Western New York has a lot to offer when it comes to camping

Benjamin Joe, Reporter

The roads are dark around 8 p.m. going south on the 19, but if the sun had been out, we would’ve seen a kaleidoscopic spectacle right around Castile, Warsaw, and Letchworth State Park.

This would be our final destination on a trip that would last three days, two nights, and about five miles of hiking with Troop 931 of the Boy Scouts of America. The three passengers in my Honda Civic were between the ages of 11 and 13, who didn’t complain about my choice of music, and mostly fell asleep about half an hour through the trip.

I tried to keep them occupied with fun facts about the bands we listened to, and even announced that the following Wednesday would be the exact date that Marty McFly traveled to in the then-future from 1985 in the movie, “Back to the Future II.”

They responded politely, but mostly it was just me and my headlights giving off a circle of brightness, then completely succumbing to the darkness about 20 feet away. My taillights didn’t illuminate much either, so it was just me —a spot of light in a canopy of blackness.

I couldn’t complain; but then again, I didn’t know what I would be complaining about. Letchworth State Park is about an hour and a half away, doesn’t require any tolls, and is at its peak foliage right around the middle of October. It boasts a huge gorge in which hikers can see three separate, fantastic waterfalls, as well as the mighty sight of what water erosion can do to the land thousands of years after the Ice Age.

The walls of pure stone are high around the river, and it’s the kind of thing that you can almost picture the dark outlines of dinosaur fossils. There aren’t any, but different kinds of stone can be seen at different layers from across the river by short stone walls.

The steps that lead you higher and higher towards the Upper Falls are at times straight and smooth, others muddy and slippery, and at some points completely nonexistent. Several signs explain that the steps are irregular and may break off, so beware.

None of the kids took this seriously and jumped around it like some kind of jungle gym. No one was hurt.

It was forecast to rain, but like many things in Western New York, it was not on time or really any problem. When you’re in the city non-stop, one can forget the sights of constellations, forget the various birds, foxes, deer, and bear that used to roam these hillsides, and still do in nature preserves like Letchworth.

To a lot of urban students, fall is just that time that midterms get passed out, that you can see your breath in the air, and heavy drinking ensues for holidays like Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even Fall Break, the new name for the man who started this intense congestion of folks and whose absence we can only see when we travel away from the city and into the country, a journey in time as well as space.

On Sunday, I awoke very late, and most of the boys were up and taking down their tents. My windshield had a layer of ice on it, and as I hunkered down to the cooking station for some bacon and a bagel, I noticed little flakes of snow falling down. It was time to go.

After a quick inspection of the area around our camp site, a square footage that had already claimed one glove, a hat and a strap to keep together my sleeping mat, we were off.

Words don’t really do it justice, the glory of nature, or the cold of fall, or the laughter of boys and adults going down the trail, but they inspire a sort of curiosity that students can somehow forget. Maybe you’ve never been on a camping trip, or perhaps you’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail, but anyone, and I mean anyone, can appreciate a fall camping trip in any of the various state parks that dot our fair state. If you can get up the money, about $40 for gas and a site, it’s a trip worth taking.

Happy trails!

email: [email protected]