I set out on the long drive to the trailhead, heading west on NY 17 / I-86. The wind whipped at flags I saw along the drive and pushed my car around on the road as higher gusts blew up, but the sun was bright and the temperatures were warm. I arrived at the trailhead shortly before 8 am; the same place I had parked at for my last hike, but this time I was heading west.
On this hike I would meet a thru-hiker, walk/jog a long road walk of nearly four miles one-way, descend 700 feet through numerous switchbacks on my way down to Urbana, NY, and then climb back up and do the road walk once more. And although the day was warm and sunny, the wind was wicked, gusting over 30 mph at times. On top of the hill it was so constant that my ears started to ring from the sound.
As I usually do, I began checking the weather a week before the weekend of my planned hike. The prediction for Saturday was clouds and rain showers, but Sunday looked to be decent. As the weekend drew closer the weather for Sunday began to turn worse. By Thursday both Saturday and Sunday were predicted to be cloudy and rainy, however the weather for Monday looked nearly perfect – of course. Rather than hike in chilly and rainy weather I decided to take Monday off work and take advantage of the great weather.
I left for the long drive to the trailhead around 6:15 am. It was still cool and foggy out, but it was predicted to warm into the mid 70’s. The drive was uneventful and the fog had burned off by the time I arrived. Sunlight was filtering through the trees and it already felt warm.
The first hike of 2016 had finally arrived. I had spent the previous days obsessing over the weather forecast and as the weekend got closer settled on Sunday for the day of the hike. Earlier in the week Saturday had looked to be the better day, but as the weekend got closer the weather turned. It was a good choice to delay the hike until Sunday because Saturday was a cloudy and blustery day; it would not have been a very good hike day.
I left my house just as the sun was beginning to rise above the horizon. It was cold still, only about 29, but the sky was clear and the forecast was for the temperatures to rise into the low 60s by mid afternoon.
I had originally planned to hike the weekend of October 17, but on Sunday, October 11 I looked at the long-range forecast and decided to change my plans. Monday, October 12 (Columbus Day) was going to be an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny and highs in the low 70’s. The weekend did not look nearly so nice with the possibility of rain and highs only in the mid-to-upper 40’s. Although I know weather forecasts several days out can, and often do, change, I thought that it was unlikely the weather would even be close to as nice as Monday. So I decided to take the day off and take what might be the last hike of the season.