20 miles and what it feels like

DCIM100GOPROSo let me start off by saying it was not my intention to hike 20 miles. All in one day that is. It was also not my intention to miss the shelter I was looking for. These things do happen from time to time and this is the result.

I was setting out on a 2 night, 3 day trip to hike a section the the Finger Lakes Trail in Letchworth State Park located in Western New York. This section was an 18.1 mile point to point, but I was going to make it a 36.2 mile out and back. I was doing this to practice with my gear and get used to hiking longer distances. And so it began…

Yellow Blaze on tree
Yellow Blazes of the Finger Lakes Trail

I left my truck from the trailhead at a pretty quick pace. I was tracking about an 18 minute mile and was headed for a lean-to about 6 miles in. After a couple miles I settled into about a 20 min/ mile pace which felt much more comfortable to me. After about mile 6 I started looking for the lean-to and it was nowhere to be found. Maybe thinking I had made a mistake I kept on going. I managed to look up where exactly the lean- tos were supposed to be and by my calculations it should have been around mile 10. To no avail, and so onward I pushed.

So I started this journey at about 1 pm so it was getting close to 4:30 pm and I had said to myself

“I need to have found a shelter by 6 or I’ll be setting up in the dark”

Not what I wanted to do so I kept going. At about mile 13 It was nearing 6 pm and I had the opportunity to take a bail out path to the road. Once at the road I estimated that it would be about 8 miles back to the trailhead where I had parked my vehicle. That’s when the pain started. I started to road walk all the way back and it was not fun at all. I would have much rather been walking in the woods, but I didn’t want to walk in the dark (I did have a headlamp).

So time passed as did the miles when I received a text message from my fiance asking me how it was going. I told her what was going on and she asked me if I wanted a ride. I told her by the time she got there I would probably be just about to the truck. It wasn’t worth it. So the trek went on in the hot July sun. At about 8pm I arrive at the entrance to the trailhead, but the sign said it was still another 1.7 miles. not what I wanted to see. I tried to pick up the pace just to get it done, but by that point my feet were hurting pretty badly that eventually I saw a small stone are in which I just laid down for a rest. about 1 mile away and I just had to rest. After about 5 minutes I got up and back on the horse. I finished the remainder of the walk at about 8:40 pm and was very happy to see my truck.

After the long day of hiking and a small bout of frustration of not finding the shelter, I felt good about what I had just accomplished. I had never walked or hiked that far in my life so to go the distance and see it through was a small accomplishment in itself. Overall, the whole 20.7 miles took me 7:32:05 with a moving time of 7:14:05. I felt pretty good about that too, but my feet were not ready or conditioned for that. A distance like that is something you work up to. I’m sure I’ll do another 20 mile day again I just may plan it next time instead of deciding it on the fly. Check out the short video I did on YouTube summarizing the trip.

Finger Lakes Trail Hike….And Some Mishaps

Happy adventuring,


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