One Last Look Back at Winter 2011

One Last Look Back at Winter 2011
By Don Recklies

This season our winter 10 miler lived up to its title; many of our recent 10 mile winter hikes have been more like a fall rather than a winter outing, sovaldi sale but this time the weather didn’t belie the title. The cold and snow, however, sovaldi sale did dampen participation. Prior to Saturday Dom Durso received several calls from off-islanders wanting to know if the hike was still on. Given that Protectors has yet to cancel a 10 miler – although on occasion the route has been curtailed – the answer was that it was absolutely on. Saturday morning, however, brought a flurry of phoned regrets from the other boroughs. Protectors, it seemed, were made of sterner stuff, but even so, by10:00 am at the meeting place behind Petrides School there were only 5 of us ready to face the trail.

 

The trail was not bad. Although the entrance at Deere Park was drifted knee deep, once into the trees the snow rarely rose more than to mid-calf, and the snow served to cover and cushion any icy patches that were caused by re-freezing after the mid-week melt. Nevertheless the five of us soon became four when it became apparent that George’s small dog was struggling in snow that was not an issue for taller beasts. George turned back and joined a walk with Clay Wollney later that afternoon, and the rest of us carried on to High Rock. Since all of us were familiar with the story of Robert Moses and the freeway overpasses, there was no pause where we usually stopped to recount how SIGNAL (Staten Island Greenbelt Natural Areas League, one of the forerunners of Protectors of Pine oak Woods) rallied to prevent the planned highway from dissecting the Greenbelt. One of the functions of this hike has been to demonstrate that the Greenbelt woodlands still contain corridors that are mapped as state roadways and thus are still in jeopardy. Neither did we detour through the St. Francis Woodlands, a lush woods adjacent to Kauffman camp that is now publicly accessible as NYSDEC property, a status that Protectors was instrumental in obtaining. We adhered to the Blue trail until High Rock, making the most of walking in footprints where others had trod earlier. Although this made our way much easier, hiking in snow uses muscles otherwise not normally employed and we all got a good workout lifting out feet. Even Dom the runner “felt the burn.”

Our stop for lunch was planned for High Rock where, courtesy of Robin Dublin and the good will of Herbert Smith, aka Smitty, High Rock’s Park Supervisor, the administration building had been opened so that we could eat indoors. This courtesy was extended because of the guests expected on the hike, and although we appeared without newcomers, Smitty was good enough not to deny us entrance, and we enjoyed a comfortable lunch and table conversation in the warm indoors. Since we knew that snow was making the going slow, we soon opted to hit the trail again, despite a temptation to linger where it was warm and cozy.

As usual we varied our return route so that we would not entirely retrace our steps to John Deere Park, and Dom managed to take us back to intersect the return trail by a route we hadn’t done before. It’s been a recurring joke that he hasn’t managed to lead this part of the hike twice in the same way, but last year he finally managed to break that tradition. This year he redeemed himself and we rejoined the Yellow by yet another new route. On leaving Bloodroot Valley deep snow, fallen trees and an inhospitable split rail fence at the JCC complex made following the old route impractical. Instead we walked up Manor Road until we could cross between Pouch and Kaufmann Camps to the Greenbelt trail. Walking the berm against traffic up Manor Road was more hazardous than any ice on the trails of the Greenbelt.

Due to changes in the route and starting place over the years out tri-annual 10 miler has shrunk to being more a 7 to 8 miler. We used to begin at Clove Lakes Park where there were restroom facilities and parking, and then walk across the abandoned freeway overpasses on the old Blue Trail route. Since the DOT frequently closed the overpasses and parking at Clove Lakes was sometimes reserved for other events, we decided to switch our start to the entrance of John Deere Park, where we still could view the overpasses on the way to the Blue Trail. Lately our intention has been to return as much as possible to the original 10 mile route used by Dick Buegler and Hermann Zaage and restore the hike to a legitimate 10 mile status. The issue of Pouch Camp intervened, however, and for the past several outings we’re chosen to detour to Pouch rather than include more of the original route. Maybe next year…

On reaching Deere Park we split into pairs, two of us following the upper Blue X Trail and two of us choosing to follow the trace of an old trail close to the Petrides’ fence that had recently marked by the passage of a deer. That seemed appropriate: a deer trail in Deere Park that led in almost a straight line to where the cars were parked. Following that trail was my idea and, I admit, turned out not to be a good one. Half way back to the park entrance the deer tracks we followed inconsiderately wandered away from the trail, leaving us the task of making out an old, faint trail buried under 6 to 10 inches of snow. We soon lost the path and had to bushwhack through deep drifted snow the rest of the way, returning to the cars about 5 minutes after Dom, who had followed the formal trail on a longer, more twisted route. Nevertheless, for us there was crisp air, a partially sunny day, and a good workout! It was a good hike.