New York

Opa’s Thru-hike

Opa, Reinhard Gsellmeier, lives in Rochester, NY.  He is a 66-year-old retired engineer. Opa is happily married to his wife, Kayanne, and they have a wonderful family including two children/spouses and five grandchildren. His grandchildren call him Opa and his wife Oma – thus his trail. Opa has done a fair amount of backpacking/ hiking/ snowshoeing in the northeast. He has most of his experience in the Adirondacks but also has had adventures in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

Opa’s plan for his AT thru-hike will consist of 2-parts.  He began on the 10th of February and part one will run through the beginning of June (he hopes to be somewhere in New Hampshire). He will then get off the trail for family reasons and resume the thru-hike in early September.

In a pre-hike journal entry, Opa listed several reasons for making his hike of the AT. Two of them touched my heart and made me an instant fan:

Opa and one of his grandsons

Reason No. 2:  I want to complete the AT for my wonderful grandkids. Maybe someday, at a time in each of their lives when they are faced with their own challenge, they’ll be inspired by their old Opa.  Maybe they’ll say to themselves that Hey, if Opa can hike the AT, then I can overcome my challenge as well. Who knows, maybe they’ll someday even be inspired to undertake their own AT thru-hike – now wouldn’t that be grand!

Reason No.4: It is my understanding that there are just over 500 people 60 or older that have completed an AT thru-hike. That’s a relatively small number. I’d like to add my name to that list!

The Adventure Begins: February 10, 2018

Opa’s adventure began with an Amtrak ride from Rochester, NY to Gainesville, GA. The bad news was Amtrak was about 2 hours late pulling into Gainesville, but the good news: the shuttle driver, Ron Brown, was ready to go as soon as Opa got off the train. Opa was on the approach trail of the AT in Amicalola Falls State Park at 10:30 in the morning. He registered at Amicalola as hiker number 62. The approach trail is 8.8 miles to the summit. These miles obviously don’t count, so Opa’s total AT mileage was only 0.2 miles. It did rain all afternoon, but it was a vertical rain and not blowing in his face and the temperatures were mild. The trail ended up being wet and muddy, but the rain provided a good shakedown of his rain gear. Opa ratings: “all systems are a go.” He spent the first night in the Springer Mt. Shelter with Greg and Big Load.

Hawk Mountain Shelter

February 11, 2018: 7.9 miles of hiking (total 8.1 miles)

Opa was so glad he spent the night in the shelter because it poured down the rain most of the night. The heavy rain didn’t let up till about 10:00 so Opa got a rather late start. Once he, Big Load and Greg began hiking they found the trail in decent shape despite all the rain. Somewhere along the way, Greg dropped behind. The heavy rain started in again about 3:00 and the radar indicated more rain to come (flash flood warnings), so Opa and Big Load elected to stay at Hawk Mt. Shelter for the night.

February 12, 2018: 19.4 miles!! (total 27.5 miles)

Tent at Woods Hole Shelter

Monday was a long day but a delightful one. Opa and Big Load got a 6 AM start, hiking by headlamps. There was no rain for a change but the weather was misty and foggy all morning. The sun broke through in the afternoon turning the day into a sunny but cool one – it ended up being a perfect afternoon for hiking, enabling Opa to pound out some long mileage. He decided to sleep in his tent, as opposed to the shelter, to avoid the annoying mice. Opa was the only one at Woods Hole Shelter. He was not sure where Big Load was along the trail, although Opa hoped that he will show up at their rendezvous point before nightfall.

What a good start for the retired engineer from New York State.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Georgia, New York, Opa, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Congratulations Beaker!

Today’s post is a tribute to Rusty Miller, a chemist from West Virginia, and his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He began his journey on February 26, 2017 and crossed his finish line on September 12, 2017 for a total of 189 days.  Many of you have followed my blog and his adventures over the past seven months. This post will be a photo diary of this man’s trip across 14 states and his 5 million steps to the finish line. All of these pictures come from Beaker’s online journal found at:

He began at Springer Mountain, Georgia with red shirt and kilt.

North Carolina brought the Smoky Mountains and cold weather.

Tennessee included a bike ride in Erwin to do some laundry and a lovely waterfall with hiking buddy, 1st Sgt.

There’s always a possibility of snow in April in Virginia, but the wild ponies of Grayson Highlands are always a highlight of a thru-hike.

Becker actually sold his home in WV and bought a new one in Knoxville while on the trail. He took three weeks off trail to move his home from West Virginia to Tennessee. This gave him an opportunity to change his trail persona.

Harpers Ferry, WV is the home of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the emotional half-way point of the trail. The true, linear, half way point is in Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania.

The month of June brought the rocky trails of PA, NJ, and NY.

July led Beaker above tree-line in New Hampshire.

August 12 was the day for Mount Katahdin, Maine, the northern terminus of the AT.

20. Mount K

Beaker on lower left

After Katahdin, Beaker went home to Tennessee for two weeks before completing a section of Virginia that he skipped on his NOBO journey to Maine. He returned to the trail on August 27 to complete his 2,200 mile trek of the Appalachian Trail. Moving SOBO, he was dropped off in Waynesboro, VA. by his son, Zack, hiked 315 miles in 19 days, and finished his adventure in Adkins, Virginia at The Barn Restaurant.

What a great journey! I give Beaker a standing ovation and two thumbs up.

Categories: Adkins, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Beaker, Dover Oak, Erwin, Georgia, Grayson Highlands, Harpers Ferry, Maine, McAfee Knob, Mount Katahdin, Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Palmerton, Pine Grove Furnace, Springer Mountain, Tennessee, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Two Peas – On the Trail in Connecticut

Without the Beard

Moonbeam and Big Cypress

My last post about the Two Peas (Moonbeam and Big Cypress), thru-hikers from Florida, found the adventurers in Port Clinton, PA ready to take on the rocks of Pennsylvania. That was May 31. They have made great progress since then, so let me catch you up on their journey.

They completed their hike through Pennsylvania on June 4th, plowed through New Jersey by June 10, trekked on through New York and arrived in Connecticut on June 15. Their post on June 17 came from Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut where they are enjoying a much needed zero day of rest, pizza, and soaking sore feet.

The last two weeks have been rather difficult for the Floridians, especially for Moonbeam. The journey is taking a toll on her physically and emotionally. On June 6 she shares, I am “struggling to find happiness with this hike,” and again on June 14, “I’ve been very very emotional since leaving Greenwood Lake. My tears have been flowing unabated….daily! Tough on hiker bodies and feet. I want to finish, but I don’t want to hike anymore! It’s a difficult mix, not wanting to be a person that quits but on the same hand not wanting to hike anymore! They have been on the trail for 126 days and have about 715 miles to reach Mount Katahdin. My prayers are with them as they make decisions moving northward.

Lehigh Gap, PA

Lehigh Gap, PA

The two made it through Rocksylvania and commented on the scary climb out of Palmerton and Lehigh Gap. This is one of the most challenging climbs outside of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Moonbeam’s adjectives: scary and precarious! They arrived in Delaware Water Gap on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey glad to enter a new state and needing a trip to urgent care for Moonbeam’s infected toe. Church the next day filled their ears with an encouraging message seemingly “aimed” just for them.

The 73 miles of New Jersey was accomplished in just four days as the Two Peas averaged 19.5 miles a day! They commented on the beauty of Sunfish Pond, the sunny days, and filtering/drinking clean mountain-stream water the color of tea.

CreameryThe hike across New York brought little rain and drinking water became more difficult to find. Their journal records the special treat at the creamery of Bellvale Farms (some of the best ice cream of my thru-hike), the “joys” of the Lemon Squeezer (a rock formation that requires a skinny body and gymnastic-like moves to navigate without taking off one’s backpack), the walk-through of the zoo (the AT goes right through the zoo), and the pause at the railroad station located right on the trail.

The last journal posting, written from their zero day in Connecticut, reflects the refreshment of resting tired legs and sore feet. There seems to be a renewed communication between the Peas and a deep trust in God for moving forward. I will try to keep you up-to-date as they record their journey.

Quotes from Two Peas Journal:

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Bellvale Farms, Connecticut, Lemon Squeezer, New Jersey, New York, Thru-Hike | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update from the Trail

Cypress and Moonbeam 1

Two Peas – Big Cypress and Moonbeam

Of the many thru-hikers that I selected to follow this season, only three remain on the trail: Two Peas from Florida, Dulcigal from Georgia, and Fat Hen & Rooster Talon from New York. Let me give you an update on these brave hikers.

I have heard nothing from Fat Hen and Rooster Talon since April 26 when they arrived in Erwin, Tennessee. Rooster Talon (Becky) was experiencing some hiking difficulties with a very sore in-grown toenail. The two of them conducted some backwoods surgery on the toe prior to hiking into Erwin. I am anxiously awaiting a revitalization of their online journal.

Both Dulci and the Two Peas updated their journals on May 10. It was great to hear from both of them. Both are still plowing ahead and making northern progress toward Maine.

The Two Peas took a nero (near zero) day entering the town of Waynesboro, VA. They then remained in Waynesboro for three zero days: resupplying, refreshing, and healing from the demands of the trail. Mrs. Pea (Moonbeam, aka, Kristin) had been fighting a UTI and a few days off trail appeared to be needed. Once they left Waynesboro, they hiked 9 days in a row averaging 11.4 miles per day. The last post (May 10) found them on day 88 of their journey and at the northern end of the Shenandoah National Park – over 960 miles of the AT behind them. They took advantage of the wayside restaurants along the Skyline Drive. I stopped at every one on my thru-hike and enjoyed the food immensely.

Moonbeam continues to struggle a bit physically on the trail. She is walking with painful shin splints. I am amazed that she continues to put in the miles every day. It is obvious that she has very little quit in her spirit. She picked up new boots in Waynesboro and thinks that the sore shins might be related to the boots.

Ducigal and the Wild Ponies

Dulcigal and the Wild Ponies

Dulci also posted on May 10, her 59th day on the Appalachian Trail. She has arrived at Marion, Virginia having hiked five days out of Damascus. She is “hoofing it” at an average pace of 12.5 miles per day. Her journal describes her excitement at Grayson Highlands enjoying the wild ponies. She also shared that she was greeted one morning this past week with 4-6 inches of snow and freezing temperatures. Fortunately she had not sent home her winter clothing yet.

Marion, Virginia is about 530 miles north of Springer Mountain. I remember very clearly having to stay in Marion. I got norovirus just outside of Marion (the only time I got sick during my journey) and ended up taking 2 days off the trail throwing-up and inspecting the bathroom every half hour. My cheap hotel had fairly nice facilities.

To provide a little idea of pace on the trail. The Two Peas arrived at the 530 mile marker on Day 51 of their journey while Dulci arrived on Day 59. After my two days off in Marion I hiked out of the town on Day 38. Everyone hikes at a different pace and the total mileage logged in any given day can vary greatly. Fortunately a thru-hike is not a race against man. It might be a race against the seasons, a race against one’s personal budget, a race against the available days to spend on the hike; but, all things said and done, the finish line only greets winners – 64 days (world record pace) or 200 days doesn’t really matter.

I am rooting and cheering for the Two Peas from Florida and Dulcigal from Jackson, Georgia. Hike your own hike (HYOH) and keep Katahdin in your sights.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Damascus, Dulcigal, Erwin, Fat Hen, Florida, Georgia, Grayson Highlands, Hiking, Journaling, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New York, Rooster Talon, Shenandoah National Park, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike, Two Peas, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rambunny – Part 2 – The 2004 thru-hike

RambunnyI discovered one of Rambunny’s trail journals on line at It was written in 2004 as she attempted yet another thru-hike ( This hike was a SOBO attempt that began on Katahdin, Maine on July 15, 2004 but ended 464 miles later at Fahnestock State Park, New York on September 29, 2004. I was curious to discover the why of Rambunny’s decision to walk off the trail. I doubted that it was her determination, or her physical ability to meet the challenges, or a sense of homesickness since she had hiked the hike three times before this 2004 journey.

Carole’s hike was tough from the beginning. She attempted to climb Mount Katahdin on July 15, but a major thunderstorm forced her back down after a 3 mile climb. The next day (July 16) the weather still dictated an impossible ascent to the brown sign. So on July 17 she got a ride to Abol Bridge, 15 miles from Katahdin, and began her SOBO adventure. That same day, she tripped going over a rocky area and bruised her ribs. She writes in her journal on July 18 the she thinks her rib is probably cracked and she is in quite a bit of pain. Five days later (July 23), the rib is causing a great deal of discomfort, so she take a zero day in Monson, Maine to evaluate. Carole concludes that she needs some time off trail to heal, so she makes arrangement to stay and help Honey and Bear, owners of the hostel, The Cabin. She stays at the Cabin for 29 days (July 25 to August 22) allowing the ribs to recuperate.

Rambunny 2Carole decides to skip the Whites and jump back on the trail in southern New Hampshire, about 45 miles from the Vermont state line. The trail adventure goes well until August 22nd when she takes a faceplant, literally on her face. Her glasses bruised the bridge of her nose with a resulting major nose bleed. The next day Rambunny describes herself looking like a raccoon. With the soreness, she concludes that she might have broken her nose. On September 24 she records “I feel like someone has punched me in the upper chest. The purple and yellow are traveling down my left eye and I’m purple ½ way across each eyelid and across the bridge of my nose. The chest hurts not the face. Thankfully if you have to do a face plant I did it well.”Then on September 26 she writes, “At the end of the day yesterday I realized the fall has definitely re-injured the muscle around the broken rib. No big deal but ouch! Going to keep ibuprofen close.”

Here is a portion of her journal dating Tuesday, September 28, 2004:[brackets contain my commentary/information]

“Sometime before morning the backlash of another hurricane came in pouring all night. My chest hurt whenever I turned. It woke me up with an ouch. Then I put my glasses on my hurt nose. Ouch!…..There’s a shelter 9 miles from here then none for 20 some miles. I hate setting up tent in the rain especially with a wet dog trying to help…..This is the first time in over 7,000 miles I’ve thought about quitting. Since I skipped some earlier, this is a section hike. Just got the feel sorry for myself pity party going on. Hope it and the rain let up soon. Going to try to hike in the camp shoes. 9 miles it is. Yes, I’m a wimpy hiker.

Financially it’s not looking good either. Maybe hiking in the rain will help my attitude. I hope so. Carrying 5 to 6 days of food at time isn’t helping. I’m way over 25lbs with that dog food [Sobo is an Autralian shepherd making the journey with Rambunny] and cold weather stuff. Financially though it doesn’t make sense to stop and buy food between mail drops. Whine. Whine. Whine. Do I serve cheese and crackers with this whine?

Set out in the pouring rain. Couldn’t see 5 feet in front of you. Sobo kept shaking and looking at us like we’re nuts. We are….Fell flat on my butt twice. No injuries though, just splashed water and mud all over me and the bottom of my pack. All day I had fantasies of getting off trail renting a car seeing what I want to see and going home. I’m going to give it to Delaware Water Gap [135 more miles] and if it continues I will.

Aqua made hot raspberry tea. Yum! I do love the trail and all about it. I think I’m just tired of hurting. We got the pizza. All 3 of us appreciated it. Sobo’s still grumpy though.”

Then Wednesday, September 29, 2004: “Cobweb, Aqua and Sobo are still trying to sleep as the sun is just now waking up. Torch is making breakfast and I’m sitting here looking at another wet day with everything wet. Oh boy. Six miles later with the trail a pond in most places I confessed to Aqua my feelings. I’m done this year. Went through a week of weighing it out and I’m fine with it. I did a 455.3 mile section hike, enjoyed every minute of it and learned a lot. Sobo too. I’ll add my other three section hikes to it and continued filling in the blanks over the years to have a 4th End to End hike. Eventually I want own or run a hostel on the trail. It is my passion in life. [This is accomplished via the Hiker Hollow Hostel in Adkins, VA.] We got off and walked a mile to Fahnestock State Park to the Ranger’s Station. She called us a taxi that took us to Cold Springs, NY Countryside Motel. Nice little place.”

HikeItForward-Final-MediumAt least on virtual paper Rambunny writes with a positive flare reflecting a lot of grit and dogged determination. How does a three-time thru-hiker deal with an injury-filled attempt and having to walk away after a valiant display of diligence and determination? Often with guilt, and disappointment. Rambunny is no different but notice her ability to see the big picture and put the hike in a proper perspective.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

“Ok. I’ve walked 7,332 miles on the AT. I can release the failure feelings.”


Photo on porch:

Photo on the phone:

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Maine, Mount Katahdin, New Hampshire, New York, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Trail, Vermont, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ida Sainsbury – First Canadian to Hike the Appalachian Trail

Ida in Background, Mary up front

Ida in Background, Mary up front

Ida Sainsbury from Toronto, Canada was the first woman outside of the United States to complete a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  It was a section hike that bridged four years. Ida traveled to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania in May of 1970 to attend a weekend convention of the Appalachian Trail Conference. On the last day of the conference, she met Mary Years of Newark, New York, who had been looking for a hiking partner for three years. The match seemed to be ordained. They began the journey as perfect strangers but soon became life-time friends.

Although Ida had minimal backpacking experience, she and her husband were long time mountain climbers belonging to the Bruce Trail Club of Canada. The two ladies, both in their 50s, began their adventure the hard way. The tackled their first leg of the journey by hiking 300 miles through Maine. The thirty-day trek involved some of the most difficult terrain of the entire trail. They entered the trail with 37 pound packs and lots of enthusiasm. Despite a struggle with a serious water shortage, the women successfully completed their first exposure to the AT.

A four day adventure over Easter, 1971, allowed Mary and Ida to hike through Maryland and West Virginia. In August of 1971, they completed phase two of the plan covering 430 miles in five weeks beginning in New Hampshire and trekking south through Connecticut. 1972 brought the third phase taking on New York and moving southward once again through the rocks of Pennsylvania. Mary and Ida kept a regimen on the trail. Their typical day began a dawn with the goal of stepping onto the trail by 7 am. They hoped to hike 10-15 miles per day and make camp around 4:30.


Bruce Trail in Canada

Before completing the final phase of the AT, Ida was selected to lead a hike on the Bruce Trail in her homeland. According to The Canadian Champion, on January 17, 1973, she was to lead the Moonlight to Midnight hike from Crawford Lake to Rattlesnake Point. Returning to America, Ida and Mary completed their trek in 1973.

Ida returned to Toronto having conquered the White Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains of America. She served for 20 years with the Canadian Cancer Society but managed to walk the Bruce Trail at least three times. In 1984, at age 70, Ida climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The Ottawa Citizen in 1986 tipped their hats to this amazing woman of the trail that challenged the myths and stereotypes on aging. Ida was part of a learning series on aging called The Best Years, which aired on TVOntario in 1986.,4692482&hl=en

Photo of Mary Years and Ida Sainsbury (Mary foreground, Ida background)  The Geneva Times 1971

Map and more info regarding the Bruce trail found at

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Bruce Trail, Canada, Connecticut, GSMNP, Ida Sainsbury, Mary Years, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, The Whites, Thru-Hike, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


HikeItForward-Final-MediumOne of the aspects of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike that I am not ready to warmly embrace is the presence of snakes. I totally understand and affirm that I am treading on their land and their homes. I am the visitor and they are the residents. I want to be a good pilgrim and pass by without confrontation. I am not seeking times of fellowship and sharing. I am not hoping for long conversations and philosophical exchanges. I have read and have placed my confidence in the “fact” that these snakes are extreme introverts when it comes to human social interaction – they would rather not fight or kiss but rather hideaway off line or off trail.

I really don’t like any snake – probably because I am never sure that my identification is correct. My research confirms that nonvenomous snakes, such as the garter snake and the black rat snake are much more commonly seen than either the rattlesnake or the copperhead, and that they too shy away from hikers. A common warning from several sources: “Remember that any snake will bite, so watch, but don’t approach or try to touch, the snakes you find along the Appalachian Trail.” I will try to keep this in mind when I have the urge to pick one up or invite it to tea and crumpets.



There are two cousins that I hope do not make my photo album of the adventure – the rattlesnake and the copperhead. The big boy rattlesnake is normally 3 to 5 feet long (although they will be magnified in length through the bifocals of a 64 year-old thru-hiker). They love to make their homes in Pennsylvania and Virginia but they can certainly “strike” a pose in any state along the AT.  They do enjoy using their rattles to welcome or warn all passersby. Although several rattlers together might make an interesting percussion section, I would prefer to sing acappella so I will try my best to heed the maracas of the wilderness.



The shorter cousin (between 2 and 3 feet long) is a bit stealthier on the trail. The copperhead with the stylish triangular-shaped head and hour-glass body tattoos has a beautiful tan denoting his favorite daytime activity – sunning on the rocks. The bronze camouflage makes the copperhead difficult to see on a leaf laden path or on the reddish clay that is common in the southern sections of the AT. The copperhead is mostly found in the drier, rockier parts of the trail. They have been spotted as far north as Massachusetts but they are more abundant along the trail between Georgia and New York.

I hope to avoid these good neighbors and allow them to freely roam without us making acquaintance. But if we do meet I will let them speak with forked tongue and I will try to keep my wits and sidestep their bite.

Poisonous Snakes on the Appalachian Trail |

Photo Rattlesnake

Photo Copperhead

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Georgia, Hiking, New York, Pennsylvania, Snakes, Virginia | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The A.T. in New York Part 3 – A Railroad Station on the Trail?

HikeItForward-Final-MediumIf you live in NYC or if you are visiting the Big Apple and want to do a little A.T. hiking, you can hop on a train and about 2 hours later you can be enjoying the granddaddy of all long trails. The Metro-North Railroad station serves campers and hikers destined for the Appalachian Trail via the Harlem Line. A little planning is required as trains only stop at the Appalachian Trail on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Built in 1991 at the price tag of $10,000 this is the only train station along the 2,186 miles of the trail. The idea of the train ride to the woods was the creative thought of George Zoebelein, an avid hiker and a member of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC).

Train Station 1The trip from New York City is 65.9 miles. The train leaves from Grand Central Terminal and arrives at the A.T. station, located only a short distance from the intersection of NY Route 22 and NY Route 55. The A.T. itself crosses the track just south of the station. This station is the last station in the Zone 8 Metro-North fare zone. I have read of some thru-hikers who have taken the train to NYC to spend a few hours (even a few days) off the trail. I doubt that I am going to see the inside of the train but a picture sitting on the station bench might be nice.

The round trip fare from Grand Central is $28.00 for adults and $14.00 for children with two northbound trains in the morning and two southbound in the afternoon. It is part of an effort to promote the use of trains out of New York City. The railroad has established the run both to make money and also to help provide outdoor recreation opportunities for New Yorkers – so many residents lack easy car transportation.

For more details check out:


Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Hiking, New York, Railroad, Thru-Hike, Trail | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Zoo on the Trail? New York Part 2

HikeItForward-Final-MediumThe Appalachian Trail and the Trailside Zoo – which came first – the trail or the zoo? Answer: the trail… but not by much. The A.T. in New York began in 1923 and the zoo was established in 1927. The zoo was originally a Boy Scout camp nature museum at Lake Kanawauke in Harriman State Park. In 1927, Trailside Museums and Nature Trail was officially established at Bear Mountain State Park. As the nation’s first self-guided nature trail, Trailside began with a cool vision: the best way to learn about nature is to be in nature and the best way to enjoy nature is to have a friendly, knowledgeable voice as your guide. Currently it is home to four museums which include exhibits on local geology, native and colonial history, nature study, and several reptiles/fish exhibits in the herpetology museum. Connecting these museums are trails that lead visitors by the bear den and other live animal exhibits as well as to special views of the Hudson River and Highlands.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

The zoo houses several species of birds of prey (raptors) like the Red-tailed Hawk, the Rough-legged Hawk (named after my family I am sure), the Long-eared Owl, both the Black and Turkey Vulture, and the Bald Eagle. This special place in the midst of the A.T. is also home to mammals native to NY – the coyote, beaver, river otter, porcupine, opossum, and black bear. The residents of the zoo found a home here because they were injured or orphaned and thus unable to survive in the wild. No AT-style zoo would be complete without snakes and other reptiles. My friend, the rattlesnake, will be there along with his non-poisonous cousin, the black rat snake. Salamanders, turtles, toads, and frogs fill out the party. The zoo promises a view of the Pumpkinseed Sunfish – this is most likely a common fish, but I love the name, so I have it on my checklist.

The zoo is open daily (10:00 – 4:30), year round except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The admission price (hold on to your hats!) is $1.00! Parking is $8.00 but I will not have to worry about that. Check out their website Once I get back I will make my personal recommendation but if you are in NY it sounds like a pretty good deal for a dollar.


Categories: Appalachian Trail, Black Bear, Hiking, New York, Thru-Hike, Trail, Uncategorized, Zoo | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The A.T. State by State – New York: Part 1

HikeItForward-Final-MediumThe Appalachian Trail that winds through New York is not as secluded as most other states along the way. But, it is more wooded and removed from civilization than one might expect considering its proximity to one of the world’s largest population centers. The A.T. passes 30 miles to the north of New York City and on a clear day you can see the glimmer of the Big Apple on the horizon. Elevation changes are generally moderate for the thru-hiker in New York. The path can vary from the relatively flat and gentle trail to short, steep rocky climbs. Water filtration is most likely needed during most of the 88 miles through the Empire State as natural water sources can be scarce and sometimes polluted.

New York holds on to the very first section of the A.T. to be completed in 1923 – a portion of the trail traveling through Harriman-Bear Mountain State Park. This section receives many visitors during the year. NY also holds the record of the lowest point along the 14 states near Bear Mountain Bridge – elevation: 124 feet. At this point on the trail the path leads directly through the Trailside Museum and Zoo! I will share some insights into the zoo in an upcoming blog. I love zoos so this will be a real treat for me. There are eight trail shelters located along the path of white blazes, although the West Mountain Shelter is located off the main A.T. It is still a very popular shelter among thru-hikers because of the special view on clear days including the skyline of Manhattan.

Fitzgerald FallsA few aspects of New York that will add to my adventure are: seeing and walking over Prospect Rock (the highest point in NY at 1,433 feet), watching the cascades at Fitzgerald Falls, crossing the Hudson River on the Bear Mountain Bridge, wiggling through the Lemon Squeezer (check out my post on this cool rock formation called  “Tight Fit” – see link below) , and sitting on the bench of the only train station along the A.T. (more on the Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Line in an upcoming blog).

Great additional information:

Photo of Fitzgerald Falls

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Hiking, Lemon Squeezer, New York | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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