New York, Awesome Vendors, and CT plus surprise hospital zero days

Well just as an update I made it through the state of New York. Right before going through New York I read an article that said that a big part of the difficulty of New York was based on the weather when most NOBOs go through on their hike. I had quite a few other happenings that contributed to my New York adventure. I’ll start off by saying New York has some great sceneary and nice hiking especially compared to that state that starts with a P that my feet still ache to hear it’s name. I hit the NJ/NY, a spray painted line with a lot of motovation. 

The day we were going to the border I saw 3 or maybe 4 bears playing near the trail. I was promised bear density in NJ but man did it deliver. (Bear below distance from trail also pictured)

I went into my first resupply in NY in the town of Warwick, NY. This town is not hyped up in AWOL or Guthooks but it has a nice reasonable hotel, Warwick motel(free laundry soap included ) and the hotel is in walking distance of a down town district that has a variety of super nice(way above hiker stamdard) restaurants. The icing on the Warwick cake is you can catch a ride from the Bellview creamery( short walk from trail which you do anyways because well ice cream) to town for $1.60 one way.

(View from creamery)

I had to go to Warwick initially to pick up a replacement top quilt for my hammock. I was using mine and one of the snaps ripped   off. I contacted the vendor, hammock gear, and they sent me a replacement as soon as they could make one. I have several products from hammock gear and like them all they are good products made in the USA and most importantly they stand behind their products . I had a slight issue with one of other products early on in my hike and they shipped me a replacement immediately and informed me that they were there to support thru hikers and they had me covered. So far they have met or exceeded my customer service expectations . Check them out if you are in the market for hammock stuff. LinkHammock Gear

After getting all my gear worked out I headed into New York. You hike through a cool state park the first part of NY. We pulled a long day to avoid Fingerboard shelter since it has a recent reputation for bears that like food and don’t scare easy. We pulled a longer than normal for is 21 mile day into the next shelter. Since it was late we set up in some tress over some rocks since all the flat level spots were taken up by ground sleepers . When I set my hammock up it was low but not touching the rocks. That night it rained a lot, to the point that the tent spots flooded. The next morning it was still raining so my hiking partner and I choose to wait for a break in the rain to head out. I put my insulation away and laid in my pretty much brand new hammock. I believe the straps stretched a little or tightened to allow the hammock to touch the rocks while I was setting in it. When this happened I saw a hole followed by a rapid exit through the bottom of my new hammock. (Sadness pictures below)

So I was in a position no thru hiker wants to be in. Out in the woods no shelter on a Friday in the middle of NY. Luckily I had service so I went full hail Mary and asked the vendor, Dutch Wear, if there was anything they could to to help someone who just cheese grated one of their hammocks out. They literally started making a new, thicker at their request and my approval , hammock to ship out one day shipping if I paid shipping . I had no issue paying shipping since one I don’t sleep on the ground and two it was somewhat my fault and they were pretty much bending over backwards to help me out. There was only one problem, no carrier would deliver on Saturday even one day. I was looking at two zero days and having my hiking partner for hundreds of miles moving on. 

Cue the trail magic.

My email traffic with the Dutchwear empoyee was intercepted by none other than Dutch himself. He refused to make me wait two days to get a replacement and offered to drive the new hammock to me in NY from PA on a Saturday. If you take nothing else from this update know this.

Dutch stands 100% behind his products and his customer service for me far exceeded any customer service I’ve ever received. I look forward to being his customer for a long time. If you need hammocks or tarps or lots of cool stuff check out Dutch Wear.

After getting my new hammock I was off in search of CT, the gateway to new England.  My first step was back to the trail through the trail side zoo. I expected to see the animals sad but then I saw the bears had a hammock. Oh he was happy. No one can be sad in a hammock . It’s science . Ask any hammock if he hasn’t told you after 5 minutes of meeting you. Proof below.

On my way to CT I saw the Dover Oak. It’s the biggest tree on the AT. I didn’t use an artsy filter I just had a smudge on my iPhone lens. Orange traffic barrel in bottom right for size reference.

After hiking in rain and very humid weather I made it to CT and was gaining some hill hiking legs back.

In Appalachian trials Zach tells you that the crap will hit the fan and to expect it maybe even embrace it. I expected all my gear things were one of my poop fans. Turns out I was wrong.

I pushed into CT to go to my first CT resupply. On my walk to the town of Kent I got bitten by something in my ankle. The pain was so intense I almost feel down. I looked at my ankle and couldn’t find the cause of the pain. I walked into Kent and used their awesome shower to clean up and then put some Neosporin on the ankle area. I felt ok and there was no hostel or legal place to stay in town so I went up the trail a little from Kent and camped.

The next day we walked most of the day and after doing several hills I pushed on to a creek to get water and wash the bite area off to put hydrocortisone on the area to reduce the redness I was noticing. ( First pic below taken at the creek before camp)

I kept walking to camp. When I got there I could feel the area had started to sweel. I thought it was an allergic reaction so I took benadryl and planned to go to bed and look at the area in the morning. When I got to camp I was dizy but thought that was due to hiking with a full resupply in the super humid weather. After I had all my chores I washed my leg off and looked at it again. The redness had spread up my leg and was much worse.

At this point I knew I needed a second opinion on the severity of what was up. Luckily I had service and sent the picture to a my mom and asked her if she knew if I was allergic any insects. She sent the picture to her friend, a highly competent registered nurse, and her friend said it appeared that the leg may be infected and I needed to go to the doctor ASAP.

I was skeptical but then it started looking worse and the swelling continued . I made the decesion to pack up and head down to the road we crossed to get a ride to town to get it looked at by someone with fancy letters before or after their name. I told my hiking partner exactly where I was going to get a ride and that I would update him when I got into town. I loaded my pack at 8 and basically ran down the mountain to get a ride into town. My SOBO retreat led me to a paved road that went to a community that was for drug rehab. I was in the middle of the CT woods with what I thought was an allergic reaction so I knocked on the door with hopes I could get a ride or at least get a lead on a local cab. For various reasons most of the residents here were not allowed to leave even though there was a hospital about 15 minutes away. I asked the supervisor and she was alone and couldnt leave. It looked like I was about to have to call a fast ride to the ER. At this time for whatever reason one of the guys said they just got out of a meeting and some of the attendees were just visiting and heading home. He walked me car by car until we found a gentleman willing to give a dirty random hiker a ride to the hospital at 9 at night. This guy was pure trail magic and refused to accept money that I offered him.

When I got to the hospital my leg looked even worse.

After one looked at my leg the ER doctor said I had to be admitted and it wasn’t an option. I got lots of fluids and IV anti biotics to address my leg. The good news was they did a test for Lyme and it was negative. The bad news was my leg was infected and I had to stay for them to give me more antibotocs and make sure the condition didn’t worsen.

I had made it 1484 miles with not even a sniffle and here I was admitted to the hospital. I don’t think the North is trying to kill me but it seemed that way. I spent two nights in the hospital and they released me with the stipulation I come back in a few days to make sure the medicine they gave me is working. I can’t wait to get back on my 705 miles left.

Just for full disclosure on some questions or comments that may come up regarding what I did to prevent insect bites or the irritation that caused the infection.

I treated the socks I was wearing with permethrin. I was wearing ankle socks and really enjoy shorter socks to keep my feet cool. I had pircatdian bug spray on my legs at the time but CT was so humid contributing to my super sweat so it may have not been effective to prevent an insect bite. The only time I have hiked in pants is rain pants when it rained and one day early on in my hike where it had snowed. I think wearing pants in new England would cause me to over heat almost immediately. I have gotten a heat rash working out in just shorts. I plan to wear some longer socks to protect the area while it heals but have no plans to start hiking in pants and a long sleeve shirt unless the weather gets much cooler. 

I am happy to be getting better and hope to see some new faces of those I was a little ahead of on my way to Maine!

Thanks to all the great people in Sharon, CT who helped out a hiker in need!

(That’s not where a pack goes!)

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