Backtracks And Blue Sky

FLT Map: Short Tract Rd (M7) west to Camp Rd (M6)

Short Tract Rd (M7) west to Camp Rd (M6)

Hike Stats:
24.85 miles, 3.0mph avg moving, 2.3mph avg overall, 8h:12m moving, 2h:52m stopped, 11h:04m total time, max elevation 1499ft, total ascent 2755ft, 110.87ft/mi. FLT M7,M6
Total trail miles completed to-date: 477.7 (81.1%)

Photos:
Google: https://photos.app.goo.gl/mVkULDN7G2mCJX1L8

Backtracks And Blue Sky

The weather finally cooperated.  I had cancelled my hikes in both May and June due to poor weather.  May was a complete “washout”; it rained steadily both Saturday and Sunday.  June was only scattered showers and I had considered “sucking it up” and going anyway, but there was also a chance of thunderstorms.  A decent portion of the hike was out in the open; either road-walk or across fields and I decided it was not a safe idea to be out in the open if a thunderstorm rolled in.

I prepared my gear and mapped the drive Friday night.  My alarm went off before sunrise and after making a lunch and packing drinks I loaded my gear into my car and hit the road.  I had a long 2 hour and 15 minute drive to the trailhead.  As I drove west the sky behind me began to lighten and the sun started to rise over the hills.

As I neared Elmira my GPS indicated that I was to leave the highway for NY 352.  This seemed odd to me until I neared the area and discovered that the highway was closed and all traffic was being diverted off.  The timing worked well as I needed gas, so I found an open gas station and filled up.  I was back on the road and heading west a few minutes later.

I was forced to leave the highway once more west of Bath.  A truck with a trailer had overturned and was lying on its side on the shoulder.  After returning the to highway I continued on and finally exited at Hornell heading north on NY 36 and then west on NY 70.  I left NY 70 near Hunt, NY and was soon turning on to Short Tract Road.  I drove up the road looking for the parking area and drove right past it.  Grass had grown up and I had not recognized it.  I turned around and pulled off the road into the parking area.

I pulled my boots on, picked up my pack and walking stick, and set out down the road (mile 0.0 – 7:21 am).  A short distance later I arrived at the trailhead and turned left off the road.  The trail turned left and I immediately came to a trail register.  After stopping to sign in I continued on.  It was pleasantly cool, around 50.  I had brought a long-sleeved shirt with me, but I did not need it; shorts and a t-shirt were comfortable.

Looking across a horse pasture to the hills beyond
Looking across a horse pasture to the hills beyond

The trail turned and I came to a corn field on my left and a horse pasture on my right.  The horse pasture was surrounded by an electric fence and a sign had been posted advising of it.  I walked along next to the fence a short distance and then stopped to take in the view on my right.  A lone horse grazed further down the pasture and beyond fog rose over the green draped hills and valleys.

I left the pasture and corn field behind and continued on and arrived at Pennycook Road (mile 1.7 – 8:04 am).  An old stile stood next to the trailhead on the road with an FLT sign posted to it.  I turned left and walked down the dirt road looking for the white blaze and my next turn.  A short distance up the road I found the marker.  A hedgerow split a field in two and I headed down the right side.  I followed along the border of the field looking for white blazes.  As I neared the back of the field I had yet to see one.  A path led to the left up through some trees to the other field.  I walked up the path and quickly found the white blazes I was looking for.

Stone FLT marker near Hesse Lean-to
Stone FLT marker near Hesse Lean-to

The trail continued on around the back edge of the field and then headed into the woods.  I wound my way along and came upon a stone marker (mile 2.4 – 8:24 am) commemorating the founder and founding of the FLT, “The Finger Lakes Trail. Catskills to Allegany State Park.  Founded in 1962 by Wallace D. “Wally” Wood.  Rochester, NY”.  A short distance beyond the stone marker I came to Hesse Lean-to.  The lean-to was in decent repair, but the nearby outhouse had seen much better days.  The front door was partially falling off and a large tree branch had fallen over it.  The back had a large hole where a section of plywood had been ripped away.

I dropped my pack on the floor of the lean-to and sat down for a short break.  The hot coffee from a thermos in my pack and bit of homemade granola bar hit the spot.  After I finished I pulled my pack back on and continued down the trail.  Next to the lean-to I found a wooden sign giving mileage to various points both east and west.  It was 7.4 miles to Wiscoy Road, which was still several miles before my turn-around.

The trail came into a small clearing next to S. River Road (mile 2.6 – 8:37 am).  I turned left onto the dirt road, the smell of campfire hanging in the air.  I walked down the road and around a bend and then lost sight of the white blazes.  The trail must have turned off and I had missed it.  I backtracked and found small path leading off to the right of the road.  It was easy to miss.

Trail through Horsetail Reeds south of S. River Rd

Soon after leaving the road I came to a marshy area, pools of stagnant water and broad-leafed water loving plants were on either side of the trail.  A small, strange, bamboo-like plant*, no more than 6 – 8 inches tall carpeted the area.  I had never seen the plant before and did not know what it was.  I took several pictures and would research it once I got home. *The plant is called Horsetail Reed.

The trail turned and climbed up over an old railroad bed leaving the marshy area and the strange plant behind.  The sunlight shone down through the trees warming the air.  I continued along as the trail began to climb.

View looking south over Genesee River valley
View looking south over Genesee River valley

The trail followed up along a ridge line with the ground falling away on both sides.  In places the ridge was only a few feet across.  I came to an opening in the trees and saw a vast view sweeping away below me (mile 3.9 – 9:08 am).  The Genesee River flowed through a valley below and the hills climbed to the sky in the distance beyond.  The view was incredible and I stopped to take a few pictures and take it all in.

The trail continued on following the ridge line and came to another vista.  Nearby a trail register was mounted on a tree and I stopped to sign in.  After leaving the vista and register behind I began to descend.  In places I had to carefully pick my way along a narrow trail as the ground fell away on both sides leaving only room for the trail.  Sections of earth, including large trees, had slid several feet down the side of the hill as the ground had given way underneath.

Finally I arrived at the bottom of the hill and came to a post with an FLT sign and a marker indicating a turn.  The trail turned left and led to the edge of a field and then turned right leading away through a mowed path.  Tall grass grew waist-high on either side of the path.  I waded through the shorter grass of the path, still wet from the morning dew.

I continued along the edge of the field and then turned left at the far side.  The trail turned once again, this time to the right, and I found myself on a farm tractor path between fields of wheat.  The sun was shining brightly down from a cloudless blue sky making the wheat glow like gold.  I stopped to take several pictures before continuing on down the dirt track.

Vines overgrowing a large metal bin with a large auger
Vines overgrowing a large metal bin with a large auger

Ahead of me I saw an old barn with a metal roof sitting back against a row of trees.  As I neared I saw a large metal bin, possibly from the back of a dump truck.  The bin was tilted and a large auger was lying against it.  Vines had overgrown parts of the bin and auger.  I stopped to take a few pictures before moving on.

The tractor path turned to the right and exited through a gate.  Beyond the gate I came to Bailey Road, a small paved country road (mile 5.0 – 9:40 am).  I turned left and continued on down the road.  The sun was now well up in the sky and it was getting warm.  A house sat along the road under some massive old trees that shaded the road.  It felt nice and cool for the brief walk through the shade.  And then I was back out into the sun walking between fields.

I arrived at an intersection, to my left a bridge crossed over the Genesee River and ahead the road continued on.  The blazes directed me across the bridge (mile 5.3 – 9:47 am).  As I walked across I heard voices from below.  A small dirt road ran along the side of the river and under the bridge.  People with kayaks had parked and it looked like they were getting ready to launch into the river.

I continued on across and saw a marking on the guard rail indicating a left turn.  At the end of the bridge I arrived at State Route 19A and turned left walking along the shoulder.  After a while I had not seen any more blazes and began to wonder if I had somehow missed a turn.  To my left, toward the river, it looked like there might be a pathway, but I could not reach it from where I was.  I turned around and backtracked to the bridge and found a narrow overgrown path leading down at the edge of the bridge.  The trail was steep and I carefully picked my way down.  One I reached the bottom the path opened out to a wide level pathway, the one I had seen from the road.

FLT and NCT signs on the Genesee Valley Greenway
FLT and NCT signs on the Genesee Valley Greenway

The wide pathway continued along paralleling the busy SR 19A to my right.  It slowly drew closer to the road and after about one-quarter of a mile it ran right next to the road.  A short distance beyond I came to River Road and found signs indicating the wide pathway was the Genesee Valley Greenway (mile 6.0 – 10:01 am).  I crossed over the road and continued on into the trees.  It had been a while since I had stopped for a break, so I found a nice grassy area on the greenway and sat down for a drink and snack.

After resting for a few minutes I continued on down the greenway.  I passed by a marker for the FLT/Wegmans Passport Hikes.  Not far after the marker a farm tractor path led off to the right and up to SR 19A.  The blazes indicated that the trail headed up the tractor path, and I left the greenway behind.  At SR 19A I saw a power pole on the opposite side of the road with white blazes indicating a turn the left.  I started down the shoulder of the road, but once again did not see any blazes.  Again I backtracked and crossed over and into the field on the other side of the road and immediately found blazes taking me around the edge of the field.

I continued along the edge of the field and entered the woods at the back.  Just inside the tree line I came to another trail register (mile 7.3 – 10:36 am).  I stopped and signed in before continuing on.  The trail continued winding through the woods gently climbing up a hill.  The path was easy to follow and clear.

The trail came to the back of a field and followed along the edge in the woods.  A short time later I came to an open clearing running to my left and right.  I suspected that it was a gas line right-of-way, and after consulting the map I found my guess was correct.  The trail turned and headed left down the right-of-way for a short distance and then headed back into the woods.

I continued to descend and arrived at a pair of foot bridges across a small creek.  I crossed the first and turned right to cross the other.  Once on the other side the trail climbed and I came to a wet area.  Someone had taken the ends of logs and placed them as stepping “stones” across the wet area.  I stepped across and continued on.

The trail continued to climb up over a hill and then descended on the other side.  I came to another foot bridge, only one this time, and crossed over.  On the other side the trail climbed again and a short distance later I found myself at the back corner of a very large field.  I noticed a groundhog standing up under the shade of a tree.  As I approached it scooted away.  I decided it had the right idea and set my pack down for a break under the shade (mile 9.4 – 11:31 am).

The moon in the blue sky
The moon in the blue sky

As I sat drinking some water I noticed the moon in the deep blue sky above.  I took a few pictures before starting along the edge of the field.  The field opened to my right and I found myself walking down a tractor path in the middle.  In the distance I could see many wind turbines dotting the tops of the hills.

The tractor path continued on down the hill in between rows of new corn plants.  The plant were only a few inches high.  I stopped several times on my walk down to take pictures of the panorama spread out before me and of the fields.

Looking west up a farm tractor path between fields at Wiscoy Rd
Looking west up a farm tractor path between fields at Wiscoy Rd

I finally reached the bottom of the hill and the tractor path met Wiscoy Road (mile 10.1 – 11:51 am).  Wiscoy Road was a paved road with a yellow stripe down the center.  Some sort of construction was being performed on the west side of the road.  Sections of the shoulder had been dug out and deep trenches had been left surrounded by orange construction barrels.  I walked along the shoulder, moving into the road when I encountered these areas.

I continued along Wiscoy Road until I came to the intersection of Overholt Road, a small dirt and gravel country road (mile 10.4 – 11:59 am).  The white blazes directed me left onto Overholt Road and I made the turn and continued on.  The road descended and ahead of me I saw a sign for the DEC fishing access area at East Koy Creek.  I took a few pictures of the creek as I crossed over the bridge.  It looked cool and inviting and I wanted to jump in.

Once across the bridge Overholt Road changed from dirt and gravel to rough pavement.  I climbed away from the creek and continued on between fields.  A few houses and farms sat along the road.  The sun was shinning down brightly from the cloudless sky and I was glad I had a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.  Nearly four-tenths of a mile later I came to an intersection of four roads; Overholt, Lamont, Babbit, and Graham.  I turned left onto Graham Road, another dirt road (mile 11.2 – 12:13 pm).

Panoramic view looking south-east across field on Graham Rd
Panoramic view looking south-east across field on Graham Rd

The road gently climbed up along the side of a pasture and field.  I continued on up the road and around a bend and finally reached the trailhead.  The trail turned right off the road and headed into a tree line between fields and then on into the woods.  A short walk later I arrived at Camp Road, my turn-around (mile 12.6 – 12:41 pm).  I took a few pictures and turned back.

A short time later I was back on Graham Road and starting the long road-walk back.  Although I had my hat and sunglasses it was bright and warm.  I continued on down the road and back to the intersection of the four roads.  A right turn took me onto Overholt Road and I continued pressing along.  Finally I arrived back at the fishing access area and turned into the small parking lot (mile 14.3 – 1:21 pm).  A path led down from the lot to the creek and I followed it down and turned to find some shade under the bridge.  I set my pack down on a large rock, it was time to take a lunch break.

Graffiti found under bridge over East Koy Creek on Overholt Rd
Graffiti found under bridge over East Koy Creek on Overholt Rd

I noticed some very artistic graffiti on the other side of the creek with the words, “Ain’t no better day… than today” with a red rose in the middle.  It seemed to fit and made me smile.  I removed my boots and socks to give my feet a rest and got my lunch out.  After finishing my lunch I waded into the creek in my bare feet.  The water was cold, but it felt wonderful.  I reluctantly left the creek, dried my feet off, and pulled on new socks and my boots.  After repacking everything I left the shade of the bridge and set off up Overholt Road once again.

I soon arrived back at the intersection with Wiscoy Road, crossed, and turned right.  The heat was radiating up from the hot blacktop as I trudged down the road.  Finally I was back at the tractor path leading up through the corn field (mile 15.1 – 2:08 pm).  I climbed up along the dusty path.  At the top I turned back to take a few more pictures before continuing on to the back of the large field.

Panoramic view looking west across a corn field east of Wiscoy Rd
Panoramic view looking west across a corn field east of Wiscoy Rd

I was glad to be back in the shade of the woods once again.  I made my way across the foot bridges and stopped for a rest break just before the gas pipeline right-of-way.  After a quick break I continued on up along the right-of-way.  Soon I found myself back at the trail register near SR 19A.  I signed in and the made my way around the edge of the field and across SR 19A.

After descending the rocky and rutted tractor path to the greenway I turned left onto the wide path.  I considered stopping again on the greenway, but I wanted to get some more miles in; I still had a long way to go.  Just after crossing River Road I saw a sign posted to a tree.  The sign directed hikers who wanted to stay on the FLT Main Trail to continue following the greenway to the left and those who wanted to take the Letchworth Branch Trail to follow River Road along to the right.  I continued to the left and some time later I found myself back at the steep climb up to the bridge over the Genesee River.  I pulled myself up and turned right across the bridge (mile 19.5 – 3:51 pm).

On the other side of the bridge I turned right down Bailey Road.  Upon reaching the house with the large trees shading the road I slowed to enjoy the relative coolness for a few extra seconds.  It was short-lived and I was back out in the sun and soon turning onto the little farm tractor path.  I passed by the old barn with the metal roof and on between the fields of wheat.

View looking south over Genesee River valley
View looking south over Genesee River valley

Soon I was back at the base of the ridge line and I decided it was time to stop and take a break (mile 20.6 – 4:13 pm).  I drank another bottle of water and ate a banana.  After resting for a few minutes I began the climb up the ridge.  I arrived at the trail register and signed in and then stopped at the vista to take some pictures (mile 20.9 – 4:31 pm).

After leaving the views behind I descended down the ridge line and some time later found myself climbing up to the old railroad bed.  On the other side the swath of Horsetail Reeds and standing water waited.  I wound my way through the area and then climbed back up to S. River Road (mile 22.1 – 5:09 pm).

As I walked up the road to the trailhead I knew I only had two more access points to go, and less then three miles of trail.  I was tired, my legs hurt, my feet hurt, and my shoulders hurt; I was ready to be done.  The trail turned right off the road and I continued to slog on.  A sort time later I climbed up and found myself at the Hesse Lean-to once again.  It was time for another break, my last one before finishing.

After something to drink and short rest I started out again.  A short time later I was walking across the field next to the hedgerow and arrived at Pennycook Road (mile 23.1 – 5:39 pm).  I felt a huge relief to arrive at the road and thought I just had a short, less than one mile, walk left.  Somehow I had mixed up the distances in my head.  The distance from S. River Road to Pennycook Road was 0.9 miles and from Pennycook Road to Short Tract Road was 1.8 miles.  I soon realized my mistake and just wanted to stop and take a nap.

View across a field of a farm and the hills and valleys beyond west of Short Tract Rd
View across a field of a farm and the hills and valleys beyond west of Short Tract Rd

I continued slogging along, putting one foot in front of the other, each step hurting.  Finally I was passing back along the electric fence and the horse pasture.  I stopped to take one last picture of the gorgeous view before me and then trudged on.

Finally the road appeared ahead of me. The trail curved to the left before it opened back out on the road, but just before it did there was a trail register – I had forgotten about it.  I just wanted to get back to my car, but I stopped and signed in again, one last time.  Then I stepped on to the road and started up a short climb to where I had parked my car.

The road was in shade and I thought my car might also be and thus would be cooler.  That was not the case, the hill and trees that had shaded the road did not shade my car and it was sitting in full sun (mile 24.85 – 6:26 pm).  I opened all the doors to let the heat out and changed out of my boots for sandals and into a fresh t-shirt.  After I loaded all my gear I started out on the long 2 hour and 15 minute drive home.

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