Boiling Springs, PA to Fort Motgomery NY.
Only did around 14 miles out of boiling springs. This first spot is the Darlington shelter and it is supremely crowded. Several weekend warriors and right now,
A pretty gross family just rolled up with kids. The mother just threatened her little girl with binding her wrists and ankles with hair ties. So used to the gross redneck families down south, and encountering them up north is a shock. They were talking about not hanging their food, when there was a sign in town about recent bear sightings at this shelter. I mentioned it to them and just got a reply of “when was there a bear around here?” in a disgusting accent coming out of a disgusting human being. Then that just instigated an argument amongst the couple and small children.
Right now, as most of us are trying to fall asleep, they are chatting away and breaking sticks to start a fire. I hope the adult male falls in his own fire and burns away his ability to have children. It is apparent that these two little girls are not his. His fatherly advice to them telling him they were cold was to “do some jumping jacks.”
These folks hiking the AT on the weekends are probably just going to get worse this summer. Free campsites brings out a certain kind of camper.
Woke up to the wafting of cigarette smoke into my tent from the “mother” of the gross family that camped right next to me. Rolling out at 5:30 AM just seemed like the right thing to do. Rolled into Duncannon around 10:30 and just hit the town at the wrong hour. Nothing was open and since I was not planning on staying there, just pushing past seemed my only option. Wanted to get a beer at the famed Doyle hotel, but I didn’t think it was worth it. Luckily for me, some trail magic blessed me and another hiker, Miles, with a cooler packed with Miller Lights. Such an oppressively hot day, and there was one time where I got lightheaded. Just uncomfortable all day by being wet from sweat all damn day. My pack just seems heavier than ever. The food bag I packed out of boiling springs could feed a civil war battalion for weeks I think. I can only imagine the miles I would be doing if the super lightweight philosophy was my goal. Going faster and farther are the results and less damage to my body and feet. Did a 21 mile day to the Peters mountain shelter.
Quite an easy 24 mile day to a campsite right before PA 72 highway. Lots of road noise at 7:53 at night, but hopefully it will die down. I literally just laid down in the river at this site. Ice cold water all over my overheating, inflamed joint body was bliss. Hopefully sleep comes easily today. Tomorrow I shall pass the point where there are 1000 miles left on this trip. It will become more of a counting down game than a counting up. Took a long break at the Rausch gap shelter and was blown away at how nice it was. Pennsylvania has been the most well maintained and had the better shelters on the trail. It actually seemed like some though was put into the architecture of the place. Beautiful stone work around most of them. This heat during the day just zaps you of energy. You are constantly wet all day causing the chafing and rubbing of your backpack straps against your body. I do like completing big miles in this section while it is possible. Knowing that my pace will decrease in NH and ME, and I want to finish by mid August or so, putting up big miles in this easier section is my goal. Getting to my campsite just dead tired and waking up to do it all again just seems normal.
Too tired to write, massive day and got dumped on by rain. Everything is wet…
I did 18 miles before 1pm. Port Clinton beckoned and I answered. The port Clinton motel is pretty much your only option and the price for a single room is a bit much, but I am splitting it with a fellow hiker, miles. Got myself a haircut at the barbershop next door and it was totally worth it. Supremely hiker friendly and the coffee is always flowing. These hot mess of days require a more sensible cut. Great hangout spot to charge your phone as well.
I have made it all this far without hitch hiking and today was my first. The Walmart and Cabelas were about 2 miles away and the highway is pretty damn dangerous. Miles and I stuck our thumbs out for about 22 minutes before a local woman offered us a ride as she was pulling out from town. I am forever grateful. Walmart again has ballooned my food bag to small child size. The Cabela was disappointing in the way of hardcore hiker gear but it had what I needed and was an absolute monument to the outdoors. Make the trip if you are here. Had someone offer to pick us up after only 20 seconds of hitching. Right on the median of the left turn lane coming out of Walmart is the prime spot.
Day 72(June 18th)
Did a 15 mile day to the Eckville shelter. Pro-tip for all you hikers headed this way, turn right on the road and listen to the sharpie on the sign that says shelter. Going a mile and then having to turn around and come back is demoralizing at the end of the day.
Got myself some free coffee at the barbershop and chewed the fat with Frank the barber until the rain somewhat died down. Hiking in the rain, on the rocks just shouldn’t be done. The two guys I hiked with today, miles and Po-boy fell today and scraped up their arms. Luckily, tomorrow is not supposed to get above 84 degrees and should be dry. Lots of flat hiking today which was great, just two little climbs up to the pinnacle and the observatory were all that was needed. Nice being at a shelter that has potable water right here from a spigot. Water is really dictating my pace and hiking goals for the day in this section.
Had my first weirdo experience here on the trail. So it was a nice chill shelter with people who were all in bed by 8:45. We were all jolted awake by the doors of the shelter being jostled about. This guy comes bounding in at 10:45 at night with no headlamp and wondering if there was bunk space left. There was in fact one and I suppose he didn’t see it with the red light that hiker captain K provided. So he ends up on the wooden recliner in he middle of the room and essentially passes out. My 3 Tylenol PM slumber and buzz was obliterated in 10 seconds. Could not sleep the rest of be night. The next morning is where Miles, Poboy and I were getting to be bottom of this.
His explanation was that his parents dropped his off at this shelter after being in the hospital.
Red flag number 1
He then proceeded to just creepily sit there and stare into oblivion as the rest of us packed up and ate.
Red flag 2
His final move was to take my bunk as soon as I vacated and unpack his backpack. A pair of jeans was visible. A heavy metal canteen was also in his gear repertoire. Not to mentor he was wearing 2 cotton shirts, and what looked Iike a Carhart jacket fashioned into a kilt.
Red flag 3 and we blew out of there.
Did 24 miles to the George w. Outerbridge shelter. Lots of boulders and rock hops today. Went over the knifes edge today and with a slight rain shower beforehand made it a treacherous ascent. Big day, so tired and I am in a shelter again.
A small-ish 17 mile day to the Leroy smith shelter. The climb out of Lehigh gap was epic. First legitimate time I was scared going up some of those boulders. Slightly wet was scary enough. Two points where if I missed a foot placement and slipped, death was certain. The folks who have to do that in the rain are mad men and have a death wish. But after that climb and seeing the river I crossed and the mountain I stayed on the night before made it all worth it. Seeing the town and the old zinc smelting plant was amazing. Views all day were great. This state is really starting to beat my feet up though. Massive blisters on both heels from being pinched in the rocks. Only 20 miles left though. Probably going into town with Miles and Po-boy to Wind gap, PA for some R&R at the movies and town food all day tomorrow. Might be my only movie I see this summer on the trail.
Day 75(June 21)
Made it a short 5 mile day into Wind Gap, PA. Big thanks to the hero who drove us the 2/3 of the way into town. Having our thumb out for the first half proved unfruitful. The travel inn is by far the sketchiest place I have stayed so far. The “managers” alone living in one of the rooms was creepy enough. With his no shoes and 3 total teeth, I wondered what state I was in. What I have to accept though is that rural America just looks the same everywhere.
The real draw was the movie theater in this town. For 16 bucks, I got a large popcorn, dr. Pepper, recess pieces. Raisinettes(correct spelling) and a chance to see Jurassic world. What year is this?
During our resupply, a woman and her daughter approached me and asked if we were with Scott Jurek. The ultra marathon runner who is planning to finish the trail in about 43 days or so. The daughter though myself, Po-boy, Miles and Samaritan were “professional looking runners.” Damn that felt good to hear that.
Great resupply at giant food and hope to get into New Jersey tomorrow.
Day 76(June 22nd)
I did a 15 mile day to the Church of the mountain hostel at the Delaware Water Gap. Saw my first black bear on the trip so far. Miles was walking ahead of me and spotted it in the middle of the trail. It stood still long enough for me to take in the moment and snap a photo. Had some amazing trail magic at the end of Pennsylvania by a woman who was also providing food at the church. Such a positive note to end this state on. Beers at the Sycamore really tied the evening together and the village farmer for hotdogs and pastries were out of this world. Damn fine trail town this is. Weather is supposed to turn terrible tomorrow afternoon and I am debating on zeroing here. The first shelter is over 20 miles away and getting there before 1pm does not seem doable. I most certainly have enough food to not splurge in town, so just enjoying my first day in New Jersey is what I really want to do.
Day 77(June 23rd)
Made it another Nero Day. Spent the majority of my time in town and just relaxing at the church of the mountain hostel. Weather called for massive thunderstorms, hail and 60 mile an hour winds. My yahoo weather app displayed a symbol I have never even seen before. The crowd at the hostel was not too set on heading out either. Such a nice, chill and funny crowd that is in my bubble.
Po-boy, Rockboat, Miles, Jeopardy, Voldemort, Tinkerbell and a few others.
So the rain has not come by noon, 1pm, 2pm and everybody is getting ancy. Somehow Rockboat has decided to give me the trail name Roker, for my weather discussion earlier. If I have learned one thing, it’s that if you don’t respond, then the name fades away. But the last time 2 trail names were offered to me, I just hiked faster that the group who was trying to give them to me. This crowd is pretty much on my pace. So the weather seemed to have blown over and a few hikers set out. Rockboat and I wanted to make some positive miles today so we head out for the campsite 6 miles out of town. Fastest 6 miles I have ever done. Some light thunder pushed us faster and we got to the backpacker campsite. Such a pretty spot with bear boxes and 2 privies. Then the storm rolled in. Luckily I set up my tent in record time and jumped in with some food before the Lightning and torrential downpour started.
Rockboat did not even have time to set up his tent. Mad respect for that man for spending 45 minutes inside a privy to avoid the storm. He got his trail journal written, so it is all good.
While all the rest are back at the sycamore enjoying wings and beer, lightning was cracking all around us. 1.5 hours of that and the evening turned out gorgeous. A wonderful welcome into New Jersey.
Day 78(June 24th)
Such a beautiful first day of hiking here in NJ. Walking along the sunfish pond and the rock sculptures were great to start the day with. About 6 miles in, I stop for a snack break at the crossing for Mohican Outdoor Center and who pulls up in a Prius, but Irish. I saw that man day 1 at Hawk Mountain shelter, and now he is providing trail magic just 100 yards up the road. I helped him unload and was the first to experience the full cooler of Yuengling at 9AM.
Chilling out there for an hour gorging on fresh fruit and sugary drinks was great. Irish even offered us road beers for dinner, that didn’t even make it to the fire tower 3 miles away. A 360 degree view is the perfect spot to consume alcohol. The rest of the day was an amazing hike. Ridgelines that actually provides views. Seeing a nuclear plant and some sort of refinery is a new sight on the trail.
Passed lots of outward bound kids today. I like the idea of taking city youth into the woods, but would rather see rural youth taken into the city. Much more useful in my opinion. Same nice crew that I have been hiking with the past few days. Planning on hitting a diner in the morning for breakfast. Hiking from deli to deli is what Irish referred to it as.
Day 79(June 25th)
Such a great day in Jersey. Went into Branchville this morning for breakfast at Jumboland diner. Myself, Rockboat, Poboy, Miles and Jeopardy just consumed massive amounts of eggs and other meat products. Totally worth the 1 mile walk in and out. Did some massive miles today at 25 to end up at the Murray property. Such a great place to camp. The cabin has power outlets and a box fan and enough room for 6 people or so. Well water and a hot outdoor shower. High point state park was another great part of the day. Concessions beckoned to this group of hikers. So all in all, starting about 6:30 AM, and finishing at 7:30 with 3 hours of breaks for water and food made it one of my better days. Averaging 3 miles an hour most of the day.
Day 80(June 26th)
Who has had 2 meals in town today? This guy. Went in the 1.2 miles to Horlers store for a breakfast sandwich. This was in Unionville, New York. Miles and I literally spent 3.5 hours there. When some of the other guys showed up from the previous shelter, Annabelle’s pizza was opening at 10. Crushed a sausage roll and garlic knobs and that tided me over to dinner. Ended up doing an 18.5 mile day to the Wawayanda shelter. But with all the side trails and town stops, it was 20+ miles. Feels like a NC-TN things just having the option to go into New York or Jersey at road crossings. Tomorrow I shall officially cross into New York. Jersey has rained coming in, and supposed to going out. But it has suprised me by how much I have liked it.
Day 81(June 27th)
What a series of lucky events that led me to where I would stay tonight. Were I to linger at a water source for 5 minutes longer, or if I decided to take the vista trail instead of hiking all the way to the road and trying to hitch in. Who comes rolling up in their friend’s car? Miles with his friend who he had met at an earlier road crossing. They drove PoBoy and I the 2 miles into Greenwood Lake, NY. Many gargantuan homes on the lake from what I could see on the ridge. So we come into town. Buy some things at CVS and we proceed to walk to the hotels and ask about availability. Lake town on a Saturday, not a damn chance. While walking around looking for something to eat, we spot Jeapordy, Forward and Doc coming down from the vista trail. They want beers immediately and stop at Murphys. Doc and forward start chatting up the two owners and tell them that we are looking for a place to stay to avoid the massive rainstorm coming in. He seems to make it his life’s work to find us somewhere to stay. Driving all over town and calling up people he knows. Nothing seems to be available. So what he does happens right out of a movie. He takes the 5 of us upstairs and shows us 4 bedrooms and a bathroom with a shower. He offered it up to us at hostel prices and the food and bar downstairs was phenomenal. Best calamari I have ever eaten. “We don’t fuck around here with the food,” is what the owner told us as he was holding court around the bar. Just an afternoon of drinking and eating and napping while avoiding the rain.
New York has a lot to live up to now.
Rain. Just all day nonstop. This section of New York is steep and rocky so far, but it was a fun day of hiking. Some stuff that was damn vertical that my poles and pack needed to be chucked up ahead for me to climb over. Coming into the state park around mile 1384 or so was an incredible sight. The expanse was just so big that I just felt dwarfed. Pictures cannot even do it justice. Made it a 21.7 mile day to the William Brien memorial shelter. Laying out in my tent while it is raining. 2 days straight of rain and hopefully the last half of New York are dry and can have some views.
Day 83(June 29th) Did a nice 10 mile day into Fort Montgomery, NY. The day of hiking could be described as expansive. Went through bear mountain state park and the only thing I have to say is that New York can really build a park. The trails have been tough, but immaculate. Got 2 different views of Manhattan today. One from close to a shelter and the other from the Bear Mountain observation tower. Got my first taste of seeing trail builders put in some of those massive granite stairs. Really damn impressive. Giant cable winches and lots of volunteers.
So great that the AT goes through a zoo and the lowest point is across from the black bear cage. So sad to see them pinned in like that when I have seen some wild. BBQ and resupplying for the rest of the day. Should make it to CT by end of the week.
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