Sun, blue skies and big puffy white clouds accompanied me on this hike through fields and along country roads. I pushed through overgrown sections and lost the trail several times. Vast and expansive views opened around me at the top of Brooks Hill. Quiet country roads wound along through the valleys. Fields criss-crossed the trail and I found myself more often in fields than in woods.
This hike was a rainy hike. Both Saturday and Sunday were not ideal hiking days, but Saturday seemed to the best of the two days. The rain was not supposed to start until later in the day, but the weather had its own plans. Rain started as I left my house at 5 am and continued on and off all morning.
I started my hike across vineyard fields, over a bridge across a stream, and then on to an abandoned railroad bed. From there I hiked up along a deep gorge. I took a short detour to climb down into the gorge to a waterfall. After leaving the waterfall rain started and I got wet as I crossed CR 13 and climbed to the top of a hill.
The trail wound along through and near fields for much of the hike. I saw expansive views, fog clouds hanging in the valleys below, and a strange circular structure in one field.
I picked some wild raspberries along Newton Road, encountered several orange efts and a few toads. Most of the hike the woods were quiet except for the patter of falling rain drops. The skies remained dark and gray.
I set out on the long drive to the trailhead, heading west on NY 17 / I-86. The wind whipped at flags I saw along the drive and pushed my car around on the road as higher gusts blew up, but the sun was bright and the temperatures were warm. I arrived at the trailhead shortly before 8 am; the same place I had parked at for my last hike, but this time I was heading west.
On this hike I would meet a thru-hiker, walk/jog a long road walk of nearly four miles one-way, descend 700 feet through numerous switchbacks on my way down to Urbana, NY, and then climb back up and do the road walk once more. And although the day was warm and sunny, the wind was wicked, gusting over 30 mph at times. On top of the hill it was so constant that my ears started to ring from the sound.
As I usually do, I began checking the weather a week before the weekend of my planned hike. The prediction for Saturday was clouds and rain showers, but Sunday looked to be decent. As the weekend drew closer the weather for Sunday began to turn worse. By Thursday both Saturday and Sunday were predicted to be cloudy and rainy, however the weather for Monday looked nearly perfect – of course. Rather than hike in chilly and rainy weather I decided to take Monday off work and take advantage of the great weather.
I left for the long drive to the trailhead around 6:15 am. It was still cool and foggy out, but it was predicted to warm into the mid 70’s. The drive was uneventful and the fog had burned off by the time I arrived. Sunlight was filtering through the trees and it already felt warm.
The first hike of 2016 had finally arrived. I had spent the previous days obsessing over the weather forecast and as the weekend got closer settled on Sunday for the day of the hike. Earlier in the week Saturday had looked to be the better day, but as the weekend got closer the weather turned. It was a good choice to delay the hike until Sunday because Saturday was a cloudy and blustery day; it would not have been a very good hike day.
I left my house just as the sun was beginning to rise above the horizon. It was cold still, only about 29, but the sky was clear and the forecast was for the temperatures to rise into the low 60s by mid afternoon.