Possum and Ukelady Are Saved By Family Visits
Possum here with a family filled trail update!
Day 151: August 25th – 7.5 miles
Milk, donuts, and cartoons. That is how we started our morning. Civilization is awesome. We didn’t get back to the trail until around noon. There were huge rocks again, but this time there were also side trails to bypass said rocks of which Ukelady took full advantage when she could.
We ended up finding a stealth spot to camp (shhh! don’t tell New York) sooner than we would have otherwise because we were dead tired. I threw up the hammock and we napped for a solid hour before setting up the tent for the night.
We felt rejuvenated by our miles decision yesterday. I know a lot of people come to the woods for an escape, but when the woods are your norm they often become the thing you need an escape from.
Day 152: August 26th – 7 miles
We let ourselves take a leisurely morning to recuperate from being tired all of yesterday, and started hiking around 12:40 PM. The water situation in NY at this point is dire. There are few good sources so we mostly rely on Trail Angels leaving jugs of water at the road crossings or in bear boxes. Today they were mostly picked clean except for one pile of gallon jugs left by the Tuxedo Trail Angels. Thanks!
The hike itself had lots of rocks to climb. I’m sorry. Let me rephrase that. The hike itself had lots of rocks to scale. There. That’s more accurate. There was a moment where I had to lift and hold myself against the side of one rock, and then swing (SWING!) my legs to another rock and twist my body in one motion so that I could wedge myself between rocks and then push myself up onto where the trail continued. Ukelady took the bypass.
I feel at home with rocks and boulders. Sometimes (okay, all of the time), I feel like Legolas when he traverses on top of the snow with ease and grace, leaving the hobbits and dwarf behind.
We went through an area called the “Lemon Squeezer” which was like trying to get into Willy Wonka’s factory. Then we immediately stopped to stealth camp (seriously, don’t tell New York).
Day 153: August 27th – 3.5 miles
Up and Atom! This morning we left at 7:30 AM (a personal best!) to meet my mother, younger sister, older sister, nephew, and niece at Lake Tiorati. I was super excited about this day not only because it would be great to see my family, but because I had a present to give to my nephew, Leonidas, who is three years old. I whittled him a walking stick over a week ago. I even carved his name into it. Well, just “LEO.” I didn’t want to continue risking an accidental stabbing. He loved it and spent the rest of the day walking with it.
They took us to Bear Mountain where we rented pedal boats, walked through the zoo, and toasted vegan marshmallows with a creme brule torch for s’mores. It was a perfect day. I’m so thankful that we get to see our family and friends so often on this hike. In fact, our next two weekends are booked with more visits. I hope they realize how much of a blessing it is that we see them during our journey.
They drove us to the Graymoor Spiritual Center which is fantastic. We had a great night playing games, eating, and listening to music with Mrs. Dash, a fellow NoBo who we kept running into for a couple of days.
Day 154: August 28th – 9 miles
Today is our five month trailversary! We celebrated by having bagels with chocolate peanut butter and bananas for breakfast and vegan s’mores for dessert!
The hike was boring so we listened to musicals for the last part of it. Stealth camped again. One of these days we will sleep in a shelter. This entry is not exciting (except for the milestone) because sometimes hiking is not exciting.
Day 155: August 29th – 6 miles
The day started out great. We hiked four miles to a lakeside beach. We claimed some land for our packs and the family next to us gave us ice cold bottles of water. I ordered a triple bacon cheeseburger from concessions, and boy, did this kid make it right. There was some concern over whether or not it would fall over, but he did a beautiful job. One of the best burgers one the trail.
We swam in the lake for a bit. It was cold so we didn’t stay in too long. The exciting thing was the hot showers afterwards anyway. We came to a beach and were excited mostly for showers and food. Ah, trail life.
Right now, I do not care to talk about what happened as we left the beach. I will say that we didn’t make it to out planned shelter and stealth camped, yet again, two miles from the beach.
Day 156: August 30th – 3 miles
That was bad. We talked this morning about why everything fell apart so quickly after we left the beach. It turns out that we have been out in the woods long enough. The stress of what has become our lives was catching up with us. When people ask Ukelady why she decided to do the trail, one of her responses is that she wants to live like she is on vacation. Only a vacation eventually ends, hopefully leaving you wanting more. We want less of this. Much less. We decided to cut our planned stop time by ten days. We’d end in Vermont around September 19th where my sister and her family will spend a weekend with us to celebrate and then bring us home for good.
Hiking is no longer the grand adventure it was before Harpers Ferry. After that we had no real goal other than to hike for a period of time. But we find ourselves going to more and more hostels and restaurants spending more and more money on comforts we didn’t need as frequently before. So it’s time to call it and give ourselves something to look forward to. The end.
Our hike today ended at the RPH Shelter which is fantastic. Supposedly you can order delivery here. However, every place we called was either closed, didn’t deliver, or on vacation. Them’s the brakes. A fellow NoBo we hadn’t seen since Stanimal’s Hostel showed up and we had a lovely time sharing the last our vegan s’mores.
Day 156: August 31st – 5 miles
Given our conversation last night we were in no rush. We stayed in the morning long enough for the Chinese delivery place to open and placed our order for breakfast/lunch. I had been craving Chinese for a while now. It was glorious.
We gave ourselves five miles to go before we hit a deli/pizzeria that would allow tenting (and, obviously, pizza). Both were great and we could even charge our electronics. Bonus. The tenting area was an abandoned, yet still immaculately mowed, piece of green not far down the road and next to a concrete packing facility. Industry! If we wake up heavier, I blame the factory.
Day 157: September 1st – 9 miles
We got breakfast at the deli: everything bagel with egg, sausage, ham, and bacon. It was heavenly. Ukelady even bought us a piece of crumb cake. So sweet.
This blog is no longer a chronicle of our trials or triumphs. It is essentially a list of things we ate that is sometimes interrupted by hiking. The interesting moment of today was meeting Ralph of Ralph’s Peak Hiker Shelter which we stayed at a few nights ago. He was a really interesting guy with a ton of stories. He is also in the National Geographic documentary about the AT.
We stealth camped again. We give up, New York.
Day 158: September 2nd – 5.5 miles
Water is scarce. It has been since coming back to the trail after Harpers Ferry. We no longer rely on the book to tell us of natural sources like springs and streams, they are dry or just plain gross. We instead have been relying mostly on Trail Angels leaving jugs at road crossings or businesses who would let us use their spigots. Today was the first day that a water source we were counting on was dry. Our guide mentioned a house in which the owners let hikers fill at the outside spigot, but when we got there the house was for sale and the water was turned off. Neither of us had more than half a liter, and now we had to go over two miles to a Garden Center that promised water (if they were open). It doesn’t sound that bad, but today was particularly hot and we hiked through a shadeless open field for a good chunk. Ukelady saved the day by playing a game with me to pass the time and the hike flew by. Eventually we got to the Garden Center and they were open, had water, and let us charge stuff.
Just before we got to the Garden Center we had to cross railroad tracks. We had crossed many tracks on our hike, however, these were very special. They are part of the Metro-North Transit Authority (MTA), which is the train system I grew up with in Westchester, NY. I took it to high school, friends houses, and NYC. It was really neat to see the Appalachian Trail stop; a stop I didn’t know existed before this trip.
We walked 0.6 miles off trail to get to Tony’s Deli. They let us tent on the property, charge devices, and access their wifi. Also, they make a mean bacon and cheese dog. Our tent space, however, is right between the busy NY 22 and the booming MTA railroad tracks. A train just passed us and it shook the ground beneath our tent. Ukelady informed me that she may or may not wake up screaming if that happens while she is asleep. Fun!
Day 159: September 3rd – 10.4 miles
Not. Fun. The trains and traffic were constant all night. At various points during the night (and morning) the distant sound of tires, or an industrial whistle, would send a slow warning our way, whispering in our ears, instructing us to prepare for the inevitable sonic boom. Although it was terrible (and at one point I thought someone was trying to get in our tent only to realize it was just the wind flapping the door and Ukelady shifting in her bag simultaneously), it still wasn’t the worst night on the trail.
We woke up excited at the promise of breakfast and more internet. Ukelady got french toast and I got a bagel sandwich behemoth. We hiked back to the Garden Center and refilled our bottles. I also took a cold shower that was super refreshing and long overdue. We hiked on from there and the trail opened up into a field for a bit before throwing us into the thickest of brush. It was awful.
We planned on doing over ten miles today and darn it all if we didn’t do just that. We got to our destination shelter just before 6 PM and had a casual evening.
Day 160: September 4th – 8.5 miles
This morning we got a surprise visitor: Float! We saw him a few times early on in our hike and apparently he ended up flip flopping. We expected to run unto a few people like this, but he’s the first one so far.
This hike, though shorter than yesterday, was twice as hard. It was full of hills and hot rocky trail. There were some good views though.
Oh, and, no big deal, but we saw a blimp!
We made it to the next shelter a little later than I would have liked, but at least we got here at all.
Day 161: September 5th – 1.2 miles
What a glorious day. We got ready and left the tent early because we were meeting my sister, brother-in-law, and their two kids in Kent, CT. The walk to Kent only took us forty minutes, and we sat in Backcountry Outfitters to wait for our guests/saviors.
They took us to Kent Falls which was a lovely little park with a walking path that follows the tiered falls all the way up to the top.
After climbing the falls and building a few balanced rock piles in the stream we spread out on the lawn below and had a wonderful picnic complete with watermelon.
Afterwards, we walked through downtown Kent which was nice but, as my sister put it, “foofy.” Hoity toity, if you will. However, we did learn from the owner of the outfitters that the infamous laundromat lady has mellowed out and now allows hikers to do their laundry at her establishment once again. Don’t screw it up this time, us! So we washed a long long loooong overdue batch of clothes before we resupplied at the grocery.
We once again requested to be yellow-blazed further north than they picked us up so we could make our next weekend visitation in time.
It was wonderful to have them take the time to see us and to realize that this blog is bookended by visits from family. I love them a whole heck of a lot.
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