FLT Map: Cheningo Solon Pond Rd (M21) east to Cuyler Lincklaen Rd (M22)
18.65 miles, 2.5mph avg moving, 1.8mph avg overall, 7h:26m moving, 3h:06m stopped, 10h:32m total time, max elevation 2154ft, total ascent (not recorded) FLT M21,M22
Total trail miles completed to-date: 89.1 (16.0%)
I had told my coworkers about my “crazy” hikes and several times they had seen me in some pain on Monday morning after a particularly long and difficult hike. One of my coworkers had an overnight style backpack that she was not using and asked if I would be interested. I had been using an old second-hand school book-bag so I was definitely interested.
Author’s Note: I had recorded my hiking stats, but forgot to download the track from my GPS unit. While preparing for my next hike I deleted the old track thinking I had already saved it. Too late I realized my mistake.
She dropped it off to me on one weekend and I set about getting it ready. The pack had adjustable shoulder straps, a padded waist strap, several areas to keep gear in, and lots of pockets and loops; it was a backpacking pack. In addition to my goal to complete the Finger Lakes Trail, I also wanted to try doing an overnight hike, now I had the pack for it.
I was eager to test out my new pack and my friend Tim wanted to do another hike. We planned for a weekend in early August and watched the weather forecast as the weekend drew near. The forecast was not ideal; rain and temperatures in the low 70s on Saturday, warmer on Sunday with highs in the low 80s, but a chance of thunderstorms. We decided to take our chances and go on Sunday.
Since I had driven on the last hike, Tim offered to drive this time. On our drive to the trailhead it began to rain lightly. We hoped that it was just a passing shower and not a omen for the day to come. Thankfully the rain ended before we pulled off onto Freeman Road.
Based on my previous hike I advised Tim to park close to Cheningo Solon Pond Road, rather than driving down Freeman Road. I knew that the road deteriorated and there was no parking further down. However, there was plenty of space along the shoulder of Freeman Road. Tim pulled in and turned his car around so that we were facing toward Cheningo Solon Pond Road.
I pulled my boots on and hoisted my new pack onto my shoulders and we headed off down Freeman Road. We quickly came to the split I had passed on my previous hike and made our way along the left branch. The grasses, brush, and prickers closed in around the road. We dodged muddy water-filled potholes as we picked our way along. A short time later arrived at the trailhead.
The trail left the road to the right cutting through tall grass. The grass was wet from the recent rains. Tim and I looked at each other knowing we were going to be soaked. I shrugged and said, “no help for it, might as well just plunge on”. We waded into the tall grass and soon were completely soaked from our waists down.
A short distance later we entered the woods. The trees dripped water on us from the earlier rain as we hiked along up the hill. After climbing over 450 feet to the top of the hill we descended back down about 100 feet. The trail leveled and turned to our left. A short distance later it joined with a small dirt track, Potter Hill Cemetery Road.
We followed the road a few yards before turning off to the right and back into to the damp and wet woods. After a very short walk of about 80 yards we arrived at another small single-lane dirt track. This road was not listed on my crossing sheet. I knew that we would cross Potter Hill Cemetery Road again further to the north, but the sheet indicated that was 0.8 miles. We thought that perhaps the road curled around and because it was so close it was not indicated.
We left the unknown road behind and continued on up a gentle climb and soon arrived at another single-lane dirt track. I checked my GPS and confirmed this was the second, northern, crossing of Potter Hill Cemetery Road. Fog hung low over the road and drifted through the trees. We crossed the road and continued our climb up the hill.
The trail crested the top of the hill a short time later and then meandered its way along through the woods. The sun attempted to break through periodically, but the clouds and fog quickly swallowed it. The trail began to descend and we crossed a small stream and then made a quick climb up to Randall Hill Road.
Randall Hill Road, also called Lincklaen Hill Road, was yet another single-lane dirt track. We decided it would be a good time to take a short rest break and get a snack and something to drink. I dropped my new pack on the ground at the side of the road and pulled out a bottle of Gatorade.
After a short break we started out again and the trail continued to climb, although not as steeply. It wound its way along through the woods, climbing and falling, for the next three miles before arriving at Stoney Brook Road.
Stoney Brook Road was another dirt road, but a bit more well-traveled and slightly wider than the previous roads. The sun broke through the clouds and dappled the ground with light and shadow. The air was warm and humid and Tim and I were both sweating.
We crossed the road and the trail turned sharply to the left to follow along parallel to the road, although we could not see it through the trees. After a short walk a field opened up in front of us and the trail turned again to the left just inside the treeline. We quickly rejoined Stoney Brook Road and turned right to follow the road.
A view opened out in front of us as the dirt road ran between two fields toward the horizon. Clouds hung low over the hills in the distance, although a few small breaks allowed the sun to peek through. We continued down the road moving along at a quick pace.
Stoney Brook Road met Cuyler Hill Road, a paved road, at a “T” junction. We turned right onto Cuyler Hill Road and continued on descending past a few houses that dotted the fields around us. After a little less than 0.5 miles we came to a split in the road. Cuyler Hill Road split off angling to the right and Midlum Road continued on straight ahead. We angled right to stay on Cuyler Hill Road and continued descending.
As the road descended it left the fields behind and trees soon bordered the road on both sides. Tim noticed a telephone cable lying at the side of the road and burst out laughing. Instead of hanging between poles or buried underground, it lay completely exposed on the ground. He also pointed out a rather “interesting” splice between two cables, the sheathing peeled back exposing bare wires, twisted together, and capped.
The cable continued on down along the side of the road. Another splice appeared a short distance later. Finally the cable led to a junction box. The cover plate had been removed and was lying on the ground. A number of other wires had been spliced in the box and a larger cable went down into the ground under the box.
A short distance later a house and yard opened to our left. Fields opened out to our right, and beyond the house more fields. The road continued on past the house and came to a “T” junction with Cuyler Lincklaen Road. A guardrail bordered the road on the other side of the intersection. Tim and I crossed and leaned against the guardrail. We had reached our turn-around.
The guardrail provided a good place to sit and rest. I pulled myself up on the guardrail to sit as I drank my Gatorade. After resting we began our slog back up the Cuyler Hill Road. Forty minutes later we found ourselves back at the intersection with Stoney Brook Road.
We looked up the dirt and gravel road and could see the treeline in the distance. It looked so far away. The sun peeked through the clouds as we walked along the road. Coupled with the warm and humid air it felt much warmer. Both of us were sweating by the time we reached the cooler shade of the treeline.
Tim and I decided rather than taking the little jog on the trail that paralleled the road we would just continue on along the road to the trailhead. A few yards beyond the treeline, and just off the road, we discovered what looked like a shallow well. It was only a few feet deep and much wider than a typical well. No water filled the bottom, only dirt, leaves, and sticks. We later learned that this was a water hole that had been used in the past for fire fighting.
We turned right off Stoney Brook Road and made our way back along the trail. The trail led us back to Randall Hill Road and then across the small stream and back up to Potter Hill Cemetery Road. We continued on past the dirt track and came to the unknown road (Jipson Hill Road). A short walk took us to the southern crossing of Potter Hill Cemetery Road.
We walked the short distance down the road and angled to our right on the trail as it pulled away. The trail began its final climb back up a hill and we soon found ourselves cresting the top. We had just a little over a mile left to go and it was all downhill now.
Several minutes later we arrived at Freeman Road and turned left to follow the road back to Cheningo Solon Pond Road and Tim’s car. Upon arriving at his car we peeled off our damp shirts and both of us changed into sandals before heading home.