Welcome To The Hotel California
A common theme I hear of past thru hikers is that they wished they slowed down on the trail, spent more days in the towns they had never been to, and taken more zero days.
With that in mind, Michelle and I decided we were not going to fall into the category of hikers with those regrets. When we started our trip, we said we would complete it in no less than 6 months. We saved up enough money to take a year off if need be and quit our jobs, so why not smell the roses. If we want to stop after 12 miles in, we stop. If we want to take a 2 hour long break for swimming and relaxing, we do it. And if an opportunity arises to do something interesting, we take it. It’s because of this mind set that I am now writing this post while laying in a water bed at a beautiful lake community outside of Vernon NJ.
Two days ago we were sitting at Pochuck Mountain Shelter with the company of Bigfoot, Foodbag, Bond and many others when a section hiker, Jan, strolled in and sat with us. We chatted for a little while, and like a magician, Jan reached into his pack and whipped out a 12 pack of beer. It was truly love at first sight. We drank and chatted for a while longer, and then the real magic started. Jan invited us to stay with his family at his lake house the next night instead of the Vernon hostel. His only stipulations were we had to shower, wash our clothes and drink copious amounts of alcohol. We didn’t take more than 5 seconds to say yes. In hindsight he could have been a serial killer, his sales pitch the adult version of free candy inside of his van, and we took the bait.
We are thoroughly happy we did though. We have fished, swam, boated, attended a community meeting, hung out with Broadway actors, ate great food, and drank our fill. We were even invited to stay the whole weekend and spent Fathers Day at a mansion with a pool and catered buffet. I think we’re apart of the family now.
To me, this is what hiking the trail is truly about. The mountains aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so why not enjoy all of the side adventures along the way. Shit, we’re going to be in NYC in 3 days time where we will take another 3 days off the trail to stuff our faces in Chinatown and visit with family. It has taken us nearly two weeks to go from mile 300 to mile 400, and we’re just fine with that.
So if I can give any piece of advice to future thru hikers, take your time and do fun/weird/crazy shit any chance you get out here, because the trail ain’t going anywhere.
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