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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Bristol Hills Branch Trail - Complete

  Today, we walked 8.5 miles and completed the Bristol Hills Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail. Most of the day was spent in the Pigtail Hollow State Forest and then on Clark Hill, walking its length after we climbed up. This actually isn't where we climbed on foot. I took this picture on the road we drove to spot the ending car. It seemed odd to drive between corn that was planted right up to the road, and the road seemed to disappear at the base of the hill. Actually, it turned and angled up the face. Clark Hill Road We basically went up-down-up, but not much elevation change each time. About 300 feet. It was mostly a lovely woods walk. The only thing that made it difficult was that it was hot and humid (high 80's). We managed to get out a little earlier (read, Marie managed to get me to move a little faster in the morning), and we had a tiny bit less mileage to cover. trail in woods We had lunch on the shores of Lake David, a nice little pond. I couldn't provide the premo lunch spot of a couple of days ago, but it wasn't bad. We sat on the remains of an old dock or bridge or something. Lake David There was one view from the trail in the afternoon. This is looking across the valley where State Road 53 passes, to Fritz Hill opposite. view of Fritz Hill When we read the description of the afternoon's miles, we were a little mystified by this: "Cross a steep difficult gully on a ladder bridge." We spent a fair amount of time discussing what this might be, and laughing at the possibilities. We weren't sure we were up to dancing across a ladder that had been laid from bank to bank. However, it turned out to be a nice sturdy bridge with a short ladder at the end! ladder bridge A few minutes after 2 pm, we reached the main Finger Lakes Trail. If you can't read the sign, it says, "Finger Lakes/North Country Trail... < 375 miles to Long Path... > 186 miles to Penna Border." I've hiked all of that and more! Marie has done almost all of it. Just a quarter-mile more to the car. Finger Lakes Trail sign We got ice cream, and came back to the campsite. The water in the showers was cold all last week, but we finally found the caretaker and asked him about it yesterday. Today the water was hot. We were so filthy and stinky, the hot shower was particularly exquisite today.

There is something about a completion that is highly satisfying. In the past couple of weeks we've done all of the Interloken Branch, the Montour Falls Loop, and the Bristol Branch. Officially a total of 72.5 miles. With aome side trips, it's actually been a total of about 78 miles. This is a little less than our usual 100 miles a summer. But we did a ton of visiting.

We will add a few more miles in the next couple of days, but not on the FLT. 

See Bristol Hills Branch- Day 1

Monday, August 10, 2020

Family Time

  We are camping only an hour from where one of Marie's brothers lives, so today we all got together and just had a quiet day with Steve and Karen. visiting in lawn chairs We hadn't as yet explored this campground very far from the trailer. So we all took a walk. I guess Marie was wanting to fly in. walkers There's a nice little pond, but no swimming allowed. pond The Joe-Pye Weed was a bright purple, somewhat unusual. It's usually a duskier pink Joe Pye Weed The views from the top of the park are pretty impressive. view across Canandaigua Lake Just one of those pictures one takes to show that we were there. We went out to dinner, and now Marie and I are going to play our game. Back on the trail tomorrow. friends

See Evangeline

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Bristol Branch - Evangeline

  There were several really cool parts of today, but I'll concentrate on one of them for this blog post.

We had another perfect lunch spot if we hiked fast. We wanted to make it to the Evangeline Shelter. The Finger Lakes Trail System has quite a few shelters, all named. I'd heard this name before, but hadn't heard how it got it's name. It is indeed named for the poem of the same name by Longfellow. These quotes are on the wall of the shelter. "This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks." And "When she had passed it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music." Evangeline poem carving This is meaningful to me because it was my grandmother's favorite poem. This is Granny Rowe, the one who raised me on epic poetry and stories of all kinds. The shelter itself is wonderful. Here's a long view. The little pavilion in front of it houses a block fireplace with a grill. Evangeline  Shelter In this picture, you can see how the inside is laid out. There is a sleeping loft with carpet! There is a table and some chairs, books, various utensils, things hikers might need (bandaids, bungie cords, t.p., etc). Evangeline Shelter There was even a porch swing mounted inside that I found quite comfortable. Marie had to coax me out of it to get me back to hiking. Evangeline Shelter It was a day of many hills, but most of them only in the 200-300 foot range, and unnamed. Here, we had just come down one and were starting up the next. Finger Lakes Trail Faber Pond, a small body of water we passed. Water features always look nice. Faber Pond Of course, right after that we climbed another hill. This is looking back at the hills we had just come over. hills The last treat of the day was the Huckleberry Bog nature loop. I'll tell you more about that another day. For now we'll settle for "the hugging trees." These two are a white pine and an oak. By their ages, someone has speculated that loggers spared them and twisted them together long ago.

twined trees
9.3 miles for the day. It was hotter than yesterday, but we felt better because the humidity was not as high. It was Marie's birthday. We had ice cream!

Tomorrow is going to be another play day. Stay tuned.
See Bristol Branch - More Italy Hill

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Bristol Branch - More Italy Hill

  Today was flatter than the previous days, but it was challenging enough. We started out with a 300 foot downhill on a roadwalk with the distant hill ahead in the mist. I think we were on Italy Hill all day- following the ridge south. Dunn Road hill Although there was still plenty of forest walking, there were also rural spaces. I had to take a picture of this really old tractor. old tractor The Finger Lakes Trail is fairly continuous, without too many road walks because they work hard at creating agreements with landowners to allow the trail passage, often along the edges of fields. edge of a field of corn This was our other big down and up of the day. We dropped another 200 feet on this road, and then climbed back up again. Pulteney Road Marie was teasing me that I wasn't going to be able to live up to providing a premo lunch spot when we began looking for a place to sit to eat. What a laugh we had when a bench materialized in the woods! It was most welcome. bench in the woods The afternoon heated up a bit, and the humidity climbed. An unexpected steep hill was briefly daunting, but we arrived back at the car at 3 pm. We did 9.5 miles today, then came back "home" to Sunny and had potato chips and cold drinks! We saw another brown and gold garter snake, and a really dark (almost black) toad, but he didn't want his picture taken.

See Wood and Italy Hills

Friday, August 7, 2020

Bristol Branch - Wood and Italy Hills

  Up, down, up. That was today on the Bristol Branch. First we climbed 1000 feet up Wood Hill. Most of it was on the abandoned road that we couldn't drive yesterday (turns out we could have driven some of it). It was a little steeper than we had in mind, but not terrible. Then we headed into the woods on single-track trail. Bristol Branch Trail This tree attracted our attention, with the interesting bark pattern around the dead limbs.

tree with interesting bark
From the top of Wood Hill we could look down on County Rd 18 at the junction where County Rd 34 goes off and angles up the far hill to the left. We had just driven up that road to spot the second car, and we recognized it. Wood Hill overlook We began descending again. Saw these fresh chicken mushrooms on the way. chicken mushroom We stopped for a break on a log, and read some of the description on the back of the map. It said to pay attention to the markings in that area because the landowner had created trails of his own with yellow, red, or blue blazes. The red was very similar to the orange of the Bristol Branch Trail. Actually, our trail was marked with two shades of orange. One is a great, easy-to-see, Halloween orange. The other is a darkish red-orange. So the map said to watch for Finger Lakes Trail round disks, to be sure we were on the right trail. When we started up again, none of the next five blazes was a disk, or the bright orange, so we walked back to the last disk, and verified we were on the right trail. It really wasn't a very long project, but it was a litte adventure.

The trail dropped back down 1000 feet. This grade was a lot steeper. Although going down that steeply isn't too much fun either, we were glad we weren't climbing that side. When we got down to County Rd 18, we could see Italy Hill across the road, our next goal. Italy Hill This climb was 1000 feet again, but it was very gradual, and we decided to try to make it to the shelter at the top for lunch, even though it was going to be a 2 mile climb. Italy Hill We made it! This is the cute, rather new, Outback Inn Shelter. Outback Inn Shelter Three miles to go after lunch. Saw this active wasp nest, but we didn't have to pass close enough to be worried. wasp nest We reached the car just as the rain was starting. It wasn't very heavy, but we were thankful to not get wet. Total for the day was 9 miles.

On the way back we stopped to see if we could see the cut in the trees above the road junction where we had looked down from on Wood Hill. Yup! It's easily visible as a notch in the trees on the hill. Wood Hill Tomorrow, we mostly stay up on Italy Hill- along the top of the ridge we saw from the overlook. We won't complain about less topography.

However, yesterday we played tag with a backpacker in the afternoon, and talked with him several times. He was really complaining about the big uphill. Then he complained about the hot downhill on the road. I find this confusing. Who goes hiking in western NY and thinks they won't encounter hills? You can't really even stand still and not see hills. We like to think of them more as a challenge. Sure we get hot and tired, but it's all part of the package. If that's not what you want, you probably shouldn't hike here.

Anyway... we are planning for another 9 miles tomorrow.
See Bristol Branch- East Hill

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Bristol Hills Branch - East Hill

  Today, we went over East Hill, not surprisingly east of Canandaigua Lake (at the south end). Right out of the box we climbed 1100 feet. However, the trail is well-designed and built, so that except for a few places we were able to keep walking along and did not have to struggle and rest and feel like dying. Well-designed trails are also easier to maintain. Big kudos to the Finger Lakes Trail work crews. benched hillside trail Near the top we stopped for a break at this small wildlife pond. The entire area is in the High-Tor Wildlife Management Area. The bench on the far side (where we rested) is in memory of Howard Beye. He was a volunteer for many, many years. He did so much work in so many different categories that it literally took five people to replace him. Howard Beye Memorial bench Across the pond three painted turtles seemed to be having an intense conversation. painted turtles After that we mostly went downhill for the rest of the day, dropping 500 feet, except for a short gentle climb along a deep gorge. Pictures didn't really show what it was like. This beautiful garter snake was totally unconcerned. I had flipped a stick out of the trail in his direction, and he didn't even move. garter snake The final two miles were on roads. Things twist around so much it's hard to be absolutely certain, but I think this hill is the south end of East Hill, the one we had just passed over. East Hill The sheep were curious as we passed. sheep And this might be Wood Hill, tomorrow's challenge. Wood Hill We had hoped to do 10 miles, but the road where we wanted to put the car is no longer open to vehicles. That will make a nice walk, but it forced us to shorten the hike to 7.6 miles. No problem! We drove around and got some views of beautiful Canangaigua Lake, which is not really visible from the trail. The hill across the water is called Bare Hill. Canandaigua Lake Got back "home" in time to fix spaghetti for supper and then watch the 2020 North Country Trail Association award ceremony via Zoom, since the conference had to be cancelled. Great day! Perfect weather again.
See Bristol Hills Branch- East Hill

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Bristol Hills Branch - West Hill

  Today we hiked another 6.1 miles. This wasn't a lot, but there was no place to spot a car that made a mileage more to our liking. We hiked over West Hill, just northwest of Naples, New York. In this picture, taken from the road before we began, West Hill is the one on the right. We crossed over it, through West Hill Nature Preserve, and then went down the other side, all the way to the bottom of the valley between the two hills. West Hill Naples NY We encountered this sign near the end of the day's hike, but we think it's a good way to start any hike. Peace of Mind sign A low spot was filled with Joe-Pye Weed in full bloom. Joe Pye Weed This beautiful, spreading oak tree grew up when the spot was open which allowed it to reach outward with its branches.
oak tree
We went down a short side trail marked as a scenic view on the map and found this lovely bench dedicated to Kathleen Bills Armstrong. It was a perfect lunch spot. Marie is looking at a wind chime that was hung in the tree. bench in the woods The view was across the Canandaigua Lake valley to High Tor. There is a trail that goes there, which we might also hike another day. High Tor Today's hike was basically up and then down one big hill. We ascended 400 feet and then descended 1200 feet. However, the hike wasn't terribly strenuous, because the trail is well-designed, so very little of it is so steep that you get winded. At the very end we crossed Naples Creek. Naples Creek The car was parked at the very bottom of the valley. valley Naples NY Although we would have been happy to hike a bit longer, it was also nice to come back to the trailer and play our game and have a leisurely dinner. The weather was perfect! We have planned a longer day for tomorrow.
See Rain Day with Irene
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