The Northville-Lake Placid Trail spans approximately 133 miles through the Adirondack Park in northern New York state. The average hiker is projected to accomplish his journey in 19 days, which equates to seven miles per day.
Baldwinsville father/son team Chris and Will Getman; however, managed to complete their end-of-summer trek in record time — in just eight days, with a daily average hike of 15 miles. On one of those days, they even stretched their walk an additional seven miles, hiking a total of 22.6 to be exact — more than triple the trail’s estimated distance in one day.
“That’s not what I planned on,” Chris said of their quick-paced finish. “We planned on doing this hike in 10 to 12 days, but every time we got to our destination, it was early enough in the day that we kept going to the next lean-to,” a three-sided log structure with a sloping roof in which they would sleep each night. “We pulled in near dark at one lean-to but that only happened once. Most of the time, we would get there in plenty of time to gather a little firewood, make dinner and relax for a while.”
Outside of three Adirondack Mountains he climbed with his dad — Algonquin, Whiteface and St. Regis — this was the first major, long distance, backpack-laden hike for Will, 16, who is a junior at Baker High School.
“It was a huge accomplishment,” he said. “One hundred thirty-three miles is huge.”
But it didn’t come without its challenges. Will walked most of the way in pain.
“I had blisters for at least 80 miles of it,” he said. “That makes it really tough.”
And Chris’ left knee began to hurt about 40 miles out from their destination. It took him two weeks to recover, his son said.
The benefits; however, far outweighed the hardships.
From sunrise to sunset, both Chris and Will took in their quiet surroundings; nature in its most pristine state. Other hikers would surface from time to time, but for two out of the eight-day journey, there was no one else in sight, and it bothered neither father nor son.
“[A] full moon sitting over the lake at night and all you could hear is a loon and that’s it,” Chris said, reflecting. “Plenty of stars … nobody for miles … I prefer it to being here,” he said, comparing the hustle and bustle of work to the organic life outdoors.
On the flip side, Will said he definitely wants to repeat the trail – but with a goal of finishing it in less than a week.
“I think we could and I like a challenge,” he said.
Chris isn’t sold on the idea quite yet.
“My son is talking about doing it again next year, but seeing if we can do it in five days,” Chris said. “I don’t know. I would rather take a longer period of time and relax, swim in streams, climb a couple mountains along the way.”
But he did add that if they lightened their load to just the bare essentials, an even earlier finish could be possible. The twosome packed enough food for 10 to 12 days, and though they ate healthily throughout, their backpacks still weighed them down.
“We had 60 pounds on our back and for doing it in eight days, that is a bit much to have,” said Will, adding that they should have been much lighter for the short time it took them to finish.
“We ate a 10-day supply of food in eight days,” said Chris, who is an avid outdoorsman. “You don’t want to carry it for nothing.”
The rest of their provisions were spot on. They brought a little bit of warm gear for cold nights, a lightweight stove, lightweight water filter and the lightest weight sleeping bags they own. Water, dried foods, beef jerky and homemade granola bars also made the cut.
“We tried to minimize carrying as much as possible,” he said. “I just cut down on everything I could.”
There was no sparing; however, on building their relationship and each said it was a bonding experience for both.
As well, due to his love of and exposure to nature growing up, Will said he would eventually like to become a Department of Environmental Conservation park ranger.
“As a kid, I’d be outdoors all the time — it was great,” he said. “I want to do something like that when I’m older.”
For information on the Northville-Lake Placid Trail, visit nptrail.org.