Meet Erie Canalway Trail End-to-Ender Ann Neal-Levi

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Ann and Aaron follow the Yellow Brick Road in Chittenango

Ann and Aaron follow the Yellow Brick Road in Chittenango

Of the almost 800 people who complete the Erie Canalway Trail End-to-End each year, less than a handful make the trip on foot. Ann Neal-Levi and her husband Aaron of Bellingham, Washington are among those who prefer the slower pace that affords End-to-End hikers. This July, they spent 26 days walking the Erie Canalway Trail from Albany to Buffalo. Ann kept a detailed description of each day of her trip on her blog, Bellingham Walks.

Ann and Aaron’s days long trek gave them the unique opportunity to experience the scenery, history, and small town charm that make the Erie Canalway Trail a popular destination for cyclists in a more intimate way. Their cross-state stroll took them along the Erie Canal and into communities filled with curious and supportive residents and business owners. They encountered a pig farm in the Mohawk Valley, took a tour of the historic aqueduct at Schoharie Crossing, observed some wildlife native to the Canal Corridor, admired the engineering marvel of the Flight of Five Locks in Lockport, and crossed paths with the more than 650 bicyclists participating in Parks & Trails New York’s Cycle the Erie Canal tour.

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Ann and Aaron finish their 26-day long End-to-End trek at Canalside in Buffalo

Some days were more difficult than others, but at the end of each day nothing felt better than giving the legs a rest and sleeping heavily through the night in their tent. On day 26, after a long and exhausting 22-mile hike that started in Amherst, they finally arrived to a festive atmosphere at Buffalo’s Canalside, presumably feeling just as accomplished as the original 19th century Erie Canal trekkers felt after the long trip across New York State.

No matter where they went they benefited from the kindness of the people they met. Ann wrote that “the Erie Canalway Trail provided a consistent way forward, strewn with a variety of challenging challenges, meant to exercise our commitment and endurance, as well as many open, generous, and heartfelt human exchanges, meant to strengthen our belief and trust in the goodness of the human community.”

Congratulations, Ann and Aaron, on your impressive accomplishment and on becoming an Erie Canalway Trail End-to-Ender.

Are you an Erie Canalway Trail End-to-Ender? Register and tell us your story here.

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