Day 15 – 4th of July at Watkins Glen, New York
After a brilliant day spent in awe at one of the world’s most amazing natural sight’s, the Niagara Falls, it was time to move on to the last day of our trip. The last full day of our wonderful Trek America trip was spent hiking in the majestic and enticing Watkins Glen State Park; enjoying a delicious 4th of July Barbecue and celebrating in true Trek style with a massive water balloon fight.
This was a bitter-sweet day for everyone, excited to be celebrating 4th of July in style, whilst also feeling slightly gloomy knowing this was our last full day together – as the saying goes, all good thing’s have to come to an end!
We departed for what was a relatively short 170 mile drive into the lovely Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. The sun was shining, making for a great start to our first 4th of July. The Finger Lakes region takes its name from the series of 11 long and narrow lakes found here, including Seneca Lake, where we would spend the evening.
Our first stop of the day was at the stunning Watkins Glen State Park where we all went for a short, but simply stunning hike. Whilst being downhill and only 1.5 miles in length, it was perhaps one of the most scenic hikes I have ever had the pleasure of taking. The trail takes you through open woodland at the top, and gradually descends down through the glen. The most awesome thing about this place? The trail gets you up close to not one, not two, but 19 waterfalls. Yes, that’s right, in the space of just 1.5 miles you will walk through, over and under 19 fantastic waterfalls!
If you ever get a chance to visit Watkins Glen on your travels, I would without hesitation recommend that you take the time out of your day to take on the Gorge Trail. It almost felt like walking through an ancient rainforest thanks to its luscious green trees, tumbling waterfalls, and old stone bridges and walkways. You will get wet, but in the height of summer this is incredibly refreshing!
After our wonderful hike we were back on the road for the short trip to our campground for the evening, the fantastic Watkins Glen KOA. As I’ve said in earlier posts, many of the campgrounds used by Trek America are fantastic, and this one was no exception. We arrived early afternoon and set up camp. We had been allocated a spot next to a giant outbuilding with outdoor seating and tables, our own sink (you will understand how awesome this seemingly small thing is when your camping), and toilets right next to our spot. What more could you want?
With our last camp set up we all helped to prepare a lovely barbecue dinner together. We had everything you could want, it was perfect. Delicious burgers, yummy sausages, salad including awesome homemade potato salad, cakes topped with a variety of berries to create an awesome USA flag design, the works!
Soon after we presented our tour leader, Mary Rae, with a few gifts we had all chipped in to get. One of the gifts was an awesome diary filled with photographs and messages of thanks from all of us. This was Mary Rae’s first season and first big trip, so we wanted to thank her for such a fantastic time. The van (Gary), didn’t have a diary so we thought this would be a great gift!
After presenting the gifts everyone was feeling a little down as the end of trip drew closer. Everyone’s mood was lifted though as we went on to have a massive 200 balloon water fight! We were all in higher spirits and finished by taking a few group photos including the traditional trek group pyramid photo!
As the day turned to-night we all jumped in the van and headed for the short drive to Seneca Lake. The short drive was made even more fun with ‘Timber’ by Pitbull blaring through the van! ‘Timber’ was our trip song and even now (a few months later) this song instantly takes me back to all the brilliant memories I have of this trip.
We arrived in time to watch the beautiful sunset over the lake. The lake was surrounded by hills on either side and the harbour reminded me of a Mediterranean port. It wasn’t long until the fireworks display started and the sky lit up in a burst of colour. It was great to spend 4th of July in a small town celebrating with friends among locals and really feeling the vibe of it all. I guess it’s a similar atmosphere to Hogmanay here in Scotland. In short a day full of happiness and cheer!
With the fireworks over and the 4th of July coming to an end it was time to head back to camp. Of course, ‘Timber’ rounded of the evening nicely. We arrived back at camp with time for a few drinks and games. The evening drew to close on a high and after a few drinks I headed back to the tent for my last night! After two weeks camping, I had become accustomed to sleeping on the ground and grew to really enjoy it!
Have you been on a Trek America trip? What was your Trek song? Join the discussion in the comments below!