Mini-Vacation!

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Susquehannock Lodge

The girls were little the first time I was invited to join a group who makes an annual trek to the Susquehannock Lodge. Over the years, I’ve tried to make the pilgrimage most years. Sometimes work or the health of a family member would get in my way. Sometimes the thought of the packing and driving will instill a bit of dread. Ultimately though, I’m always glad to have made the effort.

There are always familiar faces and new faces. We all struggle to remember each other’s names, a difficult task when we gather only once a year.

Friday night the guests arrive from far and wide, some early enough to enjoy dinner together in the lodge. Saturday morning, the dining room is filled and plans are made for the day. My favorite years are when the temperatures are high teens and low twenties and there is a lot of fresh powder. Then I like to ski from the Ranger Station at the top of the hill down the gentle slopes back to the lodge.

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This year, we had the right temperatures, though the powder was a mere dusting in many places. And, due to a misalignment, my chiropractor advised against skiing. After hearing from those who skied, I can’t say I’m too disappointed. Blow-downs from recent storms have not been cleared and the going was rough. We noticed this even on the short hike we took near the lodge.

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Lots more pictures here: Photo Set

In the afternoon, we headed in to nearby Coudersport, Pennsylvania, to visit Olga’s Yarn Shop (and bistro/gallery/café). I had heard about this shop from my knitting friends who insisted it is a must-see. Wow. What an explosion of color, texture, and creativity. I was blown away.

The Susquehannock is only a couple of hours away by car. Still, we felt like we were a million miles from everything. It was a very refreshing and rejuvenating weekend. I really should do this more often.

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This Loop Has No Name

I got “lost” on this loop the last time I tried it.  This time, in addition to the 2 dogs and the topo map, I also brought a human friend… who brought a compass.  This time, while we did get momentarily “lost” a couple of times, we were able to find our way – and that was definitely thanks to the compass!

We hiked the loop in the opposite direction from last time.

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Coon Run Road was not plowed.  I parked the car near the maintenance area and we walked up to the red arrow on the map to start the hike following blue blazes and hiker signs – the first leg of the Park’s Fire Tower Trail.  Due to budget cuts, a lot of the Park’s trails are in disrepair and we encountered a lot of downed branches and trees.  The worst of it was just after we crossed Willis Creek.  The trail appears to go off to the right paralleling Quaker Creek – but then it ends.

We took this as a sign that we should have a coffee break.  Certain members of the party thought that mean a play break.

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After coffee, we re-traced our steps, pulled out the topo and compass, and discovered that our way was blocked by a significant tree-fall! Once we had picked our way around it, I took this picture from the other side:

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Zooming in, you can see a blaze, and an orange flag that someone put there to be helpful.

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Anyway, once we found the trail, we were good to go again… though a few more blue blazes would have been helpful.

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It was this kind of a day – fresh snow, though not a lot of it, setting off the brilliant blue sky, orange-tan beech leaves, and deep green of the hemlock trees. So beautiful.  As with many of the trails at Allegany State Park, there is a lot of uphill climbing on the first part of your walk.  The views from the top are worth it, though not entirely photograph-able…  Still, I try:

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The yellow star on the map above is where the Fire Tower Trail meets up with the Finger Lakes / North Country Trail. This trail is maintained by the Allegany Chapter of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and is well marked with white blazes and well-maintained.

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We followed this to the lean-to at Willis Creek (green circle on the map above), then back down to Coon Run Road at the blue arrow on the map. It took us 6 hours. That’s with 3 snack breaks. And we’re not very fast hikers.