Monday, August 3, 2020

Six Days on the Finger Lakes Trail 70 miles and 9.9k of elevation (M18-M15)

Met Shannon at the twin tunnels access point Sunday morning. We dropped off our food resupply while on the way to the RT79 trailhead. I had hiked the first half of our route a little more than a year ago. So I had a vague memory of what to expect. The trail gets cganged quite a bit, and a lot of the road crossing seems to blend in with each other. As we readied our gear, a couple more cars pulled in to the lot. Local bike riders. We chatted a bit and then made our way to the trailhead. Immediately we saw the flooded section. Not sure what to do, I looked at my map. I had an older one on which I hand drew the current trail, The old route provided us a bypass around the flooded section along a dirt road. As we hiked up the road towards firetower road the opportunity existed to cut through the woods to the new trail. Not wanting to trespass, we stayed on the dirt rd and then the paved roads to where the trail would enter the state forest. Once in the forest, the trail was much nicer walking. The miles peeled off and after not too long we were approaching the Shindagin woods which would be camp for night one. Dan and I had camped here a few springs ago after a much longer day. Shannon and I did 8.5 miles. I was looking forward to washing up in the creek, but the stream was barely a trickle. A few deeper spots allowed us to get water without too much difficulty.

While at the Shindagin lean-to quite a few day hikers would come through. Very popular area, surprised no one else was camping here. Slept great. I was up well before Shannon so I made coffee and packed up. When we eventually headed out it was past 9 am. The trail would go downhill for a while and then uphill a lot. This would be our routine for the rest of the trip. Coupled with very few water sources made for some heavier packs having to carry multiple liters of water. A lot of roadwalking for the trip which in the heat was brutal. Just after lunch the second day, we were heading up Eastman hill. I remembered how steep this was. As we neared the top, I needed to take a rest. I was hot... too hot. I needed to cool down and have some water. It took a while. I was legitimately nervous for a bit that I would not be able to continue. Early stages of heat exhaustion was getting the best of me. The long rest was helpful. Took it slow for the rest of the day. Even had to climb another pesky hill, though not as steep. Filtering water from some sketchy sources was necessary. We passed by Tamarack lean-to and then it would be mostly downhill to our next campsite. Over 15 miles for the day with some brutal hills. This was our long day. It should get easier from here.

Only a half mile left of this section which I have done. Another few miles in the woods and then a long roadwalk made even longer as we never found the turn off into the woods. The markers heading in this direction are not very clear. Was getting frustrating trying to navigate a trail which was made difficult by roads. Much easier in the woods. When we finally got back on trail, it was short lived. As we passed through a field the markers did not show where it re-entered the woods. There were multiple trails and old dirt paths throughout. We took a compass bearing and followed one going in the correct direction. It started heading downhill, the wrong way. We hiked back up, and I took a bearing to get us to where we needed to go on the next road. This was getting really frustrating. So we were back on a road hiking in the hot sun. Neither of us was happy. This was not fun for me. I guess there was a reason i stopped hiking the Finger Lakes Trail except for short camping trips into the state forests. We picked up or resupply and made our way to Treman Park for our 3rd night. This was a shorter day at 10 miles. We would hike down to the park and swim (also to get water from the campground). The Lean-to is far away from a water source and is full of carpenter bees. Not a great location. Barely half way through the trip and I was really not enjoying myself. The swim in the creek was nice. I made a no-cook dinner to conserve water.

The trail out of the park was up on a ridge so it didn't really provide a nice view of the park. Once out, we had some more road walking to do. Again the trail disappeared so we added more road. We stopped at a private campground which had ice-cream in the camp store and a spigot to fill our water bottles. The folks here were very nice. The trail would go in/out of woods crossing roads. Some reroutes and more road. Some quite steep.We had to gain almost 2000 feet.  It was a little cooler than the first few days. Then it started to rain. Of course it would rain today, as this was the only planned campsite without a lean-to. Fortunately the rain would subside long enough for us to set up camp and eat. We got more rain over night. But by morning we were able to pack up without it. 

The rain the previous night had cooled things down nicely. We had a long downhill for the day and then a long uphill to the Rogers Hill lean-to. By now we were both hyper focused on the trail blazes. A private landowner had a spigot where the trail crossed his land for hikers to use. This was nice. The dirt rd up to the Rogers Lean-to was long but not too bad. As we got closer to the top we met a few gentlemen on a golf cart. They were wearing "period clothing". They were the administrators for a pre-1840 rendezvous. They made sure we found our campsite and we settled in at the lean-to. There was pond out in front which made for a nice swim. Our campsite was just outside the area in which the rendezvous was occurring. A group of kids came by to chat. All were in period gear. The multi-age group of kids reminded me of the pack of kids that would form at the folk festivals I attended as a kid. Some how all the kids would find each other and roam around with the oldest boy seemingly at the helm.  With the festival going on, they had brought in large cisterns of potable water. We were both happy to not be drinking pond water, filtered or not. Shannon went to take some photos off the hill. When she returned she mentioned the "food tent". They were going to be offering french toast in the morning on Saturday. We were a few days too early. I walked around a bit and talked to a man and his wife who were set up not far from us. The man said, "you look familiar." After a brief exchange we realized we knew each other from the paddling forums. Small world. They offered me some iced tea. Was nice to have a drink with ice in it. 

We were in bed before it got dark and up before most of the encampment. We packed up and quietly hiked down the hill. Some more road walking. This was our last day so packs were much lighter. We passed by a campsite with two ladies making breakfast. Then we started up hill. We paused to chat with a hiker coming the other direction. He was walking in  teva sandals. He had done the AT and found these to be much more comfortable for him than hot sweaty boots. Was a nice break from the climb. Made our way to the National Forest and began climbing that dirt rd. The hiker had mentioned there was no water at the Dunham shelter. We only had about 5 miles to go, I figured I could ration my water until then. The last few miles before the RR grade were through mowed field. Not very fun hiking for me. But we made it to the car. I still had a pint of water. We changed out of hiking clothes, retrieved our food storage and headed to my car. Shannons GPS tried to take us on a rd which no longer existed so we had to figure out a way using the paper map to get us back on track. My car was still there with intact windows and tires. 70.1 miles and I have barely 33% of the FLT complete. I think I will take a break from it for a while.

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