Memorial Day Work-Play Klondike Trail Weekend ’18

Our group of five had been warned that an earlier wind event probably produced a lot of blow down on the Klondike trail in the High Peaks. An additional challenge was that thunder storms were predicted for mid-afternoon of our workday.

With the temps cool enough to do trail work and the black flies mostly absent we got on the trail 8ish Saturday morning. We clipped a few trees that were completely blocking the trail just enough so we could pass and hiked 4 miles to the Yard Mountain turn off. The plan was to assess how much work we had and prioritize our efforts on the return hike. We pushed some trees off the trail and others we lifted and moved just far enough to clear the trail. About 10 to 15 trees were large enough to require time consuming saw work. We kept up a quick pace knowing that partly cloudy skies could turn to predicted thunder storms. We skipped cleaning water bars and left some blow down that could be easily stepped over. The afternoon storms never developed and we were back to the trail head by 4. In the end we had cleared 35 to 40 trees from the trail. In comparison in previous years we might encounter on an average of 5 blow downs. What a workout!

We spent Saturday evening enjoying the hospitality of Marilyn and Peter Gillespie in Saranac Lake. The DEC recommends hikers avoid the higher wet and possibly snow covered trails this early in the spring to minimize erosion. On Sunday I found it very easy to comply with that suggestion since I was very sore from playing lumberjack the previous day. I took in Baxter and Blueberry Mountain in Keene Valley.

Submitted by Lee Clukey

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Lockport to Gasport Bike Ride – 7/8/18

Our group of eleven set out on a perfect summer day with temps in the the low to mid-eighties.  We had full sun with a mild breeze as we worked our way to Gasport.  The gravel bike path was very busy due to a Buffalo – Albany 8 day event that was also in progress.  We maintained about a 9 mile per hour average speed with a few water breaks under shady trees.  Upon our return to Lockport, we viewed Locks 34 and 35 areas while a paddle-wheel boat made its way through the locks.  We concluded our trip with a well-deserved break at Lake Effect ice cream shop.  We hope you can join us on our next bike outing on Saturday, August 11th to Royalton Ravines County Park.

Submitted by Kevin Bolt

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Oak Orchard River Paddle – 7/14/18

Seven kayak paddlers spotted their cars at the take-out and returned to the put-in near Gravel Road north of Medina in Orleans County.  The river was flowing nicely due to the water contribution from the Barge Canal.  We were joined by a nearly endless quantity of other groups of paddlers and floaters.  (Some were accompanied by floating rafts with ample liquid refreshments).  It was a great day for the trip with warm temperatures and a mildly overcast sky, which is good for photography.  We found a good spot to pull out and have our lunches.  At some point, a very light rain began and one of the paddlers saw a lightning flash so we picked up our pace to the takeout.  On our way home we stopped at Millers Market on Rt. 104. For an Amish food shopping opportunity.

Submitted by Richard Schraven

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Darien Lake State Park Hike – 6/30/18

Our merry group of 9 beat the extreme heat enjoying a delightful 4-mile hike in the cool forest of Darien Lake State Park — a terrific way to launch the festive holiday week!

The trail was in great shape, with bright orange markers, boardwalks through wet areas, and an impressive new lean-to. We took a relaxing break to snack and chat at the Sumner Road turnaround point.

A variety of trees provided ample shelter from the hot sun, including maple, cherry, hemlock, pine, and  a healthy-looking array of ash trees thankfully not afflicted by the Emerald Ash Borer.

On our pre-hike 2 days earlier to inspect the trail, we spotted a lime-green Luna Moth on a tree trunk, our first sighting in the wild. These beautiful creatures are rarely seen due to their very brief (1 week) adult life.

It’s always a joy to be in the woods. You never know what Mother Nature will reveal.

— Submitted by David and Janet Kowalski

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Backpack ‘Ha De Ron Dah’ Wilderness – 5/18-20/18

The Ha De Ron Dah Wilderness is just outside of Old Forge New York in the Western Adirondacks. Our band of seven intrepid backpackers left Buffalo on Friday morning. We hiked in the first night over rolling hills about 5 miles to the Middle Branch Lake lean-to. The site is lovely with nice water access and a glorious sunset.






The second day we hiked about 11 miles in the rain to Middle Settlement lake lean-to. Gusting winds and rain all day made us happy to have a lean-to and some chill time to warm up and enjoy the company. Some of the trail crossings were a bit more challenging than the first day.


Sunday morning we hiked out about 5 miles to finish the trip. Some amazing rock formations and a nice sandwich were our rewards. A great trip with newer backpackers learning from more experienced ones.



— Submitted by Aaron Slosman

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Emery Park Hike – 5/5/18

Eight cheerful hikers enjoyed warm, sunny weather for a 4-mile hike in Emery Park, a WNY gem known for its natural beauty and solitude.

We hiked along ravines on paths selected to see 5 picturesque waterfalls located throughout the park.




We also spotted delightful wildflowers including bloodroot, cut-leaved toothwort, white and red trillium, trout lily, and spring beauty. Spring has finally sprung in WNY!

Cut-Leaved Toothwort



Emery Park was once a vibrant homestead established by Josiah Emery in the early 1800’s, and included an outdoor amphitheater, Emery Inn, gardens, gazebos, a stocked pond, and stone bridges. Remnants of that era remain, including a stone sculpture in the now-dry sunken pond area. One person in our group used to be a waitress at the historic Inn! The Inn is gone, but nowadays this Erie County Park is a multi-use facility, offering hiking trails, a free downhill ski hill with a T-bar lift, a frisbee golf course, picnic shelters, and baseball diamonds.

— Submitted by David and Janet Kowalski

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Bruce Trail Hike, Iroquois pt.2 – 4/29/18

Seven adventurous hikers led by Ken Martin continued their journey in the Bruce Trail Iroquois Section on a beautiful wooded footpath from Grimsby to Hamilton Ontario. Our veteran group was unfazed by the wet conditions. We marveled at the astonishing display of scores of earthworms wriggling on a soaking wet part of the trail! Yellow-green mosses decorated sections along the trail (photo). Elsewhere, Spring wildflower plants were bursting through the soil on our 20 km/12 mile journey along the Niagara Escarpment.

Spring rain created many waterfalls on the escarpment and enhanced existing ones, including the spectacular Felkers Falls (photo), which is 20 feet wide and drops over 70 feet from the top into a pool below.

Near the end of our journey, we encountered an irresistible bench with an accompanying sign — “Rest, Look and Listen” — a much-appreciated reminder from the Bruce Trail Conservancy to take those extra moments to savor the natural beauty when hiking in beautiful places.

— Submitted by David and Janet Kowalski

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Zoar Valley North Rim Snowshoe – 3/17/18

Three of us met at the Park & Ride on Union Rd. near Main St. in Williamsville and drove to the Zoar Valley Multiple Use entrance on Vail Road. One additional member joined us there. The snow was too deep to park in the lot. We adopted a version of the “fartlek” trail breaking system, where the one in front breaks trail for a while and then moves to the side while the rest of the group passes by with a new “leader” to move through the 18’’ snow-depth. This was not necessary when we got to the rim trail in the woods. The snow depth was less there.

It was a great day for the trip. The temperature was in the high twenties and it was a beautiful sunny day. With the leaves off the trees, the views of the gorge were spectacular. We hiked past the “knife edge” and took a break for a snack. We saw deer and other tracks. It was a great opportunity for photography. The way back to the cars was much easier as we retraced the path we created on the way in.

— Submitted by Richard Schraven

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ADK LOJ Ski/Snowshoe – 3/9-11/18

The Adirondacks never let me down so, I go back every chance I get. A bad day of hiking is better than a good day of work. So it was I signed up for the ADK-NFC annual LOJ outing, coordinated by the ever-so-capable Mary Schraven and her supportive, involved husband, Richard.

We carpooled through wicked weather and arrived at the LOJ to claim our bunks, take a quick snowshoe stroll around Heart Lake and enjoy a wonderful dinner in the dining room. Everyone became fast friends even though I only knew a few and not well at that.

Saturday, we rose early. Some took off to cross country ski at Cascade. Others (like me) snowshoe hiked. We had a great time, knocking Phelps off my 46’er list (even if we didn’t get Table Top. Every ambitious hike I take seems to end one short of what I planned).

On Sunday, we snowshoed again to Avalanche Pass, which was breathtaking, frozen in winter with perfect conditions, pristine wilderness, as close to heaven as you can get without departing this realm.

If you always wondered what this trip was about, whether you would fit in, or if it was worth it, don’t. Sign up as soon as possible next year (Same B1/G1 night free, same weekend 3/8-3/10) and understand, you will be addicted and it promises to be a well-coordinated, well-run trip because of the great job Mary and Richard do.

You can read the author’s daily musings on Facebook.

— Submitted by Joseph Genco

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Laura Secord Trail, part 3 – 3/4/18

Bluebird skies and mild temperatures provided delightful conditions for our merry group led by Ken Martin to complete the popular 20-mile historic Laura Secord Trail. We spotted cars and began our 6-mile hike at Rodham Hall Art Center in St. Catherines, walking along the glistening Twelve Mile Creek for most of the day.


After about 4 miles we climbed the Niagara Escarpment through lush scenic woods and found some nice views of Lake Ontario. DeCew Falls was robust, due to the springlike temps and plentiful snowmelt.

Near the end of our journey we viewed a pair of majestic Mute Swans in Lake Moodie, displaying their sinuous necks and signature orange beak and black head markings.


Our final stop was at the remains of the historic DeCew House. There in 1813, Laura Secord delivered her fateful message to Lieutenant Fitzgibbon of an imminent American attack. She made the 32-km trip in one June day, and carved out her place in Canadian history.

Guelder Rose fruit



— Submitted by David and Janet Kowalski

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