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

Report to Hikers: week of March 16-22

Hello Hikers!


Wed March 18

Hill Road and Curtis Road, South Danby – road walk

hill Road - Curtis Road, South Danby 064

More unfamiliar country roads — great rural scenery — delightful morning except for a raw wind blowing in our faces on much of the outbound leg

There was a NWS warning in effect for snow squalls and possible white-outs, but before the storm arrived it was gorgeous out, sunny with huge dramatic clouds and beautiful slanting light

hill Road - Curtis Road, South Danby 155

The snow began on our way back to the cars, and the walk immediately turned moody and atmospheric — by the time we were in the home stretch, it felt like the dead of winter ….

hill Road - Curtis Road, South Danby 184

and we actually did hit a white-out for a few minutes driving up 96B on the way back to town

hill Road - Curtis Road, South Danby 086

This is the first winter we’ve done more than 1-2 road walks, and I’ve really enjoyed it — I love the rolling terrain and the feeling of openness and depth you can get, and the wonderful old farms, both the thriving ones and the decaying ones.

hill Road - Curtis Road, South Danby 130

We passed two places with horses — in one, the horses came to the fence to watch us pass by — I hoped to get a cute shot of our guys interacting with them, but when Gary and Eckhart walked over the horses darted away (photo) and couldn’t be coaxed back.

Official head count: 12 hikers, two dogs

You can see nine online photos here.



Sat March 21

Yellow Barn SF 113

Yellow Barn SF, Dryden — snowmobile trail

Yellow Barn SF 040

Snowing hard on the drive out to the trail head …. Route 13 only partially cleared, and there were several cars resting in the ditch — Tehan Road so slippery three hikers’ cars couldn’t make it up the hill, and Wan had to go fetch them — one of our more exciting hike shape-ups ever.

As promised, we took the snowmobile trail north into unfamiliar territory, leaving the edge of Yellow Barn SF and dropping down into a huge open area with fantastic views into the rolling hills beyond Route 13

Yellow Barn SF 134

The snow stopped fairly soon but it was gusty and cold out in the fields, so we headed back up into the shelter of the forest — quite a tough climb back up — the snowmobile trail wasn’t groomed after all, it was a bit bumpy and there was 3-4 inches of fresh snow on top — a little grueling

Yellow Barn SF 087

We had a great time anyway — official head count: 12 hikers, one dog  —  no snowmobilers, no skiers

Click here to see nine more shots online.



Sunday Mar 22

Hike cancelled because of snow and bad driving conditions  —  but then not too long after I sent out the cancellation notice, the snow stopped and the sun came out ….

Report to Hikers: week of March 9-15

Hello Hikers!

Wed March 11

Road walk, Hillview Road from Route 34-96 to Michigan Hollow Road, South Danby

Hillview Road 069

Fabulous spring-like morning along the Tioga County line — mid 40s, sunshine, birds singing in the bushes — there was a dense fog warning in effect, though we didn’t see much ourselves, and it was beautifully damp.

Hillview Road 021

Hillview’s an odd little road (2 miles long) that doesn’t seem to connect anywhere important — in great condition for an obscure country road — just a scattering of houses — but two commercial operations that probably explain the quality of the road — a garbage dump, now abandoned and reclaimed, and a big sand and gravel operation that produced the only traffic we saw.

Hillview Road 126

I know that lots of people, if given the choice, would rather hike in the mountains — I prefer the rolling countryside we get around here, with the patchworks of fields and hills and the distant views — and this walk had some really good examples. The scene above is where Hillview dead ends into lower Michigan Hollow Road — it has a wonderfully bucolic feeling.

Hillview Road 197

Official head count: 13 hikers, three dogs

Hillview Road 100

I always like to know how deep the snow is on our walks — it looked extremely deep in spots this time — Wan volunteered to check it out, but then he backed out after climbing up to the edge of the snow field and deciding he didn’t want to get wet up to his mid-thighs.

You can see nine more shots from the hike here.


Sat March 14

Pi Day celebration and road walk on Peter Road, Danby

peter Road, South Danby 104

Bit of a grim morning in Danby, dark, wet and raw — but despite the gloomy atmospherics, we had a great time

peter Road, South Danby 020

The Pi Day ceremony in Danby Town Hall was fun in a low-key way — seemed like the hikers made up almost half the crowd at 9:26:53 when the official once-in-a-century pi moment arrived — Tiger and I never have pie at home, for reasons I won’t touch on, so I was very happy to have two kinds at the ceremony, both probably store-bought, quite tasty

peter Road, South Danby 111

We’ve had extremely good luck finding picturesque country roads to walk on while we wait for the snow to melt, and Peter Road was very satisfying — the only problem was that it was treacherously icy in a few spots

peter Road, South Danby 068

Not many houses at all, so it was noteworthy that we met people from three different homes — one woman and her dog walked with us for almost an hour — the dog with the fellow in shirtsleeves loved our dogs so much she wouldn’t go home until her owner snagged her — and we met another woman further down the road — normally we never meet anyone, so it was fun

peter Road, South Danby 054

Just one real curiosity, an old cemetery you can see behind the hikes waiting to step off — Dave climbed up the wall of ice to look at the dates (photo here), but I forgot what he said.

Official head counts: 14 hikers, five hiker dogs, two non-hiker dogs and three cars.

You can see seven more photos here.



Sun March 15

Snowmobile trail, Shindagin Hollow SF

Shindagin Hollow snowmobile trail 133

Great stormy morning on the trail …. snow, sleet and gusty winds — the roads were snowy as we drove to the trail head; the plows and salt trucks were just coming out — Braley Hill Road is often slippery and it was really jivey this time and our cars were sliding around — Tiger and I got there first by quite a few minutes; we wondered if anyone else was going to show ….

Shindagin Hollow snowmobile trail 055

…. no need for concern — the usual hard-core group who’ve come out all winter — official head count: 14 hikers, four dogs — no snowmobilers, one lone skier

Shindagin Hollow snowmobile trail 111

The snowmobile trail was in very good shape for walking despite last week’s mild weather — just a few minor dents and depressions and ripples — we took it down to the beautiful swamp near where Gulf Creek Road comes in — fantastic gloomy brooding scenery everywhere

Shindagin Hollow snowmobile trail 080

Recently Diego Beck has taken to disappearing and causing us some anxiety — Brenda decided to bring a bag of treats for him and Ruby to see if that would keep him near us — worked very well, at least this time

Shindagin Hollow snowmobile trail 112

Speaking of Brenda, I want to mention an innovation she brought to us this winter, the face mask — she gave me one that I’ve worn off and on; I wore it for the first part of this hike until I heated up — it can be a little steamy, but what a godsend on some of these windy mornings

You can see seven more photos online here

Report to Hikers: week of Mar 2-8

Hello Hikers!

Wed Mar 4

Fisher Settlement Road, Danby, road walk to the south

Fisher Settlement Road south to Tioga County 054

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.

Fisher Settlement Road south to Tioga County 101

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.

Fisher Settlement Road south to Tioga County 039

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

Fisher Settlement Road south to Tioga County 081

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?

Snowmobile trail to Hill Road, Danby 058
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.

Snowmobile trail to Hill Road, Danby 080

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
HHSF snowmobile trail 210

Delightful hike on another unfamiliar snowmobile trail — until it took a very alarming turn just as we got back to the cars.
HHSF snowmobile trail 252

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.
HHSF snowmobile trail 270

Even so, it definitely beat trying to walk in the woods. The snow’s still exhaustingly deep where it’s not packed down.
HHSF snowmobile trail 238

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.
HHSF snowmobile trail 276

Click here to see seven more photos online.