EXPLORING CHENANGO COUNTY BY HIKING – JUNE 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 June 2016.
5 June 2016 – Whaupaunaucau State Forest, North Norwich
Outnumbered by snappers! First time ever. We had 3 hikers and encountered 4 snapping turtles. On Sunday 5 June 2016 we ventured into the Whaupaunaucau State Forest in North Norwich. We were scheduled to go to Pitcher, but figured why drive all the way there to hike in the gloomy rain when we could do that right here in the good old Whaupaunaucau. Attending were Joyce Post, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We hiked 4.9 miles in 2.8 hours for a speed of 1.8 miles per hour.
We parked at the lower gate and hiked up the Truck Trail to where the upper gate used to be. We then turned around and took our well-deserved break at the entrance to Trail 6. Refreshed, we backtracked to our cars.
In addition to the 4 snappers we also had a painted turtle. All were females out to lay their eggs. We saw 2 of them digging nests. We also saw a dead ring-necked snake and two cases of slugs feeding on flattened road-killed toads. Red efts of all sizes were on the roads.
12 June 2016 – Pitcher Springs loop
Sunshine, clouds, and wind on Sunday morning 12 June 2016 when 8 hikers trudged along the steep hills of the Pitcher Springs loop: John Carhart, Joyce Mosher, John Nesbitt, Joyce Post, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 4.7 miles in 2.6 hours for a speed of 1.8 miles per hour.
We parked at the fishing access lot on Mill Street in North Pitcher and hiked up Grewe Road and down to the Springs, where we took our well-deserved break in the pavilion. Refreshed, we ambled down to the spring itself and sniffed the odoriferous waters. Exhilarated by their putative benefits, we trundled up Graham Road and down to our cars.
The extensive, unmowed grasslands did have a few Bobolinks, males flying slowly over the fields singing their “tink, tink, tink” calls. On Graham, one of our hikers paused to scratch his, … ah …, donkey. The rest of us stood in amazement up to our collective keesters in a vast field of white daisies. All through the hike the Black Locusts were fragrantly blooming, a sure sign that spring has concluded.
19 June 2016 – Grouse Gorge, Pharsalia Windlife Management Area
Grouse Gorge is one of the best gorges in Chenango County, so on a warm Sunday morning, 19 June 2016, we 10 hikers ambled along its eastern edge: John Carhart, Peg Fuller, Joyce Mosher, John Nesbitt, Joyce Post, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Robin Van Wagner, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 3.1 miles in 2.9 hours for a speed of 1.1 miles per hour.
We parked at the old Y-Camp on Elmer Jackson Road and hiked the Blue FLT southeasterly until the end of state land. We then bushwhacked along the gorge to its spectacular terminus. Whereupon we took our well-deserved break amongst the shady hemlocks. This was on private land but Peg had obtained permission. We then backtracked to our cars.
The route we took was once the main FLT. When the property was bought by a new owner, we were evicted. White blazes still remain attached at the terminus. The Blue Trail has a dead end spur which is quite confusing. It needs a clarifying sign.
Chenango County has more gorges than most of its residents realize. This has been a dry year so we will try to go along a few more.
An ideal sunny Sunday morning for hiking had 7 hikers in the 5-Streams State Forest in German on 26 June 2016: John Carhart, John Nesbitt, Joyce Post, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 6.6 miles in 3.1 hours for a speed of 2.1 miles per hour.
We parked in the DEC lot on Gremch Road and hiked south to Shingle Street. We went southeasterly on Shingle to Pheasant Farm Road. Near the intersection we took our well-deserved break. We then hiked north on Pheasant Farm to Birdlebough Road and took that west to Gremch and then north to our cars.
Our break spot was a large stone foundation with a circular iron rod used for ringing a silo. The photos show our hikers examining it. Although the roads we hiked had no vehicular traffic during our hike, two dead snakes were found, a red-bellied and a freshly killed garter. Wildflowers were plentiful.