Nail It On
Antolini Woods, New Hartford
I like wordplay and word games and such. Big crossword guy and everything. Even went to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford and everything. So when I see words like “Antolini,” which is surely just some woman’s name, I see opportunity.
The woman was Ann Antolini, as it turns out. No idea who she was – and not for any lack of trying to find out. I’m sure she was great.
Anyway, when I see a vowel-heavy name like Antolini, I see anagrams. “Lain Into.” “Nail Into.” And the title of this page, “Nail It On.”
I felt that was apt, not only because someone, many years ago from the looks of things, nailed on some signs to trees in these woods out here in New Hartford, but also because it appears the town keeps “nailing on” trail connections and extensions that may or may not be in hikeable condition.
Oh, I’m going to hike them all (more or less) regardless, but trail reports are all over the place. But I think now into the 2020’s, there is a “through trail” from the Antolini trailhead near the fire station and the Ann Antolini elementary school that connects to Surdam Farm Trails, Phillips Farm Trails, and the Goula Open Space.
Today, we’re sticking to these Antolini Woods and its blue-blazed mile-long loop trail and the inner silvery-white blazed spur trail.
I parked right at the trailhead, as this was a Sunday. I’d highly discourage doing so during a school day however. I don’t know where I’d park then. How about you just stick to non-school days if you plan to park here.
I set out on a clockwise loop, noting the signs for Antolini Field along the way. There were several signs touting this field. So many that I was pretty excited to see this thing, as it must be a pretty special field.
It’s just an athletic field. Behind a school. And why anyone would ever take this trail to the field rather than literally any other option is beyond me. But there it was: Antolini Field.
On the way there, I passed an arrow sign for “Mountain Peak.” I continued around the loop, wondering who the creative was that deemed this a “mountain” with a “peak.” The blazing was fine and the path was pretty well cleared. I did have a few thoughts, though, of elementary age classes tramping around out here and a) how great that would be and, b) how difficult that would be.
There are some very wet areas. There are some very steep areas. There are some very rocky areas. And there are some wet, steep, and rocky areas. I imagine many 3rd graders would be pretty upset about this trek.
Oh well, suck it up kids. I did. And I’m an old man.
As the trail rounds the back, southern side of the property, it passes beneath an impressive cliff. A cliff that rises to a… peak? A mountain peak? I looked up at it and said to myself, “what would be the point of climbing up that? I’m not going to climb up that. Why would I climb up that?”
At this point, the blue blazes sort of disappeared but the trail became wider and more defined. Weird. I knew I was headed correctly back along the loop, but it was still annoying. I also missed the connector trail that heads south towards the farm properties, but that’s for another day anyway.
I completed the loop and the thoughts returned: “why would I climb the mountain peak?”
But my legs continued around the loop passed the trail to my car and soon I was at the trail that heads up the peak. Sigh. I’m gonna do this, aren’t I?
Yes. I am.
Whoever decided these silvery-white blazes on a very lightly hiked trail was a good idea wasn’t thinking too clearly. (Yes, the mighty Appalachian Trail is blazed white, but this is not the Appalachian Trail.)
In February, the trail here was pretty easy to follow. In July? Good luck. Just head up.
Up, up, up, through the laurel thickets. Up to the mountain peak.
And once there, ask yourself why you felt the need to do this. There are no views – and certainly not even a hint of one in July – and the only reward you get it the satisfaction of knowing you were the only doofus to climb up here that… month? Season? Year?
Congratulations to me.
Also, the blazes don’t seem to be as prevalent heading back down, so be wary.
I survived, all the way down to my car just as my son texted me that he’d had a hard fall snowboarding up at Ski Sundown. Bruised tailbone and sprained wrist. He would be fine, of course, as he’s generally indestructible. As for me, the old man who climbs spur “mountain peaks” for the sake of entertaining the ten of you reading this, I’m not so sure.
Time will tell.