Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 109: A Lovely Day

Woke up with a smile in a comfy bed. Did a full stretch and read my AT book a bit. Tattoo and Scatters woke up and soon we were in the kitchen with Steve and Anita as they made us a wonderful breakfast. So good!

After breakfast, we headed into the town of Great Barrington to pick up packages at the post office and to resupply at the grocery store. Scatters got her new pack delivered, and I got my sleeping bag. Then we wandered around the cute downtown area for a half hour before going to the grocery store. Then we hit up an awesome roadside restaurant for lunch. Our plan was to buy Steve and Anita lunch as a thank you, but instead they bought US lunch. Too generous! And lunch was very good. (I always talk about food on this blog, don't I...)

After lunch on this beautiful day, we drove along the lovely country roads back to the house. We all needed a nap! I got my food bag in order and then we turned on a movie, and I fell asleep. What a great zero day!

We mucked around a bit, then Anita and Steve left for a dinner party. Tattoo fixed up a few steaks on the grill, and we tossed on asparagus and corn, too. We had another GREAT meal!!! Tattoo - what a great cook!

We bummed around and made a few calls. Scatters and Tattoo played a game of chess. We ate raspberry/peach tart/pie with ice cream for dessert, and now it's time to sleep again. It will be very hard to leave this wonderful place tomorrow morning. Hoping this gorgeous weather trend continues.

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Anita's House in Mount Washington, Mass.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 108: Walking to Paradise...?

Chilly morning and [almost too] cold last night. If it weren't for the bed of leaves, it might have been. Scatters and I packed up, and while we were eating breakfast, Tattoo wandered up and joined us. Then we three walked in the glorious morning.

Such a pleasant hiking day! Poofy clouds, bright sun, excellent cool breeze. We climbed uphill. We descended. We crossed into Massachusetts!!! Wow. Ten states down... Only four to go - FOUR LEFT?!?

We took lots of short breaks and we took it easy today since Scatters' friend, Anita, has a house out here. She was lovely enough to invite us over for the evening! We weren't supposed to get there until tomorrow, but looks like showers tonight!! We were quite excited, and the house was only about ten miles from where we camped. We only had to climb over a few mountains to get there...

The first mountain was Lions Head, and it was a nice gradual incline. Once we got to the top, it opened out to an amazing ridge line with views of what must've been Connecticut and Massachusetts. It was so grand and so worth the climb. Scatters, Tattoo and I enjoyed it very much. It was beautiful. Big smiles.

We walked along the ridge, then started downhill. Stopped for lunch before climbing up Mount Everett. It was an intense grade up a rocky path, but the cool breeze made it great climb. This marked 1500 miles that we've walked from Georgia. Almost only a quarter left. Hard to believe.

We made it down the other side and to the Guilder Pond picnic area. This is where Anita's directions had us turn left and follow a non-AT road down to her street. Our paces quickened as the shower and laundry called our names, and we were very lucky to get a ride the last mile from a few friendly guys.

And then we got to the house... The glorious, beautiful, wonderful house!! What an oasis! We were designated to the guest house, which is awesome, but we did laundry in the main house. Such a gorgeous property!! A long driveway, huge trees, two houses, sculpture art, a pond, a flowering garden, and a perfect afternoon. Anita and Steve weren't even there yet, but they told Scatters how to "break in." She also told us to help ourselves to whatever was in the fridge, SO we made I've cream sundaes!! We were so freakishly happy and giddy. We did laundry. I scrubbed my pack down. We took long showers. We were clean. (I FINALLY got to upload a few blogs - sorry! My phone battery and service have been problematic the last few days) Then Tattoo made us a delicious pasta dinner. Life is good.

Anita and Steve probably won't get in until after 11pm, so we're not sure if we'll see then until the morning. We watched a movie and now it's all bed. This bed is so comfy. I'm going to sleep so well tonight.
(11.2mi 4st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Anita's House in Mount Washington, Mass.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 107: Showerless

Lightning and thunder woke us all up around 3:30 in the morning. I did a quick check to make sure everything was covered and dry, listened to the storm a bit (it went right over us), then went back to sleep. Rain is the hiker snooze button, so when 7am rolled around and it was still raining, we were all quiet in our tents (and Tattoo in his hammock). Slowly around 8, the rain was pretty much gone, so we slowly packed up and ate breakfast as the trees drizzled.

Off we were for 6.8 miles to a cafe we'd heard about. When we got to the road, though, there was a detour sign. We had to road walk for a few miles because the bridge was being worked on - only vehicular traffic. Ugh. Xan, Neutron, Scatters and I walked the road. It wasn't too bad in the shade, but it didn't seem all that safe with semi-busy, sometimes curvy roads. Xan and Neutron got ahead and went into the town of Falls Village. Scatters and I parked at a picnic table across the river from the hydroelectric plant.

We laid our tents in the grass to dry and ate lunch in the shade. It was quite nice. We thought Tattoo would show up, but only an old brown Labrador did. His collar said his name was "Bear," and it seemed as though he was a bit blind - bumping into the table and walking into twigs. He hung around while we ate, rested and packed up, and then he followed us as we went looking for a public shower that the book said was close.

Well, it turns out that the dog is a town dog that likes to wander (and somehow avoids getting hit by the cars of Falls Village), and the shower was merely a shower head sticking outside the side of a building (within plain view of the cars of Falls Village).

We had been SO excited about a shower!! But this wasn't exactly what we were hoping for... A nice man working at the plant said we could charge our phones for a few minutes, and Scatters and I did our best to take public sponge-baths. It was satisfyingly refreshing, though far from ideal. It was better than nothing. This may end up being both of our longest stretches without a proper shower. The last one was Sunday morning at the hotel, and the next one will be Saturday afternoon, so it should be almost a full week. Ha!! (gross)

We sat in the grass a bit and talked about the next few states. The nice man brought our phones over when he closed up shop, and we headed out of town. The guys decided to stay in Falls Village to recharge their legs, and we hadn't heard from Tattoo.

We walked by the falls, which were pretty cool, and hiked through a very pleasant, pine-needled path for 8 ish miles to Salisbury. We skirted the town and headed back up a hill to find a place to camp. We found a stream and a flat spot, and we were set. Tents up. Water filtered. Dinner made (and spilled - Scatters) and eaten. We came to find out that Tattoo is camped less than half a mile behind us, so we should see him bright and early in the morning.

Massachusetts, here we come!!!
(18.2mi 3st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:1.8 miles north of Salisbury, CT

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 106: SOBO Season

Slept in until 8-something, after a glorious night of sleep. Just the right temperature for me and my sleeping attire. Since Scatters and I didn't get much sleep the night before, we really enjoyed the 10+ hours of rest. Apparently Xan and Itinerary had trouble sleeping because of the cold. I am definitely going to get my real sleeping bag sent back asap... (thanks in advance, Dad!!)

And then on to hiking! We saw Tripper and Wizard from OZ early on. They had stayed in Kent for a zero yesterday, but Tripper had fallen ill with food poisoning after we saw her at the laundromat. She was feeling better this morning, but still weak. Such a trooper, that Tripper.

Scatters and I hiked on as the day got warm. Took a break with Tattoo and Itinerary on Caleb's Peak, and then finished a mountainy few miles with a dramatic descent to river level. Quite a steep, rocky section going down. There was a summer camp group with a few kids rock climbing and repelling at the bottom.

THEN was what we had all been waiting for.... The five miles of FLAT trail along the river. It was really nice (literally handicapped accessible!), and we walked most of it as a group. The river looked good enough to swim in, but we'd heard to avoid it. Instead we got to the shelter and had lunch. I managed to break one of my Crocs, but was able to kinda fix it. We ate a lot. Neutron took a nap. Tripper caught up and came over for a chat. Then we left to hike the next 10 miles to the next shelter. (I guess they'll be called "Lean-to's" from here on out, but "shelter" is quicker to type...)

We ran into a trio of south-bounders on the way up a hill and stopped to chat. I had seen only three SOBOs so far, and only one had begun at Katahdin. These guys (Mzunga, Djangle and Paps) began at Katahdin around June 1st. Two brothers, Toothpick and Thrill Billy, showed up 20 mins later, began only on June 13th, and had already done 30 miles today!!?! Tattoo, Scatters and I picked their brains about what's to come, and we gave them back advice about what they'll soon see. It was a really nice chat! Hoping (and expecting) to see more SOBOs in the next month or so...

Back to hiking. We had 5ish miles to go, and they weren't flat. Tattoo stopped to eat. Xan and Neutron hadn't caught up yet from lunch/naps. Scatters and I conquered the hills and made it to the shelter, with Neutron, during the last 15 minutes of light. We got water and were setting up camp when Xan appeared. We ate dinner and slapped at MANY feisty bugs, and then Tattoo freaked us all out by sneaking into camp and screaming. Good times.

The moon is coming up, and I shall lay my head down. The mosquitos are multiplying!!!
(17mi 5st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Pine Swamp Brook Lean-to

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 105: In and Out of Kent

Cold, damp night. Not sure how much sleep I actually got. I had the trashbag around my feet again, rain jacket on, hood... Cold. Damp. Woke up when Tattoo scared Scatters around 7:30. Good morning!

We packed up quickly (I flicked three slugs off my tent and had to get one out from the inside...?) and were off to hike 11 miles or so with Tattoo into Kent, CT. It wasn't really the easiest 11 miles at all. It got pretty warm without a breeze, and we almost ran out of water at one point. Buuuut we made it to the road. Powder is from Connecticut, and his mom was picking him up. He and his mom, Carol, offered us a ride into town, and after getting dropped off, we said goodbye to Powder for a day or two. He's gotta move his stuff out of his house because the house finally sold. He should be back soon... and with Russell!

In town, we stopped at the outfitter to pick up resupply packages (thanks mom!). Scatters and I cleaned up in the bathroom. We saw Deetz and Power Pack, but they were on their way back out to the trail. Xan and Neutron rolled into town right as we were heading to the laundromat. We got the laundry going and hung out with the group. Itinerary showed up, too.

It was a magical little corner of town. The post office was there. The laundromat. And there was a grocery store across the street, so we all had a trip over there to fluff up our food bags. It was Xan, Neutron, Itinerary, Scatters, Tattoo and I. We snacked and charged our phones until the clothes were clean and dry. Tattoo took

a nap. Tripper came by to say hello at one point. Kent was a lovely little town with lots of artwork on display, but it was too expensive to spend the night. There was a back porch to the laundromat and a flat spot of grass, and I think we were all secretly wanting to just set up camp there (Scatters was already almost asleep). But we were pretty sure we wouldn't be able to do that, and we knew we should get back to the trail, so we eventually made our way back there. A lovely woman named Vienne gave us a ride. Thanks!

Back at the trail, we knew there would be a climb. We were really really really REALLY hoping there would be a fabulous, flat, perfect camping area (for all SIX hikers) right at the top of the hill. And there was!! Flat, fluffy, leafy, beautiful camping area. Lovely.

Everyone set up (while there was still sun light - what?!), and we're all good. I'm exhausted and so very ready for bed. Not a big day today, but 63ish miles in three days deserves a nice night of sleep. Night.
(11.8mi 6st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Campsite .5 North of CT 341

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 104: A Trail Magical Marathon Reunion Day

Woke up to a chilly morning snug in my sack. There was a small spider hovering from the ceiling of the shelter over my head. Good morning! Powder left as Scatters and I were waking up. We had hoped that One Life would somehow miraculously be there for breakfast, but he didn't make it. Not sure where he ended up camping last night.

We packed up and left to hike five miles to a road with a deli. Great morning hike on the cool morning with nice breezes. It was going to be a beautiful day! We got to the road, and there was AWESOME trail magic there! Sodas, juice boxes, the entire Little Debbie line of treats, chips, donuts, and a few extra dinners. Wow! But what was even better was that Xan and Neutron came strolling down the street back from the deli - oh hey!! They sat down at the trail magic and we caught up and ate. It ended up being quite a group with them two, Scatters, Powder, Restless, Creek Diver, and me. Good times.

We had our fill and hiked on. It was so nice to see the guys in a place where we might actually be hiking with them again. We had heard that they were about a day ahead, but since we did a long day yesterday, we caught them. Oh happy reunion.

We hiked on at our own paces, and it continued to be a beautiful day. Around Nuclear Lake. Up and down. At one point (this happened yesterday, too), it was so quiet. I couldn't hear any roads or people. The wind stopped, and the ground was soft dirt, so my poles and feet didn't make noise either. It was so peaceful! This must be what all those parents are screaming about. Peace and quiet... It was nice.

We came up to a shelter where I met a few new faces: Bird, MJFox, and Twiggzy. Soon the whole group was there, and we took a quick snack break. Then we caught the guys down by a stream and had a longer snack. It was here that Scatters decided today was the day to complete her first marathon day. Allllll the way to the CT border. I was in, and so were the rest of the crazy kids.

We would be pushing it with light, so we hiked on at good, quick paces. We stopped to get water near the Dover oak tree. It was HUGE - a girth of over 20 feet! And estimated to be over 300 years old - reportedly the largest tree on the AT. We hiked on together until we got to NY-22 where the AT train station is, as well as a landscape business that is hiker friendly. There was a picnic table out the back, so the five of us made our dinners for the night despite 6.8 more miles to the border.

After cleaning up, the hike was on. I could only go until 8:45 before having to get my headlamp out. The full moon was AGAIN soooo bright, but the tree canopy was too thick to let the light through. Headlamps did the trick though. Powder, Scatters and I came up to a road just as five hikers were getting dropped off. It was the Chicken Pot Pie group. They headed up to the shelter, and we sat down by the SECOND dose of trail magic for the day - cookies and lemonade!!!! It was so unexpected and just the perfect dessert. We sat down for 20 minutes with only 1.5 something more miles to go. Eating cookies and drinking pink lemonade in the forest in the dark. I think it was 9:25pm.

We sugar-rush-hiked uphill to the Wiley shelter and saw a big ole group of familiar faces. Beaver Chief was there and Tattoo was finally back on the trail! Hello! We said quick hellos but had to get going (despite the STRONG temptation of staying and hanging out...). Scatters was really excited about finishing her marathon day! And the sugar rush continued...

And then we were there! Here! No big sign, but a small note on a register box. Well done, Scatters! Now officially part of the marathon club. Tick that one off the goal list - and good timing because the terrain is only going to get harder now that we are officially in New England. Wow - Connecticut?? And Massachusetts by the weekend!?!?? Only one third left!!!?! This crazy trip is flying.

We camped right there (kind of on the trail). Feels good to have had a few big days in a row. A good rest in Ft Montgomery made me feel very strong and excited to hike again.

And I guess I always have been serious about ticks, but now that we're in New England, the chances of getting one with Lyme disease are much higher. There are signs posted everywhere. Scatters reminded me to do a check before bed, and I found a teeny tiny one on my foot. Fingers crossed that it was clean...

Miss you, One Life!
(26.7mi 15st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:The NY - CT border

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 103: An Unexpected Big Day

I know I had been hurting. And I know many people were telling me to take it easy. But I woke up ready to hike and so I did. Many miles...

Since Scatters and I had not planned on taking a zero yesterday, we wanted to get out early and start back up again. One Life was feeling better, but didn't want to rush out the door. We all had the fabulous breakfast at the hotel and then packed up. Scatters and I ended up leaving just before 9, and One Life said he was going to hang around the hotel a bit longer. We were all hoping to see each other later... no matter if it would be today, tomorrow or later on in the week.

So, Scatters and I were lucky to score a hitch very quickly from the gas station from a chef named Steve, who was on his way to work. Thanks Steve!! We walked over beautiful Bear Mountain bridge and the began to climb in the heat. The terrain wasn't too bad, but the humidity was horrible. Better than yesterday, but still bad. We hiked a while and then ran into TC, who we hadn't seen for a while.

We caught up with what he'd been up to and stopped briefly for a snack, then we stopped at the Appalachian Market (brand new!?), then again for lunch - when it started sprinkling. (oh and we passed 1400 miles!) We weren't sure how far we'd make it, but we were feeling good. And there was water! In the streams!!?! It was so nice not to freak out too much about not knowing where the next reliable source would be. Thank the rains...

We hiked on in the drizzle. We all play the "is it a stick or a snake" game most everyday, and I usually lose with stick. Today I ended up winning with a big ole lazy black snake flopped right across the trail. It didn't care about me at all or the nooses I made, and eventually it just slowly slithered off on its way. Oh snakes...

We all stopped for an afternoon snack after 15 or so miles, and Scatters and I decided to push past 20 to see if we could make it to the next shelter. No pressure, but why not if we're feeling good, right...? TC was pretty sure he'd camp around 20 miles.

As we hiked on, the rain stopped, and the sun came back out. It turned into a lovely afternoon, and then a dramatic evening sky - complete with BRIGHT full moon! We had dinner atop Shenandoah Mountain and watched the clouds a bit. Then we night hiked the last 2.8 miles to the shelter. Powder was there and so was Dr Rock, who I hadn't seen in a while. We chatted with Powder while getting ready for bed, and now it's time for dark. Hope TC and One Life ended up camping together somewhere!

I can't believe how bright that moon is!!?!
(25.2mi 15st)


-- Posted from the trail...

Location:RPH Shelter

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 102: An Unexpected Zero

AMAZING breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express. Fresh cinnamon rolls, fruit, omelets, yogurt, good times. We feasted and went back to the room. Scatters and I had PLANNED to hike out that day..... Buuuuuut... There were DANGEROUS heat advisories out for the area AND One Life had the room for two days AND we had plenty of food AND the motivation suddenly dwindled after so much eating so early in the day. We changed our plans for an unexpected zero day in Fort Montgomery.

We chilled out all day. Snacked. Watched bad tv. Napped. One Life uploaded photos. Scatters somehow got herself another free pack from Gregory. I took care of emails and other admin. A few trips to the mini mart. It was nice. And it was HOT outside!!! So glad to be in the AC.

Powder, who has been back on the trail after pulling his hamstring a week or so ago, stopped by to hang out a bit and shower. Then One Life's sister, Abigail, drove up from NYC! We all hung out in the increasingly stinky room. Later on, we dropped Powder off at the trail head (he was stronger than all of us to get back on the trail so late!) and the ladies and One Life grabbed dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. Delicious! (thanks, Abigail!!)

We were stuffed. Abigail drove us back to the hotel. We watched the end of a movie and then she left to get back home. (see you next weekend??) The rest of the evening was short. Hitch was on tv, then blogging and bed.

Now we DEFINITELY should be rested and recharged to start off strong for New England. Looking forward to hiking in the morning! (and the breakfast beforehand : )

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Fort Montgomery, NY

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 101: Bear Mountain

Woke up early and packed up. Scatters and I were on the trail by 8am. It was good terrain, but still no water. We came to the Palisades Interstate Parkway, which was a 65 mph road with a wide median. We crossed safely and walked along the road (off the trail) .4 miles to the visitors center in the middle of the highway. We used the facilities, and I charged my phone. We filled up on water, but there was a problem with their system so the water looked like iced tea! It tasted very earthy. Oh well. It was drinkable....

We hiked on and were preparing ourselves for Bear Mountain. First we hiked up and over West Mountain, which was pretty steep, in the drizzles. Then we walked a road for a while and paused before the climb up Bear. Once we got in the zone, we took off. It wasn't too bad! And we saw a big ole dear right off the trail. What we thought would take us 30 minutes only took 15! We couldn't believe it was already over!!!?! And we were glad... because it was raining again.

We hung out in the Bear Mountain museum/tower/lookout place for a good chunk of time while it rained. The view was not ideal. We snacked and phoned a bit and talked to a few other tourists. Finally it was time to hike down the mountain. In the rain. And cold.

Luckily!!! They'd finished the MASSIVE work on the north side of the mountain. It was a very pleasant walk down - hundreds of slate steps and flat ground in between them. Such a wonderful walk downhill!!

We got to the bottom to Hessian Lake, avoided hundreds of summer campers, then crossed the road into the zoo. Yes, the AT goes right through a small zoo! We saw a couple sad-looking animals (bobcats, coyotes, porcupines, bears) and headed off the trail towards Fort Montgomery. One Life has been feeling sick, and a friend of his got a hotel room for him to force him to rest. Once again, he said he could stay - thanks again Cyndi!

Scatters and I walked to the post office and picked up our packages. (Thank you SO MUCH Toboggan for the package! It's full of delicious treats and great meals. Big BIG smiles - and yes, I will share :) We really didn't want to walk the mile up to the hotel, so we were asking everyone who came into the PO if they could help us out with a rode. We were very lucky when the third person we asked, Sue, said she'd love to drive us. Thanks, Sue!

Up at the hotel, we were able to check-in without One Life, and we cleaned ourselves up in the room. We knew it would probably be a while before he got there, so we bought a bunch of his favorite snacks and Gatorade at the mini mart, and we hung out, hotel-style.

One Life texted around 8pm, and he said the zoo was closed. It was about to storm. He wasn't sure how he'd get up here, so I called Kit Kat (who we'd seen earlier in the hotel), and she agreed to pick him up and bring him here. Thanks Kit Kat!!! By the time he got here, the pizza had arrived and the coke/Gatorade was chilled. He cleaned up and we all chilled out.

Should be hot out tomorrow, so I'm trying to hydrate while there's a flushing toilet around. Night!

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Fort Montgomery, NY

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 100: One Hundred Days!

Woke up after a chilly, rainy evening. It was aaaalmost cold. I toweled down my tent and packed up. Had breakfast with One Life, Scatters and Dumba$$, and then we were on our way.

LOVELY morning!!! Nice cooler temperature and a cool breeze. I knew it was my hundredth day, and it sorta felt like it was my birthday. Big smiles hiking the first five miles. My body felt better - I guess I was just having a really tired day yesterday? - but I wasn't going too fast. Got to a road crossing, and there was trail magic water!! I remember when there used to be coolers at the roads, and we'd all get upset if it was only water. Now, it's a life-saver. Seriously, I don't know what we would do without the generosity of the area trail angels. We got roadside water three times today. And good thing because there are just no sources on the trail in this area!

I took a break and filled up and had a snack. Scatters caught up when I was talking to Andrew, a sobo. We stayed in the shade and almost got chilled (?!) when One Life showed up. We thought the rocks were done after Pennsylvania, but there are some serious boulders in NY. The fun kind!

The rest of the day was bouncing around nice, foresty trail and then climbing up and down STEEP rock faces. With such great weather, this may have been one of my most fun days in a while!! We took a lot of breaks, too, which is nice. We needed breaks with such full-body climbing. And it wasn't big, long uphills then big, long downhills... It was an endless chain of little steep ups and little steep downs. Beautiful landscape, too! If you're up for a long weekend of hiking. I highly suggest the New York section of the AT so far.

Well, because of the many breaks, we were running late. After a few miles in the enchanted forest if chipmunks, I got to the first shelter and made dinner because I was starving. One Life showed up and decided to stay there for the night. Scatters and I had planned to press on to the next shelter, 5 miles up the trail. So, I had dinner with One Life and we chatted about how it's gonna get harder from here on out. There are definitely highs and lows out here, and it isn't always easy. I was hurting yesterday, but today flipped my mood right around.

I wished him an early bedtime as I left around 7:30 to get through five miles before dark. I was running low on water and REALLY hoping for one more dose of trail magic water. No go. But! There was a stream!! I took a few minutes to fill up and was on my way. Then it got dark and I was night hiking again. No worries. Just a bit slower...

I made it to the next shelter and Scatters was already tented up. We are the only two here. The shelter is a bit gross, so we both tented. Juggler, an unofficial ridge runner, showed up and chatted with us about the trail for while before leaving, and now it's time for BED!

I cannot believe I've been out here for 100 days.

Thanks for the comments, all! I'll try to take it easy, though I'm already feeling better. All three of us have been extra achey (achy?) since NYC, and I think it was mostly just getting back into the swing if things.

(oh and Sarah, the "st" is my stumble count for the day!!)

(19.6mi 16st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:William Brien shelter

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 99: In a New York State of Sweat

Woke up pleasantly after a great night of sleep at the church. We three were the only hikers in there, so we took our time eating breakfast and packing up. We made signs to help with the hitch back to the trail, and we left around 10am. We walked back to the main road and planted ourselves at the corner in front of Burger King. Not ONE minute after being there, a lovely girl named Michelle picked us up! She was on her way to teach a pilates class and she thought we looked safe. Much appreciated, Michelle!!

We were back on the trail by 10:30, and it was a steep climb up 800 feet or so, and the heat was sweltering already. The temperature didn't seem too too high, but it was VERY humid. We were all sweating buckets, and there was NO breeze. The climb was a lot of stone stairs, and I was leading. Near the end of it, I could see where the summit was, and I was pushing to get there. One Life was a few minutes behind me. When I finally came over the last few stairs to celebrate the end of it, there were two eyes staring right at me from a out 8-10 yards away. Oh, hey bear...

When I'm hiking, there's a lot of looking down. And when I'm climbing with my sun visor on, I'm concentrating on the next few steps and not much more. I'm actually surprised I didn't wind up much closer to the young bear. It was right on the trail as if it was headed southbound. It froze. I stopped and quickly started backing up to a safer distance. We both stood there for a second, then I got out my camera (as you do). The bear posed, I snapped a few shots, then I just watched it for about a minute before it scampered off the trail suddenly. It was then in the bushes not even 10 feet from where it had been.

One Life caught up and took a video of the little guy as he scampered off a little more. Then Scatters caught up, and the bear was at a safe distance to pass. Good times New Jersey! Official beat count: 3.

We walked on in the heat till a lunch break at the Wayawana shelter. A thunderstorm passed just north of us - we could hear all the thunder, but we didn't get any rain. We got back to walking around 2pm, heading for the NJ-NY state line. It got quite rocky, unexpectedly. (Were we secretly back in Pennsylvania...?) Then we crossed into state #9, New York! Should be a good one.

More rocks. More forest. A couple views. Then the thunder began again. I couldn't tell if this one would miss us or not, so we put on our pack covers and trudged on. The sky was tumultuous, and the cold breeze felt great. Ten minutes down the trail, it started to rain. I switched to Crocs and covered up my trail runners just before it stormed. It was chilly! I walked on and it let up about 20 minutes later.

One Life and Scatters were ahead, and I was going slow. Kind of a frustrating day for me. It was the first time since before a began that I wondered if I would make it the whole way to Katahdin. My mind is all there - completely ready to go the distance. But my body is hurting. Not sure if it was the two days off or what, but my joints are so tight and sore. Depending on the hour, my right foot, left ankle, right knee and both hips will cry with dull pain. I decided long ago that a thru hike is not good for one's body. Will it recover fully after I'm done?? Should I make ibuprofen a more substantial part of my diet?? Will I need to avoid taking multiple days off?? Is this just what happens right before you turn thirty....???

I don't know what the answer is, but I do plan on listening closely to my body for the next couple days. It feels fragile, so perhaps I need to go slow for a bit. I had a few close calls on some of the rocks today, but I always manage to catch myself. Hope that continues! One Life said he had a fall today that seemed a bit scary. He made it through fine though.

After the rain stopped, I was hiking by myself when the forest opened up to a wonderful look-out. Dramatic "after the rain" mountains and sky!! It was gorgeous, and so I took a break (and photos) to watch the clouds and the distant storm. It cheered me up and got me thinking about something other than my aches.

I switched back to my trail runners and made it the last mile or so to the shelter while it thundered again. One Life and Dumba$$ were there, but no Scatters?? We set up our tents and started making dinner when she finally rolled in. It had been down-pouring and storming (again!?) for 15 minutes and it was almost dark. Apparently she had stopped for water and got behind us without us knowing. We ate dinner in the shelter and said goodnight. So far, my tent has been holding up fine in the rain. Hoping it continues!!

Goodnight, New York!! See you in the morning....
(17.1mi 15st)

-- Posted from the trail...

Location:Wildcat shelter