Day Hiking the Appalachian Trail

This past Saturday had me on a new (and local!) adventure with some friends, hiking the Appalachian Trail. Not an experienced hiker or camper (but very good at what I call "woods-walking") I was delighted when my friend Betty invited me to join her and her husband Tim as they hiked the last chunk of the New York section of the Appalachian Trail they had yet to complete.

We drove up to Pawling, NY, parked our rental car near the train station, got a taxi to take us near the Connecticut state line roughly ten miles away, and then hiked back.

Waking up at 5:30 so we could be on the road at 6:00 and hiking by 9:00 was utterly worth it.

Living in New York City is amazing, but getting away to experience nature, some peaceful quiet, and personal space is invaluable and necessary for retaining one's sanity. It was enough to make me seriously consider the notion of quitting my job, leaving New York, and becoming a full-time trail hermit.

All in all, we hiked about 12 miles in 7.5 hours - ~9.5 on the actual trail and ~3 on the highway getting back into town. Upon reaching the town of Pawling where our car was parked, we drove to nearby tavern McGrath's for the most satisfying beers and burgers the world has ever known.

Tips FOR day hiking:

  • Make note of the day's weather forecast, including sunrise and sunset.
  • Dress appropriately, and be sure to have rain protection if needed.
  • Bring a flashlight or headlamp if there's a possibility you'll be out past sundown.
  • Wear layers! It was a brisk 40-45°F the day of our hike, but after some steep inclines it was good to remove extra layers. Think tank top, T-shirt, overshirt, hoodie, jacket, scarf.
  • Bring plenty of water.Be sure to hydrate, and if you run out of drinkable water, DO NOT just drink out of lakes or streams (they can contain harmful bacteria that will make you sick if you don't filter/purify/boil it first.)
  • Bug spray. If you're out in warmer weather, this is essential.
  • Bring hand sanitizer. If you find yourself answering nature's call.... in nature... You'll want to sanitize your hands after.
  • Have guidebooks and maps. There's a good chance you won't have cell service.