Tuesday, May 15, 2018


One of the slippery rocks  finally got me.

Yes, I'm blue
Fellow hiker Naps walked me back to the trailhead, a local hiker drove me to the nearest urgwnt care center, and the medical team  sympathetically, cheerfully, and quickly ptocessed me into a cast. Recvery time is over six weeks, so my carefully drawn plans will still be useful in 2019!

Sean will be returning me to Round Hill, and Barbara Cook has offered to pick up the Ion and drive it home on her way back from vacationing in New England.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Happy birthday, Marie

The lakes, birds, and flowers here in New Jersey's forest would be enjoyable for you, I think, and you surely would have a glorious time with your grandchildren adding more rock sculptures to the unusual collections around Sunfish Pond

The backpacking? Less so, possibly, but you would endure it out of love and determination. These days, I would try harder to see the difference between what you chose to enjoy with me and what you actually like to do.

Still missing you, expect I always will.

Nash Dake crater trail

Saturday, May 12, 2018

States Of Mind

Third day on the most challenging section of the Trail I have attempted so far. Done.

New Jersey - New York border on the Trail


The light drizzle hardly seemed worth spending the day idling in a chilly shelter, so the seven hikers all set off with packs and bodies wrapped against the storm. A few more swampy boardwalks, a little more drizzle … fellow section hiker Naps tried to arrange a shuttle in to Warwick for a night off trail, but wound up hiking up after me and joining in my plan to go to ground in Fort Montgomery.

According to the map, this is Prospect Rock

Up there? You're kidding, right?

Yes, the Trail goes right by it

A moss covered stone

Yes, those are rebar steps driven into the rock

The trail in New York, we agreed, must have been designed by someone who drew a straight line along the map of the ridge leading north, and laying out the trail accordingly, directly over the piles of fossilized sea bed tossed up by the retreating glaciers … except that it was obvious that the path had been adjusted for a maximum of rock scrambling and a maximum number of high points crossed. Several times, we took the ascents over the wet, slippery rocks one at a time while the other waited ready to call for help if the climber slipped.

Tired, soaked, and sore, we reached the parking lot where the Ion was waiting about 3 pm. It was a happy sight after eight hours of hiking! We drove to the Bellview Creamery for emergency recovery assistance of the dairy variety, and then took the highway north to the Bear Mountain Bridge Inn in Fort Montgomery.

Naps checked into cottage #1, Ten Mile Snail checked in to cottage #4, and - since #2 and #3 were already taken - the inn owner turned on the “NO VACANCY” sign. It's a very small inn at the highway's edge, run by an older couple who are, they say,taking care of it for their son.

Tomorrow, Naps and I will resupply, do laundry, and recover while another storm wave passes by. Then, back to Bellview Creamery by shuttle and four days of hiking back to Fort Montgomery. Bounce, bounce … and on to Connecticut!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Up! ... Wait, after I finish this donut

Predawn start today, silencing my vibrating alarm quickly to avoid disturbing the other shelter occupants and heading out on the Trail by 6:40 am.

A perfect morning for hiking!

Several innovative and sturdy bridges

The renowned New Jersey AT boardwalk


It's an art, getting everything quietly out of the shelter and onto the picnic table and stuffed into my pack, all the while cooking up oatmeal …. The retired teachers from Georgia rose early also, and debated whether to take the time to make a hot breakfast. We all share a concern with getting over the next section while the weather is clear.

Funny things you learn about people out here. I was not as surprised as I  might have been to see that neither really understood how to prepare oatmeal using a water boiler, since I had watched them struggle with making a quick rice and instant vegetable concoction last night. I did offer help, but they declined. Okay, hike your own hike!

They are faster hikers than I am, though. They caught up and passed me twice as we walked the low ridges and bogs, and finally left me behind for good on the climb up to Wawayanda Ridge.

Wawayanda Ridge

The hike to the ridge was not as difficult as I was afraid it might be. The trail did climb through several boulder riversx but the total climb was less than half of the northside approach to the Priest that I did last year.

Also, a local hiker tipped me to a welcome surprise that energized my spirits for the climb, a farm market offering fresh cider donuts and serious ice cream … so I enjoyed lunch there before sprinting (erm, or staggering?) up to the ridgetop.

Motivational supplies
Saturday's forecast is calling for more chilly rain. I may try out my rain kilt, or I may just sit tight here in the shelter.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

It doesn't have any water, but it's dry!

The bright clear sky this morning belied any intent of sending difficult weather my way, but the forecast kept me moving as I thumped across the flat onetime sod farms now become a wildlife refuge. Avian songs filled the skies, with nary a rattle to be heard ... perfection, only slightly dented by an SUV barreling down the back road.

A New Jersey swamp trail boardwalk

Pochuck Shelter

The trail then dove into a forest of old swamp oak and took to a chain of boards stretched across one of New Jersey's renowned swamps. Then, across open fields, now swept by chilly gusts - yup, accurate forecast, to the hour - and up the first ridge slope to Pochuck shelter. I arrived by 11 am and settled in for a "nero" (near zero miles) day. The leading edge of the thunderstorm followed a half an hour later.

There's no water supply at this shelter, but it will give me a dry space to make an early start on tomorrow's perfect forecast. I will need it! The next shelter is 13 miles away, beyond a rocky 900 foot climb.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Communications for the week ahead

The combination of challenging climbs, stormy weather, and long stretches between approved tent sites may limit my ability to get back on line before the 15th. Thanks in advance for your patience!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Off trail

The Ion started right up after I loaded pack and gear, changed shoes, and pulled away. Next resupply point, Bellvale next to the hot dog stand, less than fifty yards from the Bellvale Creamery.

Looking west from the Bellvale Creamery patio
A conversation overheard that could have been my younger self --

"Dad, this is the best creamery I have ever ... Actually, this is the first creamery I have ever been to, and this is the best ice cream I have ever eaten. May I try the blackberry flavor, too?"