Christmas In July

FLT Map: Filter Plant Road (M10) west to Karr Road (M9)

Filter Plant Road (M10) west to Karr Road (M9)
Filter Plant Road (M10) west to Karr Road (M9)

Hike Stats:
19.96 miles, 2.8mph avg moving, 2.2mph avg overall, 7h:10m moving, 1h52m stopped, 8h:48m total time, max elevation 2085ft, total ascent 2682ft, 134.37ft/mi. FLT M9, M10
Total trail miles completed to-date: 433.7 (72.5%)

Photos:
Google: https://photos.app.goo.gl/THcX0JFeanlXHKYp2

Christmas In July

The weather for the hike was predicted to be perfect hiking weather; sunny with temperatures starting in the low 50s and rising into the low 70s.  With no morning rain in the forecast I was able to get an earlier start than my previous hike.  My starting point would be the same, but I would be heading west.  I left my house for the nearly two-hour drive as the sun began to rise.  Ahead of me a full moon slowly set in the west as the sky brightened behind me.  The drive was uneventful.  I passed through a few areas of dense fog, but they did not last long.

Shortly before 7:30 AM I pulled into the parking lot of the Econo Lodge in North Hornell.  I parked along the edge of some shrubs near an old, now closed, restaurant.  As before, I stopped into the hotel office to make sure it was OK to park.  The desk clerk thanked me and said there would be no problem with where I had parked.

I picked up my pack and started down the Econo Lodge’s main drive (mile 0.0 – 7:36 am).  At the end of the drive I turned right onto Airport Road and walked along the shoulder of the road; there were no sidewalks.  I reached the intersection of Webbs Crossing Road, turned left, and made my way to the large four-lane CR 36.

The intersection was controlled by traffic signals (mile 0.6 – 7:47 am).  Each of the turn lanes on CR 36 were segregated and had their own signal.  In total I needed to cross six lanes of traffic.  Although there were no sidewalks a crosswalk area had been marked by two parallel white lines on one side of the road.  There were no crosswalk signals or buttons to press so I had to wait until the light changed.  I hurried across as quickly as I could, but the light changed back before I was completely across the intersection.  Fortunately it was early and traffic was very light.  On my return trip later in the day it might be more difficult to cross.

I continued my walk along the shoulder of Webbs Crossing Road until I came to a railroad crossing and turned left to follow along the bed of the railroad (mile 1.0 – 7:55 am).  A very nice, and very new, parking area surprised me.  A rail trail ran next the railroad tracks beyond the parking area.  I should have parked here!

Railroad crossing south of Webbs Crossing Road (CR 66).
Railroad crossing south of Webbs Crossing Road (CR 66).

I turned down the rail trail, a level path packed down and topped with a hard gritty sand-like substance.  I heard a few dogs barking from houses that bordered the trail, but saw no one either on the trail or at the houses; it was still early on a Sunday.  After passing a few crossings over the railroad tracks, I came to an FLT sign indicating that the trail turned right and crossed over the tracks (mile 1.7 – 8:09 am).  I stopped to take a few pictures of the tracks and then headed off into the woods.

The trail ran parallel to the tracks for a short distance and then turned to the right and climbed up Bald Hill.  The climb took me up about 500 feet in less than a mile.  I reached the top of the hill and found a trail register (mile 2.5 – 8:29 am).  The exertion of the climb left me sweating and my heart pounding.  I stopped to take a break and sign in.  I removed my shirt and hung it on the side of the register to cool myself down and to allow my shirt dry a little.

After I had cooled and my heart had slowed I pulled my shirt back on and left the register behind.  The trail started down the other side of the hill, but the descent was not as steep.  Soon I found myself on the shoulder of Webbs Crossing Road (mile 3.2 – 8:58 am); the same road I had walked on a short time earlier to reach the rail trail.  I turned left and headed up a rise in the road under bright sun and blue sky as cars whizzed past me on the paved road.

I-86/NY 17 looking east from bridge on Doorley Road
I-86/NY 17 looking east from bridge on Doorley Road

I crested the rise in the road and descended slightly around a corner and past a Baptist church on my right.  Just beyond the church I arrived at the intersection of Doorley Road.  I turned onto the road and came to a bridge that took me over I-86/NY 17 (mile 3.8 – 9:10 am).  I stopped to take a few pictures of the highway from up above before completing the crossing.

On the other side of the bridge I arrived at an intersection with Webb Road.  I turned onto this road and very quickly found an FLT sign at the edge of the road indicating the trailhead (mile 4.0 – 9:14 am).  A steep bank descended on the other side of the guard rail to a small stream at the bottom.  I climbed over the guard rail and made my way down the bank and across the little stream.

I crossed several more small streams and gullies as the trail slowly climbed its way upward.  Fortunately I had waterproof boots as I had to splash through a couple of the streams.  The trail climbed up gently for less than a mile and then opened out into a small field with tall grass.  I stopped to take a few pictures and then waded through the grass heading to my right down a wide trail also overgrown by tall grass.

Field between Webb Road and Fitzgerald Road
Field between Webb Road and Fitzgerald Road

The wide trail opened out at the top of another larger field also overgrown by tall grass.  I took more pictures and then made my way across the top of that field.  Upon reaching the other side I turned back to take a few more pictures; the light hitting the field had painted it gold and green.  Once I left the field behind and returned to the woods I did a quick check for any ticks I might have picked up while wading through the grass; thankfully I found none.

A small hawk sitting on a log
A small hawk sitting on a log

I crossed over a small stream and on the other side I glanced to my right at a fallen log.  A hawk was perched on the log.  I was unsure why it was just sitting there; maybe it was injured.  Keeping my distance I took a few pictures zooming my camera lens all the way to its maximum.  The hawk kept its eye on me as I passed, and I on it.

View from field east of Fitzgerald Road
View from field east of Fitzgerald Road

After leaving the hawk behind I came, once again, to another field of tall grass.  I waded in and passed by a small copse of pine trees near the middle.  I thought it might make for a good place to stop and rest on my way back.  After leaving the field I performed another tick check – none – and then moved through a short section of woods before coming out onto a dirt road; Fitzgerald Road (mile 5.3 – 9:52 am).

Across the road I saw rows of Christmas trees.  I crossed over and followed a tractor path up along the rows of trees.  The path climbed up to the top of a hill and I looked back to see the hills and valleys spread out below me.  I took a few pictures of the view through the trees and then continued on.  The rows of trees ended and I came to more tall grass at the back of the field.  I waded through, performed another tick check – none – and headed into the woods on the trail.

As the trail continued on through the woods I became lost in thought.  I became aware that I had not seen a white blaze recently.  I turned back and found that I had missed a turn, fortunately it was only a short distance back.

The trail crossed over a small dirt road and then came to the corner of a field.  It continued along in the woods paralleling the edge of the field.  There was a fallen log at the corner of the field and I decided it was a good time and place to take a break (mile 5.9 – 10:09 am).

I stepped out into the field and around the log and sat down.  I took out a granola bar and poured some coffee from my thermos and relaxed enjoying the nice breeze and warm air.  After a rest I picked up my pack and headed back to the trail and followed it down along the edge of the field.  It soon curved to the left and opened out down a bank onto Pennsylvania Hill Road (mile 6.2 – 10:32 am).

Christmas tree farm and barn
Christmas tree farm and barn

The FLT sign at the trailhead had broken and fallen off the post.  I took a picture so that I could send it to the FLT Trail Report email later.  The road descended down a hill and passed between several fields.  At the bottom of the hill was the intersection with Bishopville Road.  On my left I saw another Christmas tree farm.  A red barn sat just beyond the trees and I stopped to take a picture.

At the intersection (mile 6.6 – 10:32 am) I turned left and crossed a bridge over a small stream.  I continued along passing a few houses and farm buildings.  A large brown barn sat behind a freshly plowed field on my left.  A man in a tractor passed by me and a short time later I found him in a field that bordered the road mowing the tall grass.

Intersection of Wilson-Karr Road and Bishopville Road
Intersection of Wilson-Karr Road and Bishopville Road

I continued on along the road and came to a fork (mile 7.3 – 10:46 am).  Wilson-Karr Road split off to the left and climbed a hill while Bishopville Road continued on straight ahead.  The white blazes pointed up Wilson-Karr Road.  I trudged up the hill.  It was warm out under the sun and the pavement was making it feel even warmer.

At the top of the hill I passed by a trailer home on my right.  There were some people outside cleaning off a picnic table next to a smoking fire pit.  I waved to them and said hello.  Just beyond the trailer, on the left side of the road, I saw what looked like an old Christmas tree farm.  The trees were now too tall and looked as if they had not been pruned in a few years.

After leaving the old tree farm behind the road began to descend and entered an area with woods on either side.  Ahead of me I could see an intersection.  I noticed that there was a road sign at the edge of the road indicating “Yield Ahead”.  I looked down the road and saw a stop sign – hmm, I guess I have been doing it wrong all this time!

Immediately after stop sign at the intersection a dirt road turned off to the left (mile 7.9 – 10:58 am).  A rusted metal gate at the side was open.  On the right side of the road a speed limit sign of 10 MPH stood.  Next to the speed limit sign was a caution sign warning of a hazardous area and only authorized personnel were allowed; that was a little disconcerting.  However, the gate was open and there was an FLT sign there next to the caution sign, so I continued on up the dirt road.

The road immediately split, an older section bearing to the left and a new section to the right.  I could not see any white blazes so I decided to follow the new section.  Not long after I caught a glimpse of a white blaze on a tree on the other side of the left branch.  Ahead of me I could see that the left branch came back to join this new branch, so I continued on up the road.

The dirt road turned to the right and the trail turned off the road (mile 8.2 – 11:03 am).  A short distance off the road I came to a fallen tree across the trail and I decided to take a break.  I sat down on the log and pulled out a bottle of water.  After a short rest I continued on.  The trail made its way through the woods and then opened out onto Bishopville Road once again (mile 8.7 – 11:26 am).  I waded through some tall grass and weeds at the side of the road, turned left onto the road, and head down into a hollow before heading back up the other side.

The trail turned to the right off the road and climbed up through more grass and weeds (mile 8.8 – 11:29 am).  Scattered through the weeds I saw some wild parsnip   growing.  I carefully pushed by the plant; for some people the sap of the plant can cause skin irritation and scarring – I didn’t want to find out if I was one of those people.

FLT sign for blue spur trail and white main trail
FLT sign for blue spur trail and white main trail

The trail climbed gently up a hill and came to a split.  A nice sign indicated the blue spur-trail to the left and the white main trail to the right.  I followed the white trail and it began to climb up a hill.  It wound its way through alternating sections of pine trees and hard woods.  Some areas had more undergrowth than others.  The trail began to level out and soon after I came to Karr Road (mile 10.0 – 12:01 pm); a small dirt road and my turnaround.  After checking out the parking situation – I planned to park here on my next hike – I  started back.

I descended down the hill and past the trail split with the blue and white sign.  Soon I found myself back on Bishopville Road and heading down the hollow in the road and back up the other side.  I left the road and waded into the tall grass and weeds and then continued on up a small climb.  After a short walk I arrived at the fallen log I had rested at earlier.  I decided this was a good place to stop for lunch and rest (mile 11.8 – 12:47 pm).

I dropped my pack, pulled my boots and socks off, and took out my lunch.  After eating my lunch and relaxing I pulled a fresh pair of socks and my boots back on, picked up my pack, and headed for the dirt road.  The sun was warm on the back of my neck.  I took out a small towel and positioned it under my hat so that it would drape over my neck and shield me from the sun.

View from Wilson-Carr Road looking north
View from Wilson-Carr Road looking north

At the end of the unnamed dirt road I passed out through the gate and turned right to start back up Wilson-Karr Road.  I climbed to the top of the road and passed by the old tree farm and trailer, and then back down to the intersection with Bishopville Road.  I turned right and continued down the road.  After a long road walk I came to the tree farm with the red barn at the corner of Pennsylvania Hill Road.  Continuing to the right up the road, I finally came to the trailhead and the end of the two mile road walk (mile 13.8 – 2:05 pm).

I left the road and followed the trail up along the field and past the corner where I had stopped earlier.  I considered stopping again, but I was not ready for a break yet, so I continued on past.  The trail opened out at the bottom of the Christmas tree field and I waded through the tall grass.  I continued on past the rows of trees and then down across Fitzgerald Road.

Once across Fitzgerald Road I was soon wading back through the field of tall grass.  I passed by the copse of trees in the middle of the field, but did not stop; I was still not ready for a break.  After wading through all the fields I was back in the woods once again.  I stopped to check that I had not picked up any ticks and then continued on.

"Fairy Ring" of mushrooms
“Fairy Ring” of mushrooms

I crossed over the small stream where I had seen the hawk earlier.  It was gone now, but this time I noticed several “Fairy Rings  ” of mushrooms I had missed before.  I continued on and nearly stepped on a large toad.  It hopped away and I tried to take its picture, not very successfully.  As I neared Webb Road I came to the small streams again.  I was hot and stopped at one of the streams to dunk the towel in the water.  I wiped the cold wet cloth over my face and neck; it felt great.

Looking east on Webbs Crossing Road (CR 66)
Looking east on Webbs Crossing Road (CR 66)

After crossing the last of the little streams I climbed up the bank to Webb Road (mile 16.0 – 3:03 pm) and turned left toward the intersection of Doorley Road.  The towel was still cool and wet and I draped it over my head and neck to keep myself cool.  I crossed the bridge over I-86 and then headed back along Webbs Crossing Road, past the Baptist church, and up the small rise.  On my way down I looked to my left and saw I-86 curving through the valley in the distance.  

I left Webbs Crossing Road behind and turned back onto the trail once again (mile 16.8 – 3:17 pm). The climb up Bald Hill lay ahead, so I decide to stop and get a snack and some water.  After a brief rest I started up the hill and a short time later I arrived at the trail register.  I stopped and took another break; ahead of me was a 500 foot descent and I was getting tired.

Rail trail looking north toward Webbs Crossing Road (CR 66)
Rail trail looking north toward Webbs Crossing Road (CR 66)

I took my time heading down the hill and was very happy once the trail leveled out.  Not long after I crossed the railroad tracks and turned onto the rail trail (mile 18.2 – 4:07 pm).  I headed north along the trail, back to Webbs Crossing Road.  People were out walking and biking on the trail now.

At the end of the rail trail I turned onto Webbs Crossing Road, walking along the edge of the road.  Soon I arrived at the busy intersection of CR 36 (mile 19.3 – 4:27 pm).  Luck was with me, I arrived at the intersection just as the light was changing my way.  I crossed as quickly as I could and then trudged the rest of the way up the road to the intersection.  I turned right onto Airport Road and finally found myself back at the entrance to the Econo Lodge (mile 19.7 – 4:34 pm).  

Although I was ready to drop my pack and stop walking, I still had a short distance up the entrance road to go.  Finally I reached the parking area and turned the corner to see my car parked along the shrubs (mile 19.96 – 4:40 pm).  I changed into a fresh shirt, exchanged my boots for sandals and started out on the long drive home.  

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