April 8, 2018
For this hike, Frankie and I ventured to a section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) that follows the Link Trail along the old Lehigh Valley Railroad. I parked at Nelson Road, and we hiked west and then south to the bench for a picnic lunch. From there, Frankie decided we should walk over to the railroad sign for a quick visit, and after that, we returned back the way we came. This route is a slightly shorter variation of a similar solo hike I did two years ago, when I continued on past the railroad sign to Quarry Road so I could enjoy the spring wildflowers in the forested section past the railroad sign. No wildflowers out there today! It's the winter that refuses to quit, which is actually what led us here: there is still snow in the hills south of Syracuse where the NCT follows the Finger Lakes Trail, and we've reached the point of being done with all that. Plus, Frankie has done both the adjacent sections, so this hike filled in a gap for him.
March 18, 2018
Growing up, our family cross-country skiied together often. My parents had me on skis at a very young age. I don't even remember the process of learning - it was just something we always did. Many a Christmas morning featured new ski equipment under the tree. It was not a hobby shared by many college friends, though, and not something Erwin grew up doing. As a result, I fell out of the habit of skiing as an adult. I have had fleeting thoughts about getting back to it over the years, but my equipment dates back to junior high and the boots were a bit snug last time I used them, many years ago. Plus, we have had a long series of winters with paltry snow cover. I just never seemed to make it happen.
March 7, 2018
South Trail is a multi-use rail trail that follows the abandoned Lehigh Valley Railroad from New Woodstock north to Ballina Road. This a 3.3-mile trail is part of the network of properties protected by the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation. It was my first visit here. However, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) follows the old Lehigh Valley Railroad between Cazenovia and Chittenango, so I had an idea what to expect when I planned this hike: flat and easy. We received quite a lot of heavy snow in the last week, and I expected to be snowshoeing. Parking for this hike is available at New Woodstock Lumber, and that clinched my decision: plowed lot, easy grades for snowshoeing. Unfortunately, there was yet another winter issue I failed to anticipate... snowmobiles.
February 28, 2018
Highland Forest is the oldest and largest of the Onondaga County Parks. Although the park has seen a lot of improvements over the years, including construction of the large Skyline Lodge, I still find the trail system a little odd. The website has a ski conditions page that is updated daily, and from checking this site in advance, I knew to expect a detour on the Main Trail. This was somewhat of a disappointment for me, as I have been looking forward to this hike for some time, but I decided to go anyway. I asked about the detour when I stopped in the Lodge to sign the register and pay my $3 use fee, but oddly enough, the friendly staff seemed to know little about it. They assured me it was well marked and wouldn't add much distance to the hike, but couldn't show me anything specific on the map.
February 18, 2018
The boys had been planning on taking a walk to hunt Pokémon today. I haven't installed the Pokémon Go game on my phone because I am not remotely eager for more screen time, but Erwin and Frankie play together on Erwin's phone. I strongly disapprove if they take it out in a restaurant or similar inappropriate settings, but one aspect of the game involves rewards for distance walked, so it does get them out moving more. I often tag along on such walks if I'm not at work, because I like walking and we can all hang out together. These Pokémon walks are often downtown, or to/around campus, so they can visit the "stops" and "gyms" in the game, which tend to be located at landmarks such as sculptures and buildings. Unfortunately this means there generally isn't much overlap between Pokémon hunting and hiking. I was pleasantly surprised when Erwin announced he wanted to go somewhere more interesting, and decided on Green Lakes. Apparently this State Park is crowded enough to attract Pokémon? No matter to me. A busy trail is still better than a sidewalk!
February 17, 2018
Extenuating circumstances made us wing this hike rather than plan ahead. Friday afternoon Erin got a call from daycare saying Alden had a fever and red eyes. Neither of those appeared to be true Friday night when he was home, but since it was unclear if he'd be up for a hike today, I didn't set Frankie's alarm for this morning. When morning rolled around, Alden still displayed no signs of sickness, and both boys wanted to hike. However, without the alarm (and without me getting up even earlier to prepare Frankie's breakfast so it would be waiting for him when the alarm went off), we were running way behind schedule. Beaver Lake was the obvious choice: short hike, short drive, and of course, the Bog Trail is a perennial kid favorite.
February 14, 2018
In inclement weather, I am somewhat cautious about driving off to hike solo in areas with poor or no reception. After several Wednesdays off where snow, freezing rain, and/or a school snow day keeping me from hiking, I finally had a decent day for a solo hike. I decided I would head back down to Tuller Hill State Forest to check out the next section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT). The online maps for the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT), which carries the NCT through this area, show parking at the intersection of Carson Road and NY Route 392, "nearby at restaurant." I thought a restaurant parking lot would be reliably plowed out. Famous last words? Because when I arrived, the restaurant was clearly closed, with large for sale signs posted out front. The lot appeared not to have plowed all winter, and was completely inaccessible in my little car.