EXPLORING CHENANGO COUNTY BY HIKING – FEBRUARY 2016
Donald A. Windsor
The best way to explore Chenango County is to walk it. I lead hikes every Sunday morning, year around, for the Bullthistle Hiking Club and report them on our Yahoo group site. Here are my reports for February 2016.
7 February 2016 – Skinner Hill State Forest, Columbus + New Berlin
A bright, sunny, springlike morning on Sunday 7 February 2016 had 11 hikers in the Skinner Hill State Forest in New Berlin and barely into Columbus: Anne Altshuler, Joe Angelino, Kathleen Byers, John Carhart, Bruce Coon, Joyce Mosher, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Carol Smith, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered at least 4 miles in 3.7 hours for a speed of 1.1 miles per hour.
We parked on Dilley Hill Road north of County Road 29 in New Berlin and bushwhacked easterly to the unnamed creek. We followed the creek upstream to the DEC border and followed the border north to Schmidt Road on the boundary with Columbus. We paused for a well-deserved break and then turned southerly on a plantation road. I was unaware that this road existed, but it is an excellent hiking trail. When the road ended, we continued southerly until we encountered a beautiful gorge. This was a surprise because it is not evident from the 1943 topo map.
Puzzled, afterward I looked at the 1910 topo map and, sure enough, the gorge is indicated. The contour lines are at different levels on the two maps and do not jibe. A caution for those who rely on the 1943 era maps, the ones that GPS programs use.
14 February 2016 – No hike. No one showed up.
21 February 2016 – FLT, McDonough
A dreary, unseasonably warm Sunday morning, 21 February 2016, had 18 hikers on the FLT loop from East McDonough south: Anne Altshuler, Joe Angelino, Kathleen Byers, John Carhart, Bruce Coon, Cathy Cruz, Karen Ellsworth, Noah Ellsworth, Richard Ellsworth, Steve Ellsworth, Peg Fuller, Joyce Mosher, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Carol Smith, Sharon Valentine, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 6.0 miles in 3.3hours for a speed of 1.8 miles per hour. Vertical ascent was 800 feet.
We parked 7 cars at the Outpost in East McDonough and hiked south on Corbin Road to Hoben Road, where we went west to the FLT trailhead. We then hiked the FLT northerly back to our cars. The FLT was in good shape and we flicked deadfall off as we hiked. A few larger trees are down across the trail and will have to be sawed.
We paid our respects at the Corbin and the Moore cemeteries and paused for a group photo at the former Rucker farm.
28 February 2016 – Forty Brook, Five-Streams State Forest, German
Late winter? Or early spring? Who cares? It was so nice to be in the sunny woods with no wind and just enough snow to decorate our hike. On Sunday 28 February 2016 we had 9 hikers bushwhacking along the Forty Brook in the Five-Streams State Forest in German: Anne Altshuler, John Briglin, Sheila Briglin, Bruce Coon, Peg Fuller, Joyce Mosher, Carol Smith, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 3.0 miles in 2.8 hours for a speed of 1.1 miles per hour.
Why so slow? Bushwhacking through hemlock swamps, crossing streams, and enjoying the sights takes time. We found a large grove of very old white ash trees, age indicated by their senescent bark. We encountered a strange stone formation that may have been a maple sap evaporator or an ash processor. Best of all, we discovered the remains of an old stone dam.
We parked on Town Line Road by the power lines and walked west along the corridor. We veered southwesterly into the woods and then followed Forty Brook south. This stream is multi-braided at several places. At the end of state land we took the DEC blazes west, crossing over the Brook and turning north with the blazes. When the blazes headed west, we took a well-deserved break and then followed them west to Skillman Road. On the way, Carol spotted the hole of an old spile in a dead sugar maple. We took Skillman north to the power lines and then along their corridor east to our cars.