Day 28

Saturday May 20, 2017 

Fingerboard Shelter 14.2 miles

Total mileage 365.3

The terrian has changed and I am going have to adjust my mileage. The climbing and descending that I am doing has really started to bother my knees so I think I will go back to low mileage days until things start to feel better. I am trying to get into town on Sunday night because it is supposed to rain all day on Monday so this is going to be my last push of mileage. Then I will just take the rain as it comes. I may even have to hold up in a shelter to stay safe and out of thunderstorms. 

I noticed this morning that I was missing my spoon and I remember using it at the ice cream shop yesterday and I think I threw it out by mistake. ๐Ÿ˜  I was so tired yesterday evening I couldn’t think straight. Some hikers say that the trail provides. Well…As I was hiking this morning I decided to stop and eat my breakfast at the next road crossing and just add extra water to it and basically drink it. I would just have soupy oatmeal. When I got to the road there was a table and chair with a box of supplies for thru hikers. In the box of supplies was a lone plastic knife! Score! Not only could I eat my breakfast I could sit in a chair at a table. 

Today was cooler than the last couple of days, but the bugs were still bad! 

I saw a lot of people on the trail today. There was a group of boy scouts that included 24 kids and 12 adults plus all the other hikers and day hikers. When I got to the shelter there was another group of boy scouts plus a group of national guard men with inner-city kids. Luckily it was a very large shelter area with plenty of tenting. 

It is hard to get a good visual with the above picture, but I walked through this area. It is called the lemon squeezer. I tried to go through with my pack on but I ended up having to take it off and walk through sideways. 

Goodbye New Jerseyย 

Friday May 19, 2017

Wildcat Shelter 17.1

Total mileage. 351.1

I really want to thank Sandy and Bill at the Warwick Resort and Conference Center for making us feel so welcome, as well as the director, Ken. Thank you guys we really enjoyed our stay with you. The meals were awesome as well as the other guests we met. 

Barbara (aka Bits’n’Pieces) , if you are reading this thank you for the antihistamine it has really helped. I enjoyed talking to you and hearing your trail stories. Barbara was a guest at the Warwick Center who has hiked about 700 miles of the AT in sections. That is how she got the trail name Bits’n’Pieces. 

SOULFLOWER and I didn’t get back on the trail until after 9am. It was a late start for us and we needed to cover a lot of miles to the next shelter. In NJ and NY you have to stay at a designated campsites or shelters. Which makes things difficult. You could have a really short day or a really long day. Today unfortunately was very long and difficult. Long miles, difficult terrian, and hot weather. Oh and the bugs were HORRIBLE! ๐Ÿ˜ 

The day started with a climb up “The Stairway to Heaven”. It involved climbing a mountain via rocks. A lot of rocks! While bugs were flying all around my face diving me insane. 

I saw 3 Snakes this day and one that rattled at me. I heard it before I saw it and thankfully when I finely noticed it, it just moved on. 

The terrian has changed from mostly flat to climbing mountains. Today was to long of a day with the late start and I didn’t get to the shelter until 7:40pm. At about 5pm I was getting worried that I would not make the shelter before dark or before I collapsed from exhaustion. So I called Jim to see if there was a town near by that I could stay at rather than having to hike another 4+ exhausting miles to the shelter. I knew that there was a road coming up with a recommended stop for AT hikers at an ice cream shop so I was hoping I could get to a hotel or something from there. While he was looking into to it I decided just to get to the ice cream shop have some ice cream and a rest and wait to see what Jim could find out. Unfortunately,  there were really no good options from that location. So I left the ice cream shop, walked back to the trail and completed the last couple of miles. 

SOULFLOWER didn’t arrive until an hour after me in the dark and had to miss out on the famous Bellvale Creamery/ice cream shop. She had a even rougher day than me. She had a fall today while trying to rush to the shelter and knew she would have some bruises on her elbow, thigh and around her ribs. Luckily it wasn’t something serious. When she arrived I helped her setup her tent and we both commiserated on how horrible the day had been. We both decided NO More long days in this terrian. 

I did exit New Jersey today for the last time. The trail bounced between NJ and NY for a bit, but I am now officially out of NJ. 

Day 26

Thursday May 18, 2017 

In town Vernon, NJ 13.9

Total mileage 334

I woke up very stuffy but at least when I blow my nose it is no longer bloody. John, if you are reading this I found a new use for Bag Bam! I put some on a Qtip and put it in my nose to keep it moist and stop the bleeding. It seemed to work. 

It was just 2 miles to the road that would take me into town of Unionville, NY and then a half mile into town to the post office. I picked up mail drop and had a surprise from Jim, some dehydrated pineapple! And a note! Double score. Thank you, Babydoll. The pineapple is delicious. 

By 8:30 I was a sweaty mess. We are supposed to hit 92 today! ๐Ÿคค It was another difficult day. I was struggling at the end again. I had to use my umbrella just to keep the sun off me. My arms are already burnt from yesterday. 

I did see a bear on the trail today. It was my second bear sighting. Thus one was really close. He was about 30 yards away when we noticed each other. He was walking south on the trail as I was heading north and he came up over a hill. When we noticed each other he just took off running. No opportunity for a picture.

I finished the trail today at 3pm. SOULFLOWER and I were headed into town for shower, laundry and a bed. She was still behind me on the trail so I walked up the road a short distance to a store and had an ice cream! It was so good after a hot day! ๐Ÿ˜Š

We are staying at the Warwick Resort and Conference Center in Warwick, NY. They were having an event so we were invited to dinner and breakfast the next morning. We even had a table reserved for us thru hikers. 

SOULFLOWER at our table.

Blazing HOT Day

Wednesday May 17, 2017

Murray Property Shelter 18.3

Total mileage 320.1

Yup, I definitely had a sore throat when I woke up this morning which later turned into a stuffy,  running, and bloody nose. I think it is from the dryness up here. I’m not use to it plus it has been really dusty the last few days. At least I hope that is all it is. 

Today was another struggle at the end of the day. The temperature got up to 88 today and is supposed to be 90 tomorrow.

As I was was hiking my right arm was getting sun burnt so I tied a bandana around my bicep just to keep some of the sun off of me. And each time I would pass a  creek I would wet the bandana to try and help me cool off. It is just so hot. By the end of the day I was dragging. It was a struggle just to put one foot infront of the other. 

I only have a 13.4 mile day planned for tomorrow so that will be easier, but I have to run into to town to pick up a mail drop at the post office that doesn’t open until 8 am so I won’t be able to get as many early morning miles in before the heat gets bad. It was pretty warm by 9:30am this morning. 

I did see a porcupine this morning. This was a first for me. He was right on the trail. He had his quills up as I approached so I gave him all the room he needed. He eventually wandered up and off the trail. 

As I am laying here in my tent I feel so hot and sticky. I can’t put my sleep clothes on because they are thermals. I did wash up when I got into camp but it’s not the same as a shower. 

Just lost

Tuesday May 16, 3017

Gren Anderson Shelter 17.9

Total mileage 301.8

Yesterday I woke up with a mild sore throat. I didn’t feel bad so I set out for my 18 mile day. 

I struggled all day today. It was not a good day for me on the trail. I came to a road crossing early in the morning and couldn’t find where the trail picked back up on the other side. I was looking for a blaze in the trees but couldn’t see any. It was actually marked on the opposite side of the road. ๐Ÿ˜•

Then my next blunder was missing a left turn blaze. And after wondering around  trying to figure out where the trail goes I end up heading south on the AT instead of North! As I am heading south a see a women at her campsite that I didn’t see when I was heading north. So I say good morning and move on. Then I come to a pond that I know I recently passed and realized I’m headed in the wrong direction! So I turn around again and head in the right direction. I pass the woman at her campsite again and as I pass she asks if I’m lost. I tell her about my blunder and move on. As I’m headed back up the trail I see the blaze that I missed. The left turn takes me up and over a rock wall! 

Then later that afternoon I’m just dragging, totally zapped by the heat and miles. I can’t wait to get to the shelter to get off my feet. Once again I find myself heading south on the AT!?!? I passed the shelter! Totally missed the sign for it. I have to back track 2 tenths of a mile! 

I was hoping to get to bed early but it just didn’t work out. Things have been harded out here then back home. I think I still haven’t found a daily/nightly routine. I’m hoping I find it soon and can start getting to bed earlier. 

Goodbye PA

Monday May 15, 2017

Rattlesnake Springs Tentsite 13.5 miles

Total mileage 283.9

I slept well at the Hostel last night. I had to wait for the post office to open this morning to pick up my supply box before moving on. The post office didn’t open until 8:30. So it was a late start for me. I finally got on the trail at 9:40.

I had a surprise in my supply box. A Little Debbie Swiss Roll! ๐Ÿ˜Š This was my favorite Little Debbie snack cake while growing up. Thank you, Babydoll. 

I had a long freeway bridge walk this morning and it was pretty freeky. I could feel the bridge moving as I was going across, especially when the semi trucks were flying by. 

The trail followed a stream for a ways this morning. It was really beautiful. Mom, you would have loved it. 

Shortly after starting this morning I crossed into New Jersey. Unfortunately the rocks continued. I think I am getting more experienced with the rocks. Maybe I have made peace with them and they don’t seem to bother me as much. 

I had a bear sighting this afternoon while going to the Mohan Outdoor Center. He looked like a little guy to me. I got a video of him. 

Day 22

Sunday May 14, 2017

Church of the Mountain Hiking Center 15.5

Total mileage 270.4

I took a zero yesterday to rest up while avoiding hiking on a rainy day and to see how things were going to be after my accident. As SOULFLOWER and I were walking around town yesterday doing our town chores my knees were pretty sore. So I took some aleve before bed last night and felt much better this morning. 

I ate breakfast in the hotel room. Yogurt, banana and granola that I got at the store yesterday. SOULFLOWER walked back to the diner for breakfast and I met her there later. Then we took a cab back to the trail together. 

We started our climb out of Delaware Water Gap at 9am. Shortly after starting I was passed by DISCOUNT, HOOTIE and SODA, who also zeroed at Delaware Water Gap avoiding yesterday’s rain. 

We all had lunch together at a shelter while avoiding another short rain shower. That was just good luck. 

SODA, HOOTIE, SOULFLOWER, LITTLE BEAR STUMBLES, and DISCOUNT
This is HOOTIE hiking infront of me. 

The trail today was again more rocks and one boulder scramble (Wolf Rocks). I was lucky enough to still be hiking behind HOOTIE for this so I was just able to follow him through it. I am not a fan of heights so it helps just to focus on someone infront of me rather than having to look all around and pick my way through it.  Thanks HOOTIE! Wolf Rocks was much easier than the Knife Edge that I had to do alone a few days ago. That one scared me. 

Wolf Rocks                                                                          
We were all headed to Church of the Mountain Hiking Center (a church run hostel) to sleep inside and get a shower. There was rain again tonight so I was glad to be inside again. 

I have a supply box at the post office that I will pick up tomorrow and it has a merino wool shirt in it that I am excited about. I purchased it with my REI dividend. Merino wool is not supposed to absorb body odor like sensethic fabric does. Because after only one day of hiking my shirt really stinks. After a few days I can hardly stand myself. 

I earned my name all over again!ย 

Friday May 12, 2017

Wind Gap PA 21.4 miles

Total mileage 254.9

Today’s schedule consisted of the Lehigh Gap climb. I have heard how dangerous and scary this climb up the cliff is from other hikers so I opted to take the 1.5 mile bad weather bypass trail. I was pretty glad that I did because the bypass trail was pretty steep but at least it wasn’t exposed. 

My hiking partner for the last few days, SOUL FLOWER, did it but she really didn’t know what she was in store for. She is pretty much a bad ass for her age. She is 70 years old. 

SOUL FLOWER walking in the rain on our way back from the store and doing laundry in Wind Gap.
This huge mass if dirt is an ant pile. I have seen a few of them along the trail, but this is the largest one.
I’ve been noticing these webs in the trees,  but today I got a close look at one and it is a caterpillar nest.

As we were making our way to the shelter where we planned to stay at we were contemplating going all the way into town to avoid the rain. We decided to see how we felt at the shelter and go from there. 

Well…

I tripped over some rocks and fell on more rocks and hurt both of my knees pretty bad. And we still had over mile to walk to the shelter. When we got to the shelter and asscessed how bad things were we decided to go into town. That way we could get me cleaned up really well. I had one knee that was bleeding pretty bad. We got it cleaned and bandaged up, called the hotel and got a room for the next two nights. Then hiked another 4.6 miles  over more rocks into town. We arrived in town at 7:30pm called a taxi and made our way to the hotel. I plan to just rest at the hotel tomorrow and see how it goes. 

Rocksvania

Thursday May 11, 2017

George W. Outerbridge Shelter 16.8 miles

Total mileage 233.5

When I got into camp last night it was late and I  was so tired I didn’t get water and went to bed with only about 10 oz. Just enough to take my medication in the morning but that was it. Which ment that I had to get water this morning. I hate getting water in the mornings because it is so cold and the water here is really frigid. I think the current temperature is low to mid 40’s. My hands were so cold it is really painful to the filter water. 

I am racing the rain that should be moving into the area on Saturday. I will not make it to town on Friday night, but should only have about 5 miles to hike on Saturday in the rain. Then once I reach the town of Wind Gap, PA I will call a taxi to take me to the hotel. This will be my first real hotel stay since starting this trip. We won’t count my stay at “The Doyel” as a hotel stay since it didn’t have a private bath. I am so looking forward to taking a shower and doing laundry. I haven’t had a shower since Sunday at Rock N Sole hostel. I have an unbelievable amount of dirt under my fingernails and I feel like I have crusty snot all around my nose. My bandana is just a cheep Walmart one and trying to blow your nose with it is really rough. So for those of you who want to use a bandana to blow your nose get a good one. 

The hiking has been really hard the last two days with the increased mileage and all the rocks. I really have to slow down around the rocks and be careful. I have some ankle soreness that hasn’t deminished, but the bottoms of my feet are OK. 

My backside view.

On today’s schedule was something called the “Knife Edge”. It was essentially a Ridge of boulders with a substantial drop off on each side. I managed to get across it in a full body sweat while hyperventilating and trying not to shit my pants all the while wondering how long this effing thing was going to last. 

PA kicked my ASS

Wednesday May 10, 2017

Allentown Hiking  Club Shelter 20.9

Total mileage 216.7

There is rain approaching so I am making a huge push to get into town before it starts on Saturday. I’m not sure I have what it takes to make it there in time. It will take some long days over a lot of rocks. 

I saw two deer running through the woods today. They are amazing to see running and leaping over obstacles with tails standing straight up. I also saw a garter snake sunning himself on the trail. So far I have seen 2 black snakes and 2 garter snakes. 

Today was a really hard day. The climbing over rocks was really getting to me. The last 6 miles I was really struggling. I was tired and my ankles were really sore. I decided to turn on an audio book and listen to that to distract me from the pain. I usually listen to an audio book when I run or when I was training  for this hike, but this is the first time I have listened to one this trip. There is just so much to see and I have to pay attention to the white blazes that mark the trail as well as watch the ground for ankle twisting  rocks. 

I finely arrived at  camp at 6:30pm ate a quick dinner then set up my tent. Then it was time to hang the dreaded bear line. I picked a tree limb that I thought I could get the line over. You’ll love this… there was a hiker sitting at the shelter where he could see me and I just thought this is going to be great with him watching me, he aught to get a couple of good laughs in at my not so professional technique. So I get all prepped, I have my rock bag tied to my bear line and I make sure the line is not tangled around my feet or standing on it (one of my problems last time). I eye the limb and take my shot and it sails over the limb like a professional. I just act like– yeah, that’s how it happens every time and walk off to get my bear bag ready. ๐Ÿคฃ