ROTTERDAM — Three women became the first to complete a 5-mile hike that honors Rotterdam’s history as part of the town’s bicentennial celebration.
Saturday, the trio of Kim Schaefer, her daughter Mikayla Schaefer and family friend Carmen Brooks-Mulyca hiked about five miles from the Plotter Kill Nature Preserve to Kiwanis Park, making them the first to complete the Rotterdam Town Bicentennial Long Path End-to-End Hike.
It was a particularly satisfying achievement for Kim and Mikayla Schaefer given their family connection to the Long Path. The 358-mile hiking trail from the George Washington Bridge to the Adirondacks was conceived in 1930 by General Electric scientist and conservationist Vincent Schaefer, Kim Schaefer’s father-in-law and Mikayla Schaefer’s grandfather.
“We’re avid hikers, so it was just kind of more of a nature walk, but it was beautiful,” Kim Schaefer said. “There’s a little bit of a climb in there, and some little streams to go over.”
Kim’s husband, Rotterdam town historian Jim Schaefer, conceived the Long Path End-to-End Hike — a small, but scenic portion of the trail that passes through Rotterdam — as part of the bicentennial.
“With Jim becoming town historian, I’m sure his father would have been super proud, if he were still around,” Kim Schaefer said.
The full Long Path has some of New York’s most popular hiking spots, including the Catskill Mountains and the Shawangunk Ridge. The Rotterdam end-to-end hike is marked by blue kiosks on both ends — one at Plotter Kill, the other at Kiwanis Park — both of which feature sign-in books and directions for the trail.
Participants start the hike by signing in at one end, then must sign the other book when they arrive at the end and call Jim Schaefer to verify their achievement.
Brooks-Mulyca said there were a few names in the book at one end of the hike, but was overjoyed that her trio was the first to sign in at both ends.
“We saw some people who had signed in before us at the beginning, but no one had signed in and gone all the way through,” Brooks-Mulyca said. “You had to think it through and bring a car at both ends. We had a car at the other end, so we could go back.”
“When you get to that end kiosk, it’s very satisfying,” Mikayla Schaefer said, “because you’re doing something for the community, and it’s a fun thing to do.”
There’s a patch that’s been designed for those who complete the hike, which Jim Schaefer is hoping will eventually be produced and distributed.
However, there is one reward already available for those who finish the hike. The Hungry Chicken Country Store, across the street from Kiwanis Park, is offering a Long Path ice cream sundae on the menu at a discounted price for end-to-end finishers.
Once Saturday’s hike was over, it was time to dig in.
“It was really cool to be the first — and also to be the first to get the discounted ice cream across the street,” Mikayla Schaefer said.
Brooks-Mulyca lives near Plotter Kill, but said Saturday was the first time she hiked from one end to the other.
The group discovered some other trails along the way they’d love to explore more — fitting perhaps, as this coming Saturday is the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day.
“We’re definitely excited to go over the summer,” Kim Schaefer said, “and explore a lot more.”
After Saturday’s first completion of the hike, the Schaefers did it again Sunday. This time, it was the whole family as 77-year-old Jim Schaefer joined his wife and both of their kids — 23-year-old Mike and 20-year old Mikayla — to complete the end-to-end again.
“I wanted [Jim] to try and and do it, to show it doesn’t matter what age you are,” Kim Schaefer said. “Pretty much anybody could do it and enjoy it.”
“We all have to be outside,” Jim Schaefer said, “and this is a good excuse to take a hike.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.