Senior Carmel Ohring Hikes The Long Path

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Carmel Ohring (’20) hiking.

Claudia Sindoni Bonilla, Staff Writer

I guess it’s safe to say that the majority of us have been taking it slow this past month. Baking, picking up an easy read, or even tackling a new Netflix series might include some of the ways in which we’ve been filling our ample free time. Things have been different for Carmel Ohring (’20), however, who’s recently set out on a mission to complete the 358-mile Long Path, which runs from the George Washington Bridge to Altamont, New York, near Albany. 

At a time when many of us have yet to find the motivation to even step out of our snack-stocked and internet-available homes, it’s amazing that Carmel’s set out to complete such a long trail. He expressed that it boils down to the simplicity it offers. Hiking the trail “is not some grand and complicated act,” Carmel states. “It’s simply walking; putting one foot in front of the other.” This simplicity is what he believes “we need. Especially in the crazy world we live in.”

Apropos crazy: Carmel is crazy-productive. I don’t necessarily mean the I’ve-completed-four-essays-today kind of productive (he jokes that if anything, “school [work] has gotten in the way” of what he’s wanted to achieve). Rather, the I’ve-been-doing-the-things-I’ve-always-wanted-to-do kind of productive. 

I first noticed this during our PEERs Zoom meeting when he casually juggled the video call, baking sourdough bread, and preparing for his hike all at once. He explained that he’d been making time between classes and school work to do more of what he’s really interested in-particularly hiking. 

Carmel has been hiking the trail alongside his brother, Ami, who, he tells us, has completed what’s known as a “Triple Crown.” This is a fancy term, he explains for “one [who completely] hikes the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. All these trails are [each over] 2,000 miles and take [at least] four months to complete.” In addition to the Triple Crown, Ami has also completed a few trails abroad. 

Although his brother would never openly admit to it, Carmel assures us that Ami “is very knowledgeable and, in some ways, like … [his own personal] hiking guru.” As experienced and enthusiastic as this duo is, however, they’ve declined hiking the Long Path as “thru-hikers” who, Carmel clarifies, are normally found “camping in the woods and living on the trail.” Although they do intend to hike the trail all the way through, they’ve agreed that camping out or living on the trail just isn’t logical at the moment, given Carmel’s virtual-school responsibilities. Instead, the two brothers have been completing the trail as “day hikers” who, as the name suggests, hike a portion of the trail throughout the day, return home at night, and then repeat until the trail has been completed. The two have been trying to make the most of their day-hiking experience anyway, creatively thinking of ways to maximize their hours on the trail. Carmel confesses that on one occasion, “he [even] zoomed in the car.” He also hopes to begin overnights and “hike Friday after class… through Sunday” once the weather improves. 

All in all, the experience has been enjoyable for Carmel thus far. Although he’s always met the challenge to complete “day hikes and [even] some section backpacking trips” he explains, he’s never completed anything nearly as substantial or rewarding as the Long Path. The “358 miles [have been]… the perfect distance” he affirms, and a “nice escape from our hectic surroundings.” Having already completed nearly 145 miles, Carmel looks forward to finishing the trail in the coming weeks.

I don’t know that I could accomplish even a fraction of the trek Carmel has completed so far, but I can say that his motivation to take on such an opportunity and “carpe diem every diem” as he amusingly puts it, has definitely inspired me to take on my own challenge. I really hope you will be similarly inspired, as well. Maybe in each of our own ways we could all come out of this quarantine having walked our own rewarding paths.