EXPLORING CHENANGO COUNTY BY HIKING – MAY 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 May 2016.
1 May 2016 – Pharsalia Woods State Forest
Mayday. Mayday. Soaking rain. Undaunted, 4 hikers splashed through the drenched Pharsalia Woods State Forest on Sunday 1 May 2016: Anne Altshuler, John Carhart, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 5.0 miles in 3.0 hours for a speed of 1.7 miles per hour.
We abandoned our intended route and headed for higher ground. We parked on Hoag Road and hiked north on Coy Street, cheered on by a long array of blooming marsh marigolds waving from the flooded drainage ditch. At the landmark foundation we bushwhacked west to an old trail and took it north to the Truck Trail. We continued west and north to the blue FLT and followed the main FLT to the leanto, where we enjoyed our well-deserved break, as the rowdy rain pummeled the roof. We then paused at Ed's Bench and scrambled back to our car at a quickened pace.
8 May 2016 – Frenchmans Road, Plymouth
A wildflower bonanza! Sunday 8 May 2016 was indeed the right time to hike Frenchmans Road in Plymouth. We had 6 hikers: Anne Altshuler, John Carhart, Peg Fuller, Joyce Post, Carol Smith, and Don Windsor. We covered 5.7 miles in 3.9 hours for a speed of 1.5 miles per hour. Our vertical ascent was 754 feet.
We parked at the DEC lot on Elmer Harris Road at the Plymouth Reservoir and slogged on the muddy trail southerly to the Truck Trail. We then took the TT easterly to the end of state land and then went south into the woods for our well-deserved break. Refreshed, we then hiked Frenchmans Road westerly to its end and bushwhacked northerly through a recent logging area to the TT and backtracked to our cars.
The sunshine broke out of the dark clouds midway through our hike and illuminated our trek on Frenchmans Road. The list of wildflowers in bloom is too long to print here.
15 May 2016 - South Hill State Forest, Guilford
Dressing for winter in the middle of spring was a good decision on Sunday morning 15 May 2016 when 6 hikers traipsed through the South Hill State Forest in Guilford: Anne Altshuler, Joyce Mosher, Joyce Post, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, and Don Windsor. We hiked 3.0 miles in 2.2 hours for a speed of 1.7 miles per hour.
We parked at the DEC kiosk on Charles Wicks Road and hiked southerly and then easterly on the multi-use trail multiple use trail over to Horeiter Road. We then took said road northerly to Charles Wicks, pausing at the large beaver pond, taking a break near Junction Road, and paying our respects at the South Hill Cemetery. We then ambled west on C. Wicks to our car, stopping to observe the corpse of a road-killed porcupine.
Why such a short hike? It just worked out that way. We saw many spring flowers and migrating birds and the sunshine lasted for most of the hike. We were probably mellowed by the delicate beauty of the emerging leaves.
Fresh green leaves glowed under subdued sunshine on the Sunday morning of 22 May 2016, when 12 hikers gingerly ambled through the Long Pond State Forest in Smithville: Anne Altshuler, John Carhart, Peg Fuller, Joyce Mosher, John Nesbitt, Joyce Post, Dot Rice, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Carol Smith, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 5.6 miles in 3.3 hours for a speed of 1.7 miles per hour. Our vertical ascent was 749 feet.
We parked at the DEC kiosk on State Route 41 near the remains of the Tarbell Farms. We then hiked through the remains to the snowmobile trail and took it west and the north east across County Road 2 to Nelson Road. Whereupon, we took our well-deserved break and then bushwhacked southwesterly back to the snowmobile trail and took that trail back to our cars. Some of us examined the Tarbell remains south of Route 41.
One attached photo shows a sign telling us to keep right. To be really helpful, an arrow shows us the correct way. Another photo shows most of our group crossing the bridge over the mighty Red Brook when we came to it. The remaining photo shows the former elegance of the Tarbell Farms.
Eighteen years ago a tornado blew down a large swath of the forest in the area we hiked through. Its regeneration has indeed been spectacular. On Sunday 29 May, 2016, we had 8 hikers: Anne Altshuler, John Carhart, Peg Fuller, John Nesbitt, Joyce Post, Sharron Sandberg, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 6.1 miles in 3.9 hours for a speed of 1.6 miles per hour. Vertical ascent was 788 feet.
We parked in the DEC lot on Elmer Harris Road (south end of the Plymouth Reservoir) and took a convenient path southerly to the Truck Trail. We the hiked westerly on said trail, past Coy Street, to the FLT blue trail. We then hiked that northerly with an easterly bias, to Coy Street. After our well deserved break we continued northwesterly on the trail, past the foundations, to the Plymouth leanto, (which is actually in Pharsalia). Reaching the abandoned Huggaboom Road we trekked easterly, pausing to pay our respects at Julia's grave. At a foundation we took an abandoned road until it petered out, then we bushwhacked, veering south and east to Cottage Lane, then into the woods and back to our cars.
When we first arrived at the DEC lot, John Carhart noticed a dead Woodland Jumping Mouse. We went on to see a newly enlarged swamp, Red-shouldered Hawk, a Ruffed Grouse, a large female Garter Snake, and a Luna Moth. Most of the cherry blossoms were already spent, but a few, mostly Pin, were still blooming. Near the end of our hike, we encountered a blooming Pink Lady Slipper, the only one on our hike.