Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29 - Headed back to NC

July 29, 2005
I just can't seem to let go. I keep crying. I want to be out there still. I don't want it to be over. As we drive down the highway with my parents, headed to NC to pick up the car, it seems surreal and yet, it makes it all seem so final. We are done. It sucks. It is sad. I had said to Ryan that this thruhike does not define us, that making it or not does not define us, but d@#* it, I really wanted us to make it. I feel out of focus. My mind has been stuck on Katahdin for so long, and now that is no longer an option for this year. It will sit in my mind of course, and I don't really think I'll rest until we've pieced together the rest of our 660 miles, but for now we just must move on. I've given myself today to be sad, and then, it's time to think about other things, and get Ryan all healed up and better again, so that we can get back out there on the trail and in the woods again another time.

But in the meantime, I can't resist sharing the following...
What I will NOT miss about the trail:
the overgrown trail
the poison ivy
being smelly, sticky and dirty most days
putting on wet clothes
being wet and damp for days on end, either from rain or humidity
the bugs, ants and spiders

What I WILL miss about the trail:
counting salamanders
the simplicity of the trail--everything you need is on your back; every day you wake up and put one foot in front of another and follow the white blazes north
enjoying the cool breeze atop a rocky ridge
picking blueberries along the trail
Hairball's campfires
watching the hawks and vultures ride the airwaves
sticking my legs in a cold, clean stream
noticing the Scarlet Tanagers and other birds in the woods
tromping along the trail with my best friend
the comraderie that develops out on the trail
reading the shelter registers and catching up on the trail "news"
all the wonderful trail magic we received
and most of all, the friends we made--Patch, Clearwater, Hairball & Snowbunny, Hopeful & Redwing, Bravo, Fatigue, Free, Train & Raindrop, Beantown, L.B., Coyote, Free Radical and everyone else who made the trip special to us.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

July 28 - the end of the line for 2005

July 28, 2005 | Day 123 | Miles: 1.2 | Total Miles: 1516.8
End: Mim's house, Williamstown, MA
Sunny and nice
This is a really sad entry to write. We have decided that today was the end of our journey on the AT for this season.
My parents dropped us off at the road this morning and after only a mile Ryan's back was hurting already. We sat on a big rock and decided enough was enough. Despite our mixed emotions and desire to be "thruhikers" and hike the whole trail in one season, it is not worth it if Ryan would be miserable every day and hurting all the time. What if it was permanent damage? Would the end be worth it? We decided not. This was a really hard thing to decide upon. How could we stop? We had made it so far, and been enjoying the journey so much... And yet, again, was it worth it? I really really wanted to finish atop Katahdin this year, but not without Ryan, and not with a Ryan who would be hurting himself more if he continued. What I really want most is to be with him and have us be happy. And this decision, while at this point being an extremely sad one, is the right one and will allow us to continue to get out and explore and hike and ski in all the years to come. I couldn't handle it if we couldn't do that. And if the journey becomes one in which all you wish is for it to be over, for the pain to stop, then at some point you have to listen to your body, and we needed to listen to his.
We've given it our best shot. We went after our dream. We made it over 1500 miles and that is something to be proud of. I am so proud of Ryan, pushing on through a lot more pain than I've had the past four months. He is one tough guy, and I am lucky to have him as my best friend and hiking partner. Yes, this is not how we would have wanted it to end, but life is like that. The trail will be there. We will finish off the next 660 miles over the next few years, and when we finish it will still be an accomplishment. Not what we had originally intended, but ours just the same...
We will never regret or forget our experience on the trail this year. All the people we met, all our trail friends and the ways people in the trail community opened their arms to us and helped us out. All our friends and family who have been so wonderful in their support and encouragement throughout this experience. I feel a bit that we have let you down, not making it to the end, but please understand that this decision was what we decided was best, although in our hearts we wish to remain on the trail... We will miss it.
But really this is not the end. It is the beginning of a new chapter for us. For new experiences and adventures. And despite all that, the trail will always be there, and we will be sure to walk it again soon, for it is part of us now and we still have miles to walk (eventually) :-)

Ryan, July 28, 2005
sunny, warm
well, this is not how we scripted it. we were supposed to end our trip on to of katahdin, not on a rock outside of great barrington, ma. but, my back says it's time to call it quits. not an easy decision, but it was an easy decision. we hit the trail at about 8:45 this morning with only a couples pounds in our packs. my back started to hurt after about a mile, and i knew that it was the end. nothing really meaningful or thought provoking to say right now...just sad. sad, but relived. my back isn't the only thing that hurts. but, without going into a litany of injuries, aches and pains, let's just say that my body has had enough. and, i can't spend any more mental energy pushing it...i've been doing that for too long now. the heart wants to keep going, but the current and potential future pain is too much. so, i'm relived. plus, the thought of katahdin was becoming more of a relief than a celebration. really, we just wanted to be finished. not this way, but finished. of course, i feel guilty for ending danielle's trip. we both know that she could finish. but, i can't convince her to go on without, she never learned to use the stove. we set out on this together, and i know if the foot was on the other shoe, i would be right beside her. and, as always, she was strong again today. so, we're done. today was the last time we sat in the trail and sure wasn't the first, but this one was the last. but, we're not done yet! we still have 600 plus miles to finish and we'll get them eventually...slowly...year after year. the trail doesn't care, the trail never cared, but we're going to finish. we'll get to katahdin. but, more importantly, we'll do a lot of other things together. i'll get my back fixed, and we'll be out doing more crazy things...for a long time. what it really boils down to is that we gave it a shot. we didn't just talk about it. we took a risk. and, despite not reaching that pile of rocks on maine, it was a great choice. it was a great trip, and i'm proud of the 1500 plus miles we walked together. and, i wouldn't trade any of it...well, maybe most of pa. pa sucks. thanks to every single person who touched our lives along the way and helped us get a few steps further. and thanks to everyone who has been reading our daily babble...sorry, we had to cut it short by a couple months. but, most of all i have to thank danielle, sparkplug...she's tough. grrr...
today's song - don't dream it's over, crowded house

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

July 26-27 in MA

July 26, 2005 | Day 121 | Miles: 0 | Total Miles: 1515.6
End: Mim's house, Williamstown, MA
Suny and hot
Laundry, grocery shopping, packing up mail drops, a chiropractor appointment for Ryan, and oh yes, sitting on the couch reading the 6th Harry Potter book. Plus eating. I'd say that about sums up our day. Got some things done but otherwise very mellow and relaxing...

sunny, hot
saw a chiropractor today. my body sounded like bubble wrap...and hurt. not sure if he really helped, but i feel like i've done everything i can. we're going to take another day off tomorrow, and then slackpack on thursday and friday. i know, i know...slackpacking. not our first choice, but it will be a good way to gauge how my back will perform. luckily, danielle's parents are willing and able to help us out for the rest of the week. it will be great to be able to come back to mim's house each day after only carrying a light pack...clean and well fed. then on saturday, we'll get back to it...well, for two shortish days before we walk back here on sunday night. i guess if i was going to be broken, the timing was good.
today's song - things can only get better, howard jones. (thanks to the stop n shop for this one...hopefully, it's true.)

July 27, 2005 | Day 122 | Miles: 0 | Total Miles: 1515.6
End: Mim's house, Williamstown, MA
Sunny, hot and humid
Another lazy day at Mim's. Very hot and humid, so we were glad to not be in the woods. We did some laundry, went to the PO, lazed around, then went to a matinee of "Wedding Crashers" with Mom and Dad. The perfect mindless comedy to keep us amused, and in the A/C, for a few hours.
We are planning to slackpack tomorrow. Now for those of you not up on your AT terms, slackpacking means you're basically dayhiking along the trail, with someone dropping you off in the morning and then picking you up at the end of the day. In general we have been "against" this, as it seems like an easier way to hike the trail, versus hiking with all your gear and being self-sufficient. But with our recent turn of events, to give Ryan's back a break for a few more days, and wanting to keep going, we figured we'd give it a try for a few days since my parents were kind enough to offer to shuttle us around. It will allow us to get in some higher miles and also assess how Ryan is doing without getting stuck out in the woods with him hurting. We will truly be doing the same miles, just without all the weight. To keep moving forward is the goal, so we'll do what we have to do to get there! Should be sort of fun to get out there without a big pack for a day or two and see how those miles feel! :-)

sunny, hot am, pm thunderstorms and cooling
another rest day...back at it tomorrow. fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

July 24-25 in MA

July 24, 2005 | Day 119 | Miles: 6.6 | Total Miles: 1515.6
End: East Mountain Retreat Center, Great Barrington, MA
Sunny and nice
Not where we planned to be for the night... Poor Ryan. His back was hurting again today. It really sucks. Not just for him, but just in general, to be thrown off kilter again and off the trail for a few days when we hadn't planned it (again). This time we're going to get him to a chiropractor or someone who can hopefully whack his back into place so we can get back on the trail shortly. I have had a few hours to sit and think about this, and gain some optimism about the situation, but I have to admit that while we were slogging through the last 4 miles of our big 6.6m day, I was feeling pretty down, sad and pessimistic about everything. It really sucks to be out there in the woods, helpless, watching him have so much pain, and knowing that we have to keep moving so we can stop. Some twisted logic going on there, but that's just how it is out here when your feet are your mode of transportation. I worry about making it, about him being hurt for the long-term, about money and time and everything. We really want to keep going, so we'll do what we can to make it happen.
In any event, we are now showered and relaxing at this silent retreat place. They open a section of it to hikers, which is very nice. We plan to call my parents tomorrow, and interrupt their scheduled visit with my sister in Portland, ME to have them come pick us up early and take us to Mim's in Williamstown, MA for a few days off. They were going to do that anyway in a few days...this is just a bit earlier than planned. I wish we could stick to the schedule, but what can we do? We'll hope a bit more rest and a doctor's visit will make Ryan feel better, and then we'll head north again...

sunny, warm
today sucked. my back is bad. and, i sprayed insect repellant into my eye. we're going to take a couple days off. we're going to maine.

July 25, 2005 | Day 120 | Miles: 0 | Total Miles: 1515.6
End: Mim's house, Williamstown, MA
Sunny, hazy and hot
After a nice sleep at the East Mountain Retreat and a leisurely morning sitting around reading and playing RISK (I lost. Bummer.), Mom and Dad picked us up around 1pm and drove us to Mim's. We managed to get new pole parts (ours had taken a beating on the PA rocks) and get Ryan a massage plus a chirpopractor appointment all within 2 hours of being here. Very productive! Plus, I went through all the boxes that had arrived here either via mail or with Mom and Dad. Thanks to Corie and Rob, Krisser, Neal and Kendra, Nate and Shannon for thinking of us and sending along packages. It was like Christmas :-) We enjoyed the rum & cokes and bloody marys that Neal and Kendra sent along (only they would send alcohol through the mail :-) ) with our dinner. Yum!
After Ryan's massage, his back is feeling great. We'll see how it feels tomorrow, but we're feeling optimistic...
It's great to see Mim and my mom and dad. And a big thanks to them for coming to pick us up early! We really appreciate it :-)

cloudy am, sunny pm
car ride, poles fixed, shower, massage, food. what more do you need to know? ok, the raymonds rescued us from the ridiculous yappy dogs and slightly creepy atmosphere of the east mountain retreat center. not a bad place, but 24 hours was more than enough. so, we're further north on the trail than we've walked...the trail goes right through williamstown. anyway, the mountain goat ia the outfitter in town and they kicked ass...they basically refurbed our busted poles. new tips and new shafts for me. they also recommended a massage place in town. that was sweet. hopefully, that will help...i think so. i also have an appointment with a chiropractor tomorrow. take that busted back! gotta cream sundaes!

Friday, July 22, 2005

July 22-23 in MA

July 22, 2005 | Day 117 | Miles: 19.9 | Total Miles: 1494.5
End: Laurel Ridge Campsite, Tent
Warm and humid with evening rain/lightening/thunderstorm
We are just better at the big climbs than all the little bumps we've been dealing with the past few days. Today we had three big climbs and we did awesome. The terrain was nice, with lots of pines, and a very New England feeling. We went up and over the highest point in CT today--Bear Mountain. Nice rocky ledges and views out over the green hills and valley below. Then down into Sages Ravine where the trail wandered along the river, with pools and small waterfalls. Very pretty. And then, ta da! Into Massachusetts! Wow. Very cool. We're currently camped a few miles over the border. It was a long day today, but we did really well, although with getting in late Ryan did end up out in the pouring rain finishing cooking our dinner as a huge rain/lightening/thunderstorm rolled through. Poor guy. Then we were huddled up in the tent, eating as the rain poured down. Things are a bit soggy, but not too bad...
Ah yes, I did get stung by a hornet/wasp thing at the campsite before the rain. One of the tenting areas had a nest and as I was walking by, boom! I was stung in the finger. Ouch, that hurt! Stupid insects! Luckily it didn't swell up too much, but still... 1 sting for me; 2 for Ryan. Yikes.
But other than that one incident, an overall very good day :-)

sunny, hot, evening deluge
at miles - 19.9
big day for team snowplug! actually, it was a great day...long, but great. ct really showed me something today, and i'm even considering letting the at corridor be part of new england. maybe. but, all that doesn't matter because we are definitely in new england now after crossing the border into massachusetts late this afternoon. ct went out with a bang with a couple great climbs over lion's head (just about every state has one of those) and bear mountain (same here). bear mountain is the highest peak in ct, and was a great climb...decent views, too. then we crossed the border and followed sawmill brook for a mile or two, which was really pretty. the scenery is getting better everyday. it's starting to feel like home. the plants, even the just looks like the mountains and trails we're used to and love so much. ah, new england. can't beat it. then it poured. lots of thunder, and a complete soaker...actually, since we're in rained wicked hahd, guy. the good thing was our tent was all set up and our stuff stayed dry. the bad news was that i was in the middle of cooking dinner. (you didn't know that i did the cooking out here, did you?) since i didn't think it was a good idea to try to move the stove mid boil. so, i waited it out as long as i could while the rained intensified and danielle said either "oh boy" or "oh no" each time from inside the dry tent. into great barrington tomorrow and possibly a night in a bed, but we're certain if that's a possibility. if not, we're looking at 19...oh yeah, bring it on! (as you can tell my back is feeling better, and my knees have recovered from the pa rocks. pa sucks.) by the way, we walked to massachusetts from georgia...holy crap.
today's song - luckiest man alive, finn brothers

July 23, 2005 | Day 118 | Miles: 14.5 | Total Miles: 1509.0
End: campsite along ridge past Great Barrington, MA, Tent
Sunny and nice with a cool breeze
What a beautiful day! After the rain last night and some early morning clouds, the skies cleared out to bright blue skies, cool and breezy. We went over Race Mt., where we walked along the rocky ledges, enjoying the views and the breeze. Then lunch on Jug End Summit, where we sat on the rocks, dried our stuff in the sun, enjoyed the wind and the blueberries--yum! Lovely. We got a ride into Great Barrington in the early afternoon for laundry, food and phone calls, but no place to stay-everything was booked up for the Tanglewood Music Festival, and the couple the outfitter said took in hikers for the night wasn't home--so off we trotted arund 7:30pm. I was not so happy about the prospect, and Ryan's back had been feeling stiff all day, so he wasn't either, but there was nothing else to do... we ended up finding a spot a few miles out of town at dusk, and set up in a record 15 minutes before we dove into the tent to escape the ravenous mosquitos. In fact, I can hear them buzzing outside the tent as I write--crazy! I don't think we've ever seen as many as we did tonight. They were everywhere!

sunny, warm
an interesting day today. basically, we hiked 12.5...slowly, then went into great barrington to resupply and do laundry. we had hoped to stay but no luck there. so, after eating a very tasty dinner of greek salad and pizza, we got back on the trail at about 7:30. now, we're hiding in the tent at a random spot we plunked down at from the ravenous mosquitos. i have never seen so many mosquitos in my life. they're wicked bad, guy. speaking of bad, my bad felt like crud today. not as bad as last week, but not good either. i wish i knew how to work it out. the shoulder problem that flared up at the beginning of the trip...i can stretch that out as i hike. this one i can't really figure out. hopefully, it will be better tomorrow. if not, i may have to look for some illegal narcotics. in other news, it's amazing how much better new england is. we had some beautiful climbs today. some open ledges with great views. our lunch spot was the best yet, jug end. a great view with tons of blueberries. looking forward to more of the same as the days go on. important milestone today - 1500 miles. we're getting there! oh yeah, send vicodin.
today's song - kentucky woman, neil diamond (the big y supermarket plays great tunes.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

July 21 in CT

July 21, 2005 | Day 116 | Miles: 15.2 | Total Miles: 1474.6
End: Belter's Campsite, Tent
Hot and sunny
Well, this 15.2m day was a tough one. I think it was a combination of the late night yesterday, the heat and the constant ups and downs all throughout the day. And some steep ones too. Made for some slow walking... But we made it and are relaxing a bit tonight. The camping area is in the pines, and it's pretty quiet tonight. Just us and 2 other hikers.

sunny, hot
15 miles today...right in our wheelhouse. of course, we got a bit of a late start due to our late day yesterday, but a good day nonetheless. although, we had a lot of little ups and downs today. ct is a nice warm up for the upcoming tough parts. my back was pretty grouchy this morning, but felt great the rest of the day. all in all a good day. the only real downer was the mosquitos tonight...fairly aggressive. it looks like some bigger climbs tomorrow, but we're going to try to push 18 into massachusetts...stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

July 19-20 in CT

July 19, 2005 | Day 114 | Miles: 12.3 | Total Miles: 1443.7
End: Ten Mile River Shelter, Tent set up in shelter
Hot and humid with afternoon rain and evening clearing
Holy crap! We've hiked to New England! We are currently at the first shelter in CT. Wow. (of course, Ryan says this is not New England yet, just part of NY, but hey, I think it's officially New England! And well, it's pretty d*** cool that we've walked up here.) Bye bye New York. We won't miss you---we put you at the bottom of our list with PA. Ugh. But CT, you have made us happy so far. Good trail signage, well maintained trails with smooth treadway, a nice shelter with a composting privy. Keep up the good work!
We are currently the only ones at the shelter so far--it's 7:30pm--and are looking out at the meadow in front, and listening to Mama and baby Phoebes up in the nest in the rafters. We took shelter here when the rain started and have been enjoying the spot.
We managed to dry everything out last night in the A/C but it was hot and humid again today so we're wet once more... Oh well. We're hoping the front moves through and kills this humidity! That would be a nice break :-) But despite the weather, we're feeling pretty good and happy to have left NY and be enjoying CT.

three h's
luckily, the air conditioner kept going all night and things dried out, so our stay at the sharadu wasn't a complete loss. we did indeed pass on the freezer burned english muffins. the last 9 miles of new york were crap. over grown, unmaintained crap. ny sucks. but, who cares, we're in connecticut! what's the first thing we see in ct? trail maintenance! new bog bridges being constructed. ny sucks. ny's idea of trail maintenance is to do nothing, let everything get overgrown, so the grass tries to eat you....then put up signs about the dangers of lyme disease. gee, thanks. so, it's good to be out of ny and closer to new england. ct is not new's part of the tri-state area. i will not argue about this. so, it was nasty yesterday, but it was hotter today. really hot. especially through the open cow pastures. yuk. almost melted. gotta go...mosquitos are getting hungry.

July 20, 2005 | Day 115 | Miles: 15.7 | Total Miles: 1459.4
End: Stewart Hollow Brook Lean-to, Tent
Hot and sunny
Well, the humidity broke overnight but it was still pretty hot out. Still, at least things dried out a bit instead of staying soaked!
We had a midday stop in Kent, CT for lunch, groceries, phone calls and a bit of internet access at the library. Cute little town. As it was hot, and we had to hike 9m into town from the shelter, we didn't end up leaving until 5pm. Made for a super late arrival at camp tonight and dinner in the dark. I am really not good after 5pm--I am much more a morning hiker-- so it was a bit of a struggle for me, but eventually we made it. It's currently 10pm and we're still awake! Way past this hiker's bedtime, so goodnight! :-)

sunny, hot
sorry for the abrupt end last night, but the bugs were wicked. writing in the tent tonight as the night air buzzes. ny brought the arrival of the skeeters and they followed us to ct.
still hot, but less humid today. what a difference. but it's all relative...we're both longing to be cold. the back is better, but our feet are taking a beating. still not fully recovered from pa, the heat and the humidity are rough. they just can't get dry, so parts start blistering and falling off. not pleasant. today we had a longish stop in kent for resupply and whatnot. town stops always take longer than they should. we didn't get to camp until almost 8:30. that made for one grouchy sparkplug. yikes. but, we're getting good at this camping thing, and we had the tent up, water filtered, and dinner cooked and served before 9. late, but speedy. due to the weather, i drank over 200 ounces of fluids today, and on that note...i gotta pee.
today's song - the wet bum song, sparkplug (lyrics go something like this: "my bum is wet. my bum is wet. my bum, my bum is wet. hooray, my bum is wet." she's a misunderstood genius.)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

July 17-18 in NY

July 17, 2005 | Day 112 | Miles: 10.7 | Total Miles: 1414.1
End: RPH Shelter
Heavy, hot and humid
A late start to the day after another nice meal courtesy of Mrs. Ball and the drive out here. We drove over the Bear Mountain Bridge--seemed much faster driving than walking across--and meandered through the countryside to the trail. The terrain was pretty mellow, which was nice, but boy was it humid! Wow. We're soaked still, and we've been stopped for about 2 1/2 hours. Ugh. I guess we're getting the remains of Hurricane Dennis. Oh well....
As we were hiking along, we were discussing being out here again. Is the pain worth it? Wouldn't it be easier to just go back to "reality"? But we came out here with a goal, and we will do as much as we can to reach it. And how lucky we are to be out here, reaching for our dream... Will we ever have this chance again? And how could we contemplate leaving? We talk in circles, but despite our weariness and pain, we are still out here, and still want to be out here, moving north.
We've been talking to a bunch of other hikers this evening, and lots of others are feeling a bit worn out and down, like we had been feeling. Plus we met up with Lion King, who has hiked the trail before and produced a documentary about the trail. Very cool guy. We were chatting about how tough it's been recently and I think he kind of inspired Snowman to feel a bit better and hang in there, to hold out for the good stuff coming up in northern New England. So at the end of the day, we're happy to be out here again :-)

mostly cloudy, oppressively humid
back on the trail today. the pampering at the balls was fantastic. it was the perfect stop for us. they couldn't have been nicer to a couple of homeless and a bed...fantastic. another great example of the nice people we've met along the trail. my back feels better today. rest is great. i also did a little adjustment on my pack, which i think will help. and some stretching. we'll see what happens. but, it was good to be back out on the trail. (even though there was so humid today, it felt like we were hiking under water.) we've decided we're going to keep going...basically, because we just keep finding ourselves walking north. it's that whole katahdin thing. we bumped into lion king today, he's hiked the trail before and actually made a movie about it. we met him back in damascus. he reassured us that we are getting to the good stuff...very soon. we knew that, but it was great to hear it. only two more days of new york...we're getting there. best of all, we're getting there together. and if we don't get there, we won't get there together. my being hurt has definitely put things in perspective for us. we don't want to get off the trail, but it could happen. either way, we're doing it together, and we're still moving forward.
today's song - ridiculous thoughts, the cranberries

July 18, 2005 | Day 113 | Miles: 17.3 | Total Miles: 1431.4
End: Sharadu B&B, Pawling, NY
The air was heavy. It seemed we were in some sort of twisted sauna, where they turn up the humidity to 99% to open your pores, and then tell you to put on your clothes and pick up your pack and walk, instead of doing the whole true sauna thing... That was how I felt today. Soaked from before we even had our packs on, and wetter with every step. Saturated. I could wring out my shorts and hat string by snacktime at 5 miles... Ugh. If it had been raining, it would have been OK, but when it's this humid out, it's just not right! We really hadn't planned to come into town today, after just our second day back on the trail, but we were so soaked, A/C just sounded sooo good. Pawling is a cute little town, with a nice Main St. This B&B is a bit of a misnomer; it's more like a boarding house. Not quite worth what we are paying, but oh well. We're cool, clean and have clean, dry clothes (hurray for the well-located laundromat!). The terrain was actually quite nice today, and we made good time.
The woods were alive today... Saw 9 deer, about 20 bright orange salamanders, 2 toads, many frogs, 2 woodpeckers (downy, I think), plus fish in both a stream we crossed and in Nuclear Lake, where we sat for an afternoon snack in the slight breeze. The lake used to be a cooling pond for a nuclear plant, but has been given a clean bill of health. Nothing radioactive about it :-) We also saw tons of mushrooms--red, orange, yellow, brown, gray, white and also one that was bright purple.

first of all, let's talk about the weather. all those other days i've complained about the humidity...well, they weren't humid. today was humid. it was ridiculous. we were both completely about 20 minutes! so, gross. it was just wrong. i've never seen anything like it. basically, we hiked in wet clothes all was like wearing a wet bathing suit with clothes over it...all day. yuk. because of this, i looked at danielle after about 5 miles and said, "we're not camping tonight." i know we just got pampered and spent more money than we should have, but it's just too gross out there. plus, it's raining now, and the weather channel is calling for two inches of rain tonight. so, sharadu b&b here we are. however, the sharadu isn't really a b&b. it's a grouchy lady's house. the breakfast consists of whatever we can find in the fridge. not that any of this is necessarily bad, but we're not that far off from the doyle hotel here. with twice the price. that's the real bummer. but, it was the right call for us tonight, and the great wall chinese was great. so, spend a little cash now, to keep the spirits up and this whole thing rolling. an investment in the future. speaking of spirits, we had a great day...even though it was disgusting. we moved through those 17 miles pretty quickly, and my back feels fine. not 100%, but pretty good. i think it will be ok. everyone we meet is going through the same thing. we caught up to jax today, who was thinking about getting off the trail. but, he's starting to feel a little better, and he's going to stick it out. we're al in the same boat, and we're just trying keep everyone's spirits up. a lot of teamwork going on. in case you were wondering, ny sucks, too.
today's song - desire, u2

Friday, July 15, 2005

July 15-16 in NY

July 15, 2005 | Day 110 | Miles: 0 | Total Miles: 1403.4
End: The Ball residence, Congers, NY
Hot and humid
As I write, we are sitting waiting for 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith' to start in the Fishkill movie theatre. Meghan and Chris are picking us up tonight for two nights at the home of The Balls, Chris's parents for a bit more rest, but for now we're stuck without a car in Americana. Amazing how being without a car makes you truly see how dependent we are on our cars. Essentially we are at an exit off I-84, and being without a car just makes us feel like aliens. Plus the fact that Ryan is walking around in his skirt... Not a fashion trend well-known here in NY state... :-)
This is our first real deviation from the "schedule." Pretty good for having come 1400 miles, although I really wish we were back out on the trail. Feels like we're in some sort of warped limbo here, but Ryan really needs the rest so we do what we have to do. I think we're both in better spirits today, but the rest will probably be good for that too. Hopefully we'll return to the trail on Sunday feeling recharged and ready to keep headed north.

three h's
spirits better when we got up this morning...most importantly, the back feels good. but, being trapped in americana...strip malls, dennys, wal-mart, and all the trappings that go along with those. oh yeah, and we almost got run over about 10 times trying to cross the street. basically, we waited for meghan and chris to come pick us up and take us to chris' parents' house, which eventually happened. unfortunately, they had to sit in traffic for a looooonnnngggg time. sorry, guys. highlights of the day: 1. we went to a movie, mr. and mrs. smith...not bad. 2. i bought a $3 t-shirt at wal-mart. it reads "property of my grandkids." hey, i needed to have something presentable to wear to the balls' house. i changed in the movie reminded me of the scene in "twins" when arnie gets his "born to bad" t-shirt...i'm just a little bigger.

July 16, 2005 | Day 111 | Miles: 0 | Total Miles: 1403.4
End: The Ball residence, Congers, NY
Overcast and hot
Ahhhh...a day of nothing. Chris and Meghan braved the traffic last night to pick us up--thanks again guys!--and brought us down to Chris's parents house, who were nice enough to put us up for a few nights. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Ball! We truly appreciate it. We had a great night's sleep, and have done a bit of internet surfing--mostly catching up on our friend's AT journals online. It is fun to read where people are at, and to hear that others are having a bit of a struggle through these past miles. It's nice to know that it's not just us... Ryan is definitely in much better spirits today, and his back is feeling good too. Thank goodness! I am looking forward to getting back out there. Only a few more days of NY, then 52 miles in CT and we're into MA. New England here we come... It's not too far off... :-) Despite the days we're tired and hurting, we know we're so lucky to have this time to be out here, chasing a dream of ours. Katahdin still looms in the distance, and that is where we're headed.

cloudy, humid
another day of rest, and all the parts are feeling good. best of all, no stress. although it was a bit of a hassle for meghan and chris to pick us up, staying at the ball's house was the perfect solution. feels just like home sweet home. we're getting back on the trail tomorrow, and really looking forward to it. if everything feels good bodywise, i think we'll be good to maine. gotta go...watching the red sox game.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

July 13-14 in NY

July 13, 2005 | Day 108 | Miles: 12.9 | Total Miles: 1395.2
End: Graymoor Friary ballfield, NY, Tent
Overcast, humid, heavy and hot
Well, we are back to doing OK mileage- and time-wise, at least for today, which made us feel a bit better :-) The morning consisted of two pretty big climbs, which were quite nice with some views, despite the haze. Then we hit the lowpoint of the trip, 124 ft. in front of the bear exhibit in the Bear Mountain Zoo. It was pretty funny to walk through the zoo! Then a quick resupply in Fort Montgomery, NY where there is no one willing to pick up two tired hikers along the road... must be too close to NYC. No trust here! Oh well, at least it wasn't a bad walk, but it was still a walk on the pavement. And now we're lounging in the pavillion at the ballfield at the Graymoor Friary. The brothers are nice enough to let hikers stay, and feed them dinner too. I lucked out by saying I was vegetarian--I got a HUGE bowl of pasta with veggies, while everyone else got a small piece of chicken and fries. I ended up passing my pasta around to fill everyone up... The evening ended with a long-winded tour of the place, which was neat, except that we were all tired! It is really nice of the friars to offer up the space to us and be so hospitable :-) A good place to be for the night...

mostly cloudy, humid
today we hit our low point of the trip...literally. 124 feet. i guess, it's all uphill from here. ouch. we also saw a bear...i told you we were going to see a bear. we walked through the bear mountain trailside zoo. it was a little weird. we spend every night hanging our food to keep bears out, and today we watch a bear wander to the back of its pen while 15 seven year olds yell at it. a bit strange. we're staying on the ballfield at the graymoor friary. the friars fed us, too. danielle ordered the veggie meal and got a giant vat of pasta. me? mediocre fried chicken. but it was free and, prepared and served by the nice folks from the rehab clinic next door. ah, the trail...such a weird place.

July 14, 2005 | Day 109 | Miles: 8.2 | Total Miles: 1403.4
End: Holiday Inn, Fishkill, NY
Overcast, hot and humid
Hmmm, the trail doesn't really go near Fishkill, but here we are... We had a rough day today. Ryan's back was really killing him, and there were multiple breakdowns on the trail, so we ended up making a "Need help" sign for me to hold up off this random road leading to a lake. A nice older woman stopped to help us out, and drove us here, the closest civilization north of where we were at. We plan to relax tomorrow and attempt to get back on the trail on Sunday. We will just have to see how it goes... Of course we WANT to keep going, we've come so far, but if Ryan is in pain every day, with every breath with his pack on, is it worth it? These are the discussions we keep having... We don't want to give up without a fight so we'll try to get back out there and keep moving forward.... and see what happens.

hazy, humid
i shouldn't have made that joke about the low point. today was the roughest day yet, and hopefully, not our last. i'm having a lot of trouble with my back. (different spot from a previous episode.) basically, it hurts to breathe while carrying my pack...walking is even worse. adding it to all the things that already hurt, we're seriously considering continuing. neither of us want to go on, if we're both going to be miserable. that being said, we're going to take at least a day off, and then see what happens. hopefully, things will turn around.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

July 12 in NY

July 12, 2005 | Day 107 | Miles: 10.3 | Total Miles: 1382.3
End: Beechy Bottom Brook unofficial campsite, Tent
Sunny, hot and humid
Today is one of those days when you should be either in a lake, pool or in an air-conditioned room, with an umbrella drink in hand. Hot, hot, hot and humid. But us, we were out trudging through New York. And as I am sure Ryan will be noting in his journal, I have been finding NY to be a pain in the a**. All these silly, ridiculous ups that have no point, lots of wandering around looking for blazes and of course it's been hot so that just makes it harder. There were some nice parts of the trail today--Black Mountain with some nice vista and a breeze, and of course, we woke up to a beautiful view of the lake this morning, very calm and peaceful--but in general I'm just feeling some frustration toward the trail. Not all day, mind you, but in spurts. Is it that I expected it to be "easy" by now? Or that I am just spoiled by the hiking we're used to up north, where the signage, blazing and routing is good and for a purpose? I am not the only one grumbling--there was quite a bit of it in the shelter register where we stopped for lunch. Oh well. We did a short day today, and weren't feeling exhausted when we stopped which was nice. We had camp all set up by 4:30pm, and I am now relaxing in my chair... Ahhhh... Tomorrow we head through the Bear Mountain Zoo and on to the Graymoor Friary where they've been allowing hikers to stay in the yard and eat dinner with them for years. Should make for an interesting day :-)
Flora and fauna report for the day: 8 deer, 1 rattlesnake seen by Ryan and reportedly (I did not go back to verify!) quite large, frogs, toads, 2 turkey vultures in a tree on Black Mtn., and some very large bear prints in the mud (but no sighting of it). Blueberries are now abundant--yum!--but not much else in terms of flora.

three h's
i would like to start my journal today with a quote from sparkplug: "if i'm going to remember new york, it's because it's a pain in the ass. and, we've only gone 20 miles. [sigh] bastards." ah yes, new york is pleasant. every little bump they can find, we go up and over. new york is best described in one word: unnecessary. it was really hot today, so we took it easy. 10 miles feels so short. it was great. even with a late start and almost 2 hours for lunch, we had the tent set up by 3:30. so, relaxing. now, we're waiting for the thunderstorm to's rumbling in the distance. i saw a huge rattlesnake today. luckily, danielle missed it and it didn't care that we were walking by. it was as big as my fist around the middle. needless to say, i didn't spend much time observing him. we also saw some huge bear tracks today. here's the wierd thing: only about .5 mile from here is the pallisades parkway with a sign that read, "new york 34." we sure don't feel that close. new york is an interesting place. i guarantee we're going to see a bear tomorrow.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

July 10-11 in NY

July 10, 2005 | Day 105 | Miles: Who knows? | Total Miles: Who knows?
End: Who knows, but we're in a Tent somewhere over the NY border
Sunny and warm, but not humid
As I write this, we have no clue as to our true location along the trail. The book lists several streams, as do the profile maps; the map itself does not. So where we are is a mystery... We'll figure it out tomorrow when we reach some real landmarks, but for now we're somewhere along a ridge in NY, camping by a stream. So far, it's just us. I think this might only be the 4th time ever that we've camped alone on this trip. Kind of nice.
Meghan and Chris were nice enough to comply with our desire to get back on the trail not too late today, and dropped us off for a 10am start. We hit the NY/NJ border after a late lunch. 8 states down, 6 to go. Woohoo! NJ was nice and short. We like that :-) So far the hiking in NY has been enjoyable. Lots of short little climbs, we've been told, throughout the state, but today wasn't too bad. We're feeling pretty good after our day off, which is always a good thing :-)

sunny, warm
we don't know where we are. definitely not lost, but we don't know where we are. the nj/ny maps are less than accurate, and our ol' buddy wingnut is little help. so, we just plopped down next to this stream, with this really great campsite, and here we sit. we're going to hit a road at some point early tomorrow morning, and that should tell us where we ended up. most importantly, however, we're in new york! thanks, jersey, it's been fun. 8 states down, and 6 to go. we've heard that the trail in new york goes over every little bump they could find, and it's lived up to billing so far. up 100 feet, down 50 feet, up 75 feet, down 100 feet. at least the views have been nice. either way, only 90 miles of new york, then 50 of connecticut, and we're in new england. (connecticut isn't part of new england. i feel very strongly about this.) we're feeling well fed and rested after our day off with the family. it was our first day off completely away from the trail. normally, we're still in a "trail town", but it was nice to be removed from the trail for a brief time...we didn't have to think about it. and, believe me, there's no place like jersey city to make you happy to be back in the woods again! thanks to my sister and her reluctant boyfriend for hosting the smelly people. chris asked us to put our packs in garbage bags for the ride back to the trail, so they wouldn't contaminate his car. meg also conveniently wore her flip flops, so they couldn't hike with us for a little bit. ah, city folk. great to see the whole family, though, and we definitely feel re-energized. now, if we could only figure out where we are...or where we're going to end up tomorrow...
today's song - new york, new york, frank sinatra (i'm working on new lyrics that fit our situation a bit better. "start spreading the news...we're hiking to maine." and "my 8th pair of starting to fray...from all those rocks back in p-a...not new york." ol' blue eyes is rolling over in his grave.)

July 11, 2005 | Day 106 | Miles: If yesterday was 12.4m, then today was 16.5m | Total Miles: 1372.0
End: Island Pond, unofficial campsite, Tent
Sunny, hot and humid
Well, based on when we reached the road this morning, we think we figured out where we camped last night. Silly book. It's a great resource but boy, can it be annoying when you can't connect it with the reality of the trail! Oh well. We just keep going north...
It was hot and humid today, and all the short, steep climbs they talk about in NY became a reality. Ugh. Ups and downs, and most of them steep, and seemingly unnecessary. Like they just wanted to be tough. I got really tired out by it all. Our 16.5m took us way too long... Oh well. Sometimes that's just how it goes... We did see two deer, a black snake, a garter snake, a few frogs leaping about, and tons of little toads bouncing across the trail. The largest was the size of my big thumbnail and the smallest were smaller than my little fingernail.
We got some trail magic towards the end of the day when we needed it most. We still had a few miles to go and we were worn out. A former thru-hiker had some soda, juice and goodies in the back of his truck just before our final climb of the day. So nice! Perfect pick-me-up. He also told us there was good camping here, which is where we had hoped to stop, but you never know... We found a beautiful spot up above the pond, looking out onto the island in the middle. Very peaceful and nice. It's still hot so Ryan even decided to go for a swim! I just stuck my legs in... He said it felt great. Brave man! :-)

Sunny, hot
the people who designed the trail in new york have never hiked, much less thruhiked. all we care about is getting from point a to point maine as quickly and efficiently as possible. the ny/nj trail conference is all about finding rock piles to scramble over. they take us up and over every little bump and knoll they can find. as a result, we're tired and grouchy. it didn't help that it got pretty hot today. ah, july...yuk. all that made for a tough day. we did get some great trail magic from paddy-o just when our spirits were at their lowest today. timing couldn't have been better. plus, he assured us that the place we hoped to camp was ok. actually, it's better than ok. one of the nicest places we've camped yet. on a little rise, right next to a lake. i even went for a swim. this spot should be in the at brochure...probably without me swimming, though.
today's song - won't give in, finn brothers "what does it mean when you promise someone, no matter how far, whatever may come? it means that i won't give in."

Saturday, July 9, 2005

July 9 in NJ

July 9, 2005 | Day 104 | Miles: 0 | Total Miles: 1343.1
End: Meghan & Chris's apartment, Jersey City, NJ
Sunny with a brief thunder and rainstorm midafternoon
End: Meghan & Chris's apartment, Jersey City, NJ
A day off. Yeah. We managed to get all our laundry done, cleaned the pots and filter, got our food all situated, and everything dried out, plus check our email and download our photos to the computer. Then a bit of relaxation! We sat around, looked at photos, chatting, etc and really not doing much. It's nice to see everyone! Thanks for the visit, Snowman's family! :-) Back to the trail tomorrow refreshed and ready to move out of NJ and onto NY...

sunny, warm, pm thunderstorm
ah, the relaxing zero day. oh, did i mention my whole family was, mostly relaxing. great visit, though, and i'm sure we'll wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed and ready to go. actually, i'll be ready to get out of the, big and scary. and, i'm certain that meg and chris will be happy to get the very smelly people with their very smelly stuff out of their apartment. chris has been cranking the citrus-nice-smelling-room-foo-foo-izer device since we arrive. just wait until us and our packs ride in his car for an hour tomorrow morning when they drop us off at the trail. although, he keeps threatening to drop us off somewhere back in pennsylvania...yup, that's pretty much the worse thing ever. 9 miles left of jersey and onto new york...then new england!
today's song - hometown, springsteen

Thursday, July 7, 2005

July 7-8 in NJ

July 7, 2005 | Day 102 | Miles: 18.3 | Total Miles: 1329.5
End: Jim Murray's "secret" shelter, Tent
Mostly cloudy, heavy and humid
A much happier day today, although my feet are still feeling a bit tender. It rained a bit last night and was quite damp out, which brought out all the bright orange salamanders along the trail. We broke our salamander record--51 seen! Wow. They were everywhere. The rest of the day, hiking-wise, was pretty uneventful, although the rocks seem to have mellowed out a bit, which is nice.
We're camped out on this guy's property, where he's built a few cabins and a privy for use by hikers. The "secret" shelter has a nice porch, a sink and a shower with HOT water. Wow! What a spot. It's situated in a meadow, where we've been amused by two donkeys braying in their field out back, a gopher, 4 turkeys, woodpeckers, nuthatches, phoebes and lightening bugs. A great place to spend the night. We've set up the tent on the porch of the other cabin. It's supposed to rain tonight, so we figured we'd get a bit of shelter that way. How awesome this is. Thanks Jim for opening up your property to us :-)
Off to Vernon, NJ tomorrow to meet Ryan's parents. They're picking us up and taking us to Jersey City, where we'll take a day off and hang out with Meghan, Chris, Ryan's parents and grandparents. A big ol' party :-) And best of all, minus 24 hours until cotton clothes :-) Hurray!

overcast, humid, heavy, damp
a bee stung my face today. it hurt...a lot. other than that, an uneventful day, but a much better one overall for team snowplug. spirits are good again. some days just suck. it's not easy to walk everyday. sounds easy, but not really. the secret shelter is awesome. a former thruhiker built it on his property. he also built himself a little bunkhouse, where we set up our tent on his porch. we thought it best to be out of the impending rain tonight. oh yeah, supposedly a tropical storm is going to dump a great deal of rain on us.
today's song - tenth avenue freeze out, springsteen

July 8, 2005 | Day 103 | Miles: 13.6 | Total Miles: 1343.1
End: Meghan & Chris' apartment, Jersey City, NJ
Rain, rain, rain
Ugh, a day of rain. All day. We woke up to rain, headed out in the rain, stopped for a few minutes at a shelter to yell briefly at each other about what we were doing out here and to eat a snack, quickly, as we were soaked and cold, and then hammered out the last 7 miles to Heaven Hill Farm, Vernon, NJ where we were meeting Ryan's parents. We were a few hours early for our meeting, as there was no point in dillydallying out in the rain.
Despite the weather, the hiking was nice in spots today. We went through a really neat section where they had routed the trail through a wetland area. The trail was an elevated bridge meandering through the cattails and other wetlands, with lots of red-winged blackbirds, swallows and even a deer peeking up through the reeds in one spot.
We are now all clean, wearing cotton clothes and even deodorant (!), having eaten Bertucci's Pizza and salad, done our grocery shopping, and stinking up the place with all our wet stuff. Poor Meghan and Chris! And tomorrow we're not hiking. A day off, how nice :-)

today, it rained. apparently, a tropical storm is passing through the area. but, no matter, because we're hanging out in my sister's apartment. cotton clothes. big meal. and impending good sleep. oh yeah. plus, my whole family is here, which is great, but so much for relaxing. (just kidding, guys) as far as the trail goes, new jersey is so cute. no, really. the trail has these semi-little climbs that makes new jersey think it's like new england. it's like the little brother tagging along. so cute. to paraphrase masa "today is very tired."
today's song - atlantic city, springsteen

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

July 5-6 in NJ

July 5, 2005 | Day 100 | Miles: 10.5 | Total Miles: 1290.3
End: Mohican Outdoor Center, Blairstown, NJ
Overcast and humid
Another shower! 4 days in a row. Wow. That might be a record for us out here :-) There's no laundry here unfortunately but at least we're a bit cleaner when we put back on our dirty clothes. We're staying in the bunkhouse at this AMC retreat center out in the woods. Nothing fancy, but we did get to eat sandwiches on whole wheat bread for lunch(yum!), shower, will stay dry tonight (looks and feels like rain) and are relaxing this afternoon.
It wasn't a bad hike out of Delaware Water Gap today. We started off the hike by crossing the Delaware River on the sidewalk of I-80. The concrete was actually swaying under our feet when some of the big trucks went by. Is that supposed to happen? A bit scary... But we made it out of PA and into NJ, which is very exciting. 7 states down! And no more PA. Double yeah! We are happy to be out of that state.
The rocks didn't stop at the river, unfortunately, but it just felt like better hiking today. We went by the southern-most glacial pond, Sunfish Pond, today, which was really cool. It looked like home to us--very northern. And the trail wound up and along a grassy ridge for quite a while with views, although super hazy, back down onto the river. Very nice.

mostly cloudy, humid, heavy
hello, new jersey! we love you! ok, maybe not that much, but it is so great to be out of pennsyltucky. today, we hiked past a glacial pond, had nice views, and it wasn't ridiculously rocky. (ok, still rocky, but not to the same extent.) plus, we're inching closer to new england...oh yeah. pennsylvania will be remembered mostly for sucking. it also destroyed our hiking poles. the tips are flattened, crushed and mangled. also, for the pain. as one of the thruhikers ahead of us wrote in the last register. "pennsylvania was painful, but not in a 'that climb was steep and difficult, and now i'm really tired' painful, but in a 'ouch, i think i'm doing permanent physical damage to my body' painful." oh, sweet pa. it's still about 99% humidity right now, but it hasn't rained yet. hopefully, it will pour tonight and push the humidity out. doesn't matter to us...we're in the bunkhouse. no camping for team snowplug! we're sending the tent home...showers and bunks every night!
today's song - tougher than the rest, bruce springsteen (this one goes out to my hiking partner who has been amazing through all 1290.3 miles (except for two brief moments when she lost the tent stakes and couldn't finish the half gallon of cookies and cream. also, please note the springsteen. each day in the garden state will be a springsteen tune...unless i slip a bon jovi one in every now and then.)

July 6, 2005 | Day 101 | Miles: 20.9 | Total Miles: 1311.2
End: Gren Anderson Shelter
Hot, humid and heavy
A long and tiring day. I got a new pair of shoes sent to me at Mohican, and really, my feet hurt all day. I think it's a combination of them being tired from all the rocks and the new shoes, but they were not happy. And the trail wandered up, down and along the ridge today through grass pretty much the whole time, so my legs were super irritated. Ugh. There were some yummy blueberries to pick though, so that was a nice treat.
We're camped out behind the shelter, listening to the banter of the three groups of kids here. Wow. I've never seen as many kids out in the woods as we've seen today and yesterday. Some large groups. I guess this area is only a few hours from NYC so it's a popular destination, but it's crazy to round a bend and come across all these kids in the woods!
We have crossed the 1300-mile mark now, which is pretty neat. But boy, there are moments when we wonder why we're out here. It is tough. However, we did have a discussion today in which we decided that despite the pains, suffering and all that jazz, we would continue on to Maine. Yes, there are discussions like this. Yes, there are moments when it would be sooooo much easier to say, forget it, let's go back to "reality," but we set out to reach Katahdin, we knew it would be hard, and we can't quit now and wonder "what if." We'll keep on rolling, and eventually in 271m we'll hit northern New England and all will be good with the world and Katahdin will be not too far off :-)

cloudy, hazy, humid
the a.t. is hard. is it worse to keep walking everyday or get off the trail and wonder what might have been? we're going to maine.
p.s. saw a bear today
today's song - this hard land, springsteen

Monday, July 4, 2005

4th of July in PA

July 4, 2005 | Day 99 | Miles: 15.6 | Total Miles: 1279.8
End: Church of the Mountain, Delaware Water Gap, PA, Tent
Sunny and warm
After a restful night's sleep at the motel, we set out to complete (Almost. Only 0.2m left) PA. Rocks, rocks and more rocks. But there was a 2-mile stretch on an old road...ahhh! And the final section down into the Gap was kind of nice with lots of blooming, white, rhododendron (isn't it late for them to be blooming?). We are currently tented out on the lawn at the Church of the Mountains, which has a bunk room with shower, bathroom, sitting room for hikers. What a nice thing to offer for those passing through! Tomorrow we will cross the Delaware River and be in NJ.
It was pretty funny at the last shelter to see all the entries in the register with people who are excited to be leaving PA :-) I don't think PA was really anyone's favorite state... oh well, can't love it all :-)

sunny, warm
rock factor - 5
there's nothing like sleeping in a bed. very nice. it was a big lift after the 20 miles that crushed me yesterday. the 15 were much better today. best of all, pennsylvania is done...well, we still have .2 until new jersey. oh, sweet jersey. we can't wait to be out of pennsylvania. danielle came up with a new state motto: "pennsylvania: land of suckage." yup, pa sucks. we decided today that if we ever do this again, we will skip pa. or, if we're ever contemplating doing this again, pa will be the reason we don't.
today's song - never be the same, crowded house

Saturday, July 2, 2005

July 2-3 in PA

July 2, 2005 | Day 97 | Miles: 7.7 | Total Miles: 1243.8
End: Jailhouse Hostel, Palmerton, PA
Sunny and a bit cooler. Not humid!
A thunder/lightening/rain storm last night really turned the weather around. It actually felt cool this morning, and the humidity broke. It did warm up, but hey, it's dry! The storm was neat, but boy was it close to us in the tent up on the ridge! Yikes...
Today's hiking was some of the best in PA so far. One stretch up along the open ridge was all grass, mountain laurel, ferns and blueberry bushes. And there were ripe blueberries too! YUM :-) Made for a very happy Snowman and Sparkplug, as we walked along, stopping to eat blueberries every few feet.
We're staying in the old jail in Palmerton, PA. They put bunks in the basement, and allow hikers to stay for free, take a shower, etc. A bit odd, but very nice of the town to offer this space up to us! We're off to climb Lehigh Gap and hike across an EPA Superfund site tomorrow, the result of centuries of zinc smelting along the ridge. Should make for some interesting hiking....

warm, sunny, breezy
rock factor - 4
i have nothing bad to say about pennsylvania today. well, not off the top of my head anyway. i guess a short day with lots of food at the end of the line will do that. plus, this hostel is in an old municipal building that used to be a jail. not as exciting as it sounds, but at least it's free. i did get heckled by some townies..."hey, nice skirt!" i was stunned by their creativity. tomorrow, we get to hike through an e.p.a. super fund site, a.k.a. a once horribly polluted area. hooray. i'm guessing i'll have something bad to say about pennsylvania tomorrow.

July 3, 2005 | Day 98 | Miles: 20.4 | Total Miles: 1264.2
End: Gateway Motel, Wind Gap, PA
Sunny and warm
We're tired. But happy to be in a motel with a shower and tv. Yeah. Always nice. It just sort of worked out that we got here today...
Fatigue got us all a ride out of town this morning with a nice local who left his number at the hostel. However the ride was at 6:30am. Meaning we started hiking at 6:50am, a Team Snowplug record. Ryan was not too happy about it but it did get us up the rock scramble out of Lehigh Gap in the cool morning. The climb was kind of fun, and then we went into the Superfund site. Crazy. Kind of looked like a Western landscape but so unnatural. The government took over the area after too much zinc smelting and it is slowly coming back to life, but this 3-mile stretch along the ridge has just been wiped out. All rock and skeleton trees with some grasses, ferns and "junk" trees and brush coming in. Very interesting to walk through.
However, after that first stretch, the hiking was not that much fun. Lots of jagged little rocks all through the trail, with no breaks. Really tough on the feet, and knees and ankles. Oh yes, and there was no water on the hike all day, so we were carrying extra and the packs felt like it! It was a long day of hiking, but it seemed to make sense to come here. Now only 15.6m to Delaware Water Gap tomorrow for the 4th. And then only 0.2m left of PA. Yeah :-)

sunny, almost hot
rock factor - 8
i hate pennsylvania. the rocks are crushing my feet, toes, knees indirectly...and my spirit. really, the hiking just isn't fun. basically every step you have to look out for a number of pointy, potentially loose, rocks. not pleasant. i also hate fatigue...the guy. after our less than pleasant walk into town, he arranged a shuttle for us back to the trail. great...but, the shuttle picked us up at 6:30. i was hiking by 6:50. ugh. our initial climb out of lehigh gap today was kind of and rocky, with some hand work needed to pull yourself up. but, there's no soil left because of the years of pollution from zinc smelting in the valley. the top was covered with dead trees. scary. some greenery is definitely coming back, but it is so unnatural and gross. there's a sign that warns that children should not spend consecutive days on the ridge. hopefully, we won't start glowing. the rest of the day was rocky, and we struggled to reach this motel. but, it was either 20 today or 20 tomorrow. now, we only have 15 miles into delaware water gap tomorrow...and another church hostel. yeah, we don't actually camp anymore.
today's song - moonshiner, uncle tupelo