February 8, 2017

North Country Trail: Circle Drive to Stacy Basin

I started this hike at the parking area on Circle Drive, and hiked west Stacy Basin, which was my turnaround point on my last hike in this area.  The out-and-back was a total of 6.5 miles.  This section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) follows the Erie Canal Trail.  The portion of the canal between Circle Drive and Lock 21 is still actively used and appears well maintained, compared with some other part of the canal that are choked with blowdown and debris.  This section of trail is also one of the more pleasant to walk in the area because it is not adjacent to a road.  Woods!  Hurray!

After crossing Lock 21, which is a functioning lock that raises/lowers boats traveling to or from Oneida Lake, there is a short roadwalk.  Then the trail crosses Route 46 and rejoins the old towpath.  This section is better than some, but there is only the old canal and a narrow strip of trees between the trail and the state highway, with passing vehicles and homes easily visible.

We had zero snow at home, not even sorry little mounds along the roadsides, so I was surprised to find it here.  Temperatures were in the mid-30s, with both rain and sun, and lots of wind, so I adjusted layers frequently.  The blue sky was an unexpected but very welcome treat that lifted my spirits enormously.  We don't get much sun here this time of year.  


Stacy Basin

January 25, 2017

North Country Trail: Route 46 to Stacy Basin

Today I continued my northerly-easterly exploration on the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT).  I started at the parking area on Route 46, skipping the section back toward Durhamville, which is mostly a road walk.  Perhaps I will return for that during hunting season.  I was surprised to find three other vehicles in the parking lot... other hikers?  Nope.  I could see a man talking on the phone in one car, and there were no footprints in the snow leading to the trail.  In fact, mine were the only tracks in the snow for almost the entire length of my hike to Stacy Basin and back, 3.9 miles each way.  The only two places where people had recently been on the trail were immediately adjacent to or across from homes, essentially just people out in their yards with their dogs.

The NCT in this area follows the old Erie Canal, which means the hiking is excruciatingly flat and not terribly interesting.  I have a few more Erie Canal sections remaining before getting to the outskirts of Rome, where the NCT becomes nothing but road walks for quite some distance.  Other off-road trail sections have been scouted, but are simply not developed yet.  Much of the trail to the east, through the Adirondacks, is still in the planning phase.

I intend to complete the Erie Canal sections, but not go further east through Rome.  I will redirect my explorations back southerly-westerly, where the NCT follows the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) through much hillier and more interesting terrain.  I look forward to getting back to the less developed and more forested NCT sections.  I do appreciate the historical significance of the Erie Canal, but too much of it is adjacent to roads for my tastes. Aside from the longer drives, the only drawback to the FLT sections can be access, due to seasonal roads and narrow roadside parking.  I don't have a four-wheel drive vehicle and it's hard to know where plowed parking is available.

Town of Verona park adjacent to trail


my turnaround point at Stacy Basin

mural on Town of Verona municipal building

January 18, 2017

North Country Trail: Lenox Basin to Durhamville

I started out today at the Lenox Basin trailhead where I parked two weeks ago, but instead of hiking west into Canastota, I proceeded east to Durhamville.  I turned back at Route 46 for a roundtrip out-and-back of 6.1 miles.  This section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) follows the Old Erie Canal.  It is flat and gravel-surfaced and not terribly exciting.  However, after my trouble parking last week down at the Cheningo Day Use Area, I wanted a sure thing today.

Plus, it was raining and in the 30s.  I thought being able to move quickly would help stay warm.  Of course, I was way too hot after just half a mile.  I really struggle with thermo-regulation, especially when wearing rain gear.  It was huge a relief when the rain eased up, and I was able to remove the rain pants and a sweatshirt.  I always start winter hikes cold, on the theory that I will warm up fast, but I might have to start even colder.      

Despite these issues, I really enjoyed myself out there.  I love the misty look of soft rain, the peace of solitude, finding the hidden beauty in a landscape of drab. 

the water is full of sediment, runoff from all the rain
starting in the cold rain
looking back

the trail uses the Canal Street bridge to cross the New York State Thruway

bridge over Oneida Creek
high water
warmed up and shed some layers
this section of trail ends at Route 46 and the next few miles of the NCT are a roadwalk
snowmobile signs
re-tracing my footsteps
crossing the Thruway again
Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
so nice when the trail diverges from the road