I’m beginning to believe that anything can happen. Especially good things. Have I mentioned I’m the luckiest hiker on the trail? If you are reading this blog, you know that I’m exhausted and my foot hurts. And that these things have made it tough to stay on the trail or make decent miles. What I’ve needed is an inexpensive place to rest–somewhere I could eat healthy food and lay around watching trash TV between naps, until I feel better.
Well, that’s what I got! My friend Kathy is out of the country, in Canada, right now. But she reads my blog and realized I needed a break. So she offered her house outside Albany, NY while she’s gone. AND arranged for her neighbor, Julia, who has never even met me, to drive 2 hours to pick me up off the trail and take me to her house last night. We just got back from the grocery where I bought fresh food for 4-5 days. It’s amazing. I slept 12 hour last night after a shower. My clothes are clean. And I’m not eating hiker food today. It’s a miracle. Exactly what I needed.
Friday July 18. Warwick Turnpike, 1358.4 (overnight at Warwick Drive-In Theater) to Bear Mountain Bridge, 1399.7
I was up pretty late for a hiker. It was well after midnight when the second film finished. I watched Tammy on screen 3, followed by the latest X-Men film on screen 1. Honestly, I had the best seat in the house because I could sample all three screens, each of which had a double feature. And as a bonus, the owner, Beth, sent over a huge box of French fries–so many I couldn’t finish them! But they still smelled pretty good in the morning, even though I was still full. Beth had showed me where to fill my water bottles in the morning and an available electrical outlet to charge my electronics. The ladies room was locked tight, but there was a freshly cleaned porta potty. All of this for $6!
While I was packing up, Laura, who works at the theater, came by with her three kids to go for a walk. She offered to take me back to the trail so I wouldn’t have to walk. When I got in the van, her daughter said, “Mommy’s taking you because she’s a good person!” I almost cried. Her mommy IS a good person.
They took me to where the trail crossed NY17A, near their home. On the way we passed out of New Jersey for the final time on this trip. There’s a parking lot with a hot dog stand, but it wasn’t open yet. I sat and talked to the owner, Buddy. He’s 78 years old and says he gets to the stand at 7a each morning where he often talks with friends. He opens the stand by 10:30a and closes at 3:30p. Then he cleans up and goes to the bar for two beers with his friends. He says it keeps him going.
I hiked on and within two miles first hit the rocks of the Eastern Pinnacles, then Cat Rocks. Fortunately there was a blue blazed, bypass trail around each. And I should have taken both of them. The AT in this section was clearly designed by a mountain goat. But the views were nice.
I took a break at Wildcat Shelter, then hiked a couple more miles to Lakes Road, which leads to Greenwood Lake, NY.
And this is where I decided to act on a decision I’ve made to make some changes in my hike. I’ve been worried about finishing before winter. But, at least for me, it’s not about taking every single step of the trail. It’s a journey and while the destination matters, it’s not what I focus on most. There’s a saying on the trail: Hike Your a Own Hike. That means do it your way and don’t worry what anyone else says. This is MY adventure.
From here I called a taxi to take me to Bear Mountain State Park. This seems like an odd move for a hiker, but I’ve decided to skip small sections and make sure I hit the parts I’m most interested in. I’ll still hike most of the trail, just skip over a few sections. I’ve evaluated my health and I don’t think I have the energy to hike all of the remainder of the trail, over 800 miles, before the end of September. I could come back next year and finish, but I don’t want to count on that. I have a lot of things to do. I’d rather skip a few short sections and still get to the end. That’s my hike.
And besides, Bill Bryson did less them 900 miles and he got a book deal and a movie out of it. 😉
And this state park was not to be missed. The Appalachian Trail not only goes through Bear Mountain State Park, it goes through the middle of the zoo and museum buildings. In fact, the lowest elevation on the trail is right at the bear’s enclosure, 163 feet. It’s all uphill from here!
Then I called the Bear Mountain Bridge Motel who picked me up at the edge of the park. The price includes pick up/return to the trail and laundry. I’ve got too much food in my food bag, so I took a shower, watched trashy TV and stayed off my feet.
Tomorrow I as I’m crossing the Hudson River, I will cross the 1400mile mark!
Saturday July 19, Bear Mountain Bridge, 1399.7 to US9 and NY403, 1405.5
I slept a solid 12 hours last night. Didn’t think I could keep breakfast down, so I loaded some snacks in my pockets for when I got hungry.
By 9a I was dropped off at the edge of Bear Mountain Park. I immediately began crossing the Hudson River on the Bear Mountain Bridge.
I walked about 6 miles, slowly, to the Appalachian Deli. I got a huge chicken and bacon pizza, which I planned to nosh on for the rest of the day. Possibly breakfast, too.
But that’s when everything changed. I got an email from Julia saying she would come get me and let me stay in Kathy’s house. Can you say “Trail Angels?”
Now I’m resting, eating healthily food that’s nevertheless seen the inside of a backpack and sleeping as much as my body will let me. Mostly, I’m off my feet, letting them heal. This is just what I need right now. And it will allow me to come back to the trail refreshed and ready to finish.
I am so lucky.