Press-Republican

July 11, 2013

Plattsburgh man hikes, bikes 300 miles

AMY HEGGEN
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Despite daily rain, overflowing streams and unused trails, Marc Cassone followed the Hudson River from source to sea, by foot and bicycle.

“Sometimes you get a little bit down,” the Plattsburgh native said of the rain. “But once you accept the fact that you’re just going to be wet, it’s just part of the adventure.”

TRAINED GUIDE

The 25-year-old medical student works as an outdoor guide during the summer. In the past, he has led bike trips for high-school students across the United States and Europe, but this summer he completed his first solo trip.

Although he said it’s fun leading trips, he also enjoyed traveling alone.

“It was nice doing it not as a guide,” Cassone said. “You come and go as you please.”

Cassone, an Eagle Scout, has climbed many of the High Peaks. He grew up in Plattsburgh but has also lived in New York City.

“I thought it would be neat to string it all together,” Cassone said.

HIGHEST TO LOWEST

His 300-mile trip began June 28 with a climb to the tallest point in New York, Mount Marcy, and nearby Lake Tear of the Clouds, the source of the Hudson River.

At the bottom of the mountain, he grabbed his bicycle and headed for New York City, aiming to finish the trip July 3 near the lowest elevation in New York, the Atlantic Ocean.

“I wanted to follow the Hudson as much as possible,” Cassone said.

His gear, which he estimated to weigh about 40 pounds, included clothes, rain gear, food, a repair kit and a tent. His touring bike added another 30 pounds.

“Everything you need is on your bike,” Cassone said. “It’s liberating.”

He also carried with him written directions and a map, as well as his camera.

TRACING HISTORY

The route, which he began planning last October, also had some historical significance.

The first two days of the trip he was on Theodore Roosevelt’s path, marking the time that Roosevelt climbed Mount Marcy with his family and heard news that President McKinley had been shot.

“I got to follow in his footsteps,” Cassone said.

He also encountered Revolutionary War and Civil War history, especially while biking through the Capital-Saratoga region.

HELP ALONG THE WAY

In five days, Cassone hiked or biked through the Adirondacks, the Catskills and the Taconic Mountain Range and camped where the Erie Canal meets the Hudson River. 

He met many people on his southbound trip who were excited to hear his plans, he said, and who lent a helping hand.

“It’s so cool how willing people are to help you out,” Cassone said.

One park ranger upgraded him from a campsite to a cabin on the Hudson, where he had the chance to hang all his gear out to dry.

“Stewart’s ice cream got me through some of those rainstorms,” Cassone said.

REACTING

Cassone said that he had encounters that he didn’t expect to stop for, like museums or restaurants.

“You have to be flexible and think on your feet,” he said.

He also planned routes on both the east and west side of the Hudson River as a backup plan.

Cassone estimated that bike paths made up 30 or 40 percent of the route. He said he rarely had to ride on busy roads, even as he approached New York City. 

“If you do your research, you can take mostly back roads,” he said.

Cassone said that he never felt at risk or in danger.

BREAKDOWNS

Toward the end of the trip, he had a lot of bike-repair issues and many flat tires, including one as he reached his destination.

“A funny way to end the trip,” he said.

Cassone said he recommends the trip to others, and thinks someone could beat his time.

“I’d love for someone to go out and do it again,” he said.

Although he received a ride home, he said, others could take a train.