Sunday, August 11, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Greenwood Lake, NY To Fort Montgomery, NY

🐻 x 6
The past few days have been ... different.  I had a four day plan to get to Fort Montgomery, NY that was sort of a hiking vacation.  Every day was relatively short miles.  That plan went out the window on the first day.   I deviated from the plan and totally winged it.

On the horizon - the New York City skyline.
Day 128 - When I climbed down the hill into Greenwood Lake, NY I seriously considered not climbing back up.  I would skip the climb up and get a ride back to the Appalachian Trail (AT) skipping about two miles. When I woke up after my zero day I came to my purist senses and walked from the hotel to the Village Vista trailhead and climbed up the ridge.

I reached the goal for the day, the Wildcat Shelter.  It wasn't even 10:00am yet.  I checked out the water source and found it nearly dry.  The puddles that remained were looking at me ... well the frogs in the puddles were watching me.

I went back to the shelter, grabbed my pack and kept going.  This was not my usual reaction.  I usually stick hard to my plan.  The next shelter was fourteen miles away so it would be a twenty mile day if I got there.

I used the AT Guide to estimate where I was. I estimated I was two miles from the shelter. I was totally off.  I reached a highway and realized I was still four miles from the shelter.

I reached a hiker's parking lot and ran into Ruckus.  He was considering quitting due to money issues.  When I first met Ruckus he was in a linen dress with a floppy ladies gardening hat with a ribbon.  He was bummed when the dress ripped when he was taking it off.  He is a partier and as he said, he brought the ruckus to the AT.  I hope he finds a way to continue.

I left the parking lot and reentered the forest where I promptly saw a campsite.  The tent went up.  It began to rain an hour later. My tent has been getting used more often since I left Pennsylvania.

This was going to be a 5.6 mile (9.0 km) day but it turned into a 15.9 mile (25.6 km) day instead.   I have to admit I felt pretty good.

As an extra bonus, I saw my first flying wild turkey.  Its flight was quite graceful.

The highlight is an AT symbol.  Is the trail going into a cave?
No, it's going into the Lemon Squeezer.
Day 129 - The first thing I ran into this morning was the Lemon Squeezer.  The trail passes through narrow passages and up a wall.  To get up the wall I had to take off my pack and toss it and my poles up ahead of me.  This would have been a nightmare in the rain.

I passed the shelter I had been heading to the day before and passed a group of noisy camp kids and a leader with a bullhorn.  I was lucky not to get there the night before.

At this point I was heading for a shelter that was 0.6 miles off of the AT.  The shelter has no privy and the water is poor and a half mile from the shelter.  What it did have is a view of the Hudson River and the New York City skyline.  When I arrived at the turn off for the shelter I reconsidered.  I'd managed to see the skyline from another mountain earlier in the day.  I made the bet that I would see the lit up night skyline farther ahead so I passed the turn off and kept hiking.   I lost that bet.

I kept going with no real goal anymore.  I crossed two roads and climbed two ridges.  Finally I turned a corner near the top of Bear Mountain and saw a bench facing west toward the sunset.  Not far from the bench were several flat spots.  I set my tent up on a flat rock. Since this was not an official campsite this may have been my first stealth camping.  I was joined by a south bounder (SOBO) who put up her tent in the area and watched the sun set.

It wasn't going to rain so I left my rain fly off so I could see the stars.  Being close to New York City, and the east coast in general, the stars were a bit subdued but I still saw many through the mesh of my tent.

This day was going to be a 13.5 mile (21.7 km) day but it ended up being a 16.3 mile (26.2 km) day instead.  The last three miles were probably the best of the day.

It's hard to see but it says "< 800".
Sometime today I passed the one thousand four hundred miles.  I didn't see a marker but I did see a "< 800"  mile marker.  I guess we are now in count down mode.

Day 130 - I finished the climb up Bear Mountain.  At the top is a fire tower, a trash can, a port-a-potty, and vending machines.  I drank a Powerade and used the potty.

The rest of the day was down hill.  I passed an ice cream vending machine which I indulged in.  Yes, breakfast was ice cream and Powerade.

The sunrise over the Hudson River.
The trail goes through a zoo here and is free for thru-hikers.  Sadly it was not opened yet.  I will figure out how to get to the zoo before I leave.

I walked into town and arrived an hour before the Post Office opened.  I went to the surprisingly well stocked convenience store and bought some food to compliment what would be in my mailed resupply box.

I got my box and swapped out my shoes.  New Shoes baby!!!  I boxed up the cold weather gear in the box along with some food I didn't need and mailed it to myself farther ahead.  It wasn't quite ready for cold weather clothing yet but in a week or two that may change.

With my box in hand I hiked a half mile to a small hotel where I got a room.  I got some brunch, showered, got my laundry done.

I was going to take a zero on day 131 but instead I will leave late, go to the zoo which opens at 10:00am, and then hike a short day to the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center where they allow you to sleep at the monastery's ball field shelter, use their privy and shower, and have water.

After Graymoor I have several long challenging days ahead of me that will take me into Connecticut.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 1,405.6 Miles (2,262.1 km)
Section Distance: 36.3 Miles (58.4 km)
Section Elevation Up: 7,599 ft (2,316 m)
Section Elevation Down: 8,001 ft (2,439 m)

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