Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: November 2013


Southbound: episode 11

November 23rd 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

Well, we are about 40 miles farther into Pennsylvania , so far so good. Our climb out of Delaware Water Gap had a lot of great views looking back into the gap and over New Jersey . It has pretty much been a ridge walk with little elevation change since, but the rocky terrain makes up for that. The ridge before Lehigh Gap was completely destroyed. We thought a fire might have swept through a while back, but apparently Palmerton used to have some Zinc factories and the air pollution killed off all the vegetation on the ridge. The factories have been shutdown and they are supposedly trying to cultivate the land again.

The climb down into Lehigh Gap was probably the hardest and most dangerous descent we have had since leaving New Hampshire . We spent last night in the old jailhouse in Palmerton , PA. Unfortunately they had tore out the old cells, but it was pretty sweet. We got to play some basketball in the gym upstairs. Its so hard to play in boots.

We were picked up by Ice Man’s parents this morning and were treated to a delicious thanksgiving dinner at the Cracker Barrel (thanks for being open). They brought fresh clothes and shoes from our closets, so we could feel like we were home. We now have a new set of boots, new socks, and a new water filter, ahh so nice. We will be hanging out here at the Hilton (a really nice shelter) all night playing games, watching football, and chilling in the hot tub.

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

Boots or no boots, I’m just not that good at basketball.  This section flew by for me as I couldn’t stop thinking about a big Thanksgiving dinner, warm bed, hot shower, and seeing my parents for the first time in a few months.  We were getting a resupply which is always exciting but with the new updated gear it gave us a feeling that we would embark on a new trip.  When you stare down at the same scuffed up boots for a while you can start to feel the same way that they do.  Funny thing is the boots were structurally sound and could of kept pounding out some miles, same with the water filter.  We had pre-bought these items before leaving though so there was no use in not putting them to good use.  I knew the shine on those boots would not last long but we felt a lot better that we wouldn’t have any gear breakdown surprises later on.

Seeing my parents and giving them big hugs felt sooo good! At the hotel we all hung out in the lobby playing cards and watching the traditional Lions vs. Packers football game. It was nice to relax but difficult to concentrate on the moment. I knew we were heading back out the next day and I knew it would be difficult. I think both Joe and I were worried about our trail mentality after seeing loved ones. Feelings and memories from home can be persuasive reasons for going home. We did of course hit the trail the next day, and for the first mile or so my parents hiked up with us. The trail was steep and the light was fading so we had to part ways shortly before hitting the shelter. they handed over the pumpkin pie they had carried for us and we devoured later that night. After hugging them good bye and turning around I had to fight tears and try to ignore the gut wrenching feeling of walking away from them. I hated it so much, it was even worse than leaving for the trail the first time. the first time I had to only jump in a car and start a road trip to Maine, it didn’t seem so distant. This time was real, I was walking away, and hundreds more mile further before seeing them again.

But these Pennsylvania rock would not kill these new boots, so we hiked on.

 

Southbound: episode10

November 20th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

  Well, we made it to Pennsylvania in one piece. This has been the longest we have gone without updating everyone, sorry it took so long. I hope no one was too worried. Since last updating you in Connecticut , we hiked straight through New York and New Jersey without taking any showers. These states were not as spectacular as we may have liked them to be, but they held there own little highlights so to speak. Rather than give you a day to day break down and take up hours of your time, we will just touch on some of the cool things.

First off, the heat wave that we had through New York was a nice break from the cold, but it also brought a lot of miserable rain. I would rather the cold than the rain to be honest. We hiked with “Early Bird”, another south-bound thru-hiker (or a SOBO), for a few days. A 4th personality was nice for a while. While staying at the ball fields courtesy of the Graymoor Monastery, we stumbled upon ruins of a once immaculate garden and sanctuary. We offered to volunteer some of our time to clean up some of the debris, but we were told that the ruins were to be completely removed at a later date, what a shame.

Veteran’s Day was a disaster, the post office was closed, so we couldn’t pick up our mail-drop nor send anything home that we didn’t need. Luckily, Alex, a hiker we met in Maine , lived nearby and took us to a grocery store to pick up what we needed to get to Unionville. Not all of Veteran’s Day was a disaster, the weather was beautiful, and we got to mingle with society. The trail goes through the Trail side Museum and Wildlife Park, so we got to learn about all the different geology and wildlife of the region. The lowest elevation of the AT is in front of the black bear exhibit (124 feet).

After that, we came out into Bear Mountain. park with a huge lake, a wide open green space, an ice-skating ring, and our favorite; concessions. After two soft pretzels, two hot dogs, and talking to lots of people, we climbed up Bear Mtn in hopes of a glimpse of the NYC skyline less than 40 miles away. The sun had set when we reached the top and the fog had rolled in, so no luck on the skyline. We still had another 4 or 5 miles to do over to West Mtn. in the dark. The hike wasn’t too bad and it went fairly fast, but when we came close to the top, smoke and the smell of fire filled the air. I was honestly kind of worried there was a forest fire nearby, but it was just 40 or so boy scouts camping near the shelter.

On Monday we called the post office, and they assured us that they would forward our package to Unionville, awesome. We made it into New Jersey and the trail opened up and we were able to make some good time. Wednesday night, just before we were going into Unionville, we found out the package never left the last town. They made sure it was there for us to pick up Thursday morning, but only 2 of the 3 packages made it (actually we are still waiting for it to catch up). We got to enjoy some small town hospitality and good home-style cooking at Sara’s Soda Shop. She had about 400 hikers come through this year, amazing. We hung around there for lunch and used a corner of the shop as a base while we ran to the post office and grocery store. The locals warned us of the 2-5 inches of rain headed that way, so we hurried outside of town to the first shelter.

The shelter is actually a “secret shelter” that is built on Jim Murray’s property for thru-hikers only. It was done up real nice with electric, running water, and a shower. He also had a couple of donkeys in the field that kept bellowing out coarse sounds whenever the rain would stop. The trail from then on was easy. One morning we stopped by a farmer’s market next to the trail and ate a big cherry pie, oh so sweet.

The day before last a big group of boy scouts stayed outside of our shelter. They didn’t even say hello, which has actually been a common occurrence for us in Jersey. Yesterday was a big day, we woke up at 3 in the morning and started hiking, so we could finish the 25 miles into town before 4 in the afternoon, it was our biggest mileage day so far. We had to walk over the I-80 bridge into PA over the Delaware River , and the cars were just flying by, weaving in and out of each other. They weren’t doing anything we wouldn’t have normally done, but to us, it seems so scary and dangerous. We haven’t moved that fast in a while.

We are staying in the basement of a church, they setup a small hostel for thru-hikers with a sitting area, bunk room, and hot showers. It is a wonderful place. Last night, we both slept on the leather couches instead of the bunks, so comfortable. We will hit the trail again in the morning for a couple days until we meet Ice Man’s parents for thanksgiving on Thursday. We are excited that they are coming up. Hopefully they will do some hiking with us and check out one of the shelters. We also caught wind that some of our friends might be coming up at the end of the month to visit, its all too good.

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

I’m not sure who got the joke in that second paragraph, but the fourth personality between three of us included my second self.  New York I think is when I started going cuckoo.  The time was really wearing on us and the rainy days were getting us down. There was one day where I felt like I was stumbling from tree to tree leaning on each to take a break. It was partially the fatigue but it was mostly mental, I was actually pouting while hiking.  Talking to myself seemed to help, but eventually I think I just accepted my new lifestyle.

The ruins at our church camp were almost maddening. Joe and I each discussed the unfair fate of the hillside garden.  There were several trails from the bottom of the hill leading up to the church, each one with it’s own unique statues.  We imagined the hillside restored, the statues picked up, the brush cleared, and new flowers and plants growing. What was once a path for prayer and meditation with old and original character was abandoned and was to be bull dozed. Still a bummer.

What I remember still of New York is all about the crowds of people we would see and how awful the water tasted.  I attribute the water to farm run off as we pass a lot of low lying streams near farms.  Watching cow patties instead of roots and rocks wasn’t welcoming.  If I were to describe New Jersey I think of giant scout troops, even more bad water, and that damn donkey outside our shelter. although it is funny now he made it real tough to sleep at night.

The only real problem we had with shipments came with holidays and post office closures.  I will say that hiking was made so much easier with that support and the willingness the USPS has to help. It is sad that now many of these post offices are closing.  It also didn’t hurt to have your father, a postman, as a support crew back home mailing things out, thanks again Pops!  Sara’s Soda Shop was more than accommodated while we waited and you’ll find that kind of courtesy at almost all of the small towns and shops along the trail. At the end of the post I also talk about the excitement that is coming over us as we anticipate  family and friends coming to see us.  This honestly got us through some days on the trail! It is so comforting and touching to know that we had the support crew to come see us.  Joe and I would often talk about it, day after day, “who is coming down you think?”, “What do you want to do when our friends come?”, “Do you think (unmentioned exgirlfriend) is coming?” , these and many other questions filled our days with excitement and wonder.

 

 

Southbound: episode 9

  November 7th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

We told you that we were leaving Dalton, Mass. in the last journal, only not as soon as we expected. After Anna took us to the store to resupply, she dropped us back off at the gas station next to the trail. It was already after noon, so putting in a lot of miles was out of the question. Instead of hiking just a few miles out of town, we decided to visit Rob Bird, a gentleman that has been welcoming hikers into his home for years and is really well known on the trail. We had heard so much about this man that we had to stop in and meet him. He welcomed us in and we felt immediately at home. Rob volunteered his time to drive us to different parts of the trail for “slack packing”. We would hike fourty miles, and all the while end the night in a warm bed four nights in a row. One of the highlights for us was the Skyline Chili that Joe’s family sent, its never tasted so good, Rob enjoyed it as well.

The first day back,the trail brushed by corn fields and mountain sides. We would walk bogs over swamps and river-walk along the Housatonic River for a few miles. We got halfway up Mt. Everett when the snow began and night fell, with just about two miles to go. The night would end cold for what was such a warm day. The next morning began early because we had to make it in to Salisburry for our mail-drop. We felt good about our quick start, our first dark morning night since Katahdin (day 1). We found the sunrise just as we reached the top of Mt. Everett. The trail then followed the Mt. Race ridgeline, completely exposed to the view below. It was a great morning! We came down Race and crossed over into Connecticut, our 5th state! By the time we realize we are here, we will be in New York. This fine state starts with Bear Mtn., the tallest in the state. The mountain offered amazing views of what is past and whats to come. We resupplied and left town fairly quickly to do another 3 miles to our lean-to.

In the past few days we have crossed over,and done countless miles next to the Housatonic River. Having already planned a short day, this worked out to our benefit yet again. We came to the river and its glorious water falls and spent the vast majority of our afternoon enjoying its scenery and the bright sun in the blue skies. That night would be shared with the very first southbound thru-hiker we have met, his name is Early Bird. Still ahead of us, Little Engine, Elipse, and Chase. We have not met these hikers, but have followed them in registers, there have been a few others get off the trail already.

Today marks not only 2 months, but also 722 miles behind us which puts us at one third of the way. We are staying in Kent, CT tonight with a relative of another gentleman that we had met on Mt. Washington. Bill picked us up from the post office and treated us to a nice Italian dinner, then opened up his home for us to stay. He has a wonderful family and he tells some good stories. We feel truly blessed to have met so many wonderful people on the trail, we call them “Trail Angels”. Our confidence is higher than ever, and we owe it to the overwhelming generosity they have provided.

From here we cross into New York tomorrow, and just a few days to Jersey and then a few more to Pennsylvania. It gets tough after that, we’ll be in PA for some time as it stretches 230 miles! The forecast looks good as a heat wave is coming in to give us high 50s to mid 60s for the next week! That sounds sooooo good!

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post. (maybe spell checked)

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

We first found out about Rob during one of our very first weeks on the trail up in Maine. We tried to capture notes and suggestions from Northbound hikers that were not in the guidebook. It seemed crazy at the time but we were told that in Dalton we needed to go the Shell gas station and ask for a man named Rob. It sounded kind of creepy, at least in a underground secret society kind of way.  We did as we were told, we walked the street to the small Shell station. It was an old full service station with one attendant working, and he wasn’t Rob. The guy made a phone call though and in minutes a van pulled in to the station. I guess this guy was the filter, he could tell how serious of a hiker you were and if Rob was going to come by.

There was no doubt that we looked the part. Rob introduced himself and was shocked to see anyone this late in the season. Before we knew what happened we were in the van and he was running by a liquor store. He came back with a case of beer and a brown bag. Like he had known me for years, I peak in the brown bag and he had a bottle of Captain Morgan. I told him that we had something in common, that is my go to drink back home. He looked over and told me, “that’s not for me, that’s for you”. This guy can read minds!

As for our friend Early Bird; we didn’t get to know Early Bird all that much, but he still ended up being the hiker we would see the most, and the only other Southbounder that we are sure finished with us. I still occasionally chat with him online. I believe the most interesting thing that he brought to our attention is how he described the mental difficulty of the trail. Early Bird told us about his time in the military and the challenges that he of course faced, but he then said that the AT is much more difficult. I think Joe and I were both stunned by this. He explained that the AT is a choice everyday and therefor harder to keep the mental toughness, whereas in the military he did not see it as a choice. Waking up and getting through the day was going to happen and that was life for him, but on the trail he only has himself to rely on, to get up, to move, to fight on.

This section is incredibly scenic and a bit less challenging than many parts of the AT. The miles are coming somewhat easy for us at this point. It is easy to see what is ahead and feel like there is no question of whether or not we will finish it.

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