March 13 was my last day in my 8th grade classroom for Spring 2020. I teach Algebra and 8th grade math at Trumansburg's Russell I. Doig Middle School. I had an inkling this was going to happen with everything that was going on with Covid-19 but I didn’t expect it to happen this soon. My students celebrated Pi Day on that day. It would end up being our end-of-year party. I feel so grateful we had that day in the classroom. As school ended I joined a crew of teachers to prepare to train the staff for the possibility of teaching virtually. By the evening, the county had closed schools for 2 weeks but it was already clear this would be longer. We just didn’t yet know how much longer.
The first lasts
Our family went to Atlas Bowl on Saturday night March 14th. We knew it would be one of our last dinners out, but we didn’t know at the time it would be our actual last dinner out in a restaurant. Even now as I write this, 7 months later, Atlas has not opened up again (not even for take out). On Sunday March 15 Scott and I went to our weekly hot yoga class. After the class we headed out to Liquid State: one of our favorite places to grab a beer in Ithaca. As we enjoyed our beers we saw them putting signs on the door. “Closing at 7. Sorry for any inconvenience.” I marched right up to the bartender and asked, “Are you closing for the evening or closing forever?” His look told me it was the latter. We somberly drove home.
The hike streak begins
In hindsight, it seems funny that we were already so sad and that we already felt a need to mark time. On Monday March 16, feeling the need for routine, I asked my daughter, “What if we start a hike streak?” It would give us something to look forward to. Elizabeth was game! We headed to the Taughannock Falls rim trail near our house. This trail has approximately 485 feet of gain and it is one of our regular hiking routes. In fact, Taughannock is one of the things that I love the most about living here. Just having the trail so close is enough to keep me longing to be in Oregon’s mountains just a little less ... but that story is for another time. We were particularly grateful to Governor Cuomo and the New York State Parks for doing everything they could to keep our parks open and safe for the entirety of our hike streak.
Rain, Snow, Wind and Sleet
March was filled with wild weather. We agreed that we would hike no matter the weather. The snow was so deep for several days that we were pushed out onto the roads that go around the park.
What about pictures?
Collage of most of our hiking pictures
That's it: our 200th consecutive hike!
About a month into our streak, I said, “It’s too bad we didn’t take pictures of ourselves for this.” With no end to the pandemic's upheavel of our "life as we knew it" we reasoned this could go on for a lot longer. We took a picture that morning as we started hiking, and every morning after that until we ended on day 200. All of our hikes are in my Strava account: this one's day 200.
All good things must come to an end
Why did we stop at 200? Well, purely practical reasons. With daylight hours diminishing, we found that some of our later hikes were starting in the dark. As a full-time teacher, I couldn't push the hike later in the day. As a full-time student at Ithaca College, Elizabeth couldn't do that, either, and her afternoons were jam-packed with classes and homework. So, we stopped with full hearts and tough quads at Day 200.
What the streak did for us
Elizabeth and I have always been very close. This further strengthened our mother-daughter relationship. We talked about everything imaginable on those hour-long hikes. We marked the passing of time, planned for the future and looked forward to time together every day. We only had one day where we couldn't hike together because Elizabeth went to Whiteface Mountain with a friend. My friend Lynn joined me at Taughannock that day, and Elizabeth and I both took pictures of our respective hikes. During the streak, Xander, Scott and I ran a family half marathon and Elizabeth was our driver and water stop girl and cheerer. We also hiked that day. Later in the spring the three of us ran a family marathon. That's 26.2 miles! Again, Elizabeth supported us. We also hiked that day. Those were some tired legs!
By the numbers
When you look back on 200 days of hiking, you can't not be impressed by what it means in the aggregate.
Distance: 593.8 miles
Distance-wise, it's like walking from our home in Trumansburg to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, follow the TCS New York City Marathon route, head north to say hello to Andrew Cuomo at the New York State Capitol, then loop back home around the Western flanks of Cayuga Lake.
Elevation Gain: 86,823 feet
Elevation-wise, it's like summiting Everest, K2, Denali, and South Sister in the Oregon Cascades. Of course, there'd still be a few feet to climb after that, too.
Duration: 196 hours
Time-wise, it's like binge watching every Seinfeld episode followed by every West Wing episide (and that includes bathroom and snack breaks, mind you).
Whew! That's a lot. We're glad we spread it out over 200 days! Here's a video montage of the days we have pictures for. Fantastic memories.
In the News
On October 21, 2020, the Ithaca Times covered our hike streak (see Ithaca Times: Equally Motivated). On November 6, 2020, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo linked to this post as part of his daily newsletter's "Deep Breath Moment." That was pretty amazing!