On, off and On again: the logistics of resuming the hike.

On and Off…

By day five off-trail I’d decided that I’d better make my travel arrangements before I changed my mind about resuming my hike. After one week off; time for my feet and legs to return to their normal size and some (not all) the feeling having returned to my toes, time to buy a new tent, hiking shorts and attempt to repair/replace my unreliable iPhone, get some homeopathic medication for my physical issues and make some minor readjustments to my pack/equipment, I was headed back to Boston for Amtrak.

The long ride gave me time to ponder the wisdom of my decision, contact some friends (Amtrak wifi) on Facebook and think about how I was to return to the exact location on the trail from which I’d left. I did start to think, “Am I insane?”, and a friend texted me and confirmed my thoughts. Regardless, I’m already en-route and feeling pretty secure about my ability to continue my hike in relative comfort based upon the changes I’d made the previous week.

My tribe had moved ahead, if they were indeed all still on the trail. I was feeling alittle solomn about that – that I’d be hiking alone without the comfort of meeting up with tramily at the end of the day – but I started this journey as a “solo hiker” and I knew I’d eventually meet up with others and possibly form a new tribe.

The logistics of getting from here to there

When I abruptly left the trail, needless to say, plans for travel were not made. I’d had an emotional and, yet another, wet morning hike. {Details in another post} I was determined that I was getting off, one way or another, that day and it was just a matter of where and how – to be determined off-the-cuff. From the William Brien Memorial shelter, it was approximately 2.5 miles along the AT to a visitors center and that was my goal. Once there, in civilization where there were people with cars, I would find a way to get back to NH.

The visitors center, oddly enough, is located between north and south-bound highways. Hikers have to pass through four lanes of 65 mph (or faster) moving vehicles to continue along the trail so, after hugs good-bye we darted across the southbound lanes, I headed north via the wooded/grassy median and my friends continued on through the northbound traffic to the trail. Naturally, there was a cruiser parked along in there and the two officers warned that walking along the parkway was not permissible – which I thought very ironic since hikers were expected to cross four lanes of highway traffic, which must be ‘permissible’. They turned a blind-eye since I was headed to the center which, at this time, I could throw a stone and hit.

The woman in the center, long story made short, did some fact checking and then called a cab for me. I was eventually taken to Croton-Harmon for a direct Amtrak transportation (versus taking the metro from Peekskill to an Amtrak station) that I figured saved me, if not money, time and aggravation with making connections.

…and from there to here

…so, having done this before in reverse, I took the train back to Croton-Harmon and then proceeded to get a ride back to the visitors center. There are always taxis to be found at transportation centers so I made my way to the row parked closest to the station and started inquiries to the cost of getting me back to the trail. Again, long story short, after having to describe, google-map and show and then haggle about prices (almost double what I’d paid to get off the trail – same route!), I eventually just asked a man leaving the station if he was going near the parkway. Short version, I got a ride to where I’d left off – and I learned a thing or two on the way {later post}.

On the Trail-again…

By 5:40 pm I signed in on the register that is located between the N & S bound lanes of the parkway in Harriman State Park. It was a gray and darkening evening and I knew rain was predicted. I extended my poles — one pole and found the other broken. I decided to deal with that tomorrow as I didn’t want to waste daylight on it. I crossed the northbound traffic which was much lighter than it had been on Memorial Monday and resumed my hike. The trail was rocky, wet and I immediately stated to work up a sweat. My pack felt so much heavier than I’d remembered and I wondered if my ‘changes’ added weight – I did have plenty of food and water so I wouldn’t have to be challenged so soon by when/where I’d resupply.

It was mostly an up-mountain climb and I started to become frustrated already. It was getting darker and I had been traveling since 6:00 a.m. and was tired. I reminded myself that this is all part of the journey and the shelter was only about 1 mile – nothing really.

But I was tired and trails are not always well marked. I remembered that if I push myself to get to a destination, I usually regret it so I started looking for stealth sites. As I neared what I knew must be ‘the top’ near the blue-blaze for the shelter it started to sprinkle and I said, “fuck it”, and put my tent up about 8 feet off the trail. I didn’t want to chance getting to the shelter and find that I’d have to set up my tent in the rain anyway if there was no room for me. I hung my food bag after retreaving a granola bar and got in my bag…and stared at a mosquito buzzing outside the screen for what seemed forever.


I told myself I’d be good to myself: I will rest when I need to, I’ll pitch my tent where ever I damn well please when I am good-&-ready (after having been in many shelters and campsites for thru-hikers, I’d determined that they were placed on the worst peice of property along the AT with the expectation, I guess, that thru-hikers will appreciate what they get), I won’t try to keep up with anyone and I am sure I’ll find other hikers to befriend. The point of the hike is – well, it’s as individual as a thumbprint. For me, it’s about clarity, a break from my routine, a transition – to whatever that is to be.

I finally fell into a deep sleep…no dreams.


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Comments 1

  • Mary : Jun 9th

    Congrats on getting back out there!


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