After a night of wicked thunder storms and torrential rain, Mark and I walked a leisurely 8 miles to Delaware Water Gap under sunny skies in the morning. We picked up our maildrop and staked our claim at the Hiker Hostel. The joint was hopping! Turtle, Shred, Running Bare, Nutless, Ms Adventure, the Homeless Hiker, Skeeter, Red Devil, St Thomas, Marc and Debbie, the Real McCoy and Wingfoot were all in the Gap when we arrived. We met a few more new characters in the Gap as well. Danette was a hippy chick and Greg was the hippy chick’s friend. They said they were hiking north but I think they left out the word “hitch” as they were mysteriously absent from any Trail registers more than 2 miles from town. Duffelbag Dave was an older guy possessing a full beard and a fondness for talking. He hiked with a duffel slung over his shoulder and the trailname just came naturally. He seemed a religious man, completely harmless and probably full of goodness yet most of the hikers thought he was a bit wacko, including myself.
Most of the hikers went to the local pub, but we hung around the hostel. I went to bed early but didn’t sleep. Around midnight, Wingfoot stumbled in and attempted to sleep himself. It was obvious he was hammered and five minutes later I heard him hit the cement floor like a side of beef. After lying there face down for a few moments, he peeled himself off of the floor, staggered to the toilet and he proceeded to blow bits all over the bathroom. He dragged himself back to bed, leaving a chummed room behind which Duffel Bag Dave took upon himself to clean. Alas, few can resist the temptations of excess in town when walking upon this Trail.
We tried to leave the following day but the weather only permitted us to walk 3 miles before we had to set up the shelter and wait in the driving rain. Mark and I played some Blisters as we hung out under our tarp all day, sharing the spot with a good sized toad.
The weather improved for the morning walk to Sunfish Pond. This pristine body of water on the top of the ridge was among the scattered rocks left behind by the glaciers. I took a refreshing morning swim under the watchful eyes of a dozen or so giggling teenage girls on a camping trip. The water was crystal clear and it was hard for me to believe we were in New Jersey! I expected to see more 55 gallon oil drums and was pleasantly pleased that my preconceptions of the state were way off base. Some of the nicest ridgewalks were in New Jersey, with exceptional views in every direction.
We were on our way to High Point State Park, one of the “7 wonders of New Jersey” at a whopping 1803 feet above sea level. We met up with two new thru-hikers on the way, Hikaholic and Terrapin, and they stayed with us at the High Point shelter along with our old pal, Nutless. The next morning we went into Unionville, New York to have lunch and pick up a mail drop with the bottle of Rumpleminz I got for Mark’s birthday. We continued walking through New York, passing by Wayanda State Park where they were turning people away because the crowds were so thick!
The following day we walked a New York ridgeline through the blistering heat. The lure of Greenwood Lake below the ridge was too much so we dropped down for a swim. We took a quick dip in the heavily impacted body of water, dodging gomers and jet skis. Some of those very same wide-eyed gomers shared their imported beer with us as they asked us the standard questions. That evening we camped near the road crossing in a stand of pinetrees. In the darkness of the wee hours, we listened as a bird’s nest was upended, the baby birds fell to the forest floor and then were promptly eaten by a raccoon. Once again, that’s life in the food chain.
…continue the expedition, read: On and Off the Appalachian Trail [link]