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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve

Headed out for a short walk up in Clifton Park today at the Dwaas Kill Nature Preserve.  A 250 acre, fairly new Preserve with two separate entrances off of Pierce Rd and Kinns Rd, it follows closely along the banks of the Dwaas Kill.

The Dwaas Kill is a small stream that runs very shallow this time of year and was overgrown in most areas. It would be interesting to see what it would look like here after heavy rains or during the spring meltoff season.


 It did widen a bit towards the Kinns Rd side of the preserve and look a little less grown in.  The water was nearly completely calm today.
The one major problem I ran into was that the trails were barely negotiable and nothing more than a footpath through high weeds in most spots. I had to closely follow the taped off markings on the trees to know where I was going in the more grown in areas.


This lead to a lot of cuts and scratches on my legs but it wasn't terrible.  Even with the overgrown conditions, the constant sound of the stream on one side and traffic from the road on the other would prevent one from becoming truly lost though.  If the weeds and brush don't get you a little damp then the broken or barely there footbridges may give you wet feet.  Came across this little bridge crossing a nearly bone dry brook.

Again, this area could be tricky during high water or wet times through the year.  It was nice to get out and explore a new area, but I may wait until the growing season is done to return here.  There were a couple of nice benches near the Dwaas Kill but unfortunately the trees and bushes have grown so much, all views of the water from them are diminished.  As I started heading back to the parking lot, the clouds began to break and the humidity started to increase, so I was happy to get back into the air conditioned car and head home.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Battenkill State Forest

Had another free day so decided to explore an area I wasn't all that familiar with.  Washington County is a beautiful area with picturesque backroads and open fields as far as the eye can see but I wanted to find some hiking in the area.  What I found was Battenkill State Forest, located just east of Cambridge, NY in the town of Jackson.  It has a nice trail up to some nice views over the farm country of Washington County so it sounded like a good place.  The trail starts off mostly level through fields before entering the canopy of mixed hardwood forest.


 Near the trail register, I found this silly face on a tree.


It made me smile and I continued on my way.  Soon after entering the woods the trail began to climb quickly, until I was completely exhausted.  The ascent was nearly straight up for quite a while and left we breathing heavily.  Just when I thought it would continue going up it leveled off a bit and came to a saddle between two ridges.  This was welcome news and I picked up the pace a bit.  The trail had several other ups and downs and totaled 5.22 RT miles.  A bit fatigued, I finally reached the Folded Rock summit and its views.  The views west over the farm country were handsome and well worth the effort.







Sunday, August 18, 2013

French Hill Mtn(Lake George)/ Bailey Pond(Hoffman Notch Wilderness)

It's been a while since I've gotten up into the Adirondacks to do any hiking, so I figured today was as good a day as any other.  Wasn't quite sure where I wanted to go as I loaded the car, but decided to drive north and figure it out on the way.  While racking my brain, I remembered a hike just south of Lake George that looked interesting to me.  It is a climb up French Mountain.  Not a popular hike, but that's kind of what appealed to me on a summer weekend day near Lake George.  There is small pull off for Col. Williams Statue on Route 9 and that is where you park your car.


You walk along the trail to the statue and then beyond that until you find the Warren county bike path.  A short walk along the bike path leads to a rock outcropping and arrow on the pavement indicating the start of the trail.  It is a pleasant walk at first, mostly level for the first quarter mile or so but then began a fairly steep ascent.  The trail was well marked and easy to follow, even with the side trails running through much of the woods.

Following a steady climb which left me somewhat winded, I finally reached the top.  The trail itself is only 2.4 miles RT but due to steep climb seemed much longer.  After a small scramble on some open rocks I found some nice views to the south and west mostly.  Unfortunately it was a mostly cloudy day with some haze, so views weren't what they could've been on a clear day.




After the return trip to the car, I still had some energy and it was not even noon yet.  So, I set out further north for another hike. I was looking for a more remote, level hike and found Bailey Pond in the Hoffman Notch Wilderness area. This is an area that has intrigued me for a while.  Although less than a half hour drive from Schroon Lake, it is a secluded area, with a deep back country feeling.  When I pulled into the parking area, I was almost surprised to see a car already in the wooded lot.  After looking at the trail register I assumed that the other hikers were the couple who signed in the day before and possibly camped overnight. Once I got moving it was a nice, easy stroll through deep woods.  There were no ups or downs so I arrived at the pond in only twenty minutes.  It is a beautiful spot with Hayes Mountain looming in the background.



On the return walk, I crossed the rambling Trout Brook and noticed cables hung for high water crossing.  Today, though, the water level was low.


Once across the brook, I found the trail which brings to a much more remote pond about two miles further called Marion Pond.  That would have to wait for another day, however.  I was tired and ready to head back to the car.  All in all, it proved to be a nice day of hiking.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Local Waterfalls and Hidden Gems

In my ongoing quest for new adventures, my explorations will often lead to a local waterfall.  Not the crazy, huge, popular falls known world wide, such as Niagara Falls.  No, just your average, run of the mill, local gem that often times goes unnoticed.  For example, one day earlier this summer while wandering the trails at Five Rivers Educational Center in Delmar I stumbled upon some beautiful small cascades on the Vlockie Kill.
Still other times, I will be driving a random back road and come across a gorgeous site such as this waterfall in Schgaticoke called Buttermilk Falls.

As lucky as I was to find these falls, other times I have a particular waterfall that I'm looking for and will go out in search of it.

One such place was Dionondahowa Falls in Easton, NY.  A small pull off on a side road leads down to a short trail that brings you to a spot where the Battenkill is dammed.  There are a couple of different viewpoints to see the falls, but it depends on how high the water levels are for the more up close spots.
I was surprised to find a nice waterfall by a dam in East Greenbush Town Park as well.  It is actually part of the north branch of the Moordenor Kill.
Speaking of the Moodenor Kill, this stream has a waterfall in Schodack which I had read about but was concerned about public access to it. Sure enough, when I found it, there were posted signs all around the trails.  Fortunately the pull off by the road was pretty close to the falls, so I parked and decided to scramble down the trail to get a couple of pictures.  Turns out it is a beautiful spot and I got some nice shots.
I'm not always so lucky though.  Sometimes you find a nice trail that leads to a place that is reputed to have great falls, but a sheer lack of running water leads to a dry waterfall.  Seen here is my girlfriend standing in the very spot a flow of water normally produces a waterfall at Christman Sanctuary in Duanseburg.
Earlier in the spring my girlfriend Heather and I found some other local falls that luckily did have water, even though they were in much more urban settings.  Mill Creek in Rensselaer was the setting for this beautiful waterfall.
And this popular waterfall is part of the Mohawk River in Cohoes. Well known as Cohoes Falls, it has a long history in this area.  It was one of the main reasons that cargo could not get through from the Mohawk to the Hudson back in the 1800's, and played a leading role in the creation of the series of locks in nearby Waterford.

In Schenectady County you can hike the Indian Kill Preserve and see its series of small falls along the trail.



A short walk in RPI's Tech Park near my apartment in North Greenbush brings you to another beautiful waterfall in the ravine.
One of the most spectacular falls for views is Barberville Falls in Poestenkill.


The sheer amount of waterfalls in this area is confounding.  I have found many others that are just as beautiful as the ones listed here.  Hopefully I can get to those in a future post.  Happy exploring!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Kayaking Nassau Lake

In early June, my girlfriend and I went out and each purchased nine and a half foot kayaks for ourselves in hopes of doing mostly flat water exploring. We have a nice place on  the west side of Nassau Lake to store them and put in right from my mom's yard.
 The lake suffers from a poor reputation due to high PCB levels that had been slowly tainting the water dating back to the 1950's.  The Dewey Landfill dump closed in 1970 by court order but not before thousands of pounds of solvents and chemicals had been dumped into the landfill. Nearly all of these damages were sustained from General Electric and SI group, the former Schenectady International, based out of Niskayuna. These companies are now running a chemical treatment to help remove PCB's from the contaminated water.  The link below from the Times Union contains a fantastic article regarding this issue.

http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/10M-to-clean-PCBs-from-Dewey-Loeffel-dump-3474527.php#photo-2806374

My beautiful girlfriend Heather!
Not only is kayaking fun, but it can be a good workout.
Serenity.
Lazy summer days on the lake.
Aquatic plant life in the lake.
 View back near launch area into the lake
The lake is a 172 acre man made impoudment of the Valatie Kill stream. It is almost entirely  residential but has a food stand on the west side of the lake named the Pirate's Cove that is open during the summer months and a softball field on the east side of the lake almost directly across from the launch area.  Several private docks, a dam, and beautiful points make this a beautiful, fun adventure to kayak.
Working my way around the outskirts of the lake near County Route 7.

Nearing the point by our property(near the former Capron's/ Almost Home Tavern)
Night kayaking can bring it's own pleasures.  All other recreational use on the lake almost completely ceases and you can slow down and watch your neighbor's enjoy an evening fire near the shore.
The lake can look very different depending on the season.  Here is a look in mid May.
 Here is the lake in the heat of summer.