heard about.

Report to Hikers: week of Aug 3-Aug 9

Hello Hikers!




Wednesday August 5

Harford Slaterville Road north into Hammond Hill SF

HHSF 024

This is one of many obscure and little-used sections of the Finger Lakes Trail that start in the middle of nowhere — it makes for a lovely shady walk on a mild morning — but there’s nothing really distinctive about it — the most noteworthy thing is the parking — narrow shoulder, curving narrow roadway, high speed limit — in the past we’ve been careless about getting the hikers’ cars completely out of the travel lane, and some local drivers have yelled at us — we’ve got it down now — except for our people standing in the roadway in the curve

HHSF 006

The other noteworthy thing about this hike is the beautiful boggy area where the FLT crosses the road  —  I really like the bright foreground paired with the dark brooding backdrop

HHSF 056

This is another of our many trails where you hardly see the sun once you step into the woods, so I pretty much confined my photo-taking to the roadway area

HHSF 035

Official head count:  14 hikers, two dogs

HHSF 069

Norm is a dedicated native plant enthusiast and he plunged into the bog at the end of the hike looking for I don’t know what  —  I like the combo of the long beard and the grasses.

You can see six more photos by me online here.

You can see Annie’s online photos here.




Saturday August 8

Ravine Trail, Finger Lakes National Forest, Schuyler County

Ravine Trail, FLNF 089

Great hike!

Ravine Trail, FLNF 005

This is the parking lot for the Ravine Trail as seen from Picnic Area Road  —  wonderfully atmospheric, and it sets a terrific mood  —  but if you’ve never been here before and you’re the first to show up, you’ll probably never notice it and you’re likely to go off on a wild goose chase looking for the meet-up

Ravine Trail, FLNF 140

This is a wonderful pine woods right next to the parking lot  —  also terrifically atmospheric  —  I skipped into it for a pit stop before we left for home and I was struck by the beautiful light

Ravine Trail, FLNF 128

The scenery along the ravine that gives its name to this trail is fabulous  —  if the ravine section was longer, I’d make this hike one of my Top 12

Ravine Trail, FLNF 104

We decided to skip checking out any of the horse trails  —  instead we walked south on the Interloken Trail  —  sometimes muddy but not bad this time, and always lovely

Ravine Trail, FLNF 052

There’s a huge pasture where farmers can graze their cattle that I love to visit  —  unfortunately the cattle were off in the far distance this time so they didn’t provide any excitement  —  sometimes they’ll run right near us and I can imagine them stampeding.

Official head count:  11 hikers, five dogs

You can see eight more photos by me online here.




Sunday August 9

Abbott Loop east from Michigan Hollow Road, Danby SF

Abbott Loop eastward 047

Lovely morning — marred by a very bad start for our hike.

The path into the woods starts with a drainage ditch that’s gotten deeply eroded — one of the hikers lost her footing descending and tumbled down head first, hitting her head with a thunk on a rock. After resting for a minute, she said she felt OK, and we proceeded.

Purely by chance, we had a visiting physician hiking with us — her help wasn’t needed, but it was very reassuring to have a medical person there.

A few minutes later, three ladies got stung — two of the stings were quite vicious. One of those stung was Tiger, at the base of her hand. By the tie we got home, her wrist and lower arm were swollen and very sore — she took a Benadryl, got extremely sleepy and slept all afternoon. Area still very sore and swollen this morning.
Abbott Loop eastward 079

Otherwise, uneventful morning — this is yet another dark leady trail and the dappled light was gorgeous.
Abbott Loop eastward 102

We didn’t hit any bees on the way back and by the time we got back to the cars, all was well.
Abbott Loop eastward 010

Official head count: 18 hikers, five dogs.

You can see seven more photos by me online here.