And just knowing that inspires me to keep on trekking and writing.
Sometimes I feel more pressure to write this journal every night than I do to
get up early every morning and run or walk on the AT!
I am continually amazed how far this journal has spread via the internet and
by word of mouth. I just never dreamed the audience would be more than a few
running friends and family.
Several running and hiking sites have this site
listed but there are other ways that folks have discovered it that just amaze
me. For example, you can "google" some of the topics I've covered or places
we've been - and come up with a link to the day I mentioned it.
This "dates" me, I realize. I just didn't grow up with so much accessible
information so readily available. It sure took a lot longer to find out a lot
less in the library 'way back then!
Computers. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.
DON'T FENCE ME IN
There wasn't anything particularly special about today's section, although I
can recommend the first fourteen miles for a pleasant hike. Most of the Trail
here is in Fahnestock State Park.
The prettiest piece of trail today was a fairly level mile along the side of
an unnamed mountain just before I reached NY 301 and Canopus Lake. Apparently
this was an old mine railway bed in the 1800s. There were interesting rock walls
to my left up the hill, and plenty of boulders down below on my right. But
wonder of wonders, the Trail was mostly smooth and runnable here.
In the first fourteen miles of today's section the woods are pretty, there
aren't a lot of unnecessary trips up and down to experience the rock walls
(thank you, thank you!), the climbs and descents are all pretty tame by AT
standards, there are lots of interesting stone fences and an abandoned stone
house (at Torreytown Road), and the deer will practically let you pet them.
I didn't see many flowers except under a power line. Laurels grow
thickly in several areas, especially above Canopus Lake. On a large stone "bald"
on the ridge above the lake someone has painted a US flag (see photo below) with
the notation, "In memory of Sept. 11." As you read it, you're facing New York
City although you can't see it beyond the wooded hills.
Yesterday I met an older gentleman day-hiking on one of the mountains in
Harriman State Park near the overlook where you can see New York. A
resident of the city, he was lamenting how different the skyline is now that the
World Trade Centers aren't there.
I was reminded of that today when I saw the flag above Canopus Lake. I have a
lot of time to think out on the Trail every day, you know. Today's profound
thought was about how tenuous life is. You never know when your time on Earth
is gonna be up. Whether you believe in heaven/hell, reincarnation, or whatever,
it isn't going to be the same as now when you die.
Maybe it'd be a good idea for each of us to live each day like it may be our
last. Think about who and what is most important to you, and attend to them/it.
Be nice to others. Slow down. Stop tail-gating.
Oh, sorry. We've about had it with New York drivers. I got side-tracked a bit
. . .
BERRY, BERRY GOOD
The last six miles today (from Hortontown Road to NY 52) there was too much
traffic noise from the Taconic State Parkway and I-84 for anyone to enjoy hiking.
I never wear headphones when running or hiking but this would be a good place
As I walked (too rocky to run most of it) that part, I kept wondering why the
trail designers put the AT on the west side of Hosner Mountain so it's subjected
to the din of traffic. When I got back "home," I looked at the AT map and saw
exactly why: the park service/AT owns a pretty narrow strip of land
through there, and it's all well down from the ridge on the west side. Too bad,
because the Trail is really pretty there. It's just hard to turn off all that
noise in your head.
Yesterday I wasn't too pleased with the Trail after I crossed the Hudson
River. I guess I was spoiled by the beauty of Harriman State Park and forgot how
"wild" some of the woods are along the AT. I wasn't happy about all the
blow-downs, missing markers, and overgrown paths, but thought maybe
being brain-fried from the heat yesterday afternoon was clouding my assessment.
The first few miles today were like that, too. But the good news about
the overgrown trails in today's section was what was hanging out in the
trail - luscious ripe red raspberries and bigger blueberries than I've seen
previously on the Trail! I grabbed a few raspberries here and there but could
have easily spent hours happily indulging my berry passion. There were lots of
raspberries yesterday, too, right before the Bear Mountain Inn.
I guess there are some positive things about being behind schedule right now.
Otherwise, I might have missed all the berries in New Jersey and New York!
"RAIN-DANCE," "SKILLET," AND "BOTTLE"
I saw only eight people on the Trail today: two day hikers at Canopus
Lake, two SOBO thru-hikers, and four NOBO thru-hikers. I talked with five of
them (more than the cursory greetings).
The only shelter I came across today was the Ralph's Peak Hiker (RPH) shelter
shortly before the Taconic State Parkway underpass. A young couple was inside
playing cards. We had a nice chat for about ten minutes before a young male SOBO
thru-hiker came in.
The married couple lives in Texas and began hiking in Georgia on February 23.
Yes, they had some snow and cold rain along the way and they wished they had
some of it today! (All kinds of warnings about the heat this morning on the
radio. It was 92 degrees in the shade at our camper when I got home this
afternoon.) Their trail names are "Skillet" and "Bottle." I forgot to ask how
they got those names.
"Bottle" has excellent taste in hiking shoes - she's wearing Montrail
Hardrocks, just like me!
The south-bounder goes by "Achilles." We enjoyed hearing some tales about his
two months on the Trail, since we're headed where he's already been. Katahdin
had snow on it when he began. This would have been before Andrew Thompson
started. Andrew finished his speed attempt yesterday, I believe, beating the old
record by a few hours. Andrew's new record, going south, is 47 days, 13 hours,
and some odd minutes.
Congratulations, Andrew! I don't know how you got over all those rocks so
On the way up Hosner Mountain after the shelter, who should I run into than
Rain and Dance, the young couple with the dog that we met back in Damascus, VA.
They're doing fine but had to send their dog home when they got to PA - too hot,
too many rocks. They miss her. It was good to talk with them again! They even
remembered that the last time they saw Jim was in Buena Vista, VA.
Young folks have better memories than I do!
HOME FOLKS: DON'T WORRY ABOUT YOUR HIKER
Rain-Dance and I got to talking about the perils of life on the Trail, like
the folks we have heard about with Lyme Disease. It got me thinking about the
relatives and friends of thru-hikers - the older ones as well as the younger
ones - who are at home worrying about how they're doing.
My advice is "stop worrying." Hikers are probably safer on the AT than at
home. I talked about this in one of my prep pages. Hikers take care of each
other on the Trail, and from what I've seen and heard, the locals take pretty
good care of 'em, too (offering rides, food and drinks, places to stay, medical
care, all kinds of advice, etc.).
Plus, by now your hiker has learned an awful lot of "woods savvy." The AT and
other hikers are great teachers. Some lessons are learned in tougher ways than
others, but most hikers who've come this far are strong individuals who can take
care of themselves. They are winners, whether they make it all the way to
Katahdin in one year or not.
I know Jim worries about me every day I'm out there. I'm probably less "woods
savvy" than most of the thru-hikers, but I know most of what I should know to
stay reasonably safe on the Trail. I'm schizophrenic re: safety. I take more
risks than some people (like photographing that bear instead of screaming at it
to go away), yet I'm very careful on the rocks so I don't get hurt. (Had fall
#20 today anyway.)
We're all out here to have fun, test our limits, see beautiful places, meet
interesting people, and learn more about ourselves and the world. Please don't
worry about us. Think of all the great stories you'll hear when we're all done!
I'm so fortunate to be married to the world's best crew-person AND handyman.
Those truck brakes that started squealing yesterday afternoon? Well, Jim decided
to just fix 'em himself even though he didn't have one tool he needed. He got
the brake shoes in town this morning after dropping me off at the trail head,
borrowed a C-clamp from a guy in the campground maintenance shop at Round Pond,
jacked up the truck, and had the brakes fixed in a little over an hour.
Forty-eight bucks. MUCH cheaper than the back brake job we had done
professionally in Bristol, TN a couple months ago.
And since he didn't have to spend all day in a repair shop,Jim was able to
move the camper up the road today. I'm not mentioning where we are because the
place is the pits. Tomorrow we're moving to a much nicer place in Connecticut.
Connecticut?? Yes - today is the last full day of Trail in New York!