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The CMCNY Survivors

The 26-mile hikers’ story by Chi Chan
May 11, 2003

It was a pale morning; the sky spoke of rain to come.  A cool air flowed in; it had a rainy smell. Staring forward into the rising fog up at Black Ash Mountain, eight hikers began their first climb early morning on May 11, 2003. Within minutes, they were soaking wet from the humidity in the air and the perspiration generated from their body heat. Spots of rain began to fall from the overcast sky, it pattered and trickled for a few seconds and stopped.  Eight of them were prepared for the worst but hope for the best that the heavy rain would come late afternoon when the major portion of the hike would be behind them.


Six miles after the hike, one could not keep up with the team and reluctantly gave up the attempt. The remaining seven members, with rain dripping from their hairs, jackets, pants and backpacks continued on the path which now was heavily covered with mud, fallen leaves, and slippery rocks.  But there was a certain beauty about the damp forest; it was an early spring, all the leaves in the wood opened like a whole spring unfolding in a moment. The smoke-like wisps of mist were creeping around these seven hikers.   The mist seemed to open willingly before them and close quietly behind them. “SHOOT!” when crossing a small stream, Wade fell and broke his hiking pole, another casualty in the morning.

After 3 hours of long and endless hike on Red Cross Trail, the team switched to the Yellow Trail.   By now, they had been hiking for more than 6 hours, most of them were up since 4:00am this morning, but none of them showed any signs of slowing down.

The Training

From Johnsontown Circle to Time Square, further up to Arden Valley and retuning back to White Bar, these trails were often used as a training path by Mr. Chen, George, Wade, Joseph and Chi. This section of Harriman Park was chosen by them as an exercise ground mainly due to its tough terrains. In the cold winter day, they would cover less mileage due to the snow, in a good spring time when the trail condition improved, Mr. Chen would try to push for 18 to 20+ miles. Joyce and Chung, the new members of the group also had their shares of training. Joyce woke up 5 o’clock in the morning to run 7 miles a day.   Chung eagerly joined the routine training with the group two months before the scheduled 26-mile hike.  Seven of them hiked and suffered together. By the end of April, they pretty much understood each other’s strength and pace and were quite confident and comfortable hiking as a group. They knew they could finish the hike. It was just a matter of how soon.

Climbing down to the Cliff

After climbing the Pingyp Mountain, Mr. Chen and George warned the group that the most difficult part of the climb was approaching.  The notorious vertical cliff was here.  Looking down from the top of the cliff, the group realized it would require some “3rd class” scrambling.  To free their hands, all the sudden, hiking poles were flying all over the place.

“I WILL HELP THE LADIES, GIVE ME YOUR HAND!” Wade tried to use the opportunity to hold the girls’ hand

“LOOK, SHE COULD NOT TURN AROUND, HAHA.” Joseph was making fun of Joyce for not being able to climb backward

“FOUR POINTS ARE YOUR LEGS AND ARMS, CHI AND MAKE SURE YOU MOVE ONE POINT AT A TIME, GOT IT?” George was trying to use Geometry to explain the climbing technique to Chi

“I AM OK”, Chung pretended that he was fine while his face was as pale as his banana and his bottom was all muddy.

“I AM GOING TO EAT”, Mr. Chen declared that he had to eat AGAIN! (Only joking )

A good 30 minutes passed, the group finally was at the bottom of the cliff.


Passing the fire tower and right before the “Big Hill”, Wade called out, “LUNCH BREAK!”  Mr. Chen did not care since he had been eating his red bean cake, shrimp cake, candies and other sweet stuffs nonstop since 6 o’clock this morning. Joseph, with a big container of spaghetti and his mouthful, kept lecturing Chi as how important carbohydrate was for the today’s hike. Chung, by now, had gulped down 8 bananas (leftovers from his daughter’s party) into his throat, still putting another banana to his mouth. Contrary, Joyce quietly enjoyed her Yogurt diet.  George, fumbling his backpack, with so many different colors of plastic bags, came up with a “bomb” – a roll of sushi rice (looked like just been stepped on by an elephant) smiled with satisfaction.   Meanwhile, Wade was picking on Joseph as how he kept missing the Trail and led us to nowhere. (Joseph missed the trail in the first quarter mile in the morning)  Smiling with a missing tooth in his mouth, Joseph protested, “it is OK to get lost so long as you know how to rectify it!”, his philosophy of hiking. It shut Wade up instantly.

After the lunch break, the storm seemed to be near.  They stopped by the shelter and put on their rain gears.  The temperature dropped and the rain became heavy.  The wet cloths they wore since this morning were sticking closely to their skin. Chi’s face became purple, and they all felt the chill.  But none of them complained, they had committed to this hike “Rain or Shine” as Wade instructed in his last e-mail to the group.  Seven of them hurried down the path.  By now, they had already covered 20 miles and the toughest terrain was behind them. The remaining 6 miles was a challenge to their endurance.

“Water boy” – Tim

Two days before the hike, Wade had asked Tim and Joanne to meet the group at the intersection of TMI and Seven Lake Drive if they planned to hike around the neighborhood just in case the team ran out of water. None of them expected that Tim and Joanne would show up due to the bad weather but they did!

Tim called himself a “water boy” and was proud to act as a support for our group.  He and Joanne waited for the group by Lake Sebago with water, water mellow and donuts.  The group was so happy to see them.  They greeted each other like a long lost friend.  The box of donuts disappeared in seconds.  Definitely, the sugar in the donuts gave them extra energy to push on.  “Thank you Tim and Joanne!”, reluctantly, they waved and said goodbye.

History is made

The last 3 miles were the hardest. The path remained up and down until the end. Exactly 12 hours, the group returned back to the parking lot.  “This is a strong group with similar pace!” Mr. Chen smiled and made his comment.  He was happy to see this group is growing, with younger members and the ability to hike side by side with him. Never once in the CMCNY history that a group could start and finish 26-mile hike together.   A new page is added to its history book.

Perhaps, to some members of the CMCNY, seven of them are a group of “lunatic”. They will never understand how and why a person can hike 26 miles in one day.  Only those who tried and succeeded will fully appreciate the joy and pride of being a member of 26-mile hikers’ list.


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