From Springer Mountain Georgia to Mt. Katahdin Maine

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New York, part 2

Leaving Bear Mountain & the zoo, we hiked over the bridge across the Hudson River and started climbing up Anthony's Nose. 
Crossing the Hudson
Pants & I sat down to have a late lunch and a family of day hikers stopped to talk. They asked what our favorite part of the trail was and I answered that it was moments like that - having the freedom & self-sufficiency to hike this great trail with friends and be able to just stop wherever and cook lunch. I love those moments. We hiked on and stopped by Graymoor Spiritual Life Center/Franciscan Way. I don't know too much about it except that they have a baseball field, a pavilion, a cold shower and that hikers are welcome to stay there. When we arrived, a group of Ecuadorian Catholics from NYC were finishing up dinner. A small chapel was set up and a big PA system and we figured they had been there all day that Saturday and were wrapping up. A trail angel brought us some watermelon and we all enjoyed some slices.
Watermelon party at Graymoor

Yummy watermelon!!
Around 9pm, as I was getting ready to go to sleep, I saw about 20 big Suburbans pull up and lots of families pour out of the cars. I debated packing up to leave, but figured whatever was going on would end by 11 or 12 that night. I had no idea that an all night worship service was about to begin. Luckily, I had a pair of ear plugs that help muffle some of the noise, but literally, from dusk until dawn (about 5:30am), I could hear loud preaching in Spanish over the huge PA system. Needless to say, all the hikers were exhausted and pretty cranky in the morning.

Dawn at Graymoor
We packed up and headed about 8 miles to a road. UT had gotten off the trail to see some family in CT and met us the road with Gatorades and offered to slack pack us the last 12 miles of the day. We were shooting for a big 20 mile day to make it to RPH shelter where a Hiker Feed had been advertised. (Trail Magic is usually a cooler with cold drinks & snacks. On rare occasions we come across a Hiker Feed, which is more like a big all you can eat BBQ set up for hikers and they are advertised a few days in advance so hikers can plan around them). We'd seen signs for the Hiker Feed at RPH for Sunday night and really wanted to make it. Having a slack pack made it much easier for us to complete the 20 miles.
We set out with some snacks & water in the intense heat. It was a blessing when the skies opened and a tremendous rainstorm burst over our heads. It was so refreshing & thrilling to run down the trail in the rain. All the water sources had been dry in those parts, so it was bizarre to see the trail turn into an ankle-deep rushing stream. Every step was under water, but raced down the trail. We got up to an exposed ridge line and lighting & thunder were crashing all around us. I made the executive decision for the group that we would wait in the rain before crossing a ridge amidst the lightning. I didn't want to seem wimpy, but at the same time, I realized the severity and real danger of lightning. We waited about 10 minutes until we could count a few Mississippi's between lightning strikes & thunder booms before we sprinted across a huge rock with a big American flag painted on it. I wish I'd taken a picture, but we were just trying to get to back into the trees as quickly as possible. We showed up at the shelter earlier than expected, totally soaked, but were so grateful for the burgers & hot dogs cooked by trail maintenance guys. UT met us there with our packs & dry clothes, and also a big suitcase of cold beers - a perfect end to the day. Unfortunately, the storm continued all night and the rain was so loud, we had another sleepless night.

Monday morning, totally exhausted, we hiked down to the home of a nice woman that we'd met the night before at the Hiker Feed. With all our clothes still soaking and only 3 miles to go, Pants & I decided to have a "Hike in Your PJ's Day" and set out in our sleeping tee shirts & long johns. We hiked over to Amy's house - her husband did a thru-hike a few years back and they live near the RPH shelter and like to help out hikers. They offered to let us come by the house in the morning to shower, do laundry, and have breakfast. Moments like this are just so wonderful. I can't express how nice it is to be in a home.
Amy, Ella, & Claire - trail angels!
After a leisurely morning and lots of Belgium waffles, we felt clean, full, and had warm, dry clothes to put on - we felt so much better but still really tired. We trudged along the trail and I found Pants napping in a tree.
Naptime on the AT
We ended up only going 8 miles to Morgan Stewart shelter and decided to call it an early day and go to bed & get rested. That ended up being a smart move - I woke up the next morning, feeling totally rested and ready to get serious about hiking again. My trip to NYC kind of threw me off of my thru-hiker groove and after that great night sleep, I finally felt motivated to pack away some big miles again. I woke up early with the sun and told Pants & Tater that I was headed out and aiming to do a big 20 mile day that day. They were just waking up in their tents and hollered that they'd see me up the way.

I was also starting to think that it may be good for me to hike on my own for a bit. For most of my hike I've been with a group and I really, really love the people I've been hiking with. However, I was craving some quiet, alone time on the trail. I wanted to reconnect with myself and remember the reasons I personally had decided to take on this big adventure. I also had started to think about my life in a bigger post-trail picture and wanted some time to myself to brainstorm & write about that.

I set out hiking and had a great day. A big highlight that day was seeing the Dover Oak - the largest tree on the AT and absolutely stunning.

Dover Oak
Shortly after, I hit the CT border. Stay tuned for the CT adventures.
Also - thanks so much for the sweet, encouraging comments from the last post. I love y'all!!

xo Daystar

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