From Springer Mountain Georgia to Mt. Katahdin Maine

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


In Kent, CT at the moment on a public library computer. The weather says bad storms are coming in and there is a nasty rocky descent north of here. St. Andrew's Episcopal Church lets hikers camp on the grounds (or sleep inside in the AC if it's raining!) so I think I'm going to stay here for the day.

Let's see, when we crossed the NJ/NY border, we literally sprinted Indiana Jones style to make our bus on time. We knew it was leaving at 8:20pm and had about 19 miles to hike. Normally the mileage would not have been an issue.. except that in NY the terrain got super hard again! Our soft legs had been used to the flattish ground of PA & NJ and these climbs really wore us out. We finally made it up to the ridge line. Tater & Pants carry the AWOL guide book, which includes elevation profiles. The ridge line looked like it would be flat (easy!) but it actually was a long stretch of boulder hopping. Fun & thrilling, yes, but I was a wee bit scared that one of us was going to break an ankle at the speed we were running. Luckily we made it down to the bus station with a whopping 5 minutes to spare - just enough to gather snacks & phones for the bus ride. We arrived around 11pm at Port Authority, right in Times Square. All of us were pretty exhausted & culture shocked - especially Gribley & Pants who had never been to NYC before. We hopped in a cab and headed uptown to my good friends Ashley & Jim who so (incredibly!) kindly offered to let us stay for several nights. We picked up shampoo, pizza, & beer before arriving at their apartment. After the welcoming hugs hello, it was so great to be with old & new friends, sharing drinks & stories until late in the evening. When the clock hit midnight, indicating it was July 7th, we clinked glasses of Scotch, wishing Gribley a happy birthday. Eventually we headed to the showers & to bed, so excited to sleep in air conditioning.

Saturday morning, we woke up and hit the town! The only problem was that we hadn't really made any plans and it was so hot out that all we wanted to do was sit inside in AC. I'd been wanting to see the new Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, so we looked up movie showtimes and headed over. We LOVED the movie! Afterwards, we went to Magnolia Bakery for some birthday cupcakes for Gribley. We finally decided to head downtown to the new REI in SoHo. I remember when it opened last winter thinking, silly New Yorkers, what do you need an REI for? But as thru-hikers, it was a dream. Pants & Tater are both members of the REI co-op, which I will be joining as soon as I have another big gear purchase to make. It sounds like a really great program and their customer service sounds too good to be true. Gribley bought himself a new pack for his birthday and everyone figured out new gear or gear replacements. Finally, we decided, it was time for cold drinks. We fantasize a lot in the woods about mojitos, and so I led the way to Mexican Radio, a great little spot, and actually the bar I went to the first night I lived in NYC. After too many rounds of mojitos & margaritas, we made the foolish decision to skip any dinner plans and head up to Reunion Surf Bar, where Mr. Fabulous was hosting a big party. Overdrive, Peach, Shanti, Babe, The Voice of Reason, and Catnap all were there too. Too many drinks, too much dancing, too much singing, too much fun.. actually I think it was a perfect amount :) Around 11pm (which felt like 4am) we were tuckered out and left to crash at the apartment.

Pants flagging a cab, Bruce Springsteen style

Reunion Surf bar, sadly the only picture I have of the night..

Feeling like death Sunday morning, we realized we never had any real meals Saturday.. just popcorn, cupcakes, and chips & salsa. I left to get everyone my favorite New Yorker hungover breakfast - bacon, egg, & cheese on a roll with a large iced coffee. We moseyed across Central Park to the Met. Afterwards I made everyone get Mister Softee, the best truck icecream in the city. We went back to the apartment for naps and then met my old roommates, Melissa & Sean at a grill uptown.

Ice cream in the park

Monday I met Cole/BeBop for lunch and had dinner with Ashley & Melissa. I kind of sneak-attacked NYC and felt badly not getting in touch with more people, but was utterly overwhelmed coming from the trail back to the city. Tuesday we bought groceries and hit the trail!

The rest of New York state in the next post..

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Garden State

After three and a half months on the trail, we had a vacation from our extended vacation in New Jersey. As I mentioned in the last post, the end of PA was pretty demoralizing and left everyone pretty worn out and ready for a break. We were super lucky to have met such cool people back in North Carolina - Hungus & Pace. They live in New Jersey and invited 9 other thru hikers back to their home for a week. We all met in Delaware Water Gap Saturday morning (June 30) and crossed the PA/NJ border. Friends and family of theirs met us to shuttle everyone back to the house. Cases of cold beer and lots of snacks awaited us when we arrived early afternoon. One by one all 11 of us took showers and Pace let Tater and me borrow some of her dresses. More friends and family of Pace & Hungus continued to show up and soon enough a keg-party-barbecue-cookout was in full swing. We hula hooped, played frisbee golf, made s'mores, and cheered Lighthouse (18 year old Scottish hiker) as he completed his first American keg stand - overall a super jolly party!

Sunday morning we took a much needed zero. After a big yummy breakfast, we put on The Beach (film starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and started the massive amount of stinky hiker laundry. Luckily the girls got to wash our clothes separate :) Jaybird and I took over in the kitchen and made a big spaghetti & meatball lunch for the crew. Laundry continued all day and we put on The Departed next (the second Leo film of the day). I was also able to fit in some phone calls to friends and family, and a nap too.

Monday we began with a big breakfast and a trip to the store for lunch and snacks for the day. Lighthouse treated everyone to a dozen donuts. Hungus' friend Sideshow offered to help shuttle us and hike in for the first part. New Jersey began beautifully! Gorgeous weather and a glacier lake kicked off our hike. We lunched at Sunfish Pond and admired the cool stone sculptures. Sideshow met us at the end of our 16 mile day and helped shuttle everyone back home. Jaybird, Lighthouse, and I got home first and started fixing up a big chicken pasta dinner. While we had a really great day, everyone was pretty worn out. We realized the logistics of getting 11 hikers to and from the trail, supplied for lunch, showered and fed was a pretty overwhelming task. We agreed to get an earlier start the next morning and go out for dinner on Tuesday... Which ended up being an all-you-can-eat Sushi/Japanese buffet! A hiker's dream!! We only had an hour before they closed so we silently and with great focus inhaled as much delicious food as we could in that hour. With full bellies we returned home and went right to bed.

Wednesday the 4th of July, Pants woke Lighthouse up by asking, isn't it great to celebrate our freedom from the British Crown? Oh wait.. You live in Scotland.. Ha but he was a great sport and it was a fun day. Pants switched out his normal hot pink hiking skirt (formally known as MY hot pink hiking skirt) for a shiny gold miniskirt from Pace's closet. We finished hiking for the day with plenty of time to return home for a big food party - pulled pork that Hungus slow cooked with beer, steaks marinated with Cheesewater's mom's special cumin/cocoa rub recipe, grilled salmon, 7 pounds of baked beans, garlic toast, and coleslaw. Also - Hungus is quite the brewmaster and he tapped one of his special Pilsner kegs for us, amazingly delicious!

Thursday we slept in and did a final resupply as well as a big run to the local outfitters. My purple Smartwool shirt that I'd worn the entire trail thus far had too many holes - the worst being on my back hip where my pack rubbed, not doable. I replaced it with a new hot pink Under Armor synthetic tee. After quick stops at Walmart and Barnes & Noble (I got Gribley a copy of Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver for his upcoming birthday), we had Indian food buffet for lunch. Bellies full we headed back to the house to pack our packs for the first time all week. Hungus wrote chores on bits of paper and we drew them from a hat to get the house back to its pre-hiker-takeover state. Everyone pitched in and we had it so fresh and so clean in no time. We said our temporary goodbyes to Hungus and Pace - they were heading to see Phish in Saratoga for the weekend and we were dropped off where we left off on the AT. Everyone headed to the first shelter and Gribley and I went about a mile beyond. After a week of being with a big group, we both craved a quiet small campsite for our first night back on the trail.

Friday morning we woke up with ambitious plans to hike into Southfields to take a train into NYC Saturday morning, but were surprised by the terrain - much more mountainous than the previous weeks & states. We quickly realized there was no way we'd make the train and Tatertot went into research/planning mode and discovered a bus that we could take that night. We literally sprinted across ridge lines into New York state in hopes of making the bus.

And that my friends is my story for now of New Jersey. I'll get to work on New York - still here, about 20 miles away from the CT border!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

Daystar in NY last weekend

One of Daystar's dear friends wrote us the sweetest email that we want to share on the blog. 
Daystar resting on the stoop after taking a bite out of the Big Apple

"Just wanted to share a photo with you - Macon having some Joe's coffee on our stoop before leaving this afternoon. It was so great having her stay upstairs for the past few days! I realized how much I've missed her since she left Brooklyn and I really hope she comes back for a longer visit soon. Her fellow hikers were awesome and I loved meeting them too. She looks great and seems to be having the best experience of her life...I'm jealous of the memories, lifelong friends, and perspective she's gaining from the trip but after talking about it with her I definitely think it's way too challenging for me! I think it is actually much more physically and mentally demanding a journey than I could handle. But I'm super supportive of her and can't wait to hear how the rest of the trail goes! Take care, Ashley"

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I heart NJ

Pictures from New Jersey - text soon to come!

Hiker trash headed to the car

Keg part at the Hungus Hideaway
Sleepy hikers

Lighthouse treated us to a dozen donuts Monday morning

The crew heading out Monday morning
Top row: Lighthouse, Sir Towelie, Cheesewater, Jaybird, Hungus, Gribley, Pants on Fire
2nd Row: Slugger, Pace, Tatertot, Daystar
Lunch break at Sunfish Pond
Rock sculptures at Sunfish Pond
At at view in NJ
Snack break
Wild blueberries on bush

Wild blueberries in hand
Up on a firetower

Gribley in the sun
Crossing into NY

End of PA

Hey y'all - sorry I've been so behind lately, I'm on a bus leaving NYC so I will try to catch up some. Let's see, I think the last time I blogged was at Windsor Furnace shelter, with Pants on Fire. We left that morning and saw two great views - Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle. We were moving slow that day and stopped at Allentown Hiking Club Shelter. Gribley and his dad had written in the register that they were heading a bit further north, so Pants and I got up early the next morning to catch up. We found then at a small stealth campsite and woke them up. Gribley built a breakfast campfire and I made coffee for everyone. We all hiked together to Gribley's dad's car and he kindly took us out to lunch before heading back to Indiana. The three of us returned to the trail and with perfect timing - we ran into Tatertot who had been behind us from her time in Hamburg. We all walked along the Knife's Edge - very exhilarating! We hiked on to a small stealth campsite. Tatertot and I got there before the boys and I surprised everyone by building a campfire - the first time I did one all on my own. I joked with Pants & Gribley that I now deserved the Fire Building Merit Badge.

Thursday we climbed up Lehigh Gap, which was really fun. My book says it is the most challenging rock scramble (aka straight uphill rock climb) south of New Hampshire. While we had a blast climbing up, the real difficulty was hiking in the exposed heat for about five miles after with no water sources. The north end of PA proved to be a really tricky water situation. Normally there are water sources no more than six miles apart. Recently, we had been doing big 13 mile sections with no water between. Exhausted & thirsty, we hiked late into the evening to Delps Trail, which had water half a mile downhill and was barely a trickle but it was our only option. Pants took one for the team and took down all of Gribley's & my water bottles & bladders and spent an hour reading and filling up.

On Friday I had my second trail meltdown, bursting into tears three separate times in a terrible rocky stretch leaving Wind Gap. I'd been warned that the rocks were especially bad but I didn't anticipate a seven mile "rock river," as we called it. For about three hours all I could see ahead and behind was rocks. The trail looked the same as I moved north and I wondered if I was going in circles. My feet ached with every step and the 90+ degree weather wasn't helping. I can honestly say that was the most difficult day I've had yet. But the trail finally provided some rest for my feet and I made my way to Kirkridge Shelter for water. I pushed on about a mile to a really beautiful campsite with a pretty view. Two guys my age, Froth & Domino, were already camped there and it was fun to have dinner with different people. Soon after, Tatertot, Pace, Hungus, & Jaybird all arrived and we all camped together our last night in PA.

I got up early Saturday morning to hike the last 6 miles down to Delaware Water Gap to get to the post office, and also to make time to shower at the free church hostel. Everyone made their way down and we all met up to hike into NJ for a really fun week of slackpacking, home-brewed beer, and a jolly good time.. stay tuned for the next post about New Jersey!

Pulpit Rock 
Gribley on the Knife's Edge in PA
Small stealth campsite
My first campfire! 
Climbing up LeHigh Gap

Up on LeHigh Gap - crazy winds!
Campfire on the last full day of PA, my worst day on the trail..

Tatertot's tent
Crossing the PA/NJ border

Sunday, July 8, 2012

All tangled up in khaki....

The Empire State building
Daystar and the crew are in The Big Apple for the weekend.  After slack-packing through New Jersey they arrived in NYC Friday evening.   They are staying with an old friend of Daystar in Manhattan.   This weekend they are celebrating Gribley's birthday, and later attending through hiker, Mr. Fabulous' party.  But first, Saturday morning they went to see the movie "Moonrise Kingdom" a Wes Anderson film.  Daystar is crazy about all his movies and says they all loved it.    Hopefully she will update the blog with a post in the near future.   Monday Daystar hopes to meet up with Bebop for lunch, as Bebop will be in town returning her first group of campers from The Fresh Air Fund camp.  Later, the group will strike out to hike through New England for what amounts to the third leg of the trip.  While Bebop waits for her next group of campers.

 Enjoy the trailer.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July Fourth

Macon continues the Operation New Jersey Slack Pack hiking some 16 miles a day.  She says the hardest part is the logistics of getting eleven people up, fed, moving, collected, returned, showered, fed, and do it again in the morning.  For breakfast, the hikers had apple pie, eggs and bacon, garlic toast, and coffee.  They are heading out now to hike 18 miles in steady rain.  Thankfully, slack-packing means no back pack -- just lots of water.

She is having fun as evidenced by the pictures posted on her Facebook account.  Her plan is to get to NYC this coming weekend and attend a party hosted by Mr. Fabulous (another thru-hiker) and celebrate Gribley's birthday.  Bebop is doing great at the Fresh Air Fund camp.  When she talks to Missy, fond memories of camp counselor days come flooding back to the Frizz, and I worry that she will drive to Fishkill and join in the activities.
 We're at the beach for the week and  have the boys with us this year (no girls).  As the kids have become adults, we don't know who will be with us for the Fourth so it stays interesting.  Zeke, now he is the constant.  Trail pup is always collecting data.