Catching Up: Roughly 800 Miles Left
I’ve been too focused on making my posts informational and helpful and, because of that, I haven’t been writing as much as I should be. To fix that, I’ve decided to start posting small trail updates from time to time.
I was hiking with two other people and our dog. One of my two companions I’ve been hiking with since Partnership Shelter in Virginia. We began The Trail on the same day and separated in Franklin, NC. The trail brings people together and apart at different times and unexpected ways.
I had gotten off trail for a few days in Wind Gap, PA because I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. My family still lives in PA and in adjoining states and my sister has been expecting a baby girl, who has since been born. I wanted to see her before my niece was brought into the world.
After getting back on trail, I wanted to rejoin the trail family.
From Wind Gap to Delaware Water Gap —
The day I got back on trail, my niece was born. Nothing else out of the ordinary happened; the trail was rocky but I did the 15+ miles into Water Gap without much trouble and camped right outside of Lenape Lake. On the next morning I went into town.
Delaware Water Gap —
To my surprise, I stumbled across a sandwich and pie shop I used to go to with a girl I dated years ago in the area. I had a sort of brunch there, for old times sake, and then headed to the saké brewery next door to try some of their sauce.
Five minutes after me, some familiar faces from my original tramily—people I had met and hiked with for awhile my first few weeks on trail—came in for lunch. We hadn’t seen each other for months and so we chatted for a few hours until they continued into New Jersey.
I stayed in Water Gap a few days because it was a very hospitable town, staying at a local church which allows hikers to tent for free on their grounds.
Realizing this wasn’t the best way to catch up with my current trail family, I decided to continue on.
Through New Jersey —
I hiked 17.5 miles out of Water Gap, crossing over the state line just after leaving. New Jersey was incredible. The biodiversity, especially of local mushrooms and fungus, was awe-inspiring.
The next day, I did a little over 11 miles. I was intending to do far more but, as I passed by Branchville, NJ, I smelled burgers cooking at the local pub and was craving meat. I inhaled a burger and two Yeunglings, then disappeared back into the woods to pitch my tent and call a friend from home.
Early the next morning, I awoke and felt great. I knocked out 24.5 miles in 9 hours and 12 minutes, stopping for pictures of fungus every time I saw a new species. There are a ton of mushrooms in NJ: hundreds of species! I saw my first “on trail” black bears that day.
I was hauling it down the trail when I came around the corner to see three cubs and a yearling. The cubs scattered every which way, all eventually climbing up the same tree, while the yearling watched me warily from a distance. I stayed back a bit, assuming the mother was probably quite close and, when I felt the time was right, I again began trekking up trail. Not a mile later, a large male black bear became startled as I rounded another corner and tore up a hill to my left.
After that, the rest of the day was pretty quiet. I pulled into Unionville, NY early that evening.
Unionville, NY —
Unionville is a small town. There is a local pizza shop I went to then made my way to the community park to set up my tent for the night. A few local teenagers were there making a bit of noise for awhile but I had a restful sleep, finished my pizza for breakfast and packed up. I ran to the local store to resupply and then walked back to the trailhead.
After Unionville —
Out of Unionville, I hiked about 21 miles to the NJ/NY state line, hiked a mile past, and camped.
New York —
I quickly realized NY was a bit of a different animal. The mountains aren’t all that tall but they’re steep. Many of them require you to stow your trekking poles and do some hand-over-hand climbing. It takes time.
I had heard from my trail family that the plan was to be in Fort Montgomery two days from then. This goaded my decision to do another 22 miles or so that day. My legs were getting tired and I was moving slower. The miles I planned for the day were made but I ended up hiking until 2:40 in the morning. Consequently, I set my tent up right next to the new water tower that was built just before Tiorati Circle and slept until about 10.
The Meetup —
That day, I only had about 13.8 miles left to go.
I hiked to the Tiorati picnic area to charge my phone, which was now dead— as was my backup battery—and had a quick breakfast. It was a difficult day. I was still groggy from my nighttime adventure and my legs were worn out. Those 13.8 miles took a lot longer than they should have.
The last few climbs were hefty but the elevation gain was not an undesirable one. I finally made it to Bear Mountain Inn where I caught a ride to Bear Mountain Motel.
One of the members of my trail family was there and I crashed there for the night. The other member was 20 or so miles ahead, as was our dog.
To finish this story, I’ll be posting another trail update when I reach another town.
Final Thoughts —
It had been a long week. I don’t very much like pushing long miles every day like the ones I explained in the narrative above. Doing this lessens my attention to detail and my surroundings: I appreciate less of what I see which is chiefly my purpose for being out here.
That said, sometimes these pushes are necessary and it is good to be back with my people. It was a full and wholesome week. I am grateful for all of the experience it offered.
Until next time…
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