Report to Hikers: Part 1, week of Dec 28-Jan 3

Hello Hikers!


New Year’s Day

Six Mile Creek, Wildflower Preserve to Potter’s Falls, and tailgate party

6 Mile Creek - Wildflower Preserve 046

          Click here to see a copy of this photo online

Wonderful morning along Six Mile Creek, complete with a very lively bushwhack adventure
6 Mile Creek - Wildflower Preserve 232          Click here to see a copy of this photo online

… and a great tailgate party in the parking lot afterwards to get the new year off and running

6 Mile Creek - Wildflower Preserve 080          Click here to see a copy of this photo online

It’s always pretty along this stretch of the creek but I thought it looked a little more lovely than normal because of the muted overcast light, and some scattered flurries of light snow that fell periodically

6 Mile Creek - Wildflower Preserve 146          Click here to see a copy of this photo online

Everything went smoothly until we descended from the overlook over the downstream reservoir into the flood plain

6 Mile Creek - Wildflower Preserve 152          Click here to see a copy of this photo online

I’ve hiked here many times but I never can remember how to proceed through the marshy area along the creek, and we ran into some flooded areas and obstacles that forced us to improvise and venture into the brambles

6 Mile Creek - Wildflower Preserve 172
          Click here to see a copy of this photo online

Most but not all of us made it to the turnaround spot at Potter’s Falls — coming back we got really separated and there were hikers all over the north side of the gorge, from the stream bank all the way up to the Commonlands development. Somehow we all converged back at the cars at almost the same moment.

I wear a very tight-fitting glove and mitten combo to keep my fingers warm while I take photos — it’s impossible to pull them off quickly — as the tailgate party got going, Brenda came over with a shrimp for me in her hand — she stuck it in my mouth until I could laboriously peel the gloves off — new hiker Casey liked the look and called for my camera to get the shot — those of you who complain I never use photos of myself, here’s one for you

6 Mile Creek - Wildflower Preserve 203          Click here to see a copy of this photo online

Pretty revealing light — looking my age — how long before I sometimes need help with feeding?

Official head count: 41 hikers, six dogs

More photos online:
Jack V
Annie didn’t post her shots yet — link coming Monday


Wednesday Dec 30

Shindagin Hollow SF, bike trail B1

Shindagin Hollow B1 033

          Click here to see a copy of this photo online
We don’t get fog on a hike very often, so I view it as a great treat — it really amps up the gloomy mood on a dark damp morning and makes the woods seem even more inviting — assuming you like that kind of thing ….

Shindagin Hollow B1 115-002

          Click to see online version
Those of you who hate the winter cloudiness here, I’m sure that’s a huge negative, of course — I think maybe I like a brooding forest setting because I have a suppressed death wish ….?

                  ….for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die, 55
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,

Recognize that? Ode to a Nightingale — I regard a lot of poetry as unnecessarily hard to understand, but this one is worth the effort.

Shindagin Hollow B1 092

          Click to see online version
There was no way to tell on the drive to the trail head that there’d be fog, or snow cover, so it was a nice surprise — we started out walking along the hugely picturesque edge of the Shindagin gorge, but the slushy snow was too slippery and we had to turn around and walk on a safer path

Shindagin Hollow B1 068

          Click to see online version
I’m always on the lookout for a challenge event on our walks, and I especially like limbo trees — from the photo it looks like Dennis R was up for the idea — Go Daddy!

Shindagin Hollow B1 071

          Click to see online version
Aww, very bad show, Daddy-O  — you’re not allowed to touch the ground — I didn’t see everyone make the effort but at least two of our ladies, Mary and Irene, got under without touching

Shindagin Hollow B1 159

          Click to see online version
As many of you know I’m a big fan of dark pine woods — this is a great example — it wasn’t really as dark as the photos suggests — I fiddled with the camera so the faces wouldn’t be washed out, and that meant darkening the background

Official head count: 19 hikers, two dogs

More photos online:
Jack V

Report to Hikers: week of Dec 21-Dec 27

Hello Hikers!

A note about the photos in this report — we’re still working on repairing the web site so the embedded shots become clickable again — meanwhile, I’ve included a link for each photo to the online version — there, you can click “View Original” in the menu bar to see a hi res version — click that, and you’ll get a blow-up.

Wednesday Dec 23

Buttermilk Falls rim trail
Buttermilk Falls rim trail and Bear Trail 041          Click here to see this photo online
This was the first time we had four hikes scheduled for one week — I wondered if it was overkill, and if anyone would show up — but people clearly wanted to hike, as you can see
Buttermilk Falls rim trail and Bear Trail 063          Click here to see this photo online
We don’t do the rim trail along Buttermilk Creek very often — I think of it as being on the borderline between touristic and a real hike — it’s certainly strenuous enough to count as a real hike — it was nicely deserted on this gloomy morning — so we had a chance to behave a little like tourists ourselves, and it was delightful
Buttermilk Falls rim trail and Bear Trail 068          Click here to see this photo online
Whoever had the idea to put a bridge across the upper part of the gorge, it was a stroke of genius. The spot has a wonderful intimate feel to it and the setting couldn’t be more picturesque. I wonder how long I could hang out here leaning on the railing before I got bored.
Buttermilk Falls rim trail and Bear Trail 065          Click here to see this photo online
Our group is definitely elderly, and it’s always fun when we have some young people hiking with us. These are the twin college-age sons of regular hiker Mary — they tore up the steepest parts of the trail like a couple of gazelles — it’s probably for the best we don’t have physically fit young people hiking with us more often — they’d end up restless and impatient as we gasped our way up the steep parts.
Buttermilk Falls rim trail and Bear Trail 030          Click here to see this photo online
Official head count: 23 hikers, five dogs

You can see Jack V’s online photos here.



Friday Dec 25

Tamarack Lean-to, South Danby, followed by eggnog at Hobit’s and then soup at Katharine’s
Tamarack Lean-to 157          Click here to see this photo online
We’ve done Christmas Day hikes before, but this was the first time we tried holiday-type get-togethers afterwards — a complete blast! That Spirit of Christmas on the trail is Katharine.
Tamarack Lean-to 209          Click here to see this photo online
The advice from our food coordinator Liz to put the liquor in the eggnog ahead of time was fantastic — the taste really is completely different, and super delicious — it would be very easy to drink multiple cups of this quickly enough to end up staggering around. Tiger and I went over to Katharine’s as Hobit’s event was winding down — Katharine runs a paradise for animals and we got to watch one of her cats eat butter off the counter, a new sight for us — we had to leave early but other people were pouring in as we drove away
Tamarack Lean-to 112          Click here to see this photo online
It was fabulous on the trail to the Tamarack Lean-to — overcast and cool at first, then the sun came out and the temperature was just perfect for hiking
Tamarack Lean-to 180          Click here to see this photo online
…. felt like a beautiful early spring day by the time we got back to South Danby Road and the cars
Tamarack Lean-to 029          Click here to see this photo online

Official head count: 36 hikers, seven dogs

It’s been many many years since I in a house with young children on Christmas morning — Hobit has two kids and I was curious to see what the scene would be like there — judge for yourself
Tamarack Lean-to 229          Click here to see this photo online
You can see 10 more photos by me online here

You can see Annie’s online photos here



Saturday Dec 26

Six Mile Creek, south side rim trail
Six Mile Creek rim trail 108          Click here to see this photo online
Lovely cool grey morning on South Hill. The hike had a nice relaxed feeling to it.

Six Mile Creek rim trail 122

          Click here to see this photo online
This trail has just about the ideal mixture of ups and downs, one of the hikers pointed out — the atmospherics were right on for the lively terrain, around 40, so we were neither hot nor cold, really a nice state to be in

Six Mile Creek rim trail 063

          Click here to see this photo online
A number of the hikers had been at the Christmas party at Katharine’s the evening before and there was a lot of happy talking about how great it was — people dancing, and everyone watched The Last Waltz, the 1978 concert movie about Dylan’s back-up group, the Band

Six Mile Creek rim trail 009

          Click here to see this photo online
Official head count: 27 hikers, four dogs

You can see seven more shots by me online here.


Sunday Dec 27

Huge storm coming straight at us on the radar — Tiger and I went back and forth repeatedly on what to do — at a few minutes before 8 I decided we’d go ahead and hike — but by 8:05 it was raining heavily at our house and Tiger felt the NWS doppler was now indicating we’d almost certainly get some hard rain if we hiked — so I reluctantly cancelled.
Meanwhile, two of our super-regulars, Roger and Eckhart, didn’t see the cancellation e-mail I sent out — they showed up at the trail head at the regular time. Roger’s report:

” Eckhart and I had a fine hike with near constant drizzle throughout.
It didn’t quite soak through my non-waterproof coat. Headed north from
Star Stanton Hill Road and looped around on some trails I’d never
walked. Passed into lovely spruce forest and onto a hilltop with no
distant view in the total overcast. My GPS compass came in handy. Ruby
missed Brenda’s treats and all the attention she normally gets.
So we didn’t achieve our first four-hike week after all, and we missed a lovely morning in the woods, to my regret. We’ll try again this coming week — three regular hikes plus a special New Year’s Day hike and tailgate partry on Friday — stay tuned.
There’s a couple of trail hazards we need to watch out for at this time of year — nasty roots and snags in the pathway that are covered with dried leaves, and slippery wet mud on the downhills also covered with dead leaves. And now we have a new hazard ….
Tamarack Lean-to 185
          Click here to see this photo online
…. Norm lurking ahead of the group and taking videos as we pass him by not really paying attention to what he’s doing — he took a number of videos Friday and he said he’d edit them into one piece — I await the results with curiosity ….

Report to Hikers: week of Dec 14-Dec 20

Hello Hikers!


Update:  This web site is currently somewhat broken  —  the embedded photos are supposed to be clickable so you can call up a high-resolution version  —  the function’s not working  —  if you want to see good versions of the 18 photos in this post, go here.  When you’re looking at any individual photo, you can see a high res version by clicking “View Original” in the menu bar  —  click this version once to blow it up.  We’re working to repair the web site but it’s taking a little time.
Wednesday Dec 16
Taughannock Falls SP sledding hill, followed by a get-together at Mark and Ellie’s house

Taughannock SP sledding hill 067        
I can’t remember if I said this before — it’s worth repeating — there’s a delightful side benefit to getting out and driving around the county to hike — you get to see areas off the beaten track you’d never otherwise go to. Everyone’s been to Taughannock Falls — ditto for Trumansburg — but how many of you have driven the rural area between them on the back roads? if you like farmland, the scenery along this stretch is fantastic.

Taughannock SP sledding hill 196          
The same is true for the area just west of Trumansburg — it’s a big sprawling agricultural area, and Mark and Ellie live right in the midst, in the extreme NW corner of the county. They have a great house for entertaining, and it was really fun to get out into this unfamiliar territory and check everything out.

Taughannock SP sledding hill 090          
This is the second time we’ve hiked around the sledding hill area on the north side of the state park. The walk involves a very satisfying mix of fields, some open and some overgrown, and lovely woods.

Taughannock SP sledding hill 109


Two high points  —  navigating a major tangle of fallen trees

Taughannock SP sledding hill 102


…. and then a group fell behind while petting a dog, made a wrong turn, missed the last leg through a beautiful stretch of woods, and had to walk back on the road.

In short, a pretty uneventful walk.

Taughannock SP sledding hill 141


Official head count:  17 hikers + Yoda

More photos online:
Norm  —  three short videos



Saturday Dec 19

Fall Creek outfall area — Fuertes Bird Sanctuary, Stewart Park, Newman Golf Course, white lighthouse and Lakeview Cemetery

Lighthouse 071         
I tell everyone I love winter hiking — in fact, when it’s time to step out the door on the first raw, icy morning of the winter season, I always have the same instant reaction — This is horrible. But unless you want to spend the next four months inside, of course, you need to put this subversive thinking firmly aside.

Lighthouse 085         
We had a gorgeous morning, dramatically grey, snowing a little, a burst of bright sunshine toward the end. Didn’t see anyone else out; it’s much more fun when we have it to ourselves

Lighthouse 191         
We generally only do this walk once a year, toward the end of hunting season — I was glad it snowed at the last minute because the area looks much more picturesque with a snow cover.

Lighthouse 148          
Almost everyone made it out to the lighthouse — the long jetty is a bit hairy for walking — the top is quite eroded and broken and it was a little icy in spots — I realized afterwards I should have taken the commemorative group shot in two parts, since the people on the ends are distorted by my wide-angle lens, and you can’t see the lighthouse or the lake.

Lighthouse 098         
A number of our hikers hadn’t done this walk before — there are no maps showing how to proceed and it’s not al all obvious just from looking at Google.

Lighthouse 225         
We got back to the cars a little early — some people went home, but a sub-group walked across the street and up into Lakeview Cemetery — this is the big mausoleum — a very atmospheric place, and a nice backdrop for a line-up shot — on the way out, we passed a relatively fresh grave that had a photo mounted as a memento — hiker Dennis recognized a former student of his.

Official head count: 23 hiker and Ruby and Yoda

You can see eight more photos by me online here
You can see Annie’s online photos here
You can see Jack V’s shots here

This walk has just about the most open and sweeping scenery of any that we do  —  throw in the really spectacular atmospherics Saturday, and our two nature photographers got some unusually interesting shots this time.



Sunday Dec 20


Stevens Suspension Bridge, Cornell golf course and horse fields, Forest Home

Stevens Suspension Bridge 230         
So much for bleak winter weather — the snow disappeared overnight and the sun came roaring back brightly — and we got one more day of the mild golden haze that’s made this December so wonderful

Stevens Suspension Bridge 077-001

Great effects with the sun at its lowest point in the sky for the year — the light was pouring in it seemed almost like sideways — long trailing shadows everywhere and the woods were full of beautiful glow

Stevens Suspension Bridge 092
Not the best conditions for taking photos — our hikers are much too old to be photographed up close with bright sun right in the face — if you take a shot from the side, some of the faces end up melted — but I managed to find a few good scenes that worked out OK

Stevens Suspension Bridge 112
We walked up into the main Cornell horse area — the last time we were here there were lots of horses in the corrals near us — this time the horses were at a distance and we had to be content with a small flock of sheep — no matter, the area has a lovely relaxed feeling

Stevens Suspension Bridge 146
Official head count: 39 hikers, nine dogs

Stevens Suspension Bridge 048
You can see eight more photos online by me here.
You can see Jack V’s online shots here
Our nature photographer Annie has added more photos to three albums she put up earlier in the month — 12/2, 12/5 and 12/16 — you can access the home page of our photo-sharing web site here — the albums are arranged by date; just click on the albums Annie indicated

Report to Hikers: Week of Dec 7-Dec 13

Hello Hikers!
Update: This web site is currently somewhat broken — the embedded photos are supposed to be clickable so you can call up a high-resolution version — the function’s not working — if you want to see good versions of the 12 photos in this post, go here. When you’re looking at any individual photo, you can access a high res version by clicking “View Original” in the menu bar — click this version once to blow it up. We’re working to repair the web site but it’s taking a little time.
Wednesday Dec 9  —  Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve
Saturday Dec 12  —  Treman SP on the Finger Lakes Trail
Sunday Dec 13  —  Monkey Run Natural Area, north side of Fall Creek 
Monkey Run - north side 247
I hope all of you were able to spend enough time outdoors during this fantastic warm spell.  We hikers had a wonderful time on each of our three walks  —  at the moment, it looks like the mild days will be gone by next weekend  —  it sure was great while it lasted.
Monkey Run - north side 232
Our group is maybe a little different from other groups in that the older you get, the more and more respect you automatically get  —  for being able to continue keeping up with the rest of us.  We have two hikers over 80  — Eckhart, 84, and Jack B, who turned 81 Sunday  —  some of our best singers treated Jack to “Happy Birthday” while the rest of us looked on  —  I couldn’t get Jack in the group photo but here he is the day before in Treman SP
Treman SP on the FLT 185
No matter how rugged the trail is, Jack never uses hiking sticks or a walking staff  —  it’s amazing to watch him navigate without any support.
Any speaking of amazing, look at this
Monkey Run - north side 175
…. that’s Eckhart walking on the top of the big girder on the old Monkey Run Road bridge  —  Roger has done the girder in the past but he didn’t feel up to it Sunday  —  I was hoping our hiker-athlete Tracey would give the girder a try but she had already zoomed ahead with a small group of speed demons so she missed the whole challenge event.
Ellis Hollow NP 187
On our Wednesday hike at Ellis Hollow, it truly felt like spring.  We ended up alongside Cascadilla Creek across the street from the preserve  —  a balmy wind from the south started blowing and it seemed just like winter had finished and spring was on the way in  —  I know our skiers dearly love the snow but I’d be delighted to fast-forward four months  That’s Marianne in the photo —  it might look like I posed her but I didn’t.
Treman SP on the FLT 096
Saturday’s walk in Treman SP started out chilly but we kept up a very lively pace on the steep outbound leg  — everyone was in good spirits  —  it warmed up pretty fast  —  our Mr Hot-Blood, Jack V, soon was in his shirtsleeves
Treman SP on the FLT 167
and it had climbed to the low 50s by the time we wrapped up the hike
Treman SP on the FLT 234
Sunday’s hike was mild from the start, and we had a fabulous time
Monkey Run - north side 284
This is the spot where we always turn around on this walk  —  the bluffs across the creek on the left are where Boomer the dog fell and survived.
Parking lot shots and head counts:
Monkey Run - north side 025
I like to do parking lot photos because they give you a rough idea of how many hikers turned out, and you can get a sense of the energy level of the hike  —   I generally like to squeeze in as many people as I can  —   of course the result can be that they’re very small  —  I remind you that you can click on any photo in these hike reports and you’ll get a full-size high resolution version  —  click once again and you’ll see a blow-up  —  I try to always use photos where you can see the people’s faces more or less clearly in the blow-ups.
Sunday’s official head count:  46 hikers, eight dogs
Treman SP on the FLT 073
Official head count:  29 hikers, six dogs
Ellis Hollow NP 052
Official head count:  22 hikers, five dogs
More photos online
Some people have told me they never click on the links to our online photos, which are posted on a photo-sharing web site run by Microsoft called OneDrive.  If you do look, you’ll see photos, usually by Annie and Jack V, that give you the larger picture of our hikes.  I only take photos of people, and typically I crop the photos quite tightly.  Annie and Jack focus on the scenery  —  they also zero in on unusual and picturesque sights.  If you click on my online photos, they’re similar to the ones I use in the hike reports.  OneDrive lets you access a high resolution version of any shot, which you can then enlarge  —  click “View Original” in the header.  You can also download any photo you like.

Report to Hikers: week of Nov 30-Dec 6

Hello Hikers!


Wednesday Dec 2

Cornell natural areas along Fall Creek in Forest Home — Mundy Wildflower Garden, Botanical Garden and Beebe Lake — and the Cornell Dairy Bar
Mundy Wildflower Garden 032We regularly hike when there’s rain in the area that might or might not hit us (usually not) — but I think this was the first time we stepped out when it was 100% clear from the radar that we’d definitely get hit — the only question was when, and how hard
Mundy Wildflower Garden 079I was curious whether hikers would come out when we were guaranteed to get wet, but no one seemed to mind a bit. A couple of them didn’t even wear real rain gear.

It was a lovely dark mild morning and we were able to walk for well more than an hour along Fall Creek and look around leisurely at the beautiful plantings and the delightful scenery.
Mundy Wildflower Garden 101You’ve probably been to the botanical garden, but how about the Mundy Wildflower Garden? it’s quite low key and somewhat tucked away …. nice atmosphere … sounds like it’s very big among native-plant types — that’s not me — I don’t pay the slightest attention to the plantings but I do really like the feeling the place has.

Tiger and I walk around Beebe Lake all the time but it seems like most of our hikers are not that familiar with it — it has an amazingly bucolic feeling for an attraction right in the middle of a university campus.

Mundy Wildflower Garden 123

We went into the Cornell Dairy Bar for treats — started to rain while we were sitting around — it wasn’t very far back to the cars, so we didn’t get seriously wet or chilled even though it was then raining a little briskly.

Mundy Wildflower Garden 085

Official head count: 17 hikers, one dog

You can see seven more shots byt me online here.

You can see Annie’s shots here.

You can see Jack V’s shots here.


Saturday Dec 5

Jim Schug Trail, Dryden, with a stop at Hopshire Brewery in Freeville on the way home
Jim Schug Trail 199Another mild morning, and an amusing break from our normal routine of ups and downs through the woods on lumpy paths.
Jim Schug Trail 131This four-mile long rail trail has a wonderful open feeling, especially when the leaves are down — water on at least one side for most of the way, and deep views into the rolling fields and hills and farmlands that make this part of southeast Dryden so distinctive.
Jim Schug Trail 121Dryden Lake takes up a lot of space — seems almost like it could be a resort with this little viewing platform here. There’s also beautiful swamps and extensive streams running through brushy areas — I wish I’d been a kid with such a fabulous place to play in.
Jim Schug Trail 221The prospect of a completely flat walk brought out two regulars who’ve been on the injured-hiker list for a while, Steve S and Dave, and it was fun to have them back with us — they managed to finish about half the hike — both reported they were a little fatigued afterwards. For the rest of us, the walk was a piece of cake — I took the photo above at the end of the walk — do you see any signs of fatigue in the group?

Jim Schug Trail 036

Official head count: 27 hikers, three dogs.

Jim Schug Trail 226

Hopshire is midway between Dryden and NTSEG on Route 13, just right for a stop-off on the way back from hiking in the eastern part of the county — it’s very low key and relaxed — the dogs can come in, and they hover under the table eagerly badgering everyone for crackers and pretzels.

You can see nine more photos by me online here

You can see Annie’s shots here.

You can ee Jack V’s shots here.


Sunday Dec 6

Monkey Run Natural Area, south side of Fall Creek
Monkey Run - Varna 040Gorgeous sun-drenched morning along one of our most beautiful trails
Monkey Run - Varna 117Some picturesque frost and frozen mist on the way to the meet-up, but the temps rose fast and it was in the balmy mid-40s when we wrapped it up
Monkey Run - Varna 069There’s a few spots along the trail that are shady even when the leaves are down, like this dramatic pine grove on the high bluffs
Monkey Run - Varna 147…. but generally this walk is bright everywhere on a sunny day without leaves, especially when the sun’s so low in the sky
Monkey Run - Varna 060We had a special hiker with us — you may remember Boomer, who fell off the cliff here a while back and had to be rescued from the creek 100 feet below by the fire department — this was his first time back to the scene of the accident — he stayed on the leash the whole time on this walk — I didn’t notice any signs he had any bad memories of the accident when he arrived at the spot
Monkey Run - Varna 021Official head count: 37 hikers, seven dogs — one hiker arrived after we’d set off — tried to catch us but went in the wrong direction — didn’t connect until the last 15 minutes — but she said she’d had a great hike anyway looking for us

You can see eight more photos by me online here.

We’re having trouble with the photo-sharing page where our nature photogs Annie and Jack V post their hike shots — neither one put anything up — I’ll send a link to their photos from this hike next time.