June 28, 2008

Searching for an elusive pond - but without a map, of course

INTERLOKEN TRAIL, Schuyler County, New York, USA - The kitchen painting project got put on hold for the afternoon Saturday (Thank God!) and instead, the Admiral and I got a bug to go hiking. Anything to avoid the paintbrush - especially inside the house on a humid day.

The country area around us is full of hiking trails with signs every few miles for this trail or that mountaintop or that pond or some poison-ivy-infested ridge named after somebody's cousin who fell off a horse 100 years ago.

Best to have a map, however, if you go tromping around out there. A compass wouldn't hurt either. Oh, and a flashlight. We could have used the map and compass but wisely weren't still in the woods after sunset.

We struck out for Foster's Pond mid-afternoon, a pond supposedly two miles up a trail right off a main road we drive all the time on our way to Ithaca, home of Cornell University. We had started out in the opposite direction to another pond, but were turned around by a combination of a million fresh cow pies littering the pasture and the fact that we had no idea where the pond actually was.

The new mantra: Map & compass, map & compass, map & compass, map & compass.

Beginning of Cow Pie trail

The trail we took was well marked with a small orange paint smear every 50 to 100 feet at eye level on tree trunks. It would be hard to get lost but it was not hard at all to trip over the tree roots, rocks, sticks - and slip in the mud. (My shoes are a lovely clay gray right now.) It was beautiful country, lush and very green from recent rains. The bugs were enjoying the moisture, too, and did not like it if you disturbed any leaves.

According to the directions on the trail head sign, the trail we hiked on goes for miles and miles.

But does it really go to someplace called Foster's Pond?

We can't say definitively because after hiking well past two miles, we still were not at a pond, though, of course, it was probably just around the next bend.

I told myself that for about a mile past where we thought it was.

On the boardwalk in the woods
Boardwalks in the woods

Hiking the Interloken trail
Yes, it is a Sierra Club backpack

The weather forecast for Sunday says the likelihood of thunderstorms lashing the area again is about, oh, 80 percent so we will likely stay home and study the yet-to-be-purchased trail maps before we make another attempt to find Foster's Pond - or any others. No, we never did find the pond, though the Admiral did discover one small body of water that could even lead to the missing pond.

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