Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Empire Strikes Back

Sooner or later it was going to happen- the trail was going to get challenging again. New York- the Empire State was ready to bring it. It was a deadly combination of the terrain and the heat. It made for a tough week, but with a little magic, it got a lot better. I found myself hiking with a new crew who I have enjoyed getting to know.

As I write this, I am relaxing in a shelter in Connecticut. I have now completed 9 states and only have 5 to go. But this journey is far from over. There is still over 700 miles left, and it's only going to get tougher. But until it does, and even after it does, I will stay positive and thankful that I has been blessed to be part of this journey!

Here is New York in a nut shell...

Day 110 (6/29) - Wildcat Shelter to Harriman, NY (9.9 mi)
There was nothing about today that was good. We had a thunderstorm early, which resulted in a late start. Then the heat came. Now I know 93 doesn't sound too hot, but when you are on top of the mountains in the open, the sun just wears you down. Plus the terrain absolutely sucked. It was like the Rollercoaster in VA, not as high in elevation, but straight up and down. With the amount of physical exertion combined with the hot hot sun, I was moving super slow and just beat. The water sources were few and far between too, but thanks to a few trail angels leaving jugs of water at a few road crossings, I was able to stay hydrated. When I reached the 9 mile mark, I sat down to take a break. Now at this point in the day, I should have already made it 14-15 miles. It just wasn't going to happen today. I was weighing my options. I obviously wasn't going to make it to the shelter I planned on. There was a shelter 4 miles away, but at the speed I was going, and with very little energy, it was going to take all night. My other option was getting a hotel room in the next town. I went on and headed down to the road and met up with Einstein and Coffee-To-Go, who also wanted to get a room. After about a half hour of failed hitching attempts (which is illegal in NY), a guy finally offered us a ride. After a long shower and the AC all the way cranked, I started to feel a lot better. I am going to take it slow tomorrow and keep my mileage low again just to not overdo it. The temps and terrain will get a little better in a few days hopefully.

Day 111 (6/30) - Zero Day
Einstein and Coffee-To-Go went to do laundry this morning and when they got back they were soaked with sweat, so we decided to zero and stay in the air conditioned hotel.

Day 112 (7/1) - Harriman, NY to Bear Mountain Stealth Camping (17.9 mi)
My original plan for today was I keep the miles down to about 13. I knew it was going to be another hot day and I didn't want to overdo it. The day started with squeezing through the Lemon Squeezer. It was a very narrow pathway through two huge rock walls. Luckily I squeezed through without having to carry my backpack over my head. It went straight from there to a straight up climb. There was a sign that said "easy way" with an arrow pointing to the left, but I figure why start now? The trail has some rocky climbs but it wasn't as bad as it has been. Once I got up to the West Mountain Shelter, I had to make a decision on whether to stay or keep going. It was still early in the day and I wasn't dying from the heat so I kept going. I was staying on pace with Einstein and Coffee-To-Go so I just kept walking with them. The next big climb was up Bear Mountain, which promised views of New York City. Being a Sunday, it was very crowded on top, but I got my views. It wasn't as awesome as I thought it would be, mostly because there was a mountain blocking most of the city. You could see what was around the Hudson River though. We started the trek down the mountain with our eyes open on a good place to stealth camp. We came across the old AT route that had been abandoned, but luckily was flat and wide enough for 3 tents. We set up and to our surprise had a little bit of view of the night lights coming out of the city. If these darn trees weren't in the way...

Day 113 (7/2) - Bear Mountain Stealth Camping to Dennytown Rd Stealth Camping (16.4 mi)
Well we thought we would try to beat the heat by hitting the trail at 7. It didn't work. When we got to the bottom of Bear Mountain, there was a huge park that looked like a tornado passed through leaving trash everywhere. It must have been a busy weekend. We were out of water so we tried getting some out of the bathroom sink. It came out yellow, so we all had to filter. It still tasted a bit chalky, but it was going to have to do because there wasn't water for a while. The trail passes right through a little zoo, but it wasn't open yet, so we had to take a blue blaze trail around. The real challenge was finding where the blue blaze trail was. We lost a little time trying to find it, but once we did, we were on our way to cross the Hudson River. After that, it was more ups and downs with the heat rising. Sometimes the trail runs places that make you question what in the world trail designers were thinking, and then there are moments like today where the trail comes right out next to a gas station/deli. It was like Christmas. After a huge sub and a Dr. Pepper, my stomach was happy. We sat under umbrellas for about 2 hours. It was hard to get motivated to hike after eating and avoiding the sun. I had to force myself to start hiking again. The terrain actually started to get a bit better for the second half and we had a few more water options, though we waited for our last one, which came from a pump house off a road. The water was already treated and so I filled everything, packing 5.5 liters to our campsite. I learned a valuable lesson today- eating one Fiber One bar a day is good for you- it has 35% of your daily fiber. Eating four is not. It makes you have to poop really really bad. The more you know!

Day 114 (7/3) - Dennytown Rd Stealth Camping to Hosner Mtn Rd (14.2 mi)
I fell a little short of my mileage goal today, but there is a great reason- Trail Magic! I made it to the RPH shelter, which was the 10 mile mark for me and there was a poster for a 4th of July cookout and inviting hikers to come early today. We weren't really planning on stopping because we wanted to hit the deli/market to resupply and eat dinner and make it to the next shelter which would be a 20 mile day. We ran into Rocky, Sunshine, Feivel, and Beaker on the trail and all arrived to the road where this cookout was going to be. None of us wanted to cut our day short because we all have some sort of schedule, but at the same time we were all wiped out. None of us were really up for the idea of taking a zero tomorrow either. We weighed our options and decided to at least stop by and see what it was about. As soon as we got there, we were invited to a fridge full of drinks, showers, and laundry. Dinner was on the way as well. We were sold on staying the night. They even drove us to a Walmart to resupply. And to top the night off, they told us they would slack pack us tomorrow after breakfast so we could all still get some miles in before the cookout. I have to say these are the perfect trail angels. Feeling so blessed to be able to enjoy a 4th of July with good food and easy hiking with some new friends.

Day 115 (7/4) - Hosner Mtn Rd to West Dover Rd/Dover Oak (14 mi)
Today I got to slack pack from the Dover Oak (the largest oak tree on the AT- 20'4" girth) back to Bill and Amy's house. It was a quick 14 miles (4.5 hours) and it wiped me out. When I finished, several more hikers, including Cave Man, whom I haven't seen since Gatlinburg, was there. The grill was fired up and the festivities began. It was a great day and glad I was able to get some good miles and some good food in!

Day 116 (7/5) - West Dover Rd/Dover Oak to Ten Mile River Shelter (12.1 mi)
Of course the last day in New York would be the easiest and nicest terrain. We said our thank you's and goodbye's to Amy and Bill and hit the road back to the trail. I have to say I was excited to be getting out of this state. With the exception of the wonderful trail magic we had the last 2 days, NY was hard. I know the heat played a huge part in that and it won't magically get better. Today's weather was a bit cooler and there was a nice breeze, but I was still covered head to toe in sweat. Crossing the CT line was a very good feeling. I now have 9 states completed. It has also been cool to hike with Rocky, Sunshine, Beaker, and Feivel. We all hike a pretty similar pace (they are a little faster, but I try to keep up). I was glad to just hike 12 miles today, though I could have gone around 5 more. It gives me a little more time tonight for a mental break, which is needed from time to time.

1 comment:

  1. You are inspiring a ton of people. Not to mention God is reinventing you. You are being used to change the world. Well done. BE BOLD.

    Bobby d +--