April 30, 2016

Spruce Mountain Fire Tower

Last summer Frankie had a really bad allergic reaction to mosquito bites, so for the first time ever, I've been a bit conflicted about the change of seasons.  Spring has always been my favorite time of year, with the mild temperatures and awakening plant life.  Green!  Wildflowers!  Unfortunately, it also means the return of biting insects.  I have been watching trip reports carefully, hoping for a day of good weather to make a foray up to the Adirondacks in the narrow window between ice melt and bug emergence.  The High Peaks are still icy at high elevations, of course, but there are some fire towers in the southern Adirondacks that are clear now.  With gorgeous weather forecast for today, it seemed like my stars were lining up for a hike, and in a serendipitous case of timing, Jen was able to confirm the black flies aren't yet problematic at Spruce Mountain.  Hurray!

April 24, 2016

Clark in April

Frankie was pretty tired today, hung over from a very busy yesterday.  We started the day volunteering at the Earth Day clean-up organized by the Downtown Committee.  One of the meeting places is right outside my office, so a contingency from my company always represents.  This was the third year Frankie and I have joined in, and it is a great experience, if a little depressing - because the garbage is continuously replenishing.  It's an impossible task.  Good for a kid to develop an understanding of why it is important not to litter, though.  Then yesterday afternoon was an epic three-hour knight themed birthday party, with much simulated sword play and endless running around.  Asher's father made "swords" from cardboard tubes wrapped in tinfoil and decorated "shields" from corrugated cardboard.  The kids loved every minute of it, and wore themselves out completely.

April 17, 2016

Berm Trail North, Three Rivers

Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area is one of the few places close enough to Erin's house that a hike can be sandwiched between Alden's morning and afternoon naps.  It is also a place my Mom used to frequent when she lived here, making it a good choice for another family hike on this visit.  We decided to make another Berm Loop, following the banks of the same drainage ditch we hiked last month, only this time going north of Potter Road instead of south.  Once again, we parked at the gate on Potter Road and headed east, but then in short order took the first left onto a dirt road heading northwest.  This is a service road that passes a number of sunken bunker-like structures.  We crossed over another service road about a half mile from the car.

April 16, 2016

Great Bear in April

As I've mentioned before, my mom lives in Michigan.  Mary is not at all fond of driving in the snow, so aside from an annual holiday pilgrimage when her husband Keith gets stuck with the driving duties, she doesn't visit much in the winter.  Despite the storm earlier this month, snow never lasts long around here in April, so she planned a trip back east.  The weather forecast for the weekend was perfect, so of course we all wanted to hike.  As the guest of honor, I thought Mary should get to select the destination (from the suite of options nearest Erin's house).  However, Frankie overheard me suggesting she choose, and insisted on Great Bear.  Luckily, Mary hadn't been there in a long time and was on board.  Win-win. 

April 13, 2016

North Country Trail: DeRuyter State Forest

I just loved this hike - it made me so happy!  At 5.8 miles roundtrip with 1,111 feet elevation gain, it was also one of my more ambitious school day hikes.  Because I was alone, it was another out-and-back.  I left my car at the grassy parking area on East Lake Road, which has a narrow entrance and is a little tricky to spot.  I drove by it the first time, but managed to find it on the second pass.  If you're coming from the north and get to the point where East Lake Road is immediately adjacent to the reservoir, you've gone too far.  After passing a register, the trail starts climbing through private property along a ravine.  The trail turns away from the stream after passing a cascade, and continues climbing generally eastward along a series of switchbacks, which disguise the elevation gain.  Soon there is a nice view of the reservoir below.

April 6, 2016

North Country Trail: Canastota to Nelson Road

We had a spring snowstorm a few days ago, and lingering cold temperatures have kept the snow from melting.  I had a couple sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) on deck, and since I knew trails would be slippery in the steeps, I selected a segment with little elevation change.  I headed further east than I'd previously been on the NCT to start my hike, to the outskirts of Canastota.  The North Country Trail Association has designated Canastota as an official Trail Town, but I always skip the road walks, so I headed to the small parking area at the entrance to Mount Pleasant Cemetery.  The trail winds through the woods on private land, briefly follows an old road, then veers back in the woods as a lovely single track.