Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A beautiful day for snowshoes! ...(3 Geezer Poets take a Hike!)

I wrote this the day we went out. Never finished it to the point where I wanted it to be so I could post it. I don't know what I was waiting for exactly but perhaps it was this Pic from Rt. 433 I took the other day after YET ANOTHER snow/ice mixed onslaught!

This is the view I see on the way home each night. Is it any wonder I hear it calling to me from my back yard?


The other thing was locating this poem that bIRD wrote:

stop in pitch pine and listen
first hear silence
then at the edge of hearing
faint distant caws
crows in their field
another mountain over
                            on Bennett Hill

Which reminds me of the Crows ...or as I like to think of them: "Soundtrack to Hike by..." I always hear the Stream; The bIRD hears Crows ...go figure!


We met at my house in Clarksville at about 9:30 and were parked at the base of Bennett Hill Preserve a few minutes later. I signed us in as 4 Poets subconsciously I guess but Jim was in absentia today. He'll have to live this one vicariously like the rest of you!

The forecast was for temperatures in the 40s and we expected cloudy skies with some breaks of sun. What we got was a "perfecto" day!

You may recognize this shot from a previous posting last fall. I am intending to see if I can capture it in spring and summer as well. We shall see...
The trail was previously broken by more hardy snowshoer's in more wintery conditions than today and to them we tip our hats for making our way that much easier to go. It would seem that frequent visitors have managed even the more difficult trails which we were unwilling and unprepared to do today. (...This being only my 3rd time out this year and I am a little out of practice and a bit older than I was in my Scouter days...) I did notice in the log book that Troop 50 of Guilderland had been here recently and I'm sure they were much more aggressive in their hike than "We Three Poetic Geezers" :')
The sun POPed out just as we began to climb in ernest up the Green trail which runs from the parking lot around the base of Bennett Hill along the Meadow Brook Farmland. 

Here the trail begins to climb steeply and takes a series of switchbacks crossing over and back again the aforementioned springs and their (even now) flowing waters.

We had to make a minor detour around this downed tree. Some had managed to climb through it but I for one was not interested in breaking my new snowshoes or my neck in traversing it. (...Yeah, I took the easy way around...)
Tom is actually standing on a well made bridge here over one of the streams formed by a spring.

Bathtub Spring was right where I expected it to be so I guess this Geezers memory is somewhat better than the bRID's. 

It was running just fine so I took a drink as I always do. There is just something about drinking from "The Tub" that appeals to the boy in me. Can you imagine the work it must have taken to get it up here in the first place? That alone was cause to drink and celebrate someone else's sweaty summertime effort!

As we rounded a switchback I noticed what appears to be the tracks of a rescue sled to the right of the trail here. Those tireless unsung heroes must have had to haul someone out earlier on in the season; and you better believe the thought crossed my mind if ever I might be riding the sled someday when I fail to get my Geezer on!

I love this tree and so it seems do most people who climb here. If you get close to it you can see that the bark is well worn from people straddling it for a picture or two. We did that last time so we moved on to the upper trail from the Green to the Yellow which skirts the edge of the plateau atop the mountain.

Tom and I chose to go left and bIRD went right. We had not previously gone that way and I was eager to see what it was like. bIRD was looking for the familiar perhaps because the previous climb was a bit steeper on snowshoes than we had remembered it in the fall while walking at more leisurely pace.

My guess is that the plateau was used as pastureland during the 18th and 19th centuries and these pine trees were planted recently in the the last 10 or 20 years as they are all about the same size and in what appears to be somewhat uniform rows.

From our vantage point on the south eastern side we could see through the trees Copeland Hill just beyond Lawson Lake which lies in between the two peaks. (I wonder what Copeland Hill would have been called by the Indians? I know what I would call Bennett Hill but that will be the subject of a sidebar at the end of this blog... stay tuned!)

The top of the mountain is flat and open in places and one can imagine that this may have even been a place of lookout for Indians back in the day. (I wonder if there has ever been a dig to determine this? Or if the ensuing occupation by Patent Settlers may have wiped those remains out? Hmmm...)

We met up with bIRD on the northwestern edge where there is an overlook we had visited in the Fall and this Beautiful view was our reward! Clarksville is in the foreground and Schenectady County is off in the far distance. (Voorheesville and Guilderland in between.)
As it turns out the part of the yellow trail Tom and I took was a lot less up and down than the familiar way bIRD took so we decided to backtrack the way we came and bypass the possibility of sliding down the Red trail (someone hardier than us had done so "Perhaps them Boyscouts!?" but we Geezered out and went back the way we came at our Geezerly pace.)

Along the way I came across this hole obviously occupied by a hungry and industrious creature with no maintenance crew or mommy to clean up after them. ;')

There were Deer tracks everywhere, on the trail and crossing the trail.

An interesting tree (perhaps somewhat phallic) but interesting none the less.

Trails are well marked with paint rather than disks that tend to harm the trees; but the map provided at the trail head is I think not up to date. 

False trail.

We noticed along the way at least one unmarked detour someone took perhaps unknowingly when missing the turn for the first series of switchbacks, and one established Blue Trail not indicated on the map heading off of the yellow trail in a southeasterly direction. (Have to check that one out in the springtime!)

On the way up Tom and I noticed clumps of Rabbit or Squirrel fur along the trail.

On the way back down Alan found this nearby. The remains of the victim and the ruffled breast feather of the victor! I mangled it a bit before snapping this pic but we guessed it to be from a local Owl rather than a Hawk.


All in all it was a fine day! We finished up at Jake Moons for Brunch. Mmmmmm. if you haven't been there you don't know what I mean. (I had the Special of the Day: Philly Cheese Steak... Did I say Steak? Yeah: Real Steak. Nuff said.)


Being Geelerly Gezzers (some of us in better shape than others) I will have to say that it was easier than it could have been had we not been going over previously shoed ground. We avoided the Red Trail which would have been more challenging and perhaps even maxed out at 5 Gezzers due to slippery conditions going downhill over hardened surface and very little powder that day.

Overall Geezer Rating 3.5

Gonna have to go with the previous rating of 3.5 for this trip. Higher and harder if it were virgin snow or the Red Trail had been attempted. The Blue Trail being an unknown and not on the map I can't factor that into the difficulty this time out. There is always next time!


SIDEBAR Previously mentioned:

I've been looking into the "Onesquethaw" name for the creek which is fed by some of the springs on the southern side of this preserve and I am not yet convinced of the attributed meanings for this compound Indian word. The meaning for "Oniskethau" (I believe this to be the more proper spelling for the word) is loosely translated as "Corn-field-creek" in my research I find that there are references to Oniskethau Mt. and Flats (or flatlands). On old patent maps the place is actually referred to as "Niskitha". This would seem a much better and more apropos name for this Mountain. It is in fact by most definitions of what constitutes a Mountain and I am sure the original inhabitants  (Mahican NOT Mohegan) saw and must have referred to it as such. In my mind at least it is really "Niskatha Mountain"... Just Sayin'! :')

17/Feb/11 and 8/Mar/11

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