0511 FLT
Up FLTC_Gear

May 11 I officially hiked my first section of the Finger Lakes Trail.  I started at the start, where the trail enters New York State from Pennsylvania.  Here is a map of the section I hiked.  

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I got to the trailhead (Access 1) at about 11:00.  I stopped to check out the "safer parking" at the Willow Bay campsites in the Allegheny National Forest, but they wanted $5 and I wasn't sure how far it was to the trailhead. It turned about to be about 0.4 miles (and that wasn't from the parking area which was farther) and there was room at the trailhead, so I parked there. I decided to hike in shorts, and this time I brought the trail gaiters for my trail running shoes. I made some initial recordings in my trail log and set my altimeters.

At the trailhead:

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This trail starts out uphill, and goes up for quite a while, about 700' in the first 1.2 miles. I stopped to photo every sign. I crossed the state border at about 1.1 miles, and signed the trail register there, crossing from National Forest to State Park. It was a beautiful day, no biting bugs, warm, calm and clear.

Signs at the state border, about 1.1 miles:

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Crossing Wolf Run Road, near Access 2, 4.2 miles:

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At the intersection with Park Trail 1, about 5.2 miles:

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I stopped for 15 minutes at the Willis Creek Lean-to (7.2 miles) to eat a little snack and put moleskin on my right heel. I also switched my trail gaiters. At first I put them on the wrong feet, which I only discovered was wrong because they didn't stay up over the heel counter. I switched feet at a rest stop after putting some moleskin on my right heel which was getting hot, and after that they stayed up, so I have to remember that the Velcro must be on the inside. I recorded some data from altimeters and GPS in my trail log and on I went. This is a very nice lean-to, with a shovel and broom, a very clean privy, a nice picnic table and a fire ring. The lean-to has several big wooden pegs for hanging backpacks, etc. A big green tarp, some lines for using, etc. The ends of the crawlspace under the lean-to are screened over with mesh to keep critters out from under.

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I began thinking about how far I should go. Since this trip would have to be an out and back, I needed to decide where to turn around. I decided I didn't want to hike more than four hours on Sunday since it was Mother's Day. I was making about 2.5 mph, so I decided 10 miles was the limit for Sunday. And since I had started hiking at 11, and dilly-dallied at least an hour already, I could figure on hiking 8 hours of moving time on Saturday, which would be 20 miles. So I decided that hiking about 15 miles, turning around and spending the night at the 10 mile point would be about right. As it turns out, there is an access point at about 15 miles, which would be a nice place to turn around, and then I could hike the next segment from that point. This became the current plan.

Crossing Coon Run Road at 8.5 miles:

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At about 9 miles I started looking for a likely place to bivouac for the night. I was thinking that I could hike faster without all the weight, and I could cache my sleeping gear (bivy sack, pad, bag, tarp, clothing, rain gear), hike out to the 15 mile point, cook my supper there, turn around, hike back to my gear and spend the night there. At about 10 miles I found a spot and hid the extra gear under sticks and leaves at the base of a tree and made a marker on the trail that I couldn't miss. On I went. I was now hiking a bit faster, and starting to feel the effort in soreness.

Access 4, on ASP3 at 10.6 miles:

ASP3.JPG (260194 bytes)

I began to question my ability to go all the way to 15 miles. About 12 miles I decided I couldn't do it, and thought of turning around there. I consulted the map, and decided to push on to the lean-to at 13.2 where I could eat and then go back. I met 4 young ladies near the beaver pond, then found an old lean-to, and then saw the lean-to at Stoney Brook. Their father(?) was there and had a fire going, with three tents up. I took some GPS readings and some photos, and decided to go back an hour, get my gear, go back another hour and spend the night at Willis Creek. This made me hustle right along, computing that I could get there just in time to cook supper before dark.

Lean-tos near Stoney Brook (13.2 miles):

Old Lean-To1.JPG (257262 bytes)  Old Lean-To2.JPG (255392 bytes)

And the new lean-to at Stoney Brook:

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I got to the lean-to about 7:45 and set up on the picnic table to cook. At the spring behind the lean-to I filled my pots and boiled water for a dehydrated supper of beef teriyaki with rice, and a cup of coffee. While supper was steeping I filtered two quarts of water from Willis Creek. By now it was almost dark, and I found a tree to hang my bear bag. That done, I ate at the picnic table, put all my trash in a grocery sack in my bear bag and hung it. Then I set my bivy up in the lean-to (because I knew there was a chipmunk living there, by the big nest on the rafter). I hung things up in the lean-to, moved the stove inside since I knew it was supposed to rain in the night, and prepared to write in my journal by the light of my headlamp at the picnic table. I seemed to have lost my pencil. I thought for a few minutes, and I remembered the lean-to register. It was in a box built for it attached to the end of the lean-to on the outside. In the box were the log and some pens and pencils. So I put on my lamp and went to get a pencil to write with. Standing about 8 inches from the box, I reached up to untie the string that holds the door closed, and the chipmunk was on top of the box. I scared him with my light, and he sprang right at me. He scared me too, and I couldn't back up fast enough. I went ass over teacup back a few steps until I fell backwards and landed between a tree and a rock. The chipmunk, last I saw, had jumped about 8 feet straight out and took off into the woods. I wasn't hurt too badly, and got my pencil and went to sit and write at the table.

Of course, just as I sat down, it started to sprinkle. So I moved into the lean-to and made my recordings, then bunked down for the night. I left the door open on the bivy, with just the screen zipped up to keep chipmunks out. It only got down to 48 during the night, and I only had to get up once. It rained all night, which was very nice to listen to on the lean-to roof and be able to be dry in the lean-to and safe from chipmunks in my bivy sack. A very nice night.

I woke up about 5:30 to the dawning gloom of a rainy day, and decided to get on with it. My food bag was unmolested, and I filled more pots and boiled water for coffee and dehydrated eggs and stuff. As things cooked and steeped I packed up. It wasn't raining at the moment, so I put the pack rain cover in a pocket and tied my rain jacket to the back of the pack. I was hiking by 7:15. Within 10 minutes, as I was stumbling, the thunder began rumbling. I stopped and donned my rain jacket and put the rain cover on my pack as it began to sprinkle again. The thunder and lightning continued, and I think I hiked through three thunderstorms on my way out. Lightning never got close than 6 seconds and the rain varied in intensity from sprinkling to what could be considered a downpour. Of course I was mostly soaked, but my torso felt dry. Again I valued the judgment that soaking wet trail running shoes weigh a lot less than soaking wet leather hiking boots. My feet were going to be wet anyway, so it was better to be light. After the steep climb over the ridge, the hiking became very pleasant, and I kind of race-walked / jogged for quite a while. I had enjoyed this part of the trail yesterday and didn't need to be wet any longer than necessary. I met one guy hiking in and he was soaked too, and said he was just hiking for some exercise.

I got to my car before ten and quickly changed into dry clothes.  This was a very satisfying hike and I did a lot of things right.  I developed a working plan as I hiked along and then modified it as necessary for the conditions.  I used nearly everything I carried, excepting a few extra clothes and my Siltarp.  It wasn't perfect:  I was alone, it rained coming out (which I knew would happen going in and was prepared), it was too short.  But not a bad outing for a target of opportunity!

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