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A Memorable Day on Fire Island: Closing Sailor’s Haven on the Final Day of the Season!

Date: October 10, 2023

Author: John Carricato

In a fitting finale to the Sailor’s Haven ferry season, the Longwood Hiking Club embarked on a remarkable journey to Sunken Forest at the National Seashore on Fire Island on Sunday, October 8, 2023. With thirty-seven enthusiastic members, the day unfolded as an adventure filled with camaraderie and memorable moments.

The afternoon began with a rocky ferry ride from the Sayville dock to Sailor's Haven. Despite the choppy waters and the occasional salty splash due to a persistent southeasterly wind, the club members remained undaunted. Our spirits were unshakable, and anticipation for the day ahead ran high.

Upon arrival at Sailor's Haven, the group was briefed on the day's activities before setting off to explore the wonders of the Sunken Forest. A unique maritime holly forest, the Sunken Forest is concealed behind well-established sand dunes. The forest is truly a natural treasure and is considered "globally rare". The designation reflects the rarity of this gathering of plants and emphasizes its exceptional value.

The Sunken Forest is graced by the majestic presence of American holly, some of which have stood for up to 300 years. These ancient trees, with their evergreen leaves and vivid red berries, evoke a sense of timeless beauty.

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The forest canopy boasts the company of other tree species, including sassafras, shadbush and various other hardwoods. Oaks and black cherry trees also thrive within the confines of the forest, yet none surpass the height of the unique double dune system that shields them. The forest truly earns its name as it lies "sunken" behind these natural barriers.

As the day unfolded, each member of the club had the opportunity to explore the Sunken Forest at their own pace. Small groups formed, fostering connections and shared experiences. No one was left to traverse the beauty of this place alone, as friends and companions enriched each other’s journey.

Following our exploration of the forest, the hikers took a well-deserved break for lunch. Some seized the opportunity to enjoy the specials at the Sailor's Haven convenience store. A group of friends found delight in the “end of season” $2 bottles of beer offered at the convenience store. Afterward, many embarked on the sandy road leading towards Cherry Grove, returning to the dock by way of the picturesque National Seashore Ocean beach.

During our trip we were told by a park ranger it was possible we would see wildlife. Indeed, we did, a juvenile seal basking in the sun on the beach. The excitement was palpable as we gathered around to admire this adorable creature of the sea. As cameras clicked and smiles beamed we captured the moment. However, the joy was short-lived as the baby seal, as if aware of the adoration it had received, waddled back to the ocean. The moment was a precious reminder of the natural beauty that surrounds Long Island.

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There was some promise of whale sightings in the waters off the beach. The park ranger share with us pictures he recently captured and said to be on the lookout while walking along the beach. Despite the excitement and anticipation, no whales were sighted. Perhaps the rough and choppy waters near the shoreline deterred the whales from venturing close to shore.

As the afternoon ended on the last ferry ride of the season out of Sailor's Haven, our group of thirty-seven, though a bit tired from the day of adventure, maintained high spirits. Smiles abounded and the camaraderie continued as we shared pictures of the lovely day.

The Longwood Hiking Club's excursion to Sailor's Haven - Sunken Forest National Seashore was more than just a hike; it was a celebration of the season coming to an end, a celebration of nature and friendships, old and new. As the season ended, our memories of the day will undoubtedly serve as a reminder of the beauty and adventure that awaits us in the Spring.

Stay Connected with Our Community Newsletter for More Community Adventures!

Check our website for a gallery of pictures from all our hikes!


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