Trail Journal

Date: September 4 2000
Trail Day: 96
Miles Today: 21
Location: Telephone Pioneers Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 724
ECT Mile: 1416

Happy birthday Kumar. Talked to the groups from Princeton and Playfoot for a while and took off. Tuition at Princeton is 30K a year ! Playfoot gave me a flashlight that weighs about 0.1 ounce. I had seen such lights before and was looking to buy one. Thanks Playfoot.

Continued the climb up the mountain. Passed another group of Princeton students. The trail entered New York state for a mile or so and went back to Connecticut.

Then there was a walk along the Housatonic river. This will be the last one. There is some white water here. Saw 2 large St. Bernard's. Also met Walkie-Talkie and a lady. He did the trail in '97. He asked me a lot of questions on the IAT portion of the hike. IAT has now become fairly well known and I can easily see it being completed several years down the line. There were a lot of people doing day hikes because of the long weekend. It was nice talking to Walkie-Talkie.

Some more miles of bushes and forests and I was in New york - my eighth state - Wow ! The land has been changing quite a bit. The roots and rocks are disappearing and the vegetation in valleys is becoming extremely thick.

Met another group of about 10 day hikers. Surprisingly, all of them were fit. They asked about my hike and the children listened wide eyed. It was cool.

Got to the Appalachian Trail Station. Trains run from here to New York and several other places. You can get here, walk 20 feet and be on the trail - very unusual. Got food at a nearby deli. I drank the beer in a brown paper bag.

It was getting quite cold. I have had no summer this year. Walked another 3 miles to the shelter. There was no one. This is the first time this is happening. In Potaywadjo shelter no one was there but one couple was tented. Even I had tented due to the mosquitoes. In Stony Brook shelter I slept by myself but there was another guy tented, again due to mosquitoes. Cube shelter is no longer a real shelter. I think I will be having the shelter to myself more and more. Saw no north bounders today.

Date: September 5 2000
Trail Day: 97
Miles Today: 20
Location: Top of Shenandoah Mtn.
Section Mile: AT 744
ECT Mile: 1436

Writing this from the top of Shenandoah Mountain. I don't know if this is the summit but sure seems like it. I will be sleeping on top here - going to be my first. The view is spectacular - not the breath taking of the Whites but beautiful in its own way. The sun has set and a half moon is out. Its pinkish where the sun has set and bluish on the other side of the horizon. Overhead is a sky of dark blue, grey and orange almost all mixed together. Another horizon shows long streaks of clouds. Its almost all forest and hills looking from here. Civilization shows itself not blatantly and vulgarly as it normally does but more as a hint that it exists. You can see the electric lines stretch into the distance. In one corner there is a cluster of town lights, quite subdued. There is a flicker of light every once in a while from the towers here and there. And you can hear faintly but not see the turnpike. It is somewhat cold and windy. I am in my thermal underwear. It is very beautiful and serene. It cannot be captured by photographs, paintings or words.

Last night I did have the shelter all to myself - no late arrivals. I have started the "no map" section and so dont know what to expect - sometimes its a climb, somtimes a lake. About 10 road crossings today. Had lunch at a Deli on Rt 52. I did not know if it was to the left or right and ended up doing an extra 2 mile roadwalk. Food was good and I could not finish it. This was a surprise.

Because I had no maps I missed a shelter. Usually, I know where the side trail is, if the shelter is not on the trail itself. Today I started looking for it after I was about a mile past it. All in all a fairly easy, lethargic day of hiking. Saw only 2 hikers to the end - no one else. The north bounder run is over. School's started and there are only a few south bounders. So the trail is actually starting to get a little lonely. I am also avoiding a lot of towns and hiker places due to a philosophical problem that I will write about some time down the line. Now, time to eat a sub and watch the stars.

Date: September 6 2000
Trail Day: 98
Miles Today: 19
Location: Near Hemlock Springs Camp
Section Mile: AT 763
ECT Mile: 1455

The moon set quickly last night. I watched the stars quite a bit. Lots of planes over the area - probably going into or out of N. York city. Another day of numerous road crossings. Got to Rte 9. There's supposed to be a convenience store here which is now closed. Walked further to a place called Stadium. Its a sport bar. I was very low on cash and luckily the place had an ATM. Withdrew some money and had lunch. Turned out quite expensive.

Got back to the trail and hiked 3 miles or so and decided to stop. There's still day light left but I dont feel like hiking. I've also got a slight headache. This area is crawling with deer. They are quite unafraid and curious. I took a photo of one that was close by.

Date: September 7 2000
Trail Day: 99
Miles Today: 4
Location: Highland Falls
Section Mile: AT 767
ECT Mile: 1459

I was totally out of food. So I started walking to the nearest town. On the way I just decided to stay there. Did laundry, showered and ate a lot.

Date: September 8 2000
Trail Day: 100
Miles Today: 15
Location: Near Lemon Squeeze
Section Mile: AT 782
ECT Mile: 1474

My hundredth day on the trail ! At this point I have completed about a third of the AT and the ECT (Cap Gaspe to Key West). I thought of taking a O day today. I called the front desk at the motel but they told me they were all sold out due to a football game nearby. So I decided to continue hiking. Mailed a set of journal entries to Suriyan, had breakfast and bought groceries for 3 days. Originally I had planned on carrying almost no food and to buy it at the different road crossings. That, I found is highly unpredictable as many of the stores are now out of business. I got a ride quickly. Highland Falls is the biggest town I have seen so far in my hike. For some reason most people don't look at you while talking. They avoid eye contact and seem to have the life sucked out of them. We are missing something big and important in our modern culture.

Today's hike started out harder than one would expect considering the terrain before this. It was up or down almost constantly. Progress was slow. Bear mountain had a decent view. You can faintly see New York city.

The trail later on started running ridges and my speed picked up. Met Whiskey Tim. His dog was so tired that she curled up and went to sleep during our conversation. He is a section hiker and has completed about 1600 miles. His father, in his 80's is sick. I hope he gets better.

I was hoping to make it to the Lemon Squeezer but could not. I am less than half a mile from it though. It is a pair of large rocks between which the trail runs. Its a tight fit, hence the name.

Cooking rice with onion gravy and sardines. Stove working OK, mosquitoes killing me.

Date: September 9 2000
Trail Day: 101
Miles Today: 23
Location: Near Long House Road
Section Mile: AT 805
ECT Mile: 1497

The Lemon Squeezer was neat. The gap between the rock is not even vertical. You have to bend sideways as you walk. I had some difficulty because of the side pockets of my backpack. Took a photo.

The beginning was very up and down and progress was very slow. Towards evening it flattened out and things were smoother. Met several very friendly locals. One high school kid, another group of 3, day hiking beer in hand. Water is very scarce now and I was grateful for some container of water left by a trail angel called Tuxedo angel. Thanks.

Tried to make it to Wawayonde shelter but could not. It had also been raining today - quite welcome as it has been dry. Set up the full tarp because of the rain and slept soundly. I also think I was in another deer's territory.

Date: September 10 2000
Trail Day: 102
Miles Today: 23
Location: Near Gemmer Road
Section Mile: AT 828
ECT Mile: 1520

It rained last night but I had an extremely comfortable and dry night. In the morning I found my way back to the trail. Things looked different. I couldn't tell which way to head. I tried one, decided it was wrong, headed in the opposite direction, reversed once again and reversed again. This is how people go nuts in forests. They get lost and wander randomly.

Today's trail first had Wawayonda mountain, a sharp drop and then a lot of flats crossing numerous roads. There was also several miles of road walk. Stopped by at Heaven Hill Farm which was almost on the AT. Ate a pint of icecream. Also bought some groceries. Met Blue Skies with possibly her younger brother. He appeared very unhappy. She is pretty. It is interesting - the last 3 female southbounders that I've met have been pretty - Waterfall, Mama Hotpants and Blue Skies. I know its not just a case of me beign too long in the woods because of the 20 or so women I saw at the store. I thought 19 of them were ugly.

Met Sweep's parents going up Mt Wawayonda. Sweep is a north bounder with girl friend Starlite. I have not met either of them. They are now near the Bigelows. Also met a big group of youths towards the end of the day. One of the guys gave me turkey-jerky - very tasty.

Some of the sections had horrible mosquitoes - worst bugs since Canada.

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