The latest adventure or slog started Tuesday (3/3/09), when Sue dropped me off on Burnt Hill Rd., northwest of Watkins Glen, NY. The air temperature said 15 F at about 1600 ft. The goal of the trip was to backpack the Finger Lakes trail all the way to NYS Rt. 38, south of Dryden, NY. This was a 75 mile trek over multiple hills and valleys; across the various state forest preserves in the Southern Tier of NY State. The weather forecast was for unseasonably cold temperatures for Tuesday and Wednesday night and milder temperatures by Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Tuesday's hike was only about 8.5 miles to the Rogers's Hill Lean-To at 1800+ ft. An evening meal was prepared by melting snow to hydrate beef stew and hot chocolate. By 6:30 PM I was in the sleeping bag with only my protected face sticking out of the mummy bag. I would estimate that the outside temperature was zero or below.
By 7 AM I was on the road heading for the Connecticut Forest Preseve and on to the Treman State Park Lean-To, some 20.9 miles away. Wednesday morning's hike was across the valley floor and up icy ravines; on to higher elevations passing old foundations through forest layered in snow, and an old CCC camp site. Day time temperatures were cold enough that I could walk on the snow with hiking boots without punching through. By 4:30 PM I arrived at the Treman State Park Lean-To for another cold night.
The next morning; Thursday I was off to the Danby State Forest Preserve and the Tamarack Lean-To some 17.5 miles to the south and west of Ithaca, NY. During the day's backpack I passed frozen water falls; had a great view looking back at the Connecticut Hills which I crossed yesterday;
visited with a man tending his maple syrup tap buckets; passed across a small air field with an unusual sign for hikers; making my late afternoon destination, around 3:30 PM.
By Friday morning the temperatures were beginning to rise, but not before negotiating some rather icy covered trails under hemlock groves or on non-sun exposed surfaces.
At higher elevations (1600 ft+) in the afternoon, the snow cover became mushy, thus I had to put on overshoes to keep my feet dry as I broke through the snow cover 6-8" with each step.
This is was labored walking, especially on the up hill sections. After 10 hours of hiking I reached the Kimmie Lean-To in the Robinson Hollow State Forest ... a 21.7 mile day. I was "pooped" and ready to rehydrate; pack my swollen toes in snow; then eat and sleep.
Over exposed "selfportrait" during a lunch break Thursday
Saturday was "pull-out" day after a 6.4 mile hike out of the Robinson Hollow Forest and across the Hammond Hill State Forest to Rt. 38 south of Dryden, NY where Sue and Ian were a welcome site.
So as I sit here and type this out, I am already mentally planning to hiking another segment of the FLT next month.
All the Best!