Nothing Stops New York Mosquitos

The theme of New York was mosquitos. They. Were. Everywhere. Nothing stopped them. We wore bug nets, reapplied insect treatment to our clothes, wore long sleeves and pants, used Picardin insect spray, wore citronella wristbands, and burned lavender incense around the tent in the evening. Nothing stopped them and it felt like I was constantly getting bitten. Although I’ve found other things to write about during our time in New York, the mosquitoes made it part of the trail that I gritted my way through more than enjoyed.

Day 133: 1,420 ft ascent, 10.8 miles

There were warnings in Erik’s trail guide that the trail over the next few days would be more difficult than it appeared just looking at the elevation profile. We were fresh off of our zero ready to take on New York!

We quickly got to the state border, which was spray painted on a rock scramble. Much less fun than the entrance to New Jersey. I took a quick picture and we continued on our way. We made slow time climbing up and down boulders all morning, at one point giving a wide berth to a rattlesnake waiting for the sun to break through the clouds.

I really liked this marking on the rocks!

Cross off another state.

A rattlesnake welcomed us to New York. (Look closely on the left.)

I was looking forward to our lunch stop destination all day: Bellvale Farms Creamery! When we got there, I quickly got through my lunch snacks so I could get to the ice cream. I got key lime pie flavor. It’s amazing how quickly on the trail we go back and forth from: “We should never have dairy again” to “Ice cream ahead, let’s go!”

I was happy I had sent my dog Jake home when we got to these stairs. The trail would’ve gotten harder for him as we’ve gotten north.

This climb took a minute to figure out.

We might have a problem with ice cream places within walking distance of the trail.

Day 134: 3,700 ft ascent, 15.6 miles

The rock scrambling from the day before was nothing to what we encountered today. Every ‘up’ felt like it was a hand over hand boulder climbing problem. There was no going around a summit. It was climb a rock up and then climb a rock back down kind of day.

About mid-day we made it to Harriman State Park. I really enjoyed our time in this park because of the grass undergrowth. It was a change of scenery we hadn’t seen before. The terrain in the park didn’t let up to what we had been doing all day. At one point I had to lift my pack up to Erik so I could climb up without the bulk of the pack. It was a tiring and long day, and I was happy to get our tent set up right at sunset.

The civil engineer in me got way too excited about these water tanks. I immediately started pointing out different features to Erik. My dad (also a civil engineer) had hiked this section with my younger brother a few weeks prior. When I mentioned the water tanks to him later he said he had told my brother similar things that I explained to Erik when they had walked past the tanks. I am my father’s daughter.

Day 135: IDK ft ascent (thank you detours), 14.9 trail miles

We were going to be racing some afternoon rain all day. There were two detours on our route today: the first detour takes hikers to a bridge overpass, eliminating a dangerous pedestrian crossing of a busy four lane highway, the second detour would bypass the flood-stricken trail in Bear Mountain State Park.

Another milestone down!

There was a trail closed sign at the entrance to the trail in Bear Mountain. I had heard and read in multiple places that the trail was open to thru hikers and the damage to the trail wasn’t any worse than other places on the trail we had traversed. We opted to take the road walk. With the incoming rain, I was worried we would have a higher chance of falling on some rocks and needing rescue. Small chance, but if we were on a closed trail and that happened, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for the rescue costs.

Flooding aftermath we saw while detouring around Bear Mountain.

The disaster zone was incredible when we walked through. I was thankful we were not on the trail in this area during the storm.

We had made a reservation a few days prior at the Bear Mountain Bridge Motel. As we finished our road walk around Bear Mountain, we called the motel and coordinated a pickup from the trail. It started sprinkling as we waiting outside of the closed zoo for our ride, perfect timing. I don’t know how many miles we hiked or how much elevation we climbed, but we had almost 15 trail miles in by 1:30 p.m. and we were dry and showered for the first time in 11 days.

I love my gym family at Sweat Club back home in Chattanooga! The owner Dawn sent us a goodie box that was a welcome change to the foods and snacks we normally find on the trail.

Day 136: 3,500 ft ascent, 15.1 miles

The morning started with a road walk across a beautiful bridge. I love bridges, and this one was no exception. We crossed high above the Hudson River in the morning sun. I made Erik wait for me as I read all of the signs about the history of the construction.

I work on sewers as part of my job back home. Of course the trail reminded me of my job by having a manhole in the middle of the trail.

Our stretch mileage goal for the day would get us to a shelter by a lake, but by late afternoon we knew we would need to figure out a Plan B.

There weren’t many options. Scratch that, there was only one option: a designated campsite in a parking lot with questionable reviews in my app. There were multiple warnings about groups coming in and disturbing the campsite after dark. Wonderful.

We got there and scoped it out. There was already one other hiker set up. Even though it was a Friday night, we decided to risk staying there instead of hiking into the night in the dark. Soon after we got set up, the other hiker left after finding a place to sleep indoors that night. So much for safety in numbers.

Right at nightfall our excitement started. At least four different vehicles parked, and a bunch of guys got out and started hanging out and talking. They all spoke Spanish, and we didn’t know what they were doing.

I downloaded google translate on my phone and started trying to listen in to see if we needed to be concerned. We decided from the conversations they were workers in the construction industry who had just gotten off of work. After about 45 minutes of this, they all suddenly got into their vehicles and drove away. We have no clue why, but were happy to hear them leave. We never felt threatened, but they were loud enough we couldn’t sleep. Luckily we had no other commotion after that for the evening and we were able to get some sleep.

Day 137: 3,170 ft ascent, 15.8 miles

The best thing about not making it to the shelter on the lake the night before: we would get there today while the state park concession stand was open! I love getting random hot meals on the trail between towns. We got there and I promptly ordered a hot dog, chicken tenders, and a Gatorade. It was so good I went back and ordered the same thing a second time.

We seem to run into random historical places on the trail more often as we move through the mid-Atlantic.

We left the park and were headed to a pizza shop/deli off of the trail that evening. I had read online that the pizza shop lets hikers camp behind the store. There were minimal camping options along the trail in that area around the mileage we wanted to go besides this pizza shop.

I think all of the blazes allocated for New York were in this single stretch of woods.

As we were on the way I put my pole down taking a typical step and the strap I hold on to broke! Of course, it was a Friday evening, so I would have to wait until Monday to try to call Black Diamond to see if they could help under warranty. I loved these poles and had gone through trying out three other pairs before landing on these. I hoped I could find a solution, but until then I would have to carry the pole itself. Very annoying.

We got to the pizza shop as clouds started rolling in. Erik likes to fast in the evenings, so I ordered a pizza for myself as we sat inside charging our phones and batteries. The clouds quickly built into a strong thunderstorm. We sat in the pizza shop for a few hours until they closed letting the strong storm roll through before setting up our tent. By the time 8:50 rolled around most of the strong winds were by. We stood under the porch in our packas until the rain calmed down enough to get our tent up without getting soaked.

Day 138: 2,720 ft ascent, 16.5 miles

When we woke up, I went to the deli for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I hadn’t slept well, so fresh coffee was a well needed treat. I brought coffee back to Erik in the tent. Normally he gets up first, so I was happy I got myself up and out early enough to treat him to coffee in bed (or at least our camping equivalent).

Another heavy storm had blown through overnight that had kept me awake for a while, so I was operating on little sleep. I decided to get a deli sandwich to go as a treat to myself. I was finding the more I deli-blazed the more energy I had on the trail. I probably wasn’t eating enough, but I was doing the best I could.

The day was one of our worst for mosquitos. I was desperate to get into the tent and escape them by the end of the night. I learned a new skill that evening: doing a little shake while I pee so the mosquitos don’t bite the exposed skin. This was a new skill I didn’t anticipate needing but perfected quickly. I was ready to be out of mosquito territory ASAP. Tomorrow we would get to Connecticut. It was probably wishful thinking, but I hoped the state line would mean new terrain and maybe less mosquitos.  

Sometimes I just stop and appreciate the clouds and blue skies and green grass along the trail.

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