New York, New York
After receiving my free “hiker beer” from the package store, I walk to the local grocery to resupply and grab a veggie burger for dinner. After hearing the devastating news of the passing of a dear friend I spend the remainder of the day laying in bed watching southpark and crying. I know out here that I don’t have the support system I would back home and I have to work through this on my own. Since getting on the trail I’ve become so much more self reliant. I am able to self soothe and pick myself up (sometimes literally) when I’m down or hurt. The next day Mr. Patel gives me a ride back to the trail head and I head out. After a short ascent I enjoy the nice flat terrain alongside the Housatonic River. It’s such a beautiful day I decide to go down to the river for some sunbathing and meditation. I think of my friend and her family and send them thoughts of healing love. As I continue on I start up a rock scramble. I’m reminded of Maine using a hand over hand method and I welcome the challenge. At the top I enjoy a beautiful view feeling blessed as I take in the beautiful colors of fall. I pass a girl finishing the last couple hundred miles of her thru hike, that I met originally in the whites. It’s always cool to see people I had never expected to run into again. I arrive in Kent, CT around 5pm. I hurry into town and get to the tea store I’ve been dreaming about since I arrived in CT. They have kombucha on tap and I am filled with delight as I fill my glass. I resupply at the local grocery then sit at the hiker-friendly ice cream parlor, charge my phone, and chat with the boy working there. I get a raspberry sorbet and buy a new pocket knife as I’ve somehow misplaced mine. I hike out of town and to the shelter .3 off the road. There’s a flip flopper there, Otter who is planning a trip to meet his friend in NYC. I have similar plans myself. The next day I cross the border into NY. I meet two hikers heading south, Old Bull and Ginger Tiger. Ginger Tiger is a British man close to my age hiking until mid October. Old bull is finishing his thru hike today. I shorten my planned mileage to enjoy their company. We hike up Ten Mile Hill and enjoy the view and talk with a couple day hiking about the life of a thru hiker. We arrive at Hoyt road where Old Bull’s wife and friends meet him. They come bearing gifts of sodas and beers and tell us to have at it! We take pictures and enjoy this beautiful moment of accomplishment with him. They take Old Bull into town for a celebratory diner and leave Ginger Tiger and I with a few beers to pack out and the rest we leave as trail magic for other hikers. As we chat and finish our beers another hiker approaches. She introduces herself as Dick Tracey. The three of us hike onward to the next shelter. She’s very interested in the vegan lifestyle and I answer all the questions she has. We have a great evening chatting and laughing through the night. A young man is at the campsite in from the city. He clashes with our group immediately. He refers to homosexuals as ‘degenrates’ and when I jokingly say hail ‘seitan’ he walks away. We laugh off his cold demeanor until he comes over just after the sun sets in a rage telling us we need to shut up and stop our cackling. This is the only time on trail that I’m glad I have a knife and a man with me. Most people on the trail are kind, happy, accepting people but this guy is clearly off. The next day he doesn’t leave his tent until the three of us hike out. We hike to Native Landscapes & Garden Center where we charge our phones, enjoy iced tea, and The Grateful Dead radio station playing. Dick Tracey and I hike the .6 to Tony’s Deli for sandwiches and the ATM and Ginger Tiger hikes on. After our filling meal Dick Tracey and I hike to the Appalachian Trail Station. We are taking the train into Manhattan. We wait and wait and eventually come to find out that the tracks are under construction and that there is a bus coming instead. We wait for the bus with some day hikers in from the city. We answer their questions and even meet and aspiring thru hiker. The excitement in his eyes reminds me of myself before starting and I am proud to answer any of his questions and inspire him. The bus takes us to the Southeast station and we board the train into the city. Dick Tracey has never been to the city before and I am excited to experience this with her. We arrive at Grand Central Terminal around 8pm. Dick Tracey is blown away by all of the people. We see some show girls being addressed by the police for their scantily clad ensembles. Our first stop is coffee! We then set off in search of a place to charge our phones. We sit on the station floor drinking our coffees and charging up and I share some of the songs I’ve been writing. The acoustics in the station are perfectl and I quickly gain the attention of those passing by. One man carries a cello and gives me his card suggesting we collaborate musically. Once we have a bit of a charge on our phones we take to the streets of Manhattan. We walk through times square and sweet Dick Tracey is overwhelmed by the panhandlers, giving money or food to most of them, bless her heart. We go to Hells Kitchen 2 Boots pizza for dinner and I eat an entire pizza to myself. Dick Tracey is heading up to Maine to summit before the park closes so I help her book the Greyhound and walk her to the station after dinner. Once we say our goodbyes I take the subway to Queens where my friend’s dad and his fiance meet me. They have offered their home to me for the evining. I am so provided for. They set up an air mattress for me, make me a cocktail, and give me a towel for an AM shower. They even give me a portable phone charger something I’ve been wanting but couldn’t justify the purchase. After a refreshing nights rest I awake to the sound of rain outside the window and lay in bed enjoying one of my favorite ways to spend a morning. After I shower and put away my bed I set to the streets of Queens. My first stop is the flea market. I find a thrift store where I’m able to find a new hiking shirt, camp shoes, and a puffy jacket all for under $20. Next I go to the international market to resupply on food. A stranger offers me their home tonight and I politely decline. My final stop is my favorite restaurant of all time Champs Diner. They have all the comfort American foods that are hard to find as a vegan. I opt for the biscuits and gravy with home fries, coffee, and an ice cream sundae all vegan! I make my way back to Grand Central Terminal getting a kombucha for the “road.” I somehow miss the first train along with a group of British teenagers but make the second one. I leave my metro card with a note saying “I have one ride left!” hoping that someone can use it. I arrive at southeast station and wait almost 2 hours for the bus to Pawling. By the the time I reach Pawling station it’s almost 11pm. There is no bus to the Appalachian Trail Station so I set to walking. Another man offers me his home for the evening and I again decline. The walk is quiet an peaceful. I walk past a cemetery, initially a little creeper out, but then I look up to the stars and and comforted remembering we are all part of the same “star stuff.” I arrive to Tony’s Deli around 11:20pm and buy a $2pm tent spot and set up for the night. Despite the highway on one side and the trains rolling by on the other I sleep quite well. The next day I return to the garden center to refill my water and hike out. I meet a man on trail that introduces himself as the Mad Hatter. He’s finishing up the last couple hundred miles of his section hike. We end up at the next shelter where my friend has hidden 4 rubber duckies for me to find. I only find one of them suspecting that the others walked away with day hikers. I meet two young boys and their father and they help me build a fire. They are so excited exclaiming, “I love watching wood burn!!!” Someone has left a bottle of tequila as trail magic so the Hatter and I enjoy some helping to warm us in the cold night. The next day water sources are very dry as NY experiences a drought. Some beautiful trail angel’s have left gallons of water for us hikers, what a blessing. I hike to RPH Shelter where the local pizza parlor delivers to hikers! My good friend Hatter is there and he buys us pizza! *Trail magic* The next day we hike to Clarence Fahnestock State Park. I use the lake to attempt to repair a rip in my sleeping pad, an attempt that fails unfortunately. I email fox outfitters in an attempt to get a replacement. The state park has garbage receptacles, places to charge your phone and showers. The next day is a rainy one. I welcome the rain as the land is desperate for moisture but am irritated by the slick rocks as I struggle to stay upright. I end up at Graymoor Spiritual Center where they allow hikers to sleep in their baseball feild dugout. There’s electric outlets, lights, a water spigot, showers, and outhouses. Hatter and I walk to the local bar and grill for beers and dinner. The next morning we hike to the Appalachian Trail Market for breakfast and a resupply. It’ll be a short day from there as I await a package from home containing much needed gloves among other goodies. The winter is coming and I am facing it head on. I’m tempted to race through the rest of the trail but I decide to savor it the best that I can instead.
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