As is typical with Tandem, she doesn’t get out of her hammock until she sees me taking down my tent. I laid in my fly-less tent, enjoying my view of the sky and finishing my blog update. I was done by 7:30 and packed up. We ate breakfast separately, with each of us using our phones. We pulled it together and departed at 8:45, leaving Snailman in the campsite.
The ten miles after Fitzgerald Falls was some of the most strenuous and complicated hiking that we had encountered in a while. The terrain was very up and down as we crossed mid-sized mountain ridges. Each one had either large boulders to climb up and over or was very steep and rocky. We were warned by Hoss that this would be tough, and he is a strong hiker. We took several breaks and drank a lot of water. Luckily, there were water jugs left by trail angels near most road crossings.
We had lunch just after crossing the Orange Turnpike, and I ate by myself for a little thoughtful solitude. Then we climbed Arden and Island Pond Mountains, which were tough on our tired legs. During the climb on Island Pond Mountain, we passed through the Lemon Squeezer. My pack didn’t fit through, so Mio grabbed it from above, and I climbed through.
The next intersecting trail we passed was the New York Long Path, which goes 52 miles into Manhattan. At mile 15 for the day, we dropped down Arden Valley Road to Tiorati Circle, where we were passed by Alpine Pirate. This is a popular spot for day activities, like picnicking and swimming in Lake Tiorati. More importantly, there were vending machines with sodas and Blue Bell ice cream bars and sandwiches. We each had at least one soda and an ice cream treat.
At 16:45, I wanted to get hiking again since we had seven miles to go yet. I left Tandem and Mio, who were contemplating a lake swim and/or a shower.
On my way out, I saw Mosey and Jungle Jim eating dinner at a picnic table eating dinner. I went over to visit and met the very drunk, very friendly Hispanic guy sitting with them. He was all about how great America is. He offered us water or soda. I asked for a Coke, and Mosey requested a water. The guy went pretty far across the parking lot just to get us a bottle of water and a Cherry Pepsi, which I really enjoyed. When it was time for him to leave, his kids had to grab him by the arms and yell vamanos several times before he would leave his “American friends”.
I hiked solo for the next seven miles and made good time, just a little over two hours. At the top of Black Mountain, I could see parts of NYC but not Manhattan. There were good views with the sun low in the afternoon sky.
As I was dropping down Black Mountain, Tandem ran down the hill behind me. We hiked together to the Palisades Parkway, where Mio joined us for the hike west .4 miles to the Visitors Center, which we found closed at 17:00. We decided to cook dinner there, leaning against their wall and using their water spigot.
Cars came into the parking area often, and as it got dark a bright motion sensor light came on over our heads. We wanted to be nearby at 8:00 in the morning, so I crossed the parkway to check out camping opportunities. I found a large gravel parking lot and day use area, which was connected to the Appalachian Trail via a side trail. Excellent!
I went back to share this news and we packed up to head back. It was dark enough now for headlamps. We moved carefully through the woods and popped out in the open space. We picked the eastern end near the side trail and picnic tables to set up. There was a lack of mosquitos here. No rain was expected, so I left my fly off the tent again; it was nice to lay there writing my blog update and looking at the stars in the open sky through my tent.
Today was a 21.5 mile day.