Trail Journal

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.

Date: September 11 2000
Trail Day: 103
Miles Today: 21
Location: Near Culvers Gap
Section Mile: AT 849
ECT Mile: 1541

Today's hike climbed a mountain and stopped on the ridge most of the time. Started off slow but by the end I was on a roll. The trail went by the High monument. Called Vikas and left a message. We will try and meet some time. Most of the shelters in New York and New Jersey are slightly away from the trail. Mahipacong shelter was an exception - made a journal entry. There are a group of 4 south bounders 1 day ahead of me. I think I should be able to catch them soon.

Saw several wild turkeys - first on this hike. Got to Sunrise mountain and started talking to a gentleman by the name of Bob . He told me that the bakery that I was planning on getting supplies from was closed. He offered to give me a ride if he saw me at US 302. I continued hiking and sure enough he was hiking the section near 302. He gave me a ride to the grocery store. Picked food for one day and dinner for tonight - sub and chicken. We then went to a bar and he bought me several beers. I also got 2 cans to go with my dinner. We talked about the trail. He knows the NJ section of the trail very well. He's also been reading several journals from trailplace. I was surprised.

He told me of a good place to tarp on the trail and dropped me off. This is easily the best trail magic for me. Thanks much Bob.

I continued up the trail in some darkness and set up camp. The chicken was horrible, the sub excellent and the beer is always good. Very good view of the valley below. Also a full moon. The mosquitoes however are back.

Date: September 12 2000
Trail Day: 104
Miles Today: 17
Location: Mohican Outdoor Center
Section Mile: AT 866
ECT Mile: 1558

I could not sleep at all last night. I think it was the mosquitoes. Started off just after sun rise. It was overcast the whole day although it never rained. It was also extremely dry. I had no water and the first water source I came to was 10 miles away. I was also not feeling well due to lack of sleep. The day went by in a daze.

Luckily the terrain was fairly easy and the trail used old logging roads a lot. I was quite surprised at my pace. Saw no one on the trail today. We have also moved to the more rural part of New Jersey - cannot see many houses and roads from the ridge top. People are also friendlier and less stuck up. I think New York near the Stadium bar area was the worst. - very yuppy and self absorbed people. New York is also easily the dirtiest state on the AT so far. Even the roads are littered more.

The AT overall is extremely clean. I was quite surprised at first because it has a large number of hikers and it takes only a few to litter. I am finding that the outdoor ethics is quite strong on the AT. There are also a few hikers who actually pick up trash found on the trail. Kudos to them. Just as it takes a few bad apples to screw up a good thing, it takes only a few very good ones to make it whole again. This ethic needs to be spread out to other trails and to society in general. All other trails I have hiked, including the IAT have a lot of trash on them.

Well the hike was fairly easy. I was looking forward to a spring listed on the data book but never saw a sign to it and missed it. The trails are getting quite rocky and building up to the much talked about Pennsylvania rocks. This is about 40 miles of trail that is covered with rocks and makes hiking an ordeal. Cowpie, whom I met in Hanover almost had tears in her eyes when she recounted the hike through the rocks. Buckeye Bob whith whom I went up Katahdin had called it the toughest 40 miles on the AT. Rainbow 6 said "the rocks are slightly difficult, but if you think of every stone you'll go nuts. Just go". Falafel - "You know they talk about the rocks a lot but I just went and did the rocks. Its hyped up". There are 2 hikers at the cabin here who said its not that difficult. I had heard that it is 40 miles of non-stop rock. They say its not true. Anyway, I will find out tomorrow. Tomorrow I begin Pennsylvania and will also pick up my maps at Delaware Water Gap. I don't like hiking without maps.

Tried calling Vivek but his line was busy. Fell asleep quite easily.

Date: September 13 2000
Trail Day: 105
Miles Today: 17
Location: Kirkbridge Shelter
Section Mile: AT 883
ECT Mile: 1575

I had a good night's sleep last night. Woke up completely refreshed. Hiked about 10 miles into the Delaware Water Gap. Took a half hour break at Sawfish pond. It is the southern most glacier lake on the AT. I could see little fish and spent my time watching them. It was very relaxing. I met a trail maintainer on the way. He told me Mr. Clean was not too far ahead. Mr. Clean is an oriental so bo (south bounder) who started Jan 1 at Katahdin. He is taking his time and is now quite famous on the trail. Hope to meet him.

Crossed the Delaware river into Pennsylvania - my tenth state. It has been Quebec, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New york, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. Delaware Water Gap is a very small decaying town. Had lunch and bought grocery for 4 days. Also picked up the maps for PA. I am so happy to have maps. Michelle, my friend from Louisville had also sent me cookies. They are delicious and arrived perfectly. Thanks Michelle. She also wrote that Debbie Woodcock, another friend, is pregnant. Debbie is an interesting woman and has spunk - I admire her. On the sad side Frank Hiertzman passed away due to cancer complications - quite sad. He had helped me buy my present car.

On the way back to the trail I stopped by at the hostel. No one was there. I signed the register and left the NY/NJ maps in the hiker box. I hope its of use to someone else. Delaware Water Gap is also the lowest point in the AT at 250 ft. The climb up Mt. Minsi was steady and steep in places. The mountains have now almost ended. There are a few gently rolling hills in the distance but the real mountains are all gone. Decided to stop at Kirkbridge shelter, a run down place.

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