I may not be the fastest hiker. I may not be able to carry much weight. But boy am I having fun! Last night in Vernon, NJ my fellow hikers and I were the guests of honor at a community dinner at the Methodist church. Tonight, I’ve set up my tent at the Warwick Drive-In Theater. For $6, I can watch any of three screens of movies and spend the night. THIS is livin’!
Wednesday July 16 Murray Cabin 1339.4 to NJ94 Vernon, Episcopal Church Hostel, 1352.9
I spent the entire day here yesterday at the Murray cabin, resting my left foot which has pained me lately Except for the owner, Jim, I saw no one until after I’d crawled into my sleeping bag. Three hikers came in at dusk. A young couple set up a tent, despite the rain. Batman set up on the floor of the cabin with me. I got up just long enough to greet them and point out the facilities and to ask them to put their food bags inside the cabin since bear were in the area. Then I went right back to sleep.
In the morning, the couple slept in, but I had an exceptional conversation with Batman that reminded me to stop worrying. The journey is the thing–not the destination. He’s from Cedar Rapids, but lived in Hawaii last 2 years working at a museum. He’s been out of college 8 years, so that puts him at about 30, but he seems wiser than that. He has old eyes, and I mean that as a compliment. Also, he indicated I was 30 to 35, so that’s pretty special too. I suspect he was being kind. But it’s still nice to hear.
I got a later start but was in Unionville, for breakfast and resupply by 9a. There was a lot of road walking, which is never fun. Finally the trail turned into Wallkill Reserve, a wetland. The trail follows the perimeter on a wide, grassy path. With every step, 50 grasshoppers would jump. It was unnerving, like a biblical plague!
Water is less abundant in the north, but the sources are more creative. At the base of Pochuck Mt is an abandoned house. Its spigot is the water source for the shelter .4miles up the mountain. At Pochuck shelter, I met three retired gentlemen on a day hike. One of them had section hiked the entire AT.
At NJ 94, I got a ride into Vernon, 2.4 miles east of the trail. I needed to resupply since the stop in Unionville had just been a convenience store. The driver took me to the hostel at the Episcopal church. Hikers can sleep in the basement. There’s only 2 cots, but I was the first to arrive and got one of them. There’s lots of space on the floor, though.
I showered and borrowed a huge, oversized, pink, chenille robe. It wasn’t a fashion statement, but it allowed me to wash every item of clothing for a change.
Shortly after, Sprout (I’d met her in Palterton), The Weatherman (it’s gonna be 75 and sunny today) and Mad Jack (newly retired. Usually his wife, Good Vibrations, follows him in the Air Stream, which they now live in).
Hiking is hard, but being on the trail exposes you to things you’d never see, or even know about. There was a Community supper at Methodist church next door. A note had been left inviting us, but the pastor came over and personally made sure we felt welcomed. It was a very nice supper and I really enjoyed the fresh vegetables and salad! The locals asked a lot of questions about the trail and we felt like celebrities! After that, a quick resupply to the A&P, then off to bed.
Thursday July 17 NJ94 Vernon, Episcopal Church Hostel, 1352.9 to Warwick Turnpike, 1358.4
The day didn’t start off so well, but don’t worry. It got better.
I didn’t sleep well. Maybe I just can’t sleep in a real bed anymore? I was up before 6p and went nearby to The Mixing Bowl for breakfast. It’s a darling restaurant in a painted lady style Victorian home. The waitress was wonderful, the coffee good and plentiful, and the cast of local characters kept me laughing. It was a huge amount of food, so I used my toast to make a sandwich out of part of my omelette for later. I paid and walked through the small cemetery back to the hostel. Almost without warning, I threw up my spinach omelette with feta. I thought we were done with this!
So I got my things together and tried to hitch a ride back to the trail. No dice. I had to walk the 2.5 miles back to where I’d left off. Those road miles don’t count and they are hard on sore feet. Finally at the trail by 9a, I began the climb the locals call “The Stairway to Heaven.” It’s a rock climb. And I’m sooooo over rocks. But most are arranged into steps to the top of Wawayanda Mountain. Steep steps for a 1,000ft climb. But it felt so much worse. Leaving every city is a similar climb. This one was pretty steep, but it completely wore me out. I took a couple short breaks, drank lots of water, but it was all I could do to keep going after. At noon, I found a spot to lay out my ground clothe and took a 40 minute nap. That finally helped.
I’d read in my guidebook about the Warwick Drive in theater, but didn’t seriously consider it until a note in the Wawayanda Shelter (1357.9) indicated what fun it was. So when I got to the Warwick Turnpike, I hitched a ride about a mile and a half to the drive in. I took another nap while I waited for the place to open. By 6p the owner, Beth, was there. She told me where I could set up my tent so I could see any of the three screens, then lent me a radio that I could use to tune in to the sound. All this for $6! I can stay the night and they showed me where to get water before I leave. Just before the movies started, they sent over a huge pile of French fries! Did I mention I’m a lucky, lucky girl? Oh, yeah. They have free wifi here too!