Week 15 – Taking a Break from the Trail at Day 100, Mile 1375.5
Hello Friends! Below are my last three journal entries. As we take a break from the trail, I thank you for following along on our journey. I do not intend on continuing to blog when we return as I’m not sure how that will all work out and you are here to follow a thru-hike👍
The trail has become more challenging with rain, heat, and mosquitoes. Longer water carries, limited tenting options, and upcoming trail closures from storms/flooding are an issue.
Our bodies aren’t holding up well to the constant stress of the summer humidity paired with more vertical terrain.
Hiking feels very forced and we are constantly looking forward to the next town, to buying ice cream, restaurant food, and air-conditioned lodging. This isn’t how we live our regular life, and in addition to being expensive, it takes away from our original motivation: spending time in nature.
We decided to get off trail in Greenwood Lake, NY, where return to Pittsburgh would be easier than if we continued on and found ourselves in worse condition. By bus and by train we make our way home, for recovery, a reset and new adventures.
One thing we do know is that we will return to the AT. After a few weeks off we may not make it to Katahdin this year. That doesn’t matter to us as much as enjoying our hike matters.
Wawayanda Shelter – campsite
The night was very stormy. There was thunder and lightening all night, with intense winds. Several tree limbs fell in the area behind the park. At one moment, a stake came out and the line swung up in the wind as a wall of our tent began to fall. We had both awoke right before so we fixed the issue immediately. We felt like we were in a ship out on the sea in a storm.
The town bell didn’t seem to chime every hour, but the chime intermingled with my dreams. With a few more flashes of lightning, the bright streetlight that illuminated our camp went out.
The rain had stopped by the time we were packing up and all the power in the town seemed to be out. I could hear the generators in full force. We were very fortunate. The general store’s generator was working very well and so we were able to order a breakfast sandwich and go sit on the porch.
Other hikers showed up as well and then the skies let loose and the rain poured down. When the worst was over, we headed out.
The hike was good, and all in all, we’ve really enjoyed New Jersey. There was a boardwalk area that went through some wetlands filled with tall, grasses and cattails. It was lovely and the mosquitoes were not quite so bad right there.
When we made it to the farmstand, we were very hot and tired and ready for ice cream and snacks.
Since there was a group of hikers, and it was Saturday, we attracted attention from people coming to the farmstand. Fortunately, a fellow hiker was there to field all of the Q&A so we didn’t have to participate. When hot and tired you don’t necessarily feel like participating in Q&A from well-groomed curious people moving from air-conditioned cars into an air-conditioned buildings and back.
We headed out to climb the stairway to heaven, which wasn’t too bad. Then the sky opened up again and thunderstorms rolled in. It grew very dark and the trail was often flooded. We wanted to stop and to camp, but camping is limited to shelter areas in New Jersey. It didn’t seem like there was even anywhere to try to stealth camp.
The trail alternated being a river to not being one and the lightning and thunder picked up. We were nervous about our choice to continue on but we did make it to camp between downpours.
The mosquitoes were horrible, so we sat in our tent. I feel bad for hammockers because they don’t have the luxury of zipping up a tent and sitting up.
Mile 1375.5 – Greenwood Lake Motel
We slept a little later, because we had stayed up later. Looking through the screen of our tent I could see the army of mosquitoes, landing on it and hovering around.
The shelter area had a bear box and a nice moldering privy.
Before we left our tent, All Day contacted a hiker hostel in the nearby town to ask if they had any rooms available and they did not. They gave us the number to Lakeside Motel. Fortunately, there was a room available and it was under $100, so we decided to take it. The further north we get, the more expensive lodging becomes, and we really needed to get out of the bugs in the heat.
We packed up and headed out. As we turned a corner, a young woman asked us if we were thru-hikers. She gave us iced coffee and an apple. She’s doing an Instagram page: Humans of the Appalachian Trail (check it out) and asked if we wanted to be in it. The mosquitoes were really bothering us, so I had to politely decline.
As we continued on, the rocks became more vertical and we had to climb up and down, and up and down across the long flat sections of rock. We made it to the New York border and we’re quite excited. Then continued the rocks and the ups and downs.
When we made it to Prospect rock, we laid some gear out to dry. We were both feeling pretty fatigued from the heat and humidity and the terrain. Not a great day to rest under the sun on a hot rock, but it was better than being in the woods with the mosquitoes.
The ten-mile stretch took longer than usual because of the terrain and fatigue, but the last two miles were pleasantly flat. We took the blue blaze to the creamery. It was hopping with weekenders in their nice clothing.
We bought ice cream and sat out front just like dirty hobos do and drew a little bit of attention. Unfortunately, no one else was there wasn’t there to interface with curious people. Part of the job being thru-hiker is educating those who approach you. Maybe that person will decide to help a hiker out someday or maybe their child will decide that they want to do this crazy thing someday.
Jim, the owner of the motel picked us up at the trailhead and we decided that if we liked the look of the room we would take a zero day tomorrow. Turns out we like to look of the room so tomorrow is zero day for us, much needed.
The town of Greenwood Lake itself is very cute, on a lake with docked little boats lining the shore. There are many restaurants to choose from and none of them were busy on Saturday night. We saw some other hikers conversed a little bit and made our way to the Mexican restaurant where we ordered their two vegetarian options. Mexican restaurants are great because you can also enjoy the free entrée of chips and salsa.
We stopped by the beer store on our way back to the motel and the owner was very nice and chatty. Back at the motel, we relaxed and watched some TV.
Paul isn’t feeling very well and he’s not sure if it’s heat exhaustion some kind of an illness will just have to wait and see.
Zero Day Greenwood Lake Motel
Today is our hundredth day with the trail. Ironically, we were not on the trail on this hundredth day and it feels good to not be on the trail on this hundredth day as it is raining again.
We both had a difficult time sleeping just because of aches and pains with general discomfort. We slept in and then made our way to the Dunkin’ Donuts.
We’ve been hanging out at the motel, watching movies and relaxing. We assessed our food situation and made a plan for moving forward into the rest of New York.
A big hesitation has been an upcoming area that was closed off because of rains damaging roadways, and possibly the trail as well. Further ahead there are several closures in Vermont as well.
All Day still feels ill. General discomfort and wooziness with a sense of heat and ache in his body. If we hike into areas difficult to hike out if we could be putting ourselves in a bad situation. We also can’t continue to live at the Greenwood Lake Motel.
We have to decide what to do about moving forward.
So we decided that we’re going to take a second zero day. We think this is going to be good not just for our health and well-being, but for our mental capacity and state as we continue on with this journey. Besides, we can afford to pay for one more night.
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