New York and Hiker Kindness (July 6)
Tough hiking today. New York is much tougher than I expected. The trail is constantly climbing up and down small mountains, which is so much more wearing than climbing a single mountain for several miles. I’ll choose that long gradual ascent over repetitive small climbs any day. Especially these small climbs, which so often today include a kind of bouldering up steep mountainside. We keep saying this is practice for New Hampshire. The trail also often climbs over bare rock face, exposed to the sun and heat. The one good thing about being up in the rocks is that blueberries are ripe up on these sunny stretches. I definitely take advantage of that.
This is a strange day for me. For the first time, I’m running low on food, due to my own reluctance to resupply. It’s been less convenient to resupply this week- the trail did not run directly through a town. Instead, towns have been several miles off trail, requiring a means of transportation. I’m still reluctant to hitch-hike or pay someone to shuttle me somewhere. I’ve also felt tired lately and reluctant to resupply my food earlier and increase my pack weight. So I am left with the dregs for today- mostly oatmeal packets and some peanut butter. If I hike all day I will reach a busy 4 lane divided highway with a visitor center in the median. My guidebook tells me there are soda and snack machines there. I have to laugh at the pathetic nature of this situation, but it is what it is. In fact, toward the end of the day, I am in a good mood, imagining some good treats for dinner. (Really, what I eat on a daily basis is typical vending machine food anyway, so it’s not as pathetic as you might think).
I hike by the final shelter before the highway- only a few miles left before I get to the visitor center. Some of my fellow hikers are gathered there, cooking dinner. Superboring (self-named) calls out, “Old Soul! What are you doing?! Where are you going?” I stop and say, “I’m going to get dinner!” They know there isn’t any restaurant nearby, so they’re intrigued. I start laughing and say, “There are some vending machines ahead!” and then just stand there laughing because of how funny that sounds, and I’ve had to yell my answer down to them from up on the hill. So everyone at the shelter knows I’m living on the edge tonight, and they probably think I’m very irresponsible. They are all horrified and say, “Get down here! We have some extra food, you don’t have to do that!” I can’t stop laughing because it is a funny situation, but finally I decide to take them up on it. One hiker has overheard and comes over with several bags of food, offering different options of protein bars and dried fruit to me. It’s a really nice night. Hikers do look out for each other out here. I know I could have made it to the vending machines, but it’s also nice to let people help you sometimes, and it feels nice to sit and eat with this group. I don’t want to take their kindness for granted either- they go above and beyond. This shelter happens to have no water source, with a well that has dried up. In addition to a pasta meal, Superboring gives me some water to cook with, in spite of everyone’s limited supply of water here. I’m touched by all that they share with me.
So I’m very thankful to my hiker friends who helped feed me dinner. I also know I need to work on packing enough food again, and not start letting that slide. I’ve been out here long enough that I’m starting to feel more relaxed about some things, for better or worse. Lesson learned!
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