Memories of trout on a fly rod

Rick Brockway

Late last winter I provided some information about the Otsego Octet Winter Challenge organized by Otsego 2000.

I’m sorry it was too late for many people to participate, but now I’m letting you know about the new summer octet.

Every year, thousands of people come to Otsego County from all over the country. Yes, many of them visit here for baseball, whether it’s for the youth baseball camps or the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But I realized that many of us who live here year round have no idea what Otsego County has to offer. I saw that as I looked at the list of challenges, there are many places nearly in my backyard that I have never visited.

The winter octet challenge was limited as far as activities. You could hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe. But the summer challenge offers so many possibilities. The list is composed of challenges for all ages and abilities to encourage you to explore Otsego County.

You can hike, bike, paddle, and for those of you who aren’t into those exercise-related activities, you can even explore the arts. You must complete one activity in each of the four areas of the county to get your patch.

So, how do you start? Go online and type in Rules and challenges are listed. There are 16 challenges, but you only have to complete eight between Memorial Day and Labor Day to be eligible for an Otsego Octet Summer Challenge embroidered patch. It will cost you five bucks, but it will definitely impress your friends.

There are eight hikes on the list in several of the county and state forests in the area. One I really enjoy is the one at the Robert Riddell State Park. You park just off from I-88 Exit 17 (Cooperstown Exit) and do a 4.5-mile easy hike to Mud Lake. It’s a floating sphagnum bog that’s thousands of years old. I’ve taken people there to find pitcher plants (insect-eating plants) and watch trees nearby go up and down when you jump on the bog. It’s a great hike and kids love it.

Star Field above Otsego Lake in a great hike that you shouldn’t miss, and I’m told that the short 1.07-mile hike in Richfield’s Fetterley Forest to the Vernal Ponds is worth the trip.

You can paddle on Otsego Lake, Canadarago Lake to Deowango Island and the Susquehanna River from Portlandville to Goodyear Lake. There’s even a paddle down the Butternut Creek near Copes Corners. You might take your fishing pole along on the last one. The fishing is great.

There are endless possibilities for bikers in the county, but there are a couple that meet the challenge for a patch. I especially like the one from Oneonta to Otego. I come back up Route 7, so I can stop at Sprinkles and Cream for ice cream. It makes the 20 miles worth the effort.

For those interested in the arts there are two challenges that you might enjoy, but they take a little bit of walking. Check out the Cherry Valley Artworks Sculpture Trail on Main Street and the Sculpture Park Walk in G.E.M. Sculpture Park in Gilbertsville. Both of these walks are less than a mile long.

So go online and print out the activities log. Get the kids off the computer and encourage your friends to join in. Remember, your body needs vitamin D, and you get it from the sun. Exercise is great, and octet patches are optional.

Besides that, there’s a fall challenge coming in September, and I’m challenging you to get off the couch and join me.

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