Report to Hikers: week of July 6-July 12

Hello Hikers!



Wednesday July 8

Braley Hill Road at the Finger Lakes Trail crossing, Shindagin Hollow SF

Braley Hill Road at the FLT 064

We now have five different hikes to do in this huge forest tract  —  each one feels different and distinctive  —   all wonderful

Braley Hill Road at the FLT 032

Unfortunately, three of the five involve walking on bicycle trails, and we can only do these when the trail bikers aren’t around  —  they’re much too rowdy a bunch to share the narrow bike trails with  —  you can get an idea of their riding styles from their trail names ….  Ass Hammer 1 & 2, Widow Maker, Limp Dick, etc etc.

Braley Hill Road at the FLT 052

We had the forest completely to ourselves Wednesday  —  thanks to some fabulous atmospherics, it was one of the best hikes I’ve done in a while, cool, foggy, drizzling off and on, wet from a downpour overnight and a bit muddy  —  “I hate mud,” said one of our ladies  —  it turns out her mother had used a very harsh psychological trick to scare her when she and her sister got mud-covered when she was five ….

Braley Hill Road at the FLT 016

Official head count:  Nine hikers, two dogs.

You can see six more photos online here.



Saturday July 11

Texas Hollow SF, Bennettsburg, followed by a get-together at Eckhart’s house in Enfield

Texas Hollow SF 109

Beautiful walk in Schuyler County, except that three hikers got stung several times each shortly after we stepped off  —  walking on the boardwalk shown in the photo above  —  seems like there are bees living in the wood and they swarm up when someone walks across the boardwalk  —  we avoided using it on the way back to the cars

Texas Hollow SF 068

The areas under the trees are exceptionally nice here  —  many pine groves and picturesque terrain

Texas Hollow SF 035

Official head count:  22 hikers, seven dogs

Texas Hollow SF 140

We had a great time at the get-together afterwards  —  Eckhart’s house is near the top of a hill and there was a lovely breeze, and we were able to sit under the shade of some pine trees right near his deck.

Official head count at the get-together:  19 hikers

You can see eight more shots by me online here.



Sunday July 12

Lick Brook

lick Brook 047

Another beautiful morning on a fantastic trail, balmy but not hot, birds singing all along the way, not many insects

lick Brook 088

Lick Brook had surprisingly little water in it considering the amount of rain we’ve had recently  — this is the scenic lower waterfall viewing area

lick Brook 175

and this is the upper stream where we’ve had some hairy crossings in the past.  But there were signs everywhere of very high water, downed trees and big swathes of mud and gravel  —  there was obviously some major flooding going on recently.

lick Brook 126

Official head count:  21 hikers, eight dogs.

You can see eight more shots from this hike online here.

Report to Hikers: week of June 29-July 5

Hello Hikers!



Wednesday July 1

Bock-Harvey Forest Preserve, Enfield

Bock-Harvey Preserve 058

This is a beautiful 50-acre piece of land that includes an old-growth sugar maple forest and was donated to the public by our own Dave B (in the red shirt below) and family in 2013.

Bock-Harvey Preserve 133

This was out first hike out here and I was very curious to see it because of the great reputation the forest has in tree circles — Dave said it’s regarded as the best stand of trees of its type in the state.

Bock-Harvey Preserve 048

I was vaguely expecting lots of enormous tree trunks but maples actually don’t get that big around  —  some of the trees here are 400 years old but you’d never guess it from looking at them.  I’m more of a pine tree person myself but this is definitely a wonderful place to hike.  I love the huge field that’s part of the preserve  —  Dave said he did haying here as a boy  —  there are wide mowed paths that make traversing the field a real pleasure.

Bock-Harvey Preserve 029

Official head count:  23 hikers, six dogs.

A construction crew from Cayuga Trails Club had just finished a new lean-to and outhouse here and we were the first group to see them  —  we had a snack at the lean-to and I got a photo of the outhouse  —  it’s open to the sky, which I really like, since I imagine that will help hold down infestation by vermin.

This place is a lot of fun and we’ll come back here when the leaves are turning and have lunch and a fire at the new lean-to.

You can see seven more shots I took on this hike here.



Saturday July 4

Coffee get-together at Hilary’s and hike at Monkey Run North

Monkey Run, north side 075

I thought the rain that started before dawn would slip a little south of us by hike time  —  it did, for a little while  —  then it resumed  —  no matter, it was gorgeous out and we had a great morning.

Monkey Run, north side 084

One downside  —  it was probably the worst mosquito hike we’ve had  —  Tiger had sprayed bug spray directly onto her face before we stepped off, but apparently she’d missed her eyelids, and the mosquitoes bit her savagely there  —  one eye was greatly swollen when we wrapped up  —  I’m not so delectable  —  I didn’t use any repellent and I got just a few bites on my hands.

Monkey Run, north side 150

We made the hike into a loop this time by coming home across the huge fields  —  insects not so bad out in the open.

Monkey Run, north side 145

The sun came out as we were finishing up  —  for some reason, I associate July Fourth with midwestern cornfields  —  this corn patch across Hanshaw Road from Hilary’s house made for a perfect finale for me  —  looks just like a gorgeous morning in Iowa.

Monkey Run, north side 140

Official head count:  16 hikers, four dogs.  Six more hikers came to the coffee visit but didn’t hike.

You can see nine more photos online here.



Sunday July 5

Robinson Hollow SF, Tioga County

Robinson Hollow SF 001

I wanted to be a farmer when I was a kid — the next best thing now is to hike off a road like Robinson Hollow where there are farm buildings and equipment and livestock — there are always chickens crowing at this trailhead and I love the mood that sets.
Robinson Hollow SF 034

This is one of our leafiest, shadiest hikes in summer — we basically leave the sun behind as soon as we step off the road, and we don’t really see it again until we emerge from the woods two hours later.
Robinson Hollow SF 056

That makes for great hiking in warm weather, but if you prefer trails with views or at least an open feeling, you might find this one a little confining. I like the deep-woods mood myself — there’s plenty to look at up close, the dappled light and the patterns of the leaves — there were birds singing away the whole time — I don’t bother trying to take photos in the gloom, it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Here’s one action shot I got.
Robinson Hollow SF 041

The extreme sun-and-shade effects make the camera do weird things — here’s a shot of two of our ladies coming out of the gloom — Iris is in focus — Liz, just a step or two behind, looks like a Picasso painting.
Robinson Hollow SF 046

I was looking through the photos afterwards and I noticed this fashion moment I’d completely overlooked on the trail — Leigh-Ann and Jeff look like they coordinated their hiking clothes — I’m 99% sure that didn’t happen — but Leigh-Ann is a social psychology professor so there’s a 1% chance she did orchestrate this as a psychology experiment,

Robinson Hollow SF 060

Official head count: 21 hikers, four dogs  —  almost no mosquitoes.

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.