Hiking the Appalachian Trail #4b

Harpers Ferry WV to Lincoln NH

AT Section Hiking

44 days, 777 miles, Apr-May 2016

New York

Greenwood Lake (zoomed in)

A few words about my adventure philosophy if I may. Hiking is my favorite, especially long-distance hiking. I enjoy trips like this one, first because I love being out here in the natural world, day after day. And second, because I like camping out.

I also like the exercise of hiking all day. Hiking is not the most strenuous, by a long shot, but it's best all-around exercise for the whole body that I know of. And therefore, it's the best health builder.

However, as much as I like hiking, it is not my entire life. So I go on long bicycle trips, kayaking trips, canoeing trips and so forth. With each type of activity, I have to build a whole new set of skills. And I like that. I like learning something new, and practicing until I'm proficient at it.

But even these are not enough. I crave more variety. So I learn to skydive and in three years of skydiving full time I become proficient at it. And five years of adventure motorcycle touring I become fairly proficient at that too.

I've heard people say about me that I like self-propelled trips - such as hiking, bicycling, kayaking trips, canoeing and so forth. Well, I consider the idea of self-propelled trips is a myth. There is no such thing. How does a person get to the start of a long hike? Flying to the start is not self-propelled. How does the food get to the stores found along the route? How do the resupply boxes get to the post offices? How did the person get the gear to begin with? Did the "self-propelled" adventurer make the materials?

The long-distance hiker uses plenty of gasoline: flying or driving to the start, hitchhiking from the trail to a store, (and the food in that store used gasoline to get there); and the resupply boxes used gasoline to get to the post offices. And so forth.

Skydiving and motorcycling use gasoline too. And so does skiing to the South Pole (fly to Antarctica, fly the resupply to the half-way point, ect), and so does rowing across the Atlantic (ship the boat to the Canaries and fly there ourselves; fly from Barbados to home.)

So put into prospective, all these activities share the same base of operation. One is not more pure than the others.

But in my book they all have one common denominator: They all get me out here in the natural world, day after day, where I can hear the birds chirping and breath the fresh air. And any camping is a real bonus.

Long-distance hiking is fun, yes, but only to a point. When you're out here hiking 14 hours day, in the rain, and swatting endless black flies, you wouldn't necessarily call that fun. Granted, just being out here in the natural world makes up for any discomfort. But I like to have fun too. Motorcycle touring is pure fun, and so is skydiving. And both have gotten me out in the natural world.

The gist of all this is: I don't limit myself.

For example, I've talked to mountain bikers who have made that their life. They wouldn't dream of riding a motorcycle. By closing their minds to other possibilities, they have no idea of the fun they are missing.

All the same, they are doing it right. And so are the hikers, kayakers, canoeists and all the rest. They are out there enjoying the fresh air and freedom of the natural world. And with that comes respect and hopefully a desire to protect and preserve.

"It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive"
- Bon Jovi

Many of these trees are growing on rocks, so have shallow roots. Occasionally a strong wind will blow them over. I see many examples of this. I thought all of them happened during the last winter or two, until I found one that I recognized from 2010. It had not decomposed much at all.

I usually lieback the crack on the right. But this time it was raining and I was in a hurry to meet a friend waiting at the next trail head, so I used the ladder.

Quite nice hiking though here.

Late in the day Roger W. met me at the 17a trail head above Greenwood Lake, and drove me to his home. Shower, laundry, dinner and breakfast - what a treat! Roger has been doing Trail Magic for 20 years and counting. For fun, he regularly parks at a trailhead with a load of food and so forth, to give to hikers. Here is his list: "Soda, fruit, candy, freeze dried food (yuck), socks, phone chargers and water. Oh and a chair or two just for fun." Super nice guy.

Spotted along the trail the next morning. I have no idea how to interpret this, but if there is a message, it must be pretty funny.

Mombasha Falls. 1) This area should be made into a state park. It's so pretty, and wild. Or maybe it already is part of Harriman. 2) I have met dogs by the hundreds on the trail this year. I always stop to talk to the owner for a few minutes, and ask something about the dog. 3) These steps are the start of a trail section built for the A.T in the 1920s. In fact, it was first section of the AT. And back then, the trails had to be adventurous. So it goes though many unlikely places, climbing beside this waterfall in this case.

The AT crossing Mombasha creek.

At Mombasha High Point, I met a hiker here, in 2009. She said "Stand on those rocks and you can see the Empire State Bulding." Sure enough, you can - barely.

Good hiking in Harriman SP.

Little Dam Lake. A funny name, and not a lake but a pond (has no aphotic zone), but very beautiful nonetheless.

This photo is out of focus (haven't learned to use the phone quite yet) but it does show how I eat while on the trail. On the way to the trail, this morning, Roger and I stopped at a deli and I bought this sub, among other food items. I know the location of the next store along the trail, and how long it should take me to hike there. So I know how much food I need to carry. I usually carry one sub or sandwich per camp, and sometimes one for lunch. So for example, if I will be out two nights, I start with two or three sandwiches. And by the way, the subs in New Jersey and New York are delicious. They look about the same as subs elsewhere, but they taste out of this world.

This was a Saturday and weekend hikers were out in droves. Everyone I met, coming the other way, told me about a trail magic cooler full of food near NJ-17 and Arden Vally Road. When I got there, the cooler had been pretty much ransacked.

The Arden Valley parking lot was full and overflowing with cars. they were even parked along the road. The trail goes right through the parking lot, and there I met a fellow with an extra large dog. From a distance it looked more like a small bear. A 172 pound St. Bernard, the guy said. We hiked together for 20 minutes as he told me something about this interesting pet. The fur is so thick that the groomer's charge $120 for a bath and brush, so every spring he gives the dog a buzz cut. The dog sleeps on his bed, but isn't allowed to take up more than it's half.

The vending machines at Lake Tiorati Beach, Harriman State Park.

In the vending machine pavilion these barn swallows caught my eye.

The AT used to go to Tiorati Beach, then after following Seven Lakes Drive a short ways, it headed up the rise. I'm walking the whole way, but not always white-bazing, and anyway this time I'm interested in hiking a few old sections. This is a good one. Hard to find the start, but a good trail once you find it. It re-joins the AT in a few miles.

There were several groups of tents pitched around the William Brien shelter this fine evening.

Silver Mine Lake from near my camp.

My camp near the summit of Black Mountain.

Early morning on Black Mountain, looking ESE at the Hudson River.

Bear Mountain

The AT approaching Seven Lakes Drive.

Near the Bear Mountain Inn, they were having a big running race and the rain wasn't stopping them.

On the 9W road to Fort Montgomery there is a bridge over Popolopen Creek. The bridge was apparently constructed after the building of this house. Boom! "Hey, what was that?" asked the wife inside the house. "Just another driver throwing a beer bottle out of the window of the pickup."

At the Chesnut Mart I bought a whole load of groceries for my upcoming zero day at a motel. Then stood under the umbrella in the pouring rain, eating lunch.

I love the sandwiches you get in New Jersey and New York. They are really good. Note: I made the sleeves on my rain parka extra long so I could tuck my hands up under them.

I arrived at the motel mid-morning and the rooms weren't ready quite yet. On the permission of the manager I moved into the laundry room and washed my clothes, while taking advantage of the wifi on my smartphone.

A second bridge was under repair. The morning was early and the workers hadn't shown up yet.

The AT approaching the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River.

I had been hiking like a drowned rat when I reached the Appalachian Market on U.S. 9. So it was good to step inside and start drying off.

The store is getting better and better with the passing years, and now it has a short grill. So I ordered a full breakfast and sat at one of the small tables.

That's the store owner behind the counter. She is very hiker-friendly, and in fact came over to chat for a few moments. And those bagels and buns are out-of-this-world.

A pair of vines wrapping around each other.

A splash of color.

Wet but nice hiking anyway.

Lack of real estate is no problem for this enterprising young tree, thriving on the small bit of soil contained in a crack in the rock. If it manages to keep growing, it will send a few air-roots over the rock and into the ground. And growing still, the air-roots will become larger and larger. One can see examples of this throughout New England, and here is how they get started.

Standing on the trail, I'm admiring the nice creek but looking at the white blaze beyond, telling me to cross here. The prudent AT hiker keeps one eye on the trail while the other eye (figuratively) looks for the next blaze. Later in the season, with the increased hiker traffic, the trail will become much better defined. But for now it is covered in leaves and sometimes a bit hard to follow.

At Dennytown Road, the stone shed has a water faucet (at chest level) and a litter bin so I can dispense with my trash bag. The walking stick is not mine. The reader might have noticed that I have used three backpacks on this trip, all prototypes. I phone home the changes and Jenny makes the next one and sends it to me along my route. It's important that I test my new ideas on an actual distance hike so I can see how they work in all conditions. And based on this, I come up with improvements for the next mod.

At Dennytown Road I am admiring the nice stonework of the old stone house. Pity it has lost its roof.

"Cross here and turn right," read the blazes. "Don't try to treat this water," reads the foam.

The AT follows this interesting and historic wagon road leading to Canopus Lake.

At the far end of Canopus Lake I headed a short ways down to the Clarence Fahnestock State Park beach where the data book says free showers and camping. But the park had not yet opened, and the camping was not appealing. So I hiked back up to the trail and kept going.

I'm reluctant to post pictures showing nice hiking because they engender the very wrong idea that the AT is mainly nice hiking. Conversely, I don't show how bad the trail is, in very many places, (in fact I don't even take such photos) because I don't want to give the wrong impression that I don't like the trail. I like the trail generally very much.

Late in the day on Shenandoah Mountain.

This was supposed to be a wild turkey before some animal or bird discovered the egg.

There were two hikers in the RPH Shelter, and the ground outside was soaking wet, but given the chance I'm more comfortable under my tarp. This was another night without darkness. I ate my dinner then fell to sleep - and all too soon woke at dawn. I don't eat breakfast, so can break camp and be hiking in 10 minutes.

Artwork near the Stormville Mountain Road, a nice touch. I stood under the roof of this trailhead information board, eating a snack and taking a short break from the incessant rain.

I like to stop for a photo of the Morgan Stewart Shelter for old times sake. I leapfrogged this hiker all day. He was hiking fast but taking long breaks at the shelters. Note the interesting joinery!

I always see these mallards (or ones just like them) at this part of Nuclear Lake. Later in the season they will climb the hill 100 feet and lay their eggs hidden in the brush like regular stealth campers.

The Dover Oak at West Dover Road. From the data book "reportedly the largest oak tree on the A.T. Its girth four feet from the ground is more than 20 feet, 4 inches, and it is estimated to be more than 300 years old."

The Appalachian Trail Railroad Station at N.Y. 22. Goes to Grand Central Station but stops at this AT crossing only on weekends and holidays. "The two northbound trains in the morning drop the hikers off on the trail, and two southbound trains in the evening bring the hikers back to the city. The station dates to 1991 and its creation was the idea of a couple of hikers."

The Native Landscapes & Garden Center sells sodas and during mid-season, snacks. Out back they have a water spigot and a cold shower. I sat outside for 10 minutes drinking a soda, but soon the chill prompted me to get back on the trail for the metabolic warmth.

The trail volunteers were building bog bridges through this section. They stopped here. I don't like to get my running shoes any wetter and muddier than they have to be, so I thrashed through the brush to get around the mud puddles.

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