The rain came in about 9PM and poured heavily throughout most of the night. We are very okay with this since New York needs it badly. It’s also our first time dealing with a wet tent in a long time but luckily within 4 miles of our hike we came to some rock ledges that allowed us to spread it out and the tent dried quickly.
The terrain was similar with rolling hills and many road crossings. We saw more water caches and are grateful trail angels are keeping it going for the SOBOs.
The day seemed to melt away as we cranked out the miles. We made it to our camping spot for the night but first we did something that a thru-hikers tries never to do…we walked an extra 1.5 miles before stopping at the campsite. Our reason for doing this? You guessed it…FOOD. Just a half mile ahead on the trail was Deli #3. We walked the half mile and had a nice hot dinner, charged our phones and stocked up on cold drinks. The best part we have to walk by the deli again tomorrow morning and can get a hot breakfast.
We headed back the half mile on the trail and then walked another half mile off the trail to camp in a unique area. The Graymoor Spiritual Center allows thru-hikers to camp on their property, specifically the baseball field. The center is a ministry of Franciscan Friars with many chapels and buildings on the property. They have allowed thru-hikers to camp on site since 1970.
We made our way to the ballfield and were happy to see picnic tables, a cold shower stall and sink. We set up our tent in center field, Eric’s favorite position in baseball.
We were happy that the night is much, much cooler with an enjoyable temperature. The humidity of the past few weeks seems to have broken. We enjoyed listening to the bell tower chimes and looking up at the starry night.
This morning we had a quick cup of coffee, packed up and started to walk around Graymoor Spiritual Center. We enjoyed seeing the various architecture of the multiple stone chapels, sculptures, and outdoor spaces. We passed a votive candle station and lit a candle in memory of Eric’s mom. We also took moment to think about her as she was so influential and supportive of our hiking.
We descended down to road (again) for breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and mini resupply. This will sadly be our last deli in New York but we do pass several more deli’s in New Jersey. While eating breakfast we met another SOBO, Field Medic who is planning to attend medical school at Navy. We enjoyed chatting with him about our experiences. We are far enough into the trail that we have met some of the same people hiking south. It was an interesting moment to hear familiar names as the SOBO journey isn’t the most social as it’s easy to lose each when someone goes to town or hikes a bigger/smaller day. It was nice to hear some of the SOBOs we had been friendly with are still on trail.
Once full and resupplied we continued hiking south. The trail crossed over the Hudson River and then literally through the Trailside Zoo. Unfortunately, the animals in the zoo were not present because they are doing some construction but since the AT crosses through the zoo they left a gate open for us. While it wasn’t the fun lunch break we were hoping for, we did get some ice cream sandwiches from a vending machine.
The trail then goes past Hessian Lake and up Bear Mountain, the tallest peak on the AT in New York. Hessian Lake had a large recreational area that we could imagine many mid century families coming to enjoy, the feel was very Mrs. Maiselesque. The climb up Bear Mountain was well graded with a lot of stone steps. The heat was present but the humidity was much more tolerable.
We enjoyed taking a long lunch at the summit and could see the NYC skyline in the distance. We walked up the tower and read some of the history of the land preserve. We were happy that such efforts had been made to keep nature wild.
The trail continued to meander over the many pointless ups and downs offering minimal views. The downside to the easier terrain is you don’t always get those stunning views like you do up north. We then came an frustratingly long re-route to avoid a crossing on the Palisade Parkway. We contemplated just continuing on the trail but decided against it just in case it was impassable and we would have to back track. We later found out from another SOBO that most thru-hikers have not been taking the reroute due to how frustrating it is (ugh). One might think if the trail maintainers are going to great lengths to re-route they might blaze the trail (the AT relies heavily on blazed/marks along the trail). This proved to be a false notion. We would often stop and question if we were still on trail. Glad we have the FarOut app for guidance as it has GPS location to keep us on track.
Once re-routed back onto the AT, we were happy to see another water cache. We have been so grateful and lucky to have such consistent trail angels as the water sources have been so scarce. At the summit of Black Mountain we were rewarded with excellent views of the NYC skyline. A few miles from where we planned to camp, this view was too good to pass up. We set up camp at the summit and enjoyed a nice sunset and watched the skyline light up.
There was also enough cell service for Eric to participate in his fantasy football draft in a league with friends from high school. He was in his happy place drafting on top of a mountain with the city glittering in the distance. These unique experiences really make the AT so special.
PS. ESPN has projected him to win his league!
We enjoyed our morning coffee on top of Black Mountain looking at the NYC skyline. Field Medic passed us and said he camped about a 100 yards south. He too could not pass up the view.
Once on trail, we hiked to Tiorati Lake which offered a nice spot for second breakfast and a place to charge phones and fill up water. Hayley connected with her parents to finalizing plans for Sunday.
Feeling rested we set off to continue hiking south. Shortly after, the trail goes through the lemon squeezer, which is a tight pass through two large boulders. We question why this needed to be on the AT as there is a much easier way to pass by the boulders just 20 feet away.
The PUDs of New York continue. Next up was “agony grind”, one of steepest sections in New York, but we moved quickly up it. One of the perks of being 2 months into the trail is the “agony” is nothing in comparison to the early days. We continued on and had some green views of the surrounding countryside.
We planned to camp on Mombasha High Point but the spots were not great. Also, not much of a view in comparison to the one on Black Mountain the previous night so we continued south a found a flat spot just off the trail to set up camp. The good thing about being in the Mid-Atlantic is the camping is much easier to find. We are able to change our camping plans on a dime down here.
We slept very soundly and woke up much later than anticipated, 8AM. No need to rush though, we are starting our much needed two days of minimal hiking: a nero today and a zero tomorrow. Our last zero was 11 days ago at Upper Goose in MA and our last nero was pushing a month ago in Hanover, NH.
We left camp at 9:30AM and enjoyed some views from Cat Rocks. The terrain was a bit rocky at times but otherwise well graded. Around 11:30AM we finished our hike for the day at a road crossing and walked the .1 Bellvale Creamery. With a little time to spare before they open, we started charging our phones at a designated hiker station and figuring out the best way to get to the drive-in. Oh did we forget to mention we are camping at a multi screen drive-in tonight! Again we cannot stress enough how fun and unique this trail can be.
We were first in line for ice cream, we got salted caramel and blueberry buckle. An hour later we went back for banana split. The ice cream was just as delicious as advertised. It has over a 200 year history as a dairy farm and they are recognized as some of the best in the world according to trip advisor.
We got a ride from Bellvale creamery and set up our camp at the back of the Warwick Drive-In. We enjoyed ciders, pizza, and live music at Pennings Farm which is conveniently located down the street from the drive-in.
We picked up some more snacks at a nearby grocery store and headed back to the drive-in. When we got back to our tent a handful of other hikers had set up. We saw Soups and Sparrow who leap frogged us earlier today. 8pm rolled around and the movies started! We collected our portable radio and had our pick of three movies at 8 and then another 3 at 9:30. We ended up watching Spiderman and Bullet Train.
We signed in with the manager as we walked into the drive-in and he said in 2022 alone he has had hikers from 49 states and 14 countries camp at the drive-in. That is one of the reasons we love the trail, it brings so many people together. There is no better place to take a Nero or zero than at the Warwick drive-in.
We have enjoyed the last few days in New York that have offered some unique experiences. We are excited to continue our journey into the Mid-Atlantic!
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