Garden State – Days 36 thru 40

Gear Update

I won’t go into all the details about all my gear, just a couple items.

Pack – ULA Circuit – I absolutely love this pack. Even with a 5 day resupply (total weight just under 30 pounds) this pack is a delight to carry. I only really notice the extra weight on steep climbs and technical sections where balance is important. Everything has a place in the pack and is so easy to access when needed. I think the front pocket has infinite storage space, there is always room for more stuff in it.

Quilt – Katabatic Gear Flex 22 – The decision to move from a bag to quilt was difficult. We have had cold nights (low 20s) and comfortable nights (mid 50s). The versatility of this quilt is amazing. I have not been cold at night nor have I been too hot. On the coldest of nights, I did not put on my puffy, so we could have gone a bit colder.

Day 36 – Detzi’s Tavern to Backpacker Campground (NJ)

As usual, we got up pretty early. As we were taking down our tent, Joey arrived to start getting the tavern ready for lunch. We walked to the back door, I called out hello and he immediately invited us in without even looking to see who we were. He met us in the kitchen and knew immediately that we were the ones camped out back. He got the coffee going and immediately started asking questions to get to know us. Shiloh took us back to the trail after several cups of coffee and a couple bathroom breaks.

Today we climbed out of Wind Gap, likely the easiest gap ascent of PA. Typical PA ridge walk most of the morning. Then a nice descent into the Delaware Water Gap.

While descending we met a local, he knew we were thru hikers and recommended that we get the 20″ sub at Dough Boys. Always listen to locals. The sub was closer to 30″ and conveniently came in 4 slices. We ate 2 and carried the other 2 for dinner.

Leaving the Delaware Water Gap, we walked along the side of I-80 across a pretty busy bridge and crossed into NJ. This is our 5th state already.

Glad to be done with PA. Hello NJ!

We headed back into the woods and up a hill to the Backpackers Campground. Notes in FarOut indicate it is very busy on the weekends, but we had the place to ourselves. Well, we shared the campsite with a bunch of whip-o-wills who all needed to be right around our tent. Fortunately they quieted down as we were finishing reading and would not start back up until we were getting up.

Best site at Backpackers Campground.

Day 37 – Backpacker Campground (NJ) to Brink Road Shelter

Another hiker joined us in the campground last night. We waved to him as we departed this morning. He was in and out of his hammock, I don’t think he was quite ready get back on the trail.

The trail today offered a lot of variation. Enough rocks to keep us on our toes, but not too many. Pine needle covered trail, so soft and enjoyable to walk on. A rhododendron tunnel to keep the sun off. Rolling, not to steep anywhere.

Other than celebrating 600 miles at a fire tower, there was nothing really noteworthy. Just a phenomenal day walking in the woods.

600 miles and my beloved pack. I only love Merry Weather, my boys, and their wives more.

We arrived at the Brink Road Shelter around dinner time. The shelter appeared packed and there were tents and hammocks everywhere. Merriweather wondered out loud if an Eno convention was being held there.

We had a nice dinner of ramen and tuna with a couple and one of their friends, all from the Jersey shore. They adventure from Spring to Fall and were interested in backpacking locations in VA.

We camped near two men from HI. Today was their 3rd day of a 6 week/300 mile trip. They had unexpectedly run into friends from FL at the campsite. What is really amazing is that a coincidence like that happens very frequently out here.

Day 38 – Brink Road Shelter to Mosey’s Hostel

We were the first up at the shelter. Got broken down pretty quickly and ate breakfast at the picnic table. There was a line for the privy before we got out of there.

There was a lot of variety in the trail today. Some ups and downs, some rocks, lots of fun sections with just enough roots and rocks to keep it interesting. We are loving NJ!

We stopped at a road crossing pretty early in the morning. There were a couple restaurants there but neither was open. Merry Weather had run out of battery last night and was very interested in finding a place to recharge. We found an outside outlet right under a couple security cameras at one of the restaurants. Time to power up.

While waiting for our phones to charge, we decided to stop at Mosey’s Hostel if she had room. I sent a text to her.

Our last laundry was in Carlisle and last shower was in Duncannon. We probably smelt pretty ripe. Last night and this morning I found it difficult to change from hiking clothes to sleep clothes and back.

We have plenty of food. Since there is an easy resupply at Mosey’s, we would be feasting for the next few hours. I have a quarter jar of peanut butter and a big chunk of cheese to put away. These would have been key if we had decided to wait one more day to resupply.

We passed another Scout troop today and spoke with them for awhile. We saw a bunch of day hikers early in the day. Impending thunder storms must have scared them off in the afternoon.

At Sunrise mountain we met an amateur geologist that had hiked most of the trail. He gave us a brief geological history lesson of the area. I wish I had paid more attention to stuff like that in school.

Pavilion built by the CCC at Sunrise Mountain.

Mosey was waiting for us when we got to the road crossing. Showers, laundry, resupply, dinner. I’m exhausted. Good night.

Day 39 – Mosey’s Hostel to Pochuck Mountain Shelter

The bunk room in Mosey’s became quite cool after the fan was turned on. I’m glad the provided blanket was close at hand.

We met Rumble when Mosey picked us up. At first we thought he was her employee, quickly we learned that he was another thru hiker. He started in GA sometime in February. We knew some of the same hikers, Ready and Finn the best.

Rumble was asleep as soon as the lights turned off. I tossed a bit, concerned about the weight of my pack with all the new food. Also, today is supposed to be hot.

Up pretty early. We told Mosey we would like to be on trail by 7. She had breakfast ready for us at 6. Bacon, eggs, potatoes, and coffee. It was so good and there was plenty of it. She also pulled out some cold orange juice. It tasted so good.

We did not make it to the trail by 7, it was closer to 7:30. Mosey is a talker and we enjoyed talking to her. She thru hiked the trail a few years ago and is a wealth of knowledge.

The first stop today was a platform with a great view of the highest spot in NJ. They built an obelisk at the highest point. Looks a lot like the Washington monument.

Highpoint, not Washington, monument.

The hike today was mostly rolling, there were some fields to cross, a flooded swamp the circumnavigate, and a wildlife sanctuary where we watched a team of redwing black birds gang up on a smaller bird.

Before the swamp, water was low, a resident said not to drink the river water. We knocked on a door of a known previous year trail angel. He happened to be home, gave us a couple soft drinks, plenty of water, and let us eat lunch in his shade. He was in the middle of planting 25 plum trees but took some time out to chat with us.

We got to the Pochuck Mountain Shelter pretty early in the afternoon. I was soaked with sweat, so glad I took a shower this morning. In any case it was either stay here or go on another 10 miles, likely not getting there until 9. We decided to stop for the day.

After eating dinner Finn showed up. We thought he was about a day ahead of us. He took a zero to fix his trekking poles. Then Water Boy showed up, we hadn’t seen him since VA. He took a zero to visit his brother. Then Rumble arrived. He was out of water so he just stayed for a second. It sounds like we all have similar plans for tomorrow.

Day 40 – Pochuck Mountain Shelter to Wildcat Shelter

Up and out early. On the trail by 6:15.

Finn and Water Boy were up as we were leaving. We ran into Rumble a couple miles down the trail, he had found water and was working on a shuttle into NYC. After the city he plans to go to Trail Days and back to the NOC, saving the rest of the trail for the Fall. I think yesterday’s heat got to him.

A good section of the trail this morning was boardwalk thru a bog. It was very similar to a section from yesterday but much longer. After the board walk, we came to Heaven Hill Farm where Water Boy waved us over. He was finishing a snack and Merriweather and I had 1st lunch. Finn showed up and put away two cups of coffee, two cokes, two fresh made donuts, and a whole blueberry pie.

Boardwalk, perhaps ADA complaint, definitely a great place to watch birds.

The climb up the Stairway to Heaven was pretty intense. I am glad we did it today with the temperature in the low 60s and not yesterday in the 80s.

Today we crossed into NY, we hiked in 6 states this month. It was very buggy at the border, so only a few pictures were taken. The trail around the border is very rocky. Not PA rocky, more like one continuous rock, sharp side up, that can get pretty steep in some areas. It was dry and the rock was very grippy.

NJ has been our favorite so far, let’s see what NY brings.

NY is bringing a bunch of bugs. We did not linger at the border or on the ridge.

After the border we hurried to the Bellvale Farm creamery. The directions on the notice board at the road were not great and we hiked about a quarter mile in the wrong direction. Water Boy was getting ready for seconds when we finally got there. The ice cream was fantastic. The ramen and tuna afterwards was ok.

We made it to the shelter shortly before the thunder storm started. Water Boy was not there, I’m kinda worried about him. Postino and Kaz are sharing the shelter with us. Postino is our age and started a flip flop a couple weeks ago. Kaz is college age, trying to figure things out.

Watching the forest light up before each rumble of thunder was pretty intense. I enjoyed watching this light show from the relative safety of the shelter until I fell asleep.

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