|A portion of the Appalachian Trail through New York's Harriman State Park|
I am excited to announce that in less than two weeks I will be beginning my next long distance hike. This time along the Finger Lakes Trail in New York state. As many of my readers know, I was born and raised in northeastern Pennsylvania, minutes from the border of New York and New Jersey, with the Delaware River creating a natural division. I also lived for some time in the tiny town of Port Jervis, New York which rests along the banks of this same river. This area will always be my home and my first love. It was here that I came to know the woods and mountains, rivers and streams, and the allure of the trails that leads one into these places, and when I followed, the magic that it was to travel there.
I have not done a long distance hike in this region since the Appalachian Trail in 2008. Even then, it was just a tiny portion region that I traversed, although when asked, I still tell folks it was one of my favorite portions of the AT. New York, at least from what I've seen in the southeastern portion is a land of rocks- from giant boulders the size of houses to random razor-sharp rocks that litter the forest floor. It is lined with water, streams, rivers, waterfalls, and natural springs (even if NY is presently in a drought). Pine of all kinds are plenty here as are the black bear.
|Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)|
Allow me to tell you a little about where the journey will take me...
|A bridge along the Appalachian Trail in Harriman State Park in New York close to an intersection with the Long Path|
Comparing it to my other long distance treks, this trail includes more conventional trail and time in the backcountry with longer resupply times like the Appalachian Trail however without the AT's dramatic ascents and descents. The FLT's highest point is at 3600 feet in the Catskills and its lowest point at 430 feet near Ithaca. It is also outfitted with lean-to's along the trail as the AT is, however nowhere near as many. Like the Mountains to Sea Trail, it possesses portions of roadwalk along country roads as well directly through the center of numerous towns and what I am most looking forward to of this civilized walking...down abandoned railroad beds. It is also a patchwork of state, national, and private lands, regularly changing due to the permission of landowners. Also similar to the MST, it has only seen a handful of thru-hikers. 379 people have completed (by thru-hike or section-hike) the main FLT since 1962, whereas the AT sees at least this many successful thru-hikers every year.
|A rock cairn marking a continuation of trail, these will often times be built where blazes are few to assist hikers in finding their way|
My predictions about terrain and difficulty are in all reality though, just that. From what I understand the blazing is pretty good, with its more difficult areas through some private lands that are ever-changing, as well as areas where the blazes are a different color due to running along with other trails such as in the Catskill Forest Preserve. And as for maps.... I have downloaded 53 covering the entirety of the main FLT and branch trails. And I thought the MST had a plethora with about 10 of which to keep track. But these maps are thorough, complete with info on water sources and camping, as well as accompanying text regarding mileage markers. There is one guidebook to the trail but it has unfortunately not been updated since 2011. I have had this guidebook in my possession since this time, as I was toying with this trail even when I set out for my first hike on the MST. I plan to still carry this guide as it looks like it provides a wealth of information about lodging, restaurants, and resupply points...I will just have to bear in mind not to count to much on reaching that road crossing with the little family diner as it may be nothing more than a boarded up shack leaving my hiker belly growling grumpily.
|Acorn - the well known fruit of the Oak tree (Quercus spp.)|
Check out this link to the FLT conference website to learn more about this beautiful trail!