Bittersweet


Rested, well fed and clean we’re ready to get back on the trail 1.6 miles away from the hotel.  We had a few items we were mailing home so to make sure the post office was open we got a later than usual start to the morning.  As we made our way out of Fort Montgomery we took notice of the scenery.

A beautiful rock chapel

A beautiful rock chapel

The Bear Mountain Bridge from the park where we detoured through to miss road construction

The Bear Mountain Bridge from the park where we detoured through to miss road construction

Another view of Bear Mountain Bridge

Another view of Bear Mountain Bridge

Our destination for today is Appalachian Market for lunch and resupply 7.4 miles from the hotel. Graymoor Spiritual Life Center was another mile farther on the trail where we planned to camp for the night.

Back on the trail from where we left

Back on the trail from where we left

A barge on the Hudson River

A barge on the Hudson River

We started our day looking forward to a nice short day with beautiful scenery through out our journey. What it turned out to be was a day of record heat and humidity that drained every ounce of energy from my body as I climbed rocky areas carrying a heavy pack. The smoother windless shady terrain was cursed with bugs and mosquitos. We guzzled water as we dripped sweat more coming out than we could replace.

We met 3 hikers slack packing ( carrying only water) also planning to stop at the Appalachian Market for lunch. They had been section hiking for 9 years to complete The Appalachian Trail. Today would be the day that they were going to complete the entire trail!  The woman told me that any vacation plans for their future would not involve a backpack. We arrived at the market at the same time and sat beside them while we all ate. I made the statement that while I was climbing some of the more difficult and dangerous rocky areas I had asked myself, “Is this how I want to die?”  They all looked at me at the same time and said they had thought the same thing!

Appalachian Market photo from their web page

Appalachian Market photo from their web page

We stayed a little longer at the market than the other hikers. We had waited to do our resupply at the market and were planning on taking deli food with us to eat for our evening meal. I ordered two hero turkey and ham sandwiches to go along with buying regular hiker food. The campground was a mile away from the market. It was a nice sight to see after such a hot day even if it was short. Hey, there was power and even an outdoor shower!!!

Graymoor Spiritual Life Center pavilion, ball field, and Thru-hiker campground.

Graymoor Spiritual Life Center, pavilion, ball field, and thru-hiker campground.

There were two people at the shelter. One a young female hiker and one I think a homeless  person. The young woman decided to move on but we stayed. I talked to the homeless person and found out he was from Russia and moved around all over and no he wasn’t a thru-hiker. I think this was the first time I felt a little uneasy on the trail. I didn’t let that worry me and we set about our business of setting up camp. Later 2 other hikers came into camp which helped to make me feel less anxious. I got a shower to cool off from the day’s heat and got ready to eat. The sandwiches we had packed out was much more than I could eat. Larry offered mine to the homeless man which he ate in about 2 bites according to Larry.

Larry's sandwich half. Half of my sandwich went to the man at the camp

Larry’s sandwich half. Half of my sandwich went to the man at the camp

Our night at Graymoor was a little unsettling in that our Russian friend was up long past hiker midnight talking on his phone loudly in Russian. It was a good thing that I had taken a nap when we first arrived and another nap while Larry socialized with the hikers as they newly arrived.

Waking early the next day, we packed and gladly moved on toward our next destination,  Clarence Fahnestock State Park an 11.8 mile hike.

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The day promised more heat and humidity with possible thunderstorms in the afternoon. Our water supply would again diminish quickly so we kept aware of resupply sources from the guide book. One source was a spigot on the side of a pump house.  How neat was that?

Dennytown Rd pump building

Dennytown Rd pump building

The afternoon only got hotter and the bugs became demons to battle. Having all energy sucked from us before our intended destination we decide to stop for the day. We got the tent up and food cooked just in time to get in out of the sudden thunderstorm but not without getting Larry and some of our gear drenched.  It was a long night mainly because we were stuck in our tent for so long.

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Early the next morning after the rain had long stopped we woke to eat and get ready for the day. It was already getting hot and steamy. We were both grouchy due to the heat and a restless couple of nights.  We weren’t too far from the destination we had planned to be the day before.


Beautiful unexpected rock walkway

Beautiful unexpected rock walkway

When we arrived we sat down and checked the extended weather forecast. The heat wave would be with us for a while. We did a little thinking about the situation and decided to stop our hike here for now. Larry has a little over 400 miles and I have a little under 300 miles.  Larry looked at me and said, “call a shuttle and get us out of here” ,  which I did. Getting a recording, I left my name and number then waited for a call back that never came.  As fate would have it at that very moment, Grateful and his hiking buddy (whom we had met on the trail several day before) drove up to start their section hike for the day. Grateful was dropping off his friend then would drive ahead park and hike toward each other and swap keys. He offered to drop us off at a hotel, it was on his way!  I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason. This was confirmation we had made the correct decision.

We checked in at 9:30 in the morning at the hotel where only one room was available. The hotel staff was wonderful and interested in our story. They weren’t accustomed to people checking in in the morning. We then called to get a rental car to meander our way home. It was a holiday so they couldn’t pick us up. The desk clerk called a taxi to get us to our rental. The taxi driver told us he had really enjoyed being able to have us as a fare , that we were very interesting and it was a pleasure driving us! How nice!

Our temporary means of transportation

Our temporary means of transportation

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Our friends Grateful and his hiking buddy also stayed at the same hotel that night. Larry saw them as they came in and asked about their hike. Grateful said it was terribly hot. The next morning we all had breakfast in the lobby together before checking out.

 

While living out of a backpack on the trail is a satisfying realization of self efficiency, the simple pleasures of every day conveniences become highly appreciated.  Hiking the AT has certainly had an influence on our outlook on life. We’ve found the goodness and trust of complete strangers. We are a part of a shared experience that only those who have participated can understand.

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Not The End

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Comments 2

  • Avatar
    Therese : Jun 15th

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you this year. It would be great to talk “offline”. Email me if interested in sharing. I am planning a flip flop next year. Be well!!!!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Libby Carmines : Jun 19th

    Hey there Toesack and Hasbeen,
    Sorry to hear you ended your hike but there is no point in being miserable. It may be that you know better what to expect when you head out again next time. I ended up seeing a MD and learning I have a tibial stress fracture so am on crutches for 4-6 weeks and then will have to strengthen my leg. I’m sad to be off the trail for this year but planning to start again next Spring – from Delaware Water Gap. Maybe our paths will cross again.
    BIRK

    Reply

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