In spring of 2002 I took a backpacking trip to ASP. On that trip I hiked out about 3 miles along trail #9 (The North Country Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail), starting in the northeast area of the park, and camped at a lean-to that was in a remote area. I remember this especially because there was a “Notice” posted on the lean-to about porcupines eating the wood. During the night I slept in a tent near the lean-to instead of sleeping inside it. All night long I could hear the animals chewing on the wood. The lean-to was quite new at the time.
Today I decided that I would like to re-visit that lean-to. It was a stupendous day for hiking, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid to upper 50’s. There was no wind to speak of. I approached the area of the lean-to from the opposite direction this time. I took Trail #9 from ASP Road #1, which meant that I had between 2 and 3 miles to walk before coming to the lean-to. As I walked I wondered what I would find. Would the park have found a way to protect it from the porcupines, leaving it in as-new condition?
When I got to the lean-to I was shocked to see the effect of 14 years of neglect. The structure had fallen in, leaving about half of it still standing. Obviously the park had not succeeded in protecting what had been a beautiful structure.
There was a couple sitting and enjoying a picnic lunch nearby, so I struck up a conversation with them about the lean-to and about hiking in ASP in general. John and Sue were from north of Buffalo, and they reported that they had been hiking here for about the past ten years. As long as they can remember, the lean-to has been in a state of some disrepair, and they have watched as it has deteriorated over the years. They had been unaware that porcupines had been the culprits.
Another area of the park that is fascinating and well worth a visit is an area called Thunder Rocks. There are about a dozen huge boulders, some as big as a house. Getting there requires driving a few miles on a gravel road, but that’s the kind of thing my Toyota 4Runner excels at. The pictures I began to take when I first arrived seemed to me to lack the perspective needed to get a good sense of just how awesome these boulders are, so I took a couple of “selfies” just to give the necessary size perspective.