Day 2, On the Banks of the Jessup River, 6 miles north of Piseco, NY.
I had been making almost record time all day. It was only 3:00 PM and I’d covered nearly 15 miles through the woods. My 50 lb. pack was starting to chafe a bit, but the relatively clear and smooth trail was helping me stay on schedule. At the river crossing I shrugged off my pack and broke out the camp stove to prepare a meal of chicken bullion, soy nuggets, Raman noodles and lentils—It’s much better than it sounds! As I sat waiting for the water to boil I met some new people.
I’ll spare you their names, but they were a father and son from less than 50 miles away. They were a bit startled to see someone else this far back in the woods, but since this was the spot where the Northville-Lake Placid Trail and the Jessup River intersected I wasn’t shocked to see them. I was shocked, however, to see the high-powered rifles they carried and the handguns slung at the father’s side.
I find that it’s best not to startle anyone in the woods so I always try to announce my presence while still at some distance. “Howdy,” I called while they were some 30 yards down stream. They came along and we had the obligatory chat about the weather and the trails. They’d hiked in from a side trail and when they saw me eyeing the weapons they were quick with an explanation; “It’s red squirrel season.” Well, I wasn’t going to argue with their claim. If they said they were after red squirrels then that red squirrels it was! Though I’d like to see what’s left of a red squirrel when they’ve brought one down. The boy was carrying a 44 and the father had a 30-06. Both had scopes. For those of you unfamiliar with the finer points of squirrel hunting, going after red squirrels (two thirds the size of grey squirrels) with those weapons is like using a baseball bat to swat a fly.
I finished dinner quickly and hit the trail once more, hoping to put some serious distance between me and these fellas before I pitched my tent for the night.