June 10 - Day 1

Start: Home
End: Home
Mileage: 12

Today I began my journey.

For the most part I'll be heading north, but the Long Path actually starts six miles south of my house. So my plan for today was to walk six miles south to the trailhead in Fort Lee, then hike north on the Long Path for six miles and sleep at my house tonight.

I left my house at 10:30 this morning and walked on roads for six miles to get to the trailhead in Fort Lee. I decided to carry my whole pack with me today, to get used to carrying it.

The trail starts in Fort Lee Historic Park, the site of a Revolutionary War fort used by George Washington (and later abandoned after the British crossed the Hudson into New Jersey). I got to the park around 12:30, walked around a bit and checked out the museum, then had lunch on a bench. There were some old cannons overlooking the Hudson River and New York City, and a few buildings meant to look like they were from the 18th century.

At 1:30, I asked someone to take my picture at the trailhead, and I began hiking the Long Path. There was no sign or anything to designate the trailhead, just an upwards triangle blaze (which designates the start of a trail). For the next four weeks I'll be following these aqua blazes.

I soon passed the George Washington Bridge and was walking in Palisades Interstate Park along the Palisades (400 foot cliffs towering above the Hudson River), paralleling the Palisades Parkway. The trail was technically in the woods, but at times I was just a few feet from the speeding cars on the parkway. I must have driven on that part of the parkway hundreds of times in the past 15 years, never knowing that the trail existed this close to it. I stopped now and then at some scenic overlooks that afforded excellent views of New York and the river.

I saw a few people doing trail maintenance, and a woman walking her dog, but nobody else was on the trail. At one point I the mosquitos came out in full force. I was thirsty and ready for a break, but as soon as I put my pack down the mosquitos attacked me, so I continued walking. I was relieved when there was an overlook (High Tom) just a few minutes later. It was out on the cliff, away from the marsh and mosquitos. I sat on the rocks for a while, watching the boats make their way down the river.

When I got back on the trail, I continued north on the Long Path to the entrance for Greenbrook Sanctuary, a private nature preserve that is fenced off. I left the Long Path, crossed Route 9W (to the east), and entered the Tenafly Nature Center's land. I followed the trails there half a mile back to my house, arriving home at 4:30.

Overall, I was pretty wiped out by the end of the day, and the mosquitos were really bad and frustrating for the last two hours. I'm a little sore, but I'm glad I brought my pack today so I'll get used to carrying the weight. I uploaded some photos from today, but it may be another week or two before I get more photos online (since I need computer access). Tomorrow, I leave home for good. Might be able to update the blog again tomorrow night or Friday, since I won't be too far from civilization (and pay phones).


  1. Hi Jacob,
    What an awesome project you're setting out on. I just got back from three intense days in the Adirondacks, with 8 46'ers, plenty of climbing into clouds, and beauty all around. Good luck, stay safe, work on the gaiter tan, and when things are rough remember to look up, look around, and look down - even on wet days there's joy, inspiration, and beauty in the little things.
    I look forward to seeing you and hearing stories in the fall.

  2. Hi Jacob,

    I love the idea of starting and ending the first day at home, as though you never left (even though you had a full day). It's fascinating, too, that our nature trails can co-exist so close to our highways, and without us making the connection. Of course, the idea of designating and preserving nature trails and parks is necessary only against the encroachments of civilization. As you go along the trail, you might think about how "nature" is set up as a preserve from civilization but is inevitably intermingled with it. On a separate note, it would be interesting to get the story on that Haring Rock you show in your pictures...

    Dr. Lazen

  3. Jacob,

    I am sitting in my comfortable dining room looking outside at the pouring rain and wondering how you are doing. I wish so much your first night outside wasn't a miserable rainy night, but rather a pleasant summer night where you could make a campfire and go to sleep looking up at the stars. I just hope when you look back on this entire trip, tonight is going to be your worst night on the whole adventure and yes - years from now, you will laugh about it. Here's hoping tomorrow night will be dry and you can have your campfire and night looking at a clear sky only filled with stars. love - dad

  4. Lizzie and I are sitting here reading the blog. This rain is such a bummer. I feel like running down the street yelling "make him stop!!" remember? I love you, Mom

  5. My son just finished the Northville Placid Trail starting in Placid.
    He finished it in 7 days and had the time of his life!
    I am extremely proud of him and the Trail Head Lodge Bed and Breafast at the start of the Northville Trail in Northville is a wonderful place to stay. The owners' Mr. and Mrs. Washburns are the most wonderful people you will ever meet!

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