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 March 2016.

6 March 2016 – Pitcher Springs State Forest, Pitcher

What a grueling hike! After a post-hike, 45-minute well-deserved power nap, I stood up, and could hardly walk.

On a glorious Sunday morning, 6 March 2016, we had 10 hikers in the Pitcher Springs State Forest: Anne Altshuler, Joe Angelino, John Briglin, John Carhart, Peg Fuller, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Carol Smith, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 6.0 miles in 4.4 hours for a speed of 1.4 miles per hour. Vertical ascent was 1160 feet.

We parked at the intersection of Kinney and Hakes-Calhoun-Davis roads and hiked west on Hakes. We paused at the Soper cemetery to pay our respects and then went northerly on a snowmobile trail. When that trail went east, we continued northward, following an old stone fence. At the northern border of state land we followed the DEC blazes west, then south, then west, and then north. We paused for a well-deserved break and then continued following the blazes west, observing the deep gorge as we bushwhacked. When the DEC blazes went south, so did we, up a very steep long hill. Upon reaching Hakes Road, we headed east to our cars.

This hike involved trudging through snow-covered hemlock swamps and crossing several streams. We encountered the frozen, partially eaten corpse of an unfortunate coyote. The sun was shining; the sky was bright blue, the snow cover was brilliant white, and the hike was quite pleasant. I had never hiked in this area before and I certainly intend to do it again.

13 March 2016 – 5-Streams State Forest, German

A very interesting hike on Sunday morning 13 March 2016 when we had 9 hikers bushwhacking in the woods around Rabbit Path Road and Shingle Street in German: Anne Altshuler, Joe Angelino, John Briglin, John Carhart, Bruce Coon, Joyce Post, Sharron Sandberg, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 5.7 miles in 4.0 hours for a speed of 1.4 miles per hour. Vertical ascent was 825 feet.

We parked on Hollow Road and hiked northerly on Rabbit Path Road to the state land. We then turned northwest on a grassy road to an old stone foundation and along “roads” in the forest. We bushwhacked northerly to Shingle Street and took our well-deserved break. Refreshed, we followed Shingle Street easterly past Rabbit Path to a large beaver pond/meadow. After observing thousands of snow fleas in the water flowing on the “street”, we turned back west and took the snowmobile trail southerly to the mysterious stone structure. We then followed the DEC blazes west to Rabbit Path Road and took it southerly to our cars.

We did find at least 5 stone piles. We found a huge burl on a black cherry tree and a small one on a beech. On the east side of Rabbit Path we encountered the carcasses of a dead mother coyote with her fetus and 4 skinned beavers. This was a grisly sight, but a good way to recycle flesh and bone.

20 March 2016 – Ludlow Creek State Forest, Smithville

A very productive hike on Sunday morning 20 March 2016 had 14 hikers: Anne Altshuler, Joe Angelino, John Briglin, John Carhart, Bruce Coon, Steve Ellsworth, Peg Fuller, Joyce Mosher, Joyce Post, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Carol Smith, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 5.9 miles in 5.1hours for a speed of 1.2 miles per hour. Vertical ascent was 1225 feet.

We parked at the FLT trailhead on Stone Quarry Hill Road, on the lawn of our gracious benefactor, and hiked northerly on the FLT. Upon reaching the DEC boundary, we hiked east following the yellow blazes until we reached the Ludlow Creek. Whereupon we took our first well-deserved break among the huge rock outcroppings. Refreshed, we followed the Ludlow northwesterly looking for stone piles. We found 14 (one for each hiker). When the Ludlow reached the FLT at the leanto, we took our second well-deserved hike. We then ambled along the FLT southeasterly to our vehicles.

Just after we started hiking, two young wild tom turkeys came over to us and strutted. I have never been this close to wild turkeys. I suspect someone is feeding them. This was a rough hike and I was tired after. However, no power nap because of interfering duties. Bushwhacking requires the use of muscles that ordinary hiking does not. Exactly which ones will be apparent tomorrow morning. Finding these stone piles was a real delight. This area was logged and the loggers did a great job avoiding the piles. See photos.  

27 March 2016 – Coventry State Forest, Coventry

A glorious Easter Sunday morning on 27 March 2016 had 10 hikers in the Coventry State Forest, mostly in the Oxford portion: Anne Altshuler, Bruce Coon, Peg Fuller, Joe Jackson, Warren Johnsen, Joyce Post, Carol Smith, Dale Utter, Tina Utter, and Don Windsor. We covered 3.7 miles in 4.2 hours for a speed of 0.9 miles per hour.

We parked on North Road, just south of Dunn Road, by the DEC kiosk. The handicapped trail we intended to take was obliterated by logging. The most logs I have ever seen in one place are neatly stacked in multiple massive stashes. Undaunted, we hiked northeasterly through the logged forest, taking advantage of the soft muddy ruts. The widespread, deep upheaval of the logged plantation floor and the opening of its canopy should result in a vigorous surge of biodiversity.

Upon reaching the northern border, we followed the DEC boundary east to a bright yellow corner stone and then followed the DEC blazes north to Brown Road. We took our well-deserved break and then bushwhacked southwesterly through a large spruce plantation to the same DEC boundary we came on and backtracked to our cars.

After our hike, we drove to the nearby cemetery in Coventryville to view some gravestones carved by the famous Coffinman. We were guided by Dale and Tina Utter, notable experts on old cemeteries. They are in the attached photo with the historical marker they recently obtained with a grant. Tina's book, Meet Me In Heaven, is a collection of epitaphs from local cemeteries.