Saturday, April 30, 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 April 2016.

3 April 2016 – Whaupaunaucau State Forest, North Norwich

A nasty forecast turned out to be accurate and, as a result, we had only 4 hikers on Sunday 3 April 2016: Anne Altshuler, Joyce Mosher, John Nesbitt, and Don Windsor. We went to the Whaupaunaucau State Forest in North Norwich and covered 3.5 miles in 3.1 hours for a speed of 1.1 miles per hour.

We parked at the lower gate and hiked up Post Road to Jeffrey Pond, where we searched for Daphne in bloom. Finding none, we continued up Trail 4 to Forest Road, where we headed southerly to Trail 8 and then on the upper Forest Road. We ambled southerly on that to Trail 13 and took our well-deserved break in Clements' leanto. As we dined, the snow fell and the scene resembled a normal winter (finally!). We then hiked Trail 13 south to Trail 15 and took it to Trail 17 and took it to Trail 20 and back to our car.

A perfect day for a winter hike is temperatures in the mid twenties with alternating glorious sunshine and gloomy snowstorms. Today was such a day, a beautiful way to end a winter that was stingy with snow.

10 April 2016 – Genegantslet State Forest, Smithville

Nothing else makes me feel the magic arrival of spring than taking a leek in the snowy woods. On Sunday 10 April 2016 we had 15 hikers in the Genegantslet State Forest in Smithville: Anne Altshuler, Joe Angelino, John Briglin, Bruce Coon, Peg Fuller, Joe Jackson, Sue McIntyre, Joyce Mosher, John Nesbitt, Joyce Post, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Carol Smith, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 5.1 miles in 3.1 hours for a speed of 1.6 miles per hour. Our vertical ascent was 965 feet.

We parked in the DEC lot along State Route 220 by the Genegantslet Creek and Art Lake Road and ambled east up Art Lake to the Perkins Cemetery, where we paid our respects. We the continued east to the state boundary and followed the yellow blazes south to Stone Quarry Hill Road. We then took that road west to a two-story log cabin, where we took our well-deserved break. We admired the splendid stone work in a deep dug-well. We then got on a snowmobile trail and headed northeasterly to Art Lake Road and then west to our cars.

In spite of the recent cold, the fragrant green leaves of the leeks were abundant along the snowmobile trail. The recent logging left the trail a mud hole, but we saw over 3 dozen clumps of salamander eggs in the puddles. The increased sunlight due to logging will make this a wildflower extravaganza in May. Disturbance enhances biodiversity, indeed.

17 April 2016 – Melondy State Forest, Afton

On a glorious Sunday morning 17 April 2016, we had 5 hikers in the Melondy State Forest in Afton: Joe Angelino, Peg Fuller, Joyce Mosher, May Ann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 3.6 miles in 2.9 hours for a speed of 1.2 miles per hour. Vertical ascent was 496 feet.

We parked on the Truck Trail about 1.5 miles easterly of Melondy Hill Road and then hiked northerly on the rebuilt logging trail, veering to the east and then taking an old ATV trail to the northwest and the DEC northern boundary. We then bushwhacked east to the stone pile site, where we took a refreshing break. Afterward, we examined the individual stone piles. We returned via an unnamed brook and backtracked to our car. We did pause to checkout a barn and a house foundation, and a spring.

The stone piles are still present, but the adjacent private land is being logged. While no state trees have been cut down yet, some of the stone piles could well be on private land and are being ruined in the process (see attached photo). While the DEC yellow blazes are clearly visible I am not sure where the actual survey lines are.

24 April 2016 – FLT, Oxford + Smithville

A nice, sunny mid spring hike on Sunday morning 24 April 2016 had 8 hikers on the FLT doing a quasi-loop in Oxford and Smithville: Anne Altshuler, Joe Angelino, John Carhart, Warren Johnsen, Joyce Post, Sharron Sandberg, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered at least 7.1 miles in 4.7 hours for a speed of 1.5 miles per hour.

We were warned about the logging and so it was no surprise. What did surprise me was the demolition of the mysterious stone encased mounds. This was a harsh reminder that the wanton destruction of historical remains is not limited to the radical middle east terrorists. It occurs right here locally.

We parked on Fred Wilcox Road by the FLT trailhead and walked down Winner Road southerly to Buckley Hollow. We paused to observe a large dead beaver and then took the FLT easterly through the logging area and beyond. We did not reach State Route 12 because another operation was in progress. We took our well-deserved break and then went back west. This time south and uphill of the logging. We paused to marvel at the numerous rectangular rock blocks. We picked up a fresh, muddy logging trail and took it back to the unlogged FLT and Buckley Hollow. When then hiked the FLT northerly and upwardly to our cars.

The unlogged portions of the FLT were in good shape. In accordance with our regular practice, we flicked deadfall off the trail. There are some large fallen (not cut) trees which will need a chainsaw to remove.