Weekly Wrap Up: Week 15

June 22-28

Miles Hiked: 102

  • Weekly Average:  14,6  miles/day
  • Total:  1391
  • Overall Average: 13.3
  • Zero Days: 1 / Total: 12

Money Spent: $205

  • Town Food/Lodging: $140
  • Trail Food: $62
  • Gear: $3

Highlight of the Week

Jerry:  After getting a cortisone shot in my left foot and a pressure point shifting pad added to my left insole on Monday morning, my left foot is so much easier to hike on. I am back to being able to do 20+ mile days!

Bennett: I’ve loved being able to walk along picking blueberries and mulberries and now even a few blackberries. They’re delicious treats, and I’m inspired to start a garden to keep being around all these beautiful plants.

Karen: A very unexpected, very much appreciated thank you for the work the I’ve been doing at my new job.

Lowlight of the Week

Jerry: Being in Delaware Water Gap long enough that Tandem started feeling depressed about not hiking.

Bennett: This week of hiking has been a huge mental challenge. For a few days, every time we crossed a road I had the urge to stick my thumb out and hitch a ride to the nearest airport.

Karen: Getting a bill for services provided from a clinic on the trail saying we had no insurance coverage at the time of service and not being able to straighten it out because I’m not the employee. And thinking of all the medical bills I knew were going to follow that one…

Memory of the Week

Jerry: The entire day on Friday was memorable. It started with my plan to hike 90 miles in 4.5 days so that we are at a tavern in Pawling, NY, by 16:00 on Tuesday afternoon for the US v Belgium soccer match. I was treated to fresh vanilla and raspberry ice cream with chocolate chunks and a cream soda at the Bellvale Creamery. Finally, I crossed the NJ state line into NY and thought about my dad and how proud he would be of me.

Bennett: Everything about Friday cheered me up. Good trail company, listened to an audiobook out loud, and entered New York (state #9). We missed hot dogs & soda (twice!) but had delicious ice cream from a local creamery around the corner from the AT at the end of the day. Even had to scare some 450lb (ish) bears out of our campsite!

Karen: Being invited for dinner at a friend’s house one night — good food, good company, good fun — and then having another friend surprise me by coming by to make dinner the next.

Day 104

Day 104

I woke to the sound of dozens of mosquitos trapped between my tent and my fly. A couple had snuck in when I went out in the middle of the night. I killed them, and then removed the fly to let the others out. While we were packing, we noticed that Honey Bear wasn’t on his bedding. We found him on top of the stair platform for the bridge above us while we were hiking out at 7:30.

Week_15_Day_104We hiked briskly, finishing up the boardwalk in the marsh. We rolled along over small hills until we reached NJ 94 where we met up with Al, Mosey, and his son, Jungle Jim who had all stayed in a hotel in Vernon, NJ. The hotels are more expensive in the north.

Mosey and Jungle Jim joined the three of us for our biggest climb of the day up Wawayanda Mountain. Mio led, and we mixed it up in the back. We reached the top and celebrated with snacks and a rest.

Mosey and Jungle Jim hiked on first, and we followed later. Mio and Tandem hiked ahead of me and stopped at the Wawayanda State Park  as planned. I missed the turn and ended up hiking away from them to Long House Drive. I ate lunch there with Mosey and his son. They left, and I hiked alone with my music playing until I caught up with Early Bird, and we hiked to the NY/NJ state line.

I hiked on to Prospect Rock and found an American flag flying on a pole there, which was very cool and unexpected!

From the top there, you can just see the tops of the skyscrapers in NYC peeking over the mountains in the distance to the right.Week_15_Day_104c

Then the fun part of the hike began. A challenging mile of large rocks and abrupt ups and downs. At one point, there was a ladder in the middle of the rocks that had to be climbed.

Mio and Tandem caught me at the end of the rocks and passed me headed to NY 17A. That is where we knew we could get fresh ice cream at the Bellvale Farms Creamery.  I arrived with Snailman, and we went over to the ice cream shop. His hiking partner, Alpine Pirate, showed up later, sweaty from a catchup hike.

It was a great time! We had delicious fresh ice cream on waffle cones, charged our phones, freshened our water with tap water, and washed up in their sink.

Then all five of us hiked the last two miles to the Wildcat shelter. We crossed a couple of hike rocky points, one of which had a deep crevice through it.

Week_15_Day_104dThere were many flat spots for tents at Wildcat. We set up and made dinner by the shelter. Tandem and I mixed it up, having a Rice Side, followed by a Pasta Side! The bugs discovered us as we cooked, so we hustled through cleanup and stashed our food in the bear box.

We got in our tents and hammocks and hid from the mosquitos. I set up my tent without the fly due to no rain and because the mosquitos get caught between them and buzz all night. With the light waning around 21:00, Mio and I heard the leaves rustling on the small hill beside the camp. Mio yelled out “bear,” so everyone was interested in seeing it. They chased it back over the hill and down the other side. Mio said that it was a big one at 400 to 450 pounds.

Today was a 19 mile day. We are still shooting for Pawling, NY, to watch USA play soccer on Tuesday afternoon.

Day 103

Day 103

This morning in the Murray cabin was a slow, casual time. I woke to find that Tandem had moved outside and set up her hammock due to the discomfort of not having an air pad. Forester Gump was still asleep, so Mio read while I wrote my blog update. We got up at 8:00, packed and ate, and I woke Tandem at 9:00.

We left the cabin at 10:30 to hike the two miles to Unionville. Once in town, we walked a block to the Wits End Tavern where we sat outside until it opened at 11:45. The place was empty, so we sat at the bar and ordered beverages. We ordered food after Forester Gump joined us and watched the soccer match between USA and Germany. It was entertaining despite the Germany 1-0 victory, but USA moves on anyway to play Belgium in an elimination match next Tuesday afternoon.
Week_15_Day_103a
In between eating and watching the soccer, I worked on contacting my employer to remedy a problem with our health insurance coverage. We all were able to charge our phones at the tavern. Most of us left, but Forester Gump decided to stay for another burger and more soccer.

We went up the street to Horler’s General Store where we got snacks and hung out on the porch with Timon, Simba, and Honey Bear. They were hiking to a shelter 17 miles ahead. We decided to hike to a creek short of that shelter and left for the trail at 15:30.

We hiked up Pochuck Mountain, which wore me out. We stopped near the Pochuck shelter and found Ragnar getting ready to leave after a break. We gave him a couple of Mosey’s belongings to carry forward.

Tandem and I continued to hike across small, tough-to-climb hills. We crossed County Road 517 and walked the long boardwalk toward Pochuck Creek. It started to rain, so we stopped under the support structure for the suspension bridge over the creek.

Week_15_Day_103bMio came along, and we made dinner there. The rains had stopped, but it was getting late, so we set up camp under the suspension bridge. Walkers and runners came by overhead until 19:30. Honey Bear arrived at 20:00 and decided to stop and camp with us. He had wild mushrooms, which he cooked on Mio’s stove and shared with everyone.

We were fighting the mosquitos, so Tandem and I got in our shelters shortly after that. The bugs are bad here.

We hiked 13 miles today.

Days 101 & 102

Day 101

Today I woke at 5:30, watched the sun rise, then went back to the tent. I woke again at 7:15 and started packing, and by the time I was eating Week_15_Day_101breakfast in my tent, Tandem and Mio were taking down their sleeping quarters. They sat in the warm sun and had their coffee and tea.

We hiked out later than usual at 9:15. We covered some good mileage, despite the continuing rocks, and covered nine miles by noon. We stopped for lunch on a low road, then found out when we hiked to the top of the hill afterward that there were big flat rocks and a view. My fault.

Tandem and Mio took off after that, and I enjoyed some alone time hiking. I turned on some music and sucked on some Werthers. I also saw a young deer eating just off the trail.

I found Tandem napping in the warm sun on Rattlesnake Mountain. We rested for 15 minutes while she napped some more, then headed down hill to the Brink Road shelter for water where we caught up with Mio. After filling up, we continued toward Branchville, NJ. Our plan Week_15_Day_101b was to camp on the side of the trail within .5 mile of the town and restaurants, which we plan to hit in the morning for breakfast and charging. Tandem and I led due to Mio’s hurt ankle and found a flat campsite just west of the trail and .4 miles from Joe to Go, who has a reputation for hating hikers!

I need to stop scratching my left leg on the rocks.

Today was a 16 mile day.

Day 102

I woke up to stuff sacks rustling and tent poles clacking. I knew that my hiking companions were eager to get to some commercial coffee! We packed quickly and left our throw-down campsite at 7:00.

Mio mentioned hearing and seeing a bear on the hillside by the campsite late last night, but he hadn’t wanted to wake us for it. We hiked the .4 miles down to Branchville and turned right to go to the Jumboland Diner. That ended up being a longer walk than we expected, so we crossed the road to hitch back. Luckily a pickup truck pulled over immediately, and we rode back to Joe to Go by the trail.

The Joe to Go store has a reputation on Whiteblaze  as being mean to hikers. We were prepared. We placed our packs on the bench outside as the sign instructed and went inside. Except for a local reading the paper, we were the only customers. We went to the counter, and Larry took our orders for bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, which came with a free 12-ounce coffee.

I grabbed a Coke, we paid, and took our food outside to eat on the hiker bench. The sandwiches were great, and Mio had a second. Tandem wanted another coffee, but was afraid to face Larry to ask for the one that I didn’t get with my sandwich. Mio stepped up and got her a second coffee for his second sandwich. Larry was very agreeable and gave us no flack.

The hiking today was rocky, which is supposed to decrease thirty miles after Unionville. We stopped for water and a snack after three miles at the Gren Anderson shelter. At the spring, Mio fashioned a stick to create a water falloff for filling containers.

Week_15_Day_102dWe had lunch at the Mashipacong shelter. There were three gallon jugs of water in the bear box, so we drank freely. We left there at 13:00 with 12.5 miles to go to the “secret cabin” on the Murray property in Unionville. We made good time and got to the High Point State Park by 15:30. We plugged in our phones and batteries and dried our sweaty clothes. Timon came in shortly behind us. We each got a cold soda from the Ranger in the office which had been donated for through hikers that sign a logbook.

We left there at 16:00 under threatening overcast skies with seven miles to go. There was a big climb to the top of the mountain in the “high point” park, which, as it turns out, is the highest point on the AT in New Jersey. Halfway up, it started to sprinkle hard enough to put on pack covers. It started to pour, but we had just reached the wooden tower on top, so we were able to stay dry underneath.

When it stopped raining I led us out, but the dense, unkempt bushes and trees soaked my clothes. We dropped quickly toward the trail to the High Point, and Mio was stung by a wasp, which made us move even more quickly. From that point forward, the trail was mostly downhill and flat. I had fallen to the back by a half mile as my hiking buddies were eager to get to the cabin before it filled up. The trail wove through short leaf pines, and the smell reminded me that I was now in the north.Week_15_Day_102c

Another reminder of being up north were all of the stone walls that the trail passes through.

I crossed a couple of stiles on my through grassy farmlands, which left my boots soaking wet, and paused by a quiet old pond on the back side of a farm property.

After crossing a few roads, I arrived at the gravel road to the secret cabin on the Murray property. Mio had left his poles pointing toward the cabin .2 miles away. I arrived at the porch to find Tandem, Mio, and four other hikers discussing issues with planned gardens in downtown New York. Forrester Gump and Studebaker were the other thru hikers there with us.

Tandem, Mio, Forrester Gump, and I threw our air pads on the flat tiled floor in the new-feeling cabin. Tandem was questioning whether to stay in the cabin versus her hammock — until it started lightening and thundering. She will probably trash her Therm-A-Rest air pad, which definitely does have a leak.

Week_15_Day_102eWe each showered in lukewarm water outside of the property owner’s cabin then made dinner on the porch in the waning light. There were two section hikers staying there who had brought eight servings of stew with them, so they shared it with us. We also had pasta.

Forrester Gump, Mio, and I sat on the porch with our backs to the wall watching the lightening dance across the sky and discussing Forrester’s life in army intelligence and his PTSD. That is why he is thru hiking the AT. His knees are rebuilt after war injuries but still pain him.

We all retired to reading and surfing for about 30 minutes before dozing off. Today was a 22 mile day, but tomorrow will be short due to our plans to watch the soccer match.

Day 100!

Day 100

Today was a slow-to-develop half day of hiking. I had an appointment at 8:10 with Dr. Brown at the Pocono Foot & Ankle Consultants. After a quick continental breakfast at the Super 8, I walked across I-80 in my boots to the office near the East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Brown examined and x-rayed my left foot, which showed that there is nothing broken or fractured. The prognosis is that there is an irritated nerve between my middle toes. I received a large cortisone shot there, and a pad was added to my left insole to shift the pressure point just behind the sore ball point.

I could tell the difference as soon as I walked out of the office. I purposely took a longer route back to the hotel via the quiet college campus and found a geocache. Back at the hotel room, Tandem and Mio were chilling with their charged phones. I grabbed more continental breakfast and joined them.

We started packing, including lots of food, around 10:00 and requested a 30 minute extension to our checkout time. We wandered out to the entrance ramp to I-80 East hoping to hitch the two exits back to Delaware Water Gap. The sky was clouding over and the temps were chilly.

We had signs that read “Free Hikers” and “Exit 310 DWG”. We got smiles and waves for 20 minutes, and then a van for the Edge of the Woods Outfitter in DWG pulled up to offer us a ride. The driver had just purchased a pair of kids’ bikes at the Walmart. We were dropped at the outfitter and walked up the road to the AT.

The trail was all pavement to I-80 and across the Delaware River Bridge. We arrived at the National Park and ate lunch at picnic tables by the river. A few hiker families asked about our hike and expressed interest in doing it themselves. When we resumed our hike we crossed under I-80 again.

Week_15_Day_100We climbed 1,250 feet, passing one of the families we had talked to, and reached the Sunfish Pond. It was a beautiful natural lake with a very rocky edge that we had to hike around before hiking up to the top of Kittatinny Mountain. As we dropped toward Camp Road and the Mohican Outdoor Center,  we passed 1,300 miles!

While Tandem and Mio got water at the center, I guarded the packs and talked with a power thru hiker who was cooking his dinner. We needed bug spray for all if the mosquitos by the creek. After Tandem and Mio returned, an SUV drove by with a GEO sticker on the back window. I yelled out, asking if they were geocachers, and they stopped and backed up. The father’s geo nickname is Jasper Ralph 13, and he was teaching his son to drive. We chatted, and they were on their way.

We hiked up and found a large paper bag hanging on a tree for Ragnar or Scout which contained four Hawk Vittles dinners.  We traded out one for a Pasta Side and lots of extra snacks from Mio’s food bag. We completed the 300 foot climb to a small campsite on the ridge with a view and set up our shelters. Mio prepared the Hawk Vittles dinner, and we eagerly consumed it.

It was getting dark as we cleaned up, so we all retired to our sleeping quarters, listening to Mio’s great music mix and updating our blogs or Facebook.

Day 99

A zero day in Delaware Water Gap and East Stroudsburg! We had slept in the outside room of the Church of the Mountain Hostel; some of the other hikers, like Mosey and his son Jungle Jim, were preparing to get back on the trail. We fiddled with our phones for a while and packed our packs to leave as well. Scout wanted to find his first Geocache, so we went out and grabbed one close to the hostel in Delaware Water Gap. It was a regular and he enjoyed what was in the large cammo’ed pill bottle.

Week_15_Day_99A small group of us went down to the Village Farmer and Bakery and got the special of apple pie and a hotdog, which they call True Love. It was 8:30 on a Sunday morning, so the hotdogs needed to be prepared.

After breakfast, we headed back to the hostel via the Edge of the Woods Outfitter. Ragnar and Mio sat in a canoe outside with the bear.

We grabbed our packs from the hostel and headed over to I-80 for a hitch to the Super 8 in East Stroudsburg. On our way, a nice woman in a large van stopped and asked where we were going then offered us a ride! Tandem, Mio, Ragnar, and I Week_15_Day_99apiled into the van with our packs. She took us to the Super 8 and Mio checked in for us. Ragnar wasn’t staying, but came along for the adventure.

Some of us showered and then we made the one mile walk to the Walmart for restocking. Ragnar rode in Mio’s shopping cart in the store. I got what I needed, then Tandem and I picked up three more meals covering five days ahead. We paid, arranged the new food in our food bags, and walked back to the hotel where Ragnar took a nap, Tandem checked her phone, and Mio and I watched the World Cup Soccer match that was on while our laundry was going. We decided to watch the USA play Portugal at the Trackside Station Bar & Grill, so I called and made a reservation for five since Blue Eyes would be joining us.

The laundry finished just in time for us to put on clean clothes. We started walking the 1.1 miles to downtown East Stroudsburg, arriving right at 18:00. We got a high top table and chairs for five. A large group of hikers came in later with The Lorax, including Blue Eyes.

The USA and Portugal played to a last minute tie, but the match was fun to watch and cheer for. We each ordered a $6 pitcher of beer, and Mio and I both had a $5 nacho plate. The neighboring table bought us a pitcher for our thru hikes. We thanked them with our fake mustaches on. They laughed and we shook hands.

As the beer and car wreck shots flowed, everyone got feeling very happy for the soccer. A hiker at another table was painting faces with patriotic designs for the USA.

After the match, I headed back to the hotel to crash. The Lorax drove by and offered me a ride to the hotel, so I got in the back of the pickup truck with Blue Eyes. They dropped me off, and I crashed in our room before Tandem and Mio got back at midnight.

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 14

June 15-21

Miles Hiked: 136

  • Weekly Average:  19.4 miles/day
  • Total:  1289
  • Overall Average: 13.1
  • Zero Days: 0 / Total: 11

Money Spent: $180

  • Town Food/Lodging: $41
  • Trail Food: $73.00
  • Gear: $46.00

Highlight of the Week

Jerry: On Father’s Day, at the Peters Mountain shelter, Tandem gave me a large can of Coke from her pack and a homemade Father’s Day card! It was a huge surprise, and I chugged the Coke with breakfast.

Bennett: Spending the week hiking with Ginger & Gilligan. They’re an awesome couple, and I love their humor. Had fun stopping in a random restaurant with them.

Karen: Girls’ weekend at the lake, especially the jet skiing.

Lowlight of the Week

Jerry: When hiking up from LeHigh Furnace Gap above Palmerton, we lost the white blazes. It was a difficult, steep, rocky climb with deep crevices, so moving across the face of the mountain back to the trail was tiring and dangerous.

Bennett: The last few days of Pennsylvania have been hard, and I’ve definitely been thinking about  family and friends back home a lot. Wishing I was back in Georgia, and will be glad to finally be out of PA this week.

Karen: Attending the funeral of a good friend.

Memory of the Week

Jerry: Staying by myself in the Eckland shelter with the doors closed and no bugs getting in, giving me one of my best night’s sleep on the trail.

Bennett: Was wonderful eating pizza with everyone at a random campsite and being around such cool other hikers.

Karen: Carson’s story of going to the Nantahala Outdoor Center as part of her job as camp photographer and finding Jerry and Bennett’s entry in the AT log book there.