End: Nickerson's Campground
Today I encoutered the infamous "northern part" of the Long Path. I had heard that, north of the Catskills, the trail is very poorly maintained. I left Catskill Park in the late morning, and the trail continued along on some old logging roads.
Then, it became hell. The trail was so overgrown, with stinging nettles that were three feet tall, that it wasn't distinguishable. I could see the blazes pretty well, but the trail was too overgrown to be seen, and for a mile I had to bushwhack from blaze to blaze through the stinging nettles. At one point I stopped to put pants on, but when I did some thorns got stuck in my pack and later dug into my back. My arms and legs got all scratched up and were bloody and stinging. It was awful. After a mile, the trail conditions got better. But a few hours later, I had to encounter another two-mile stretch of it. I was pretty miserable. In my opinion, those sections should be closed and rerouted along roads until the trail can be cleaned up. (Not that I'm blaming trail maintenance volunteers...they are, after all, volunteers, and I have so much of the trail to thank them for.)
I finally got through the abysmal Sections 24 and 25 of the Long Path, and then had a long road walk. Section 26 of the trail is apparently impassable at poins, and parts of it have been unmaintained for years, so there is a road walk detour for thru-hikers. After doing almost half of it, it was getting dark, and I was able to hitch a ride to the campground. The driver was a town supervisor, and he went out of his way to take me where I was going. What a trail angel! I didn't feel too bad hitching to avoid five miles of road walk; I have my fair share of road walking on this trip. The road walk was actually pretty enjoyable. I'm out in the country now, and it's on quiet roads past large farms.
I got to the campground a little after 9. The Long Path actually goes through the campground, so it's a convenient place to stay. It's owned by a very nice couple who bought it four years ago. Apparently they had been expecting me; they heard from someone at the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference that I would be coming by on a thru-hike. I also went on a little shopping spree at their store, buying ice cream, cookies, and other junk food. While I was eating dinner, the husband (Doug) came over and we had a nice talk for a while. Apparently he sees about ten thru-hikers a year come through the campground. Nearly all have been men under 30 (an interesting contrast to the Appalachian Trail, which, as I think I mentioned, gets men and women of all ages).
A very cool part of today was when I was climbing Windham High Peak in the morning. To the left of the ridge, it was all sunny. But on the right side, it was very cloudy. There were times when I got high enough that I could look to my right and actually be above the clouds. I took a few pictures but I doubt they'll capture the full effect.
Need to get an early star tomorrow. I'm meeting up with my dad and brother tomorrow in West Fulton, then spending the next day relaxing and resupplying.