Sunday, September 3, 2017

Trying to map a section of the Northern Excursion - not exactly successfully

Today, I went over to West Glenville to see if I could get GPS tracks of the one short section of the New York Long Path that is off-road there. I've never seen a map of that section, only the verbal description at the online softcopy guidebook. As we'll see, that description presents some issues. I'm writing this to share my experience; hopefully, the trail and guidebook maintainers will be able to enlighten me!

The trip started out all right. I parked across from the second Wolf Hollow Road turnoff at mile 4.10 of section 39. Note that the “Parking” section of the online book has a typo; it's 4.10 and not 3.10.

I found the point (mile 4.7) where the Long Path swings south into the farmer's field from West Glenville Road without trouble. The blaze at the turnoff is apparent, and there's a deeply rutted mowed line just past the hedgerow, leading right up to the road crossing at mile 4.9. The blazing there is also obvious in the northbound direction. There does not appear to be a southbound blaze at the driveway near the Cape Cod house. There is also a “For Sale” sign there - is the club aware that the property is about to change hands? Will the transaction affect the negotiated trail easement? The trailer on the north side of the road appears not to be there any more, but there is a relatively new house to the left of the trail.

The walk through the woods to mile 5.35 was pleasant. The trail is obvious and well-blazed, and the stone wall and hemlock grove appeared right on cue. At mile 5.35 the trail broke out into a hayfield as described and followed a mowed trail around the eastern edge. There is another typo in the online book here - it says to walk the northern edge of the field. It should say to walk the eastern edge.

The hedgerow and stone fence at mile 5.50 appeared on cue. At least, I presume that I have the correct hedgerow. My GPS coordinates for it are approximately 42.9240,-74.0820. This first hedgerow, though, is only about 0.1 mile from where the trail left the woods. Another hundred yards or so brought me to the corner of a second hayfield, at about 42.9247, -74.0822. This second corner is therefore about mile 5.50, which would match the guidebook description. Blazes were still visible.

At the northern end of this field, I became quite confused. The confusion between northern and eastern edges of fields was sorted out by observing the blazes, but I spent some time wandering in the woods around this corner, and saw no sign of blazing. Returning to the field - whether it was the first or second one described in the online guidebook is in some doubt - and following its northern edge to the west led me to another gap in a hedgerow, (roughly 42.9248,-72.0829). On the other side, further aqua blazes were visible, leading around the edge of a third hayfield, about 0.2 miles. The blazes are a fair distance apart, so I wound up also exploring a mown track at the southeast corner of the field. It led only to several hayricks, an overturned trailer and a considerable amount of rubbish, and no trail lay beyond.

Blazes were visible at intervals following the field edge for about another 0.2 miles to the northeast corner (about 42.9265,-74.0824). I passed several unblazed side trails coming off the east edge of the field. At least one had diagonal blazes instructing the hiker to continue following the field.

At the northeast corner, diagonal blazes instructed a turn to the west, Looking along the northern edge of the field, I saw nothing resembling a trail until a woods road turned to the northwest at about 42.9265,-74.0829. (This is perhaps mile 5.65 in the guidebook.) There were what appeared to be faint paint blazes on this road, instructing a turn on a left fork that soon appeared.

At this point, I lost the blazes entirely - neither fork had apparent markings. After exploring a short distance along the woods roads, I began to be intimidated by the frequent posters that appeared, and simply chose the road that appeared to head most directly for Touarena Road. This road led me to a driveway with a chain across it - and posters - at 42.9266,-74.0885. Not the Long Path! At no time had I come upon the stream crossing that was supposedly at mile 5.70.

The blazing in this area is clearly in need of work. I was not able to follow the guidebook directions northbound.

I then walked up Touarena Road to the correct gravel driveway (42.9291,-74.0875), which was very clearly blazed for the Long Path, and decided to see if I fared any better southbound. The gate is supposedly at mile 6.2. The “Parking” section shows it as mile 5.9 - this does not agree with the mileage table.

The trail leaves the driveway on a broad woods road at mile 6.15, with a conspicuous guidepost indicating it. It follows what is rather a maze of woods roads/ATV trails for about 0.5 miles, with all turns clearly blazed. Everything went along perfectly until I saw the last blaze at about 42.9266,-74.0811. This would be at about mile 5.7 in the guidebook if I am reckoning the mileage correctly. The blaze is near the corner of some stone walls, in a stand of hemlocks, near the poster line of Five Oaks Development.

At this point, the blazing abruptly ended. I walked a spiral pattern around the last blaze out to where I could no longer see it. No luck. I also continued some distance in roughly the same direction, and rapidly came to a property corner which was posted from all directions. Having no way to respect private property in that situation, I forged ahead a short distance farther, and saw mountain bike tracks in the dried mud at an intermittent stream. I followed the tracks across a larger stream, and up an improved but unmarked trail on its steep western bank, finding myself once again on the east edge of the hayfield, about 42.9261,-74.0823, at the head of an unmarked trail between two posters.

I spent a few minutes exploring the northern edge of the field, and the woods road that I had followed before, looking for any sign of a trail that would lead in the general direction of where I lost the blazing when moving southbound, and found nothing.

I uploaded to OpenStreetMap an edited version of the tracks that I followed, as far as I could see the blazes. The points where the blazes peter out, while not that far apart, don't even seem to be aimed for each other, as can be seeo on Waymarked Trails.

Suffice it to say that I'm puzzled.

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