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Little Nose
view to the south
milepost 188 west of Fultonville, New York

PHOTO DYarrow 6/8/02

Little Nose
NY Route 5S
Randall, New York

Survey Team Visit

Saturday, June 8, 2002

Team Leader: Fred Breglia
Assistant: David Yarrow
Data Sheet: June 8, 2002

The Eastern New York Survey Team visited Little Nose for the first time on a beautiful, cloudless Saturday morning on June 8. Team Leader Fred Breglia had hiked and biked the site many times, and wanted to assess the dwarf red cedars on the summit, cliffs and talus slopes.

The area east of the cliffs was being logged for hardwood timber, so we turned off NY 5S onto a dirt track leading to the log loading site, and parked on the abandoned railroad bed that runs along the base of the cliffs. From there, an easy hike along the railroad bed gave us access to the bottom of the cliffs.
Topographic Map
Little Nose
click to enlarge

Well, almost easy access. A hundred yards down the roadbed, a stream tumbling over the cliffs had flooded the roadbed, forming a shallow swamp, forcing us to get our boots wet and swat mosquitos. This stream spilled over the railroad bed and down into the ditch along NY 5S, forming lomg, narrow pools thick with cattails and rushes. The base of the cliffs was a thicket of small trees, mostly hickory, black cherry, ash, paper birch, yellow, and hophornbeam. This area was north of the high cliffs was in almost permanent shadow, reducing the growth of these trees.
Aerial Photo
Little Nose
click to enlarge

PHOTO: www.nysgis.state.ny.us

The limestone cliffs began just a few feet south of the railroad, forming a vertical wall accessible only by ropes. However, a few areas were broken by recesses eroded into the cliffs where accumulated rocky debris formed steeply slanted talus slopes. Team members explored these routes up the cliffs, trying to gain access to the cedars and hemlocks higher up on Little Nose. Extreme caution was required, since many small and large rocks were loosened by our ascent, and would roll and crash down the steep talus slope, endangering anyone below.
Waterfall on Little Nose
small stream cascades
down the limestone cliff

PHOTO DYarrow 6/8/02

On the lower slopes, we could reach some of the cedars, but were disappointed by their size and age. The rocky ground with minimal topsoil, and nearly perpetual shadow meant very slow growth. Examination of a few dead limbs sawed off living trees revealed very thin, dense rings of annual growth—as many as 50 rings per inch. But the trees were so small, few of them were more than 100 years old—much younger than we had hoped. However, the trees higher up on the talus slopes and growing directly out of the limestone cliffs seemed larger, and held out a promise to be older.
Little Nose
Arborist Fred Breglia
prepares to climb the cliffs

PHOTO DYarrow 6/8/02

As we ascended in elevation, we observed that many trees had grown taller, but become unbalanced and exposed to the wind, eventually falling over. This process seemed to sharply limit the age and size of trees on the rocky slopes. Perhaps trees higher up, or growing from solid rock, would be better anchored and survive longer. The team searched for a recess that would allow us to climb higher. The alternative was to drive a few miles around the cliffs and hike to their top, then send someone over the edge on ropes. We were prepared with the necessary equipment, but preferred not to engage in such a difficult, time-consuming operation.

Fortunately, one of the recesses allowed team members to scramble all the way to the cliff summit. Along the ascent to the top, the team encountered shelfs and ledges which afforded precarious access horizontally to parts of the cliff faces. And, as it seemed from below, the cedars and hemlocks higher up were better anchored and older.

The Earth Restoration and Reforestation Alliance
www.championtrees.orgupdated 4/14/2003