The week of August 23rd began with a warm and pleasant Sunday with sunny, blue skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. The forecast for the rest of the week through Saturday calls for sunny days with temperatures in the low to mid 70’s. There are no thunderstorms or showers in the forecast at this time. Sunscreen and insect repellent would be a good addition to your pack. Keep hydrated since you will be able to hiker longer and in greater comfort. Once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
The week of August 16th began with a hot and humid Sunday with sunny, blue skies and temperatures in the high 80’s. The forecast for Monday calls for more f the same with temperatures reaching in to the high 80’s and high humidity. On Tuesday the temperature may drop a few degrees but the humidity will still be high and there is a threat of an evening thunderstorm. By Wednesday the temperatures will drop into the low 80’s but it will still be humid. On Thursday the temperatures continue to drop with highs in the mid 70’s but there may be an afternoon thunderstorm. Friday will be partly sunny with temperatures again in the mid 70’s. Temperatures rise on Saturday into the low 80’s and there may be a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Sunscreen and insect repellant would be a good addition to your pack. Keep hydrated since you will be able to hiker longer and in greater comfort. Once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
The week of August 9th began with a beautiful Sunday with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. There was a slight breeze and the humidity was lower than the previous days. The forecast for Monday calls for an afternoon thunderstorm with temperatures reaching in to the mid 70’s. Heavy thunderstorms are in the forecast for Monday night into Tuesday. Tuesday’s weather includes both morning and afternoon rain showers and possible thunderstorms with temperatures again in the low to mid 70’s. The showers may stay around through Wednesday afternoon with similar temperatures and high humidity. By Thursday the rain should leave and the humidity will drop. The temperatures will again stay in the mid 70’s on Thursday with some clouds. By Friday the temperatures will rise to almost 80 with mostly sunny skies. Saturday may see a passing shower and even a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Sunscreen and insect repellant would be a good addition to your pack. Keep hydrated since you will be able to hiker longer and in greater comfort. Once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Tuesday, August 4th, I wanted to get out for another hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. I decided to start map 15 by hiking the easternmost section. My requests for rides from volunteer car spotters went unanswered so I decided to park on Texas Hollow Road and hike to Gulf Road where I had left off last time. The hike appeared to be a little over 7 miles one way but there did not seem to be any convenient way to get back on local roads. I knew this meant over 14 miles on trails which would not be easy. When I got up at 5:30 AM the temperature was 52 degrees and there was a lot of fog in the valley. I checked the weather forecast and found sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70’s with a chance of thunderstorms around 4:00 PM. The forecast of storms did not make me happy but I wasn’t going to let that ruin what I had planned. We left Livingston Manor at just after 6:00 AM and as I drove north on State Route 17 the fog hung around until Windsor and then began to lift as the temperature rose into the 60’s. I continued on Route 17 to exit 64 at Owego and headed north from there on Route 96 through Candor and Spencer. In Spencer I picked up Route 34 west to Van Ettan. Here I turned right onto Route 224 as Route 34 headed south. I followed Route 224 for 16.4 miles as it passed through Cayuta crossing Route 13. In Odessa I turned right on Mill St and then left onto Brooklyn Terrace. At the top of the hill I continued straight ahead on Texas Hollow Road and was careful to stay to the left when the road split. I drove 5.4 miles to a gated access road that had a “Finger Lakes Trail” on the right. I parked on the right shoulder of the road before the access road. I got my gear ready and applied insect repellant. We began our hike at 8:45 AM by hiking down the gated access road to pick up the white blazes of the Finger Lakes Trail at the base of the road. There was a nice pond here and a wooden walkway that crossed over some very wet ground. As we crossed the walkway Sheila jumped and yelped and I saw several bees come up from under the walkway. I gave Sheila the “Up” command and we hurried across the bridge to the head of the pond without further incident. I stopped to take some pictures of the pond with some fog still hanging over the surface. We continued around the pond heading southeast and then south. As we walked I began to think about options for returning by another route to avoid the bees! I should have known that when you start hiking in a hollow there will be some climbing to get out of the hollow. None of the ascents were long or steep but over the first 1.4 miles we gained over 650 feet.
The trail was easy to follow by the way it was worn in and by the blazing. The blazing was odd in places with the non-standard blaze over blaze to indicate a turn without the direction of the turn being clear. There were some turns indicated where there were none and several other turns went unmarked. We didn’t have much trouble finding our way so they couldn’t have been that bad! At 2.1 miles we crossed Newton Road which was dirt and gravel. We started heading east and ascended slightly before dropping to Steam Mill Road at 2.9 miles. Both crossings were offset but we had no problem finding where the trail reentered the woods. When we came out of the woods on Steam mill Road, we continued straight ahead on dirt and gravel Carly Road. We continued on the road as it turned right at the top of a small hill. At about 3.6 miles we stopped so that I could take a few pictures of the hills and valleys. The most prominent feature were the billowing, white clouds gathering to the north and west. We descended a little and then passed Hosenfeldt Road on the left. At the top of the next hill we turned right on Seneca Highlands which is a private road. There were signs that indicated that the area was used for motocross events and other motorsports. The road led to a private picnic area and pond with the Rogers Hill lean-to at 4.4 miles. We stopped so that I could take some pictures of the sky and clouds and of the pond an lean-to. We continued to follow the blazes as they led back out onto a dirt road that headed due south. This section of trail went on for about 1.7 miles turning slightly southeast near the end. The drop in elevation was gentle but when we reached Route 228 at 6.1 miles we had lost almost 500 feet. As we continued straight ahead on South Pine Road the Schuyler County Veterans Park was on the right. It is a small park but nicely designed to honor the county’s veterans. I decided not to stop since I had a growing concern about the weather. We continued down the road until at 6.2 miles the trail turned right. For the next .9 miles we headed southeast along the wetlands adjacent to Cayuta Creek. The trail was wet in spots but was easily passable. When we reached Route 6, we turned left and walked to Gulf Road where we turned around at 7.2 miles.
It was 11:35 AM when we turned around and the walk back went quickly. At the Veteran’s Park, I decided we would walk back on the roads even though the distance would be longer by several miles. I couldn’t face retracing the same route as there would be no surprises. In addition, I did not feel like facing the bees at the end of the hike. We turned left on Route 228 and followed it as it turned right at the next intersection to head toward Route 224 and Odessa. Over the next 2.25 miles we hiked downhill losing about 320 feet along the way. The shoulders were wide and the traffic sparse. Sheila looked hot so when we came to a substantial stream I let her off her leash. She happily ran down the bank to swim in the stream and get a drink. As we approached Route 224 and entered the Village of Odessa, I heard the sound of gunshots and it was obvious someone was shooting at targets. I questioned the legality of this as it certainly made me nervous! At Route 224 we turned right and hiked .4 miles into Odessa turning right on Mill St and then left on Brooklyn Terrace. At the top of the hill we continued straight ahead on Texas Hollow Road. I knew the distance to the car was about 5.4 miles. The very first part of the hike was a rather steep up followed by a short descent. After that the road climbed slightly until 15.6 miles with the last mile being a slight descent. I underestimated how boring hiking over 5 miles on the same road can be! As we hiked the skies began to get darker in some places but the sun was still shining in others. At 12.2 miles Newton Road branched off to the right and Texas Hollow road changed to dirt and gravel. Several cars passed us on the hike and none were courteous enough to slow down to minimize the dust! Near the end of then hike a light rain began to fall but only a few drops penetrated the leaves above. I was glad for the cover since it insulated us from the sun which was warm at times. I was glad when I could see the car. We were back at 2:30 PM having hiked 16.6 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes with an elevation gain of 1700 feet.
On Sunday, August 2nd, I wanted to get out for another hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. I decided to hike a section of map 16 from Route 6 and Gulf Road Boylan Road where I had left off on a previous hike. This was the first section on map 16 but the last one for me on this map. The distance out seemed to be 6.7 miles out on trails and I planned to use local roads to form a loop with the return portion being the same length or less. When I got up at 6:20 AM the temperature was 52 degrees and there was a lot of fog in the valley. We left Livingston Manor around 7:00 AM and as I drove north on State Route 17 the fog began to lift and the temperature rose into the low 60’s. I continued on Route 17 to exit 64 at Owego and headed north from there on Route 96 through Candor and Spencer. In Spencer I picked up Route 34 west to Van Ettan. Here I turned right onto Route 224 as Route 34 headed south. I followed Route 224 for 14.7 miles as it passed through Cayuta crossing Route 13. When I was just short of 15 miles on Route 224, I turned right to head north on Route 10 for 1.6 miles to Route 6. I turned right on Route 6 and drove about a mile to Gulf Road. I parked on the shoulder of Route 6 just before Gulf Road. We started our hike at 9:35 AM by walking down Gulf Road. The storms at the end of June and the beginning of July had caused serious flooding in the area and washed out two bridges on the Finger Lakes Trail over Cayuta Creek. Notices on the website indicated that the creek might be crossed using the stones that had washed down. Since the first bridge was 1.75 miles from Gulf Road, I decided to take the alternate route on the orange blazed Van Lone Hill Trail. After a short distance on Gulf Road, the Finger Lakes Trail turned to the right to enter Cayuta Gulf. We stayed to the left on Gulf Road and began to climb Van Lone Hill on the dirt Road. The road was well-maintained and had several houses. Eventually the road came to a dead end but we continued to follow the orange blazes as they entered the woods. It was clear that the road had once continued over the hill. At .75 miles we reached the highest point on the trail at 1700 feet and immediately began to descend the other side. We began to walk along a deep creek bed that had only a trickle of water. The creek eventually crossed and the recrossed the road. From the amount of stones that were piled up it was obvious that this small creek had been filled to overflowing with a huge volume of water. At 1.6 miles we reached Schoolhouse Road heading due east. Although the road was dirt and gravel it was in good shape and we kept a rapid pace. After .6 miles, we came to Todd Road and turned right to start a slight descent. We crossed a tributary of Cayuta Creek which was almost dry. I began to think we might return to the car by way of the Cayuta Gulf! Todd Road began to ascend and I started to look for the point where the main Finger Lakes Trail crossed the road. This crossing was clearly marked and at 2.6 mile we turned left onto the trail as it passed through the woods on an old road.
After entering the woods, the trail crossed several open areas with high grass and weeds. None of this was cleared at all and I got very wet in a short period of time. We were heading north and east and climbing some the whole way. At 3.25 miles we were on a well-established woods road heading due east. The blazes were few and far between but the road was very easy to follow. At about 3.8 miles there were several blowdowns on the trail and some very wet and muddy areas. After negotiating around this mess, I looked up to find some blazes. I could not find any ahead of us or behind us. I decided to go back to the last blaze. When I did this, I saw a turn marked on the left side of the trail on a small sapling which made it very hard to spot. This trail was much drier than the woods road and still kept us heading east. After crossing a small stream, I looked up to find a man and woman hiking toward us. As we passed we did :hello” and I asked them where they were coming from. They were parked on Black Oak Road and the woman told me they “had hiked the whole trail before” and were just out for a day hike. After we passed, I though about what she said and asked her what she meant by the “whole trail”. She replied that they had hiked the entire Finger Lakes Trail AND all of the branch trails. I was VERY impressed! At 4.1 miles we crossed another dirt road and the trail started heading north. I began to understand that ALL the dirt roads in the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area are called Connecticut Hill Road! We continued north on the trail and crossed Cabin Road at 4.4 miles. The trail rolled some but continued to gain elevation as we headed toward Boylan Road. At 5.9 miles we hit the highest point on the hike at 2014 feet and then started to descend toward the road. We came out into an open area that had recently been cut with a brush hog and there was no indication of where to go. I did find a narrow green strip across the open area so I decided to follow it and was happy to see that Sheila agreed. We came out on Boylan Road just to the west of the parking area so we turned right and walked east to where the trail reentered the woods. We stopped at this point to get a drink and a snack and so that I could plan our return route. I had given up on the idea of heading back through Cayuta Gulf since it would require repeating parts of the trail which I did not find appealing. I decided to head to the west and pick up Route 6 to take it south back to the car. The road I wanted to take ended abruptly on my printed map and then resumed with a little less than a mile gap. On my GPS the road was marked as continuous.
We walked west on Boylan Road and turned left where it intersected the next dirt road. After a few hundred feet we turned right on the road I hoped to take west to Route 6. The road had a gate that was shut and locked but looked in pretty good shape. We walked along the road for about .6 miles where, at 7.25 miles, the dirt road ended! From that point on we followed a woods road west as it passed through woods and then open fields. The track was pretty easy to follow but was badly rutted in many places. I had some fun since it was an adventure to see what we would find along the way. Soon the road became more consolidated and there were signs that some logging had been done in the area. We came to a stream where the had once been abridge. The stream was nearly dry and was no problem to cross. There was one deep pool near a culvert and Sheila coldness going for a swim. At about 8 miles we picked up a “maintained” dirt road again which was marked as Van Loon Road on both map and GPS. There were some houses on the road and we weren’t far from Route 6 so I stowed my poles and put Sheila on her leash. At 8.8 miles we turned left on Route 6 and started south toward the car. I looked at the map and found we would be passing by the eastern shore of Cayuta Lake. I was hoping to get a few pictures but the road was farther from the lake than it appeared on the map and there were trees blocking the view. The walk along the road was better than I though it might be since there wasn’t much traffic and there was plenty of shade. There was even a slight breeze blowing at times which made it feel cool even though I estimated that the temperature was nearing 80 degrees. The walk south on Route 6 was only 1.7 miles. We were back at the car by 1:45 PM having hiked 10.5 miles in 4 hours and 10 minutes gaining 1420 feet along the way. The thermometer in the car read 80 degrees.
The week of August 2nd began with a beautiful Sunday with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. There was a slight breeze and the humidity was lower than the previous days. The forecast for Monday calls for an afternoon thunderstorm with temperatures reaching in to the mid 80’s. By Tuesday the skies clear and the temperatures rise into the high 70’s with intervals of sun and clouds. Wednesday should be much the same with a little more sun but slightly lower temperatures. Clouds roll in for Thursday bringing slightly lower temperatures with highs only into the low 70’s. By Friday the forecast calls for periods of rain but the skies clear on Saturday.Ssaturday should be mostly sunny with highs in the mid 70’s. Sunscreen and insect repellant would be a good addition to your pack. Keep hydrated since you will be able to hiker longer and in greater comfort. Once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!
On Saturday, August 1st, I had scheduled another work day for the Willowemoc Trail Crew. I had three confirmed attendees who said they would be at the trailhead at 10:00 AM. Cindy and I got to the trailhead a little before 10:00 AM and soon after Avi arrived and then Randy. We completed our paperwork and since no one else showed up we started for Frick Pond. We were all surprised that the trail was so dry since we had been having some rain. It was impossible to tell how well our previous drainage efforts had worked without water on the trail. We continued toward the bridge and found the mud pit almost dry. The drainage we created here certainly helped and the stepping stones were still in place. Because it was so dry, the stones were wobbling a little but I did not see a solution to this problem. We headed toward the bridge and stopped a few minutes to take in this beautiful scene. We continued on around the pond finding more dry places where there had been mud. As we started across the wooden walkways we stopped to identify loose boards and to nail them down. We noticed that the center support in one section was much too low making it impossible to nail down the decking. On careful inspection we found the supports for this section collapsing and giving little support to the timbers to which the decking is nailed. We decided that this would require more work than we could do. We nailed down a few more boards but found that in many places the timber supports are rotting and would not hold the nails. We did some work on the last section to further stabilize what we had worked on during previous trips. Using rocks and some 4 by 4 supports we shored up the sagging section to make it more stable. I hope that the DEC will repair these walkways before the must be completely replaced. As we continued around the pond we trimmed a few low hanging branches. We skirted a few muddy spots using the paths other hikers had created.
We stopped at two places on the Big Rock Trail just before Times Square to fill in some muddy spots with rocks. There was a ready supply of stones and Cindy did an expert job of supervising the placement of the stepping stones. Times Square was almost dry as we passed through so it was hard to assess the best course of action for this muddy area. We continued on around the pond on the Logger’s Loop and continued to find most areas relatively dry and without mud. There was a lot of long grass and weeds in some areas. These will be cleared by the campers from the DEC conservation camp in the near future. We passed by several damp places but stopped at the one at the top of the hill. This spot was wet and muddy despite the fact that most others were dry. We decided to fill it in but initially could not find enough appropriate stones. I went to try out my new Council Tools Velvicut felling axe to section a small tree to produce logs sufficient to bridge the muddy area. I sued the axe and my Silky saw to section a small tree and got two good pieces 1to lay lengthwise across the area. By the time I was through Randy and Avi had found enough stones to place on both sides of the logs to stabilize them. We were happy with our work but I will return to this area to add another two sections of wood. We continued our walk back to the parking area. It was 12:30 PM and we had spent about 2 hours working on the trails. Our next outing may include some of the other trails in the area or perhaps a trip to Long Pond or Trout Pond.
On Friday, July 31st, I wanted to get out for another hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. I decided to hike a section of map 16 from Boylan Road to Stevenson Forest Preserve on Trubmle Corners Road where I had left off on a previous hike. The distance out seemed to be only 5.4 miles back and I planned to use local roads to form a loop with the return portion being the same length or less. When I got up at 6:10 AM the temperature was 56 degrees and there was a lot of fog in the valley. We left Livingston Manor at right around 6:30 AM and as I drove north on State Route 17 the fog began to lift and the temperature rose into the low 60’s. I continued on Route 17 to exit 64 at Owego and headed north from there on Route 96 through Candor and Spencer. North of Spencer I picked up Newfield depot Road and followed it into Newfield where I picked up Trumbull Corners Road and continued to head west. Trumbull Corners Road changed to Blovsky Hill Road and then to Carter Creek Road. Somewhere along this route the paved road turned to gravel. I turned north on Lloyd Starkes Road and entered the Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area. This road was marked “Seasonal Maintenance” and as I started out I wondered whether or not I had made the right choice. The road proved to be rough but passable and when it ended I made a hard left onto Boylan Road. The road was dirt and gravel but inn pretty good shape until Hulford Road where there was another “Seasonal Maintenance” sign. Fortunately, the Finger Lakes Trail crossed the road just beyond the intersection. When we arrived just before 9:15 AM, I was surprised to find a car parked on the left side of the road taking up both parking places. There was a wide spot on the left shoulder so I pulled over and parked there. I applied some insect repellant and we began our hike at 9:15 Am by crossing the road and walking southwest on the road to enter the woods just passed the other parked car. Sheila was happy to be out again and was “up” the trail before I even noticed. The trail was very well marked and seemed well used also. It was also relatively dry and remained that way for most of the hike. We started by heading northeast and descending to Connecticut Hill Road which we reached at .7 miles. We crossed the road and turned right to walk east bit and then turned north into the woods again. At 1.3 miles we headed due north along a property line and the turned due west at 1.7 miles continuing to walk between private property and state land. At some point Sheila alerted and I looked up to see a group of 8 trail runners coming toward us. They said hello and made comments about the “cute dog”. We continued uphill and northwest to cross Tower Road at 2 miles. At 2.2 miles we passed over the summit of Connecticut Hill which at 2100 feet is the highest1 spot on the Finger Lakes Trail for 40 miles around.
I knew that we would end up at about 1300 feet at Stevenson Forest Preserve meaning we would have to drop about 800 feet in elevation. This also meant the return trip would have some climbing to get back to the car at 1935 feet! From the top of the hill we headed northeast and continued to descend crossing Cayutaville Road at 2.75 miles. We turned right on the road and walked southeast briefly before reentering the woods and heading north toward Griffin Road. By the time we hit Griffin Road at 3.45 miles we had only dropped 290 feet. From here to Stevenson Forest Preserve the trail followed local roads so I stowed my poles and put Sheila on her leash. I got us both a drink and we turned right on the road to head east still descending. We followed Griffin Road east and then north to where it intersected Connecticut Hill Road at 4.1 miles. We continued north ion Connecticut Hill Road to 4.6 miles where Rumsey Hill Road turned right. We turned right and followed Rumsey Hill road east dropping 300 feet in .6 miles. At the intersection with Trumbull Corners Road we turned left and walked .35 miles to the parking area for Stevenson Forest Preserve. We were now at the lowest elevation on the hike at 1250 feet and the rest of the hike would be mostly uphill. I had planned to use some roads to the west of the trail to return but when I looked at the map I reconsidered. We walked back up Trumble Corners Road heading south and gaining some elevation. At 6.2 miles we followed the road as it made a left turn and followed it again at 6.5 miles when it made a right turn heading south. At 7.5 miles we turned right on Cayutaville Road and followed that only .1 miles uphill before bearing left on another version of Connecticut Hill Road. As we walked along this road a man came out to check his mailbox with his dog. Sheila greeted the dog and they got along well. I chatted for a minute with the gentleman and then headed on down the road. At 8.8 miles we came to the intersection of Lloyd Stakes Road and Boylan Road where we stayed to the left on Boylan Road. We had been walking on gravel and dirt roads for some time but Boylan road was a little rougher. As we walked I was surprised to see a vehicle with Tompkins County plates parked along the side of the road with no one around. After passing this car we began our last 250 feet of climbing. Along the way there was another car parked on the side of the road. This time I could see the driver in the woods and hear a beeping noise. I recognized that he was using metal detector. When I asked what he was looking for, he responded that there was an old foundation and he was looking for whatever he could find. We continued up the hill passing Hulford Road on the left and finally arriving at the car at 1:00 PM> The hike was shorter than I planned covering only 9.9 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes. We had climbed 1480 feet which was less than on most hikes. I had tried to find some places to take pictures but although it was a pleasant walk there were no outstanding opportunities to take any shots. The temperature had risen to 74 degrees which was 14 degrees less than the hike a few days before. I briefly considered adding a few more miles but decided to save them for the next hike.
On Tuesday, July 28th, I wanted to get out for another hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. I decided to hike a section of map 16 from Stevenson Forest Preserve on Trubmle Corners Road to Rt 13 near Robert Treman State Park where I had left off on a previous hike. The distance of the hike was hard to judge precisely since a trail closing and a missing bridge forced two changes in the trail. Of course, the problem is that I usually have to hike both ways as I have no ride back from the end point. This means hiking, for example, hiking 12 miles to get a 6 mile section of trail. On many hikes I have used other trails of road walks to avoid a strict out-and-back which can be extremely boring! I was also concerned about the forecast for temperatures into the upper 80’s and high humidity. When I got up the temperature was 62 degrees and there was a lot of fog in the valley. We left Livingston Manor at right around 6:30 AM and as I drove north on State Route 17 the fog began to lift and the temperature rose into the high 60’s. I continued on Route 17 to exit 64 at Owego and headed north from there on Route 96 through Candor and Spencer. I began to think about the hiking conditions and decided that parking sooner meant I could hike sooner. I decided to park in the parking area off Route 13 where I had turned around on my last hike. Route 96 picks up the designation of Route 34 at some point and then merges with Route 13. As the roads all came together, I recognized the ending point of my last hike and turned left into the parking area on the east side of the road. When I opened the car door, I could feel the humidity which made me feel it was much hotter than the 70 degrees that was registering on my car thermometer. We started our hike at 8:55 AM by walking under the road bridge along Enfield Creek and following the white blazes through a flat and damp area with plenty of insects. I had put Sheila on her leash and left my poles collapsed in my pack until I knew the location of the trail and how many people we might meet. The trail crossed a park road and continued through some damp areas. I decided to let Sheila off her leash, get out my poles and apply a liberal amount of insect repellant! Soon we began to climb to the rim of the gorge cut by Enfield Creek. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that there would be a significant amount of elevation gain since I knew that Enfield Creek was the lowest point on the Finger Lakes Trail! At about a mile we came to the Sierra Shelter and I missed the turn that the trail takes just before the shelter. The turn was not marked but, fortunately, Sheila doesn’t need the blazes. The next section of trail was overgrown and did not look like anyone had trimmed it in some time. I found this to be true in several places and was surprised since I though this would be a popular area to hike. At around 2 miles most of our climbing was done and we had gains about 630 feet since we left the car.
I could hear the water in Enfield Creek as it flowed over various cascades and waterfalls and I regretted that I would not have enough time walk down to the trails that run along the gorge. In the woods it stilled seemed cool but the humidity was high. We walked west for some time through stands of red pine and some hardwood. The trail rolled some especially when we came to small tributaries of the main creek. At 2.25 miles we began to head northwest sticking to a route that parallel the creek but we were well above it and it was out of sight. At 2.9 miles started to head southwest joining park road briefly and then entering the forest again. We came to a Y in the trail where the main Finger Lakes Trail continued straight ahead toward the bridge of the Fish Kill. The bridge had been recently washed away so we stayed to the left and walked out to Butternut Creek Road. We turned right on this gravel road and walked first downhill and then uphill to 3.7 miles where the road joined Van Ostrand Road. Soon we turned right on Douglas Road and the stayed to the right on Stonehouse Road. This road took use north and uphill for about .7 miles to Woodard Road at 4.5 miles. We turned right and walked less than half a mile to where the Finger Lakes Trail crossed the road. The sign on the right side of the road announced the bridge was out but indicated it was only 3.5 miles back to where we had parked. We had already walked 5 miles so the detour had added about 1.5 miles to the hike. The roads we had been walking were all gravel and there was some shade. I was already noticing a significant difference between the sunny and shaded areas! We turned left into the woods and headed north and northwest generally following Enfield Creek. Parts of this section of trail had not been trimmed in some time especially those near the stream bed crossings. We were close to the creek but I could also hear the traffic on Route 327. At 5.9 miles the trail turned left and we started heading southwest toward Hines Road. We hit Hines Road at 6.35 miles and I saw it was 11:30 AM. I was happy with our pace but wasn’t sure we could make it to Stevenson Forest and make it back during the hottest part of the day. We turned right on Hines Road and walked due north for a quarter mile to Rockwell Road. I decided to continue thinking we might turn around at the Rieman Woods bivouac area. We turned left on Rockwell Road and began to walk due west toward Potter Hill Road. I knew from the trail description that there should be a trail on the left at about .75 miles but I could not find it. This was the area where part of the trail had been closed by a landowner and it was only another .25 miles to Potter Hill Road. We stayed on Rockwell Road and turned left on Potter Hill Road. Just after the turn I could see where the trail entered the woods but I knew there was another crossing at the top of the hill. The road was steep but we only had to walk .15 miles before turning into right into the woods. I am not sure why the main trail goes to the bivouac area but we walked uphill to 7.75 miles where the trail made a sharp right to head back of to the road. The quarter mile hike back out to Potter Hill Road was all downhill.
We turned left on Potter Hill Road and began to walk north to Trumbull Corners Road. I was really beginning to feel the heat and humidity. The walk on Potter Hill Road was all downhill and was only .5 miles. I decided we would turn left and hike the loop through Stevenson Forest Preserve as I had originally planned. I knew this was risky but I planned to walk back on Route 327 which would cut the mileage and allow us to keep a pace of over 3 mph. We turned left on Trumbull Corners Road and walked slightly uphill until I saw the white blazes enter the woods just after we crossed a creek on a road bridge. We turned right into the woods and I immediately lost the blazes. Sheila had no problem finding the trail and we started to climb a steep pitch. The entire loop was less than a mile and was not very interesting save for the large hemlock trees. The map had a blue trail that was supposed to have a view. I found only a red trail and did not want to try any more distance as I estimated we were still about 6 miles from the car. When we came out into the parking area for the preserve we turned left and walked 2. miles back to where we entered the woods. We continued on Trumbull Corners Road passing the turn on Potter Hill Road and walking out to Route 327. We turned right on Route 327. We had started back at 1:15 PM and I knew we probably had about 2 more hours of hiking which meant we would still be out at the hottest part of the day. We were at an elevation of about 1100 feet and the car was at about 425 feet so I hoped the return route would be all downhill. I was wrong as there were several short climbs along the way. Both Sheila and I could feel the heat beating down on us. The humidity made it difficult for sweat to evaporate and cool me off. I allowed Sheila to get herself wet in every little stream we came across and we stopped several times in the shade so that we could get a drink. Finally at 13.4 miles there were no more climbs and our pace increased as we headed downhill to Route 13. We passed the entrance to Robert Treman Park and then walked out to Route 13 where we turned right. Crossing wasn’t easy but soon we were heading south back to the car. We arrived at 3:00 PM having hiked 15.5 miles in a little over 6 hours with an elevation gain of 2130 feet. The car thermometer read 88 degrees!
The week of July 26th should begin with periods of sun and a chance of thunderstorms on Sunday and Monday with temperatures both days in the high 70’s or low 80’s. By Tuesday the skies clear and the temperatures rise into the mid 80’s with increasing humidity. Wednesday may be the warmest days with highs in the high 80’s. Thursday should also be sunny with temperatures in the mid 80’s. By Friday thunderstorms again may appear with highs in the low 80’s. Saturday will be more comfortable with lower humidity and temperatures in the low 70’s. Sunscreen and insect repellant would be a good addition to your pack. Keep hydrated since you will be able to hiker longer and in greater comfort. Once you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Remember, the weather forecast is only a prediction and always contains percentages. Be prepared and have a plan for the most likely and least likely forecast! Are you prepared to stay out overnight on a trail? Conditions in the morning can change drastically by afternoon. Conditions at the trailhead do not always reflect the conditions on the peaks! Variable trail and weather conditions are a hallmark of these mountains. BE CAREFUL AND BE PREPARED!