The UB International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) organizes frequent trips and activities for international students and the most recent one was a guided hike into the Zoar Valley this past weekend. It was a nice opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.
Zoar Valley is popular for its impressive scenery created by its deep valley, sheer cliffs and dense jungles. It is about an hour drive from the UB Campus. We were a group of 30 on a school bus and Andy was our friendly and helpful guide for this hike.
The hiking route was automatically tracked using the Moves app that I have been using for the past couple of weeks until the phone battery gave up due to multitasking the phone as a camera, GPS and activity tracker. I’ve included some of the screenshots of the hiking trails that we went through along with this post.
We started off the hike at a chestnut plantation where Andy explained about the work being done to improve forest diversity, remove unwanted species and creating opportunities for the reintroduction of diminishing species such as the American chestnut. He also mentioned that forest cover was being consciously and actively restored on old farmlands.
I along with a couple of others were at the front of the group, finding trail markings and leading the group. That turned out to be a good decision, given that a few people at the back of the group were stung by ground hornets. The trail was marked either with orange-colored trailblazing paint on a number of trees or with printed markers nailed into trees.
The water levels in the streams along the trail was pretty low and Andy mentioned that it could be knee deep or even more during the Spring season due to surface runoff due to the melting of snow on the hills.
The first trail was a short one of about 2.4 miles and the school bus was waiting for us at the exit of the trail ready to take us to the next trail on the other side of the Cattaraugus Creek. Before reaching the next trail, we passed through the small town of Gowanda, which was said to be a early settlement of native Americans.
Early on the next trail which was about a mile long, we first took a detour and went to a point called the Overlook point which provided a splendid view of the valley and the creek. After clicking a few pics from there, we went back to the main trail and started descending down to the creek. On the way to the creek, we found the remains of a car which apparently crashed there years ago when the place was a farmland and used to have a road.
After hiking a bit further, we reached the mighty creek and halted there for lunch. After lunch, we proceed to the confluence point of the main branch and south branch of the creek, called the Martin’s Point. We had our group picture taken here with giant ridge as the backdrop.
We crossed the creek, which had about knee deep water in some places and lesser in most to reach a small waterfall. By the time we reached the falls, it started raining. Within a few minutes it was raining quite heavily. It was a great feeling to be in the middle of the river looking skywards with drops of rain splashing your face.
The team gathered soon and we were soon on our way back. We quickly reached the starting point where the school bus was waiting for us, which we boarded quickly and were on our way back to campus. And sadly for us, the rain followed. I was completely drenched by the time I reached home.
Overall, it was a nice experience hiking in the woods, though it didn’t come anywhere close to the super awesome treks that we used to go with the Chennai Trekking Club. Andy did mention that there are much better multi-day hikes especially in the Adirondack mountains. I guess I’ll try to sign up for one such trek in the near future and relive those CTC treks. 🙂