Thursday, June 28, 2012

Days 50-58 The Happy Valley

Miles: 0
Total: Same as Before.

On Thursday Chris came out to save us.  He drove us back to the valley, gave us some beers, took us to Bueno Y Sano and then brought us to play boardgames with his girlfriend Megan.  Here's our week in bullet form:

Coffee with Art Keene! 
Transition to Erica and Dave.
Dinner at Amanouz with Jeff
Drink the Avocado milkshake I've been dreaming about for the past 3 years.
Go to Hugo's and play darts.
Eat at Mimmos on our way back to Erica and Daves

Hanging at Hugos

Wake up to breakfast being made by our most generous hosts.
Leave the house around noon to wander.
Buy some new superfeet for jamie.
Eat at SooRa Korean restaurant
Buy some beer and have dark and stormy's with Erica and Dave who feed us (again).

Lounge around all day watching TV and relaxing.
Shannon goes to dinner at Sarah's house in Amherst.  (Tuna Kebobs! Heaven!)
Jamie goes to dinner with Andy and Lenny in Sunderland.  (Bub's BBQ! Delish!)
Reconvene  and go to Andy Berg's to meet Calli.

Coffee with Bliss.
Finally get the bras I bought 2 years ago from Gazebo.
Mail Bras home.
Walk Calli and buy a hacky sack.
Buy Pizza fixin's.
Make pizza for Andy Berg and Bliss.
Finally got my bras from Gazebo

Transition to Amherst for housesitting!

Tubing on the Deerfield River
Fireworks at Umass

Met up with Jane Morgan!  My most dedicated follower of my travels!
Coffee and Crossword Puzzles
Relaxing in Amherst and watching Dune! 

Jamie goes to play pinball all day.
Shannon Relaxes
Bananagrams with Bliss

On the trail with bliss! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 49 Birdcage to the Birdcage Via Mt Greylock

Miles 13
Total 471

To the astute observer you might remember that yesterday I said the SlackPack would be 23 miles yet I seem to have written 13.  You might also recall that I was buying new boots in an effort to eliminate my ankle trouble.  You might also know me to be a bit reckless.  Fine. I'll stop stalling and tell you of my stupidity.

I hike with an aircast but I was hoping to discard it when I upgraded to high boots.   As a "test" I brought my aircast but didn't put it on.  Stop "tsking".  I learned my lesson.  Yes.  I sprained my ankle. Badly.   Actually, all day today was stressful-not just the ankle part.
  I didn't realize that we weren't going to be able to get to the mountain until 10am.  A 10am start over 23 miles made me very anxious-even without the pack on.  In fact, I was so anxious and nervous that I had my first panic attack.   Let me tell you how it started.  First, I was having a hard time breathing which might have been partly due to spending time with more cigarette smoke that I've been around in a long time.  So I had to slow down.  Then I started to panic that if I was going slower than normal, we wouldn't make it over the mountain.  Then I did a little math.  We hike at about 2 miles an hour. 23 miles would take us around 11 hours.  But 23 miles over the biggest mountain in MA might take us a little longer as I tend to get tired the longer I hike.  So now, adding up the time 1 realized we might not get back until around 11pm.(i exaggerated in an effort to really freak myself out)   I was NOT excited about hiking in the dark.  Then I really started to panic. I couldn't breath and started crying. (Not really helping the timeframe).  Having my first real panic attack, I was unsure about how to calm myself down.   Jamie rubbed my back and gave me some water.  Ultimately, I got myself back under control and we continued on.   By the time we summit-ed around 2pm and ate lunch and I was feeling worlds better. 
We even ran into a hiker we had met back at the Doyle-Baked Beans- and the other Dalton trail angel-Tom Levardi.  Both things putting me in a great mood.  We ate lunch and started down the other side. 
Not hiking with packs is a joy!  It's so easy! I felt like I was flying!  But I can't fly and ultimately I came crashing down on a root and re-twisted my ankle. This time was, by far, the worst.  I couldn't get up for a good 10 minutes and then I couldn't walk.  Normally, when I've twisted my ankle I walk off the pain.  Not so this time.  I was afraid to even take off my boot and look at it.  We hobbled out the last three miles and called Mr Bird to come save us.  He drove us to the ER because I was afraid it was fractured.  After 2 hours, X-rays and a great chat with the administrative lady we left with these words from the not-my-favorite young PA, "It's not fractured, and even though you're going to ignore me-stay off of it for a few days."

But we decided we wouldn't ignore her! So, we've called our friend Chris Watkins to come and rescue us.  We're going to take some time off in the Valley.  And I'll wear the Aircast forever.  I mostly promise!

Top of Greylock
Top of Mount Greylock!


The war Memorial

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 48 Kay Wood to The Birdcage

Miles 3
Total 458

We woke up this morning and hiked three miles in to Dalton MA. Upon arriving in Dalton we were picked up by Rob Bird who took us to his house and cared for us. (post coming).

The reason we stopped in Dalton was because we needed new shoes-both of us. Jamie's shoes had lost tread. Literally. there was a hole in the bottom and, consequently, his feet were hurting and, as you know, I seem to compulsively roll my ankles so I wanted to upgrade to real boots.   And we needed to do laundry-but that's a pretty consistent need.

So, we went to the EMS today and both successfully walked out with new shoes.  Jamie in another pair of Brooks and I in a pair of Solomon's that I got on clearance for $50.  I was particularly excited about my boots because I didn't even know they were marked down.  I was willing to pay to $180 dollars to have some foot security and I was ecstatic when I looked at the price tag!   It was so interesting to put on new shoes with supportive bottoms. When I put my old Merrels back on it felt like I was walking around in Ballerina slippers.  It felt like there was nothing between my feet and the ground.  Crazy!

After getting our new shoes (and wearing them out of the store), we went back to Rob's house to wait for the Trio to get back from their hike before going to dinner.   Rob took us to "Old Country Buffet." An all you can eat buffet is heaven to a Thru-Hiker.  I sampled EVERYTHING they had to offer and walked out comfortably full. 

Tomorrow morning we're going to do a "Slack Pack."  For $20 Rob will drive us north over Greylock.  We'll take small day packs and hike 23 miles back up and over.  We'll spend the night here again and then the next day he'll drive us back to where we started and we'll continue North.  I"m happy to not have to carry 30 pounds over our first 3,000 footer!  This will be our first slack pack.  I"m also excited about that. I tried to talk the boys into doing it with us to save some money but they thought 23 might be a bit much for them.  Anyway,  i'm looking forward to it! 

We just got finished with a marathon sing along and I'm tucked in on the front porch futon with jamie and drew is on the twin bed next to us. Although today was a short day, i feel it was productive and we'll pick up some miles tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 47 Upper Goose Pond Cabin to Kay Wood Shelter

Miles:  18.3
Total:  452

What a great day today was!  We were woken up at 7am with the question "How many pancakes to do you want?"  I was up in an instant asking how many could I have and what kind are they?  I placed  my order for four pancakes. One blueberry, one banana and two chocolate and banana.  Jamie had Banana and Walnut (also four). When we got down stairs to the table the caretaker Bob and his son (also bob) were in the kitchen cooking and there was coffee on the table. COFFEE!  Heavenly.  The Bobs honored all pancake requests and offered to cook more if anyone was still hungry.   Needless to say, breakfast was great.  OH! did i mention they served us as well?  Wow.  just wow.  Even the drizzle didn't dampen our spirits. 
We finally left around 9:30 after way to many cups of coffee. 

Worrying about rain, we booked it 9 miles to the first shelter and stopped for a snack.   The sky, at this point, looked incredibly ominous but knowing that in another two miles we were going to stop at the cookie lady, we started up again.  Promptly after leaving the shelter it started raining.  Then it started raining harder, and then is started hailing and then the lightening was right above us.  It stormed for about 45 minutes.  The exact amount of time it took us to get to the cookie lady.  As we were approaching her driveway, it cleared up.
Who's the cookie lady?  A lady who gives cookies to thru-hikers.  Her and her husband moved into their house 28 years ago.  They are within sight of the trail.  I think the trail runs along their property.  Anyway, about 25 years ago they started baking cookies and giving them to thru hikers.  They also sell some snacks.  Jamie and I popped in and bought 4 hard boiled eggs, 1 coke and got some cookies.  She wasn't home but we sat and chatted with her husband for about 45 minutes while we warmed up and snacked. 

We were feeling fresh and fine when we left so we practically scampered to the Kay Wood. 

Tonight we're here with Kyle, Drew and TicTac, two of whom we met at the fingerboard shelter and we did a farm stay with all three of them.  There's also a section hiker, Dan, who just came from a Kirpalu retreat and is doing 10 days up into Vermont. Jamie and Dan are lighting a fire to keep the bugs away and all the smoke is going up into the loft where I'm currently sitting unable to breath.  Heading down.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 46 - Shaker Campsite - Upper Goose Pond Cabin

June 24
Miles: 10
Total: 534
Deer count: 29

We had heard lots of great things about the UGPC so we woke up early today to get here and hang out!  We arrived by 11:30 so we had the whole day to chill.  We swam, rinsed clothes in the pond (thankfully, they were getting pretty bad), and sat around talking and playing games with other thru-hikers.
It's been a great day off.  These past three days have been really hard for me.  I've been really tired.  I want to be on the trail but I don't want to be hiking so it was nice to have a "day off".

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 45 - Tom Leonard Shelter - Shaker Campground

June 23
Miles: 11
Total: ~524

Now we can sing the "I Would Walk 500 Miles" song!  Because we walked 500 miles!  And proved that we would!  And that other song, about the train, "500 Miles"!  Exciting times, exciting times.  This is all we do now on the trail.  It is making it hard to make friends.

So after our three days of intense farm labor, we decided to take an easy day and only hike eleven miles.  We woke up around 8:00 AM and left around 10:00 - not our best up and out of there performance, but with the low mileage and moderate terrain we didn't feel rushed.

We really wanted to relax at Benedict Pond, but when we got there (a quarter mile detour off the trail, mind you), we discovered that the pond was gone!  Well, not really gone, but drained.  Apparently they are working on a dam until late July and there will be no swimming, splashing, rafting, fishing, or any other pond related hijinx of any kind until that time.  Bummer!

There were picnic tables, however, so we ended up eating some lunch there.  AND, even better, they had a dumpster so we could throw away our trash (Jamie had insisted on a foolish purchase of a smallish bottle of scotch - a small glass bottle - that weighed like half a pound - I recommend a flask) and we were glad to be rid of it since we were already carrying way too much food (see previous entry regarding the farm stay for more info on the reason behind the copious amount of vittles). 

The campsite we're at is the site of a former shaker village, hence the title of the campsite!  We camped right up on an old stone wall! Tomorrow we'll start early so we can rush over to the Upper Goose Pond Cabin, which we hear is an actual (free) cabin where they prepare pancakes (free) for breakfast.  Can't.  Wait.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 41 - Limestone Rocks - Laurel Ridge Campsite

Miles: 14
Total: 494
  • Town of Salisbury, CT
  • Deer count: 26
  • Mystery Animal (possibly a groundhog)
We had our earliest wake-up and departure times to date!  5:10 and 6:15 respectively.  We made it to Salisbury by 8:15 on foot and had an overly expensive but also overly delicious breakfast ($30 for 3 pancakes, 3 pieces of bacon, a burrito, and coffee) at the County Bistro. We be-bopped around town, visiting the general store, the super market, the post office, and the outfitter before heading out for an easy ten miles. Dinner tasted extra delicious. We can't tell if it was actually delicious or if we were just super hungry. This is starting to become a frequent question for us.

Our Campsite for the night.

Laurel Ridge Campsite. Jamie purifying water.

Finally made it to Massachusetts!

A beautiful View.

A facinating Caterpillar.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

AT Day 40 - Caeser Road - Limestone Rocks Shelter

Miles: 14
Total: 481

We tried to get up early today but failed.  Not too badly though, we were out by 7:50.  The walk today was nice, with a five mile river/road walk and a gentle upward grade over three miles.  We popped over to look at the falls in Fall River and now we seem to be the only people here (it is around 6:30PM) - maybe it is because the shelter is a half mile away from the trail and 350 feet down a ravine.  Just a guess.  We shouldn't complain though, this really is a beautiful site and there is a series of falls as you traverse down.
There are lots of great bird calls around the shelter tonight, we really like listening to them.
I recently was marveling at the fact that we've been on the the AT for 40 days! We've only slept in a real bed five times since we left, and four of those nights were at the Doyle when we were recovering. It doesn't feel like that long, though. I think that part of the reason for the late starts lately is due to the fact that I'm more and more comfortable in my sleeping bag and it makes it that much easier to sleep in!

A fun looking hostel that we didnt' get to stay in.

 Can you find Jamie? 
A road walk in CT

                                                                      A pretty trail
                                           We had the Shelter to ourselves this night. 
It was a pretty great place with lots of birds, but the shelter faced NO light so it was incredibly dark in there.
Limestone rocks shelter from the outside.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

AT Day 39 - Mt. Algo to Caeser Road Campsite

June 16
Miles: 15
Total: 467

After a night of town food and beers we weren't out until 9:30 today.  I felt like we were rushing the whole day but we made it to camp, set up and ate before 7PM, so we didn't fare too badly.

Just shannon in the Shade

In case you ever get a little confused about what direction you should be walking in, the trail maintainers make very handy directional signs.

Flora, the ridgerunner.  Ridgerunners work for the ATC and they patrol a portion of the AT. She's from georgia but was up in CT/MA doing work.  The main portion of her job seems to be dismantleing illegal firerings.  She gets paid to hike all day long.  After her thru-hike in 2010, she's very happy to be on the trail and making money.


AT Day 38 - Schaghticoke Campsite to Mt. Algo Shelter

June 15th
Scaghticoke Campsite -> Mt. Algo Sheleter
Miles: ~4
Total: 452

With every intention of getting to Salsbury early, we didn't make it there until noon.  After visiting the post office to forward our food drop (we had too much with us and it is free to forward packages!), doing our laundry, visiting the library, and eating lunch, we decided we didn't want to hike the eight miles to the next shelter.  Instead we opted to buy four beers and backtrack the .6 miles (straight up, mind you) back to the Mt. Algo shelter before town where there was a HUGE crowd.  Twelve tents and four people in the shelter (and two dogs!).  Biggest group we've seen yet, but who cares!  He have our tent up, our clothes clean (first time in two weeks), meatball subs for dinner.  Life.  Is.  Good.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Doyle Hotel

We read about The Doyle hotel in our guidebooks, we heard about The Doyle hotel from other hikers, and we read about it in all the log books starting 30 miles from here.  Obviously we had to stop in - as it turns out we spent four days here.  About 400x longer than most people.   We stumbled out on to the pavement into Duncannon on streets that showed us a small and potentially depressed community.   There didn't seem to be too much going on and the hikers that come through seem to be the most traffic it gets.     We wandered onto the main street in Duncannon and espied the Doyle partway down the street.  The Doyle is the former building for the Anheuser-Busch Company.  It's in it's 107th year..and looks it.   The outside architecture certainly looks like its from another century and the peeling paint and sagging windows add to that effect.  Regardless, after our tiring day we were happy to arrive.   On the balcony of the The Doyle is sign that says "Welcome Hikers" and on the door is a sticker that warns people "Smelly Hikers Inside,"   As soon as we walked through the door, Vicky (One of the owners) yells at us, "Get out!  You people wore us out yesterday!" And then she smiles at us, tells us to put our packs down and tells us where the bathroom is.  We knew we were home.    After hearing the rules, we wander up to our room.   The carpet looks like it's never been cleaned, the bed spread is questionable and there's a broken mustard-yellow lazy boy in the corner of our room.   There's a warning on the wall to open the windows "at your own risk" and the glass cover on the light on the ceiling fan has a puddle of dead bugs in it.  However, the sheets and pillow cases look and smell clean, the walls have been painted and there's clean towels and faceclothes for us to use. Since there's only one bathroom per floor, we "rock paper scissors" for the first shower.     The bathroom is just around the corner and as the hotel isn't full there's no wait.  A sign warns me to keep the shower curtain inside the shower or else it will cause a leak to the bathroom below.  As I'm showering, and extra drip from above causes me to look up where I see the exposed pipes dripping  from the shower directly above me.  Hoping that the person showering above me visited the toilet before getting in the shower I continue to wash up.  The shower never lost hot water, had great pressure and some hiker (or the owners) had left shampoo and soup in the shower- a welcome treat. 

After cleaning up, we strolled downstairs to look at the menu.  Everything looked delicious and was delicious.  After 4 days we can personally attest to: the Chuckwagon burger (a deepfried hamburger), the jambalaya, the pulled pork, the angus beef burger, the haddock square sandwich and the fried oysters. ALL DELICIOUS.  We have seen other people eat with great zeal, the steak, the meatball sub, the chef salad and all the soups.    The food at the Doyle?  Perfect.

On our first night we asked Pat and Vicky how they ended up here.  Years back Pat started working here as a chef-something he'd never done but was always interested in.  The owners at the time were only getting about 500 hikers a year.  When they decided to sell it Pat and Vicky decided to buy it and start catering to Hikers.  The numbers have jumped up to around 1200 a year.   This place is a legend and from what I've heard, Pat and Vicky have done a lot to improve The Doyle. They said when they bought it and started cleaning out the rooms they found old food and nastiness under the beds, cots that were cardboard thin and other gross stuff.  The Doyle is much better than that now. They're making slow but steady progress.    But even if they never change another thing, this place is a haven.  Pat and Vicky will sometimes make runs to the grocery store for Hikers if they miss the shuttle. They've given my ice for my hurt ankle, helped get me an appointment at the doctors and offer great conversation and company.   They are friendly and kind to everyone that comes through.     If you find your self in Duncannon (or more likely-driving past Duncannon) stop in and go to the Doyle bar and restaurant.

The Doyle Hotel
Rooms : 25 dollars, 7.50 EAP
Shower only, 7.50 (towel included)

9 N Market St
Duncannon, PA 17020
(717) 834-6789

Thursday, June 14, 2012

AT Day 37 Telephone Pioneers to Schaghticoke Campsite

Miles: ~18
Total: 448
Sights: One Skunk

Jamie: Today we started out of the Telephone Pioneers Shelter, and let me tell you we heard quite a few owls last night while here. Hadn’t heard any on the trail thus far (nor seen any for that matter), but later on in the day some section hikers said that they actually saw a couple to boot. It has been funny how interested we have become with birds and their calls. Prior to this trip we both had no serious interest in birds at all, but while out here often the only thing you have to listen to is the sounds of the birds – some of which are just really bizarre. Paying attention to them kind of adds another dimension to being out here and now get really excited when we see rangers or “birders” so we can ask them about the local avian residents.
About a mile from the shelter we ran into a trail maintainer, “Portland” (as in the concrete), a very friendly chap, and he asked us about the state of the trail that morning. We thought it was fine (although to be honest things are starting to bleed together) and told him so. He recounted a story of how some people are not so forgiving when it comes to the trail, and someone had emailed him telling him that the sign for the Telephone Pioneers Shelter merely said “Telephone Pioneer Shelter”, and that someone really should get on the job of adding that extra “s” pronto. He said he had a good rant for the emailer in question.
After a lovely boardwalk through some marshland we came across perhaps the smallest train station ever, The Appalachian Trail Stop. It goes to NYC on the weekends! Nearby there is a garden center that caters to hikers – we had a package waiting for us there and got a shower to boot – the woman working there was just super nice and we had a nice time chatting with her. As we were leaving to hop back on the trail we saw a sign at a little traffic pull in off the side of the road for pizza. It was a wood-fired oven pizza truck! Not bad at all!
Along the way today we also stopped off at the Wiley Shelter for a quick snack and then we crossed the NY/CT border (two times actually, I guess it goes back and forth across the states for a bit). We also stopped in at the 10 Mile Shelter (I guess because it is 10 miles into the state?) just to pick up some water and use the privy.
We were planning on spending some time in Kent, CT the next day, so we decided to push on a further 5 miles to the camping site – which was kind of pushing it, as we arrived just as it was getting dark. We got right to business setting up camp (Shannon) and making dinner (Jamie). Of course we forgot to hang up a bear line before all that so had a fun time figuring that out. In the dark. With no low hanging branches. We figured it out though.
The campsite even had a privy, but it was literally a toilet out in the open with no walls around it. I was still glad it was there though!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

AT Day 36 RHP to Telephone Pioneers

Miles: 16.8
Total: ~431
Sights: Nuclear Lake

The hoot owls are crazy tonight! I’d never heard so many before. Really interesting. Today was an easy hike but because we left at 10:30 (to avoid the rain) every time we looked at our watch it was two hours later than we thought it should be so it felt a bit long.
We passed a lot of the time today by recounting stories or books we know. Jamie told me the storyline for Fallout (the videogame) and I started introducing him to some John Irving characters. Fun.
The Shelter tonight is crowded with the same crew from yesterday. It’s a fun group. Last night they had lots of whiskey to mourn the death of the fawn outside of Palmer (news travels on the trail). The whiskey then provoked a philosophical debate about life. The hiker lifestyle however isn’t conducive to any socializing past 9:30 so even with the wake, philosophies, and whiskey all was quite by 9:45.
What a life we lead!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

AT Day 35 Graymoor Spiritual Center to RHP Shelter

Miles: ~19 (+2 for breakfast)
Total: 414
Sights: Rain

Rain. Rain. And more rain. Overall today was an easy hike. We both felt better after this 20 miles than we did before. Improvement.
We had a late start this morning as we backtracked a mile to eat breakfast at the “Appalachian Deli and Mart”, the best gas station store we’ve ever been in. It had a great supply of everything. Full deli, grill, and a little corner that had restaurant foods. Oh! And one dollar (tall) beers!
Another reason we loved it was because we got some great trail magic there last night. We popped in there on the way to the Graymoor center and while we were sitting with some other thru-hikers this kid pulls up in an old diesel Mercedes, and yells “You guys thru-hikers?”. When we replied yes, he hopped out and came to talk to us. He was a thru-hiker last year and was known as “Bud Heavy”. He wanted to do something for us but when none of us needed anything he pulled out $40 dollars and told us to split it up. It ended up being $10 for each of us. Totally amazing.
A hearty thank you to Bud Heavy!

Monday, June 11, 2012

AT Day 34 West Mountain to Graymoore Spiritual Center

Miles: ~14
Total: 395
Sights: Bear Mountain, Bear Mountain Inn and Zoo, Fort Montgomery

Today we broke camp quick and were on the trail by 7:30 – we stopped for coffee about 45 minutes in. I think this is more efficient, although hiking without coffee in us is a little tough. We have a 19 miler tomorrow so maybe we’ll do this again for time’s sake.
We made our way to Bear Mountain – a pretty famous place in NY. Maintainers recently spruced up the trail over the past few years so it was really a gorgeous hike. We checked out the observation tower and enjoyed a ginger ale and some Pringles while we took in the mountaintop vistas.
From Bear Mountain top we made our way down and checked out the Inn. It was built in the 20’s or 30’s and had been closed for the last 8 years, but luckily they just reopened. Shannon asked the lady at the front desk to see a room and she obliged! It looked great (she showed us a suite). Kind of a modern/rustic combo look – it worked well given the setting and the look of the building.
We then had to jump off trail to pick up our food in Fort Montgomery. The lady at the Post Office was super sweet and recommended the pizza/everything restaurant across the street. The restaurant, named “Foodies”, looked sort of like a dive from the outside, but it was really stylish in there and the food was really top rate (pizza, sushi, and Mediterranean).
After spending too much on lunch, we backtracked and picked up the trail in a very interesting spot: the Bear Mountain Zoo. Here we saw flora and fauna that can be seen in the area – alive and dead! Sort of depressing in both instances. They had an exhibit of stuffed birds from the New York area. The lowest spot on the entire AT was actually in the zoo, in front of the bear cage (our first bear sighting on the AT).

Tonight we are at a Christian Retreat Center – LOTS of hikers here. We are in what is known as a “bubble” I guess, when a bunch of us end up at the same time at once. It can be strange if you’ve been with just a few people for many miles to encounter such a sight.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

AT Day 33 Fingerboard Shelter to West Mountain Shelter

Miles: ~9
Total: 381
Deer count: 26

Today we broke camp slowly and took our time hitting the trail because we planned to hit up the pond on Arden Road. It is run by the state and they have showers, picnic areas, a nice little waterfront, and a little office – all made out of stone. The girl in the office let us charge all our electronics as we took advantage of the bathrooms and the blazing sun to wash almost all our clothes.
After hanging out for half the day, watching the motorcycles pass and our laundry dry, we cleaned ourselves up and got back on the trail for our “easy” seven miles.
Well, cleaning up was almost in vain, as we had a few fair climbs in humid weather. Then, after crossing the Palisades Parkway, we had ~600 foot climb in a half a mile distance – a decent slope to contend with! We were almost out of food (making our packs pretty light), but we had to carry extra water from the bottom so it made it tricky.
The Shelter was then another .6 miles from the trail – another ancient stone structure in disrepair, with maybe the most trash we’ve seen yet in a shelter. Great views though! We decided to camp and made our dinner on one of the cliffs to try and watch the sun set over the mountains. It was a little tricky to find a good spot but we ended up seeing some really gorgeous colors on the clouds as it went down.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

AT Day 32 Wawayanda shelter to Fingerboard shelter

Miles: ~14

Total: 372

Today was a long and challenging day. Lots of ups and downs, lots of rocks, lots of climbing. As we were coming into our last four miles we were called over to a truck by a fellow hiker by the name of Easy Strider. At the truck was Paddy-O with his trail magic truck. He gave us hot dogs, beer and whiskey while he kept the truck radio playing all my favorite folk songs. It was so wonderful. Then as were were leaving an hour later he played us “Well May the World Go” by Pete Seeger for our departure song. After the magic truck we hiked into beautiful land.
The trees were huge and spread out and between them all was tall and fluffy grass. The hills were huge and rolling with massive flat rocks all through the grass. So gorgeous.
Tonight we’re at the shelter and Paddy-O just came back up with more beer and trail stories!

Friday, June 8, 2012

AT Day 31 Wawayanda to Wildcat Shelter

Miles: 12.2
Total: 358
Sights: Huge Rattlesnake

Our short day today allowed us time to go the Belllvale Creamery. We’d heard about this place back in PA from our Manhattan friends. I’ve been holding out on icecream until today. Delish.
We met up with some section hikers today, very fun to chat with them and at the creamer we had a little hiker pow-wow. There were six of us, Questdoc, H2Go, Rayo, Flatlander, and ourselves. At this juncture, Rayo also came up with a trailname for Jamie: Whip-poor-way. This came about from a joke he made about the whip-poor-will birds that were keeping us all up at a shelter some nights before while we were wondering what made them go on and on (“Well, where there is a whip-poor-will, there is a whip-poor-way!”). He likes it because he 1.) loves to make silly puns and 2.) likes to make bird noises.

The hike today was easy and pleasant. The first 10 were lots of big rocks and boulder. It was really challenging but quite engaging. We saw a huge rattler on one of the peaks!

P.S. Rayo, whose name you've seen a few times now also has a blog of his adventures. follow him here:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

AT Day 30

Miles 17.8
Total ~346

New Jersey is a beautiful state! Who knew? Not me.  I've really enjoyed hiking here.  We got a late start from Unionville this morning.  We had breakfast sandwiches and coffee, went to the post office and finally made it out at 10am.  Then we ran into our friends from PA (hiking with the thru hiker AZ), so we chatted with them.  After that we walked through the Wallkill Reserve and we were finishing that as we ran into 2 ladies from North Carolina we are section hiking the whole thing. Great chatting with them.  Both are older ladies and they bring their cars so they slack pack during the day. I enjoyed meeting them.
Today was beautiful with the Reserve where we saw some Baltimore Orioles and red winged black birds. then we walked through a marsh on boardwalks and finally ended with a climb up to Pinwheel vista. However, about 3/4 of the way up it started to pour.  Really pour. So we peeked at the vista and than ran back to tree cover to avoid the torpedoing raindrops.  The sun came out about 20 minutes later but we were already soaked. 
Tonight we're in the shelter with Rayo, Flatlander-a section hiker who eats no fruits or veggies, and Statesman-a section hiker who hikes one state a year.  Even when they're tiny states, he still only hikes one.  He's finishing the last 4 miles of New Jersey tomorrow and he'll go home.  New Jersey is only 50 miles!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

AT Day 29 Rutherford Shelter to Unionville Memorial Park

 Miles ~12
Total ~329

I'm a little shaken up becuase we're camping in a park in Unionville and these kids kept telling super racist jokes.  Things like "How do you get a nigger out of your backyard? -Hang one in the front yard."  They were doing it for about 20 minutes and I was gettin gmroe and mroe agitated. Finally I went over and told them the jokes were making me uncomfortable and coudl they please stop. Now i'm still shaken but nominally better. They stopped the jokes and their volume (which had been unnecessarily loud) went back to normal.  Ugh. and lately I've been thinking about how white the trail is.  If I was shaken by their careless racism, I can imagine that a person of color would be too.  Why do they think that's OK? Fuck.  Ruined my mood.  Let me try and refocus.  Bright side?  They did apologize and they did stop.

OK. Today's hike was lovely. From High Point to here was pleasant and smooth.  We stopped in at Jim Murray's property.  He keeps a cabin with electricity open fro thru hikers to use. Really nice.  We hung out there for an hour, mingling with our friends and then continued on here.
When we got here we hit the post office first and while we were there an older man ran his car over the post office sidewalk divider.   While it was funny, it was also a bit frightening.  We checked on the man who admitted that this is the 2nd time he's done this.   Then, with the help of another man in the lot we lifted his car up and over the sidewalk.  Then we backed as far away from the car as possible while the man drove off.  When all was said and done the other helper turned out to work for the city and he walked us over to the town park, showed us where to set up our tent and told us about all the good deals and dinners.   The park we are in is, literally, a city park. We are camped in the corner by the rose bush. There's a basketball court right next to us and children's park on the other side of us.  Very cute.

Jamie:  We ate/drank at Wit's End Tavern, the owner of which was very nice.  He lets campers camp in his yard.  We are in the Unionville Park-we imagined a state part type of place but it's more like someone backyard.  It is probably our nicest camping spot yet though.
Also, today we say a nice looking doe staring at us in the forest.  After taking a picture, we realized it didn't move. After shouting at it and waving our arms, we realized it was plastic. Excellent joke.  Also, Today we learned that the Orange Salamanders are just a phase in the long life cycle of the spotted newt.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

AT Day 28 Brink Road to Rutherford

Miles ~15
Total ~317

Last night, just as we were getting the illegal fire going we heard a whole bunch of Coyote's howling.  Very crazy to hear. 

The hike today was nice. Some ups and downs but not to many rocks. Lots of lovely vistas.  Strangest thing today was when we hear lions. LIONS.  Apparently one of the farms around here has a zoo and in the zoo they have lions! Crazy.
Tonight at the shelter we are camped out with AZ- the thru hiker et al, and Rayo.  It was really fun to hang with them again.
Rayo, however, has the every dreaded stomach bug so we gave him some of our drugs in the hopes that that helps.  
It's fun to be camped out with the crew again.

Monday, June 4, 2012

AT Day 27 Mohican Camp to Brink Road Shelter

Miles ~14
Total ~302

Most incredible thing: my feet aren't throbbing in pain.  They hurt, certainly, but it's not as overwhelming as it has been.

Today's hike felt great. Fairly easy terrain, engaging views and cool weather-if we could have skipped the rain I would have been more happy.
Tonight we're in the shelter with A.Z and Rayo but there's lots of campers. A.Z is out for a couple of days with friends and family and there a duo of firefighters here too.
I hope the mouse that lives in the shelter doesn't eat anything.

Jamie: Great Couple of days. After our 20 miler in DWG, many pies, goodbyes and a great free hostel, we managed 25 miles over 2 days. 

AT Day 26 Delaware Water Gap to Mohican AMC campground

Miles: 10
Total ~288
Sights: Double Rainbow!

Took a short 10 miles today to let our feet recover from yesterday.  The hike was mostly flat and quite pretty.  We started in a state park so we were hiking with lots of others which was fun.   We even saw a Korean hiking group but when we said, " Anyanghasaeyo" one of them fell over.  Literally.  So we ran away.
 We hiked to the Mohican Outdoor Center looking forward to a nice tenting experience as our book said 'free' but it was actually $11 per person. The guy gave us the AMC discount member rate of 9pp.  We didn't, however, realize that it was per person until I only got $0.75 from my $20.  Then we got all huffy and decided to trudge on another few miles to camp for free but as we turned on our heel the guy decided to give us the single occupancy price.  But no shower.  $5 for a shower.  We should have just waited around until 8pm, camped and then left before the office opened at 8am. that would have been free!
AMC= Appalachian Money Club

Saturday, June 2, 2012

AT Day 25 Leroy A Smith Shelter to Church of the Mountain Hostel

Miles 20.2
Total 278.2

Twenty miles today was a lot. I was really dragging for the last 4 miles. I had to take 2 beraks during that time. thankfully another hiker, Bi-ped, caught up with us and chatted with us which really helped pass the time.  Today was unrelenting rocks.  It was exhausting. My feet are dead.  It was, literally, a river of rocks.  If you could see through the vegetation it would look like the "sea of rocks" the book warns us about.
What a challengin day. When we finally got into Delaware Water Gap we headed to the Church of the Mountain Thru-hiker hostel, blessedly right next to the trail.  Itw as so godo to arrive. This place it like a real little hostel: a main room with couches and chairs and tables, and a back room with bunks.  They have electricty and hot showers.  Heavenly.  (and free).
There's lots of us here tonight though.  I think 3 or four people will hav eto sleep in the common room.

*yawn*  It's almost hiker midnight- 8:45 so I'm off to get ready for bed.

Friday, June 1, 2012

AT Day 24 Palmerton Jailhouse to Leroy A Smith

Miles ~16
Total ~ 258
Deer count: 9

We met a baby deer today.  It ran right up to us and licked us and loved us and followed us and we worried about how to make it go back and wait for it's mother.  While it was the most adorable pest, it was a problem when we couldn't make it leave us alone.  So, we called the Game Commission and the lady suggested for us to bring her back to the place where we found it, make it lie down and put it's head down. The lady said that mother's do that before they go off to rest after the birth.  Anyway, we did that and then literally ran away.  But, for all our work, she jumped back up and loved every other hiker that hiked past. 

Today was  along day for us.  15 miles with no real rest.  Very tired but we finished up in Palmerton with a real Bang.   Breakfast at Berts and then someone drove us back to the trail were we promptly met Fawn.  The initial scramble up the hill from Palmerton was very fun with lots of hand over hand climbing.  I'm glad we started refreshed and early in the morning.