Dover Oak, Boardwalks,Trail Magic from Andrew Jackson and a Wrong Turn

On January 11, 2017 I was extremely lucky to have my friend Jim and his daughter, Anna, accompany me on a northbound AT section hike of New York Section #3 which is a 7.6 mile hike between Rt. 55 in Poughquag, NY and the AT railroad station on Rt. 22 just north of Pawling, NY. The weather was mostly sunny and the temperature was in the low 40s which worked out perfectly. Thanks to Jim for the reschedule to this morning.

We started onto the trail from Rt. 55 at 7:45am and passed the blue blazed side trail which heads back to the Rt. 55 parking area on our left. We also passed the Beekman Uplands side trail blaze as well on our left before we arrived at Nuclear Lake in about one and a half miles.

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The bright morning sun was shining across the lake which had a thin layer of ice. Supposedly this area was the site of some U.S. Nuclear Program testing of some sort but all seemed very serene. No security fences nor blacked out windowed SUVs were observed. We continued to walk around the west and north of the lake.

We passed different stretches of stacked field stone walls, some were long and very winding in the woods. Since there were no nearby roads, I guess these walls were dividing some property lines from decades ago. Occasionally, we just walked through openings in the stone walls.

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As we approached a small stream, we crossed a wooden bridge which, according to the engraved plaque, was constructed in May 2008 as the Eagle Project of Dylan LaGamma from Bronxville Troop #2. The bridge was designed by Ollie Simpson and Fred Schaefer. The Eagle scout and I am sure his helpers had to portage a good amount of materials into these woods to build this bridge. It is much better to walk on these bridges than the rock hopping we did across several other smaller creeks. We just had to watch some of the thin ice and snow sticking to the wooden planks. Thank you Dylan.

In a little over two hours we came to the scenic viewpoint rock outcropping for West Mountain which at about 1200 feet above sea level and is the highest point on this section hike. We took some photos but were very careful to not get too far near the edge.

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Just a few tenths of a mile past this scenic view, we descended a little before coming to the marked side trail leading to the Telephone Pioneer Shelter. We walked a short distance to the shelter and noticed it had a Pawling Library Box (take a book, leave a book) on the left, front side. I looked inside the shelter which was broom swept clean but I did not see the trail register as I wished to sign it. Fortunately, Anna found the register and a pen inside the library box. I wrote a short note, the date and time, and Anna put the register back.

Meanwhile Jim noticed the dovetail joints on the corners of this wooden shelter. I noticed on the right that there was a laminated copy of an article from the Poughkeepsie Journal dated Thursday Sept. 4, 2014 which summarized the efforts made to build this shelter in 1988. Material and supplies were brought in by helicoptor-specifically by the Connecticut Army/Air National Guard who, as part of a training exercise, used a Sikorsky S64 Skycrane helicoptor to ferry in two loads of materials and supplies which were used by a combined group of many volunteers to build the shelter.

I photographed this AT inspired wind chime which was hung in front of the shelter.

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After a short water break, we headed back over the side trail to reconnect with the AT trail to continue heading northbound. That was the plan. However, I made the mistake of turning left coming back to the AT and we started to climb back up West Mountain. Thank goodness Jim and Anna noticed we had just come down this part of the trail. We actually got just about back to the scenic overlook before we turned around and retraced our steps back to the connection at the shelter side trail. This time, we turned left and continued northbound. I had planned to hike this northbound to avoid the steep uphill by West Mountain but the Trail Gods had other plans. So we actually hiked closer to 8 miles today instead of 7.6 miles.

The trail continues steeply downhill and I slipped onto my butt going down over the slippery and muddy leaves. We headed for the County Rt. 20 road crossing by the famous Dover Oak which is considered the largest or second largest Oak Tree on the AT. It is about twenty feet around and the height is purported to be over 100 feet.

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After Anna hugged the tree, we continued through some farm fields which involved walking on some more puncheon boardwalks and climbing about three hundred feet for our last climb of the day. Anna looked back and photographed the scenic overlook rock outcropping from the farm field. You can see the outcropping in the center of the photo.

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As we wound through some woods, Anna made a right turn and found a ten dollar bill alongside the trail. Trail Magic courtesy of Andrew Jackson–sweet!

Jim switched to the front in case their was anything else falling out of someone’s pocket. Nothing else found over the next mile and a half.

We then crossed a bridge which kept us elevated over the marshy area. A huge amount of effort was made to construct this bridge and it guided us onto an elevated boardwalk which had benches for use as rest/bird watching areas. The boardwalk covered almost the entire rest of the hike as we approached the AT railroad station. It is actually just a bench with a little shelter but the trail goes right across the railroad tracks and out to Rt. 22.

Northbound hikers turn left and walk a short distance before crossing Rt. 22 and heading into the farm fields which are part of Section #2 which I already completed previously (see blog for 12/21/16 hike).

I drove Anna and Jim back to their car and they headed home. I headed home as well and was fortunate that Bernadette had this delicious lunch of homemade meatballs, sauce, shells and warm bread with butter waiting for me after I got cleaned up.

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Thanks again to Jim and Anna for their support in hiking with me today.

I have now done 80.7 miles of the AT (71.6 in NY and 9.1 in NJ). Only two NY sections to go!

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