Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The trail to Mine Lot spring has been on my to do list for quite awhile now. As my exploration of the Normanskill watershed continues finding the named springs has been one of the side objectives. There is the bathtub spring on Bennett Hill and I'm aware of a Mine Lot spring. I am also interested in seeing all the confluences of smaller streams into larger and eventually into the Normanskill. For example Black Creek and the Bozenkill merge before the Bozenkill then connects to the Watervliet Reservoir. The Watervlient Reservoir is made from a dammed and flooded valley of the Normanskill. I planned on tracing these spring sources and perhaps finding new ones. I read somewhere the native peoples knew of six sacred springs in the Pine Bush. Anyone have any more information on them? Mine Lot spring starts a creek that is found in John Boyd Thacher State Park. It flows and drops off the escarpment after passing under Thacher Park Road (Rt. 157) On Sunday January 16 it was a clean winter day with little wind and deep powder in the woods. I told my wife I was going someplace wild and dangerous to which she said "Well, I'll guess you'll be leaving Delmar." I and a lot of other people picked Thacher Park as a place to enjoy wonderful winter conditions. My daughter Liz had bought me a new pair of snowshoes and I chose the contemplated but never attempted Mine Lot trail for my walk. The trails in Thacher Park are well packed for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. I followed the packed trails uphill for awhile until I saw one snowshoe path cut off into the woods. It looked like the kind of undisturbed trek I was interested in and I thought maybe this person has a loop in mind that would reconnect with a main trail later on. I traveled towards a steep hill and then along the hill's base. At a not too steep part my leader went up the hill and I followed in the shoe prints going ahead. After about 30 minutes of going deeper and deeper along this other person's trail, I started thinking maybe this other snowshoe walker had more experience and was better conditioned than me. Maybe I should turn around and retrace my steps. I decided, since I did not really want to do that, to go on longer in the hopes of hitting a main trail soon. I didn't but instead I came upon a small flowing winter stream. It did turn out to be Mine Lot creek and as it was headed I felt sure towards the escarpment and road I decided to cut my own trail by following it for awhile. I stayed high on the banks and found a way down the ridge of hill I had climbed earlier. It came out in a snow covered picnic area and from there the main trail was close. I still have not found the spring, which is good because I can come back in the early spring with a clearer idea about the landscape and trail.