Start: Willsey Farm
End: Altamont Inn
Altamont! After 27 days, I completed my thru-hike of the Long Path! It's a weird feeling. I can't believe that just a month ago I was still at home; it feels like I've been on the trail for so long. And yet, I can't believe that I'm done with the Long Path already. It's a very weird feeling to be have finished it.
And for me, this is just a transition in my trip. For the next few days I will make my way to Northville (following a possible extension of the Long Path from Altamont to the Adirondacks). And then, I have another, albeit shorter, trail to thru-hike: the Northville-Placid Trail.
I was woken up by the roosters at 6:30 this morning (I know that sounds like a cliche, but it's true). It was actually very hot outside by that point. After breakfast and another talk with Mr. Willsey, I was on my way. I only stopped once today, for lunch.
The trail passed through John Boyd Thacher State Park, a lovely park with a lot of nice trails. It also included the Helderberg Escarpment, a massive cliff. From the lookout, I could see the Albany skyline, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the Taconic and Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts (including Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts). They looked liked blue-grey hills off in the far distance.
After leaving the park, there was about two miles of road walk until the trail ended abruptly - and rather randomly (I have no clue why this spot was chosen) - at the intersection of Lewis Road and Route 146. This is the official end of the Long Path. There's just a stop sign there - nothing special. It was somewhat anti-climactic. I got there at 2:40.
There was a blaze indicating that the trail continued down Route 146, but as I went that way for a mile to the village of Altamont I didn't see any more blazes. As I think I've said already, there are plans to extend the trail, but I don't know how far they have progressd. From what I saw today, it looks like it's not yet marked or blazed. I have a written description of a potential extension which I will follow for the next three days to get to Northville in the Adirondacks. The main problem the trail has encountered is that there aren't any woods to go through; the next three days will be 65 miles of road walking.
Altamont is a very small village, but it surprisingly has two gas stations (and the same number of restaurants). I'm staying at the Altamont Inn, a lovely bed and breakfast in a beautiful old house just outside town.
I was able to upload some photos from the computer at the public library, and then had a celebratory dinner of pizza (my choices were pizza or Chinese food) and then ice cream. I ran into the innkeepers at the ice cream shop and they gave me a ride up the hill the the inn with them.
It's difficult to assess how I've changed in the past month. There are the physical changes - In the beginning, I was struggling to do 15 miles in a day; now I can do 20 easily and probably 26 or even 30 if I push it. And I have a nice beard going. But the internal changes will probably take time to notice. I do recognize the simple pleasures - At the end of the day, a warm meal (plain pasta) and a dry sleeping bag can really hit the spot.
I've also thought that I'm not really "roughing it." Sure, to many people having to camp outside and carry all my stuff on my back sounds like hard work. But I am pampered with technology. I use lightweight, waterproof gear. I cook with a portable propane stove. My tent takes five minutes to set up and keeps me dry all night. I never have to build my own shelter or find my own food. And when I have made campfires, it's been for aesthetic (not survival) reasons.
Just some brief reflections. And so, I keep walking. The next week is a transition period. On Sunday, I begin my next adventure, the Northville-Placid Trail.