A Gray And Misty Hike

Rock wall near leck Rd. View looking south - FLT M19
Reading Time: 9 minutes

FLT Map: Babcock Hollow Rd (M19) east to Carson Rd – East (M19)

Babcock Hollow Rd (M19) east to Carson Rd - East (M19)
Babcock Hollow Rd (M19) east to Carson Rd – East (M19)

Hike Stats:
18.21 miles, 2.6mph avg moving, 2.2mph avg overall, 6h:58m moving, 1h:12m stopped, 8h:10m total time, max elevation 2017ft, total ascent (not recorded),  FLT M19
Total trail miles completed to-date: 50.2 (9.0%)

Google: https://goo.gl/photos/erT6Efrnm3DJNH438

A Gray And Misty Hike

Authors Note: I am writing this in March 2018 and a great deal of this hike has faded from my memory.  This hike was on a Wednesday, so I must have requested time off from work, but I do not recall why.  It was Easter and Passover recess at the university where I work and I was taking classes at the time, pursuing my MBA.  Perhaps I decided to take the break also.  I can only find the time off e-mail request to my boss and the notation on my calendar, but no reason given and I no longer recall why.

My schedule only allowed me one weekend a month to go hiking.  That weekend was miserable; temperatures in the 30s and 40s with rain.  I had requested the follow week off from work, so I had a few more days to work with.  Unfortunately the forecast was not much better.  Rain, and even some snow, was predicted throughout the entire week.

Not wanting to wait for another month to go hiking, especially after the mostly failed attempt of the previous month, I picked the best of the worst and made my plans.  The temperatures were predicted to be better on Wednesday of that week; the high near 70, as opposed to only the mid 40s for the other days.  There was a chance of rain overnight, but only overcast skies for the day.  It would have to do.

I also had a new “toy” that I was eager to use.  I had purchased a hiking GPS unit for Christmas, a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx.  Two AA batteries powered it, which made swapping out on the trail simple and easy.  The battery life was listed at 18 hours, something I wanted for my long hikes.  A microSD card stored the tracks and maps, which I could swap out if I wanted or needed to.

I delayed my start to let the rain clear out and the temperature rise.  Shortly before 10 AM I arrived at the parking area on Babcock Hollow Road.  Gray skies and fog hung over the parking area.  A small pond bordered the road and the parking area looked out across it.  The trailhead crossing was 0.3 miles to the south – there was no place to park at the trailhead – so I would have a short walk along the road.  It was still chilly, only in the upper 40s, as I set out.

I arrived at the trailhead after the short walk and crossed a small footbridge over a deep ditch; I had stopped and rested on that footbridge the previous summer before turning around.  The trail begin to climb immediately.  I made my way up the hill, climbing nearly 250 feet over 1/3 mile.  Finally I made it to the top and stopped to rest and catch my breath.

The trail wound along around the hill.  It crossed between two fields and then another field opened up to my right.  A rock wall bordered the field.  I came to a spot where a view opened up to the south.  The stones of the wall were damp and a misty fog hung over the hills and valley beyond the wall.  I stopped to take a few pictures before moving on.

FLT sign at the trailhead on Bleck Rd looking north, trail heading east
FLT sign at the trailhead on Bleck Rd looking north, trail heading east

After leaving the rock wall behind the trail began to slant down the side of a hill.  After a short steep descent the trail climbed back up to Bleck Road.  Fog hung over the road to the north and water ran in the ditch at the side of the road.  I took a few pictures of the crossing and then started a short climb.

The trail only climbed for a short distance and then started a gentle descent and I came to a another “road”, Cortwright Road.  It was little more than a tractor path, just a single-lane dirt road.  Wet leaves and small sticks lay scattered on the road amid small puddles of muddy water .  Water ran down a small depression at the side of the road that served as a ditch.  A vehicle had passed by somewhat recently, the tire marks still well-defined in the mud.

I left Cortwright Road behind and made a quick descent down a switch-back in the trail.  After reaching the bottom of the descent the trail began a long slow climb.  I continued heading up making my way through the damp woods.  Finally I came to the southern trailhead at Odell Road; Tim and I had turned around here on the last hike.  A few grainy lumps of dirt covered ice were all that remained of the big piles of snow that had been here only a month before.

Odell Rd looking north at northern trailhead
Odell Rd looking north at northern trailhead

A ditch at the side of the road was running quickly with water.  I took a short break, standing instead of sitting because the ground was still wet.  After some water and a granola bar I headed up the road to the northern trailhead.  Fog blanketed the road ahead of me as I turned off into the woods and began my climb up to Van Donsel Road.

The trail up to Van Donsel was waterlogged and muddy.  I slid and slipped as I climbed and had to pick my way around several areas where water ran down the trail.  A few times I sunk into the mud and had to pull my foot free; thankfully never above the top of my boots.

I arrived at Van Donsel Road and found a much different road than I had seen only a month ago; the snow completely gone.  I turned up the road instead of crossing and searched for the place where Tim’s car had gotten stuck.  The remains of some broken logs the only indication of the location, but no ditch as we originally thought.  The car had simply sunk into unpacked snow at the side of the road.

Looking north-west on Van Donsel Rd. Left: March 20, 2011. Right: April 20, 2011
Looking north-west on Van Donsel Rd. Left: March 20, 2011. Right: April 20, 2011

After taking some pictures I walked back down to the trailhead crossing and turned to head east on the trail.  I quickly arrived at the top of a ski slope at Greek Peak.  A chair lift sat quietly to my left and patches of snow still covered the ground.  The snow was dirty and grainy.

The trail continued down along the slope following the ski trail before finally turning off into the woods.  A short distance later I came to a power line right-of-way.  The trail turned and continued along the opening for about 0.2 miles before crossing and heading back into the woods.

The trail took a turn to the left and began a steep descent.  I had to place my feet carefully on the wet leaves to avoid slipping and brace myself with my walking stick.  A small stream appeared to my left as I picked my way down the steep slope.  The water fell over many small waterfalls as it made its way down to the bottom.

Stream at the end of Tone St
Stream at the end of Tone St

My legs were hurting and shaking from bracing myself on the steep descent by the time I finally arrived at the bottom of the hill and came out onto Tone Street.  I had descended 750 feet in just under a mile.  The climb back up would not be fun.

Tone Street was a small paved road.  A house sat next to the trail on my left.   I turned and walked past the house and made my way along the road.  It wound its way along through trees and then out into an open area and back into trees.  A stream ran along to my right and beyond it the busy NY 392.

Tone Street turned to the right, crossing over the stream, and arrived at NY 392, a two-lane paved road with a yellow stripe down the middle.  At the intersection I turned left and continued along the road.  Several cars passed in both directions as I walked along the side of the road next to a guard rail.

A short distance up NY 392 Carson Road angled up and back to the right.  I crossed over and started the climb up the hill.  It was a long slow climb and my legs were still sore from the descent down the steep trail to Tone Street.

I passed a few driveways as I continued along the road before passing into a lightly wooded section.  A field opened to my right behind a barn and a house sat close to the road on my left.  A short distance beyond another field opened this time on the left.  Both fields ended and I saw the markers for the trailhead.  I had arrived at my turnaround.  The shoulders on the road were wide and grassy and would offer decent parking for my next hike.

I made my way back along Carson Road to NY 392.  As I walked along the busy road the sun tried to break through, but quickly faded back behind the clouds.  It was still cool, only in the low 60s, but I was warm from the exertion of hiking.

Waterfall on a stream west of Tone St
Waterfall on a stream west of Tone St

After crossing NY 392 I made my way along Tone Street and back to the trailhead.  I started my climb up beside the quickly running stream.  As I made my way slowly up the steep trail I stopped to take some pictures of the many waterfalls.  I continued my long slog up the trail and finally made it back to the top.

The trail turned to the right and continued on its way back to the chair lift at the top of the hill.  I made way through the power line right-of-way and not long after found myself walking along near the ski trail.

After passing the chair lift the trail began to descend and I crossed over Van Donsel Road.  I slipped and slid my way through the mud and snow-melt as I continued on down to Odell Road; a few times I had to quickly brace myself to keep from falling.  The bottoms of my jeans spattered by mud and wet from the water by the time I arrived at Odell Road.

As I had made my was down to Odell Road the sun attempted to break free of the clouds once again, and this time with more luck.  Patches of blue sky appeared in the sky.  The wind was also starting to pick up and help scatter the clouds.  The periodic breaks of sun helped to warm the air into the upper 60s.

A short walk down Odell Road brought me to the intersection with Baldwin Road and the seasonal use road signs on Odell Road.  Just beyond the signs the trail left the road and began its gentle descent to Cortwright Road.  After gently descending for over a mile I came to a short little climb up to Cortwright Road.  I crossed over and headed up and over a small hill and down to Bleck Road.

At Bleck Road I crossed over and made a quick descent down and then started another climb.  It was not a long climb, but I was tired and sore and ready to be back to my car.  After reaching the top I passed back along the old rock wall.  The big climbs finally completed, I only had the steep descent down to Babcock Hollow Road ahead of me.

The trail descended from the rock wall and then climbed around a hill on its way to the steep descent.  As the trail turned the right I placed my foot wrong and twisted my knee.  A sharp pain shot down my leg and I quickly took the weight off my leg and braced myself with my walking stick.  I hesitantly put weight on my leg and felt the pain run down my leg.  I would have to limp along using my walking stick and hope that it would loosen up; there was no other choice.

It was now late afternoon and I still had about a mile to go – and a very steep descent.  My pace was much slower as I limped along, wincing at the pain in my knee.  The trail turned to the left and began the steep descent.  I slowly limped down the trail, stopping to rest frequently.  As I descended the sun fell behind hills to my west.  Darkness slowly descended and it felt like hours before I finally reached the bottom and Babcock Hollow Road.

I limped down the road to the parking area and finally made it to my car.  I hoped to take a picture of the small pond next to the parking area, but darkness had descended enough and the light was no longer favorable.  My knee hurt, I was sore and tired, mud covered, and damp; I was done and ready to head home for a hot shower.


My knee and my leg muscles were quite sore for several days after.  This was perhaps the ruggedest hike I had completed to-date.  In an email to my friend Tim I noted the 750+ foot climb up along the stream and told him that it “sucked”.  By the time I reached the top of that climb I was very sore and tired.  I stopped taking pictures and was only concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.

Until 2012 I did not save the full GPX data from my hikes, so no distance or time was recorded in this story.  After completing a hike I loaded the track into Google Earth and only saved the “out” track of my hike rather than both the “out” and “back”.  As I hiked more I learned more.  I learned to save the GPX data and record the statistics, including elevation and total ascent.  I also learned to take more pictures, something I wish I had learned sooner.

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