Hiking: End to End a 29-mile trial

The reasons people give for wanting to finish the End to End endurance challenge really do amount to

The reasons people give for wanting to finish the End to End endurance challenge

really do amount to, “because it’s there.”

Offered every two years, the End to End is a 29-mile, one-day hike/run along the Taconic Crest Trail, touching ground in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. Entry for the event, which is hosted by the Taconic Hiking Club and starts Saturday morning at 5:30, is limited to 25 participants, and it filled up again this year.

Schenectady’s Scott Chastenay, 38, is a regular hiker in the Adirondacks and Catskills who has logged long days on their trails.

“I’ve done 20-mile days in the summertime and on snowshoes in the winter,” he said. “So I figure 29 miles is a little more, let’s see what will happen.”

He’s never tried the End to End, but he’s had friends attempt it, and some have finished. Some didn’t.

The Taconic Hiking Club will have sweep parties following the hikers to provide assistance and support as needed. There also will be a few support sites along the trail where hikers can have food waiting and refill their water.

Seamus Hodgkinson of Delmar, 65, is a teacher of math and science at Doane Stuart and runs an outdoors club there. He completed the challenge two years ago.

This year, he’ll do it again, and he’ll be joined by his 19-year-old son, Daniel.

“I found it to be an experience I enjoyed, but didn’t appreciate as much because I was uncertain about what was coming,” Seamus Hodgkinson said. “Having done it once and knowing I can do it, I thought it would be neat to do it again and maybe enjoy it a little more. Dan was free, and he likes to get out and hike, and it’s some good time to spend with my son, so it all made sense.”

He runs marathons and is a trail runner, so just as with Chastenay, his body is used to the mileage.

Daniel, who just finished his sophomore year at Holy Cross, just signed up for his first marathon, the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in October. He said seeing his father finish the End to End made him want to do it, that it was something he could check off his bucket list.

He admitted, though, his father may be the better physically prepared of the two.

“He’ll be able to take care of it easier than I will, and he’s 45 years older than me,” Daniel said. “He’ll be pushing me along, because when I hit that wall, he’ll still have something left. We did Mount Marcy together last summer, and I was feeling it by the end, but he was right there to push me along and get me back to the car, so he could drive us home while I fell asleep. His energy is endless, so I’ll have to feed off that and get myself through.”

Participants are likely to carry simple day packs. The gear carried by these three hikers will include water, snacks, rain gear, first-aid kit, GPS, map and compass.

The GPS, map and compass will come in handiest in the middle portion of the trail.

“I guess there’s some ATV traffic that gets up there, and some of the intersections can be a bit tricky,” Chastenay said. “If you’re not familiar with them, you can walk right past the trail and miss something. You have to be alert, keep your eyes open.”

That helps hikers take in the sights, as well, which is a must for Seamus Hodgkinson.

“I always tell the [outdoors club], it’s not the desitination, it’s the journey,” he said. “So I’ve got to make sure I keep my own philosophy. You’ve got to enjoy the moving and the environment around you. I try to do that as much as I can.”

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