May 10, 2017

NCT/FLT: Telephone Road to Cheningo Day Use Area

When researching this hike months ago, I read that there is no bridge over Cheningo Creek, and that the crossing can be difficult/dangerous during high water.  I went down and scouted the crossing when I was in the area on a solo hike back in January, and decided that I should save this section for a day when Erwin could join me.  It turns out that was an abundance of caution, because despite high water conditions today, the crossing was really easy.  However, it was a spectacular hike for Erwin to tag along on!  Really nice woods, stunning displays of wildflowers, and not too much hill climbing.  Having two cars allowed us to drop one vehicle at the Cheningo Day Use Area, then drive around to start our traverse at the Telephone Road crossing.

This section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) follows the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) through Taylor Valley State Forest.  From Telephone Road, it runs alongside a small stream, gaining elevation via gentle grades before topping out on the plateau of the forested Mount Roderick.  The trail passes through an overgrown clearing with remnants of an old homestead: a foundation and grave marker.  After that, the trail stays up on the ridge for a mile or so, hugging the top edge of the long, steep slope down into Taylor Valley.  Eventually the trail joins Cortland Two Road, following it downhill for about a mile before the footpath once again splits off to continue the descent through the forest.  This part of the trail is once again very narrow and charming.  It doubles back to the southeast and runs alongside Cheningo Creek for a while before the rock hop across. 

With leaves misting out on the trees and explosions of leeks and trilliums carpeting the forest floor, the verdancy of Taylor Valley State Forest was astonishing.  I was agog with wonder.  It truly was magnificent! 

photo by Erwin
crossing Cortland Two Road
two-leaved toothwort (Cardamine diphylla)

sessile bellwort

wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia)
dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius)
squirrel corn (Dicentra canadensis)

photo by Erwin
Canada violet (Viola canadensis)

Cortland Two Road again

photo by Erwin

photo by Erwin

photo by Erwin

May 7, 2017

Group Hike: Green Lakes

There was another group hike with families from Frankie's school scheduled for today.  The original invite indicated that the hike would be re-scheduled for Saturday (yesterday) if rain was forecast today.  With a previous commitment for yesterday, and rain predicted all weekend coupled with with unseasonably cold temperatures, I wasn't sure if we'd be able to go, or even if the hike would be cancelled altogether.  We are new to this group, and I just didn't know what to expect.  I was delighted to find that the organizers stuck with the plans for hiking today despite the cold rain.  They changed the venue to somewhere less remote, and moved the meeting time from late morning to early early afternoon.  Meeting after lunch was definitely sensible, as picnicking in steady rain with temperatures below 40 degrees is not ideal. 

We met at the boathouse and hiked Rolling Hills Trail > Rolling Hills Connector > Vista Trail > Power Line Trail > Brookside Trail > Round Lake Trail > Tween Lakes Trail > Green Lake Trail, for a total of approximately 4.3 miles.  This is a fun and varied loop, passing through open meadows and thick forests, among vernal pools and along stream banks, and then returning along the shores of first Round and then Green Lakes.  It did rain, of course.  It even hailed briefly, when we were up on an exposed section of the Rolling Hills Trail.  But the wildflowers are blooming, and the landscape is exploding with a cornucopia of infinite luxuriant greens.  We even found a few small patches of morels, which were collected with enthusiasm.  There is something magical about being in the forest in the rain... something that is not universally appreciated, apparently; Green Lakes was less crowded today than ever before.   

Unfortunately, Frankie's friend Holly wasn't there, so he was not as independent as on the last group hike.  Three of the other four kids on the hike today were several years older than him.  However, they are great kids and they modeled great outdoor spirit for Frankie -- bold, with no complaints, and boundless curiosity and enthusiasm about vernal pools, fungus, eggs, birds, and all manner of associated things.  The oldest boy wants to hike all 46 Adirondack High Peaks, and with a handful of summits successfully under his belt, is quite knowledgeable on the subject.  Their family is planning a stay at Johns Brook Lodge to do some more hiking this summer.  Yes!  This!  This is good stuff. 

marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)