August 3, 2018

Donaldson & Emmons

Erwin and Frankie are off in South Carolina visiting my mother-in-law; we've decided to make these single parent trips to visit with grandparents an annual tradition, with me taking Frankie camping at Memorial Day weekend to see Mary and Keith, and Erwin taking Frankie to play in the ocean in August to see Ellen.  It just works so well for everyone: Frankie gets more time with his faraway grandparents, I don't use up precious vacation time, the boys get to enjoy more beach time then I could handle, and I get the chance to sneak off to the Adirondacks.  I worked Wednesday, so I would have Friday off, and drove up to Tupper Lake last night, setting up camp in the dark in one of the primitive sites along Corey's Road.

July 28, 2018

NCT: Deruyter State Forest

I am really enjoying sharing the North County National Scenic Trail (NCT) with Frankie, taking him back to sections I previously hiked solo and doing them together.  For this hike, I parked at the trailhead on East Lake Road, just east of Deruyter Reservoir, and we followed the Onondaga Trail east.  The trail starts on private land, then traverses Deruyter State Forest.  As I did in April 2016, Frankie and hiked the short roadwalk along Fairbanks Road to reach the charming Armstrong Pond.  I had brought Frankie here once before, from the Webber Road trailhead; that visit was in spring and the the shoreline was a little more accessible.  Today the vegetation was a bit more overgrown, making it harder to access the water directly, but it was still very lovely.  We ate lunch at the pond and goofed around a bit, then retraced our steps the way we came. 

July 15, 2018

NCT: Mill Street to Stone Quarry Hill Art Park

For this hike, I parked at the trailhead on Mill Street south of the village of Cazenovia, and Frankie and I followed the Link Trail to the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park.  The Link Trail is blazed a creamy yellow, but this segment lies on the portion between the Onondaga Trail and the Old Erie Canal Trail that carries the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT), so it is also marked with the blue blazes of the NCT.  I hiked this same out-and-back in a cold rain in February 2016 while completing my first NCT Hike 100 Challenge.  Weather conditions were very different today: high temperatures and extreme humidity.  We wanted to get out on "the interstate trail," as Frankie calls it, despite the tortuous weather, so as a concession to the heat, I selected this hike because there is less hill climbing than on the Onondaga Trail and Finger Lakes Trail sections.

July 14, 2018

Great Bear in July

Somehow almost a year has passed since Frankie and I last visited Great Bear.  Last time we'd planned to go, Erin discovered there was a mountain biking event, so we elected to go elsewhere instead to avoid the crowds and speedy bikes.  I was honestly a bit surprised to find it had really been so long, as it feels like a frequent destination.  Nevertheless, Frankie and I were both excited to go there, and excited to see Erin and Alden for the first time since before our trip.  We set off along our normal route: Great Bear Road > Alec's Trail > the River Landing, and then had the obligatory long play session by the river.  When the madness became too much, we decided to start hiking back. 

July 9, 2018

Caves of Keash

Today we drove across Ireland, from Strandhill to Dublin, returned the rental car, and checked into our apartment for a few nights in the city before we fly home.  We like to break up driving days with stops to stretch our legs, of course, and so we can take in some sights in additional locales aside from where we stay.  For example, on the drive between the Causeway Hotel and Lough Eske, we made two planned stops: the Dark Hedges and Londonderry, where we walked the city walls.  The stops generally don't involve much hiking, because our typical hikes are too long to fit into driving days.  However, sometimes we make exceptions for short hikes.  Today we stopped en route to hike the Caves of Keash.  This was different from anywhere else we'd been in Ireland, and was a ton of fun.

June 28, 2018

Slieve Bearnagh

“I yearn to see County Down in the snow, one almost expects to see a march of dwarfs dashing past. How I long to break into a world where such things were true.” -- C.S. Lewis

The heat wave smothering Ireland continues, and at 86 degrees Fahrenheit, today was hot and downright muggy.  Again!  This weather is highly unusual here: most years Northern Ireland doesn't see a single day with temperatures this high, yet today is the second day in a row to break 30 degrees Celsius, and the pattern is forecast to continue.  The high humidity, combined with smoke from fires, made for hazy, almost smoggy conditions in the Mourne Mountains.  Not exactly ideal for another day of rugged hiking, but... we're here, aren't we?  Tomorrow we drive north.  We have to make hay while the sun shines.  

June 27, 2018

Murlough National Nature Reserve

After climbing Slieve Binnian yesterday, we planned for a rest day today, in hopes of squeezing in another big hike tomorrow before heading north.  While walking in Newcastle, we'd seen some impressive looking dunes along the coast north of town.  We found out that the Murlough National Nature Reserve is owned by the National Trust and was the first Nature Reserve protected in Ireland.  Located at the edge of Dundrum Bay, the 6,000 year old dunes are apparently one of the most extensive dune heath habitats in the United Kingdom.  We decided  to hike the South End Nature Trail, a 2.5-mile loop featuring boardwalks, beach walking, footpaths through the dunes, and a narrow track through a pasture.