5/26-6/4 101.5 miles
Think I’ll try a new format for these updates. I actually keep a paper journal, Moleskine notebook, a habit dating back forever in my travels. I have a stack of them in a box somewhere, with all kinds of perplexing problems and dilemmas, observations, diatribes, and unscientific, unscrupulous and unspoken observations about characters I’ve met. Stuff written for myself and not for publication.
Anyway, I write at the end of every day in the notebook, then decide later what to put out here. I know other hikers who draft their blogs directly on their phones, then upload an uncensored account of their hike. So readers get a nitty gritty account of what this life is really like. I’ve read lots of those and appreciate the information and details but the repetitiveness, while an authentic account of what hiking is like, tends to bore the snot out of me.
So a couple of highlights I omitted from my last update. The first night out of DWG, I asked if Slingshot and Crossword, 2 calm and friendly OGs, minded if I camped next to them. Nobody ever says no, but I usually ask anyway. Of course they said sure, then I joined them as we cooked our dinners and chatted about the usual hiker topics—weather, the last food opportunity on trail, the next food opportunity up trail, mileage plan for the next day. Anubis came by, hesitated and decided to hike on. We all smiled and chatted but nobody invited him to stay.
The next day we 3 stopped at Mountain House tavern, mid day, for food and a beverage, just off trail at Culver’s Gap. Fun! Later I saw deer, a turkey and a dead coyote(?). We all camped at a shelter. Other hikers were there and more came in, all normal.
Anubis turned up later. He’d got a meal and beer out of some hikers new to me by claiming it was his birthday. Hmm. I’m sick of this guy’s lies. (I announced the next day my new trail name for him, Birthday Boy.) I kind of went off on him about some ignorant crap he was talking about a bear situation. The next morning, a hiker friend mentioned within Anubis’s hearing that he planned on going to a hostel in about 12 miles. When Anubis said that sounded like a good idea, my friend changed his mind. Later he canceled his reservation and mentioned to the hostel owner that Anubis made other hikers uncomfortable. She in turn contacted the pastor nearby who also hosted hikers at his church. When Anubis turned up, we heard through the hiker grapevine that this amazing man, the pastor, convinced Anubis to go home to Georgia. I haven’t seen or heard about him since. Good job!
5/26 I got an Uber back to trail, hiked out and stealth camped totally alone for the first time on the AT. Of course, Fort Montgomery being next to West Point, I listened to practice gunfire in the distance till just before 5pm.
5/27 Made it to RBH shelter, supposed to rain like crazy. I pitched my tent while all 6 bunks and all the floor space filled up with hikers including Slingshot, Butt Shot, Dash, Wayne, Halfmile and Keystone. I felt low energy all day. Kinda rainy but not cold, just humid and energy draining.
5/28 I slept great in my Nemo as the rain pounded down all night and hiked with good energy. Camping is restricted to official places so I’m at a shelter again with plans to get into Pawling tomorrow to dry out and resupply. It’s supposed to be sunny. Slingshot has other plans but I’ll probably catch up day after tomorrow.
5/29 Easy day, beautiful, lots of day trippers enjoying a walk on a boardwalk through a beautiful marsh. I couldn’t check in to my room till 3 pm after walking the 2.5 off trail to Pawling, so I dumped my pack on the porch and got fish and chips at a local bar. It’s Memorial Day weekend so businesses are mostly closed. I checked in, hauled my stuff to the laundromat, and hung all my wet gear—sleeping bag, tent, rain gear, in the room to dry.
5/30 Got an Uber back to trail. It was hot and humid but good trail and I felt great. Slingshot and I are the only ones at an official campsite with a bear box. And I passed from NY to Connecticut!
5/31 The AT is so different than the PCT and CDT. There are so many towns with real beds and food! I told Slingshot my plan to get a room at the Hitching Post motel in Cornwall Bridge, with a pickup included and he decided to do the same. It was a hard day for few miles. I climbed Caleb Peak for a lovely territorial view and a steep rockfall/stream bed butt scooting down to a flat, easy walk along a river. Then we spent a frustrating hour waiting for the motel to come get us, they had never picked up from our spot where the trail crossed a paved road? But I eventually got to wash off 2 days of heat rash and Gypsy moth yellow goo. I walked to the beer store (a free beer for a hiker!) and Sam Waterston just happened in to buy beer. He was a totally normal nice guy, no celebrity edge at all. After he left, the beer store guy told me dozens of celebrities had second homes nearby, just a couple hours from NYC.
6/1 A slow day again, lots of ups. I found a shelter with a couple other hikers as a thunderstorm broke and pelted rain for awhile. When it let up, a couple of us hiked another 3.5 easy miles to a designated campsite with a bear box. Slingshot was already camped there, yay! Rained gently most of the night. I looked ahead and saw some, to me, horrendous climbs before my next goal and resupply box (new shoes!) at Great Barrington. Think it will take 1 more night than I planned on.
6/2 I called Vanessa in Salisbury who rents bunks and has dogs! and a cat! She had room so I did a short 12 mile day plus the mile into town. What a great person she is, enjoyed our conversation and interaction! I got an early dinner at nearby Neo (Mahi Mahi!) then drank a little white wine with Vanessa and hikers new to me—Boogie On, All Good, Pop Tart. Great dogs and a sweet kitty, Squeaky who purred up a storm for my head scritches. It’s supposed to rain through 9 am.
6/3 The morning was not raining but I didn’t know what to do. Talking my uncertainty out loud, Vanessa said she could slackpack me up the trail a bit and I could stay another night. Done! Boogie On was thinking about doing the same but decided to hike out. On my hike back in to Salisbury I saw her and she was doing good. It was still raining caterpillars all day although there was no other rain. New hikers at Vanessa’s!
6/4 I made it to Great Barrington Saturday afternoon. I misread the post office hours and Ubered in to get my box Saturday afternoon before 4:30 only to discover they closed at 12:30. Bummer, I’ll have to zero in a comfy motel with restaurants nearby, till Monday.