Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Short Three-Trail Hike

A Short Three-Trail Hike

This weekend and last I went up to Durland (formerly Clear Lake) Scout Reservation to celebrate Mass for Scouts and Scouters doing the National Youth Leadership Training course.
Yesterday (April 20) would have been a great day to go out hiking for a few hours before Mass, but that didn't fit my schedule. Last Saturday (the 13th), tho it was a mostly gray day, I was able to do that.

When I've hiked at Durland before (often), it's almost always been within the Scouts' camp. With Troop 40 we have ventured north into Fahnestock State Park once and into the Wiccopee Reservoir area once, and some years ago a trek-o-ree started us out several miles south on the Appalachian Trail heading back toward the Scout camp (an experience famous in troop lore because our Scoutmaster, one of the assistants, and one or two Scouts with them got completely lost).

Well, on the 13th, armed with a dependable map from the NY-NJ Trail Conference (God bless them!), shortly after lunch I ventured southwest out of camp, about half a mile, to the Candlewood Trail, which is mostly an unpaved road (Sunk Mine Rd.) that skirts the boundary of the Scout camp for a good distance. I followed it northward for about a mile (all distances are map-based estimates).

There are ruins of an old homestead within the camp boundary near the road, but otherwise it's wild country.

The road crosses Canopus Creek, flowing southward out of Canopus Lake. The creek is quite lovely at that point, both upstream and down. By then one is completely within the state park.

A little farther on the Appalachian Trail crosses. My plan was to take it south and eventually loop all the way around to come out at the same place from the north.

So I headed uphill on the AT. Before long the trail was mostly ridge (yay!), well blazed, well worn, and as lonely as could be.

There were a few hawks doing their thing up in the sky (I failed to get a decent photo), but otherwise not even fauna to be seen, much less people. There were a couple of fire rings, probably just eating spots not camping places.
The small jumble of rocks in the upper center is a fire pit.
The trail eventually descended into an area with a couple of swamps

AT here crosses a runlet out of a swamp
and then emerged at a parking area on Dennytown Rd. That made about 2 miles of hiking on the AT.

On the aforementioned trek-o-ree, this parking lot was the spot where I and 2 very young Scouts were picked up, coming up from the south. The 2 had really lagged behind the main body of Scouts, and I'd stayed with them. Consequently it had gotten quite late, and the boys were worn out (not that I was exactly fresh by then). So we were all very happy to see Louis Antunez coming down the trail from the parking lot, and then to get our ride back to camp.

At the parking lot are the ruins of an old building that resembles a chapel. According to the write-up on the trail map, however, it probably was just a chicken coop! And it doesn't date from Dennytown's heyday as a mining center but from the early 20th century.

Be that as it may, I picked up the Three Lakes Trail there, skirting a swamp as I headed north. Then there was a steep climb up to a ridge,

at the top of which lies the Denny Mine, one of several iron mines in the area. Again, the map information is that these mines flourished in the 19th-century, supplying the foundry at Cold Spring. But eventually they ceased to be profitable and were abandoned.
One of several pits--some of them filled with water--that used to be the Denny mine
From the Denny mine looking eastward toward Durland Scout Reservation.
In the right foreground is a firepit.
On the Three Lakes, I encountered the 1st hikers I'd seen all day, 1st a lone guy near the swamp, then a couple with their dog coming down the steep incline to the ridge. The dog was friendly, and of course he was happy, being out for a long walk in the woods (and having just had a swim in one of the ponds).

It was while poking around the mine and trying to get a photo of a hawk that I discovered a fine pocketknife ( next to a rock where someone must have sat down for lunch. (There is also a fire ring close by.)

By this time I realized that I wasn't going to be able to complete the circuit I'd had in mind but would have to "short-circuit" my hike in order to get back to NYLT in time for Mass at 4:45.

Three Lakes Trail descended from the ridge
Looking back (and up) at the ridge where the Denny mine is

into a pleasantly wooded area and then reached Sunk Mine Rd.--a hike of about 1 mile on Three Lakes.

Instead of continuing north as I'd originally planned, I turned onto the road and headed back to camp. Along the way I had fine views of John Allen Pond and of a littler pond formed by a creek flowing out of John Allen.
John Allen Pond
The half-swampy little pond below John Allen Pond
Three ducks were enjoying themselves in the little pond.
The road was rather busy. And once I was back in the vicinity of the camp boundary, I also met 3 people doing some geocaching on the state park side of the road. The walk back on the road to camp covered about 2 miles--1 back to the AT crossing and 1 more to camp. All told, I did about 7 miles

I was back to NYLT around 4:00 p.m., with plenty of time to "regroup" for Mass with 26 Scouts and Scouters, which probably was about half of the whole group.

The setting sun strikes gold on the hills of Durland.

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