7/20/09

Appalachian Trail Sampler

After doing the Inca Trail Hike in 2006 and climbing Mt. Apo last year, my hiking boots hasn't seen much action, just gathering dust in my shoe rack. Last May, I did a bit of walking in the Shawangunks and thought hey, I've been missing this. I miss the sensation of sweating it out while letting those legs work. I miss hitting the trail while experiencing nature's unadulterated beauty. It's time to hike again, even for just a day.

Despite being highly urbanized, New York City is not far from wilderness. A section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (also called Appalachian Trail or simply A.T.), one of the country's premier hiking routes, passes through upstate New York's wooded areas. When I stumbled upon Outdoorbound, a New York-based adventure company, my heart beat fast enough for me to book a day hike with them. To spice things a little bit, I invited my friend Tatum whose legs are seen mostly hitting the clubs and not the trail - she freaks out at the thought of creepy creatures.

The Appalachian Trail is one of America's longest marked footpaths at 2,175 miles. It passes by six national parks, eight national forests, numerous state parks and crosses 14 states, stretching from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin in Maine. Hard core hikers do what's called thru-hiking, finishing the entire length of the trail in one season, usually 6 months! I do love to hike but I certainly don't have the passion and time to spend half a year in the woods.

DAY HIKERS

With six other New Yorkers, we met early Sunday morning in Manhattan. Erin, our guide for the day, drove us on a van for about an hour upstate. Somehow, Erin couldn't locate the marker of the trailhead even with her map and we drove around for several minutes - asking for directions and making phone inquiries - until we found our spot right by the roadside. After Erin gave us a rundown on this section of the Appalachian Trail, we went to business right away. Our objective was to reach Lake Canopus, hiking 5 miles in all.

LAKE CANOPUS

The undulating trail is clearly marked with "blazes", a rectangular white painting on trees and rocks. This makes it easier for hikers to find their way especially when caught during heavy downpours. Although there's still wildlife in this area like white-tailed deers and black bears, Tatum's fear of creepy creatures turned for real when Erin found a brown snake sunbathing on a rock along the trail. The snake was probably not too happy with Tatum's high-pitched squeal as it merely disappeared without even saying a "hisss" to her.

As we continued along the path through second-growth forest, it became more apparent to me how important protecting national and state parks are for future generations. For much of the last three centuries when the eastern corridor was increasingly populated and developed, a good portion of the Appalachian forests were heavily logged. Not until federal and state laws were enacted that man was tamed from indiscriminate cutting-spree.

TATUM WORKS IT

For us today, we simply follow the Leave No Trace ethic as we sample this part of protected wilderness. When I think of this, I remember the mountaineer's creed I came across in Mt. Apo:
Take nothing but pictures,
Leave nothing but footprints,
Kill nothing but time,
Bring nothing but memories.
At a vantage point overlooking Canopus Lake, we feasted on our packed lunch. Just a few hours ago, I bought my lunch at Pax Wholesome Foods at Times Square in Manhattan and I'm amazed that I'm now devouring it in the midst of maple and beech trees and wild blueberries. We went down to the lake where people were actually swimming. Swimming in a cold lake isn't for me and I simply basked in the glorious sunshine of a beautiful sunny Sunday. As sweaty Appalachian thru-hikers came in for their lunch loaded with huge backpacks, I could only smile at their dedication at what they do. Tatum was shocked with disbelief. But at least for us, hiking a part of this great American trail beats the treadmill of any gym anytime.

WHO NEEDS A TREADMILL?

13 comments:

  1. I always look forward to your posts not only because of the interesting places you take your readers to, but also because of the exceptional quality of your photography. The image of the pretty clouds and blue sky and their reflection on the lake is just breathtaking. I am a fan.

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  2. Nothing beats walking under the canopy with dried leaves cracking with every step.

    That thru hiking is for some really really serious dudes. This looks like a fun day.

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  3. The Appalachian Trail is one of America's longest marked footpaths at 2,175 miles. It passes by six national parks, eight national forests, numerous state parks and crosses 14 states, stretching from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin in Maine>>> wow! now you made me miss hiking. last weekend we were talking about it and we're doing it next month.

    the place looks really great. i like the shot of the lake with skies reflecting on it.

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  4. charltoninho3:51:00 AM

    i love your posts! they are worth waiting for. btw, what camera are you using with your photos? they are magnificent!

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  5. Hi Noel,
    Thanks so much for appreciating what I do. I try my best to get something interesting even if it means carrying a DSLR in the woods.

    Hi Photo Cache,
    That's so true. As for thru-hikers, hat's off to them, they're really one of a kind.

    Hi Dong,
    I thought so since you mentioned before you'll be going to Ifugao. I'm looking forward to your Banaue/Batad escapade.

    Hi Charltoninho,
    Thanks. I use Nikon D80. it's a sacrifice bringing it with me on a hike!

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  6. Great shots especially the lake snaps and the first one (captured so much details)!

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  7. Looks like a fun trek for you, guys. Did you take all these pics? Nice ones ha? Especially the pic with two kids running.

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  8. Is that the same Appalachian Trail
    that Gov. Sanford of S. Carolina "disappeared" to and found himself in Argentina LOL. Just kidding.

    How much did the guide charge for the hike? Why do you need one?

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  9. pahabol lang---there's an award for you at my site. come over and pick it up. thanks.

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  10. Hi Witsandnuts,
    Thanks again!

    Hi Abaniko,
    Except for the group shot (taken by our guide), all photos were taken by me. Yes, it was a fun trek -kwela kasi ang grupo. Salamat!

    Hi Bert,
    I guess the Gov. was hoping the trail was a good alibi. We booked our hike with an adventure company based in New York ($44) because we're not comfortable going on our own in the wilderness.

    Hi Photo Cache,
    I checked your site. Maraming salamat ulit!

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  11. When I saw your picture of Lake Canopus, it somehow reminded me of my recent trip to Mount Pinatubo.

    I'm enjoying backreading and learning many things from your trips.

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  12. Hey Nomad! Ya, who needs a treadmill? I actually took a 30 min drive north of Manhattan to Westchester the other day and was surprised how different the environs are so close to the city. Come to think of it though, Central Park is prety lush too. But the Appalachian Trail definitely is more interesting. Great shots.

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  13. Nice shots... parang ang inett!

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