|On the border of PA and NY, 1.1 miles along the Finger Lakes Trail|
|My father, Douglas Houskeeper, at 1.1 miles along the Finger Lakes Trail|
|A portion of the trail through Allegany State Park that followed an old railroad bed - we found just one piece of rusted iron from the track, all other traces were long gone|
|Wild Geranium - Geranium maculatum|
|English Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)|
|Blue Star Grass (Sisyrinchium spp.)|
As my father and I made the drive on Tuesday, I was very aware of how after we passed the traffic of Scranton and then nearby Binghampton, the exits for nearby towns seemed to be fewer and further between. Past an exit for Ithaca and then through Elmira, highway 86 then became bumpy and rutted and shared the road with only the occasional Mack Truck. We drove through a narrow valley made up of green rounded ridges on either side and sparkling rivers - the Susquehanna, Cohocton, and Genesee. This landscape was spacious. I recognized town names on the passing signs from my maps, and realized that we were indeed following (at times) the same route that the trail would. Yes this trail would be different from the frequent civilization of the Mountains to Sea Trail, however similar in that there would be few to no hikers.
Thus far, I have been right. We saw just one couple that was hiking together roll into the first shelter we stayed at, Willis Creek, and the next day, a father and son out foraging for Chaga. Oh...and our awesome shuttle person, Gene Cornelius!
I reached out to Gene, a member of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and FLT trail crew leader, who lives in the area to see if he could help with shuttling us to the beginning of the trail. Well Gene not only helped us out with a ride but made a point to cruise by where the trail would exit the woods near Salamanca, the town we'd be walking into on our third day. As we did, and saw little sign of the trail, he suspected there may be a reroute. Although there was little to no cell service, he said he would try and give us a ring throughout the day with more information. Gene did more than give us a ring...he walked the trail from a road crossing and appeared at the Willis Creek Lean-to later that evening with a sketched map of the reroute and point by point instructions. He was concerned we'd get turned out trying to find our way back to town. Trail people are some of the most thoughtful folks I've ever met. Thank you, Gene!
|Part of the reroute that Gene informed us of - we walked this ATV trail along the power lines for 1.5 miles.|
|Signs such as these have been frequent, regularly reminding me of just how far I'm going|