Well hello there.
This is an update on New York. But first, a couple news items.
1.) Just met up with my uncle David, his girlfriend Lisa, and my cousin Rachel - and was amazing. Sorry to have met under the circumstances, but happy to see their faces. David is also hiking the trail this summer, but an injured knee is momentarily messing up plans for a southbound Maine start. So on their way home they met us in Dalton, MA. We look forward to meeting up with him again on the trail once he's healed - when he will surely put us to shame by passing us by with the speed of, well, someone faster than us :)
2.) I seem to have lost my pants. No, seriously. And yes, I ALSO question how, when you only have 5 articles of clothing, you lose one, but i did. They are probably under the bed in one of the recent towns we stayed in. I am amazing.
3.) Tom Lavardi is the best human on earth. He's in our guidebook as someone in Dalton who can give you water, and maybe let you tent on his lawn. We stroll into Dalton, hoping to tent, and he offers us a shower, says "we're starting a laundry pile, if you need anything washed," and "you can sleep inside, if you like. There's room." Meaning, he had a bed, a super amazing comfortable bed for us. And then today, he took us to the mall, so we could see a movie (are you really surprised we zeroed again? No, you aren't). Anyway - People are amazing.
Want your faith in humanity restored? Hike part of the AT. Generosity is, at times, overflowing and breathtaking.
Ok! On with the catch-up!
So after Danny, James, and Steph left us, and we resisted the urge to go to NY or DC with them, we headed on into the wilderness. New York terrain was not that bad, but the blazing left something to be desired (mostly, blazes. A general indication of where to go would have been nice). However, New York had plenty of delis, at just about every stop, gas station, or town - so we forgave them for making us confused every 10 min or so on the trail.
A couple days after Greenwood Lake we arrived at Bear Mountain state park, by the Hudson river. The climb to the top was pretty amazing, as the path was mostly made up of stone stairs, and all of the mountain laurel was in bloom. A day hiker told us that the climb down on the other side was a brand new trail of stone stairs, a 5 year renovation project. Pretty amazing, as apparently the old trail was a steep mess.
We get to the top of the mountain and the view is pretty great. If you squint, you can make out the NYC skyline in the distance. The top has this tower you can climb, which also acts as a museum of sorts for the park. Photos of beautiful lodges, swimming pools, and lakes of the park, from the 1920s surround the walls. We wonder if any of it is left. We've come across so many parks like this on the trip that show us photos of how cool it USED to be, and then find out nothing is left (like Pennmar park on the border of Pa and Md...they have signs up everywhere in the park of fun things that used to be there, like "bumper car pavilion," where something decidely un-fun now is, like a park bench.). But, we get to the bottom and it's all still there - including the swimming pool, and a zoo, which the trail actually goes through.
A couple days later, our friend Ram Sham got in touch with us. She and Ad Cane were now off the trail, but she was in the area and wanted to do some trail magic. She let us know she'd be at a road crossing ten miles into our day.
Was a ridiculously hot day. We stopped at a stream at one point and i think i poured water over my head for 15 min and i still wasnt cooled down. We finally made it the ten miles and we see Ram Sham and her friend Paul setting up an oasis in the woods....chairs! Ice cold water! Beer! Fruit! Snacks! And champagne and strawberries to celebrate the engagement. So amazing.
We caught up and chilled out for about 45 min, until a ridiculous thunderstorm blew through. At first it was refreshing, and kind of hilarious how quickly we went from looking like sweaty messes to drowned rats, but then a huge branch came crashing down 15 feet from us, and we decided an escape to the car would be smart. The storm kind of raged on, so we went to dinner in a nearby town...and then got dropped off at a motel to dry out. Thanks again Ram Sham and Paul! Sorry again for destroying your car....ha
By Friday of that week we finally reached Pawling, NY. Planned to take a zero in search of new shoes, and just because (no real reason needed. We walked there. Good enough).
This is also one of two places on trail where a train stops. I mean, literally. There is a tiny "Appalachian trail" stop and platform right where the trail crosses the tracks. Hilarious.
We hitch into the town and local Bill picks us up. Nicest guy - electrician out fixing wires down from the huge storm, and volunteer firefighter. He not only drives us into town, but also offers to "sneak us into the firehouse for showers," (which we did), gives us a Pawling Fire Dept t-shirt (youth, size large, that says "when i grow up i want to drive the big red truck," which im wearing right now), gave us a tour of town and dropped us at the laundromat. Which was next toa bar, the Pawling Tavern. Perfect.
The next day, champions James and Chau drove from NYC to visit. After driving us to two hotels, we settle back in at the Pawling Tavern. Where we stayed, for maybe 7 hours. Straight. Chau left once to buy a blueberry pie, but that was it. Had a hilarious afternoon catching up, eating, drinking, and just relaxing. Amazing!
And that was New York (mostly).