Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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Start: Seven Lakes Dr./Harriman SP                     
End:  Canopus Hill Rd., NY
Today's Miles:                      21.7
Cumulative Miles:          1,410.1
"Keep the faith and keep moving."
- a reader in Texas

Statue of Walt Whitman in the Trailside Museum & Zoo at Bear Mountain State Park    8-2-05

Hiker's view of the Bear Mountain Bridge across the Hudson River (another view of river in text, below)

Some days that's harder than others, Dave.

I try to have fun every day, enjoy the new people I meet and places I see, and learn new things about the world and myself - but some days just aren't as much fun for various reasons.

I had high expectations for today's run. I can actually run again now (nothing hurts), I was going to go right through the middle of a zoo - how cool is that?? I'd be going over the Hudson River. And the weather report looked favorable (at least no thunderstorms were predicted).

But a lack of sleep, poor water management on my part, slow rocks, poor trail markings, and excess heat did me in. I bailed out at 21.7 miles instead of doing the 25.5 I'd planned, thereby disrupting Jim's afternoon.

The morning started off well on the Trail. I met up with "Moss" (who I met yesterday) and "Sweep" at the Brian shelter only two miles into the run. It's the first shelter I've visited in a while; it was right on the Trail, blending in nicely with the rock wall behind it (the shelter is made of stone). Moss and Sweep had just stopped to read the register and talk with "Hillbilly," a chain-smoking section hiker.

I followed Moss and Sweep up to the top of Black Mountain, still in Harriman State Park, with its pretty views toward the Hudson River to the south and treed mountains to the north. It's hard to believe sprawling metro New York is only about thirty miles away. There was supposed to be one viewpoint today where I could see the city, but I missed it.

Sweep is a young woman from Illinois who is thru-hiking north. Moss and Sweep got ahead while I took some photos on Black Mountain. I passed them later when they took a snack break at Palisades Parkway and never saw them again.

Palisades Parkway was interesting. The AT guide warns about this crossing because it's so busy. It sure was, with early morning commuter traffic. The north and south bound lanes are separated by about 100' of trees. In the middle is a trail register on a post! I thought that was a mighty odd place for "tree mail," as I call it. But I signed it anyway.

Today's section was another series of steep, rocky climbs and descents up several mountains: Goshen, Black, West, and Bear on the western side of the Hudson, several more east of it. The descents from both West and Bear mountains are just plain treacherous. I fell once on each very steep downhill on the loose rocks. I do much better climbing up steep slopes than coming down them.

Those are #18 and #19, right?


Somewhere after Palisades Parkway, Harriman State Park morphed into Bear Mountain State Park. The highlight of my day was walking by Hessian Lake at the foot of Bear Mountain and right through the Trailside Museums and Zoo. Thru-hikers get in free.

Benton MacKaye not only was the original AT dreamer, he also envisioned nature trails and study centers along the Trail in each of the fourteen states through which it passes. This center opened in 1927 and includes nature, geology, and historical museums as well as a children's zoo in which many of the animals were rescued after being crippled.

The walkway through the center is just beautiful. There were enough visitors that I didn't think it appropriate to run. Besides, I would have missed too many signs and animals. In the photo above is the statue of Walt Whitman on the zoo grounds. Included are the verses from "Song of the Open Road."


Right outside the zoo is the 2,332-foot Bear Mountain suspension bridge over the Hudson River. At the time of its completion in 1924 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It took me a while to walk across in the hot sun (just too hot today - about 95 degrees - to run across). This is a view to the north from the bridge:

Although I saw only motor boats and sailboats on the river here, Jim saw one ship this morning while he was running at West Point a few miles to the north.


By the time I got across the river, dodged traffic on busy NY 9 for a quarter mile, and slogged my way up the very steep mountain called "Anthony's Nose," I was fried. The rest of the afternoon is a blur of steep rocky trails, not enough markings (I had to do lots of searching for the trail at several intersections and through boulder fields), and dehydration. I got at least one bonus mile today hunting for water and trail markings.

Yesterday there were jugs of water at three road crossings. Today, none. I never count on them, but could have used water today. In retrospect, I should have hunted for some at the zoo. I went through a friary at mile 16 but was also unable to find water there (they have a shelter area for thru-hikers). I ended up calling Jim at mile 20 to let him know I was getting dehydrated and had water only until the next road crossing at 21.7 miles. Could he please come get me an hour early?

Jim was fine with that, although I'm sure it disrupted what he was doing. The road I chose was a narrow, winding one that was difficult to find and a bit dicey to travel with the locals who ZOOM FAST on any road in the area. (New York traffic is about to drive Jim nuts.) And now he's gotta take me back out there in the morning . . .

To make matters worse, as we arrived back at the campground the front brakes on the truck started making noises that are not good. So instead of moving to another campground tomorrow, Jim's got to deal with getting those fixed. At home he has the equipment to do it himself. Here we're at the mercy of a brake repair shop we don't know.

Always something . . . let's hope tomorrow is better for both of us.

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil