June 16...Rome to Fort Plain, 58 miles
Signage way better, with one exception, where I ended up on what is surely a mountain biking trail. Stanley performed well and I used my MTB skills, but I ended up turning around, realizing this could not be the route. It wasn't. Drenching rain most of the day, but thankfully I had the right rain gear. I ended up in Fort Plain.
While I sat in the town square in the gazebo, I overhead some teen aged kids talking about leaving school. One said I don't need to go to school; it's a waste of my time. She said she was making her last day tomorrow, Monday. I so wanted to join that discussion but thought better of it. Sigh....
After some hill climbing, located a place to camp at the top of the town with great views and a place to dry out somewhat. Weather expected to be sunny and dry tomorrow. I'm closing in on Albany!
June 15...Chittendon to Rome, 37 miles
Last night, I camped behind the VFW building, trying to get relief from the high winds that, while riding were tailwinds. I can report that in this small town, no wild parties occurred at the local VFW on a Friday night.
The trail today was especially beautiful with flowers in bloom, integrating with the intense green undergrowth and towering trees, along the single track. I shared the trail with snakes and more turtles than I have ever seen at one time. I wish I could show you the photos! They seem to come onto the trail and maybe to lay eggs? The largest one about the size of a dinner plate with strings of green algae streaming off its back, looked as if it was dead. It didn't pull in its head, maybe enjoying trying to stare me down.
I crossed paths with other travelers, mostly going the other direction. As I assume thru hikers do, we traded information about hazards, navigation, and where they were going.
Tomorrow, I am camping at Lock 15!
June 14...Seneca Falls to Chittendon, 53 miles
I got up at daybreak, and between rainshowers, broke camp and took everything to the bathroom to organize. The important stuff remained dry...sleeping bag and the awesome teeny Klymit pad. After leaving the bog, er, camp, in Seneca Falls, I stopped for breakfast in Port Byron's local grocery. A banana and blueberry pie was perfect!
The route alternates between actual trail and roads. When directed to roads, signage rarely exists and that how I get bonus miles every day. Thank you State of New York! The trail is not always on the Erie Canal either. There are feeder canals, routes from rivers actually, which are part of the route. It is all very beautiful and this day was mostly remote, with lush greenery and trees surrounding the trail.
I stopped at the Erie Canal Museum, and the docents were all there for an event. They offered me lunch and oh, twist my arm! One person knows the trail issues and offered to drive me across Syracuse to the trailhead as city navigation is known to be difficult. Twist my arm again!
June 12...Rochester to Seneca Falls, 76 miles
Well this was another day of bonus miles. It seemed much more than five, as I ended up way off route somehow (oh yeah, that's what I do) and in the hills of Amish country. The highlight of the day was climbing the hills, estimated at 10% to 12% with about 45 pounds of stuff. Stanley is geared well and I am strong, but it was so slow going, not to mention I did not know where I was. I asked three people for directions and got similar guidance to my destination near Seneca Falls town, Cayuga State Park.
I think I pulled in about 7 pm, which made for about a 12 hour day (I'm taking tomorrow off!). They do not have hiker biker sites in NY. Had I not been so tired I might have moved on to wild camp. I was eaten by mosquitoes, drenched by rain, and haunted by the age old question, "this is fun?" The showers were cold but wet. Dinner was also cold, taken in the bathroom. I'm no stranger to dining in bathrooms, so I didn't think twice about it, to avoid the relentless mosquitoes.
A soggy day, today June 13, in Seneca Falls town, seeking a library which I obviously found. There's lots of history here, but I have a burger on my mind and I hope that energizes me enough to visit the museum.
June 11...Lockport to Rochester, 57 miles
Hard miles today. Lots of work happening on the trail. Deep sand for about a mile (good job Stanley), mud, rocky, track tread bumps. I thought I forgot my tea bags, my usual source of caffeine. I stopped in Brockport at a bike shop to pump tires and rode up an endless hill to get a Coke, the real thing. The caffeine and sugar sustained me for the remaining 15 miles of nicely packed sand on the ECT. In some areas, there were beautiful homes with expansive green back yards right on the trail. Cross the trail to their personal docks, which sometimes included lounge chairs, BBQs, and gated access.
Near Rochester, NY lies a beautiful, 400 acre park. No garbage collection (pack it out!) and no water other than the bathroom faucet. The park is crisscrossed by trails, a dog park, shelters, and picnic areas. I found an unused building and set up camp under the long porch, which included functional outlets. I had hoped to see some wildlife at this "camp", but only the birds singing me to sleep and waking me at dawn the next morning.
Unable to upload photos and may not be able to for 3 or 4 days.
June 10...I made it to Cleveland. My checked bag did not. For 24 hours. My friend Joan and I had to make a trip back to the Amtrak Cleveland, barely caught the baggage person, and did retrieved my bag. Then, next day back to Cleveland and on to Buffalo. Destination: Lockport for the night.
Tough navigating out of Buffalo Amtrak to get on the Erie Canal Trail, henceforth the ECT. Got my daily allotment of bonus miles. Thankfully my phone navigator still worked which sort of helped.
Arrived in Lockport, a mere 35 miles from Buffalo, the long, hard way. The local police said I could camp at the Lockport Marina on the ECT. A shelter building for tent and stuff was welcome, as heavy rain and wind was on the nighttime menu. The marina person let me use the shower and charge up my electronics. The ice cream stand across the street came in quite handy.
June 7....arrived in Chicago on time but I am not leaving anytime soon for Cleveland as train is delayed 8 hours. Several hundred of us await the coming of the train. I sit on the floor with Stanley. They give us water and snacks. People ask about Stanley and where I am going. Three others are touring from Cleveland south on a 200 plus mile rail trail. The six hour train ride will land me in Cleveland at daybreak where I will ride to Berea to spend a few days with Joan before the next train to Buffalo.
June 6...In the Montana vastlands. Native American reservation homes dot the otherwise barren landscape. I wonder how different things would have been if the white man had not taken so much from them, sentencing them to this desolate existence in the outback of the US.
I talked to a border patrol agent in Havre MT. There are 30 of them patrolling miles and miles of nothing within 35 miles of the Canadian border.