In Your Words

Every so often we get a note from a member or hiker that is particularly moving or inspirational. We’ve created this page as a place to feature some of these stories and special notes. We can’t share everything, but we do love to hear from you! If you’ve got something you’d like us to consider sharing, drop us a note.

From Member Karlen Chase
Karlen Chase joined the FLT in October 2020 after she hiked the Letchworth Branch of the FLT. She decided after that hike to donate a dollar per mile for each branch she completed, but after tackling the Bristol Hills Brach with some difficulty, she doubled her donation for that trail.

We are so grateful for her donation, but more grateful for the kind words she shared about Donna Noteware, the FLTC’s Regional Trail Coordinator for the Bristol Hills Branch. Donna was a true Trail Angel for Karlen, not only helping her with transportation, but with hike planning and some special encouragement and support. In Karlen’s words:

“I just finished my end-to-end of the Bristol Hills [Branch] on Sunday, September 5. I like to make a donation after I finish each trail, usually matching the mileage, but I’m doubling the miles for the BHT and dedicating the donation to Donna Noteware.

I just started backpacking in October 2020, beginning with the Letchworth Trail, so I’m new. I first attempted the BHT in late April 2021, planning to hike it through in about 5 days. But my achilles tendons weren’t prepared for the elevation profile of the trail, and I tapped out on day three at Access 8 on Map B2.

My cell reception was coming in and out, but I managed to get a text out to the car spotter who had dropped me off at Ontario County Park, and she was available and came and picked me up and drove me to my car. Her name is Donna Noteware, and without her, I would not have finished the trail.

I took May and June off hiking and focused on rehabbing my tendons. I contacted [Donna] in August to plan my next hikes, breaking the mileage up over two weekends. I finished hiking B2 on an overnight in August but I was hurting after hiking 12.7 miles that Saturday. I lost the blazes at one point and did some off-trail miles, and I called Donna and left a message. She called me back a couple times that day while I was hiking – I had managed to backtrack and find the blazes again – to check my progress. She thought I sounded really tired and met me at the end of Map B2 – a surprise! – so I wouldn’t have to walk from there to my car.

I couldn’t thank her enough. She contacted me that week and suggested breaking up B3 into more than a single overnight. I agreed and decided to give myself three really short days and spend two nights out.

I had told Donna that Fritos were my junk food vice and that I crave them after backpacking. When she arrived to bring me to the trailhead for that last trip she brought me a bag of Fritos, telling me to put them in my car and hike to them. I think this may become my new tradition for every trip. She texted me to check on my progress and I texted her updates. I was so happy when I finished.

The Bristol Hills Branch gave me a run for my money, but here is what I learned: I’m middle-aged with arthritis in one foot and tendonitis issues everywhere, and I’m still new to backpacking. So even though I have a light kit, I need to hike shorter days in order to enjoy my trips more, especially when there are big hills. And that’s OK. Also this: there are people like Donna Noteware out in the world, and were it not for the FLT I would not have met her. She has become part of my story as I learn how to do this backpacking thing. Thank you Donna. And thank you to the FLT for giving us places to walk lightly and learn hard.