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.
October 25, 2017
I started this hike at the NYSDEC fishing access lot for the Tioughnioga River along NY Route 92, and hiked generally northward, until I reached my turnaround spot from last week. This hike was my third outing on the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT)/North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) within Hoxie Gorge State Forest. For the first 0.7 miles I walked south on Route 11; then the trail turned north, following the dirt Steve Russell Hill Road uphill through a narrow gorge. I was sort of dreading the roadwalk, since Route 11 can be so busy, but it wasn't too bad. There is a wide shoulder with lots of room to walk on the protected side of the guardrail. And Steve Russell Hill Road is actually kind of interesting, first winding up along the stream, then passing under Interstate 81. Immediately after 81, the road split. The right fork, Pine Hill Road, is more substantive; the FLT/NCT stays straight on Steve Russell Hill Road, which immediately narrows and keeps climbing.
October 18, 2017
I started this hike from the SUNY Cortland McDermott Nature Trail parking area, off Hoxie Gorge Road. There is an official Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) access spur that I followed to connect to the main trail near where Frankie and I turned back when hiking the adjacent section over the summer. When I hit the main trail, it looked unfamiliar, and I realized Frankie and I hadn't come quite this far south, so I decided to make a short diversion to find my previous turnaround spot. I traveled north just a tenth of a mile before I came to the spot I recognized, a second intersection marked with the yellow blazes from SUNY Cortland, and the specific stretch of stream where we hung out playing (pool, rocks, three fallen logs, just so - check). Satisfied, I went back to the main intersection, and continued my hike southward. I ran into two friendly hunters before crossing Hoxie Gorge Freetown Road, out looking for grouse and woodcock. They praised me for wearing orange.
October 8, 2017
We are in New Hampshire for the long weekend, visiting old friends. When planning the visit, Susie had suggested we could all go on a hike together, and of course I was excited by the notion. However, after being here a while, it seemed unlikely. They have two-year old twins (two years and eight or nine months), and that is just about the hardest age for hiking with kids: not yet able to hike far on their own, but way too heavy to carry very far. I suspect hiking with Frankie could have been a motivating factor for the girls, the way it is for Alden. However, these girls are in a serious nap resistance phase, and having company was not helping them go to sleep. Susie suggested we three sneak out for a hike while she and Jason tried to strong arm the girls into a nap. We were disappointed they couldn't join us, but definitely game for a hike. We planned to meet up for soup in Peterborough post hike/nap.