Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Section 4: 11.35 Miles

Long Path Section 7 at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in New York

This Monday I embarked on my very first solo Long Path hike.  Mike was at home being an awesome husband and patching the hole in the hallway ceiling, seeding the lawn and being otherwise productive.  I decided I needed to go 'galavanting' through the countryside instead of helping.  I decided to skip the main section in Harriman since it's a perfect overnight and take the section to the north.

At 10am, I have parked my car at the north end of Harriman Park, unloaded my bike, and am starting the the (unfortunate) bike half of my inevitable 'bike and hike'.  The first section of biking was uneventful - maybe even pleasant.  The weather was beautiful, the morning's chill still keeping me cool.  As I biked further, the road started to look more freeway-esque and busier.  The cars seem to be flying by me faster and faster as it transitioned from park road to full blown highway - with nowhere to get off the freaking road.  Becoming increasingly worried about either dying or getting arrested for biking on a highway, I pull off into a small parking area.  My two options are keep going to the road I need to get to by taking an EXIT (now I'm actually on a highway) or turn around and biking uphill back the way I came going the wrong way because now there's a 5 foot tall median separating the lanes.  I chose option 1.  Luckily I did not die (I did get honked at twice) and I arrived at the road to the trailhead and the rest of my ride was pretty uneventful.  After stashing my bike in the woods and locking it to a tree, I walked .2 miles to the trailhead.

I saw two blazes on a guardrail, so I climbed over it and found myself at a river with no way to cross and no further blazes.  It looked like the trail should be here on the map, but it wasn't.  I walked back out the road, followed blazes to the train tressel, but turned around again because the map says it starts on this side.  Long story short, the map was not updated with the new route which caused me to wander around for 10 minutes wondering if my hike was lost before it started.

View from under the train tressel

After a very round about, very overgrown path that lead back under the train tressel, it promptly deposits you on a long woods road.  The road runs between a small brook and a set of train tracks and was very picturesque with wild flowers and mud.  Lots of mud.  It was like walking a squishy tightrope between the tire tracks.  Nonetheless it was quiet and serene.  It gave me some time to work on my macrophotography.  

Some wildflowers.  Not sure what kind.

At the end of the woods road, I was spit out onto a road.  And the road proceeded to chew me for the next 5 miles.  So. Much. Road walking. It actually wasn't so bad for the most part because the roads were quiet and it was easy to keep up a quick pace.  At end of the road section, it continues onto an abandoned road through a rarely traveled section of Harriman.  It was really interesting to see where the very faded double yellow line fell, and how the road is slowly being retaken by nature.

Abandoned road through Harriman.  It got narrower as it went along.

Finally I enter the woods. On a trail.  Like a real hike.  This is where the chaos started.  Remember my previous entry about how I hate being lost?  Well this section was the worst blazed portion I have hiked so far.  Plus, because it was so infrequently traveled, it was less of a trail and more of a 'Where's Waldo' of finding blazes and following them randomly through the woods.  It was a nightmare.  The constant fear of being lost was exhausting.  I wandered off the trail twice and thought I did at least 5 times that many.  About 3/4s of the way through I arrived at what the guidebook said was a seasonal stream that could be crossed on rocks.  Unfortunately because of the recent rain, this was not the case.  Not exactly a raging river, but I couldn't figure out a way to get across it with dry feet.  I tried upriver, down river, upriver again and finally after wasting 10 minutes trying to pussyfoot my way through it, I resolved to use the patented one-in-one-out method.  One shoe comes off and the other one stays on.  Shod foot walks on rocks, the other in the water.  Worked pretty well, and I continued on my way.  Next river I crossed, I wasn't so lucky.  Foot slipped off the rock and I ended up shin-deep in water. Squish-thump-squish-thump for the next mile or two.  

My not-so-raging river.

As I'm putting on my shoe, I see my worst fear. The bane of all hikers.  A big, fat, tick.  Right on my calf.  This is the first time I have ever been bitten by a tick.  My mind suddenly becomes a blur of tick heads being stuck in my leg lyme disease and I can't think of the best way to get the damn thing out of my leg.  I pull out my phone - no internet.  I tried to call Mike - no reception.  Finally I realize I need to just nut up and pull the damn thing out but I don't have tweezers.  Scissors from my first aid kit had to suffice and I'm 99% sure there isn't any tick left in my leg.  

Other than being arduous and pretty boring, the rest of the hike wasn't too bad.  The farther into Harriman I got, the better blazed it was.  I saw a lizard, which surprised me because I didn't know they lived in this area.  At the top of Long Mountain, I found the memorial to Raymond Torrey.  His "Long Brown Path" column was instrumental in increasing awareness of the Appalachian Trail, the Long Path, and hiking in general.  It also was a beautiful view point and a great way to end the hike.  

Plus I apparently avoided a rattler that was near the side of the trail.  I was sad I didn't get to see it, but knowing me I would have stepped on it so maybe it was for the best. 

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