Gifford Hollow to Willsie Road

GiffordHollowWillsieRdAug2014_01camera32gps_pictalltrailscaltopomapmyhikeOn Sunday, August 24th we had just finished a 9.2 mile hike from Fawn Lake to Gifford Hollow. It was only 1:30 PM when we finished and I decided to drive to the spot where we turned around at Gifford Hollow Road and Switz Kill Road to hike the first part of the next section of the Long Path. The drive was actually shorter than I thought and we were parked and ready to hike at 1:50 PM. We started by walking south on Switz Kill Road for about .7 miles. I was glad that the walk was uphill as I preferred the downhill at the end. We had started to walk so quickly that I had not let my GPS unit “find” us. The results was that the unit showed us wandering all over the place rather than following the road. I stopped and allowed it to get our position knowing that I would have to correct the track at home. We turned left onto Willsie Road which was flat momentarily and then began to climb gently up a hill. As we climbed up the hill, a farmer was cutting and conditioning his field before baling the hay. I liked watching the neat rows of cut grass fall into place as I grew up on a farm and have fond memories of haying. As we reached the top of the hill at 1.8 miles there was a nice view across Partridge Run to the Catskills. I stopped to take a few pictures and then we continued to walk along the road. At 2.1 miles the blazes on a telephone pole indicated we should turn left. There seemed to be a woods road on the left but I could see no aqua blazes on it. Just passed this the trail turned into the woods. The trail description mentioned a small parking area on the other side of the road but I saw none. We walked uphill and the down through some stands of pine and spruce with hardwoods between. There were several stone walls to cross. I wondered why we were walking almost due north when our objecteive was more to the east or northeast. As we walked, we began to hear gunfire and it seemed we were making turns that took us closer! Eventually we turned in the opposite direction and the sharp reports ended.

GiffordHollowWillsieRdAug2014_10At 3.1 miles we crossed Irish Hill Road where there was a shale pit and room to park a few cars. The trail ascended briefly and I noticed that the aqua blazes shared the trees with state cross country ski trail markers. As we walked along the trail there were numerous woods roads, trails and ski trails that crosses the path. In general, the qua blazes were good enough to guide our course. We began to walk along an escarpment at about 3.3 miles. The trail description mentioned views but as is often the case the description had not been updated since there were no views! We crossed several more stones wall as we reached the highest point on the hike at 3.75 miles. Here it looked as if the trail continued straight ahead but the blazes led us to the right so we followed. We started to descend through some pines until we intersected Woolsie Road at 4.2 miles. Just before getting to the road we met a couple hiking with their dog. I put Sheila on her leash but the couple saw no reason to extend us the same courtesy! In fact, they ask that we stand still so that their dog would not follow us. Once we were on the road, I decided to head back to the car as we had cut over 4 miles off the next section. The hike on Wollsie road back to where we had entered the forest was .4 miles! We had walked 2.1 miles in the wrong direction through some interesting but not outstanding forest to avoid .4 miles of road! I have mixed feelings about this kind of detour. The walk back was mostly downhill and seemed to go quickly even though we were repeating what we had just done. We were back at the car at 4:15 PM having hiked 6.8 miles in 2 hours and20 minutes with an elevation gain of only 830 feet. I was a little tired and Sheila quickly made herself at home in the back seat. We had hiked 16 miles for the day in two different hikes!