Greetings to all from New York City! Let me tell you, it is extremely strange and a bit intimidating to be in a place this busy again. I'll get more to that when I reach the end of the entry though. For now I think I need to catch you folks up on the trail since it has been quite a while since I've been able to get to a computer. As a result I am going to do my best to condense my entry as best as I can. This may mean that a few of the more mundane days just end up getting skipped, but who knows. I guess we'll just see how the entry goes.
I had planned to get out of Duncannon early and do a full 17 mile day to the third shelter out. That didn't happen. Something about being in a bed just kind of sucked me in and I didn't end up starting out of town until slightly after 11. Even then I thought I might have been able to make it. The weather had other thoughts. Some pretty dramatic thunderstorms arrived in the early afternoon. There was no way to avoid the first one, so I just got wet. This actually wasn't too bad. It was a really hot day and the rain cooled me off. However, it wasn't so pleasant that I wanted to continue to walk in lightning when more storms started to roll through. I ducked into the shelter at 10 miles out to dodge the next one and ended up staying there when the storm never really let up. I was in the company of Fire Marshall, Pythagoras, and Pogue.
The most notable thing about the next day was some wildlife sightings. Early in the day, there was still quite a bit of mist out and about which always brings out the salamanders. I got some pretty good pictures of a really cool looking little flame-orange one with spots. This was a pretty tame sighting compared to the one that came later however. I had been warned that somewhere in this area was a talus field where rattlesnakes might be a problem. It was a good thing I had been warned I likely would have missed the rattled tail poking over the back of a rock and walked right up to it. Instead I was able skirt it and discovered that I would not have walked up upon a single snake, but rather into the middle of a group of four. It appeared that the rock field housed a viper den. Fantastic. Now, I am not normally afraid of snakes, I am careful around them obviously but I find them really interesting. I have to admit though, the thought that I might uncover another one under a rock unexpectedly made me quite uncomfortable. It took me probably 15 minutes to cross that small rock area. I got some good pictures of the snakes too though.
The next day wasn't too notable except for the fact that it was much cooler than it had been in a while and we spent the night at a rather upscale shelter. The day after that though was a little different. I had a packege waiting for me in Port Clinton PA which was 23 miles away. At first I was planning to go most of the way there and then go into town in the morning to pick up the package. However, I was covering ground well enough that I decided to try and get the whole way before the post office closed. I made it no problem. I did the whole 23 mi between 7:50 and 4:20 with an hour break for lunch. I was pretty pleased with myself. I haven't done much hiking for speed, but it was kind of fun for a change to really push myself and see how far I could get in a specific amount of time. I spent that night in the Port Clinton public pavilion with a -number of other through-hikers including Golden Boy, Caveman of Ohio, Flick, and Diesel.
The next day I was determined to do the exact opposite of the blur of speed hiking I had done the day before. It worked pretty well. I had a very nice morning walking at a very reasonable pace and then ate lunch at the Pinnacle overlook. There were a bunch of people there and I got into conversations with a number of them. Everyone seemed very interested in what I was doing and as a result began offering me food, which I of course accepted. One family who I spoke with for a very long time gave me some really good apple and another couple gave me about 1/3 of a salami and some cheese. I was thrilled. I really enjoy meeting people that way. They are always a lot of fun to talk to. The last 8 or so miles of that day was pretty tough and I left my Duke shorts at a shelter where I changed clothes, but even so it was a really good day.
The next day was very hot, but mostly pretty easy walking. That is of course excepting a big rock outcrop called the Knife's Edge which I am surprised I didn't kill myself on. That night I got a room at Fine Lodging in Slatington (which I heartily advise against if you are not a thru-hiker) and was taken to dinner by the wonderful Natalie Sevin, another former student of RJ Reynolds High School. The food was alright, but the company and the Margeritas were excellent. Also on that venture we went to a Wal-Mart in order to get a book. While we were there, two women got in a very serious fight. I have no idea what it was about but it was one of the more unreal things I have witnessed in public.
The next day I had to climb out of Lehigh Gap which is a notoriously difficult climb. It was pretty steep, but it wasn't really all that bad so long as one wasn't too concerned with moving quickly. The top of that mountain was pretty distressing. About 4 miles along the top of the mountain was like desert. Nothing but rock and scrub as far as the eye can see. Something done by people had killed all of the vegetation up there. It was almost surreal it was so different from anything else I had encountered.
I had to pick up a new re-supply in Wind Gap the next day so I only ended up doing about 15 miles. My company at the shelter however was pretty cool. There was a father and fairly young son (JB and John) with one of the son's friends (Logan) out hiking for the son's birthday. It was really cool hanging around kids in a camping environment again. I had a really good time talking with them. It made a me kind of homesick for camp.
The next day I finally left PA behind me as I passed across the Delaware Water Gap. Unfortunately, the rock didn't all stay behind with the border. Even so, the Water Gap area was beautiful. It was really lush and actually kind of reminded me in places of North Carolina in the summer. I also saw two more bears that day, one full grown one right after I entered New Jersey and then a lone cub in the mid-afternoon. The cub made me real nervous because I couldn't see its Mom so I had no way to know if I might be between them in someway. I moved out of there carefully but very quickly. I also, saw a porcupine just before reaching the shelter for the night. I was thrilled because I had never seen one before. Unfortunately I was unable to get a good picture.
The next day was great walking but is really only set apart by the late afternoon thunderstorm and the discovery that my boots don't grip too well on damp rock. Fortunately, I only needed one lesson in that particular field of study.
I found it very difficult to move rapidly the next day, fortunately I didn't have to go too far that day. In truth it ended up being a really nice day. There was a wonderfully cool and very strong wind blowing for most of the day which made walking exceedingly pleasant, at least if one likes wind which I happen to. I ran into some kind of camp counselor training session at High Top shelter which made me miss Camp Grier once again. I saw two more bears (one was huge) and I helped a novice hiker out with some navigation. All in all it was a very full day for only having been 13 miles.
The next day was really great too. I ran into a really cool couple out dayhiking who had some good information for me about the upcoming trail. The husband of the pair was a hiking Lutheran Minister whose trail name is Double Rev. A little while later I discovered the end of one of my hiking poles had come off, I spent a good 40 minutes looking for it with another really fantastic trail pair until Double Rev came up and returned it to me triumphantly. Apparently, I had lost it miles back. Thanks again Pastor Priest! Also that day the trail followed a boardwalk across a really pretty marsh for about 2.5 or 3 miles. It was kind of fun walking and I struck up another good conversation with an older couple. Interestingly, the wife of that couple was from Warsaw Poland. I have really met some cool people out here. That day ended with a really great climb up steep Wawayanda mountain and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes at Wawayanda shelter.
I crossed into New York permanently on the morrow. Say goodbye state #8! There was some really pretty ridge walking that day with a lot of really good views of some local lakes. There seemed to be some kind of sailboat race occuring on one of them which was very pretty to watch from way up on the mountain. I ran into Triple A that afternoon which was pretty cool since I hadn't seen him since leaving West Virginia. Its always good to run into familiar faces. That night I stealth camped by the trail with Scottie 2 Lite in a really nice little grove north of Buchanan Mountain. It was a great place to spend the night.
I had some pretty tough walking on the following morning. A lot of stuff that was pretty close to rock climbing, not to mention the Lemon Squeezer which was almost too narrow to get through. I guess they thought we needed a challenge when they routed the trail through there. That night I finally met Shadow (another Gluten free hiker) at the shelter and had a really good evening talking with him and his friend Frindy.
I don't remember a whole lot about the next day because I was aiming for New York City where I currently reside. It has been really great taking it easy here and even better seeing Sarah. The incredibly wonderful people at the Columbia Center for Celiac Research, that is Cynthia Beckman and Dr. Peter Green took me out for a wonderful meal at a Vietnamese restaurant called Safran my first night in town. I had a blast. We really had a fantastic evening, which is represented by the fact that we didn't finish until 10:30 or so. Thanks again to Cynthia and Dr. Green. I really can't say enough.
Sarah I went to the Metropolitan museum yesterday and I followed that up with a double movie screening at the academy with Celia, one of my moms friends. Today was a bit more mundane in that we just kind of hung around the city but I did get to a cool used book store and an overstuffed outfitter called Tents and Trails over in the Wall Street district. Also, I don't think I need to say that I haven't really stopped eating since arriving in town. So, all in all it hasn't exactly been the usual trail town experience.
One final personal note. To Yorkie, Beat Box, Waffle, Yard Sale, The Dude and so forth...where the heck are you guys? I thought you would have caught me by now. Anyhow get a move on. I'm all by myself up here.
The Breadless Horseman