May 28, 2018

Pinery Provincial Park: Pine Trail

The hiking trails at Pinery Provincial Park are generally quite short, but are very rewarding.  Mary and Keith have hiked all the trails at the Pinery, many times over, but Frankie and I still have some exploring to do.  Each time we visit, we hike a different combination of new trails and old favorites.  This year we hiked the Heritage Trail, the Cedar Trail, and the Pine Trail.  We have hiked the Heritage Trail twice, but it is definitely a favorite, and we didn't go there last year, so re-visiting it was a treat.  Although it was a bit sad for all of us that Mary's bum knee prevented her from completing the full circuit; she sent Frankie and I on ahead.  We have hiked the Cedar Trail only once before, and chose it again because we could take the park's trail wheelchair down it, enabling us all to stick together.  The Pine Trail was our "new trail" for this trip.

May 27, 2018

Canoeing: the Old Ausable Channel

Frankie and I returned to the Pinery Provincial Park to camp with Mary and Keith for our fourth consecutive Memorial Day weekend.  The park is located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario, and it is a really special place.  Mary and Keith always make reservations months in advance, and secure a fantastic camp site with a private path to the beach.  The facilities are top notch, and the oak savannas are an unusual ecosystem that provide habitat for plants not commonly found in the northern hardwood and succesional communities near my home.  I truly treasure our time here.  This year was a little different because Mary is suffering grievous knee pain.  X-rays have showed that both knees are bone-on-bone, and recent steroid shots didn't seem to help much.  I suggested canoeing or kayaking as a way to get outside together without Mary having to be on her feet the entire time.

May 16, 2018

FLT/NCT: Kennedy State Forest

For this hike, I wanted to continue my exploration of the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) in Kennedy State Forest, which also carries the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT).  There was no parking adjacent to where I left off last week, so I parked on Bleck Road this morning and basically hiked two out-and-backs.  First I hiked east until I got to the "four corners" junction of the main branch FLT, the Virgil Mountain Loop, and the Dabes Diversion Loop, then I returned via the same route.  This section of trail starts in a conifer plantation and then crosses the seasonal Cortwright Road before descending steeply through hardwoods to follow a stream meandering through a floodplain forest.

May 9, 2018

Virgin Mountain Loop from Tone Road

The section of the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) that crosses Kennedy State Forest has many different spur trails that can be linked up with the main branch to make loops of various lengths.  The Virgil Mountain Loop can be hiked as a simple circuit, using parking on O'Dell Road, but I didn't want to orphan the section of FLT east of the loop, so I parked at the trailhead at Tone Road.  This made for a lollipop loop, where I hiked the stick/stem section connecting Tone Road and the loop twice, on the way in and out, then the main loop in a counter-clockwise direction.  The total hike was 7.8 miles with over 1,400 feet elevation gain; more than 700 feet of that climbing occurs in the first mile ascending Virgil Mountain.  This is the highpoint of Cortland County. 

May 5, 2018

Searching for Bobolinks at Three Rivers

My Dad's birthday was this past week, on a work/school day, and we didn't get together then; he had dinner plans with extended family.  I suggested we get together for a hike today and go look for the bobolinks at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area.  Bobolinks are migratory birds that return to the area this time of year.  They nest in grasslands and the big open fields east of Sixty Road are a good place to find them.  Bobolinks are funny little birds, the way they perch on plants bobbing in the wind.  Bruce and Debbie always enjoyed birding together, and looking for bobolinks on his birthday has long been a fun way to mark the season.  I haven't accompanied them/him on such a mission since Frankie was born, and we weren't sure how much luck we'd have today... would two noisy little boys and a rambunctious dog keep the bobolinks away?