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  1. #1
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    Default What would you have done?

    Hey guys;
    I have this recurring memory that haunts me every now and again.
    I was hiking the A.T. through Harriman Park NY. I had started at the Harriman train station, hiked the Sapphire trail to the A.T. on Arden mtn, then nobo through the park. My original intention was to hike to Pawling NY and take the train home.
    The weather was much warmer (early Oct) than I had anticipated, and my daily mileage was far lower than I had anticipated. On the first day I hiked from the train stn to Fingerboard, but on the 2nd day I had expected to reach West Mtn but only reached William Brien.
    3rd day I hiked from Brien to West Mtn.
    4th day I hiked from West Mtn to Bear Mtn Inn, and made the decision to cut the hike short.

    The right thing to do at that point was to take the bus from the inn back to NYC, but I wanted to try the Camp Smith trail past Anthony's Nose, then down to the old toll house on US 6.
    I believed (due to an assumption on my part) that there was a path paralleling US 6 from the old toll house to the Peekskill train station.
    I didn't reach the toll house until well after dark. I was wearing my Black Diamond headlamp, so wasn't too concerned about having to cross the highway or walk close to it.
    But as I began walking south on the left shoulder of US 6 heading south towards Peekskill, the shoulder gradually became too narrow to walk safely. I set the headlamp to strobe, so I think I was visible alongside the road, but there was a cliff on my left, and I was walking in what amounted to a drainage channel, and eventually even that came to an end.

    I crossed the road and walked a short distance on the safe side of the guardrail, but it became obvious to me that I wasn't going to reach the train station this way.
    I re-crossed to the northbound side of the roadway and was walking back towards the toll house, thinking I might just pitch my tent in the field behind the building.
    Then I happened on some 'trail magic'.
    A guy and his wife stopped their car headed southbound and asked me if I needed a ride. They took me to the Peekskill train station.

    I keep asking myself what I would have done had the trail magic not happened.
    Would I have indeed pitched my tent behind the toll house?
    Would I have tried to call for a taxi? Note that this was before Uber or Lyft was allowed to operate in this part of NY. I suppose there are regular taxi services based in Peekskill, and if not, in Tarrytown. The fare might have been as high as $50, but I would have had a safe ride to the train.

    There was another option, had I not taken the Camp Smith trail.
    I could have made that left turn at the top of the climb from the Bear Mountain Bridge to the Camp Smith trail, and continued nobo on the A.T.
    I wasn't sure I could make the last train to stop at Manitou station (about 1 mile west and downhill from the A.T. on Manitou road). Reaching the train station after the last train had passed would have required me to re-climb Manitou road to the A.T. and hike back to Hemlock Springs.
    I could have tented at Hemlock Springs. There may still have been enough daylight remaining for me to find the place - it's easy to miss - and pitch my tent. I had enough water and food for the night.

    Unfortunately, this was not the first time I made the wrong choice while on the A.T., but that's a story for a different day...

    So, what choice would you have made, given the situation I was in?

    Thanks
    Arden
    Last edited by Arden; 06-26-2020 at 22:53.

  2. #2
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    I’m sure I would have camped behind the toll house and maybe retraced my steps in the morning to go to the Manitou station. That road (Rte 6) isn’t safe to walk in daylight, never mind at night.
    "It goes to show you never can tell." - Charles Edward Anderson Berry

  3. #3

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    I probably would have tried taxi first. But if I didn't want to fork over the $, hitch if possible and setup camp if that didn't work out.
    Anything but walk on an unsafe road.
    Worst decisions are always made when we rush them (eg: panicking when lost on a trail). Definitely have made my fair share of those.

  4. #4
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    What led me to think there was a trail/path along US 6 was the people I had run with previously. We did a run from Bryant Park in Manhattan to Bear Mtn (60+ miles). I only ran from Bryant to Tarrytown, so never saw the 'path' between Peekskill and the toll house. I cannot imagine that these guys ran along US 6 after dark. They probably reached the toll house (and probably the Bear Mtn Bridge) before dark though.

    My impression of the Camp Smith trail was that it was mostly downhill from Anthony's Nose to the toll house. Boy was I wrong!
    I guess we all make mistakes on the trail; especially when tired.

    As for a taxi, I once inquired about getting a taxi from the A.T. at Hoyt Rd in CT to the train station in Wingdale NY. The cost was somewhere between $80 and $90!
    When I asked as to why the fare was so high, I was informed that the service was based in Poughkeepsie, and fare is based on round-trip for the driver, assuming no return fare. I guess it's relatively unlikely that they would get a return fare between Wingdale and Poughkeepsie.
    When I checked out Uber and Lyft, I found the fare would be around $10.
    At that time (I'm not sure what the restrictions are today), Uber or Lyft would be allowed to pick me up at Hoyt Rd in CT and take me to the Wingdale NY train station, but not the other way around. Apparently there were restrictions on where these services could operate. I believe some of those restrictions have since been lifted, which can be of great help to hikers.

    In any case, I have hiked sections of the A.T. across Harriman Park, and from the BM Bridge to Pawling. It's nice that there is a train station right on the trail just north of Pawling, but the frequency of trains that stop there isn't good. First, it's weekends and holidays only, and then it's two trains in each direction.
    When I finished my hike at Pawling, it would have been a 4 hour wait for a train at the A.T. station, so I walked from there to Pawling itself. That walk was much safer than a walk along US 6 would have been.

  5. #5

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    I think I would've been pretty stubborn (maybe against my best interests and safety) and pushed it to try to make the roadwalk work. I've gotten used to cycling on some roads that are extremely bike-unfriendly near the AT. Walking along narrow/disappearing shoulders is kind of similar.
    Eventually I hope I'd give up and move back to a safe place to camp.

    I can relate quite a bit. I've gotten into quite a few situations like this where I had some vague memory or knowledge of local conditions that didn't work out and put me into a semi-jam.

    Since I've worked through those situations, I now force myself to stop & take stock of both good and bad and to try to honestly answers questions to myself (get the emotion/fear/adrenaline/frustration/embarrassment out of the picture). I try and answer them as if somebody else was asking them....like I'm talking to an objective outsider. Sometimes I'll talk out loud if that helps. Isolating (and then solving) my real problem or limitation(s) is important.

    In this case, you had some great things going for you:
    Warm weather; Dry weather; No exhaustion or injuries; A safe place to camp; Knowledge of the area (you were never lost); A working headlamp; Right next to civilization (let's say you had an utter emergency, there were cars to flag down); A possible choice (taxi) that just required spending some extra cash, Flexible schedule (you were planning to stay out more days and were cutting it short), etc...

    Change one or two of those variables and you might have been in more serious trouble.

  6. #6
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    Once one leaves the security of Bear Mtn Inn, you are hoofing it to Rt 22/Pawling Metro North for you next great shot at public transit from the AT. As you found out getting to Peakskill on foot from there is playing frogger lenghtwise instead of across. Manitou station I think is weekends only, or at the least very infrequest service, but lucky if you get it. Garrison is safer to walk to then Peakskill, but further.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arden View Post
    As for a taxi, I once inquired about getting a taxi from the A.T. at Hoyt Rd in CT to the train station in Wingdale NY. The cost was somewhere between $80 and $90!
    When I asked as to why the fare was so high, I was informed that the service was based in Poughkeepsie, and fare is based on round-trip for the driver, assuming no return fare. I guess it's relatively unlikely that they would get a return fare between Wingdale and Poughkeepsie.
    When I checked out Uber and Lyft, I found the fare would be around $10.
    At that time (I'm not sure what the restrictions are today), Uber or Lyft would be allowed to pick me up at Hoyt Rd in CT and take me to the Wingdale NY train station, but not the other way around. Apparently there were restrictions on where these services could operate. I believe some of those restrictions have since been lifted, which can be of great help to hikers.
    It took some time for Uber/Lyft to be approved in NY State outside of NYC (which is why they could pick you up in CT and bring you to wherever even in NY, but not pick up in NY to go to CT), but they now are able to operate within NY State so it would no longer be an issue (unless they just didn't have drivers available).

    Also understandable on the taxi, as even then you rarely found them outside of cities and now even fewer exist as the other services have taken over much of the business (outside of medical transport) even in the cities like Albany and Troy.

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