Raymond H. Torrey died in 1938, and each year trail enthusiasts, though a dwindling number of them, take the short hike up Long Mountain in Harriman State Parkwhere a memorial to this early 20th-century trail and park advocate is carved into the granite. A member of almost every hiking and trails group that existed in the NY Metro area–and a co-founder of several, including the Trail Conference–Torrey was also a newspaper columnist, for 20 years writing a column, “The Long Brown Trail,” for the New York Evening Post. As Glenn Scherer writes in a history of the NY-NJ Trail Conference (Vistas & Vision, 1995), Torrey “was the driving force behind all metropolitan trail building, clearing, and maintaining from 1920 to 1938.”
Torrey’s column, Scherer records, was a “blessing” to hikers. I love this nugget from Scherer: “Who could imagine a major New York daily today sporting a boldly emblazoned headline: ‘New Short-Cut Trail on Hogencamp Mountain is Highly Scenic and Bears Interesting Boreal Lichens’.”
A tweet, maybe.
For more than 30 years, the memorial hike was led by Torrey disciple Meyer Kukle. Various hiking groups would converge at the Long Mountain summit for a brief ceremony, lunch, and more hiking. Today, Meyer’s sons Peter and David led our group of six for what they counted as the 74th annual memorial. We spoke of rekindling a bigger event for next year’s 75th anniversary.
The Long Mountain summit offers spectacular 360 views of the surrounding forests and lakes. Well worth planning a visit–especially on October 27, 2013.
After the hike, we all headed home to await Hurricane Sandy.
Participants: Peter and David Kukle, Susan Winchell-Sweeney, Rob Sullivan, Fern Amster, and Bude. (the pooch–his name includes the “.”).