April 12, 2017

NCT/FLT: Cheningo-Solon Pond Road to Wiltsey Glen

For this hike, I left my car at the intersection of Cheningo-Solon Pond and Freeman Roads, in the spot I scouted during my last hike on the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT).  This section of NCT follows the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) through Cuyler Hill State Forest.  My plan had been to hike north to Wiltsey Glen, which had been my turnaround point while heading south on a hike last fall.  I knew it would be a long hike to fit into my school day hike window, and last night when I was squinting at the topo and adding up the elevation gain, I started to get nervous.  Maybe I was biting off too much?  In the end, I decided I would attempt the hike as planned, and simply turn around before reaching Wiltsey Glen, as necessary.  And I'm so glad I did!

I reached Wiltsey Glen about 10 minutes before my predetermined turnaround time, so was able to complete the entire planned hike.  The out-and-back totaled about 8.1 miles roundtrip, with over 1,500 feet elevation gain.  Definitely my most challenging school day hike!  And so nice!  I didn't see another human.  The route follows the gravel-surfaced Freeman Road east for a short distance, then turns north along a two-track that leads towards an old white house.  Before reaching the house, the trail turns east through a wet thicket, then starts climbing along side a creek, soon entering state land.  After climbing close to 600 feet, the trail crests over the top of a hill, then descends again, crossing Potter Hill Cemetery Road and Jipson Hill Road in quick succession, both seasonal dirt roads.

The trail follows another stream briefly, then climbs again, crossing Potter Hill Cemetery Road a second time.  After cresting another ridge, the trail dips down into Wiltsey Glen.  I followed the trail past the campsite and along the stream until I got to the crossing where I stopped last fall.  The stream looks different with water coursing through it.  I paused long enough to have a few bites of a Clif Bar and get a drink, then started hoofing back up the first of the hills on the return route.  I've found that eating an entire energy or granola bar at once can lead to an upset stomach, so I nursed it all the way back, taking a few bites per mile until it was gone.  That seemed to do the trick.

There were a few wildflowers in bud along the trail, but no blooms yet.  One nice sunny day and all these buds will burst open.  How I love spring in the forest! 

red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

two-leaved toothwort (Cardamine diphylla)

hepatica (Anemone americana)
Potter Hill Cemetery Road
Jipson Hill Road

Potter Hill Cemetery Road
box elder (Acer negundo)


at Wiltsey Glen

walking through the muddy trail

almost back
Freeman Road

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