I recently accepted a new delivery route at work and several of the workers I have seen every day over the last two years showered me with cards, cakes and gifts on my last day to their store. It was really a touching gesture on their part and I was very moved by their thoughtfulness. I thought about all the friends I had made during that time – I knew over 50 of them by name – and it was sad to realize that our paths probably wouldn’t pass again for a long time. One thing I know from my job as a delivery driver is that out of casual greetings and little pieces of information passed on every day, you get to know people quite well. As we shared hugs and said good byes, we promised to keep in touch. I hope someday that I will sub for the driver doing the route now and get to say “Hello friends,” again.
With cold weather fast approaching and the days getting shorter, I felt the need to try for one more exercise hike before I gave into winter hibernation. I pondered several areas that have good hiking trails: Allegany State Park, The Fingerlakes Trail, Letchworth Park, all of which offer beautiful scenery and miles of groomed trails. It seemed logical to pick someplace I wouldn’t have to drive far to get to, and it would be nice to have a loop trail to avoid retracing my steps back to the truck. After searching through my maps for places that met this criterion, I happened upon an idea.
Letchworth Park has a trail that follows the gorge for more than 20 miles, meandering back and forth along the eastern rim, through mature woods, ravines, waterfalls and majestic overlooks. I noticed that there was a road intersecting several access points along the trail and I decided I would leave my truck at one of these parking areas, ride my bike a few miles down the road to another access point and hike back through the woods. What could be better exercise than hiking and cycling?
It’s hard to believe that the middle of November in New York can still be warm and sunny. Here I was riding my bicycle down the highway towards the Mt. Morris dam on a glorious Saturday morning. The temperature was in the 60’s – way out of normal for this time of year – and sunshine forecast for the whole weekend. I couldn’t remember whether I was supposed to ride with traffic or facing traffic, so I would weave back and forth across the road depending on which way I felt less paranoid. Traffic was light, thank goodness, and I was soon entering the visitor center road near the start of the Letchworth trail. I hid the bike behind some bushes and picked up my backpack and hiking poles. For day hikes I still carry some warm clothes, rain jacket, headlamp and first-aid kit, along with snacks and water. Even though there is cell phone service along the entire trail, I like to be prepared.
It was good to be off the highway and back in the wood. Most of the trail was dry – below normal rainfall for the last few weeks – and I thought once of hiking in sneakers but opted for my hiking boots. The path was mostly level except where it went through ravines. Sometimes the ravine was so deep and steep that the trail had to detoured a long way around. There were areas of huge Red Oak trees, some still hanging on to their brightly colored leaves, refusing to let go until snow comes and pulls them to the ground. At times the trail would take me to the edge to the gorge for a panoramic view of the fertile valley along the Genesee river.
I only met three people on the hike. Two were on mountain bikes and they passed me in a flash. I have mixed feelings about allowing bikes on hiking trails. I guess I want some places you can only get to by walking and it made me feel good when I came to a place where I knew they would have to get off and push. I came upon one giant tree that had fallen across the path and I knew they must have really struggled maneuvering through the limbs.
When I parked my truck, I set a waypoint in my GPS so I would know exactly where to come out of the woods. As I hiked back, it seemed like I had gone too far and I almost didn’t trust what my GPS was telling me. Biking along the road was so easy that I couldn’t relate it to the distance of walking back. With all the winding of the trail through the woods, I probably walked twice as far as I rode. But it worked out good and combined for a great day of exercise. I’m thinking now that the possibilities could be endless with a small moped or scooter instead of a bike.
I have looked at some of the tools and editing procedures that are available to me as the owner of this blog, and they are quite daunting and confusing. When I read other blogs, I never gave much thought to what goes on in the background. My brothers and sister have such interesting sites filled with pictures, categories and links, and it never dawned on me until now how proficient they are at producing very professional blogs.
I can see that it will take some time to get used to the idea of being a publisher. I also realize that it will be fun to learn how even though it may seem like work at times. I know there are several people just waiting to give me advice on how to do it:) (I need to make a smiley face here)
Someone once said that inactivity makes for very poor writing and I have to agree that when I hike, go geocaching, or visit someplace new, I have a lot more to say. Over the last few years I’ve written several journals about the backpacking trips I’ve taken, and even though I write them mostly so that I can remember, they might be something to share here. I don’t intend to make this a place to reminisce, tell my history, or write some kind of memoir of my life, but I have very few opinions about anything.
Thanks to everyone for encouraging me to write some of my thoughts down for the whole world to see. Thank you Daryl for making it happen.
I promise that I will compose some profound, inspiring and deeply moving literature for everyone to read, but right now it is late at night and I’m very tired. I know what happens when I get in this frame of mind – the next morning I’m truly embarrassed by the things I’ve said. So rather than drift into an emotional realm where I bare my soul for everyone to see, I’ll just hit the post button now.
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