I live in North Carolina, but have family in western New York and have spent part of every summer there my whole life. In 2015 I discovered the Conservation Trail, the longest branch trail of the Finger Lakes Trail system. The following summer my brother and I completed the Conservation Trail as a continuous thru hike starting in Allegany State Park and heading to Niagara Falls. In 2022 I began to make plans to complete it again, this time as a stage run, again heading Northbound. I was supported by my aunt Kathy Early, assisted and paced by friend Mark Valites, and paced by friend Mailyn Carignan. I slept in hotels each night. I resupplied with food, liquids and nutrition from my car as my aunt met me/us at Access Points. In addition, I had a water filter flask that I used in the southern part of the trail.
I am a middle school teacher so planned to begin as soon as I was out of school and the trail was opened after May Hunting Season closures. I began at 8:18 AM on Thursday June 2, 2022 and finished on Thursday June 9, 2022 at 12:45 AM as someone poetically described “in a light rain in the dark just past the colored lights shining on Niagara Falls.”
I recorded each day on my Garmin Fenix 3 and also on my Garmin InReach Mini. I signed in to all registers I saw, using my full name Julie Jordan. At every register where Mailyn was with me hers is included too, as well as sometimes my trail name “Clancy”.
The best parts of this experience were spending moments on trail with others who loved being there, seeing flora and fauna I cannot see in the South, the long daylight hours I cannot get at home, and meeting so many of the wonderful people of Western NY. The worst parts were when the trail was hard to follow or find. Thank you to some local help or I would still be lost somewhere on Map CT4.
Thanks to my friends and family who encouraged and supported me, and my coach Aaron Saft; thanks to the members and trail maintainers of the Foothills Trail Club and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, and thank you to the many landowners who are kind enough to allow the trail through their land.