Thursday, July 24, 2014

New York

Everyone loves NYC but, how many love the State?  When one thinks of New York and places to visit they think of either the City or Up State.  How many think of the other areas?  I didn't.  I'm surprised by how easy the terrain is to cover and how beautiful the lower south east corner is.

Before crossing the Hudson River, I stopped at Bear Mountain.  The views showed the city in the distance.  The mix of hikers, great.  I met my first SoBo's, Spoons and Toey.  They summited Mnt K on May 31st, making them some of the first SoBo's of the season.  They're in now for the miles.  Their only rough spot is the first 150 miles of PA, then the psychological play afterwards.

Crossing the Hudson on the bridge is cool.  Not really, its's a road walk.  However in June and July of '94, 20 years ago, I sailed under this bridge with Mercy Ships.  The M/V Anastasis of Mercy Ships was enroute to and from Albany for a Public Relations Tour.  I tried to picture myself looking up and seeing hikers, I didn't recall seeing any then.  I hoped to see boats passing, I didn't.

I'm sitting in Pawling working on DVD photo burning and have a few minutes to write.  Like many towns I hit, T-Mobile isn't here.  I use the library later to post.

Yesterday I crossed over several points that gave an opportunity to get into the City by train.  However I found the ups and downs, the climbing through the rocky craigs and boardwalks through swamps more fun.  I didn't think NY had swamps.  The AT crosses many swampy areas.  Swamps equate to ticks and snakes, so far I haven't see either on me or on the ground.  The trail crews have placed boardwalks through many of the areas.  Thank you.

One highlight was the walk around Nuclear Lake.  Nuke Lake was the sight of a processing material spill in the 70's.  The plant is no longer but still fenced off.  The rest looks untouched by human intrusion less a rock wall at the northern end.  This wall looks constructed in haste as if there was a battle of old here.  The wall but 3 foot high close to the water's edge and zigzaging.  Other old stone walls I've seen are old property boundaries, not this one.

I think waiting on the memory card to load onto the DVD unit is hurting my hike time. I think I'll send the card home next time.  I'm sorry I'm not posting many photos.  Little connectivity through my service provider and slow Wi-Fi at other locals drag.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


What did I get for my birthday?  Lemons.  Okay, not exactly.  I did squeeze myself through the rock formation known as the 'lemon squeezer'. This is a bit of New York ridge line rock that instead of being routed around or over one is routed into.  There is a bypass for the faint at heart or to fat.  Yes, I said to fat.  With my pack I wanted to try it though I'm close go being to big for this narrow cleft of rock passage.  I barely fit.  I managed to get through the split in the mountain.  Every opportunity like this is preparing the NoBo for what's a head.

My day began out with a little over night rain and a weekender wishing me happy birthday.  His greeting spawned a chorus of similar greetings from other campers.  One (as on one of the herd) brought down a Little Debbie's snack cake.  Jade, Steady, and One sang.  I danced.  No candle to blow out.

The rain left some wetness around.  It gave me a chance to try out the new kicks on wet rock without being in a bad spot.  Yesterday as I got to NY 17a, I set down and no sooner had I pulled out my trail guide two cars pull over.  That's fast and I didn't even hang my thumb out.  The lady I spoke with asked me a few hiker questions on why I wanted to get into Campmor.  She replied there was a shoes store in Warwick.  Soon I was on my to renewed trail comfort but first a detour past the ice cream shop.

Where will I be next year is anyone's guess.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day 100

Today marks ny 100th day on the AT.  I woke up rested on a cot in a St Thomas Episcopal, a church that provides rest for the weary. This is not dedicated space like I've been previously.  I knew I wanted to take it slow.

My feet, not looking like hamburger, still hurt.  Red spots decorate where skin and sock meet.  The soles ache to walk on.  I found a pair of new inserts in the hiker box and cut them to fit.  These will help, temporarily.

I walked to Dunkin' wearing my crocks, camp shoes.  Sat for a while reading about the airliner that was shot down over Russia.  Terrible, how could anyone target innocent people like this.

I found my way to the grocery store for some resupply and innovation.  I left a couple of thin wires needed for a windscreen I recently picked up at a campsite two nights ago.  Arug, I was tired and it was dark when I'd finished my supper then.  I found something that'd make due.

After doing a couple of chores at the church, I grabbed my ruck and headed for the highway.  It's the most unlikely people that will pick me up, ironically.  Today a lady well into her 60's driving a Volvo station wagon.   We both missed the trailhead as we went down the road.  Finally, I recognized we went to far and she drove me back.  The location was just shy of where she was originally headed.

I heaved my pack fresh from resupply onto my back and headed into the field leading to the mountains.  It gradually changed from level and smooth to steep and rocky.  The blazes became the dot to dot trail of PA for a moment.  The locals call this climb the 'stairway to heaven.' Not super steep considering what I've seen and will see.

Near the top I met a couple of day hikers.  One gal asked how I was doing.  Great less my feet, I responded mentioning my worn out shoes.  She had her friend look up Campmor.  I've only known Campmor as a cheep catalog outlet.  Apparently, they have stores and one just up the trail in a day or two in NY off HWY 17.  This many not be trail magic but, it's great news for sore feet.

The view from the top looked down upon Jersey and New York states.  Green, rolling farm land as far as one can see.  This isn't TV, this is real.  The hiker who knew the area said Jersey's been advertising a lot on getting out hiking.  That's probably why so many people I've met don't know where they're at on the trails.

As for me I bade the gals audue and treked into the woods.  Today's a short day, only 5 or so miles to Wawayanda shelter, mile remaing 827.4.  Wait!  Less than 830, cool creeks.  That's about 50 days at 16 miles a day.  Soon, very soon, my sore feet will be but a memory.

As for now I need to get off this rock and move along.  I chose a slow day yet still have a mile yet to go...


I'm not sure if New Jersey is trying to be like Pennsylvania for the rocks or Georgia for the forested trails. NJ is its own state with its own variety.

One of the first things I noticed is, it's not flat.  This region has rolling forested hills.  There are stretches of ridge lines covered with scrub oak and berries of many kinds.

I do enjoy the many flat lands of Jersey.  Just off the Murray property the trail dives deep into some marsh lands.  The Jersey boardwalks may be a hit with those on the beach but few will take shelter and makeout under these unless you're a frog or snake.  These boardwalks are but planks on logs to keep an open path.  One could say the rocks of PA give way to the boardwalks of Jersey.  Without these awesome planks Jersey would be the new word for suck.  I did find the marshes mystical in a neat way.

Another thing I noticed is of the few people I've met, no one knows where they are at.  When I ask how much further to the next landmark the folks want to know where I am going first.  This is slightly annoying as I've just told them the next landmark.  Is this a Jersey thing?

Well this is one of the smaller states I visit and I won't be able to give much of a report on it beyond, this isn't Jersey Shores the TV show.  Expect the rocks of PA to make one last feeble attempt to destroy the shoes, know where you're at, and eat hearty on the berries.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sometimes I Write

Somedays a lot of thoughts come to my head, somedays few.  This week is one of those weeks not a lot is coming to where and when I want to share.  I could run down the who, what, where, and when's of my hike.  I find that pretty boring actually.  After all I hike.  I travel daily through the woods.  Walking through the woods sounds pretty boring, write?

I will say Pennsylvania is one of those states that needs to be respected on the trail.  I cuss a lot on the trail because of the rocks.  The terrain looks flat yet, in reality it's not.  Fill it with jagged rocks and a 15 mile day becomes hard.  Add to that different layers of danger.  This could be over growth of vegatation covering rocks.  The vegitation itself could be thorns or poison ivy, a danger right there.  In sunny spots, toss in the possibility of snakes.  There's always jagged rocks under foot with these vines.  Occasionally, I find the trail follows a PA Game Land road, aka 4 wheeler track.

On July 10th, as I left Dan's Pulpit, I nearly stepped on a rattler sunning its lethargic self on the rocks.  Jade yelled up to me "I want to see it."  Her husband, Steady, joined us a moment later.  Then the debate came, how to step around it through the rocks and brush.  We all took a different route.  Now, when I say nearly stepped on this creature, I mean I saw it well enough in advanced that it gave me a fright but, far enough to be at a safe distance.

This same day we crossed the Knife's Edge, a rocky out crop of a quarter mile length.  The danger here is just falling with a heavy pack.  There is no danger of falling any distance.  Snakes were on my mind, as well as falling.  Erin Saver, aka Wired, had fallen a few days before and wrote about her bad experience on her blog.  As a Triple Crowner, I can see this may also hurt a bit on her pride. For me her warning was simple, be ready to use all surfaces to my advantage and put the poles away.  I did and I did take a few photos.  I'd love to redo this section as a day hike.  It is a fun, play on chunk of trail.

Somedays, a bit of delay can make a huge difference.  It could be a simple long lunch or a detour.  Also on July 10th, we stopped for a second lunch.  While finishing, the owner came in talking about the weather.  We went back out, brought our packs under cover as the sky darkened.  A few minutes later, the sky was no longer dark but, heaving massive amounts of rain down.  Thanks to stopping for a few extra moments we stayed dry.  Another friend of ours had pushed on.  That poor fella already having a bad day, must have buried his attitude even further down.  Hopefully something will shift into his favor.

I did catch up with this fellow hiker the next day.  Trail magic lightened his mood with a favorite snack.

Everything I see or experience on the trail is preparing me for some greater challenge.  Even as I hike over these rocks, I can say, I've done it.  Cyber hikers will tell a tall story on how bad they are.  I'll tell ya, when one take these rocks one day at a time, even one step at a time, they really aren't that bad.  The hazards out here aren't hazards when one is paying attention.  The hazards are pretty cool.  Who can say they've nearly stepped on a snake and yet be far enough away to enjoy watching it for a few minutes and not have disturbed it?  Who can say they've climbed over jagged rocks to see views few locals know of?

One day at a time,  hike on...

Monday, July 07, 2014


Jagged, sharp, small, large, baseball sized, marvel sized, car tire sized, just every where, ROCKS!  Hardly a step in any direction will not result in stepping on some form of rock.  The hammock pays off for sleeping except for trying to drive a stake in the ground, then it's a game of roulette.  Hiking is tough, slow going.  My ankles twist often, knees belch, and the feet moan with no delight.

Welcome to Pennsylvania.

The funny thing is, I'm not even close to where it gets bad.  I am just north of the 501 shelter on PA 501.  I'm expecting my shoes to be torn up by the time I hit Kent CT after the trail get back to sudo normal.  I got barely 700 miles out of the last pair and Kent will be about the right place to get a new pair.  Hiking shoes come to die in Pennsylvania, aka Rocksylvania.

These rocks make the local hikes, in SLC, above Red Pine Lake, and Maybird Gulch a sinch.  There its climbing or stepping from one to another except on a few path like areas.

I know when I'm on the AT, its the worst trail around.  In places so over grown I use my sticks as weed wackers.  In other places, I see the white blazes and play connect the dots while hoping I don't end up with a picture of a house.  As I cross other trails they tend to be a bit better taken care of or atleast the dirt hasn't been worn away from around the rocks.

Every so often, I get lucky and the AT follows an abandoned road.  That's if I'm lucky.  I like seeing ferns as they tend to put more plant matter on the ground between the rocks.  Ferns are also an indicator of a near by spring, even un-marked ones.

There's other issues with Pennsylvania that I won't go into.  I'll say, ticks and scant water, to end what I need to say about the above.

Hike on & watch how you step...

Triple Digits

I almost fell over it.  I was day dreaming my way down one of the few smooth places in Pennsylvania when I saw it, 1200 set on the pathway in stones.  2187 minus 1200, I recognize is less then 999.  I am well into the triple digit count down.  The miles to Mount K are rapidly clicking off.

Up coming is another number that only a few people will understand.  Be ready to see it marked with the SPOT.  If you do know this number, you'very known me a long time.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Half Gallon

Can you do it?

My last few town stops didn't have ice cream.  I really wanted ice cream.  I dreamed about ice cream.  As I got up this morning I wanted ice cream more then crossing the physical halfway point on the AT.

I got to Pine Grove Furnace State Park and headed straight to the General Store.  I walked in with my spoon in one hand and cash in the other.  The lady begin the counter pointed to the half gallon freezer.

I grabbed mint chocolate chip and headed outside.  Thus began not the challenge but, indulging my ice cream fantasy.  I am now just resting delightfully satisfied.

My reward, a wooden spoon.

PS what's the challenge?

Physically Halfway to Katahdin

Just before Pine Grove Furnace State Parks is the physical halfway point with the AT.  There's the mobile marker as the length of the AT varies from year to year and the stationary marker for the average years length.

Before I realized where I was at this morning, I was upon the actual mileage marker, 1092.65.  Every step beyond this marker I am closer to Mount Kathadin then I am Springer Mountain.

The stationary marker was beyond another shelter.  This is the big marker with many decorations.

When I happen upon the first, tears followed.  I couldn't believe I stood closer to Mount Katahdin then Springer Mountain.  Miles of ache and joy, friends and angels, hopes and fear.  This is one of my joyous moments.

A Logistical Nightmare

In Damascus I sent myself a resupply box -aka bounce box- a head to a town that was listed as poor resupply.  I had some basic get me up the trail stuff, snacks, and lunches.

Well I ended up with to much in my food inventory the day I passed through that small town and didn't stop, figuring they could just forward the package. I made the call the next time I got phone service.  Side note T-Mobile sucks on the lower half of the AT.

Since the initial call I'very made over 4 calls and got no where.  The person whom I've spoken to never provided options or showed knowledge on how to forward a hiker's bounce box.

Today, when I called, I expressed my frustration and told her I will be calling the Better Business Bureau.  All of a sudden I got a rebuttal, 'You can't do that, you'll never get your package.' The lady then started providing me options on how to get it.

This issue is now 5 weeks in the making.  I will be sending the correct amount via check made out to the postmaster.  I've learned not to send packages a head without first calling the business to find out what their mail holding policy I'd for hikers. 

I hope to see this issue resolved soon.  As a professional customer service representative, I find it appalling that it's taken more then two calls for a resolution.  Typically, it should be the consumer calling to say there is an issue and the second call by the CSR saying the issue is resolved.

PS.  Once my package is in hand, I'll fill in the town and business name.  Depending on the timeliness ist report then to the editor of the guide book I use and to the BBB of their town.

A New Segment

As with Damascus' Trail Days I am seeing a New bubble of hikers.  I am either in between groups or more hikers are dropping out. 

Today, I called it short.  I didn't want to push my knee.  I did pass up going into two shelters just off the trail.  On a typical day I'll swing into read the shelter logs.  I hiked just over 15 miles including 1 mile of road walking to get back to the trail from the hostel.

The terrain, mellow.  The rock, well, in the way on the tread.  Rocks slow me down when I need to, err, want to look around without stopping.  Water sources, good.  Historical value, high.  In the region I now walk the Civil War ragged with the intensity of World Cup and strategy of chess masters.

I'm camping at a place called Dahlgren Backcountry Campground.  Don't let the name for you, its right off a road just out if sight.  Showers, electricit, and T-Mobile service.  The last one is nice for a change.

I'm camping here are a few other hikers I've met in the last few days:  O-Positive, Catch Up, and Sprout.  I've stayed with Sprout in before the Shenandoah's.  A few other hikers held up here during the day's heat and just headed out as I drowned a mug of noodles with garlic salt.

I ponder where the next mixer will be?  I acknowledge life on the trail is much like life at home.  There's a mix of seasons, mix of drama, mix of strengthening.

I've noticed a few shelters are missing log books.  I am also skipping Shelton that are a distance from the trail so I might just be fooling myself that so many folks are off the trail but, as I talk with SoBo's and day hikers I get the impression that there are truly fewer and fewer NoBo's.

Hike on...

Here You Go

In the last few days I can't believe the number of times people have just given me something I needed, without asking.

I passed thru Pen Mar State Park.  A couple of day hikers I passed earlier in the day came over with a paper grocery sack full of fresh picked cherries.  The hiker I'm with and I dive into them, even filling quart sized bags at their urging.  Later, these ladies pass the bag around to other hikers.  Fresh fruit is something we seldom see when hiking and oftentimes the first thing we reach for when offered.

I head up to look for an electric outlet while at Pen Mar.  I didn't find one.  A lady sitting on a park bench ask me and a different hiker if we are hungry.  I respond, I can be.  We fill our bellies with picnic leftovers.

A different day, on another part of the trail, someone gives me a bag of chips.  This supplements my lunch for the day.

At some random over look just north of the Bear's Den Hostel, I'm hiking with Oregon and his gal Little Bit, two ladies on a day hike happen to bring up lunch just for hikers to this spot.

I've got other trail magic stories to say.  I wrap it up this way, I haven't cooked dinner for three days now.  I am amazed by this culture of giving that I am seeing and experiencing.

PS someone gave me two packets of Starbucks Viva at this shelter after I mentioned I robbed a future day's ration of its coffee.