New York to Kent, CT: Avoiding the Hiker Bubble and Coping with Lyme Disease
I’m not entirely sure how to start this post. On one of our first days in New York, I had been talking to Dave (aka “Taco”) about ideas for my next post. Avoiding the hiker bubble seems to be our thing, so that seemed like a good topic. However, a couple days in to New York, I started feeling lethargic, with awfully sore joints, so we’re just going to talk about that shit too.
So strap your seatbelt on, because this post is going to be a doozy (maybe).
Avoiding the hiker bubble seems to be our forte. I am a very social person, but I find that I really love being off on my own in the woods. Dave is less social than I am, so I knew when he decided to join me on this kickass adventure, that the nights at shelters with “Kumbaya” being played on a ukulele and sung around a hiker circle would be few and far between. Ok, that kind of night only happened once… but I think you guys get what I mean. The hiker bubble can be a big ‘ol pot of awesomesauce for anyone that really loves the social aspect of thru-hiking, but it’s just not our thing. We came up with one top secret method of avoiding the bubble, and because you guys are awesome, I’m going to share it with you.
We don’t sleep in shelters!
Seriously! That is all we do. Tenting away from a shelter site allows for much more privacy, while still allowing some social activity during the day. It works for us. I have a bad habit of forgetting to hike my own hike, and have a tendency to compare my hiking ability to that of the other hikers I’ve met. This became especially obvious in New York, where I got very sick out of nowhere and had to really come to terms with hiking less than 10 miles a day (which I’ll be getting to shortly). Sleeping in shelters was never fun for me, even when I was just doing section hikes. We aren’t as privy to hiker gossip, our risk for noro is wonderfully lower, and we can just do our thing. I will say though, for all the shelter lovers out there, that I can absolutely understand wanting to sleep at a shelter site.
Pennsylvania and New Jersey came and went in the blink of an eye. Although rocky, I found both states to be relatively easy in comparison. About a day or so in to New York though, I started to feel what I can only describe as lethargic, with increasingly painful joints. After doing 20 miles days, with relative ease, I was distraught over struggling to make 10 mile days. 10 MILE DAYS?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? My boyfriend is a saint, and was supportive throughout my bitching and constant mileage calculations and just my general beating up on myself. He tends to be my voice of reason, and my stubbornness will surely bite me in the ass one day, but this time he managed to talk me in to taking it easy. My weight was rapidly dropping, and I felt as if I could sleep for days. After sleeping on the porch of Native Landscapes and Garden Center, right outside of Pawling, we woke at around 4am, and started hiking to Kent, CT. Thus began a day of nonstop trail magic and finding out that I got Lyme disease.
After hiking a very short distance through grassy fields, my heart began palpitating and I was dripping with sweat. Barely up 10 Mile Hill, I had to sit down. My joints were done, and my body was craving rest. Dave, as my voice of reason, talked me in hiking back to the Native Landscapes building, and finding our way to the hospital. What a guy, right?
As we began road walking our way to the closest Urgent Care Center, a friend of ours pulls up with his mom and they give us a ride. We get to the urgent care, I find out I have Lyme Disease (FML) and realize that I have no clue where the closest pharmacy is. That’s when a woman leaving this office hears Dave and I discussing everything, and offers us a ride. We never got her name, but damn she was/is awesome. She took us to her friend’s laundromat before dropping us off, and they printed a bus schedule for us. We got my medicine, and began walking to where the bus was supposed to get us.
That’s when we met El Guapo. After sitting by the bus stop for a good while, it was apparent that it wasn’t going to show up. We saw a food truck, El Guapo’s Tacos, and Dave asked the owner for directions. Not only did he give us directions, but he gave us TWO FREE TACOS!
We realized after the El Guapo departure that the bus system in Poughkeepsie is in need of some revising. After the all 3 buses ignored us, we sat our butts down in a deli, and came up with plan B. Clearly we weren’t getting a bus back to the trail, but our handy dandy AWOL Guidebook came in CLUTCH. A trail angel and maintainer, Donna Hunley, agreed to shuttle us as long as we waited a few hours for her to finish work. A local couple came in to this deli while we were waiting and began to talk to us about our journey, and were so inspired that they gave us $30. It doesn’t stop there though, the owner of the deli was also blown away by what we were doing, and gave us 2 foot-long subs and a 2-liter of Pepsi. Donna shuttled us for a greatly discounted fee (I think the mother in her felt bad I had gotten sick).
So let’s tally this up:
- 2 free rides (sans sticking out thumb)
- 2 free tacos
- 2 free foot-longs
- One free 2-liter Pepsi
- Greatly reduced shuttle fee (You rule so hard Donna)
- Some restored faith in humanity
So although I got Lyme, and it totally blows, I really saw the kindness in people that day…which came in handy because Kent, CT (where we’ve had to zero the last 3 days) is not a very hiker friendly town.
Seriously, if you’re planning to zero in Kent, CT….don’t. Taco is losing patience with the locals, which is pretty comical.
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