Day 75, 6/19: M-1404, Weins (1mi)

Not a ton of pics today from my day off trail. There a couple I should have taken that I forgot 😦

Jeff made some incredible waffles using my favorite recipe (key ingredient = yeast).

Ellie was a good taste tester.

Jeff’s electric stim machine was good for my leg. My foot is really swollen from gravity induced edema while I was sleeping.

Later that night Jeff’s dad, Lew, and my longtime friends, Simon and Josh, came over to watch Game 7 of the NBA finals.

Tomorrow I will be back on the trail at Bear Mtn, but not removed from civilization just yet. Rich offered to pick me up at Faunstock St. Park and put me up for the night then drop me off the next morning.

Day 74, 6/18: M-1404, Bear Mtn Bridge (9mi)

The Sunrise view over the Hudson and NYC from inside the shelter.
The skyline all lit up.

Mountain Laurel in full bloom with the Hudson in the background.

At the top of Bear Mtn. (very easy destination from the metro area) there was every hikers dream…a Pringles vending machine! (I passed on this as it was only 8am).

A selfie from the top with B-Hiker and Mother Goose.

The beach at the bottom of Bear Mtn.

…and a pool.

…and a zoo!
When you are “the Bear” at Bear Mtn. State Park zoo you can just hang out in your hammock all day.  

Crossing the Hudson on the fantastic Bear Mtn. suspension bridge. My friend Rich met me here then took me back to their house 20mins away.

It was a great day for seeing all of (almost) the Weins (Babs, Lew, Amy, Cubby, Emma, Jeff, Libby, Declan, Ella). This is a selfie with baby Emma.

I’m also taking a full day off tomorrow to recharge, rest and recover! Less than 800 miles to go.

Day 73, 6/17: M-1396, West Mtn. Shelter (24mi)

I hiked almost the whole day with B-Hiker, a soon to be 50yr old German woman now living in NJ. Here she is working hard to get up and over one of the many rock obstacles we faced today.

It’s amazing to see such pristine wilderness so close to NYC. The faint white strip you see here is the NY State Thruway cutting through the mountains.

A baby turtle.  

Today’s miles were very demanding. Luckily my leg feels significantly better with Next to no serious pain and only modest discomfort.

The ice cream vending machine at the Lake Toriati beach was a welcome treat at our lunch stop.

Our first view of the Hudson River.

If you look closely you can make out the NYC skyline.  

Crossing the Palisades Parkway…

only 32 miles to NYC.  

The West Mtn. Shelter with the Hudson and NYC skyline in background. 

…as the sun sets.

NYC skyline lit up as seen from the shelter.

Although the 24 miles looks like a lot of the other days, distance wise, today was very demanding. I left at 6am and got in at 7:30pm with only two stops just about 90 minutes combined. Luckily, my leg is feeling much better, otherwise there was no way today’s miles would have happened. I’m definitely looking forward to the extra rest and recovery I will get this weekend as I will be staying with friends in NY after a short 7 miles to Bear Mtn. tomorrow AM.

Day 72, 6/16: M-1373, Wildcat Shelter (24mi)

The morning started with a small climb then a very impressive mile long boardwalk through beautiful marshlands.

There was even a cable suspension bridge over the creek and swamp area.

Rain showers came and went several times but not a big deal because it was fairly warm.

I made a mid morning stop at the roadside Heavin Hill farmstand.
They were nice enough to give me a bag of ice which made a huge difference for my leg. I walked almost normally with minimal pain for the whole afternoon.

It’s great to see lakes and ponds again.

These little guys were right in the middle of the trail eating something. I shot a short video I will try to post later.

Welcome to NY !

A lot of rock scrambling greeted us

This section was so steep they bolted in a ladder.
It had just rained for 45 minutes which made things even dicier navigating the boulders.

Luckily, the end of they day took us by another roadside farmstand…with homemade ice cream. (Unfortunately, no ice for my leg?!)

But they did provide a hiker charging station.

An impressive view for eating ice cream over the Warwick Valley.

My leg made big improvements today so hopefully I’ve turned the corner. There’s still discomfort and swelling but the pain was minimal and my range of motion was better.

Day 71, 6/15: M-1350, Pochuck Shelter (26mi)

I camped next to the Wes Anderson shelter last night (I think it was actually called Gren Anderson)

This is what my foot looked like this AM, plus I had a pretty good kankle going. The foot swelling was mostly from my feet being downhill of my head. The ankle and leg swelling was helped a lot throughout the day by the compression sleeve and Advil. I will try to elevate my feet when I sleep tonight which should help.  

The highest point in New Jersey (~1700′).
What a beautiful day. The morning was cool but it was hot in the midday sun.

The picture is a little dark showing the inside of the shelter at my mid AM break…but it’s very bad form setting up your hammock inside.
Wild and scenic NJ.

After the high point of NJ the trail descends into farmland. The fence stile was a little off kilter.

This structure is on a farm located a couple hundred yards off trail and owned by a former thru hiker. He allows hikers to stay here and has some deliciously cold well water coming out of a spigot This was a great treat as the water sources in NJ have been less than optimal (stagnant streams, scummy ponds, etc). This is the first time on the trail we’ve had less than great water.

The trail skirts around this wildlife refuge before climbing up the mountains in the background to the Pochuck shelter.

Overall, my leg improved noticeably today. About 3 hours of painful walking and 8 hours of modest discomfort… Definitely, headed the right direction. I seem to do better if I don’t stop for very long (<10 mins). Anymore than that and the pain would flare up. So this is why I wound up walking 26 miles today on a bum leg…not much stopping. I’m also encouraged that things feel pretty good after being off my feet in camp for the last 2+ hours. The last several nights everything starts to cease up when I stop. Hopefully there’s more improvement tomorrow. FYI, I got my first blister of the trip…probably from over compensating with my right foot.

Day 70, 6/14: M-1324, Gren Shelter (26mi)

It was a cool morning. New Jersey is the first state we are seeing lots of natural lakes. This is Sunfish Pond just mile out of camp. At 6:30 AM the sun has been up for well over an hour.

This is the view from the far side of the pond (seems big enough to be called a lake if you ask me).

Passed mile 1300 !

The temps warmed up to the low 70’s and it was perfect day for hiking.

Mountain laurel is blooming everywhere.

It was a long day and I’m glad to be in my tent.

I hadn’t planned to go as far as I did since my leg was in a miserable state from the shin splints for 3/4 of the day, yet tolerable for the other 1/4… It would go from one to the other out of nowhere! I had ordered some compression sleeves from Amazon for overnight delivery and pushed the extra miles to intercept those today. image

Between the compression sleeve on my leg and some ice from the tavern, miles 23-26 went much better than expected. The best way to describe the pain is it’s very similar to a high ankle sprain without the instability. The downhills are the worst part, the flats aren’t much fun either. Surprisingly, the uphills are the least problematic. Hopefully, things improve tomorrow.

Day 69, 6/12: M-1297, Sunfish camp (24mi)

I left the motel at 6:30 and enjoyed the remains of the sunrise. Unfortunately, what should have been an easy 2.5 mile hitch turned into a long road walk back to the trailhead. There were too many roads for drivers to turn off on, plus it was the commuter hour. Needless to say this put me in a bad mood, especially with my shin splints still throbbing.

There were several long cobble sections that had my leg screaming. Luckily, this section of ferns were accompanied by a pleasant section of trail.

After three hours of wincing in pain with every step, all of the sudden things got better and I was merely dealing with modest discomfort. The body is a strange thing. It definitely, made appreciating this view on a beautiful day more enjoyable.

After lunch I made the descent into the Delaware Water Gap. Descending definitely aggravates the leg 😦

I was able to get some ice in town which seems to help quite a bit…plus, I can hike while wearing it!

Not the prettiest section of the trail…a 1.5 mile road walk next to I-80. At least we get our own sidewalk.

Even better, it got me into New Jersey.

I had a great campsite up high on a grassy ridge.

The sunset from my tent was a great way to end a long-rough day.

Everyday there is some new challenge that makes you appreciate when everything is going smoothly. All the additional miles walking to the trailhead on the road and the on-trail road walking wasn’t optimal for aiding my recovery. Hopefully, a good nights rest will help.

Day 68, 6/11: M-1277, Wind Gap (18mi)

It was a rough morning. Yesterday’s late afternoon leg strain was a full blown shin splint this morning. Very sore with shooting pains as I stepped on each uneven rock. Progress was slow but ibuprofen and podcasts nursed me along. I didn’t take many pics as I just had my head down concentrating on what was underfoot.

I finally took a well deserved rest at this fine shelter. Unfortunately, the water source was a 1/2 mile downhill. Luckily, someone had left a gallon jug to spare me the trip. This was one of the longest stretches we’ve had without a water source directly on trail…it will be over 25 miles.

Although it was not as hot as yesterday, the mango smoothie hit the spot after I hitched into the town of Wind Gap mid afternoon.

The shower felt great and after doing my laundry (in the bathtub) the wind and sun made quick work drying everything out.

Hopefully, the extra rest today and ice will help the recovery. Unfortunately, I wound up walking a couple miles around town taking care of errands and town chores. I was able to order calf compression sleeves from Amazon that I’ll pick up on Tues. (I couldn’t find them at Kmart…no surprise) They should help out with recovery and prevention as well.

Day 67, 6/10: M-1261, Camp by Radio Tower near Palmerton, PA (23mi)

This is a pic I meant to post yesterday. It’s the Eckville shelter (cabin in back right). It’s a 100yds down the way at a road crossing. The main house is an AT caretaker’s residence. This was quite the little lunch oasis. Someone had left homemade brownies plus I got to dry my tent in the sun and charge my batteries.

This mornings hiking started off great. Perfect temps at 6am and impeccable trail conditions.

Those trail conditions deteriorated quickly…as the rock dancing began. The best comparison is that it’s a lot like skiing the bumps. You need to keep searching for a good line and bad things can happen when you lose your forward momentum. You’d be surprised at the size of boulder one can make teeter while walking across it.

At least we were rewarded with some great views.

This was a brutal climb of vertical rock scrambling in the blistering sun late this afternoon (86 today).

Wish I had gotten a person in this pic to give these boulders some perspective… they are huge.  
We did get a view of Lehigh Gap and the Lehigh River.  
This post apocalyptic scene is enhanced by the lack of all vegetation that was the result of toxins from a zinc plant that closed down 30+ years ago.

My cozy campsite on a bed of pine needles.