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Cary Brunswick

August 1, 2009

The mystery of Mud Lake

Does Mud Lake really exist? We found ourselves asking that question a lot during a recent hike that was supposed to go there and back.

The answer, of course, is that there is a Mud Lake, and if you follow the directions and pay attention to the map, most people would say you’ll get there.

The hike in question began innocently enough at Pine Lake, Hartwick College’s environmental campus along Charlotte Creek. We could have just walked around the trails there, but Susan insisted we take the hillier path, across the road, to Mud Lake. I’ve done it before, she said.

Murphy, an ol’ buddy from the ’70s who was visiting from Florida, was skeptical of the slope, since he said he was used to walking on the beach, through swamps or anywhere but up hills and mountains. But he agreed to give it a shot.

One of the students working at Pine Lake said the hike to Mud Lake and back should take about two hours. So, grabbing a Peter Blue map, we started out.

Hartwick sold the land across the road from Pine Lake to the state last year. It extends up over the hill, joins with a 217-acre Department of Environmental Conservation parcel and connects with the Riddell State Park tract that begins in the Schenevus Creek valley near I-88.

Combined, the area has more than 2,000 acres of protected public land. But all we wanted to do was go the two and a half miles to Mud Lake, which actually is a kettle-hole bog rather than a lake.

The steepest part is at the start, but as Murphy stopped to catch his wind, Susan insisted it leveled off soon. Before long, we came to a little sign that said Mud Lake with an arrow pointing to the right.

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Cary Brunswick

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