I hadn’t worn my boots in over a week. It’s funny how I began to miss them! My name was sitting on a “waitlist” for a hike to chase waterfalls in a nearby State Park. I checked my phone for alerts every half hour hoping my name would be put on the “confirmed” list. I woke up at 7:00 a.m. the day of the hike and saw that I was finally confirmed. Enough people had backed out, clearing a spot for me! Jumping out of bed and scaring the dogs, I hurried to shower and pack my backpack.
The December day was forecast to be in the 60’s and nice. I was looking forward to being outside and among friends on the trail. Stepping outside it was foggy, damp and dreary – it did not look promising. Driving to the park it began to sprinkle. It still felt more like an April day than a December day, so I carried on.
The group was beginning to assemble at the meeting point and it started to rain harder. People were changing their RSVPs to No every couple minutes and before we knew it, we had only 14 people instead of 25. The rain was putting sour faces on most of us, but no one backed out. We all hoped it would stop soon and lucky for us it did.
We were chasing down a number of waterfalls in the park and since there hadn’t been much rain, except for the little that fell early in the morning, the waterfalls were only trickling.
Our leader, Chuck took us past interesting old ruins of park infrastructure. The park was built in the 30’s and many of the old stone incinerators and mysterious buildings remain. A few took us a minute to figure out what they might have been used for. I still don’t know what this large dog house building would be. It had no floor – only mud, trash and a large pipe running through it.
We eventually chased down a few waterfalls. Not very exciting this time of year with no water rushing over them, but beautiful, just the same.
There’s a teeny tiny waterfall in the middle of this picture. It didn’t make Chuck’s list either.
This hike felt different to me than any other so far. I was talking to everyone, breathing easily and having so much fun. My feet were even smiling in my boots! There were a couple of challenging, steep inclines and I was glad I brought my hiking poles. They sure do come in handy. Chuck had us walking in the creek bed in order to view another waterfall. The creek bed was SLIPPERY! Those poles saved me from getting wet! So did Ali – my happy Drill Sargent was there lending a supportive hand and motivational words whenever I needed it!
At the edge of the park there was a marker engraved with the name, Cliford Robert Pettis, State Forester. Of course, I had to “Google” his name! Turns out he was named the “Father of Reforestation” and was the New York State Forest Superintendent from 1910-1927. Seems this man was responsible for the planting of 20,000,000 trees in New York State. Here is a website if you want to learn more: https://localwiki.org/hsl/Clifford_R._Pettis.
Nearing the end of the hike we were climbing and climbing. My heart was beating out of my chest! My face was RED! I reminded myself that this is why I am in training for my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. As long as I am still breathing I will get through it! I concentrated on my slow even breathing and setting small little goals. For example on one steep section of trail I concentrated on different shape rocks ahead of me and told myself to get to that one rock, then the next rock, then the next weird looking root, then the next bright leaf in trail. Sometimes these goals were only 2 feet apart, but it worked!