About Mark

President and Web Master for Springwater Trails

The Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway Annual Meeting in Mt. Morris

A hike report by Marilee Patterer.

The air was crisp as five of us from the Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway and four from the Springwater Trails hiking group gathered at the parking lot in Sonyea State Forest. We walked the road for a ways and then some of the participants descended to Keshequa Gorge, but three of us took the Greenway detour and hiked around the Groveland Correctional Facility. It was interesting to observe the massive amount of barbed wire fencing around the prison. No one can escape over the fence! Many of the solid brick buildings of the former Sonyea facility are no longer in use as New York State built a new prison across Route 36. On our way back to the cars, we stopped at one of the cemeteries for the former Sonyea facility. What a sad sight!! Many of the metal markers have rusted away. Nobody seems to care. In a few years there will be no evidence of the cemetery except for one nice little grant stone. Somebody cared about one of them!!

Following our hike, we drove back to the VFW in Mt. Morris and listened to our speaker for the afternoon. Pat Coate of Allegany present a well-delivered power-point talk “A Long Walk: My Journey Along the AT”. In 2014, when Pat hiked the Appalachian Trail, the distance that year was 2,185.3 miles, but this distance varies from year to year. The trail is actually a footpath from Springer Mt, GA to Mt Katahdin, ME. The AT passes through 14 states and generally follows the Appalachian Mountains. There is a 500,000 foot elevation change with 6655 feet being the highest and 124 the lowest elevation. The average time to hike the whole trail is 5 to 7 months. The trail was completed in 1937, but was mostly roads and private land. Now it is 99% public land and is largely maintained by volunteers. The AT crosses hundreds of roads making easy assess to towns for supplies, a shower, a hostel or hotel for a good night’s sleep, or to get mail. Some language specific to the trail include thru-hiker (hiking the whole trail), NOBO (northbound from Georgia to Maine), SOBO (southbound from Maine to Georgia). Pat was NOBO in 2014. There were 2500 attempts to hike the whole trail in 2014. By the time, the hikers arrived at the midway point of the trail at Harpers Ferry 1267 remained with only 644 completing the trail in 2014. With the production of the Hollywood films, “A Walk in the Woods”, etc., the number of attempts has increased significantly.

Pat spent much time preparing for the trip. She hiked 4 or 5 times a week for 6 to 15 miles with a 30 pound backpack on steep hills. Joyce Ermer, who is a very skilled hiker, sometimes hiked with her to give her company and encouragement. Her backpack weighed 30 pounds. It contained cooking and water purification supplies. She had the neatest little stove that used denatured alcohol. The backpack also contained shelter and sleeping supplies like a tent, sleeping bag, pillow, etc. Her clothes consisted of a down sweater, raincoat and pants, shoes, hat, socks, etc. Miscellaneous supplies included headlamp, cell phone, camera, guide book, compass, etc. Of course, Pat also carried water and 4 days supply of food in her backpack. She got water from a creek and used her purification supplies to make it safe to use.

Pat and her hiking bubble (same people that you often meet on the trail) followed the white blazes like on the Finger Lakes Trail to navigate the trail. At times, there were white blazes on other trails which caused some confusion, but she used her cell phone and excellent guide book to go back and find the AT again. She carried water shoes to wear when crossing streams. Sometimes rope was strung across high water to help the AT hikers cross. At the Kennebee River, hikers are required to take a canoe because there had been accidents previously.

At night, Pat stayed in her tent about 63% of the time. There are 270 shelters along the AT which ranged from crude to fancy. Sometimes, she stayed in one of these shelters as it was fun to get-together and chat or barter for something she needed. Along the trail, there are also hostels that cater to hikers. Occasionally, she went into a town and stayed in a motel to relax and have a change of pace. She said that the privies also varied greatly in quality. Most had some type of enclosure, but some did not.

Pat also talked about some quirks of the trail. Trail magic is when people put out a cooler with “goodies” along the trail. A hiker really appreciates home cooked food like brownies or cookies. Some people also put out jugs of water for the hikers. Boy Scouts sometimes do “trail magic” as well.

Trail Angels give support to the hikers. They might provide a ride, etc. Pat said that there were some very generous people along the trail. That was a great statement to hear in this day and age!! The most beautiful site was at McAfee Knob, VA–such a beautiful view. At Pine Grove Furnace, hikers have to eat one half gallon of ice cream in thirty minutes. There is also “naked day”. Oh, how interesting!! People who hike AT have trail names: Indiana Jones, Voodoo, Sockfat, Lighterknot, Bad Camel, etc. One never knows who you are hiking with. The thru-hiker “Bismarck” was arrested on embezzling charges. One is alone on the trail about a third of the time. That is a little scary.

Pat also talked about animals that she saw along the trail. She saw 17 bears and 8 cubs. Most bears were good, but just one was a menace. Other animals observed include: bull moose, rabbits, fawns, mice, snakes (copperhead and timber rattlesnake), and chipmunks. The most common bird seen was juncos who built nests along the raised sides of the trail.

In conclusion, Pat listed some of the takeaways from the trail. The social aspect is really fun. Also, the trail is a great equalizer. Everyone is on equal footing on the trail. Normal barriers come crashing down. Goodness of the people abounds. People go out of their way to do things for strangers. Wouldn’t it is nice if these things happened in our society today?

Thanks you Pat for a wonderful presentation. Happy hiking to you.

We ended the annual meeting with a delicious pot luck meal and a short business meeting. Thanks to all who participated.

FLT Trail Maintenance Meeting Report

On Saturday, Oct 14, 2017, Linda and I attended the annual Finger Lakes Trail Conference’s Trail Maintenance Meeting in Bath NY. This meeting is set up for the many hikers who have volunteered to maintain a section of the 1000 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail system. As we all introduced ourselves, I was struck by the number of couples who have volunteered to maintain about 6 miles of trail. If you enjoy the trails, please check out the opportunities for volunteering

Springwater Trails has committed to maintaining the section of the Bristol Hills Trail from Clement Rd (Access 3) to the town of Naples (Access 5). Our work has included cleanup, mowing and weed wacking, and blazing. Our most recent project involved rerouting a section of the trail to take advantage of a new bridge built by the landowner across a gully.

Back to the Saturday meeting, I would like to share a small part of the information provided. It was a good meeting, a chance to meet other volunteers and to communicate with the FLTC organization. The meeting was led by the VP of Trail Quality, Lynda Rummel.

The morning was devoted to how the FLTC works with the 800 private landowners that host nearly half of the trail. Clearly, these landowners are the backbone of the trail and without their support, the trail would only be a disjointed collection of state forest and park trails. Whenever you meet a landowner, please thank them for allowing you and other hikers to enjoy their land. And when you are hiking, always respect the rights of the landowners and their property.

There are three types of agreements between the FLTC and landowners. Most of the trail is built based on Handshake agreements.Generally the FLTC will confirm a handshake agreement by letter, but on-going use of the trail is not legally guaranteed. A more formal agreement consists of a Trail Use Agreement which is signed by both the FLTC and the Landowner and provides general stipulations about the trail. It is a good vehicle for outlining permitted usages, special blazing and other requirements. Finally, a Trail Easement is a legal agreement recorded with the property deed at the county clerk’s office. The Trail Easement grants permission for the Finger Lakes Trails to pass through a defined corridor of the landowner’s property.  This is a permanent easement that stays with the property, passing on to subsequent owners. 

Dave Newman, VP of Trail Preservation, provided us with several examples of FLTC work to maintain these trail agreements.Trail maintainers can help by keeping in touch with landowners, and when appropriate, discussing a permanent Trail Easement with them.  The FLTC will then work with the landowner to document the Easement and file it with the county clerk – there is no cost to the landowner. Dave shared three case studies including the Bristol Hills Branch section from High Tor to Italy Valley where the decision of one landowner to revoke permission for the trail required the addition of a couple of miles of road walk to the trail. A more positive example occurred south of Ithaca when the Finger Lakes Land Trust contacted the FLTC about land that was available for purchase for conservation purposes. Access to this property will allow the trail to move off of roads in this critical area, so the FLTC made a loan to the land trust, allowing the FLLT to purchase the land.  The FLLT also is working with the New York State DEC who has expressed an interest in adding the property to the adjacent State Forest. A second piece of property was purchased directly by the FLTC, with plans to sell the portion with a house and barn, and to also transfer the rest of the property to the State Forest.  This is an example of looking for creative ways to preserve properties critical to the trail.

After lunch, Peter Wybron (Regional Trail Coordinator for Genesee West), and Lynda Rummel demonstrated a gas powered wheelbarrow and a DR Mower. This equipment, and other trail maintenance equipment, are owned by the FLTC and are available to trail maintainers. Contact your Trail Coordinator for more information. 

Finally we discussed big projects being planned by the FLTC including major trail building across the new property south of Ithaca, and techniques and strategies for blazing.  I want to mention two items:

  1. Blazes should be 2″ x 6″ and painted at eye level. The lines and corners should be sharp, so the blaze is distinguishable from natural colorations including fall leaves. I saw examples on Sunday of red leaves that I saw while looking for blazes to verify the trail. Experienced blazers use a 1 inch brush because larger brushes create blazes that are too large and less crisp.
  2. Painting too many blazes results in color pollution in what should be a natural environment.  However, too few blazes may mean that hikers wander off the trail, encroaching on landowner’s rights and causing confusion for hikers. Clearly the happy medium depends on the specific trail condition, but in general a hiker should always be able to see a blaze ahead, and in confusing locations, an extra “confidence” blaze is definitely appropriate. For example, an extra blaze after a sharp corner will reassure hikers that they have made the correct turn.

More information is available on the FLTC website.  Check out the FLTC Field Maintenance Manual and back issues of the Trail Tenders’ News for as much great information as you could ask for.

 

Creating a Hike Description

Part of the responsibility of a Hike Planner is to write up a description of the hike. Primarily this description advertises the hike so our members can choose whether to attend the hike. These descriptions are also available in the future for individual hikers who would like to enjoy the area of the hike, and to hike planners who want inspiration from a past hike.

Please note: Your hike should already be on the calendar.  At the start of the season, the Seasonal Coordinator will post the season calendar with each hike as a separate event on the calendar. As the hike planner, you will be updating the event (that means you don’t need to use “Add New” to create an event).

As you work on the details of the hike, this event should be updated to keep everyone informed. This can be done at any time up to the date of the hike. Assuming the description is complete a week ahead of the hike, the description will appear as part of the home page on Monday morning.

NOTE: as you compose your hike description please avoid including last names, phone numbers and personal addresses. The website is a public forum and this private information does not mix well. And, get permission before you post pictures of identifiable people. Also, any offensive posts will be immediately removed.

The following instructions will help you update your hike plan.

FINAL NOTE: Hike descriptions are entered as Events rather than Posts or Pages. Since our Sunday hikes are entered prior to the season, you only need to edit the event (not create a new one). The only time you need to create an event is when you add a hike organized by some other group.

loginThe first step is to log into the website. The login process reduces the likelihood that strangers to Springwater will add inappropriate content to the website.

Click on Log in at the upper right corner of the webpage. A form will appear requesting a Username and a Password. If you do not know your Username, or your Password, click on Lost your password? and enter your email on the page that comes up. An email will be sent to you with instructions for creating a new password. Send an email to info@springwatertrails.org if you have trouble.

  1. When you log in, you will be placed on the dashboard.  If not, you will see a black bar at the top.  Under “Springwater Trails”, select Dashboard.  If the black bar isn’t available, try entering the address https://springwatertrails.org/wp-admin/. (You may want to add this as a favorite in your browser).
  2. In the upper right corner you should see “Screen Options”.  Click on that and uncheck Quick Draft.  You don’t need to do this again, and you won’t be confused by the Quick Draft which we do not use.
  3. Click on Events on the left menu.
  4. This is where you will see your own events. You can click on the Event date/time header in the list of events to sort them by the date of the hike. Hover over the hike you want to update and click on Edit in the menu that appears.

The first time you edit an Event, please click on Screen Options in the upper right. Then put checks on the following: Categories, Tags, Event Details, Enable full-height editor. This will make your screen match the description below. I recommend 2 columns if your screen is wide enough.

  1. You may adjust the title of the hike on the first line. You may adjust the date and time of the event if these change.
  2. You should click on Event Location Details to enter the exact location where we will be meeting before the hike. Note that the Title of the event and the Venue Name will appear in the Newsletter on the website. So don’t repeat the title as the venue. For example, if the hike is at Hi Tor, you might enter the title as Hi Tor, and the venue as DEC Parking area on Rt 245. Enter an address on the address line to get the map approximately correct. Then you can check the “Show Map” box and move the red marker to the start point. 
  3. Enter the hike description in the large area under the Event Location Details. This area is a simple HTML editor appropriate for our website. You should notice that there are two tabs on this editor window, one labeled Visual and one labeled Text. Generally, you want the Visual tab unless you understand HTML.
  4. Type in your Hike Description. Think like a reporter and an advertiser. The first paragraph should give an overview of the hike and grab the reader’s interest. Do you remember the five W’s of a good story?
  5. Include one or two pictures for interest. If you do a preview hike (highly recommended), then take five or six pictures as you hike so you have something to choose from.
  6. Help direct your readers to additional information with hyperlinks.
  7. Add directions at the bottom.  If this is at a common location for our hikes, you may find directions already on the site – in another browser window, select Directions and enter the location of the hike in the upper part of the home webpage to seach for directions.  Use that link as the target of a hyperlink behind the word Directions:. Otherwise, write out directions from the center of Springwater and possibly from other locations such as Honeoye, Dansville, Naples and Rochester. The goal of directions is to ensure that hikers know where to park and how to get there without. getting stuck in a farmer’s field.
  8. The newsletter articles are selected based on the category you assign. Make sure your hike description has the Category of Sunday Hikes checked. Please only check the one category.
  9. You may set tags to help searches. A good tag is the general area such as Hi Tor or Finger Lakes Trail.
  10. Click on Update to save your changes.

Finally, you may find you want to edit your hike description. You may have misspelled a word, or you may have left out directions to the starting point. Or maybe you just want to add a comment about what you saw on your prehike.  For whatever reason, feel free to edit the event whenever you feel it is needed – it works the same way and saves your latest changes and displays them.

Stid Hill Report – September 24, 2017

Do you have pictures from this hike?
Please upload them here.



On Sunday we enjoyed a hot but enjoyable hike up Stid Hill in the Bristol Valley.  Highlights of the hike included a multiple forest environments including mature hardwoods, an established maple forest on a reclaimed field, a Hemlock forest and a good example of a field converting to a forest.

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