Sept. 11th Memorial, Trail Angels and Six Staples In My Scalp

On 1/22/17 my son, Mike, and I began our hike to finish New York Section #7 and to do Section #6 so that I would have completed all the New York State sections of the Appalachian Trail. I needed to start at the Dennytown Road crossing parking area where I had left off during the summer, in order to hike northbound to complete the 3.7 miles to finish Section #7 which ends at Rt. 301 on the southern part of Lake Canopus and then continue northbound to complete the 7.3 miles of Section #6 which terminates where Miller Hill Road crosses underneath the Taconic State Parkway. That was the plan as we started into the woods at 7:00am with a little bit of fog and mist surrounding us.

Less than forty minutes into the hike I noticed a black eye glass case with eyeglasses on the trail so I picked it up to leave it in a more conspicuous location later. I ended up leaving the glasses on top of a boulder marking the road crossing at Sunken Mine Road. Someone had left a black print bandana on the same rock. It is like the AT lost and found boulder.

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Nearby we saw a sign for the Hudson Trail which indicates a distance of 55 miles to NYC. I am not familiar with this trail system but wanted to research it later. The sign was very well made with routed lettering. I guess this trail’s symbol is a combination of the letter H and the letter T, similar to the Appalachian Trail using a symbol with a combination of an A and a T.

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We did some rock-hopping over a small creek which had a surprisingly powerful flow of water through it. I used my trekking pole as an extra leg for stability. This stream was nearby a pond that had evidence of a beaver dam holding the water back but Mike noticed that someone had inserted some pvc pipe through the dam. There were several tree stumps exhibiting the tell-tale signs of beaver activity.

We took our first break around 8:15am at the intersection of the blue marked Taconic Region side trail. There was a fairly large rock cairn at the intersection and I used that to sit while I had a drink and a snack.

After resuming our hike we kept seeing a variety of stacked rock walls in areas not near any visible structures. Then we noticed a huge stacked wall which supported the AT trail which wound over the top of the wall. The wall was about five – six feet in width and it took many boulders to create this thick wall which was fairly long as well. There were trees growing out of it so I think the wall has been around for quite some time.

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Just before we reached the end of Section #7 we could hear some of the traffic from Rt. 301 and we noticed this bulletin board/kiosk along the trail.

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After proceeding past the kiosk, hikers proceed up a series of steps to the left to get onto Rt. 301 and then the northbound trail proceeds along the shoulder of Rt. 301 for a short distance until hikers are directed to cross the roadway and reenter the woods. I was happy to have finished Section #7 and was looking forward to Section #6.

The trail maintainers in this area set many large stones to create a stairway up towards the ridge line. After climbing for about five minutes, we came to a trail register box along the right hand side of the trail. I have seen these in various other sections. The registers are not always inside the shelters.

A sign inside the box indicates that Kerry Borshard and Dot & Tom Dwyer maintain this two mile section of the AT. Job well done. An unknown person had written a “Spread Peace” message on the outside of the box. As I planned to sign the register at the RPH Shelter towards the end of our hike, I decided not to sign this register which was inside a water proof bag. We passed this register a few minutes before 9:00am.

About an hour later we came to the intersection of a blue marked snow shoe trail. This was well marked and had a map fastened to the same tree.

It was a shame that there was no snow on the ground due to our mild winter so far.

We hiked a series of ups and downs along the east side of the mountain ridge. We stayed between 800 feet above sea level (asl) and 1200 asl most of the time. All the while we had views to our right of Canopus Lake which after I checked my map is divided into three sections which are Lower Lake, Upper Lake and Canopus Lake which is on the northernmost end. There was one especially nice scenic vista which allowed hikers to see the north end of the lake where the public beach is located and the various support buildings next to the parking area.

We continued onward and climbed Shenandoah Mountain which according to AWOL’s guide is 1282 feet asl but my altimeter registered at 1420 feet asl. The view from atop this mountain was beautiful. The early morning mist and clouds were disappearing and we were now presented with blue skies. At the top of this mountain some unknown artist painted a USA flag in color as a memorial to the lives lost during September 11th. I photographed this flag whose paint has begun to fade.

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Nearby, maybe twenty feet away, was a U.S. Coast Geodetic Reference Mark fastened into the summit of the mountain. I don’t know the significance of all the numbers stamped into the marker but it looks like someone set this marker in 1933. The marker warns that there is a $250 fine and imprisonment for disturbing this mark. So Mike and I left it alone.

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This is the same type of marker I have seen on my hikes over Storm King Mountain.

We took a short break and then began a fairly steep descent as we headed toward the Long Hill Road crossing. We had accomplished a little more than eight miles of our hike and I was looking forward to the last few miles to complete our goal.

However, as I was negotiating the descent across some slippery leaves, the leaves won the battle of balance. Instead of falling onto my backside, I fell to the right and slightly forward. I hit the ground by a large batch of moss at the base of a small tree. Unfortunately my head broke my fall. As I was getting up, thinking I had just hit my head on the moss (and the ground below it), I felt my head and blood was running down my hand, wrist and arm. I guess there was a tree root or something underneath the moss. Fortunately, hiking with a very capable person like Mike, enabled us to do a quick assessment of my scalp. Mike’s professional opinion was that it was stitches time. Mike, using his U.S. Army and Macgyver skills,  looked in my backpack to locate basic materials we had available to irrigate the wound, to put a clean dressing over the area, and to cover that with my Patagonia neck warmer. He offered an item of his clothing as well but I asked him to tape me up as best he could with some adhesive tape. All the while Mike was helping me, I was using direct pressure with my hand and going through my Wilderness First Responder training concerning the mechanism of injury, any loss of consciousness, vision problems, etc. We got the blood to clot. I felt certain that it was a soft tissue wound of the scalp. Everything else on my body seemed okay. I was lucky.

Our circumstance was further aided by the timely appearance of two Trail Angels, Phillip and his wife Angela, and their dog who were out on a Sunday hike southbound. They had parked at the nearby Long Hill Road parking area. They offered any help possible. Their kindness was much appreciated and after I called my wife to arrange an earlier pick up time, we hiked the short distance to Long Hill Road where our Trail Angels gave us a ride to our predetermined pick up point with my wife. Thank you very much Phillip and Angela. You are examples of the type of caring persons who frequent the AT.  Mike took this photo of our wilderness handiwork as I waited at Miller Hill Road for my wife.

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After picking us up, Bernadette took us back to Dennytown Road to retrieve my car which Mike drove back home and I was off to Crystal Run Healthcare for urgent care. Head CT was negative and the Nurse Practitioners cleaned my wound and put in six staples. The care I received at CRHC was wonderful. However, I was sorry to have scared some of the little kids in the waiting room. I didn’t have to wait long to be seen. When the first Nurse Practitioner removed our wilderness wrapping of the wound, she commented that we did very well. Thank you Mike. Here is what I looked like after the Nurse Practitioners fixed me up with nice gauze.

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I have now hiked 95.9 miles of the AT (86.8 miles in NY and 9.1 miles in NJ). I look forward in a couple of weeks to hike the last 2.7 miles I need to complete all of New York State. But I will wait until the staples are out!

 

 

 

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