Report to Hikers: week of Sept 21-Sept 27

Hello Hikers!


Wednesday Sept 23

Robinson Hollow SF, followed by lunch at Vicki’s, Tioga County

Robinson Hollow SF 015

I’ve come to think this walk from the Route 79 valley up into Robinson Hollow SF is one of our toughest — there’s an extremely steep up, and then a steep down, in each direction — the path can be narrow and twisty with quite a treacherous surface — poor trail markings in spots — I’m not complaining — it’s a delightful hike through some beautiful woods, and I always enjoy it — it’s also very dark when the leaves are out, and I’ve generally given up trying to take hiker-in-action photos — luckily our hikers plopped down on this stone bench for a few minutes and I had time to fiddle the camera settings until I could get a shot.

Robinson Hollow SF 043
If we hadn’t gone to Vicki’s house a few miles away for soup and salad after the hike, this would have been a short and poorly illustrated hike report. But her house was flooded with bright light, and I was able to get enough shots to have something to show you. This first scene is what you see as you drive up to her place, just the house and garage and an outbuilding against the sky.
Robinson Hollow SF 064

Here’s the view looking south just a few steps from her back deck — that’s her husband Bernd and regular hikers Katharine and Scott.
Robinson Hollow SF 119

Vicki made the famous Moosewood item West African peanut soup — very tasty — and we celebrated Eckhart’s 84th birthday.
Robinson Hollow SF 082

Official head count: 15 hikers, two dogs

You can see seven more shots by me online here.

You can see shots by Jack V online here.



Saturday Sept 26

Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve

Ellis Hollow 010

I don’t know if the shortage of rain this month is doing any serious damage, but it sure has made for some fantastic hiking conditions — the air’s had a wonderful dry smell and feel to it and the ground seems more fun to walk on — there’s no evidence left over from the big downpour a week ago — I don’t mind mud on the trail but there’s none to be seen now and that’s really pleasant

Ellis Hollow 067

The walk through the Ellis Hollow nature preserve is always very dark — once in a while a nice scene that might be bright enough for a photo will suddenly appear, but then the group has moved on even before I can pull out my camera — here’s one shot when everyone was standing still ….

Ellis Hollow 095

We’ve now expanded this hike into an area across the street that’s open to the public where the are some big fields — I love overgrown fields but I realize not everyone shares my enthusiasm — “Just looks like a bunch of weeds to me,” said one hiker

Ellis Hollow 094

A point of curiosity: Our super-regular hikers Dennis and Elizabeth, who live near the preserve, told me they walked exactly where I took this shot on their wedding day 35 years ago — they look pretty cheerful in the photo so I guess it went OK

Ellis Hollow 051

Official head count: 15 hikers, seven dogs

You can see six more photos by me online here.



Sunday Sept 27

Six Mile Creek from Juniper Drive to the upper reservoir

Upper 6 Mile Creek 038

Another gorgeous morning — a tiny bit of chill in the air and some of the hikers who came out without jackets started to grumble and get antsy standing around waiting to start — sounds like the end of the unseasonably mild days is coming up — supposed to be 10 degrees cooler next weekend

Upper 6 Mile Creek 051

The water level in the creek bed we walk down was low but I was a little surprised to see any water at all — other streams we’ve crossed on our recent hikes have been completely dry — it’s much easier to navigate this stream during a dry spell but I still managed to soak one foot

Upper 6 Mile Creek 074

The steep hill we have to climb somehow managed to be still a little wet too, and I had a few brief sensations I was about to slide backwards — had to go up on my hands and knees in several spots — it can be a bit stressful at the moment, but once you’ve finished the ascent it’s all downhill and the scenery is fantastic

Upper 6 Mile Creek 106

Our route took us through another big overgrown field — doesn’t seem like many people use this path and the weeds were over my head in spots — some grumbling by hikers behind me but I thought it was lots of fun

Upper 6 Mile Creek 122

Official head count: 21 hikers, eight dogs

Upper 6 Mile Creek 128

Six of our more rugged hikers decided to look for a different way back from the upper reservoir, along the edge of Six Mile Creek if possible — they followed some deer trails and climbed another steep hill — about 70% of the time, they were bushwhacking, according to Roger. The rest of us did the last leg of the hike along the South Hill Rec Way — a little tame, but always very pretty.

You can see seven more photos by me online here.

Report to Hikers: week of Sept 7-Sept 13

Hello Hikers!



Wednesday Sept 9

Stevens Suspension Bridge and Cornell fields, Forest Home

Stevens Suspension Bridge 123

10th day of the great September heat wave** …. forecast to hit 89, and it did, in the afternoon

Stevens Suspension Bridge 038

We set off early to beat the worst of the heat  —  followed just about the easiest trail we could.

We loafed along Fall Creek at the beginning and end, taking a very leisurely pace

Stevens Suspension Bridge 052

Had to do one brief uphill climb — spent the rest of the hike in the big Cornell fields up on the bluffs along the north side of the creek

Stevens Suspension Bridge 145

The heat-beating strategy paid off surprisingly well (it also helped a lot that the sun was out very weakly) and we had a lot of fun and didn’t overheat

Stevens Suspension Bridge 027

Official head count: 11 hikers, three dogs

**The average temperature for Sept 1-Sept 10 was 11 degrees above normal  —  the highest for Ithaca for the first 10 days of the month since record-keeping began (source: “Daily Data,” the Ithaca Climate Page)

You can see eight more photos by me online here.



Saturday Sept 12

Comfort Road to Smiley Hill Road, Danby

Chestnut Lean-to 072

Great atmospheric morning in Danby SF, mild, damp and grey, with a rain storm right over the horizon that was predicted to hit us

Chestnut Lean-to 052

Normally we don’t see anyone else on the trail, or at most two-three people — this time we hit two big groups, these young men sleeping out under the trees, and a group of primarily young women from Cornell who camped at the Chestnut Lean-to and shared a bit of the walk with us down to Michigan Hollow Road. Seeing the guys spread out under the trees brought back memories, and reinforced my intention never to sleep out in the woods again,

Chestnut Lean-to 060

This trail takes us over Michigan Creek at Diane’s Crossing — as I say in the boilerplate description of this hike online, I always imagine jumping into the water here and and gliding blissfully around through the picturesque tall grasses — forget that — the water level was extremely low from the drought, and the creek was revealed to be only a few inches deep.

Chestnut Lean-to 054

There’s been major logging by the state DEC along this route recently, and the crews don’t make any effort to beautify the results — I know many hikers don’t like to see this — our occasional Wednesday hiker Gary M led one of his Tuesday evening hikes for Cayuga Trails Club here recently and lamented the destruction they saw in his hike report:

“The loggers have been active here; we saw a pretty wide swath of clear cut, and the logger’s roads into and out of their work area. The aftermath of logging is devastating to the forest, with all the mature trees down or gone, and it is a hard reality for those of us who question its necessity. Our state forests are not parks and “recreation,” (hiking) is secondary to harvesting resources like timber.”

I actually don’t mind this logging activity myself — for one thing, it thins out the woods and lets in some light — a bit like a fire, I think

It started to rain very lightly about five minutes before we got back to the cars.

Chestnut Lean-to 024

Official head count: 14 hikes, five dogs

You can see six more photos by me online here



Sunday Sept 13

Jim Schug Trail eastward into Cortland County on the FLT

Jim Schug Trail eastward on the FLT 109

Our good luck with the weather held for another day, and the rain that was falling in the area missed us again (it did rain during hike-time closer to town, at the airport and Cornell’s Game Farm Road weather station)

Jim Schug Trail eastward on the FLT 095

Instead we had another great fall-like morning, cool, damp and atmospheric — a lot of the hikers wore jackets — Norm had on yellow lobster-fisherman overalls to go with his usual yellow boots, a very cheerful touch — in fact, the huge field wasn’t all that wet

Jim Schug Trail eastward on the FLT 179

I love everything about this hike — so many great vistas and picturesque scenes — this one is on the back side of the hill we have to cross — the valley always feels so wonderfully peaceful to me — of course I realize that’s just romantic projection on my part

Jim Schug Trail eastward on the FLT 122

A good part of this hike is in the woods, but they’re generally quite dark and not conducive to photos except for people standing around …. a little of this goes a long way

Jim Schug Trail eastward on the FLT 043

Here’s a shot of where we meet up — you can see some of the horses who live there in the background — there’s also goats

Jim Schug Trail eastward on the FLT 082

Official head count: 19 hikers, three dogs

You can see eight more photos by me online here.

Report to Hikers: week of Aug 31-Sept 6

Hello Hikers!



Wednesday Sept 2

Upper Treman SP, mixed woods, roads and streams walk

Upper Treman SP 030

This is a hike we pieced together a few years back one day when we got lost in the back part of upper Treman.  It’s a hodgepodge of sections with no real rhyme or reason, but it’s lots of fun and it gets us into areas that aren’t used much.  Above is the meet-up on Woodard Road.

Upper Treman SP 042

First leg of the walk:  Heading down Butternut Creek Road from the parking spot.  The Google Maps page will make you believe this is a live working road unless you pay very close attention.

Upper Treman SP 065

Crossing Fishkill Creek.  There used to be a nice bridge, but it was destroyed in a storm.  It’s possible to cross in low water like we had this time  —  though I still managed to soak both feet and to fall over  —  no damage to me or my camera.

Upper Treman SP 079

Van Ostrand Road  —  lovely rural feeling, no cars

Upper Treman SP 098

Thomas Road  —  pretty much completely deserted

Upper Treman SP 107

Finger Lakes Trail on the edge of the park  —  some fantastic woodland scenery but a little too dark for good photos under the trees  —

Upper Treman SP 114

Normally I don’t like to go on the trails where everyone in the county brings everyone who comes to visit, but the park was quite deserted and the chance to visit this fabulous gorge area was too much to pass up on.

Official head count:  11 hikers, two dogs

You can see eight more photos by me online here.

You can see Jack V’s online photos here.



Saturday Sept 5

Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area

Conn Hill hike #3 036

Another great walk with Dave on a poorly marked ski trail in this beautiful wild part of the county

Conn Hill hike #3 058

This was our first hike with leaves on the trees  on this particular trail, officially known as Connecticut Hill Hike #3  —  it’ll take me a few more times here to get any kind of a grip on what we saw, but my first impression was that it’s exceptionally pretty

Conn Hill hike #3 061

Everyone else seemed happy too, so I’ll declare this walk a big success

Conn Hill hike #3 075

Lots of gorgeous woodland scenes ….  almost all in the shade so it was very pleasant even though it was pretty warm out in the sun

Conn Hill hike #3 083

We had a special hiker with us, Boomer (far left), making his second walk with our group  —  he’s famous for having fallen off the high bluff at Monkey Run where we hiked the Sunday before, with no ill effects  —  he clearly loves to be out in the woods and it was really fun to have him along.

Dave seems to have a real knack for pacing these Connecticut Hill hikes  —  he brought us back to the cars in almost precisely two hours for the second time in a row  —  this guy is good.

Official head count:  21 hikers, five dogs

You can see nine more photos by me online here.

You can see Jack V’s online photos here.



Sunday September 6

Lindsay Parsons Biodiversity Preserve

Lindsay Parons 229

Goldenrod in full bloom just like I hoped  — fabulous effect  —  even better, there was a complex fragrance of goldenrod in the air, with a subtle but delightful sour note, that I never noticed before  —  loved it!

Lindsay Parons 170

The huge fields are the prime attraction here but there are a number of other good sights to see  —  the big beaver pond on the yellow trail is always striking but it was really weird this time, probably because of the long dry period we’ve had  —  Reyer always hikes in Tevas so it was nothing for him to pull off his shoes so I could get this shot  —  ground gooey, he reported

Lindsay Parons 105

There are also two beautiful back-to-back ponds that have been hit really hard by the drought  —  the water level was extremely low

Lindsay Parons 175

There’s a good deal of lovely woods on this hike that can get overshadowed by the other sights  —  nothing spectacular, but very nice

Lindsay Parons 049

There was a good deal of fog or mist hanging on the hilltops on both sides of the road when we shaped up  —  great atmospheric touch  —  some hikers told me beforehand they weren’t going to do this hike because they were afraid it would be too hot  —  in fact it was a bit warm but it didn’t actually get uncomfortable, and I thought it was a great morning.

Two hikers got stung.

Official head count:  23 hikers, two dogs

You can see 10 more photos by me online here.

You can see Jack V’s photos online here.


We now have photos up on our hike photo web page from Bud and Scott’s Montana fishing adventure  —  click here.

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.

Monkey Run - Varna 077

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

Taughannock hike and cook-out 049

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.