Appalachian Trail journal

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Week Sixteen: New Jersey, New York, and lots of food

Sunday July 24th, 1983
We started hiking late this morning since we will only be doing short miles today. Immediately after leaving Delaware Water Gap the trail ascended into New Jersey, and past one of the so-called jewels along the trail in this state. This jewel was known as Sunfish Pond. Five miles after the pond I arrived at an intersection with a gravel road where there was a water pump. This would have been a welcome trailside attraction except that the water that came spewing out was brown and tasted of dissolved iron. It was here that Pete Headden, one of the true hikers I have been traveling with lately was to meet us with some picknic supplies. He lived in New Jersey somewhere nearby, and had arranged to meet us after his day of rest at home along Camp Mohican Road with beer, root beer, ham and cheese sandwiches and tuna sandwiches! Gonzo! was already there waiting, as was my friend Paul Nichols. The skies threatened to rain soon afterwards so it was on to Mt. Mohican Shelter to beat the rain. We did not make it though, we got rained on before we got there.

In the valley below the shelter lay Camp Mohican, a boys camp like the ones I did not have a chance to attend while I was a kid. Civilization seemed to be all around us lately. Towns were closer, if not directly on the trail like Delaware Water Gap. This led me to think that at least in this area the trail experience was more like a series of town stops and social events with some hiking in between. The green tunnel had fully enveloped us and there was little to see. I felt that these middle states were just obstacles before we would trek through wilderness again. To me, the experience that I was looking for, and had enjoyed earlier, would begin again in Vermont. Until then I was hiking through suburbia.

Monday July 25th, 1983
I remember hearing the trumpet going off as the sun came up while I had finished breakfast, packed up and about to depart. I thought to myself "these kids were wimps". They were just getting up, while we were packed up and ready to go megamileing in the heat. While reveille was sounding I walked over to the rock outcrop overlooking the camp only to discover that the bugle sound was coming from a loudspeaker fixed on a telephone pole - not even a kid playing the bugle - not only that it was probably a recording and on a timer. Huh. Guess that I didn't miss anything by not going to camp when I was a kid.

Today I hiked with Damien and Al. We had gotten up at 4:30am, our now standard time of awakening to beat the heat, and logged in twenty-one miles to Sunrise Mountain Pavilion. Along the way we encountered a bakery just before a road walk up Sunrise mountain. We arrived at the bakery/store/deli about 2:00pm and pigged out! Tired from consuming large quantities of baked goods, we napped for an hour before proceeding to the pavilion.

A pavilion sits atop Sunrise Mountain, and from under its shelter you can eat your picknic lunch while enjoying views to the east and west. We watched the sunset from Sunrise Mountain and waited for total darkness before unrolling our sleeping pads and bags to spend the night. Signs at the pavilion say "No Camping", but we don't read signs.

(Sunrise Mountain Pavilion)

The day was perfect, and the terrain was easy. Tonight should be a cool night so sleeping will be easy.

I will call Scott (Dyanne Black's boyfriend) tomorrow when I go to Unionville.

Tuesday July 26th, 1983
Covered twenty-four miles today. I am quite tired from the many ups and downs and my feet are sore. We went to Unionville, New York, mostly so we could eat ice cream. While there, I called Dia and instructed her to tell Scott to pick me up at a certain point farther up the trail for a little R & R off the trail. After the call, I thought about it, and suddenly became a little apprehensive about having set up a day off with Scott. I realized I had been traveling with a good bunch of guys, we were making good time while having some fun, but I also didn't want to blow off the meeting with Scott. As a consolation, I thought that I would at least get a free meal out of it, and maybe even a comfortable bed for the night.

Tonight I am tenting in someone's field situated somewhere along another one of the road walks in this area just a few miles north of Pochuck Mountain. Shaing the grassy spot with me are Paul and Al.

Wednesday July 27th, 1983
Got up late this morning and hiked to Route 94 where I was supposed to meet Scott. I arrived there at 10:00am - before the time I was to meet him and waited till 11:00am. Concerned why he had not shown, I went down to Vernon, New Jersey to call him. He gave me some bullshit excuse for not being there, so I hit the trail and ditched the idea of meeting him at all. Because of the delay I had to climb Wawayanda Mountain during the hottest part of the day. That made it a grueling climb, and my spirits were already down. The result was that the next ten miles to Roger's Appalachia Cottage were difficult, and I dragged ass all of the way.

The day stretched on like an eternity. Toward the end darkness ensued, and I began to think that I overshot the blue blaze trail down to Rogers. Lucky for me, it turned out that in the
saddle where the blue blaze forked down to Rogers there was a large sign that I could not miss in low light situations indicating the sidetrail. There was also a table and chairs just in case you needed to just stop and rest a while. By the time I arrived at Roger's cottage, the time was 8:33pm. The delay caused by Scott had put me in after supper so I just made some soup, and quickly crashed. Paul, Tim, Jim, Eric, Bruce, Al, and John Beckstrand were there on their scheduled day. Yep, Scott really screwed up my schedule! I was at Roger's a full day ahead of my "appointment". Roger remarked that he didn't have enough food for mein the morning, and because of this he would go to the store early tomorrow morning to get something. My only consolation was that I had met Roger earlier on in the hike way back in the southern states; and being a section hiker himself, who was going to complete the trail this summer, he had enough experience hiking along the A.T. to know that plans are often changed through no fault of your own.

Thursday July 28th, 1983
I felt bad, but he made good on his promise - I was to be included in the breakfast feeding. I sat at the table and enjoyed the nourishment, but felt that I was an unwelcome guest, and I knew it was my fault entirely (well, maybe Scott's fault in reality).

We all chowed breakfast at Roger's before continuing up the trail toward the Orange Turnpike where there is a great piped spring along the side of the road. While filling up, a local in a pickup stopped in for some water. After talking to him for a while he told us that there was a Pizza Hut in Monroe, New York which was about six miles down the road. He offered us a ride, and we went for it. I never miss a Pizza Hut opportunity! Six miles later, the five of us were sitting at a table with three medium pan pizzas, an A.Y.C.E salad bar, and beer. After such a hot day, this was the boost that we needed!

On our way back we talked a lady with a pickup into bringing us back to the trail. The lady kept insisting that she knew the way back to the trail head and brought us to a road crossing two miles north of where we wanted to go. That delay, and another involving a police officer stopping her vehicle caused us to not get back to the spring until nearly dusk. Paul and I tented by the spring, while the others went up Arden Mountain for the night.

Only did 14 miles today as sun and humidity has taken its toll on all of us - plus we kind of got sidetracked at Pizza Hut.

Friday July 29th, 1983
Paul and I did 14 miles to William Brien Memorial Shelter. The shelter is located in Harriman State Park, a popular park for city dwelers in New York City apparently. Harriman Park had a lot of twists and turns in the trail as it made its way though, but was not thick with undergrowth like other areas along the trail - places that are so thick with undergrowth in the summer that you can't walk off of the trail even if you tried. Even so, I was keeping my eyes peeled for the white blazes. I was not worried about getting lost, but didn't want to do any extra miles. The park was full of trash, and I still have the image in my mind of the waterfall highlighted in the guidebook description as being "beautiful", but in reality being bone dry and full of litter this particular summer. At times I felt I was walking through a garbage dump.

Another memorable place in Harriman came from a place called "The Lemon Squeezer". The gap between two slabs of rock through which the trail passed was barely passable without a pack, so removal of my pack to navigate through was required.

Along the way, we stopped at Fingerboard Shelter for lunch, and got fed by some weekenders. About a mile up the trail from the shelter we stopped at Tiorati Circle Campground for water, a Coke, and to look at the bikini clad beauties on the beach on the lake. As I walked through Tiorati Circle all I heard was Latin music, and noticed nobody spoke English. I was so hot that I walked past the bathers, dropped my pack in mid-stride and hiked right into the water till it went over my head. Ahhhhhhhh refreshing! I didn't even care that my hiking boots were still on.
I knew they would dry quickly in this heat. On my way out I saw this pretty young thing in a bikini staring at me with a big smile. Dark eyes, long dark hair, light brown skin and a fine petite figure - jail bait for a twenty-six year old guy, so I hoisted my pack upon my back while returning her smile. I could feel her gaze as I melted back into the forest.

Another 5 miles got us here. Some of the others had gone farther on to Bear Mountain for the night. The sky is clouding up and it may rain tonight.

Tomorrow our goal is the Greymoor Monastery to pig out. Back to pre-dawn wake ups.

Saturday July 30th, 1983
Up by 4:30am and out by 5:30am. I have found this to be a very dry area; very little springwater. All of New York has been trashed out to the max. Plus, the trail in New York puts you over every hill it possibly can. Between the many climbs, the heat, and the lack of water, my miles per day has suffered.

At the top of Bear Mountain there was a tourist area with water fountains so I had a long drink. There was very little pressure so I had to slurp HARD to get the horrible tasting water that was offered, but water is needed on such hot days.

Tonight Paul and I met up with the rest of the group at Greymoor Monastery. Timing for Greymoor was imperative. On Sundays induction was out and I believe that I had their eating schedule courtesy of the Philosophers Guide. I timed my monastic liaison perfectly for supper, a stay in one of their private rooms, and breakfast tomorrow morning. They had one monk whose duties included making the A.T. travelers welcome, and he did just that. All of the monks have shown us great hospitality. While in the cloisters, I was also able to take a shower and wash my clothes.


Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983