Entries to Win Afghan

Sign up to receive the Books Leaving Footprints Newsletter. Comes out occasionally. No spam. No list swapping. Just email me! jhyshark@gmail.com Previous gifts include a short story, a poem, and coupons. Add your name, and don't miss out!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Crystal Hills Branch Day 1

  For the next 5 days, Marie and I will be following orange blazes! orange blaze on tree

We are hiking the Crystal Hills Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail. This is a connection between the Mid-State Trail (which goes from the PA-MD border to the PA-NY border) and the main FLT. Today was almost all road walks, but that doesn't mean they were unpleasant. road walk

It was pretty hilly. The first climb was about two miles of steadily going up. After that it kept rolling. This one was fun since we could see our entire walk on that road- down and up. Casson Road

We took a break in the cool shade of a small cemetery. The oldest grave I could read has a death date of 1821 for Maryette Kelly. You don't find those dates in Michigan! gravestone

Always the hills were rolling away in the distance. new york hills

Just before we got back to the car, on the one little piece that was actual trail, we passed Levi Pond, a beautiful spot. The bridge across a really wet area was unique. It was two picnic tables that had been dragged into the area end to end. It worked great except that it was two picnic tables short of covering the water! Levi Pond

Neat find of the day is a Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly. I had a little trouble IDing it because it's paler than usual, but the book says they are quite variable. It's the most common one. great spangled fritillary

The underwings are a perfect match for the pictures, though. great spangled fritillary

We hiked 10 miles.

Crystal Hills Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail, Pennsylvania and New York. Tompkins Campground to McCarthy Hill State Forest. 10.0 miles

See Things I Love About NY

Monday, August 30, 2021

Things I Love about New York

  I love the New York Hills. This is the southern end of the Adirondacks. None of my pictures this year show the High Peaks, but I'll take what I can get. Adirondacks

These hills are driving south on I-88. Fast shots through a dirty windshield. But I love the views. New York hills

Here's another. New York hills

And another thing I love about New York is that it's where Marie is! Yup, we are together for two weeks. Stay tuned friends

In other news- we ate lunch at a restaurant, and I got an oil change. We are pretty much set up for the next few days at a campground. In case you are curious, the body does not like a day of sitting almost completely still in a car right after 4 hard work days. But we are going to fix that tomorrow.

See Adirondacks Day 5

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Adirondacks Day 5 - Last Day

  This has been an amazing few days. The work has been really physically demanding, but SO satisfying! Today we managed to finish something that I didn't think we'd be able to. We started this yesterday, but it was really difficult to find small rocks. We were supposed to put a layer of stones in the bottom of what will be the turnpike treadway for drainage.
drainage stones in treadway

But the helper who came today, Kevin, found an old dry stream with lots of small stones, and we hauled rocks in canvas bags. We broke up some more rocks from the place where we'd found big rocks the day before, and we found some small rocks under wind thrown trees. We finished lining the entire medium-length section.
drainage stones in treadway

We did just a little bit more work on the drainage channel across the mud pit before lunch, but we were definitely interested in something a little easier for the afternoon.

So, since we'd hiked all that section I described as roughed-in trail yesterday, and knew it was getting difficult to follow, we took to it with rakes and a McLeod, and a saw. We aren't supposed to do much sawing, but only took out things that were dead and down across the trail and small. It's a balancing act to keep the trail clear and the authorities happy.
raking trail

Of course more leaves will cover this in the fall, but the more you can keep a lightly-used treadway clear, the easier it will become to find and people will hike it. One reason it's still lightly used is that one of the Adirondack rules is that it can't be marked as North Country Trail until it's complete from road to road. That means all that part that we bushwhacked between flagging tape markers yesterday has to be finished, and a bridge has to be built, and all that turnpike filled with gravel and dirt before blue blazes can be put on this 5 miles of trail.
raked trail

We also did small adjustments in a few places we noticed yesterday where the trail went down into a dip, but it was much better to keep to the higher ground. Mary is standing on the re-aligned trail with the solid line, while the dotted line is what was being walked- that dip will just turn into a mud hole. We raked and fixed 0.2 mile of trail.
raked trail

Best other find of the day is this slime mold. Some sort of tube slime. Very cool! tube slime mold tube slime mold tube slime mold

North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 385.

North Country Trail, Hoffman Notch Wilderness, NY, Dirgylot parking out and back- total 4 miles

See Day 4

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Adirondacks Day 4

  More rocks and a hike. I managed to leave the SD card for my camera in the trailer, so I tried to take pictures with my phone which was acting up. I got most of what I wanted. I do want to show you how the rocks of the water bar fit together. My feet are on the uphill side of the water bar. Where water is running down the trail it hits the bar and flows along it in the direction of the yellow line where it is directed off downslope into the woods.

Now, please notice (although I didn't get this picture before it all got filled in with dirt) that each rock overlaps its downhill neighbor and the seam is angled back uphill. This keeps the water moving where it's supposed to. Getting rocks to align like that takes a lot of careful work. rock water bar

We spent the morning finishing the dirt around the water bar. Then our other big project was to line the bottom of the turnpike troughs with small stones for drainage. I'm here to tell you that finding small stones is not easy. (Note that all the perfect stones in the creek below are over a mile away from where we need them- that's not happening.) We managed to get about 25 feet done. That's not a lot of what there is to do. No pictures of that. Will try again tomorrow.

Then we wanted to hike to the top of Jones Mountain. Supposedly about 2.5 miles. We hiked on roughed-in but not finished trail for about half the distance. Then we crossed Platt Brook. Platt Brook Platt Brook

Then the hike to the top was total bushwhacking but following flagging tape. Hard going. The gradients weren't awful but the footing was rough. We stopped at the first overlook. There is actually bare rock if we'd gone farther, but we decided we'd had enough fun. This is looking north to Hoffman Ridge. Hoffman Ridge from Jones Mountain Hoffman Ridge from Jones Mountain

Then we hiked back to the cars with only a couple of rests and a stop to put away the tools. That hike took us 5 hours! Not entirely sure why. But it was great. One more day of work.

North Country Trail miles for 2021 is at 381.

North Country Trail, Essex County, New York, Dirgylot parking west to summit of Jones Mountain and back. 7 miles

See Day 3

Friday, August 27, 2021

Adirondacks Day 3

  Today we split into two work crews. But both crews needed big rocks. Karen and I made a great team to end-over-end them out of the woods (after they were dug out) to the wide old roadway. rolling a rcck

Once there, mostly other people got them down to the work site, but somehow we ended up with a picture of me with the peavey. peavey on a rock

I was part of the crew that was building a 20-foot (much longer than usual, but we had to completely cross that old road) water bar. The other part of our crew was busy digging the trench for it. It got wider than need be because it wandered off a straight line which had to be fixed, so that was a little wasted effort, but we did everything else right. digging a trench

Once the trench was straight, we started laying rocks. That big honker at the upper end- Karen and I dug that one and tumbled it out of the woods. placing rocks in a water bar

Here, we still have to replace the soil around it, but this is the line of fitted rocks. I didn't take a picture that really shows how they are fit together. I'l try to remember to do that tomorrow. This is rather technical trail work, and I think we did a really good job with Adirondack rocks that typically are more round than angular. rocks in a water bar

This is just a pose with part of the water bar and most of the crew except for Deb who took the picture. I'd just like to say that these four people are 78, 69, 81, and 73. Are we tough cookies or what? Deb was the baby at 68. rocks in a water bar

The other team had a slightly different project. They built two step-over water channels. Here is part of their work. water channel on a trail.

We have to do some more filling around the bar tomorrow because of that wide trench, but we quit a little early today to hike up to an old grave site from when this was private property. This woman's family owned this whole area. We aren't sure if she died from the Spanish Flu epidemic, but the date suggests it's possible. Adrinodack grave

We found a couple large patches of this coral fungus. coral fungus

The weather was a little more tolerable today, and the mud was a little less sloppy. But the showers felt good. Then we had tacos and another campfire. Will be nice and cool for sleeping tonight.

The water bar was great fun, and I feel that we did a super-good job. I'm realy pleased!

See Day 2

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Adirondacks Day 2

  We thought we were going to do lopping and raking. Ha! people moving rocks in mud

What you need to understand is that there are all kinds of rules in the Adirondack Park for trail work. So even Mary, our leader, did not know exactly what we were going to be doing. Finally the guy from the DEC arrived to show us our tasks for the day. We walked in about a mile to the work site. This is a trail underpass that goes beneath I-87, the Northway. culvert for walking beneath an interstate

We got to a location where a previous crew had created a benched edge and a rock edge. This will be filled with gravel and mineral soil later by a prison work crew to create a treadway. (Don't even ask why the trail has to stay in this muddy former road rather than be up in the woods on higher ground. It just does. We don't get to choose.

However, the problem is that the crew that did all this work made the turnpike too wide. Our task was to move all the rocks about a foot closer to the cut edge. edging for a trail turnpike

So, sure, let's send about the oldest trail crew there is in to do rock work in the mud. There were eight of us working. working with rocks in the mud

But I'm here to tell you that we got it done. Much narrower now. We did this for about 80-100 feet total. edging for a trail turnpike

And we created edging for a new piece of turnpike across a stream culvert. edging for a trail turnpike

The mosquitoes were about as brutal as I've experienced. The temperature was high, and the mud was sucky. Literally. But we finished that job. Tomorrow we are going to build four rock water bars. And we have to find and dig up the rocks to use too. That may take all day. Then Saturday and Sunday may be easier. We're going to hike to the top of the mountain one of the days to get the view this section is noted for.

We were pretty done in by three. At least there are showers at the campground. I have been muddier in my life, but not for quite a while! Five of us are staying here. After dinner we did a campfire. campfire

I was pretty beat when we got back here, but now that it's cooled down, I feel better. I think I'm up for another day of muddy rocks!

See Day 1

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Adirondacks Day 1

  Looks like there is enough signal to post, but no electric, so I'll need to conserve computer time. I've arrived at Schroon Lake. Schroon Lake

And am camped at Scaroon Manor campground where they are letting the work crew stay for free. scaroon manor campground Some of the NCTA staff is here because they've been meeting with entities in Vermont to get the route more settled there. Left is Nancy- Director of Development and Communication. Val Bader, Director of Trail Operations is in the middle and the new Regional Trail Coordinator for NY and VT, Stephanie Campbell, is on the right. Val and Steph will be with us for at least one day. NCTA staff

Here's our core crew. Some people are coming in for a day or two, but mostly it's (L-R) Steve, Bill (he doesn't do much work any more, but helps with support- hey he's 92!), Mary the crew leader, Paul and me. trail work crew

Uneventful drive today, but long. All is well! Excited for tomorrow.

See True Blue Gumby II