New York City is arguably the most incredible city in the world, and I have the good fortune to have lived there for all 15 years of my life. It is buzzing with activity and full of culture. It is so astonishing and overwhelming that it often defines the entire state of New York; it is not common that New Yorkers or tourists explore what the state has to offer outside of the city.
I’ve been outside of the city before, on long road trips or to go to the beach. However, this past spring, I ventured upstate for a school trip with about 40 of my peers to Harriman State Park (http://nysparks.com/parks/145/details.aspx). The first time we went, we stayed for the day, and the second time, we spent the night.
The purpose of these trips was to hike 12 kilometers each day, in order to fulfill the requirements of a rigorous award program that we were all taking part in. Many of us were city kids and were not accustomed to sporting oversized hiking backpacks or having to read a compass.
We were all blown away by the beauty, upkeep, and challenge that we saw in just the first few kilometers. Halfway through, none of us could feel our legs, nor be able to hike without resting every 15 minutes. As time went on, we began to cherish what seemed like the smallest things, such as crossing a road, succeeding in finding a key intersection, or encountering other hikers; all of which were signs of human life. We were surviving, and by trying to do this it requires us to work well with each other and persevere.
For me, this was an eye-opening experience. I never would’ve guessed that New York State would be home to a park with over 45,000 acres, and 200 miles’ worth of hiking trails. The views were breathtaking and the weather was enjoyable.
Throughout the course of our two trips, we crossed a rocky stream by walking across a log with our heavy bags weighing us down, hiked over 40 kilometers, got disoriented countless times, slept in tents, and made our own meals. All of these occurrences were far out of our comfort zones, and the storms happening all throughout the night we camped out certainly did not make it a tranquil night.
This was the first hiking trip that I’ve ever taken; since then, I’ve gone on a hike elsewhere in the States. It did not even compare to my hikes at Harriman State Park.
This is why I love New York; it has so much to offer, and I haven’t even explored everything yet.
I absolutely loved the scenery and environment that the hike offered, despite the fact that I am not one that bonds with nature on a regular basis. In my opinion, the best part about my hikes in New York was that we were a stone’s throw from the city, only an hour away.
In the future, I look forward to exploring other areas of New York, whether they are close to or far from the city.
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