6/15 Vernon, NJ to Wildcat Shelter (17.1 miles)
We got ourselves in a bubble again, this time it is mostly flip floppers who started in WV, with about 20 people staying at our shelter tonight. It is way too many people for me, so Stitch and I are probably going to try and do a big day tomorrow to get ahead of most of them. However, the lack of water makes it somewhat tough (today we had to drink water that was light brown even after filtering, I am not too concerned about it not being clean, but would prefer the nice springs we had in the south). I am really glad that we are way ahead of the north bound bubble that I started with, I imagine that it is like this at most places for them.
Today was very rocky with a lot of ridge walking. It was tiring, particularly because it was hot and there wasn’t much shade at the top. There was a great view in the morning that Stitch and I hung out at for awhile. We finished NJ today, which marks the 8th state we have completed on the trail.
After lunch we got our first views of the NYC skyline which was pretty cool. There are supposed to be even better views over the next day or so.
6/16 Wildcat Shelter to William Brien Memorial Shelter (19.6 miles)
This morning was some of the hardest hiking that we have done in awhile. There were lots of 200-300 ft PUDs that were very steep and rocky. Stitch and I were both moving pretty slowly, I think it was a mixture of terrain and neither of us really feeling it. It was the first time I can remember in quite awhile that my legs got tired.
Water would have been a pretty big issue today of it was not for the trail magic that people left. At most of the road crossing we came across today there were 15 or so gallon containers full of water. This made it much easier since there were mostly pretty sketchy or dry water sources. It’s really awesome that people leave them out for thruhikers.
Shortly after lunch we came across the “lemon squeezer” which was a very narrow rock formation that was tricky, although not difficult, to pass. This was immediately followed by an approximately 10 ft tall rock wall. There was a very short blue blaze around it, but Stitch and I decided to be purests and go over it. It was tough with the slippery rocks (it was dizziling), but we both made it. We were thankful that the rocks weren’t too wet, since that would have made it even harder.
The walk after lunch was quite pretty across what was mostly a meadow. With some trees. The trail did a lot of zig zagging that seemed very unnecessary, and there was a point where there were two trail side by side with separate.
About 4 miles before the shelter we walked about .3 miles down a road to a state park that was on a very pretty lake. We got some ice cream, charged our phones and dried off from the rain. It is amazing how fast everything will dry when it get sunny and not muggy.
We got to the shelter today and thankfully it was much less full. Most of the flip floppers must have stopped at the earlier shelter. This was not a great shelter, there was no water or privy. At least there were a bunch of good tent sites for us.
6/17 William Brien Memorial Shelter to Greymoor Spiritual Life Center (16.6 miles)
The day started off with a pretty good climb which yielded us some very nice views. The trail continued to be quite tricky to follow with numerous points where we had to stop and look around for blazes. I am thankful to be hiking with a partner on these sections as there were many points in which one of us would notice that we weren’t going the right direction. Onwards and upwards we went!
We got to the top of Bear Mountain which seemed to be a very popular stop with New Yorkers (we were only about 30 miles from the city today). There was a tower at the top that yielded nice views. Supposedly you can see NYC from here, but we were not lucky enough to see it and it was a pretty clear day. We hiked down to an inn that was at the bottom mountain and the trail was much better maintained here than we have encountered in quite awhile. It’s one of the benefits of having a ton of day hikers.
We it to the bottom and stopped in at the cafe and had lunch. After that we walked through a zoo that the AT goes directly through. It was sort of sad to see many of the animals that are roaming wild 4 miles away. It also featured the lowest point on the AT, so it is all uphill from there.
We the crossed the Hudson and then had a few good climbs before reaching a gas station that also had a mini restaurant, so we stopped for dinner. It seems like we could eat at a restaurant or deli for most meals at this point on the trail. We stayed the night in the yard of a Catholic Monastery. It’s really awesome that they let us stay here.
I have not been a big fan of NY thus far (although there are still a good number of miles left to impress me ). One of the redeeming qualities is the abundance of mountain laurels that are in bloom and they are spectacular.
6/18 Greymoor Spiritual Life Center to RPH Shelter (19.1 miles)
Stitch and I got off to a little bit late of a start today. The day is not one of my favorite days. There were a lot of PUDs and not a lot of water. One of the nice parts of this state is that there are lots of state parks with pretty lakes. We stopped at one for a late lunch (2 pm).
I am not enjoying NY at all. It is good to have Stitch with me so I don’t get too bitter and whiny about the state.
To our delight , Garfield was waiting for us at the shelter. His calf was bothering him so he decided to take a zero at this very nice shelter . It is great to see him again and I am looking forward to hiking with him for the next little bit. I have missed making puns with him.
6/19 RPH Shelter to Stormville NY (10 miles – Q and M writing for Secret Agent
Secret Agent, Garfield, and Stitch hiked 5 miles to a road near Stormville where they met up with Q and M. Q joined the trio for a 5 mile Father’s day hike to the next meeting point.
M stayed back and handed out Trail Magic. Veggie Stew and Monster soon came by to enjoy some.
At the end of the second 5 miles, the hikers met up with Q at about 11 am. We picked up some sandwiches in Dodgertown CT and then off to meet Q’s medical school room mate and his wife who live in New town Connecticut. We’ll call them Felix and Della. Lazy afternoon swimming in the pool.
We fired up their outdoor pizza oven and devoured 2 excellent homemade pizzas, homemade charcuterie and cheeses as a prelude to a dinner of Q’s BBQ ribs and wood grilled corn and shrimp for a delicious dinner by the pool. The evening ended under the stars by the roaring fireplace. A great day!
6/20 Zero day in southern Connecticut
Garfield, Secret Agent, Stitch and Q went to Danbury in pursuit of replacement shoes for Garfield. The outdoor store had them but it turned out to be the wrong model number. We did get some random gear and a compression sleeve for Garfield’s calf. Back to Felix and Della’s house for some more swimming in the pool. Before dinner, we headed off to Ferris creamery for local homemade ice cream. They had a Super Sundae Challenger deal / 12 scoops of ice cream, 6 double servings of wet or dry toppings, whipped cream and cherries. If a single person finished it all, they received a complimentary T shirt. Garfield took the challenge and successfully completed his mission in 27 minutes.
Back to the house for grilled leg of lamb marinated in EVOO, garlic, rosemary, and thyme from Della’s garden along with a fresh mint sauce. Then another night in a bed (sofa for Garfield) before heading back to the Trail. But not before seeing the first “Strawberry Moon” since 1967 (full moon on a vernal equinox).
Thanks so much Felix, Della and their daughter Mia for the incredible food and hospitality!!!
6/21 Tuesday morning we bid goodbye to M and Q and are back on the trail again.