Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Day #18 on the Paumanok Path...

Our last day on the trail! We were very excited to start our day today, and were on the road by 6 a.m. We arrived out in Montauk early, so we decided to have a light breakfast at Mr. John's Pancake House. We were back at our starting point at Upland Road and on the trail by 8:15. We felt, with a 9 mile day ahead of us, it would be plenty of time to arrive at the Lighthouse with our family waiting to see our big finish.

 The beginning of this section was not groomed like some of the other sections. As you can see, we were immediately immersed in high grass and bushes. This brings on an immediate concern about ticks, which yes, we were covered. The first 45 minutes of the trail really deflated our excitement for the day. The trail was unrecognizable at many points, and the parts that were, took us through pretty obnoxious plants, with spiky thorns that could take your eye out if you walked into them.

We had a very difficult time navigating through some of this overgrown trail. Our clothing, backpacks, hair and arms were stuck on the thorns many times, causing discomfort and even drawing blood on occasion. All we could do is try and laugh, as we were only a mile in and were already having a bit of difficulty.

Here are some short clips of some of our not so smooth moments.

That first mile really took a toll. What I hadn't realized at only .7 miles in, after crouching through a really thorny, dense patch of brush, my cell phone dropped. We walked almost a mile and a half, through a park, and onto Main Street before I realized that my Endomondo app had not announced any mileage. UGH. We had to turn around and backtrack to find it. I felt really bad because we had already taken so long to get through this. 

 On my way back towards the park we had walked through, I was rushing, as to make up some time that I had cost us due to dropping my cell phone.  I tripped over a tree root and went flying forward, and landed face down on top of another tree root that was protruding out of the ground. I had the wind knocked out of me, my glasses went flying, and I was covered in dirt.  All we could do is laugh, as we had so much more to do, and didn't want our day to be defined by this rough beginning.  I dusted myself off and we moved on.  We got to walk back through this cute little park, where there were picnic tables, benches, and this awesome turtle statue.

 After our minute or two break in the park, we walked along this footbridge and out onto Main Street, right across the street from Kirk Park Beach. This is where we would eventually park and relax on the beach with our families.  We headed east, with a bit of road walking before entering back into the woods for 3 miles of navigating around houses and buildings. At the 5 mile mark, we entered into the boundaries of Montauk State Park, and walked through some pretty obnoxious, unkempt terrain. The ticks were horrific, and the trail was almost non-existent.  The blazes were poorly placed, with some sections showing none at all.  We made two wrong turns here, and the second wrong turn took us a mile out of the way before we decided to turn around and head the other way.  We had to walk through two huge mud puddles while on this wrong trail, which just made matters worse. You can see that by clicking the link above titled "Nasty, Nasty!"

We also walked around the outer perimeter of Deep Hollow Ranch, which allowed us to meet up with this beautiful fellow.

At one point, Rosa stepped right on a small black snake and didn't even realize it until I screamed "You stepped on a snake!" She screamed and jumped back, which caused both of us to go into hysterics immediately.

This was our most exciting day, by far, because we were finishing, but it turned out to be our most challenging day because of all the mishaps along the way.  Around the 6 mile mark, my phone began to give me trouble and shut off randomly. This was so frustrating because we use it to track our hiking. Once it restarted, I was able to begin a second hiking workout, but now it would not be one continuous post for us, so I was a little disappointed.

With a little over 9 miles in, we headed south, crossed over Montauk Highway, and into Camp Hero State Park.  This was very well marked, and took us winding through the woods and out onto dirt service roads throughout the park.  It lead us out to the water, on the edge of a cliff with a beautiful scenic overlook of the ocean.

Unfortunately, this is where my camera died, so there were no more pictures to be taken. At this point, we were over 11 miles into our hike, tired, hot, and anxious to be done. The blazes in this area became more difficult to find as well. We actually went in a complete circle around the 12 mile mark because of the poorly marked trail. The only thing saving us at this point was, at every turn towards the water, we could see the lighthouse getting closer and closer.  We began to approach the park entrance, where there were people walking around, hiking through the trails we just came from.  We came out onto the beach, found the Paumanok Path logo and white blaze, and were so excited because we thought we had come to the end.

We stopped to snap this quick picture with my phone, and then wondered, "where is everyone? Our families were supposed to meet us at the end!" We walked out onto the beach, and then heard Dakota call out to us.  We were not done! We did not realize that the trail would take us over the rocks and around the whole lighthouse.  So after some emotional hugs and words of encouragement, Rosa and I led the way with our families behind us around the last part of the trail, which was over the massive boulders surrounding the base of the lighthouse along the shore.

 Once around the rocks surrounding the lighthouse, we followed the dirt path around and up towards the parking lot to where we would see the final blaze. We could not believe that we were about to finish this 125 mile trail. We were now looking at 14 + miles walked today, so we were exhausted and elated at the same time.

As we came around the final bend, our families surrounding us with hugs, pride and laughter about how we were finishing, the wave of exhaustion became almost unbearable. My breathing became labored, and I was tearing up.  I appreciated Dakota taking these pictures as we were approaching the blaze, but I can see now, they were not my best pictures.
approaching the final blaze

We sat, exhausted, starving, and ready to relax. As a surprise, I found a last minute, delicious way to commemorate our finish ~ ladybug and butterfly cookies with a congratulatory message for us. We split the congratulations cookie down the middle and You can check out the website HERE to see some of her amazing work.

We finished up our cookies and took the cars over to Kirk Park Beach to relax for a little while with some sandwichs, much needed refreshments, and family time. We recounted our day of mishaps, triumphs and everything in between.  We are both in agreement that it was an amazing experience, and we are so proud that we took something on that was completely out of our comfort zone.  We could not have done this without the support of our families. There were many days of having to rearrange rides to and from activities, dropping us off, picking us up, and taking on things that we would have been doing if we were home. So, to Scarecrow, Mike, Dakota, Emily, Alyssa & Jagger ~ we THANK YOU for your support in helping us complete this amazing adventure!

You can check out our progress in the two maps below.

We had a blast, and now it's done... we want to thank everyone!
Your support meant the world to Rosa and me, for what we do next you have to wait and see!

 Until Next Time,
Rosa & The Thruhiker's Wife

Friday, August 25, 2017

Day #17 on the Paumanok Path...

We were out on the trail Wednesday morning, a little before 7 am, to get ahead of the heat that was expected. We parked my jeep on Upland Road, and headed back to Napeague Harbor Road to begin our long day.  This section, by far, was our FAVORITE piece of the trail.
The trail put us directly into Hither Hills State Park, with some beautiful scenery on the trail. After two and a half miles in, we came across this beautiful body of water, named Fresh Pond. This area was serene and beautiful, in spite of the overcast skies.

Just before hitting mile 3, we crossed over Fresh Pond Landing Road, and came across another informational sign about history in this area.  A man named Stephen Talkhouse was written about, with a sign posted. You can read about him HERE.  We walked another 2 miles, with the trail just a few steps away from the edge of a cliff overlooking Napeague Bay.  We heard the seagulls, the waves crashing, the birds chirping ~ it was amazing. The view was breathtaking from each overlook point we came across.

They became pretty clever with where they placed the white blazes, like this one seen on a rock! The trail was clearly marked and awesome to travel on.  We were surprised on how high up we were, as the path down to the water if one chose to go, was really steep!

The trail continued to weave in and out of shrubs and trees hugging the coast. It was not too hot, or buggy.  Parts of the trail were like walking through a cave as you can see from the last picture below, while others were on the edge of the cliff.  It was spectacular.

 After these great views, with about 7 . 5 miles hiked, we reached Rocky Point, which is funny because that is the name of the town where we began this trail.  This was the point at which the trail returned into the woods, and we began heading south towards Rte. 27 again.  The temperature dropped a little, and bursts of cool air would touch us sporadically. At the 8 mile mark, we entered into Hither Woods Preserve and the trail remained in this preserve for just under 2 miles. This was yet another beautiful, scenic part of the trail.

Rocky Point
Hither Woods Preserve

 With a little over 9 miles hiked, we exited the preserve, crossed railroad tracks, and continued through the woods towards our endpoint.  Fatigue was beginning to set in, as we were about to approach the 10 mile mark.  We found a few interesting things to see in the woods.

The last two miles brought us south to Montauk Highway, with the trail running just inside the woods, parallel to the highway.  We exited out onto Upland Road, where my jeep was waiting for us. It was a long day, but we set ourselves up for the grand finale on Saturday, the 26th.  You can view our progress on the map below.

 We are excited, and happy to announce that we will complete the Paumanok Path this weekend. It took us 18 hiking days, and have over 116 miles under our feet.  We will set out early in the morning, finish up the 9 miles we have left, and celebrate with our families in Montauk for the day.  Stay tuned for our final post of the Paumanok Path Adventures that have taken us from Rocky Point to MOntauk Point this summer.

Until Next Time,
Rosa & The Thruhiker's Wife