On and Off the Appalachian Trail

     So there we were, in New York headed towards Harriman State Park, where the Appalachian Trail had its humble start in 1922. Before we entered the Park, we had to cross the New York State Thruway, a road Mark and I recognized as a three hour hitch-hike home. Two other reasons for a dash home; the much anticipated Graymoor Monastary would be closed for Jubilee, turning away hikers during that week and Mark’s birthday was the next day so he felt like being home. We stumbled down to the Thruway, stuck out our thumbs and headed towards Massachussetts.

    The hitch north started out OK. We got a ride to the Connecticut “turn-off” from a cool dude who introduced Mark and I to coffee soda. Our spirits were high as we jumped out of the car and started the next leg of the journey. Another lift brought us close to Hartford in the middle of a roaring, high speed section of highway that couldn’t be more dangerous. The sun was low on the horizon and we weren’t going anywhere. Night descended and there we stood, uneasy to say the least. When the State trooper zoomed by and used his P.A. to tell us to get off the road, we took his advice and looked for a place to “camp”. As we were in the suburban sprawl and woods consisted of ten trees together, the only spot to sleep was on a retired on-ramp. As I laid back on the pavement that was still warm from the summer sun, I thought to myself how, at that very moment, I was indistinquishable from a homeless person.

    We woke early and headed toward the mall we could see in the distance. When we got to a phone, Mark called his girlfriend to come rescue us. A few hours later, we’re in her car headed home. I arrived back at my parent’s house and got a call from Ms. Adventure the next day. She needed to get off the Trail for a few days and asked if she could stay at my folks’ place for a while. So Ms Adventure dropped by and we saw a movie, drank beer, ate pizza and talked about the AT then she had to meet up with friends in New Hampshire. After Ms Adventure left, I got a bunch of stuff done: repaired then scrubbed my pack, reorganized some maildrops, conditioned the boots, did some sewing and logged many calorie burning hours on my bicycle. But I wanted to be back on the Trail and soon Mark and I were in Harriman State Park again, squeezing through the Lemon Squeezer.

     After spending the night on Fingerboard Mountain, we staggered a mere 9 miles to West Mountain Shelter. The rocky spine we walked along featured shelters of stone, including one with a New York City skyline view! The setting sun illuminated the skyline of one of the America’s largest cities. An awe inspiring sight considering we were seeing it from the Appalachian Trail. We shared the shelter with a thru-hiker we had never met, Roger the Springer Cat. A great evening we had swapping Trail stories and contemplating the distant lights of the Big Apple. The next day, we walked on through a Trailside museum that featured an albino raccoon and a million NYC gomers, crossed the Bear Mountain Bridge, clambered over Anthony’s Nose and finally to Graymoor Monastary.

…continue the expedition, read: Return To New England [link]