Sunday, October 27, 2019

VT Appalachian Trail - Section 6 - USFS 10 to Mad Tom Road

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/2/2019 12.1 miles 7 hours 47 minutes 1,617' 1.6 mph 471.4

Map: Appalachian Trail Conservancy New Hampshire-Vermont Map 7
Parking: One car at Mad Tom Road (south of the trail), one car at USFS 10
Directions: Hike from Mad Tom Road to USFS 10

One of my hiking goals for the year was to finish the Vermont section of the Appalachian Trail. We had been holding off, since we were waiting until our pup was a year old before we started doing longer miles with him. He's now a year old, recovered from his neutering surgery, so it was time to take him for a long hike on the AT. We decided earlier this week to try for finishing Vermont this weekend. We had about 17 miles left. I originally wanted to backpack it, but at this point its a bit cold for me at night. It was challenging to find a hotel. We were hiking right around Manchester Center, but I had problems finding dog friendly lodging there. We found 2 hotels which allowed dogs under 20 pounds. And several hotels which didn't allow dogs. We also have the added challenge that we now have an electric vehicle, so we need a convenient place to charge at night. We decided to stay in Brattleboro, VT. I've stayed there several times for dog agility trials, and I love visiting the Brattleboro Food Coop. I knew there was a Motel 6 there which was dog friendly, having stayed there for agility trials. Not the best place, but still $100/night! They jack up the prices in Vermont during leaf peeping season. We drove out on Friday and woke up at 5am on Saturday. It turns out the drive from Brattleboro to our trailhead was quite long - around 1 1/2 hours. We dropped off our first car at USFS 10. Our map shows that you can only approach the Mad Tom Road parking lot from south of the AT. We tried continuing on USFS 10 south of the AT to get there. We drove 5 miles, but the road was closed, so we had to turn around. We had to drive west on Route 7 to Manchester Center, then south on Route 11 to Peru where we took some other roads to get to the south side of Mad Tom Road. By the time we started hiking, it was 4 1/4 hours after we woke up! Most of our climbing was early in the day. We hiked up Styles Peak, which had a view, and then somehow missed the view at Peru Peak (which I think we've hiked years ago with Trek and Moxie). I didn't practice map & compass skills, but I did take note when we passed signs saying we were entering/leaving the Peru Peak Wilderness area, which allowed me to see where we were on the map. We passed by the Peru Peak Shelter, and then Griffith Lake. Trek just wanted to swim. We took a lunch break and let him play in the water while Krummholz watched. When we continued on, Trek kept bushwhacking to get over to the lake. Silly boy. We scrambled up Baker Peak - I'm glad it was a dry day for that. We passed by Lost Pond Shelter and Big Branch Shelter before ending up at USFS 10. Unfortunately I had bad knee pain as the day progressed, so my pace felt slower as the day progressed. It wasn't a difficult hike, other than the leaf covered rocks & roots, and mud. We saw spectacular foliage in Brattleboro, but in Manchester Center, the leaves had already fallen at the higher elevations. We saw a few backpackers out on the trail, most looking like they were just out for the weekend. Krummholz did bark at one woman (looked like a section hiker) that he was nervous about. Ack.

This was Krummholz's first hotel stay and he did great! He's a quiet boy (except when people spook him), and doesn't care about sounds around the hotel. He slept next to my bed and stayed settled for the night. We were planning on a short hike on Sunday to finish our remaining VT miles, but I decided to skip it due to my knee pain. The forecast was for 40 degrees and pouring rain on Sunday. Wet rocks and bad knees didn't seem like a good combination, so we drove home on Sunday morning.

View from Styles Peak

Styles Peak summit


Lots of puncheon on the trail.

I figured in the fall, Vermont trails would dry up, but there was still a lot of boot sucking mud!

A really nice, clean, sturdy shelter

Krummholz only got his front feet wet

The leaves have fallen, but the ferns were still green

Climbing up Baker's Peak

There is an alternate trail around Baker's Peak in case the conditions are bad.

Krummholz is normally okay with bridges, but this was a suspension bridge which moved - he was not so keen on it.

Blue Trail, Ward Pound Ridge

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/20/2019 4.0 miles 2 hours 0 minutes minutes 375' 2 mph 459.3

Parking: Kimberly Bridge parking lot
Directions: Blue Trail loop

We needed another short hike today, so we headed to Ward Pound Ridge. I hike with my dogs on leash there, so I only brought Krummholz. We mostly had the trail to ourselves, which is uncommon on a weekend. The fall foliage was spectacular. We took Krummholz to the river at the end of the hike. He doesn't like swimming, but we figured we'd give him a chance. He ran to the water's edge and just stared. We tried throwing sticks, but he wasn't buying it. I threw a dog treat next to him, and he didn't eat it - he was too fascinated with watching the water.

Timp Torne Trail, Harriman State Park

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/19/2019 4.4 miles 2 hours 24 minutes minutes 750' 1.8 mph 455.3

Map: NYNJTC Harriman-Bear Mountain North Map 119
Parking: Anthony Wayne Recreation Area, southern lot
Directions: Hike south on bike path. Turn left on AT. Turn left on blue blazed Timp Torne Trail. Turn left on Fawn Trail. Hike to northern parking lot and take unmarked trails to southern parking lot.

We needed a short hike, so we headed over to Harriman. We did a route we used to do when we were maintaining this section of the Timp Torne Trail (we now maintain a different trail in Harriman). There was a lot of traffic getting to the trail. It was Octoberfest, now located near the northern parking lot of the Anthony Wayne Recreation area. It used to be held near the Bear Mountain Inn, a much more scenic location than the Anthony Wayne Recreation area, but they have even more parking here. We had to pay a $10 parking fee - the only time you have to pay a fee for this parking area is when they have events like this. Normally it's free. We drove to the quieter south lot to start our hike. The bike path that leads to the AT was bone dry. Earlier in the year its a muddy mess - I reported it to our trail supervisor saying it needed work. The invasive barberry plants were covered in pretty red berries. We turned onto the AT and started seeing lost hikers. It seems like some people attend Octoberfest, get drunk, and then decide to hike (sans map). We even saw people hiking with huge steins of beer! We directed multiple groups on how to get to the south parking lot. Krummholz was good, not barking at any hikers (which is something he is doing on occasion). I make sure to call out hello loudly to people before they approach so that he can take direction from me - that they aren't scary. We finished our short hike right at sunset.

Perkins Tower, Bear Mountain

Monday, October 14, 2019

Finger Lakes Trail, Downsville to DEC border

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
10/12/2019 8.1 miles 4 hours 39 minutes minutes 1,207' 1.7 mph 450.9

Map: NYNJTC Catskill Trails Map 144
Parking: Near Route 30/206 parking area next to covered bridge
Directions: Walk through covered bridge. Turn left on River Road. Yield right on Mink Road. Walk down private driveway (sign for house #'s). Follow blazes for Finger Lakes Trail. Hike to border of Delaware Wild Forest and private property

I decided to wait to neuter Krummholz until he was a year old. He got neutered the day after his 1 year birthday. But why did I schedule his neutering right during my favorite hiking season???? We missed 2 weekends of hiking while he was recovering. He's been going insane due to lack of exercise, and we have all been antsy to get out hiking! Today is our first hike since he's been neutered.

Another hike with an 18 lb pack to help with my training. We found a parking area in a small park right before the covered bridge. We crossed through the bridge, and turned left at the end of the road. We hiked for what seemed like a ways. Our NYNJTC map is missing some of the smaller roads in this section. So, we ended up hiking on the narrow shoulder of Route 30/206 which is a road with fast moving cars. It was not a good start of the day. We kept our eye out for a trail into the woods, but didn't see one. We passed a stream which I saw on the map, but no trail. Glen looked at our Gaia app which had more details, and showed a little side road, but didn't show our trail. I guess I needed to read up on this hike before heading out! There is a small side road (not visible on the NYNJTC map) called Mink Brook Road. The road starts and ends on the road we were walking on. We turned onto and walked back towards the direction we came, looking for the trail. We reached the stream without seeing the trail. There were a few long driveways for houses. Amazingly, I had cell service, so I googled and found a description to go down a private driveway to reach the trail. But which private driveway? I don't like wandering into people's yards searching around after all. Glen ended up finding it. He took the driveway for the house numbers marked 368 & 370, and at the end of the driveway is a tiny sign for the Finger Lakes Trail. After that, we were good. Well not quite. The trail started climbing, and was leaf covered loose mossy rocks. Slippery and tiring. I didn't take out my compass today, so I was maybe paying a little less attention to where I was going, though I did check the map a few times. We ended up missing a turn. The obvious path went straight, and we kept hiking until we reached a blowdown, and couldn't find a trail beyond it. So we hiked back quite a ways, until we saw a sign for a turn. Oops. We must have both been staring at our feet to avoid tripping, so we missed it. We hiked until we reached the intersection of Wild Forest Land and private property (marked by a sign). I started our lunch (a cold soak meal today), and started hiking back. On the easiest section of trail, I managed to take a bad fall, landing on one of my knees. I sat there for a while, not wanting to move. I decided that spot on the ground would be the best place for lunch, so I wouldn't have to get up for a while. We ate lunch, and continued back. And then I tripped and fell again. I do fall a lot, but today's all was particularly painful. I was quite hungry, so maybe I was tripping more due to low energy. Today's hike had no views, and I feel wouldn't be something I'd want to do again. I do like the trail east of where we were today a lot more.

It was cloudy out during our hike, but the sun came out on our way home. I learned about another navigation technique which I practiced while driving. First you imagine the hour hand of a clock pointing at the sun. Then you imagine where the hour hand would be if it was pointing at 12. If you split the difference, and imagine where the hour hand of a clock would be, that direction is south. For example if its 6pm, and you imagine the hour hand of the clock pointing that way, south is where the imaginary hour hand would be pointing to if it was 3pm. I didn't know this! Pretty clever.

So many ticks from this hike. We each found one crawling on our pants while hiking. Then I picked off a couple dozen ticks on the dogs in the evening & the next day :(

Fall foliage is at/just past peak. We saw a lot on our drive, but our hike itself didn't have views in the woods.

This is the point where we should have gotten off the main road in order to head to the driveway where the trail enters the woods. We didn't see this road on our NYNJTC map.

This is the driveway you walk down to reach the trail. There is a house on the left side & one on the right side. The trail enters the woods straight ahead between them.We didn't see any obvious sign from the road that this was the way to go.

We saw a variety of signs for the Finger Lakes Trail. Sometimes its a blaze saying FLT. Sometimes its these arrows. Sometimes it is faded white blazes (typically longer than an AT blaze).

Campbell Mountain Trail and Finger Lakes Trail, Route 206 to DEC border, Catskills

Date Distance Time Elevation Gain Average Moving Time Year to Date Miles
9/22/2019 7.3 miles 4 hours 24 minutes minutes 1,327' 1.8 mph 442.8

Map: NYNJTC Catskill Trails Map 144
Parking: Route 206
Directions: West on Campbell Mountain Trail. Where trail splits, stay right on Finger Lakes Trail. Cross border into private land. Hike until you cross border back into Catskill park land, just past Campbell Stream. Return the same way.

Another day hiking with 18 lbs, mostly water. I've also added my Jetboil in my pack, for the extra weight. And its kind of fun to take a break halfway through our hike, boil some water, add it to a dehydrated meal, and have lunch 20 minutes later. I really liked today's hike. Yes, the trail at times was very hard to follow because it is so little used. The Finger Lakes Trail isn't well marked - blazes are sparse. But there were some portions which were lovely - hiking through the ferns, plus an open boggy meadow area which had interesting plants under foot. I would definitely do this hike again. I believe we did manage to get off trail during this hike. We were hiking in the right compass direction, but were 100' off the trail. We used our GPS to get back on track. I do want to learn more about how to find the trail without a GPS in this scenario. I know we should have backtracked back up the hill we descended to look for the last blaze, and then search to see where we went wrong. But without backtracking, how to find the trail? I so need to learn more! I again used the park borders to help assist me in knowing exactly where I was on the map in a later section. I'm just so thrilled that I've added another tool in my navigation toolbox. I'm looking to take a multi-day navigation course either this year or next. Something more than a 2 hour course in a building. I need more skills for navigating off-trail / navigating when I've lost the trail.

Campbell Mountain Shelter

Finger Lakes Trail blaze and snowmobile path blaze

No obvious trail

Trail is heading towards the town of Downsville, which we'll get to on another trip

We hiked to this sign, which is where the trail re-enters the forest preserve. 

Heading back