A Love Letter to the Long Path

February 11, 2020
Alex McClain
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


A Love Letter to the Long Path
Alex McClain hiking the Long Path in the Catskills. Photo by Alex McClain.


Dear Long Path, 

On January 27, I fell in love with you. I set out to trek all 358 miles of your urban, rugged and wild beauty not knowing exactly when or how I would complete you. I made it a priority or so a NEED to wake up early on weekends, commit to the early morning commutes from the city to find transportation up to reach you.

But little did I know you would bless me with new friendships who wanted to help along my journey. You taught me to live in the moment, to fight through the mental pain I’ve been suffering from, that I am capable of completing anything I set out to reach. You made me frustrated at times with your viewless climbs and rather long road walks but never once did I want to quit, I wanted to see what you had in store for me next.

What mostly came next was your endless beauty, your views, terrain, wildlife and plants, the smiles and memories you gave me to cherish. I faced my biggest fear running into a black bear while solo and now I always hope to see another beautiful creature. You pushed me to make me stronger. You taught me to not only be a stronger hiker but a stronger woman. You taught me to fight through the pain and darkness to find the strength to move forward.

I pushed through 30 miles under 11 hours on Oct. 26 to cross the finish line after section-hiking on your stunning and wild trail over 10 months, I want you to know that I love you, I thank you, and I truly will never be the same because of you. Saying farewell to you is the hardest.

So I won't say goodbye. I've become a trail maintainer of a 1.5-mile section of the Long Path through Gonzaga Park, and I couldn’t be more excited to give back to something that’s been a huge part of my life this last year. This trail still needs a lot of work, and I really hope to make this section more enjoyable for those who trek through. 


Follow her next adventure as a trail maintainer on Instagram at @regretlessred.

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