Tuesday, August 2, 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, BullthistleHikers, where the many photos posted by our hikers can be viewed. Here are my reports for July 2016.

3 July 2016 – Stonepiles along the Ludlow Creek, Smithville

On a cool, sunny Sunday morning, 2 July 2016, we had 6 hikers bushwhacking along the Ludlow Creek in Smithville: Peg Fuller, Charity Moore, Allan Strong, Maryann Weiss, Matthew Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 5.5 miles in 5.3 hours for a speed of 1.0 miles per hour. Our vertical ascent was 857 feet.

We parked on Tucker Road near Joscelyn Road and followed the DEC blazes south and then west. We crossed Ludlow Creek at the spectacular rock outcrops and ventured onto the high ground northwesterly to some stone piles. We paused for our well-deserved break and then bushwhacked northwesterly to the FLT leanto. We then took the FLT to the small stonepiles and then backtracked to Tucker Road. We then took Tucker east, back to our cars.

Matthew and Charity are both professional archaeologists from West Virginia, with an interest in stone piles, so it was enlightening to have them along. Stone pile sites extend from Ohio to the ocean and to Maine and Georgia. My botanical highlight was the superb growth of Angelica along Tucker Road.

10 July 2016 – Plank (Gorge) Road, Otselic and Pharsalia

Otselic did not get as much rain as Norwich, but the gorge was not dry either. On a cool, wet Sunday morning 10 July 2016 we had 8 hikers on the Plank Road into the gorge: John Carhart, Peg Fuller, John Nesbitt, Joyce Post, Art Sandberg, Sharron Sandberg, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We hiked 5.5 miles in 3.7 hours for a speed of 1.5 miles per hour. Vertical ascent was 826 feet.

We parked in the lot on Plank Road at County Road 42, across from Perkins Pond. We then hiked northwesterly on Plank Road down to the great washout, where it seemed prudent not to continue. We then backtracked to Purse Road and took that north. We paused for our well-deserved break and continued to Clarence Church Road, where we headed easterly. At the appropriate spot we took the shortcut to the Perkins leanto and then bushwhacked southwesterly to Plank Road and southerly to our cars.

It was very dark in the gorge, but very light at the leanto, as the photos indicate.

17 July 2016 – McDonough State Forest

Nice, comfortable Sunday morning to be outside as 8 hikers ambled around the outer boundaries of the Bowman Lake State Park in McDonough: Anne Altshuler, John Carhart, Joe Jackson, Joyce Post, Sharron Sandberg, Carol Smith, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor. We covered 5.3 miles in 3.0 hours for a speed of 1.8 miles per hour.

We parked at the FLT trailhead on Bliven Sherman Road and trekked easterly to Steere Road. We then took that road northerly to Preston Road, where we headed west to the abandoned Gale Road. Whereupon we then walked southerly to the foundations of Galeville for our well deserved break. Refreshed, we continued onward, past Bowman Lake, across Bliven-Sherman, and onto the maintained section of Gale Road. We picked up the FLT and trod northeasterly back to our cars.

On Steere Road we encountered a healthy stand of Sassafras trees, one about 30 feet tall with at least a couple dozen saplings. A large foundation was just north of the stand. The attached group photo shows our hikers backdropped by the Sassafras. Note the 3 different leaf forms: the fingerless mitten, the standard mitten, and the 2-thumbed mitten. We also found a large, about 26 inch across, Chicken-of-the-Woods mushroom in Galeville. We paid our respects at the Steere Cemetery and at the Gale Cemetery.

24 July 2016 – Buddhist Temple Loop, German and Smithville

Most fascinating hike ever! A Buddhist monk gave us a guided tour of the Palyul Temple in Smithville on Sunday morning 24 July 2016. Monk Tashi was indeed a wealth of information and a loquacious host. We asked him a lot of questions and he patiently answered them.

We 8 hikers (Anne Altshuler, Peg Fuller, John Nesbitt, Joyce Post, Sharron Sandberg, Robin Vanwagner, Maryann Weiss, and Don Windsor) covered 6.0 miles in 3.7 hours for a speed of 1.6 miles per hour.

We parked in German on Pucker Street between Burkholder and Cross roads and hiked southerly on Pucker. We paused briefly to view the regeneration after the forest fire on 7 May 2015. We continued to Hollow Road and took it southerly to the Buddhist Temple. After the tour we took our well-deserved break and backtracked to our cars.

This was a very enlightening and memorable hike.

31 July 2016 – Hunts Pond State Forest, New Berlin

A rainy Sunday morning, 31 July 2016, following a rainy hike yesterday, resulted in a low turn out. We had only 3 hikers in the Hunts Pond State Forest in New Berlin: Anne Altshuler, John Carhart, and Don Windsor. We covered 4.0 miles in 3.0 hours for a speed of 1.3 miles per hour.

We parked at the park entrance and hiked on the park road. At the south end we turned onto the snowmobile trail and went north to the northeastern corner boundary. We then bushwhacked south, trying to follow the elusive DEC border. Frustrated by the lack of blazes, we bushwhacked southwesterly back to the park road where we took a well-deserved break in the well-drenched woods. Refreshed, we then went southerly on the snowmobile trail downhill to a low wet curve, turned around and hiked northerly back up hill. We crossed over the dam and bushwhacked through the tall, wet vegetation to Hunts Pond Road and then northerly to our car.

My most memorable encounter was the lush mullein forests. One specimen was 12 feet high! Many bullthistle bushes were 10 feet high. Several pasture thistles were found. The red efts were so plentiful that Anne was very busy shepherding them off the trails. On the drive back to HoJo we passed 3 turkeys getting rained on in a wet, grassy field. “This is like looking in a mirror”, I mumbled.