Late December Hike

Great Weather!

Well, at least until today we’ve had an amazingly warm and snow/ice-free December. But today, freezing rain, so I’m stuck on the treadmill for the first time this season. I haven’t blogged much lately, just thinking about gear and logistics and holiday stuff. But I’ve been able to get outdoors a lot, so I’ll describe a recent hike to Mariposa State Forest near DeRuyter NY.

Rain – a chance to try out rain gear

That’s the way I see it. So when I was off work December 22, I decided to try for two geocaches that hadn’t been found in 1.5 – 2.5 years.This involved a hike in a state forest about an hour drive away. It was raining pretty well, so I experimented with my trekking umbrella. I had purchased a elastic thingie with clips on either end – a Nite Ize bungee – that looked like it might be handy. And by playing with it for a while, I did come up with a hands-free system for my umbrella. I clipped the shaft of my umbrella under the chest strap of my pack (just a day pack for this hike). I used the bungee to attache the bottom of the umbrella to my waist strap – OK. Later I tried the bungee as sort of an arm strap  from the bottom of the umbrella, behind my shoulder, and clipped onto the umbrella shaft. Better!

Outbound Hike

I found the parking area and trail without difficulty – always an auspicious start to a a hike in an unfamiliar area. The trail started with a descent to a small creek. Just beyond the creek was a lean to. Sadly it was full of trash and I hadn’t brought a trash bag. People!!!! What’s wrong with them?! Near the lean to was a geocache that hadn’t been found in 1.5 years. I got to ground zero, poked around, and eventually found the hidden ammo can in good shape. It was well camouflaged by moss and vegetation which had grown on the sticks covering it. I even found a travel bug.

I continued on, climbing out of the creek valley and through a level area of mature forest. Very nice. The next geocache hadn’t been found in 2.5 years. It was near a dead-end dirt road that ended in an area obviously used for campfires. I didn’t find that one, but by then it was pouting and my glasses were totally fogged over. So I decided to try again some other day, hiked a bit further, then turned back.

Return Hike

Fairly uneventful until I reached the creek. It was MUCH higher and faster. I located a fallen tree across the creek, maybe 8 – 10 inches in diameter. Too wet, slippery, and narrow to walk across. But I straddled it and used it to creep across. My dog was reluctant to cross the rapid water at first but soon found a spot to his liking and dashed across the creek in 5 seconds. Total hike distance back to my car, according to my GPS – 5.83 miles.

I guess I need new rain pants. The goretex in that pair was worn and cracked in a few places – including the crotch. So my creek crossing technique got me saturated. (Normally I would have been OK since I don’t hike upside down). I did watch some online videos of AT fords of streams in Maine and was glad to see cables. I would love to hear from others about their stream fording techniques on the AT.

Pleasant Surprise on Drive Home

I took a different route home and discovered an elk farm! I definitely hope that on some future date, I can contact the owners and return to take some photos. It’s the closest to reindeer I think I will see around hear, except at the zoo.

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