January 10, 2018
After last winter's dearth of snow, I was super excited to finally have enough snow for snowshoeing, and determined to get out and enjoy it. I was also longing for the peace and solitude found along the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) and/or Finger Lakes Trail (FLT). However, many access points are along rural roads with limited snow removal, and I didn't want to get stuck. I decided I would hike part of the Onondaga Trail, because it passes right across the top of Tinker Falls. The Tinker Falls trailhead is along State Route 91, so is reliably accessible. These trails are the busiest on the entire FLT/NCT network (at least of the parts I've hiked so far), and I did encounter six other hikers, but the guarantee of clear parking made the tradeoff worthwhile. Plus, I'd never been up Jones Hill in deep snow before, and was excited for the winter views.
January 1, 2018
Another cold day, colder even than our Bog Trail hike the other day. Too cold for Erin, Alden, and Keith, but Mary and I both wanted to get out, and Frankie always has energy to burn. My mom and I were waffling about whether to drive somewhere or just walk in the neighborhood. This issue resolved itself tidily when Erwin spoke up and volunteered to drive us to Woodchuck Hill Preserve. Like the rest of us, he had cabin fever and wanted to get outside. Plus, we'd gone to Woodchuck Hill a few weeks ago with Frankie, and found an interesting crossing: a passage. We started exploring the other side of the drainage, but had to turn back as we approached White Lake. Erwin and I were both very curious about what lay beyond our previous turnaround point, and were eager to explore further.
December 30, 2017
Since my mom moved to Michigan, she and her husband Keith visit after Christmas and we celebrate the holidays together at New Years. Between numerous other previous holiday engagements, Mary and Keith's long drive, and a long stretch of unusually cold weather, everyone had been cooped up inside way to much. We were all eager to get outside. But it is still very cold, and it's hard to generate heat moving at a toddler's rate, especially when said toddler is necessarily thickly bundled. We decided to try a short trail with proximal warming opportunities. Where else? The Bog Trail, of course. It always delivers.
December 9, 2017
Erin and I wanted to get the boys together for a hike, so we met at Beaver Lake to hike the Bog Trail. Since it is a park and a nature center, hunting is not allowed, so it is a safe place to hike year round. And the boys love the boardwalk, of course. The Bog Trail is accessed via the Hemlock Hollow Trail, so we hiked both. Combined, the short loop is just 1.0 mile, perfect for toddler legs. Poor Alden had a bout of motion sickness and threw up in the parking lot upon arrival, but at least he made it out of the car. And he was very brave about the whole thing. It was so sad: as Erin was trying to clean him up a little, he kept saying over and over, but you want to take a hike! Maybe thought we were considering not letting him go? Don't worry, little boy... it would take more than that to turn us back! So off we went.
December 6, 2017
Today was my last opportunity for a solo school day hike during the current hunting season, and I used it to complete the last of the roadwalks I'd orphaned while hiking nearby "real trail" sections of the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) [which carries the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) south and west all the way to Pennsylvania]. I wasn't super excited about the route, and was a bit tired; I may have even dragged a bit setting out. I made hot tea for the long drive, and after dropping Frankie off at school and putting gas in the car and then finally setting out, I realized I'd forgotten it. I did a u-turn and went back home for the tea, but I didn't let myself get discouraged. Between holiday obligations and various appointments, I won't have many opportunities for hiking this month. I couldn't let this chance slip away. And it turned out to be one of the more pleasant roadwalks I've done.
November 29, 2017
This outing was all about filling in gaps. I "hiked" two short sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) that I had orphaned when hiking the adjacent sections. I originally skipped them because I was strategically leaving the Durhamville section to cover during hunting season, and in the case of the Cazenovia section, because I wasn't doing roadwalks at the time I hiked in this area. Unsurprisingly, neither stretch was particularly interesting, but collectively they consisted of 7.4 miles outside -- a decent way to spend a morning, regardless of the scenery... or lack thereof. And with this outing completed, I have now hiked the entire contiguous section of the North Country Trail between the outskirts of Rome and Interstate 81 (south of Cortland), the section shown between the two green asterisks on the map below. Which feels pretty good!
November 25, 2017
Every year, we travel to Kiawah Island, South Carolina to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with Erwin's mom, Ellen. Kiawah is known for its golf and tennis facilities, which are apparently top notch, but are of little interest to me personally. There is an extensive network of paved bike trails, which we make good use of, but these trails are exclusively along roadsides and through residential neighborhoods. It is also great fun to bike at the beach. Except at the highest of tides, there is wet sand firm enough to ride on, right next to the crashing waves and sandpipers. However, the beach is lined with mansions as far as the eye can see, along with condos and a big fancy hotel. The island is completely over-developed; there are virtually no opportunities to get out in nature. There are zero hiking trails in the area, not on Kiawah or anywhere else remotely close by.