Day 73 – Campsite – Bear Mountain Inn – 19.5 miles
It was absolutely pouring when I woke up this morning. I knew it was going to rain, but didn’t know that it was going to be coming down so hard. A huge puddle started forming under my tent and the inside started to get under water. I’ve gone this whole trek without having this problem and also have gone this whole time without having to pack up my gear in the rain. The radar showed that the rain wasn’t going to let up anytime soon so I had no choice, but to make moves. I was completely soaked just minutes after I got out of my tent and when it was all said and done everything was wet. This was more of a mental battle and as I was standing there wet and cold I thought about being at home in a nice dry place. I thought about a warm shower and warm bed. I’m not going to quit the trail and I’ll have all of those things eventually, but the rain definitely was playing tricks on me that day. It wanted me to give up, but my will and determination to complete this journey said “F**K YOU” and I hiked on. There weren’t really any highlights to the day, just rainy, cloudy, and wet. I did eventually make it to the Bear Mountain Inn and got a room for the night. It was nice to be able to be in a dry place, but my time consisted mostly of using the blow dryer on all my stuff to dry it out. I did however have an amazing dinner. I put down an order of fried calamari, burger and fries, cheesecake, and a baked cookie with ice cream. I feel I’m in better spirits now and tomorrow I’ll start fresh and continue on!
Day 74 – Bear Mountain Inn – Campsite – 12 miles
It was nice sleeping in a real bed last night and I felt refreshed and ready to go when I woke up. I went down to eat breakfast at the Inn around 8 and had my fair share of bacon, english muffins, fruit salad, and yogurt. My plan was to chill for the morning and then hike out in the afternoon. I wanted a little extra time for my stuff to dry and I also had to catch up on some writing. I ended up getting on the trail at 1 pm and the sun had finally made its way out and it would stay sunny for the rest of the day. The first half mile of the trail went through a trailside zoo. The zoo is a rehabilitation center for injured animals and they also had reptiles and insects. After the zoo I walked on a bridge that crosses the Hudson River. The view of the mountains and water was amazing. You could also see trains down in the valley and I stopped to watch as they went by. The trail eventually got back into the woods and for the first 5 miles I didn’t see anybody except for two hikers heading southbound when they meant to be going north haha. We all laughed and I kept hiking another 3 miles to the Appalachian Deli. We got to a road crossing and the deli was right there so I stopped and got a resupply for the next few days and 2 slices of pizza and a chicken club sub. I met Nope and Safety Sean who were also eating some food and then headed back on trail. All I wanted to do for the night was to find a spot where I can camp and set up. Around 7:45 I got to a nice place and ate a sandwich I packed out while I put up my tent. The mosquitoes were really bad, so I did it as fast as I could so I can get inside. It felt nice to be on trail with some good weather so I hope tomorrow turns out that way too!
Day 75 – Campsite – RPH Shelter – 14.1 miles
I woke up at 6 this morning and told myself at 6:30 I gotta start getting ready. The half hour went by fast and I was on the trail by 7. I had a cheese coffee cake for breakfast and then stopped at the first water source I passed so I could fill up my bottles and brush my teeth. The sun was out for the morning, but the humidity had my shirt drenched in sweat right from the start. The trail was nice and smooth pretty much all day. There were some ups and downs, but no climbs that I really had to work for. The toughest part of the day was just hiking through the humidity. There was talk of a pretty big thunderstorm hitting in the afternoon so I wanted to make as many miles as I could before it started raining. About 9 miles in the trail passed near Clarence Fahnestock State Park. There was a .2 mile blue blazed trail that led down to a lake and concession stand, so I hit up the trail in hopes for a nice lunch. I met a thru hiker on my way down there named Tuffy from Maine. We walked down past the lake and got some lunch together. I had a chicken finger basket and a popsicle and then continued on my way. I was about 2 miles away from the shelter when all of a sudden the sky got dark and a cool breeze started picking up. I thought a downpour was going to start at any second so I picked up my pace a little bit to try and beat the storm. Luckily it never rained and I got to the shelter around 4:30 completely dry. It was another 6 miles to the next shelter and I thought about pushing it, but I kept getting alerts from my phone that rain was coming in an hour so I decided to stay. I met a few new hikers named Triathlon, Dino, and Glacier. Glacier ordered some food to the shelter and couldn’t finish it, so she offered half of her chicken parmigiana meal and I ate that for dinner. The sky cleared up and by 6 the weather report kept pushing the rain back. I had somewhat of a lapse in judgment and decided to hike out around 6:15, only to make it a mile out from the shelter before I got on an open ridge and could see the apocalyptic sky in the distance coming towards me. I decided to backtrack the mile back to the shelter and good thing I did because right when I got there the storm hit us hard. I ordered some Chinese food and I’m happy I’m warm and dry!
Day 76 – RPH Shelter – Stealth Camp – 23 miles
For the first time since being on the trail, I woke up with the feeling of being worn out. Worn out from the mosquitoes, the rain, the wet gear, being dirty, wearing dirty clothes, eating trail food, and walking around with a heavy pack everyday. All this comes with thru hiking and I didn’t know when or even if it would start breaking me down mentally. I talked with both my mom and my friend jack and I went from being pretty down to ready to keep chipping away at the trail. I’m lucky to have great people in my corner! Once I started hiking I started to feel good again and I decided to hit a deli 5 miles in for a coffee and sandwich. It was .5 off trail, but I think the way I was feeling some comfort food would do some good. New York gives people on the trail a chance to “Deli Blaze” because in the 100 mile section there’s about 10 delis .5 miles or less off the trail and some hikers don’t want to pass up the opportunity for some real food. I got a bacon, egg, and cheese and met a couple new hikers, Beats and Scooter. Beats’ personality reminded me of one of my friends, Mejia, and it made me laugh noticing all the similarities. As I was leaving I caught up with Spider who is last seen at Delaware Water Gap and then I was back on the trail. The weather was amazing all morning and 13 miles in I stopped at Nuclear Lake to chill and ended up seeing Beats again. Around 3 o’clock I started hearing thunder in the distance and thought that maybe the rain would stay pushed off to the west. I was completely wrong. Within ten minutes the thunder got louder, the temperature got cooler, the wind started picking up, and the sky got dark as night. I hurriedly put my rain cover on my pack and as I did that one of the elastics snapped and I couldn’t get the cover fitted onto my bag. Shit. I tried to fix it, but there was no way I could, so I just draped it over my pack and hope for the best as it started to absolutely downpour. In a matter of seconds I was completely cold and soaked and couldn’t help, but to just laugh. As I got out of tree cover the rain started to hurt as it hit my skin and as I got a better look I saw that it was little chunks of hail falling. This was one of the more intense storms and it lasted about 2 hours before it moved on and the skies cleared up again. I saw Scooter again after it rained and we ate dinner as we talked about how crazy the storm was. I was going to try and make it to a shelter, but saw a nice spot to Stealth Camp and after a long day I decided to just end it and put up my tent. As I was setting up I met Shepherd and his HUGE dog, Ghost. They’re from out west and it was nice talking to them. I was going to make some pasta for dinner, but the mosquitoes were so bad that I just ate some clif bars and then got in my tent as fast as I could. I’m only about 5 miles from the Connecticut border. Can’t wait to be back into New England tomorrow!
Day 77 – Stealth Camp – St. Johns Ledges – 19.2 miles
I woke up cold this morning around 6:30 and gave myself until 7 to enjoy the comfort of my sleeping bag. When the time came to get up, I packed up all my stuff while eating a s’mores PopTart and was hiking by 7:30. I was about 2 miles away from a shelter and when I passed it I saw Shepherd and his dog Ghost who I met briefly yesterday. I forget what kind of a dog Ghost is, but the thing is a monster. One of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen. From a distance you’d think he’s a polar bear. I talked with Shepherd for about 20 mins then got back on the trail. Just 5 miles after that was the Connecticut border. Finally in New England! It feels good to be back in familiar territory and the cool, sunny weather reminded me of my past hikes in New England. Fuego and Spaceship left a scavenger hunt trail magic box right after the state line and it was fun going to find it and seeing all the snacks inside! (Fuego is from Connecticut). The elevation didn’t go past 1,500 feet today, but most of the day consisted of starting at 500 feet, climbing to 1,500, and then all the way back down to a lower elevation. I think the middle section of the trail got my legs out of shape because there hadn’t been this much climbing since Virginia and my legs are starting to feel it! I didn’t see any thru hikers, but I did meet a bunch of day hikers. I met a family while eating lunch and drying my gear out at one of the shelters. They were from New York and the three kids all seemed to be under 10 years old. We had a great conversation and they even gave me some trail magic! Great people. Around 6 I stopped at a nice lookout and made a Mountain House meal which is one of the pre-cooked bagged meals you add water into. My plan was to find some water after I ate and then if there was a good spot to set up camp somewhere after I would do that. About a mile and a half after the water I found a nice place off trail to put up my tent. Its right on the ridge and the view out into the valley has to be one of the best in this whole state. I really lucked out with this camp spot. It’s not supposed to rain tonight so I kept the rain fly off. Not sure if it will be tomorrow or the next day, but I’ll be in Massachusetts so soon!
Day 78 – St. Johns Ledges – Stealth Camp – 28.9 miles
The view this morning made me excited to get hiking. The sun was out and I was looking down into the valley above the clouds. It was early, around 6:30 and I wasted no time. I was about 35 miles from Massachusetts and wanted to get as close as I could by the end of the day! The trail was pretty difficult to start, with steep stone steps for about a quarter mile leading down to the Housatonic River. The trail flattened out for a couple miles as it ran parallel to the river. It was a nice change of pace after all the ups and downs yesterday, but that quickly changed soon after as it went back to the climbs up and down. At one of the road crossings I got some trail magic from a nice person. Her husband was trying to hike all of Connecticut in 24 hours. I thought he was crazy for doing it because the terrain is difficult, even with the day pack. I saw him as I was drinking my soda and he looked in some rough shape. He still had about 15 miles to go and I don’t know if he made it or not, but I hope so! The weather for the rest of the day was nice and before it got dark I stopped at some water falls to eat dinner. I made some pasta and instead of draining the water I put mashed potatoes in to soak all of it up. With about 1,000 calories it was some nice fuel to get me a few more miles into the night! I hiked into the dark, getting my headlamp out and the coolness from the night felt nice. My goal was to just make it to the 1,500 mile mark so I could be just 20ish miles from town for tomorrow. I hit the 1,500 miles around 10 o’clock and the trail brought me to a road crossing in a neighborhood. I was pretty beat so I found a nice spot on some grass and stealth camped. I figured if I got up early enough nobody would even know I was there so hopefully I make it through the night with no complaints! 5 miles from Massachusetts! Can’t wait.
Day 79 – Stealth Camp – Great Barrington, Ma – 20.6 miles
I woke up early and eager to start hiking today. Something about being back in Massachusetts made me feel rejuvenated and ready to attack the last the last 600 miles of the trail. It was a cold morning, but even at 5:30 I was up and ready to go. Right from the start I started my ascent up Bear Mountain, the last peak in Connecticut. It was a steep climb and the view at the top was hazy, but it felt good to have gotten my last climb in CT out of the way. The descent was really steep and I took it very slow so I didn’t injure myself. 5 miles in was the Connecticut-Massachusetts border. Once I got to the sign I felt at home and it gave me some momentum to keep this thing rolling. I tried to take a picture, but as I was setting up the timer my phone died. I had passed a hiker on the way down from Bear Mountain, so I waited for him to get to there and have him take a picture for me. His name was Rickety from Virginia and he happily took the picture. The first climb in Massachusetts was Mt. Race which brought me up close to 2,500 ft. Close to the summit the trail went along the ridge line for about a half mile which gave me open views to the east for a while. Looking out reminded me of all the hikes I’ve done out in the area and made me look forward to what’s to come. After Mt. Race was a tough, steep climb up Mt. Everett. I stopped at the top to eat and then made my way down the steep north side of the mountain. At the bottom were some picnic tables with a bunch of ice cold gallons of water someone had put out for thru hikers. Thankfully they were there because all the streams afterwards were dried up. I met two hikers named Blue Jay and Dragonsticks and would end up seeing them later on that day. The rest of the day went through farm fields and low elevation woods. The mosquitoes were so bad in some of the swampy areas. I got to the road crossing that would bring me into town at about 4 o’clock and as I was hitching for a ride someone called me over to his car and had a bunch of cold drinks and snacks. His name is Rob, a trail angel that has a place here in Western Mass and also down in Tennessee. He offered to take me back to his cabin for a warm shower and place to sleep and I would be going with Blue Jay and Dragonsticks. We all made our way to the cabin, showered, then went to a diner to eat. I got a triple patty burger, fried pickles, and chocolate milkshake. Then we went to do some laundry and get ice cream! It was a great day and I’m happy I got a place to stay. Best part is that Rob isn’t going to charge us a dime! So cool how the trail introduces you to some great people. So happy to be in my home state!