Birthday Hike

Last week, I worked 6 days.  So my weekend was Sunday-Monday.  Monday dawned foggy with promise and I decided to take myself on a little hike.  OK, a LONG hike.  At Allegany State Park.

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My companions – canine only.

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Glock & Lolli – and neither would sit still for a proper portrait.

The hike turned into a wee bit of an adventure with being “lost” a part of the bargain. I didn’t have a solid plan as I started out. I knew I wanted to hike to the Willis Creek Lean-to. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure if I would just hike back out again and go to some other part of the park – maybe Thunder Rocks… I had the whole day to myself and no one but the dogs to answer to, so it didn’t matter what I did!

Golden-crowned kinglets were the first to greet me as I started out.

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When I got to the lean-to, I discovered campers. It was 10:30 and they didn’t appear to be awake yet. Hmm… I ate a snack by the creek and pulled out my most wonderful topo map of the park. (You can buy yours by clicking here.)

I had forgotten that the Finger Lakes / North Country Trail meets up with the Park’s fire tower trail. I decided to hike to the intersection, then back to my car along the Park trail and then back up Coon Run Road. Perfect!

Now, hiking in Autumn can be rather challenging. Especially on a sunny day. First, the trail disappears under a thick blanket of leaves:

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And second, the sun is either in your eyes so you miss the trail markers completely, or it is making strange patterns on the trees that you easily mistake for trail markers! The FLT/NCT blazes are white.

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This is NOT a blaze. This is the sun hitting the bark of the tree!

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There is a blaze (and a drip) on this tree!

I am a grateful member of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and the North Country Trail Association because I appreciate the work they do to keep the trails open and well marked. The white blazes on the trails at Allegany State Park that are maintained by the FLT group are fresh and easy to see and I whisper grateful Thank Yous to the crew every time I hike one.

That being said, I got briefly lost when the trail took a sharp turn. I was distracted by a gorgeous view and incredible fall colors! But thanks to my trusty map, I found the steep climb I was supposed to be taking and when I got to the top, I stopped for lunch… and to take off the long underwear that I needed in the morning, but certainly didn’t any more!

Map with comments

The last leg of the trail should have been easy. Sadly, though, many of the Park trails have fallen victim to state budget cuts. There were so many downed trees and missing trail markers. And when I got to the crossing of Willis Creek, I think I got distracted by an older, abandoned trail – which eventually just ended completely.

I knew if I followed the creek upstream, I’d eventually find the lean-to again and could follow the FLT/NCT back to my car. Unfortunately, this strategy left a bad taste in my mouth! When I got back to the lean-to, the campers were gone… but not their garbage… but that is a rant for another day.

My hike was delightful. I saw deer, grouse, squirrels, a pileated woodpecker, downy woodpecker, juncos, nuthatches, and chickadees. It was a great day and a great way to celebrate my birthday (a few days early). And such adorable hiking companions.

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I don’t know what Terry’s dog is doing this evening, but Lolli is snoring!

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10 thoughts on “Birthday Hike

  1. Happy Birthday. This was a better present than anything I could ever give you…unless it was a lifetime membership to Girl Scouts!

  2. I read it was your birthday.. I’m late but Happy birthday
    Your two companions seems so sweet et your pictures are beautiful. Colors in this season are great.
    Was happy to visit your blog

  3. Happy late birthday wishes.It looks like a beautiful area to hike.We always go on fishing trips to northern New England in Spring and my mom wouod always tell my father and I-“Why don’t you go to the finger lakes region?”.She grew up near there and said it was nice I haven’t been there yet.

  4. These white blazes are hard to define when there has been a winter storm. The snow covers them up and makes it nearly impossible to follow.It would seem to make more sense to use a contrasting color,
    but I guess few hikers use this trail in winter

  5. Pingback: This Loop Has No Name « A Passion for Nature

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