Getting the Gang Back Together
Day 105: Culvers Gap, NJ to High Point Shelter (16.1 miles, marker 1341.5)
A good start to a good day. Pigpen came by yesterday evening for dinner and to spend the night before getting back on trail. She had taken a long weekend for her brothers wedding, so the timing worked well. We planned to pick up Stealth and Carrier Pigeon (AKA Pigeon) and all hit a diner before getting on trail. As we drove up, we also discovered Ronin was at a hotel a couple miles away, so we added him to the plan. After a nice reunion breakfast of folks who had all connected going back to our first week on trail, we set off at around 9:30. We mostly hiked together, chatting and catching up, and soon reached Culver Fire Tower.
After a short break and the obligatory climb, we continued on. It was incredibly humid and temperature were in the mid-80s. Lunch was at the Mashipacong Shelter with a nice siesta. We then continued on to High Point State Park with views to all sides from both a lookout and a monument. As I visited the monument, a storm was getting close and we got a brief rainbow.
Hiking with folks was nice but very different. It was not as meditative, but the time passed a little faster. We definitely moved at a pace faster than I usually go and then took longer breaks. I can foresee myself starting with the group but slowing down and taking some of my own time as well. The pace was doable from a pure ability perspective, but I didn’t enjoy as many sights and I also kicked more rocks, which grows to be painful.
I purchased a new pack over the weekend, the Osprey Exos 48, which has more defined loaf lifters to get the weight of my shoulder. Between that and some more powerful anti-inflammatories, my shoulder is feeling a bit better and I’m feeling much more hopeful.
Day 106: Culvers Gap, NJ to Rt. 94, Vernon, NJ (18.9 miles, marker 1360.4)
Nice hiking day today. My shoulder was a little achy to start with, which made me nervous, bit the pain seemed to fade throughout the day. The rockyness of the trail seems to have subsided for a little while as we come through the second half of NJ. First the trail came in and out of woods and fields.
We took a short side trip, about a half mile off trail, for brunch at Horler’s General Store in Unionville, NY. After brunch the hike continued through similar terrain. In the early afternoon, the skies opened up into a torrential downpour for close to an hour. I welcomed this rain to cool off an incredibly hot day, though it does always smell terrible when everything gets wet. Once the rain ended, we walked along the famous NJ boardwalks until we came to Rt. 94 in Vernon.
We walked across the street and enjoyed ice cream and snacks at the Heaven Hill Farm and Garden Center. We finally got a.ahittle to the Warwick Drive-In Theatre where they allow hikers to set up their tents along the edge of the field for $5 and will also rent chairs and radios for $5 each to enjoy the films. This turned into a wonderful social evening.
Day 107: Rt. 94, Vernon, NJ to Rt. 17A, Greenwood Lake, NY (15.1 miles, marker 1375.5)
Very hot hike today. The temperature was high at 90° and very high humidity. Luckily water was pretty easy to come by. We began with the steep Stairway to Heaven climb… one of my favorite NJ hikes because the views at the top are of the mountains I snowboard every winter.
The next half of the walk was an easy woods walk with gentle inclines and declines and some rocks to watch out for. A couple hours in we crossed the NJ/NY border.
A very nice section hiker informed us that the rest of the walk, about seven miles, was an easy stroll. She lied! The next few miles were rocky ridge walks with lots of climbing up and down, and in one place was steep enough that they had even drilled rebar into the rock to help climb.
Fortunately, this was all eased by the knowledge of a homemade ice cream shop at the end of the hike. After a couple scoops at the Bellvale Ice Cream Shop we all got the last room at a local motel and cooled off in the AC for a while.
Day 108: Rt. 17A, Greenwood Lake, NY to Fingerboard Shelter (15.1 miles, marker 1392.1)
We got started a little late today, around 9:30 a.m. Between breakfast and hitting the post office, it took some time to get back to the trailhead. This led to an exhausting day for some of us, as the heat was rough and the hike was long. We hyped into Harriman State Park, which I haven’t hiked in a couple decades and found to be absolutely beautiful.
There were a couple of difficult rock scrambles, including the lemon squeezer, which is sort of a warm up for the Mahoosuc Notch in Maine.
We all trickled into the camping area between 6:30 and 7:30. Due to the heat, Pigeon and Pigpen decided to hike early the next day, starting at 4:00 a.m. I agree to join them and made sure to get to sleep at a decent time.
Day 109: Fingerboard Shelter to Hudson River (18.3 miles, marker 1410.4)
Today started much too early. Got up at 4:00 a.m. and was hiking by 4:40. I quickly discovered I do not like getting up this early, even to avoid the heat. The first part of the hike was down to Lake Tiarati, where I stopped for breakfast (and bathrooms with running water) and enjoyed the cool breeze coming off the water while doing my morning yoga.
I continued my hike, taking the new bypass route to avoid having to cross the Palisades Pkwy. I also passed the 1400 mile marker, which felt like another huge achievement leaving only 800 to go.
I then climbed over Bear Mountain with some fantastic views and down into the Bear Mountain recreation area.
After a quick snack we continued through the zoo where I saw my first bear on trail. We finally came out to the Hudson River and our group then headed out for Mexican food and waited for Sabrina to pick us up for the weekend hanging at my home.
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