18.45 miles, 2.5mph avg moving, 2.4mph avg overall, 6h:30m moving, 1h:12m stopped, 7h:42m total time, max elevation 1999ft, total ascent 2187ft, 118.54ft/mi. FLT M22
Total trail miles completed to-date: 97.7 (17.5%)
My hikes were usually about one month apart. The last hike had been at the beginning of August, however the beginning of September 2011 put a complete halt on hiking. Severe flooding devastated the Binghamton area on September 8, 2011. Highways and interstates were shutdown and neighborhoods became islands. It took several days before major roadways were re-opened, and longer still before life began to return to some semblance of normality.
Author’s Note: I have linked to photos I took from around the Binghamton area on September 8, 2011 showing the flooding impacts.
As September neared its end Fall arrived and the leaves began to change color. I planned out my next, and possibly last, hike of the season. My hike would be on Saturday this time and I mapped out around 18 miles. The online map showed a road-walk of 2.3 miles at the beginning.
Friday afternoon light rain moved in and it continued to rain through the day and into the night. Thankfully the rain ended before dawn. Hoping to allow the sun to burn off the fog and dry out the ground a little, I took a later start than normal.
Shortly before 8 am I arrived at the intersection of Cuyler Hill Road and Cuyler Lincklaen Road (CR 12C). I turned my car right onto Cuyler Hill Road, turned around, and pulled to the shoulder of the road. The guardrail I had rested on the previous hike in front of me. The air was cool and damp, temperatures in the low 60s.
I pulled my pack on, crossed the road, and turned right walking along the shoulder. The should was a wide grassy swath and I was able to move along quickly. Fog hung low over the road and the surrounding fields and the road was still wet from the earlier rain. The grass shed water drops on my boots as I walked.
It was quiet, the fog softening the sounds around me. Soon Cuyler Lincklaen Road came to an end at a junction with CR 12. On my right was a fenced in area with large high fencing. I wondered what it could be, it did not look like the fencing that normally surrounds a cow or horse pasture. Then I saw a sign indicating it was an elk farm.
I turned left on CR 12 and continued on up the along the shoulder. A short time later I reached the trailhead. The trailhead left the road on the right, angling back away from the direction of the road. I wanted to get a picture looking down the road to capture the fall colors so I walked a little beyond the trailhead. After getting my picture I headed up the trail and away from the road.
The trail wound its way along through the woods, gently rising and falling. I came to a rough dirt track, not even a road, just two parallel ruts in the ground where tires had passed. Just beyond the dirt track a field opened up on my right. I continued on down along the edge of the field.
A hedgerow separated two field and I passed into the second field. At the end of the second field the trail turned left leaving the field behind. A short distance later I arrived at Paradise Hill Road, a small paved country road.
The pavement on the road was still wet. I took a few pictures and then continued on across. The trail wound along, following along the edge of a gully and crossing over. Then it began to descend and soon I came out on Dublin Road, another small paved country road. Near the trailhead was a decent pull-off area that could fit several cars.
I turned right down Dublin Road and left the trailhead and parking area behind. A short distance down the road a marshy area surrounded by towering evergreens opened on my left. The water sat well below the surface of the road and the opening extended for quite some distance back away from the road.
I continued on past the opening and after walking about a 1/4 mile I began looking for the trailhead. My GPS unit marked the trailhead in the vicinity. Thinking I might have missed it I backtracked a short distance. Still I could not find the signs that indicated where the trailhead was located.
I turned back and continued down the road a little further and still found nothing. I was beginning to think that I must have made an error and I would have to head back to the trailhead I had come down to the road on. A flash of white caught my eye, a piece of white tape tied around a small pine tree at the edge of the road. There was barely a trail, but further up in the trees I saw the FLT signs.
I ducked under the low limbs of the trees and started a climb up away from Dublin Road. The trail angled up the hill before turning the opposite direction and continuing its climb. After 400 feet I reached the top of the hill and crossed a small dirt track that I did not have marked in my GPS or listed on my access point sheet. One-tenth of a mile later I came to Mariposa Road (CR 13).
Mariposa Road was a paved, two-lane road with a yellow stripe down the middle. Thin electric wires ran on poles down one side of the road. About half of the trees bordering the road had started to change to their fall colors of orange and yellow.
I crossed Mariposa Road and the trail began to gently descend into a small hollow. A stream ran through it. The water looked clear and cold. A footbridge carried hikers across to the other side. Fall leaves littered the surface of the bridge and the trail around it. I took a couple pictures as I descended toward the bridge.
Once across I began the climb up out of the hollow and soon arrived at Bamberry Road and my turn-around. Trees lined the road gilded with the yellows and oranges of fall. I could see a house sitting a little ways down the road to my south. A short distance north, just beyond a “seasonal limited use” sign, I could see a pull-off area that looked like a great parking.
After taking several pictures I began my trek back. I passed through the hollow and over the footbridge that crossed the stream. Once again I came to Mariposa Road and quickly crossed before starting my way down the hill to Dublin Road. I ducked under the trees and stepped onto the road. The clouds that had hidden the sun all day seemed to darken.
I turned right and started my walk along the small country road. The marshy area opened out on my right. It was quiet and still. The water in the marsh sat below me reflecting the gray sky and dark green of the evergreens that surrounded the small pool.
I turned left off Dublin Road and began the climb up the hill. After climbing for a half mile the trail turned right and continued along the side of the hill only climbing gradually. At the top of the hill the trail turned left and began an easy descent. A short time later I arrived at Paradise Hill Road. I quickly crossed and continued on.
The trail wound its way through the woods and a little over two miles later I walked down the trail onto CR 12 and the start of the road-walk back to my car. The pavement that had been wet this morning had finally dried. I turned left and made my way down the road.
Less than a mile later I came to the intersection with Cuyler Lincklaen Road and the elk farm. Two elk were out near the fence. They looked at me curiously, but moved away as I drew closer. I left them behind and continued on around the corner. As I walked up the road I realized that this would likely be my last hike for the season. I felt a bit of sadness knowing that I was almost done and that in about 30 minutes I would be back at my car.
The road walk seemed to go on and on. My feet hurt from the comparatively hard shoulder of the road. I would need to get new boots for next season, the ones I had on were done. Finally I saw the intersection of Cuyler Hill Road ahead and my car sitting at the shoulder. I turned on to the road and made my way to my car, happy to be back, but also a little sad because now I was done; if only for the season.