2017 December 02

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Cat & Thomas Mountains Preserve
South Bradford State Forest

December 2017
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Questions? Need an updated map? Email me andy@andyarthur.org.

Map: South Bradford State Forest

Map: South Bradford State Forest

The 1,819-acre South Bradford State Forest features a portion of the Finger Lakes Hiking Trail and is the northern end of the Crystal Hills Branch Hiking Trail. This forest also has significant mineral activity, visitors should expect to see natural gas wellheads and pipelines. Today, South Bradford and all state forests in New York are managed for multiple benefits to serve the needs of the people of New York. Sustainable management practices will ensure a perpetual supply of timber, a diversity of wildlife habitats, compatible recreational opportunities and clean water.

Located on the area is a portion of the Finger Lakes Trail and Crystal Hills Branch Trail (both foot traffic only). Maintenance is done by the volunteers of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (leaves DEC website) under a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement. The Finger Lakes Trail is a segment of the North Country National Scenic Trail (leaves DEC website) a 3200-mile trail which extends from New York to North Dakota, and the Crystal Hills Branch Trail is a segment of the Great Eastern Trail (leaves DEC website) which, when finished, will end in Alabama.

The South Bradford Lean-to is located at the intersection of the Finger Lakes Trail and the Crystal Hills Trail. At-large primitive camping is also allowed in this unit. Campsites must be at least 150 feet away from the nearest road, trail, or body of water. Camping for more than three nights or in groups of ten or more requires a permit from a Forest Ranger.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/37456.html

Good evening! Partly cloudy and 26 degrees off of the East Branch of the Sacanadaga River near  Bakers Mills. Calm wind. A bit cool but still pretty nice. I decided that I wouldn’t pitch a tent, because I decided it wasn’t that bad cold, but I do have plenty of propane that if I need the heater and the tent, I certainly could put it up. But for now it’s fine by the fire. Maybe it will prove to be a mistqake at 5 AM when I’m freezing, but honestly under the covers in my truck is pretty comfortable.

Today was a nice day out on Thomas and Cat Mountain. The Thomas Mountain cabin that currently is open to the public is so nice. It’s really disappoiting that they’ve proposed to demolish it to comply with the rules set forth in the Adirondack Park. The only thing it’s msising is the wood stove, which was removed what appears to be fairly recently. I don’t know, if they allow intensive use campgrounds in the Adirondack Park, they should allow the legacy cabin to remain. I figure its good to see it before it’s demolished. If they want to continue the state’s prohibition on closed camps on state forest preserve (which I think is silly, but so is the whole forest preserve concept), they should just remove the front wall, and make a really nice two-story leean-to. I think my dream house would be a lot like that cabin, although I would want some kind of hot running water and shower, so I could get clean in the winter. I like camping, but not having regular showers is probably the biggest disadvantage of being out in the woods. That’s one of the things I like about the Finger Lakes National Forest and visiting the state parks in the summer — the nice showers before and after swimming.

Tonight will have increasing clouds, with a low of 20 degrees at 1am. Six degrees below normal. Calm wind. In 2016, we had mostly clear skies. It got down to 35 degrees. The record low of -1 occurred back in 1976. That’s the Albany record, I’m sure it’s gotten even colder up north here. I mean, we are already in December.

While tomorrow officially is the Cold Moon, December’s Supermoon, for all purposes the moon is nearly full. The sun will rise at 7:11 am with the first light at 6:39 am, which is one minute and 4 seconds later than yesterday. Tonight will have 14 hours and 52 minutes of darkness, an increase of one minute and 20 seconds over last night. Nights are really long this time of year, but then again around the first day of summer, you can go walking at Moose River Plains at 9:45 PM, and there still is a little light leftin the atmosphere. I like camping year round, but those warm summer nights are still so delightufl.

Tomorrow will be partly sunny, with a high of 37 degrees at 1pm. Four degrees below normal. Calm wind. A year ago, we had mostly sunny skies. The high last year was 42 degrees. The record high of 63 was set in 2009. 5.2 inches of snow fell back in 1893. 

My toes are a bit cold from the boots getting wet, despite changing my socks. I’ll chanage them once again before bed. I finslly got out the propane heater, and I’ve had it next to my chair warming up my behind. I am glad I got propane, because I had only about 2.94 lb left. With the heater, camp stove, and latern, that would leave me dangerously low by morning. 

But I really don’t have an execuse for not having enough propane going up to the Adirondacks. Tractor Supply in Clifton Park is only a short distance from the Northway and tanks don’t have to be totally empty to be filled, and they only charge you for the amount of propane you need. In other words, they charge by the gallon, $2.99. Which is better then the Delmar hardware store where it’s a flat fee no matter how empty your tank is. Which is a good markup from bulk propane delivery, but it takes specially trained staff time to operate the filling machine. The lumber mill in Wevertown also fills propane tanks, but I’m sure they are more expensive and probably aren’t open the long hours as Tractor Supply.

I am very much still in shock that it’s already December. It just got cold so quickly, and summer faded away before you knew it. Been listening to Christmas music while Iam, and that Cold Moon is quite beautiful. I am pretty sure this will be the last night in the wilderness at least truck cap camping for the year, but I might pitch a hot tent later on in December. Fire is roaring away now. While I bought a bag of wood at Stewarts, I’ve been almost entirely just burning wood that I found in the woods. I’ll save the wood for a future trip. The nice thing about the kiln-dried wood is it can be legally brought across state lands and is easy to ignite — and for $8 you still get a pretty good amount of wood — some places it’s cheaper too. Having a cozy campfire is well worth paying for and knowing you have a security of not getting stuck in the dark trying to scrounge up some wood. 

Thomas and Cat Mountain are a nice hike. While there are a handful of modestly steep cliffs that the trail between them goes over, most of the trails are old woods roads. Cat has some pretty impressive secenery, and the Thomas Cabin is really nice. I was slow and took a lengthy stop on both moutains, but if you do both, you can enjoy a nice 7 mile loop that I was able to turn into a five hour hike. There is a good amount of elevation gain, but it’s hardly strenous compared some of the hikes I’ve done elsewhere in both the Adirondacks and Catskills. I will post lots of photos when I return home.

In four weeks on December 30 the sun will be setting at 4:29 pm, which is 8 minutes and 50 seconds later then tonight. It remarkable to think that 2017 is coming to aclose to so quickly. I wonder if I will get a chance to get out camping once again before the end of the year. I guess it depends a lot on the weather — will we get a lot of snow, and how old it will be. I keep telling me a New Years Eve camping trip would be fun, but that never happens. One year I did welcome in the New Year Eve on Overlook Mountain. That was cool but I don’t think I made it quite to the top by when the ball dropped, and it was a bit scary driving down the snow covered Overlook Mountain Road in the morning. Camping I wouldn’t have to worry though about bad roads or drunks on the highway.  In 2016 on that day, we had snow, mist, mostly cloudy skies and temperatures between 35 and 24 degrees. Typically, you have temperatures between 32 and 16 degrees. The record high of 53 degrees was set back in 1984.

Looking ahead, Ground Hog Day is in 2 months and The Day the Music Died is in 9 weeks. Bye, bye,Ms. American Pie.

I may listen to another podcast, then I will likely retire to bed in the bed of my pickup truck on last time this year. Good night.