Exploring the Northeast by Foot

Updated: Jan 30, 2018

Happy 2018! What's a better time to start a blog than the beginning of a new year?

For those who do not know me, my name is Kaitlyn and I am a real estate and landscape photographer, marketer, hiking enthusiast, and wannabe world traveler. I recently started Kaitlyn Casso Creations as a way to showcase my real estate photography as well as being able to feature my other interests, such as hiking and traveling, through this blog.

The best part of a new year beginning is the fact that it gives you an opportunity to look back on the previous year as well as setting goals for the new one. After reminiscing on this past year I am feeling pretty fulfilled in what I was able to check off my bucket list. Of course there's always more you can do but I'm more of a glass half full kind of girl. :) I thought that by doing a blog looking back on 2017 would help introduce myself.

Every year I make it my #1 goal to travel and experience new places. I didn't grow up traveling. In fact, I used to get homesick a lot! Luckily, as I got older I had many more opportunities to travel and have grown to absolutely love it. It's a big part of who I am now. When I'm traveling I feel like myself. That's the only way I can really describe it. It makes me feel whole. I'm constantly trying to find reasons to travel whether it's a holiday, for work, or just for play. To me, there's no reason to stay in the same place when there's a whole world to explore! In 2017, I was able to explore the Northeastern United States (where I am located) as well as to travel across the country. For my first blog, I'll share my explorations through my home area, the Northeast.

Celebrating in the Catskills

I started off by celebrating my 26th birthday (in March) by going to the Catskills in NY for the first time. I'm not sure why it took me so long to get there but I'm glad I finally did. At least once a year I try to go away for an event whether it's my birthday, anniversary, or another holiday. This year, when my boyfriend asked me what I wanted for my birthday I chose a weekend getaway. I'd much rather enjoy an experience than receive a materialistic item that I can buy for myself. I think I might start making this a tradition for my birthday because once you keep getting older something has to make you feel young! ;).

As soon as we got to the Catskills we headed straight for the hike we planned out, Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain. This 6.3 mile hike was my favorite kind - ridgeline! There's nothing like having beautiful views the whole way to the top. Luckily we had a pretty dry and warm winter so we only ran into a bit of snow but we made it through just fine. .

Top of Panther Mountain

The next day we decided we wanted more of a photo mission but still involve a bit of a hike. So we headed to Kaaterskill Falls. It was so amazing to see in person. Kaaterskill Falls is a two-stage waterfall and is one of the highest waterfalls in New York as well as in the Eastern United States. We decided to take the risk and climb up behind the waterfall to fully experience the thrill of it all. There was ice and snow at parts of the waterfall that only made it even more beautiful. My boyfriend still talks about Kaaterskill Falls to this day because of how amazing it is.

Kaaterskill Falls

Backpacking in the Adirondacks

Each time we go hiking we fall in love with it all over again. So the only thing to do is to take it to the next level (you'll see that trend through the whole recap of 2017 :)). What did we think was next? Backpacking! This time we went up even more north in NY to the Adirondacks (also my first time). Not only were we going backpacking for the first time but we were also hiking the tallest mountain in NY, Mount Marcy. Go big or go home! To be honest, I was freaking scared! But that should be normal, right? Not only was it my second time going camping in a tent (I know, crazy) but I didn't want to mess with any black bears! But we did our research, got all the proper gear, and decided we just had to go for it. We got our bear canister, put all our food and scented items in it, and then started the trek!

We drove up that morning which was about a 4 1/2 to 5 hour drive with the goal of doing the first 3 miles of the hike to our camping spot for the night. I was nervous and excited all at the same time not knowing how this was gonna go. We made a stop at Marcy Dam which is a popular camping spot in the High Peaks but we wanted to do real backpacking so we kept going.

Marcy Dam

After hiking about 1 more mile we found our camping spot. Since it was the middle of May the snow was still melting on top of the mountain so our whole spot was soaked! But you deal with it. We were hoping more backpackers would camp in the same area but we ended up being the only ones. Talk about a strange feeling! Just 2 people in the middle of the woods both experiencing this for the first time. Are we doing it right? I hope so! Once we finished dinner we packed up our bear canister again and walked it 100 feet away from our campsite to make sure we didn't have any unwanted friends visiting that night. Then it was pitch black. There was no light in sight but the stars in the sky and our headlamps. Once we got into bed it was silent. Where were the crickets? Even if there were animals I don't know if we would have heard them because of everything being so wet. I hardly got any sleep that night because I was pretty damn sure there was a bear outside my tent the whole time. :o

Our campsite

We woke up the next morning, ate some breakfast, and hit the trail! We had 11 more miles to complete with about 30-35 lb packs on our backs (yes we packed too much for a one night trip but we'll learn). With an elevation gain of 3,431 our legs and hips were feeling the effects of these packs! Not to mention these huge rocks we had to climb the whole time. I loved every minute of it! Nothing like a new challenge. After dealing with lots of mud which then turned into snow the higher we hiked, we finally made it to the top! I couldn't wait to take off the pack and eat some lunch. But that wasn't the best part. Being on top of the highest peak in NY meant 360 degree views of the Adirondacks. Absolutely beautiful!

Mount Marcy Summit

Once we finished the hike we instantly started talking about where we were going to backpack next time. It can be pretty challenging but man is it rewarding in the end. You have to make sure you have all the proper gear, food, and be ready to really get comfortable with nature. What am I looking for in 2018? Multi day backpacking trip! I've been looking forward to it ever since and can't wait to concur it. Let's hope the bears stay away!

Stay tune for more adventures of 2017! You don't want to miss the next blog where I'll be talking about our epic vacation in which we traveled across the country for.

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