My first day on trek started pretty early but our leader said to meet slightly later than the advertised time. We had to meet in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Newark at 7.30am, which meant a 6am get up in order to make use of the buffet breakfast at the hotel. We weren't sure when we would be able to stop for food and so a group of us who met up the night before went to grab some food, we saw other trekkers from our group and the other group and it was a good atmosphere.

TOP TIP: Always make use of the free breakfast, especially on the first day of trek, there were quite a few on this trek! If you're not hungry at the time grab something to go for the road, fruit or pastries are a good option for this. Theres always a long stretch of driving where you'll be happy for a snack.

Following brekkie it was back to the room to finish packing (shoving everything back into my case), and then bringing it all downstairs and checking out. 
Two trek groups had migrated together in the lobby area and everyone was grabbing drinks / checking out who had the largest bag and working out whether we had all packed the right things for our adventure.

The camping groups tour leader arrived first and explained how we would all see each other in pretty much every stop along the way but that the blt'ers would be less tired! It seemed like I had picked the right trek! They started going through their paperwork so when our tour leader Jake arrived, we were a little bit more aware what to expect. 
It turned out we were mostly British with one trekker from Finland. We moved to another area of the hotel and got a quick rundown about what would happen that day and that we would be emailed the itinerary later in the day, we were also told how many miles we'd be driving today - 230 to the finger Lakes area of New York. Jake explained how he preferred to take trekkers to local stops along the way rather than big chain places and this is when I knew my trek experience would give me an offtrack view of America that I couldn't get with lots of other tours. We had the freedom to divert a little bit from timings and really soak in local cultures. It seemed like the perfect way to adventure that I would have struggled to create without trek.
We filled in our contact and insurance details on Jake's computer and then we were good to go. We packed all our luggage into the trailer and took our backpacks and grabbed a spot in the van. We travelled from New Jersey to upstate New York so within hours had ticked off two states on our list!
We drove for a couple hours and made a comfort stop for 5-10 mins then got back on the road until our first stop on our three week Budget Lodging Tour...

Ithaca, NEW YORK:
By the time we arrived here it was lunch, we parked the van and Jake took us to Ithaca Bakery. This was a cool lunch spot with a good range of food options. I had a few cheese croissants and other pastries, which were delicious.
I also had to pop outside to phone and sort out my American currency card because despite informing my bank of where I was travelling my purchase was blocked - travelling troubles! I got it all sorted out, but because I popped out the back of the bakery I stumbled upon some incredible street art!
After about an hour here, we headed back to van and spent a couple more hours on the road before arriving at...

Tannahaugh State Park, NEW YORK:
When we got to Tannahaugh everyone was happy to stretch their legs and we went on a short hike to Tannahaugh Falls. Everyone walked at their own pace and so ended up in smaller groups.
This was a short and sweet introduction to the types of hikes we would get to do on the rest of the trip and well worth the effort. It was slightly cloudy but that kept the temperature down a bit which was good whilst walking. 
When we got to the falls the view were amazing, and like magic the sun began to shine through. We spent a while by the falls, sat on the edge of the bridge and cooled down from the spray from the waterfall even though we were a distance away. This is when we realised that if the rest of the trek was going to be like this we were in for some spectacular scenery!
We took a reasonably slow walk back to the van and had another pit stop / comfort break, then it was back on the road to …

Cayuga Lake, NEW YORK:
Our last stop of the day before our motel was for wine tasting at the Americana Vineyards, a winery at Cayuga Lake.
I'm not a big drinker, wine especially, but it was fun and the sun had come out so it felt like the perfect end to the first day. We each got to try six different wines and there was a nice mix, I went for the sweet wines mostly and with the gorgeous sunshine it was a stunning summers day in upstate New York.

Next we went onto the motel where we would spend our first night, Super 8 in Auburn, NY. Everyone got into pairs and as their were 13 on our tour and an odd number of men, one of them got their own room. The rooms were basic but better than I was expecting. They had two large comfy double beds, a tv, fridge and decent sized ensuite bathroom.
Following check in we had about an hour to get organised and then Jake drove us to a local restaurant for dinner, Oak and Vine by Owasco Lake.
We were the largest group in the restaurant and it felt a bit like a takeover, but the atmosphere was good and it was a lovely place to end the day and get to know each other a little better. I picked steak and chips and it definitely revived my energy after the full on first day. For the Brits reading, don't forget you need to add tax and tip onto the cost of dinners and this was our first group introduction to that. After the bill was worked out and split we headed back to the motel in the van to get a good nights sleep ready for the tomorrows adventures.


ITINERARY (LISTED):                           Welcome - The Finger Lakes
ACCOMMODATION:                            Super 8 - Auburn, New York

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