I finally got a GREAT HOT DOG! (I actually got 2 hot dogs) at a stand on the side of the road near the trail from a nice man who has been serving hot dogs for 30 years. He is a Veteran and made the best hot dogs that I have ever had! New York hot dogs! I am a happy hiker!
One of the most interesting features of the Appalachian Trail in New York was The Lemon Squeezer. This rock formation is near Harriman near Arden Valley and gets its name from the formation of the rocks that become smaller as you hike through. I had to take my pack off and carry it through the opening. The climb up the ridge after the Squeezer was the most difficult on the trail!
New Jersey was an easy 72 mile to hike but New York was full of rock formations that proved to be a challenge for hikers! Some of the climbs were so difficult trail clubs placed ladders at the foot of the rocks to assist hikers. There were miles of the trail that was simply walking on huge rocks with deep drop-offs on each side. I was lucky to have nice weather during my days in New York, but a few days later I heard of some Thru-hikers having a difficult time negotiating the rocks during rain storms. Bear Mountain was my favorite hike and was just beautiful. Bear Mountain Recreation Center had beautiful camp grounds and the lake was full of locals enjoying the warm days and sun. The AT went through the Bear Mountain Museum and Zoo and was the lowest elevation on the trail. As I hiked over Bear Mountain I could hear gun-fire from West Point Military Academy in the distance.
I crossed the Hudson River via the Bear Mountain Bridge and realized I had completed 2/3 of the Appalachian Trail at that point. 785 miles to Mount Katahdin! Next state will be Connecticut. Life is good on the trail.
Wild, the movie based on the book about the PCT trek by Sheryl Stray will be hitting theaters in November and then Robert Redford will be releasing his film from the best seller, A Walk In The Woods, by Bill Bryson on his trek through the AT. These films will bring a lot of focus on the joys, dangers and excitement of Thru hiking and I hopethey will fully capture the most important experiences of the trail like making new friends, learning about new lifestyles and traditions, sharing the positives and negatives of the trail with fellow hikers, stepping outside your comfort zone and pushing yourself harder than ever. I think most hikers will agree that the most surprising experience on the trail is the kindness of strangers.
I heard all about “Trail Angels”, those special people who set up tables with food and sodas at trail crossings to feed hungry hikers. Some are folks that have hiked the trail in the past and now want to give back by helping Thru hikers with a ride into town or a ride to resupply. I met my first Trail Angel on a cold March morning near Hawk Mountain Ga, and was treated to hot coffee and bottled water. What you don’t hear about are the Trail Angels that are so generous they will invite you into their home and treat you like family!
I have enjoyed help from friends along the trail, and trust me, when you hike out of the woods and see a familiar face it makes you so happy you will cry tears of joy! I am blessed with friends like Patsy and Terry Jackson who drive all the way from Ohio every six weeks to meet me on the trail, goodie bags from my neighbors in I’On, (thank you all – I miss everyone) and of course my extended family from Charleston, Susan Marlowe, and Carol and David Williams, who are constantly texting me with words of encouragement, send care packages and meet me on the trail with a big hug!
If you stay on the trail long enough you will experience kindness beyond belief. I was fortunate to meet Donna and Guy Kipp in Warwick NY during my hike and they have become great friends. Donna and Guy are teachers at the local school system (Guy is a retired Science Teacher and Donna is still working), and they are very involved in their community.
They treated me to lunch at a local winery then Donna took me to their beautiful little town for my resupply.They invited me to stay at their home and prepared delicious home-cooked meals and introduced me to their friends.They are so gracious and have helped so many hikers over the past few years. I felt so comfortable around them and now consider them friends for life! How wonderful is that?
I didn’t start the trail thinking that I would meet so many people and make friends along the way but the trail has a way of opening up a whole new world of opportunities to experience the kindness of folks around you.If you ever lose your faith in humanity, just hop on the Appalachian Trail and your opinion will change quickly.