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.
November 15, 2017
When I first began my explorations along the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT), I was vehemently opposed to roadwalks. I was just starting to reconnect with that core part of my being that spends time in the woods alone, a private sanctuary that got lost in the shuffle of growing and rearing a small human. It was Frankie's first year of attending school all day, and I found myself with an occasional free day. This newfound freedom was precious, and I wanted to maximize my fleeting opportunities with full-on nature immersion; diluting the experience with roadwalks didn't remotely appeal. Plus, I wasn't doing a through hike, right? So I skipped all the roadwalks... it just didn't make sense to me to drive to "hike" on a road; I can walk on roads in my own neighborhood.
November 7, 2017
I had a lot of errands to run today, and wasn't sure I have time to go hiking. However, my opportunities for solo hiking typically diminish significantly as the holidays creep closer, giving me that extra motivation to squeeze something in. After confirming I was not needed in Frankie's classroom this morning, I decided I've have time for a quick hike between errands. I went to my polling place and voted immediately after dropping Frankie off, then drove out to Nelson Swamp Unique Area and parked at the trailhead on Constine Bridge Road. This is one of the closest sections of North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) and follows an old railroad grade, so it is easy to maintain a good pace.
November 5, 2017
Frankie's classroom has a nature backpack, which is sent home with each child one weekend per year. The backpack contains binoculars, a bug magnifier, some simple field guides, and a list of local parks; parents are encouraged to take the kids out to explore. This was our weekend, and since we already had an indoor commitment yesterday, today would be our only chance to get out with the nature backpack. Rain was predicted, but no matter - we couldn't let this opportunity pass by.
October 29, 2017
Although there is no official public access, the abandoned Skytop Quarry is a popular spot for outdoor recreationalists, particularly mountain bikers and hikers. There is a warren-like maze of single track trails through the rocky woods fringing the quarry, and old roads going though the quarry proper. There are some cliffs and steep spots that are apparently dangerous to the careless, and people occasionally do manage to get themselves hurt here, causing the owners to periodically crack down and issue trespassing tickets. We have been going here for more than two decades and have never had problems. However, one group of friends was ticketed a number of years ago. I tend to avoid the main entrance from Skytop Road for that reason.