I left the motel around 6:45 am. which had me on the trail at around 7:00. Lately, I’ve started hiking between 6-6:30, so this was a late start for me. The air was cooler and drier, and I was very grateful for that. I felt really good as I started hiking.
Almost as soon as I crossed the border into NY, the terrain got much harder. There were lots of rocks, lots of PUDS, and even some climbs. The climbs have involved hoisting your body (and your pack) up over rocks. It’s a very small taste of what New Hampshire and Maine will be like.
Some people persist in spreading stereotypical rumors about what different states are like, and sometimes, it’s just not true! Yes, there are boardwalks over some swamps, and planks over low lying areas where snow melt is a problem in the Spring…but there are also rocks, climbs and high places in NY!
This is aBeaver Dam. Some of the water sources are streams which are overflow from boggy areas or ponds like this. Yuck!
NY has been terribly dry! So many of the water sources are dry, even at the shelters. This means carrying lots of water, which means more weight on your feet and legs, which means pain. It also means hoisting that weight up with your body when you go uphill, which means more physical exertion, more calories burned, and more exhaustion.
This is where the Guthook App has been invaluable. People list places that look good to stealth camp, point out where they have seen snakes, make comments about which water sources are dry, and which road crossings have a deli or motel (and how bad or good they are.) There have been lots of road crossings where Trail Angels have left jugs of water.
I had planned to stealth camp at a place someone had noted in Guthook as being a good place. Hiking there, the terrain was not conducive to camping–rocky, covered in bushes or weeds, or on a slope. Then, right where the commenter noted, an oasis! Flat, dirt, open, not too rocky–a place for about one tent. Ahhhhh! So peaceful! I set up my tent, ate, threw my bear bag, and cleaned myself up. I had settled in to read my Kindle, when I heard someone say, ‘Hello!’ It was a hiker named Passenger from Germany. Later, about 5 more guys came and made places for their tents. (Sundance, P-Dub, Play Maker, Snail Trainer.)
Mile Marker 1379.1 (21.1)
Lately, I’ve had to go to the bathroom first thing after I wake up. Things move quickly out here. There was no private place to go, since there were so many people around, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through breakfast, so I decided to pack up and start hiking and have breakfast down the way. I was able to find a slab of rock in the shade, and had my oatmeal and coffee there. It was a difficult day with rocks and PUDS. I went by a beautiful lake. I had to get off trail to see it and get a picture. I met Cinnabun, who had camped there and was taking a leisurely morning. That’s the way to do it! Cinnabun is in this picture looking out over the lake.
Later, I would go through the Lemon Squeezer. I had to take off my pack and hoist myself up out of it to get through it.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day! Some of the terrain reminded me of something out of a Dr. Suess book!
(This guy was on his back and it’s belly looked like a roach, but I saved him, anyway, by moving him off the trail and right side up. He must have been at least two inches long!)
I would Stealth champ on top of Black Mountain, which has a view of the NYC skyline, and the Hudson River. It was gorgeous, but hot! I found a place under a stubby tree, but it was slanted, so I kept sliding off my pad. Again, I was not alone, with about 4 other people up there that night.
Mile Marker 1396.0 (16.9)
It was a gorgeous day, but hot! It took me to the top of Bear Mountain where there were drink machines, where I had an ice cold Powerade. Man, did that go down good! I had stunning views of the Hudson River on the way down.
Later, the trail takes you by a lake, through a park, and through a zoo. I had a coke and pretzels from the machines there.
I had a maildrop in Ft. Montgomery. Not only is it a tourist trap, and expensive, but the lower priced motels were booked. I was tired, stinky and dehydrated. Now, I was demoralized. I also learned that the couple who owned the motel I stayed at in 2016 (nice older couple) and where I had hoped to stay again, had been murdered.
I had to walk into Ft. Montgomery to the Post Office. I think it was about a mile and a half to get there, walking beside a highway on concrete (painful and hot). I was also feeling very emotional. I wanted to get something to eat, but didn’t want to walk further. The trail takes you through the zoo. I walked back through the zoo to the vending machines and had a soda, ate my lunch, and got an ice cream sandwich out of a vending machine. I felt much better after that. This is why I think my emotional state is due to nutrition, in part.
Feeling a bit better, I crossed the bridge over the Hudson River, and started an ascent. I now had a full pack with 6 days of food. I was barely shuffling as I made my way up that mountain! When I was about a half mile of where I intended to camp, lo and behold, a convenience store with a deli and picnic tables and a bunch of hikers I knew. I got a Gatorade, a 10 inch sub, and a ginger ale. I ate all of it, and I felt like a tick about to pop!
I camped at a Monastery that has a ball field where they allow hikers to camp. It had a pavilion, a shockingly cold shower, a place to charge devices, and two very clean port-a-potties. I did take a shower, but couldn’t stay under the water more than a minute! Terrible while you are going through it, but refreshing afterwards-even if you have to put your stinky clothes back on!
Greymoor Spiritual Center Ballfield
Mile Marker 1411.3 (15.3)
There were more people than I had expected to be camping there in the ballfield. It was kind of noisy, with people packed in together. I left early. I passed a Lake with a concession stand. I had a burger, fries, Pepsi and Gatorade. I sat with a group of hikers, and the talk centered on the coming rain. It was looking bad. I had planned on camping on top of a mountain, but pushed on to a shelter to avoid the rain. It sounded like it was going to be bad. As I left the lake, I fell into hiking with Saw Bones. I had been seeing her off and on since North Carolina. She usually hikes with Thumper, but he got off trail for a few days. We usually say hi and make polite chit chat when we see each other, but this was the first time I have talked to her at length, and it was nice to get to know her better. She is a semi-retired Doctor, thus the name Saw Bones. I don’t like calling her that. Her real name is Sarah, so I call her that. I love that name. She is very nice, and I enjoyed hiking with her that afternoon.
I decided to stay in the shelter. My third for this hike. It was an old house they had made into a shelter by removing the back wall. There were individual platforms , which was nice, because I had my own space, however, it reminded me afresh why I don’t like shelters. It was noisy. I didn’t want to flip and flop a lot because my sleep pad is noisy. I NEED to flip a lot because I hurt! The guy on the platform above me was flipping too. Since there was no privacy, I couldn’t clean up or change out of my hiking clothes. The mosquitoes were bad. Even when I covered my head with my sleeping bag liner, they were buzzing by my ears. I finally put some bug spray on my face, neck and arms, but they were biting my butt through the liner! It was too hot for my quilt. Ugh. I had also had a Dr Pepper that was given to me after I arrived at the shelter. I had trouble falling asleep and had to get up in the dark to go to the bathroom. It did, indeed, rain hard that night.
Mile Marker 1430.1 (18.8 miles)
(This is common on the trail. Trees blow over because the have no strong roots and are growing on rock with a little bit of soil. This is why I don’t want to be in the woods during a storm!)
The night before, everyone was freaking out and making plans to get off trail due to the forecast of rain (which keeps changing) I decided to hike on, even though it was sprinkling. I called Bud and asked him if he could try to find a place for me to get off trail. Not only was rain coming, but I was feeling exhausted, dehydrated, emotional and in a bad frame of mind. I knew there wasn’t going to be much available, and what there was would be expensive. I didn’t care. I just needed to get clean, do laundry and get some air conditioning and a good night’s sleep!
Which brings me to The Bates Motel. 😳
It was a very long day getting here, but after the morning, the sun came out, hot and humid. I’m grateful to be here.
Mile Marker 1450.0 (19.9 miles)
I slept well, and as you know from the last post, I’m taking a zero today.