My first overnight hike on the FLT. I had planned out my hike well in advance. I would start from Beech Hill Rd and head west to Campbell Mountain lean-to. My previous hikes that year had been 16 – 20 miles so I expected that I could hike the 14 miles to the lean-to. The week leading up to the planned hike I checked and re-checked the weather forecast. The weather looked to be good with no rain in the forecast and nice temperatures.
After my first few hikes on the FLT I decided that I wanted to complete the entire trail; an end-to-end (E2E). I knew that it would take me years to complete the entire trail, so by the end of my second year of hiking (2011) I added some short-term goals to accomplish along the way. I wanted to do an overnight hike and I also wanted to try to hike a “marathon”, 26.2 miles, in a single day. My first overnight hike would wait until September 2013, but I had already started increasing my mileage in 2011. My first 20+ mile hike was June 2011 at 21.82 miles, and the next in July at 24.57 miles. Although, that was an unplanned distance and I was left hurting after.
During the cold winter months of the beginning of 2012 I began planning; I decided I would do my marathon hike that year. I knew I needed to build up my endurance and distance. I would need to keep increasing the mileage with each hike. My first hike in 2012 was my “warm-up” and was only 16.23 miles. The next hike in May I increased the mileage to 21.18 and then 24.38 in June. I was ready.
A beautiful summer hike, blue skies and sun. I planned and mapped out 18 miles from Baker School House Road (M20) to Cheningo Day Use Area (M21). I arrived at my turn-around point much earlier than I expected. Most of the FLT access points are usually less than two miles apart, so I decided to continue on. Over 2.5 miles later I reached the next access point. Instead of an 18 mile hike it became a nearly 25 mile hike. The additional section was also quite hilly. Combined with the warm summer day, only packing enough water for a shorter hike, I was hurting and parched by the time I returned to my car.
A long, nearly 22 mile hike, from Blodgett Mills (M20) to Baker School House Road (M20) and back. The hike marked a milestone crossing under interstate I-81; my east/west split. Clouds and fog dominated the hike, with periods of light rain making for a damp and somewhat miserable hike.
I started my hike with a long road-walk down US 11 before crossing under the massive twin bridges of I-81. Fog shrouded a field in mystery and created the impression of another world. Another long road-walk book-ended the hike as I made my way along several different roads before arriving at Baker School House Road. I planned to continued on east from Baker School House Road, but light rain began to fall again and I called an end to the hike and turned back.
My friend Tim joined me for another hike through some steep climbs and deep descents. The trail took us up over Snyder Hill. We crossed over the small dirt-tracks of Cortland 9 Road, Pipeline Road, and Snyder Hill Road. We made our way down along a stream as it tumbled down the hill heading for West River Road. A waterfall offered a good photo opportunity as we descended. West River Road took us on a long road-walk to Blodgett Mills. Along our road-walk a dog decided to join our adventure and continued to follow us all the way to the town. We took our lunch break at the Post Office in Blodgett Mills before turning and heading back. After another long road-walk and steep climbs and descents we finally arrived back at my car. On the first attempt to start my car the engine refused to turn over.
Although the weather was not ideal I planned a new hike. I also had a new “toy” – a handheld hiking GPS unit – that I wanted to test out. My hike started with a steep climb up from Babcock Hollow Road (M19). The trail brought me up across Van Donsel Road; the same road Tim and I had gotten stuck on the previous hike. From there I made my way up to the top of one of the ski runs at Greek Peak and then descended over 750 feet down to Tone Road. A road-walk took me up the busy NY 392 and then up Carson Road (M19) to my turn-around. I turned back and struggled up along the ski run, sore and tired by the time I reached the top. Shortly before reaching the final steep descent to Babcock Hollow Road I twisted my knee painfully and limped my way slowly down.
A short late-winter hike of eight miles did not go as planned. Tim and I challenged fate by driving past a seasonal limited use road sign and lost. As Tim pulled his car to the side of the road on what appeared to be solid packed snow the car broke through a thick layer of ice and sank. Despite our best efforts we could not free the car. Our only recourse was to call for a tow truck. The tow truck nearly got stuck trying to rescue us, but finally the car was free. We still had a few hours of daylight left, so we set out and hiked a much shorter route slipping and sliding through the snow.
The last hike of my first year (2010) on the FLT. I had perfect weather with bright sunny skies and temperatures starting in the upper 50s and highs in the low 80s. I retraced a little of my previous hike, parking at the north end of the Jim Schug Rail Trail and walking up Lake Road. From Lake Road I made my way across a field and up over the hill. Along the way I stopped to admire some breath-taking views. I arrived at Daisy Hollow Road and made my way up the road to the northern trailhead. From there the trail took me across two small streams and through an area carpeted in bright green ferns. Finally I descended down a steep section of trail with ropes installed as I made my way to Babcock Hollow Road. I took a rest break on a small footbridge over a deep ditch at the side of the road before heading back.
My fifth hike on the FLT and my first single-day 20 mile hike. I started from NY 79 on a cool summer morning that had the promise of a warm day. My trek took me down NY 79 and then up over a hill in Robinson Hollow State Forest. I crossed over Harford Slaterville Road into Hammond Hill State Forest, passing under a tall microwave tower. After leaving the tower behind I descended to cross NY 38 and make a long hot walk along Purvis Road out in the bright sun. I arrived at the Jim Schug Rail Trail (not what I expected) and followed it along toward Lake Road. After a break for lunch on a bench along the rail trail I continued on to Lake Road and then turned onto the road. I left the road and continued across a field heading for what I believed was a road on the other side. At the far side of the field I found it was not a road and decided it was time to turn back. After a long trek back I descended on to Robinson Hollow Road and discovered that I had lost one of the lenses on my sunglasses.
My fourth hike on the FLT. I had talked about the trail to my friends and my good friend Tim decided he wanted to go on a hike with me. I planned out a relatively short 11 mile hike as his first introduction to the trail. It was a beautifully sunny mid-summer day; perfect for a hike. Our trek took us from Old 76 Road to NY 79 and back. We rested along the wide grassy shoulder of Blackman Hill Road. Near NY 79 we encountered a long series of low bridges over marshy and wet ground.