My favorite person to hike with is Lisa. She was the friend that took me on my Bristol Hills three day adventure that truly changed my life. Hiking has developed our friendship in a way that is very special to me. Our hikes are filled with philosophical thought, discovering flowers and animal tracks, and discussing the deep parts of ourselves that we sometimes feel only the trees can really absorb without judgement. The only problem is we live about 40 minutes apart and each have busy lives so coordinating a hike can sometimes be a challenge.
This was our first hike of the year together and due to time constraints, I chose the M 12 at access 6 Pleasant Valley Road in Urbana. Lisa and I had hiked this part before but not in the winter. I like doing the same hikes in different seasons as it reveals things about the land, but also about myself. It had snowed recently, but it was still soft and we didn’t need ice spikes.
The more I hike this section of trail, the more I love it. The incline of it is just enough to feel the burn, but not so challenging that it is distracting. It has amazing ravines that show off a creek at the bottom for three seasons and some cool ice flow in the winter.
Coming back to this section of the M 12 this year has made me want to hike the whole thing. There are so many great trails that we get to dreaming about hiking them all once we’ve had a little taste of them. I definitely want to finish B 1 and B 3 this year for a sense of completion and then maybe we’ll start knocking away sections of the M 12.
But most of all, I love how this year’s challenge will bring me closer to my friend. Lisa is an amazing soul who teaches me about the strength I didn’t know I had inside me. This hike was my first FLT of the year and my first hike with Lisa, but definitely not the last.
Stay safe out there. See you on the trail. If you hear clinking and chiming, it’s just me.
The Finger Lakes Trail turns 60 this year! To celebrate they are making the challenge 60 miles instead of 50 miles in a calendar year to earn this beautiful badge. If you are in the Upstate NY region and would like to participate in this challenge, you can go to the FLT60 page and sign up. As an incentive, all non FLT/branch trails count toward your numbers until the end of March, but you have to be outside!
I am going to be logging my miles and journey on here because this is a big deal to me. I found about about FLT50 midway through the year last year, and though I had done 22 miles on my big three day hike, I didn’t do anymore FLT the rest of the year. This year is my year. A girl loves a good badge. Let’s just say the tiny Girl Scout in me is very excited about badges.
This year for the first day of the year hike I decided to go solo instead of hike with a group. There were some things I needed to work out in my head and getting muddy by myself is the perfect way to do this. It was warm and I overdressed, again. This is the story of my hiking life. One of these days I will find the right layering.
I had to park very low before the entrance because it was muddy and my tiny front wheel drive would not have made it up and most likely got stuck. The bulk of this hike is on a logging type road. There are trails per All Trails, but no one had done upkeep on them and they are very poorly marked. Most of the paths are used by mountain bikers by the looks of it. So, I stayed on the road which was sort of boring, but better than getting lost…which I did anyway. The incline was about 18% but it didn’t feel like much after last year’s massive inclines which made me feel really good about myself.
On the map there was noted to be a series of ponds and a pond loop, but I had a hard time finding a singular pond. I did see an older couple hiking up an off shoot to the road and asked them where it was and it was down the road from where they came. I thanked them and made a mental note of the road I was on and how it continued forward thinking maybe there were more ponds that way. But that would have to wait for another hike.
This was my prize for getting lost, getting muddy, for showing up when I really didn’t feel like it. Winter sometimes gets the best of me, but then I hear my father’s voice in my head tell me to put my feet on the ground. He was an avid hiker who completed the AT, something that both fills me with pride and amazes me. I only wish I knew more about it when he was alive. I would have loved to record his stories. So now when I need his wisdom, I put my boots on. I cried at this pond because it was pristine and beautiful. I cried because I missed my Pop. He would have loved it here.
This hike to the pond and back was 4 miles. I can’t wait to go back and try to find the Erwin Pond Loop which seems to go around 5 ponds. The muddy season will be upon me soon and this hike will be slippery and challenging, but I’d love to do it again.
See you out on the trails! Stay tuned for the next installment of my FLT60 where I hike part of M12.