PA, here I come!

Massachusetts to New Jersey

**  WARNING  **

This post is picture-heavy.  Don’t complain to me if you go over your data limit.  Carry on…

I have the last few blog posts written, and am just working to get pictures selected and uploaded.  Once that happens, the final entries from my trip will be posted, along with a “What I’m doing now” post, as many have requested… thanks for your support!

Day 172 – Williamstown
Miles: 0

I slept in a little this morning, after yesterday’s extensive traveling. I had breakfast at hotel, which was surprisingly good for such a small hotel. I walked to Dollar General for resupply, then rested at the hotel for a while. Today was going to be a very restful zero day, if nothing else. Early afternoon, I decided to walk to the campus of Williamstown University and explore with my camera for a while. I also spent a lot of time today trying to find a shuttle to Mt. Greylock for tomorrow. I walked back to campus to swap out some holey Darn Tough socks, and stopped at the Purple Pub for dinner. For such a nice looking place, I was severely disappointed with the service. I sat at the bar, which was probably my first mistake as it turned out that only the “locals” got served there. When I was finally able to place my order, I was never offered a drink refill, checked on after my food was brought out by kitchen staff, and generally ignored, all while the THREE bartenders stood and chatted nonstop with the 5 or 6 locals sitting at the other side of the bar. I understand the “college bar” scene and all, but don’t give me a sour look when I only leave you $1 for a tip – you have to EARN that tip. Back at the hotel, I packed up my food bag, finalized my shuttle plans (calling a cab from the next town over was actually cheaper than any of the shuttles!), called home and watched tv. It was a long day, but fairly productive as far as town days go.

Getting my "architect" on.

Getting my “architect” on.

Love this quote!

Love this quote!

 

Day 173 – Williamstown to Mt Greylock to Dalton
Miles: 17.2

I was up early to make the final call to the cab, then got breakfast. I dealt with some last-minute financial issues before the taxi arrived. Within half an hour, I was standing at the top of Mt. Greylock again. It was odd to “jump” back to Massachusetts again like this, and even more weird to be a SOBO now. Even though it was still rocks and roots, the trail was very different than up north and it took me a while to find my groove. The forest is nice, though, full of oak trees, squirrels and chipmunks fighting over nuts, the ground a blur of yellow, brown and red leaves. But it was a long day, mentally. My pack is heavier than ever, and my energy levels just aren’t on par for the hike. I walked into Dalton about 5:15, and got permission from Tom Levardi to set my tent up in his back yard. Tom lets hikers stay for free, providing water and a picnic table. I set up, snacked a little while relaxing in the grass, then cooked dinner as it got dark. A SOBO section hiker named Engineer stopped in and set up his tent, as well. Tom brought out ice cream and chatted for a while, then went to bed. I cleaned up and headed for my tent, texting home a little.

Day 174 – Dalton to Upper Goose Pond Cabin
Miles: 20.6

I slept great, considering there were cars going by most of the night and a street light shining nearby. I woke to a virtual rainstorm inside my tent, though, with condensation dripping everywhere and the outside of the tent wet from dew. I woke up to the sound of Tom and Engineer headed off to breakfast, so I didn’t get to say goodbye. I packed as quickly as I could, getting on trail by 7:30. The trail had much more rocks and roots today than yesterday, and it was tough to find a rhythm. But the forest was beautiful, full of colorful oaks and maples and aspens instead of the pine and spruce of up north. It was a cool day, never really warm but not really cold either. I had lunch at the Cookie Lady’s house, although she wasn’t there. Her husband, Cookie Man, brought out cookies and then collected apples from a nearby tree for us. Tom showed up, bringing Engineer’s gear from his slack pack. Oh well, that’s what I get for leaving early. Regardless, I hiked on. The trail seemed rough today, with lots of little ups and downs. I got to the Upper Good Pond Cabin at 5, and my legs and feet were spent. The cabin is absolutely picturesque. It’s larger than it first appears, with an informal sitting and dining area with a large stone fireplace, and a small kitchen on the first floor, and a decent sized bunk room upstairs. There are stairs inside, and a set of stairs outside, direct from the bunkroom down to grade. It has an old hunting cabin feel to it, and would make a wonderful weekend family cabin. I met Peter, AKA Shepherd (2001), the weekend caretaker. He was a really nice guy, welcoming me in, showing me around and generally making me feel at home. I grabbed a bunk and spread my sleeping bag out to dry a little, then walked to the pond to relax for a minute before cooking dinner. Two section hikers, Solstice and Kick the Rocks (KTR), were here and very talkative. Again, really nice guys that I wish I could spend more time with. As I was eating, Shepherd offered me some leftovers from his dinner – steak, onions and mushrooms. Uhh, yes, please! Engineer showed up after dark, and was a mess of confusion trying to cook his dinner in the dark. I can’t place my finger on it, but I’m not completely sure he is who he says he is… According to him, he did 1,900 miles last year and is just finishing the section he missed, but he doesn’t know to not shake hands with other hikers, doesn’t know what a PUD is, etc. It just doesn’t line up, but whatever. At the pace he’s keeping, I won’t see him much anyways. It was a cold night again, and as I cleaned my cook gear, I wondered how cold the cabin gets.

Upper Goose Pond

Upper Goose Pond

Harley Bear enjoying the view

Harley Bear enjoying the view

 

Day 175 – Upper Goose Pond Cabin to US-7/Great Barrington
Miles: 27.5

I got a great night’s sleep last night. I woke at 7, and did a little journaling while waiting for pancakes and coffee, a perk of staying at Upper Goose Pond Cabin. I would like to have zeroed here, but I have a goal in mind, and let’s be honest, I’ve taken far too many zeroes at this point. It was a decent day to hike, but there were a lot of PUDs. The temps were cooler, almost cold, but walking through fields let the sun warm me. There were lots of day hikers and weekenders out, and I stopped to chat with 4-5 different groups as the day progressed. Apparently, the smelly thru hiker is a bit of a novelty. At first, I worried about the time constraints of stopping so much, but each group renewed my spirits and made it a good day. Then I met a family who shared a deli samich with me and chatted for half an hour, and it really pepped me up. However, the acorns are becoming dangerous, from both the air and the ground. I have been bombed for the last few days, and almost slid down a hill on a pile of acorns, just like the ball bearing scene in classic cartoons. I made it to Great Barrington by 6, and was picked up at the US-7 road crossing shortly later by Nora, a sweet old lady who loved to talk. She lives life every day, though, always smiling and laughing, and reminds me of my late Aunt Helen. She drove me to Price Chopper and refused to take me back to trail so late in the day, insisting that I stay at her house tonight. She treated me to a steak dinner in town, telling me stories and flirting with the waiter to see if she could get him to blush, which she successfully did… numerous times! We stopped for ice cream on the way home, “because you only live once.” Then she took me to her house and set me up in the guest suite. I showered and planned out a few days, and assumed Nora had gone to bed by this point, until she knocked on the door and brought in freshly made chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of Pepsi as a snack. This woman is an amazing trail angel! It was a late night, but it was worth it.

Have to keep reminding myself, I'm a SOBO now...

Have to keep reminding myself, I’m a SOBO now…

Day 176 – US-7/Great Barrington to The Hemlocks Shelter
Miles: 8

I didn’t sleep great last night, the house being too warm for me, but I still slept in a bit. Nora cooked me a couple egg, bacon and cheese on English muffin sandwiches. With good coffee and conversation, the morning flew by. I was planning a short day, so I relaxed with Nora in her sunroom and just enjoyed the morning. She dropped me back at the trail at 11:30, both of us sad to say goodbye. I am always amazed how quickly strangers become friends out here. The trail was rocky today and I felt sluggish, probably from all the town food. But I got to the shelter at 4. Water was hard to find, but I did find it, at Glen Brook shelter 0.1 miles north. After so much conversation in town, I was feeling a little lonely, but tried to make the best of the short day. I set my tent up to dry and collected some firewood. I also looked ahead at the guidebook to try to plan a little more. I planned to build a campfire later and watch the eclipse tonight, which gave me something to look forward to, but did little for the loneliness. I cooked dinner and ate alone, thinking of home and the future. About as it was getting dark, another hiker walked up. He’s doing a section. His name is Brew – and after some length of conversation, he confessed that he’s the husband of Jenn Phar Davis!! We had some great conversation around the campfire while he prepared and ate dinner, then we both went silent and read our respective books. It really helped ease my loneliness having him in camp, though. I watched the eclipse as best I could through the trees, realizing how the day had been amazing, even with the loneliness aspect.

The (new) Hemlocks Shelter

The (new) Hemlocks Shelter

Day 177 – The Hemlocks Shelter to Limestone Spring Shelter
Miles: 17.5

I slept good last night, waking refreshed and ready for the day. I chatted with Brew as I packed up. There were lots of uphills early in the day, which left my knees a little sore, but I made decent time, even with all the rocks. The trail feels very lonely today, compared to the crowds of yesterday (Monday vs Sunday hiking…) Looking at shelters and the forecasted weather, I decided I couldn’t make it past my planned goal of Limestone Shelter, but was going to get there plenty early, so I walked into Salisbury for lunch to use up a little daylight. I ate at the grocery store deli, which was perfect because I could get a sandwich, a box of cut fruit from the produce section, and a Gatorade and, of course, a Pepsi. They had some little tables outside to sit at, so I ate out there, enjoying the fall weather. A lady doing yard work brought me a “local apple” as a gift, and talked for a few minutes about the trail. Then I slowly made my way to the shelter. The wind picked up some as the afternoon progressed, making the forest a tad dangerous – acorns were falling everywhere! Numerous times I had to cover my head, because I could hear the acorns falling through leaves somewhere nearby. I took a short break and watched a woodpecker for a good five minutes before it flew off – I think it was a downy but need to verify. I got to the shelter about 4:30 and immediately searched for water. The LONG walk DOWN – always down – to the shelter was next to a dry river bed so I was worried, but I did find decent water. After filtering water, I read my kindle to relax a little. The loneliness is always worst when I’m alone in camp but I guess I’m starting to get used to it. I cooked dinner and ate while reading, and as it got dark, two other SOBOs walked in. They were very talkative and unorganized, but at least I’m not alone all night.

Detour around Iron Mountain Bridge... 3 miles of road. Ugh.

Detour around Iron Mountain Bridge… 3 miles of road. Ugh.

A view with a "Brew"

A view with a “Brew”

Into Connecticut!

Into Connecticut!

 

Day 178 – Limestone Spring Shelter to Stewart Hollow Brook Shelter
Miles: 21.4

I slept horrible last night. One of the guys who came in late kept screaming about mice running around him all night, so I got very little sleep. It started raining on and off about 2am, but by the time I got up, it was just the leaves dripping. When I got up, I saw that the two SOBOs had their food spread out around them, inside the shelter, and the one who was screaming all night had trail mix all over the place. No wonder the mice were scurrying around him. So glad I will out walk them in one day. Today was all PUDs… painfully so. It was warm, but very humid, and I’m not sure what’s worse, the rocks or the acorns. I almost fell twice because of acorns, but I did fall once because of a wet rocks. But the acorns fall and hit me – twice today! So it’s like walking through a bomb field. I ate lunch at Pine Swamp Brook Shelter, and shortly after, caught up with Brew. We hiked together for a while, sharing some good conversations, but he stopped for a snack break and not wanting to self-invite, I kept going. The last couple miles were along the Housatonic River, and I’m sure it’s beautiful, but I was so tired, I just kept plodding along until I was done. I got to the shelter totally exhausted at 5:45. I had to walk back 0.6 miles to get water because the brook was dried up, but it felt good to walk without a pack on. My legs are shot, though. I cooked dinner and ate while watching the light fade from the sky. Brew showed up with the last bit of light, and quickly ate, then we both sat reading our books before bed. It started raining just after Brew arrived, and was pouring within half an hour – good timing on his part!

Day 179 – Stewart Hollow Brook Shelter to Ten Mile River Shelter
Miles: 15.7

It rained all night, which helped me sleep great. Both Brew and I slept in a little, because of the rain. I woke at 7:15, and was on trail by 8:15. Brew had left at 8, but I caught up with him pretty quickly. There was more river walk this morning, but with the rain, it wasn’t worth stopping for pictures. However, refreshed from sleep, the view was beautiful. When the trail left the river, it went up a steep hill with lots of rock steps, to The Ledges. Brew caught up with me on the uphill. About half way up, Brew slipped and fell bad, cartwheeling and summersaulting down off a large rock ledge. He hit his face on dirt – thankfully missing all the rocks, but still causing him some neck pain as the day progressed. Other than some scrapes and bruises, and the shock factor, he was ok, though. We walked together most of the way into Kent, arriving at 11:30, where I walked to the IGA to resupply, then got lunch at the Villager. Brew had some errands to run so we parted ways as we entered town. It stopped raining about 9 or 10, I guess, but it was hard to tell with all the tree drippings. Somewhere before town, I witnessed a tree come crashing to the ground. It scared me at first, because it was loud and I didn’t know which tree it was! But it was neat to watch, in a weird sense. In town, I called home briefly to check in. It was so good to hear their voices though. It’s times like this that I realize how alone I am out here. I headed back out of town at 1:30, while Brew went to the library for a bit. The trail was a lot of ups and downs after Kent, with a couple big climbs. Altogether, though, they didn’t seem so bad, except the chaffing started after town. That sucked. And today was “return of the orange eft” day. Those little buggers were everywhere! I tried not stop step on any, but I can’t promise I didn’t. I took a wrong turn at one point, and it took me about 100 yards to realize it. I turned around and started back up the hill I had climbed down, but slipped on the rock and slid down almost 30 feet. For a second, I was scared I wasn’t going to stop! It didn’t hurt me really, but I checked my pack to make sure it was ok. It seems the scare was the worst of the damage. I got to camp about 5:45. The shelter is on the edge of a field, and has a water hand pump. If it were nice weather, it’d be a nice place to stay. Brew arrived about 6:30, again as it was getting dark. We seem to have a lot of good conversation, and I’m going to be sad to see him go tomorrow. He’s meeting a friend and getting off trail for the night.

Day 180 – Ten Mile River Shelter to Morgan Stewart Shelter
Miles: 20.6

I woke up a little early, and tried to not wake Brew, so was a little slower getting ready. He woke before I left, and we said our goodbyes. I most likely won’t see him, so it’s a little sad walking out of camp. But the trail changes every day. The trail had an immediate uphill which winded me. I crossed into New York, and stated a string of rocky PUDs. So far, I am not a fan of New York. The trail is rocky, overgrown with briar berry bushes, covered by blow downs and the bog boards are all rotted out. And trash everywhere! It was a cold day, with wind on and off. The sun tried to pop through a few times, but it was mostly cloudy. I stopped at the Appalachian Trail railroad station briefly, snapped some pics, then kept walking. I had a quick lunch at the side trail for Telephone Pioneers Shelter. I enjoyed the view at Nuclear Lake, sitting for a break along the bank, listening to the gun fire from a nearby range. I filled up water at Whakey Lake Stream and decided to carry 2L extra, for the 3 miles to the shelter, in case the shelter was dry. Sitting there, I realized I like small streams for water supply, but prefer larger rivers for sitting and relaxing. Random thought, but made me smile at the comparison. The hike up to the shelter was tough with extra water, but bearable. My mind was all over the place today, from home to the bike club to airplanes to the future. I got to the shelter at about 4:45. I collected firewood and started a small campfire, although it took forever for it to really get going because everything is wet. The caretaker stopped in to place a new logbook and chatted for a few minutes, giving me some advice for the upcoming trail. I ate dinner as it got dark, letting the campfire die out, then climbed into bed to stay warm.

Me and Brew

Me and Brew

The A.T. train stop

The A.T. train stop

Nuclear Lake

Nuclear Lake

 

Day 181 – Morgan Stewart Shelter to Graymoor Spiritual Life Center
Miles: 27.8

What a long day. It drizzled all night, and was freezing cold! I woke up at 4:30 shivering. I tried to get warm, but couldn’t, so I just got up and started my day. I left camp at 6, using my headlamp. I never really did warm up, as the day progressed. It was slow going until the sun came up, and even then it was still slower than normal. The trail was a little rocky at times, but mostly it was good and quick. The uphills are still winding me a little, but not as bad. I stopped for water at RPH Shelter and kept going. I got to Fahnestock State Park and decided it was too early to stop, so pushed on. The day was mostly a daze, trying to avoid acorns and rocks from tripping me, while trying to keep moving to stay warm. It rained on and off most of the day, getting worse as the day went. Somewhere this afternoon, I brushed against a branch and something stung/bit me. At first, I just swatted it away and kept walking. Then it started to really hurt. Shortly later, my body started to itch all over. Then my face felt like it was on fire, heat radiating from it (the only heat of the day!). The sting site was a little swollen, but there were no hives anywhere on my body (I checked) and I never had breathing problems, but this was the first time I’ve ever had a reaction to a sting. So I popped some Benadryl as a precaution and tried to stay focused to finish walking. Got close to the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center and called the number to Stony Point Center, a conference center whose business card was in the shelter last night. They came and picked me up, getting me to their faculty around 8. I showered, did a load of laundry, ate some food that they graciously warmed from the kitchen, called home and laid down, completely beat. My legs are still numb as I write this, but my hands are warming up. Hope this rain ends soon!

Day 182 – Graymoor Spiritual Life Center to Bear Mountain Bridge
Miles: 6.9

It was not great sleep last night. My arm was itchy and I couldn’t relax. I finally did get some sleep, though, and slept in (for me) before getting up and going to breakfast. My arm is still itchy from the sting and slightly swollen, I think, but I can’t just stay here. Well, I could, but I don’t want to take a true zero, so I arranged for Stony Point to give me a slack pack. The shuttle took me back to Graymoor around 9:30 and I was on trail within half an hour. Once again, it was very cold and drizzled all day, but slack packing is much nicer. I made ok time, but my legs feel heavy. I got to Bear Mountain Bridge just as the shuttle arrived to take me back to Stony Point Center. We stopped at a grocery store for resupply on the way back, and I grabbed a few snacks for the afternoon. I showered, took a short nap, called home, and then headed to communal dinner. Afterwards, I went back to my room to plan out the remainder of the trip, turning into a late night.

The meditation center at Stoney Point Center

The meditation center at Stony Point Center

Day 183 – Bear Mountain Bridge to Island Pond Rd (Stealth site)
Miles: 17.7

I finally slept great last night. I slept in again and then rushed to breakfast. Today looks amazing – warm, dry, sunny. I was not impressed with breakfast today, the food was cold or “old”, and left me feeling underwhelmed. I finished some last minute packing and got a shuttle back to Bear Mountain Bridge. It was hard to leave Stony Point, though The place just has a good atmosphere and the people are very comforting. I walked out partway on the bridge to get some pics, since it was rainy yesterday, then hit the trail, starting at 10. I walked through the Trailside Zoo, which was neat. It made me miss the Detroit Zoo, though. And then there was Bear Mountain and it’s bazzilion steps. It was a long climb, but I made it in decent time. I took some pics, and kept hiking. The trail after Bear Mountain was often steep and full of rocks, many of them loose. It was tough on my ankles and knees, for sure. Bear Mountain was crowded, too. Even on the trails around it. I had lunch at the side trail to West Mountain Shelter, then continued, crossing the Palisades Parkway. The forest changed on this side of the parkway. Here, it was very sparse, almost fake. I’ve seen yards with denser woodlands. It was very odd. And hard to follow the trail at times, since the leaves were down and there’s no distinguishing trail features. But the crowds disappeared and I was left to my thoughts. I again carried water for three miles, in case the shelter was dry. I got to Fingerboard Shelter at 4:30, finding three day hikers there, partying. There were empty beer cans sitting everywhere, peanut shells in the floor, music blaring, incense burning in the shelter, and two dogs growling at everyone. They were friendly enough, but when I discovered the water source was dry, I decided to push on. I made real good time, even though the terrain was a lot of ups and downs, and included the Lemon Squeezer. About 6, I got to Island Pond Road and cooked dinner. I decided to find a stealth site nearby and quickly set up my tent before it got dark. I ate in the dark, then climbed into the tent to get warm. My legs are sore but considering the late start, I’m happy with today’s progress. As I was settling in for the night, coyotes started singing. Hope they stay away!

Looking down from Bear Mountain Bridge

Looking down from Bear Mountain Bridge

Looking up at Bear Mountain Bridge

Looking up at Bear Mountain Bridge

My first bear "picture".  This guy was camera-shy though.

My first bear “picture”. This guy was camera-shy though.

Bear Mountain... from the bottom.

Bear Mountain… from the bottom.

The tower atop Bear Mountain

The tower atop Bear Mountain

The Lemon Squeezer.  I barely fit.

The Lemon Squeezer. I barely fit.

Island Pond

Island Pond

 

Day 184 – Island Pond Rd (Stealth site) to Warwick Turnpike (Meadow Lark Farm B&B)
Miles: 23.2

I slept great last night, enjoying my warm sleeping bag in the cool air. I got up early, around 5:15, and was on trail by 6:15 using my headlamp until after 7. The headlamp makes for a slow start at first, but then the trail turned decent and I was able to pick it up some. It was a cool morning, but warmed up decently. The wind made it chilly if I stopped for a break, though. Today was all rocks. Some sections would give the Whites a run for their money. There were some brutal ups and downs, mostly PUDs, with some very steep sections. All in all, it was a long day. My ankles and knees are sore but my feet are killing me. I had lunch just past Wildcat Shelter, sitting along the trail next to a small spring. I only saw one person, a section hiker going north named Frogger. She took my picture for some reason. Guess I look like a wild animal or something. I crossed into New Jersey today, although I know I’ll zig zag back and forth for a while. I got to the road crossing at Warwick Turnpike about 5 and called the B&B, with no answer. I left a message and tried to (illegally) hitch, with no luck. I called again, getting the owner, but she seemed irritated to have to come get “another hiker”. Apparently, she had just picked up brew! After 45 minutes, she finally came and got me. I quickly showered and set up my tent, then cooked dinner in the dark. Brew and I sat at a table in the grassy yard and ate while talking. I am so glad I caught up to him. I climbed into an already wet tent at 9. The dew is going to soak everything…

IMG_2552

Jersey!

Jersey!

Day 185 – Warwick Turnpike (Meadow Lark Farm B&B) to Murray Property
Miles: 19

I slept good, although I was on the border of being cold. The dew has the tent soaked, and there’s condensation on the inside. I woke up at 5:45, packed quickly and was ready for breakfast by the agreed upon 6:30, but the caretaker wasn’t around. I had to wake Brew up, too. I went to the bathroom and charged my phone while waiting. Breakfast was served at 7 and was delicious. Eggs, red potatoes, toast, great coffee and donuts. We loaded up the car and stopped at the grocery store so I could resupply, dropping us off at trail by 8. I had to repack my food bag, so Brew walked on without me. It was decent hiking at first, but then there were a bunch of uphills that drained me. My knees seem sore from yesterday, too. My left knee hurts at the area of the surgery… Odd. I caught up with Brew and we hiked together to NJ-94, where we walked the road to Heaven Hill Farm for some baked goods and a jug of apple cider. It was a great break. We hiked together for a while, chatting, and parting ways at the swamp footbridge. He wanted to sit and take it in for a while, reflecting on his hike through here with his wife. I hiked on, getting lost in thought. The trail walks through the Wallkill Wildlife Reserve and it was absolutely beautiful! I’ll have to go back with my big cameras to take pics of all the birds. The day just seemed to drag on, though, and my pack seemed to weigh 150 pounds. By the time I got to the Murray Property, my back and shoulders were aching and I was spent. I got there about 4:45, with a little daylight left to explore. I set up my tent, so it would dry in the breeze, then took a quick shower at the outdoor shower. I settled in to relax and just enjoy being there. This property is beautiful, with a few structures that appear to be decades old, although the insides of the ones I could see in were remodeled with modern materials. I can just imagine coming to this property on a weekend and spending a few days off-grid, reconnecting with the world and disconnecting from the digital network. The thought made me smile. Brew came in at 6, and we had more good conversation over dinner. We watched a pair of deer eating grass as the sun set, then moved inside to stay warm, lighting some small candles left inside to throw some light down. Tomorrow is Brew’s last day and I’m more than a little sad to see him go.

Day 186 – Murray Property to Brink Shelter
Miles: 25

The stars were beautiful last night when I got up to use a tree. I slept decent, although it was almost too warm in the cabin. Brew was ready before me and hiked on, with me trailing behind about 15 minutes after enjoying breakfast on the porch of the cabin and watching the woods come alive. The trail today sucked! It had some areas of good terrain, but it was few and far between the massive rock sections. That said, I still made good time. I caught up to Brew and we hiked together to the High Point State Park Headquarters, where we got water. Prior to the park HQ, we passed two ladies walking north. One was from Frederick, the other from Thurmont, the small little town I live in! What a small world. A while after that, we stopped at a view and had lunch, but Brew asked to hike alone after lunch, so we said our goodbyes and I hiked on. Almost immediately, I felt lonely again, and sad to see such a good hiking companion part ways. But I know we’ll see each other again… Or I hope so anyways. The afternoon seemed to drag on, but emotions make you push harder than expected and the miles ticked off one after another. I passed Gren Anderson Shelter, my initial goal for the day, at 3, and decided to push on to Brink Shelter. But it was a rough 6.6 miles between the two, with Culvers Gap providing some nice steep and rocky hills. I got to the shelter at 5:30, though, so even in my pained stupor I was able to make decent time. I immediately went for water, as I was out. There was an older female section hiker named Flatlander at the shelter when I got there, and we had some nice conversations while I ate dinner. A “hippie” family stopped in briefly, to allow their child to breast feed, but left before it was fully dark. I climbed into my sleeping bag after dinner to stay warm and texted home briefly.

Day 187 – Brink Shelter to Delaware Water Gap
Miles: 24.8

I slept decent enough, and woke up at 6:15. I quietly packed up my stuff and moved out to the picnic table, so I didn’t wake up Flatlander. I ate and repacked my bag, and she came out to chat, delaying my departure a bit. Today sucked, though. There were lots of rocks. Lots of PUDs. And I was still sore from yesterday. I just couldn’t find my pace all day, but somehow, I still made miles… but at a cost. I tripped twice, once with a nice summersault and once almost face planting into some rocks. I got up and down Rattlesnake Mountain and thankfully didn’t see any. On top of Kittatinny Mountain, I saw some birders that I saw yesterday at the pavilion. I wish I had more time to sit and chat with them longer, because I am really interested in what they are doing, but I can already smell the end. I crossed into Pennsylvania and was in town by 4:45. I had to call to get the hostel opened up, and ran to the post office to check for my package, but it wasn’t there yet. I showered and went for pizza, treating myself to a large pepperoni. A trail angel gave me a ride to a gas station for snacks and then back to the church hostel. A group of four SOBOs I had passed earlier today arrived at 7, loud and obnoxious. Two are from Israel and I am not impressed with their rudeness. I called home, then set out to plan my last week on trail. It was a late night, watching the weather report to find a forecast of possible severe rain tomorrow. Joy.

PA, here I come!

PA, here I come!

I am finally into Pennsylvania, and the end is in sight!  Thanks for your support and patience as I get these last posts up.  And remember to always Spin the Compass!

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