Monday, September 11, 2017

Pamola's Quest - Push 19 - The Push to Kent, CT - Part 1

Push 19 - The Push to Kent, CT - Part 1 

This post will cover the first five days of the Push.

Push 19 started as I headed out of Unionville, NY.  This push would be longer than the last two combined. Coming in at 129.2 miles and taking me ten days to complete, including the zero day I needed to take for my feet.  I would finish two states (NJ and NY) during this Push.  I would also hike my first 20+ day of the Quest.  

Day 102 - 16.8 miles - Wawayanda Shelter
Day 103 - 10.1 miles - Warwick, NY
Day 104 - 0 miles - Warwick, NY
Day 105 - 16.3 miles - Fingerboard Shelter
Day 106 - 15.5 miles - Fort Montgomery, NY
Day 107 - 6.4 miles - Graymoor Center
Day 108 - 13.8 miles - Fahnestock State Park
Day 109 - 14.0 miles - Morgan Stewart Shelter
Day 110 - 20.6 miles - Ten Mile River Shelter
Day 111 - 15.7 miles - Stewart Hollow Brook Shelter

A Day of Moving at Different Speeds

I awoke to a wet morning.  A light shower had passed in the night.  I packed up and ate breakfast in the park gazebo and decided to resupply at the General Store and avoid the hitch into Vernon, NJ.  

After adding to my pack weight with a full food bag, I headed out and walked the road back to the trail.  The first five miles went super fast. It was a completely flat, grassy walk along the perimeter of the Wallkill Reserve.  I finished those five miles in two hours.

The next two hours would see me only doing 2.5 miles as I made my way over a couple of rocky hills.  It was quite a difference.  Eventually I came to NJ 94 which led into Vernon, NJ.  I walked over to a farm store near the trail and had some ice cream, chocolate milk and a donut.  Padfoot, the local Ridge Runner was there eating cherries and she shared some with me.  She told me about what was coming next, a long climb up Wawayanda Mountain called the "Stairway to Heaven".  

The climb would be long, but not too bad.  I had met Scrambles and Grouch once again as I headed up and I stayed with them until they stopped for water.  My feet were giving me signs that they weren't too happy, but they weren't at the screaming stage yet.  I started thinking about taking a day off to rest them. I called a motel in the next town I would be near and made a reservation for two nights.  It was time for my first (and only) zero of this Phase.

In this area of the trail, there were several coolers set near road crossings, mostly carrying water.  This is appreciated as most of the natural water in the area are full of tannins and have a nice tea shade of brown.  One cooler even had some sodas and I enjoyed a root beer before heading up the next hill.

Trail Magic comes in many different ways

I arrived at the shelter and set up.  Padfoot came in and another came and ate dinner before moving on.  I had to retire to my hammock to eat my dinner as the mosquitoes were being extra bitchy today.  

At one point during the day, I had a nice view back towards High Point.  It was cool being able to see where you feet had brought you from just a day ago.  I seemed pretty far away to my eyes.  

High Point. Yesterday's Hike.

Finishing New Jersey

With my feet now insisting on a zero, I made my plans for the day.  I had three options, depending on how the feet responded to walking once again.  The first, was a short .5 mile walk to the first road which was a couple miles out of town.  The next would be another mile and a half or so and the last would be 10.1 miles and the finish of NJ.

I was feeling pretty good in the morning.  A night's sleep always seems to help the feet for awhile and I really starting wanting to get NJ finished and enter NY for good.  Little did I know what NY was going to throw at me, but that would be something I would figure out after the zero.  

There were no long climbs, but the trail stayed up on the ridge top a lot and the glacier carved rocky tops were where the trail led.  Most of the blazes were on the rocky treadway.  Eventually I came to the NJ/NY border and celebrated another state complete.

New York quickly welcomes you with quite a few rock scrambles.  Some even needing the help of embedded rebar to be used like a ladder.  The rocky patches were a nice challenge for awhile.  Eventually, they would become tiresome.  But, like all things out here, you continue on and eventually they end.  You reach the top of the mountain, you pass the rocky side of the hillside and the track turns nice.  The Trail is the Trail.

Rebar Ladder

Yep, the Trail goes that way.

Along the way, I met a day hiker out who said he hiked here all the time.  I lazily fell in behind him, thinking I could just follow him for awhile and not worry about finding blazes on the ground.  Well, that turned out to not be the best decision as he later admitted (after we had lost the trail) that it had been awhile since he last hiked here.  

No worries though as we quickly found the trail again and I led the way from there.  Eventually we arrived at Prospect Rock which is the highest point of the trail in NY and his turnaround point.  I said see-ya and hiked on.

Eventually, the trail moved down off the ridgetop and started heading for NY 17, which would be my day's goal.  I started seeing more Muggles coming up the trail, so I knew I was getting close.  Several of them mentioned an awesome creamery that I just had to visit.  I got to the road and headed for the creamery.  It was Sunday. It was crowded. I stayed long enough to talk to a couple of hikers, one being Woodpecker, who I last saw in the Smokys for about 5 seconds.  She remembered me and we caught up for another 5 seconds until she moved on.  

I checked my Uber app and saw that there was a driver nearby and decided to use that method to get to the Motel.  So far, I haven't really had to hitch a ride.  Either a van has shown up right as I needed it or the walk was easy to town or wherever I was going.  Besides, no one wants to pick up a solo, old, grey bearded, smelly hiker if they don't have to.  Using Uber was quick and easy and not too expensive.

Before I knew it, I was at the Motel.  It was still early in the day and there wasn't a soul around the place.  No chamber maids or desk worker.  I called the number that was on the sign and sat down to rest in the nice leather sofas.  I helped myself to a soda from the fridge and before too long, Harry, the proprietor came in.

He offered me a bagel, which I readily accepted and I snacked as I waited for my room to be ready.  Eventually, Harry, gave me a key and some shampoo and said the room isn't quite finished being changed over, but I could get in and clean up if I wanted.  I'm not a picky hotel guest, so I was cool with that.  I took a shower and got my clothes ready for the free laundry they offer and eventually, the guy came in and picked up the dirty linens that were in a pile near the door.  I knew the room hadn't been completely cleaned, but I didn't care.  I had a bed, toilet, and running water at my beck and call and wifi and electricity for my electronics.  I was happy and my feet were happy too.

I headed down to a nearby deli and got some lunch.  I also picked up a few things for resupply to top off my food bag.  I didn't need much, but did need new headphones as my old ones had disappeared on my.  Most likely falling out of my pants pocket at some time.

I relaxed in the room, catching up on some of my DVR'ed TV shows and cleaned my clothes.  Rain was in the forecast for the next day, so I figured it was a perfect time to take this zero and rest my feet.  Of course, I still would be walking.  The center of "town" is about a mile away, so I will be heading there to see what they offer and maybe eat some town food.  

A Motel Zero Day

The next morning did dawn a little wet, but I wasn't going to just lay around the Motel all day.  I donned my rain jacket and headed into town.  In addition to some town food, I was looking for some stove fuel.  The canister I had started with had lasted pretty long, but I could tell it didn't have too many burns left.  Alas, I didn't find any on my walk, but I did stop at Burger King for a second breakfast and picked up a menu from a pizza place where I would order my dinner for delivery later.  It was a pleasant, level walk with no load and I enjoyed the day.  My feet felt good, but were enjoying the no load walking.  I headed back to the Motel and watched more TV and just hung out.  

I ordered a piece of a stromboli and some wings for dinner and after eating all I could, still had a nice piece of stromboli for tomorrow's lunch that I would pack out with me. 

The next morning, as I was eating another bagel for breakfast and drinking Harry's coffee, I mentioned my need to get back to the trail.  Harry told me that a bus stops right outside and I could get back to the creamery for less than two dollars.  I ate up and was at the bus stop when it came by at 5 minutes to 7 in the am.  There was only one other person on board when I got on.  Soon, I was back at the trail and heading back up into the NY rocks.

My feet were feeling good again.  The deep blisters on the balls of my feet would remain for the rest of the Phase, but the pain never got beyond the grumbling stage.  Hurting feet are par for the course out there.  You get used to it and even forget about it at times when other body parts take their turn hurting.  It becomes a steady low pitched hum in your consciousness.  

Trail Magic and Squeezed Lemons

New York continued to be rocky and climby. I started along at a decent pace, but today would have me losing the trail several times.  This is something that seemed to happen a lot while I was in NY.  I'm not exactly sure of the cause, but I think at least part of it was the fact that the forest is pretty open in this area and a lot of the areas seem like they would be busy with muggles during the weekend.  There seem to be several trails going this way and that in the open forest.  If you aren't careful and paying attention, you could wander off along a definite trail that you think is the AT, but isn't.

The first place this happened to me was at Fitzgerald Falls.  As I passed Wildcat Shelter, three hikers came out behind me and followed me down to the falls.  I came to the falls, took a quick photo, then crossed and started walking down what I thought was the trail.  I noticed pretty quickly that there were no blazes, so I turned around and went back to the falls.  I would come to find the usefulness (and awesomeness) of the Guthook App for verifying your location in relation to the trail.  I would end up using it several times after this to once again, confirm that I had let my concentration lapse and had wandered off trail again.  

When I got back to the falls, the hikers were there, taking a break and I saw now that the trail went up along the falls in a series of stone steps.  I continued on along the proper trail.  I would get turned around once more at the top of the falls, before the other trails petered out. 

There were several trail magic water stashes along the way today.  One spot, where I stopped for lunch, had some folding chairs and a bug candle, that I couldn't get lit.  I started thinking that carrying a small bug candle, might be a good idea. One day I would have to try that.  

As I made my way up one of the steep hand over hand climbs of the day, I came upon the end piece of a Walmart trekking pole.  I picked it up and tried to shove it into my pack, just in case I meet up with someone with 1 and 2/3's trekking poles, but couldn't get it in.  Another hiker was making his way down at the same time, so I just put the pole piece down and continued on.  

I took a short break at Island Pond and then started for the Lemon Squeezer, a popular rock feature just ahead.  On the way there, I passed a group of people who had the usual questions.  Then they asked me if I wanted a snack?  A hiker never says no to offered food, so, of course I said yes.  The next five minutes was filled with them handing me stuff and me accepting it. Either shoving it in my mouth right away, or in my pocket for later.  They ended up giving me almonds, chocolate, gatorade, a strawberry and a banana.  It was awesome.  I thanked them way more than the prescribed three times and continued on my way.  

I passed two hikers, Buckle and Lucky Star and came to the Lemon Squeezer.  I made it up, but had to take off my pack and throw it up on the ledge before climbing up.  I helped Buckle get her pack up and then headed onward.  When Lucky Star came up, she wanted to see if she could do it with her pack on, but she handed me her trekking poles.  I immediately noticed that they were 1 2/3s of a set.  I mentioned that I had seen the other part of her pole on a steep climb and apologize for not trying harder to bring it along.  I think Karma repaid me down the trail before I finished this Push.  

Lemon Squeezer

The Fingerboard Caper of Pearl and Sinatra

I arrived at the empty shelter and found my spot.  I also found a good tree for my food bag as there have been several reports (and a video) of a troublesome bear, enjoying lazy hiker's food from time to time.  

Shortly after I was set up, a young man hiked in and was in the shelter.  He came down to my hammock and we talked about where the water was and introduced ourselves to each other.  He was Firefly.  A 19 year old German kid, out doing two months of hiking before starting University.  I would spend the next several days ending up at the same place, or nearly so, for the night.  He was a good kid and I enjoyed hiking with him.  I would lose him after Kent, CT, but we would keep hearing of each other until the Phase ended.  

As I was hanging out up at the shelter, a guy came in to the shelter and was followed shortly after by Pearl, who I had met in DWG.  They told this wonderful story about how, when they were picked up by a past year Thru Hiker and they gave them wine, let them stay at their place and fed them and all the magical stuff that seems to happen to other hikers and never me.  I smiled and nodded at the right places then headed to my hammock for the night.  

The next day I would see on Facebook that this past year Thru Hiker and her spouse, were saying that this dude, Sinatra by trail name, had ripped them off while staying at their house.  They said he stole food and money and left a big shit in the toilet.  What the fuck? I'm not sure why Pearl wasn't considered an accomplice to the said crime, but they expressed worry for her safety as they were now painting this guy as a potential serial killer or something.  I had to laugh at how it had spun so out of control, so fast, but that is how the Book of Face works.  

So, being the Devil's Advocate here, maybe the couple were so drunk that they forgot that they had given them all the food and such.  It was just another case of drama on the trail, just like when Zen accused The General of shit down in Damascus that turned out to be utter bull shit.  I would continue to see Sinatra at weird places along the trail for the next several days.  He never killed me or anyone else as far as I could tell, but I seemed to always be extra aware of my gear when I was around him.  

Hiking With The Blues

The next morning, I was up and out early, as the mosquitoes were biting again.  I headed to a nearby lake that had picnic tables, rest rooms and vending machines.  I found an outlet and charged my phone while I made coffee and ate breakfast.  I ended up spilling most of my coffee, but I was able to wash out some of my clothes in the rest room and get water for the morning.  

I found myself dragging today and I still had two fairly large mountains to climb before coming to the Bear Mountain Zoo and the lowest point on the trail.  I was having what I call the Day Two Blues.  Something that seems to hit me a lot on my other section hikes, where I'm just not feeling it out there on the second day of the hike.  I guess the zero day had reset that clock and made me question my motives and forced myself to find my drive and keep going.  

I stopped for a break at the William Brien Memorial Shelter and before I left, Babbit and Shower Queen came in.  While we were talking, I mentioned that I was starting to get concerned that I haven't been able to find another canister of fuel lately.  He repeated the magical words that are ubiquitous out here "The Trail Will Provide".  I agreed and headed out.  His words, of course, would come true before the day was out. 

The day was hot and as I started the climb of West Mountain, I checked my water and decided that I would have enough to get up this mountain and up Bear Mountain next.  I passed a nice flowing stream with confidence.  Not four miles later, I would be out of water and cursing my having to relearn this lesson once again.  But, that's how you learn.  Even if you have to re-learn it over again every once and awhile.  

Two years ago, LoGear and I hike here.  It was a short overnight when we were on our way to Millinocket, ME for the Trail's End Festival.  We had run out of water at the top of the mountain and had to go most of the way down the other side to get water.  After finding it, we had to return back up the mountain.  That was part of the reason for taking less water.  I remembered that climb up the mountain and was hoping to do it with a little less weight.  Sometimes the 2 lbs per liter is worth the weight.

I made my way up and once again got turned around at a section of the trail.  Luckily, I had just passed a couple of day hikers and when I saw them again, I realized my mistake.  What had happened is I saw a hiker come up the trail towards me and just went where he came from.  What I didn't realize was that was a short cut that had been used a lot and now it looked like trail.  When I got through the short cut, I saw a blaze.  The thing is though, that was a Sobo blaze and not Nobo, and just like that, I was heading in the wrong direction.

Eventually I would get down to the bottom of the Mountain.  I only had a couple of swallows of water left.  As I started up Bear Mountain, I remembered what someone had told us about an old road that the Trail follows for awhile.  If you follow that road and don't take the AT turn off, you continue up the mountain and meet the AT on its way down the other side.  Since I had already hiked up to the top of Bear Mountain and since I was feeling like shit, I decided to take that short by-pass.  Yes, I skipped a little bit of Trail, but I really didn't give a shit at the time.  I was tired, feeling blue and pretty thirsty.  I needed to get down to the picnic area, where I knew there was water.  Someday, I will return and hike that short distance that I skipped.  

Soon, I was at the Picnic Area/Park/Zoo.  The place was mobbed with families from two distinct groups, but no one would feed me.  Oh well, I stopped at the concession and was going to get a hot dog (the cheapest item), but they were out, so I bought a $6 hamburger.  I just needed to get some food in my belly.

I continued walking through the park.  My plans each morning for the last couple of days had been tentative and fluid.  I would think about different end points during the day and go as far as my feet and legs would agree to take me.  Today, I was thinking that stopping here at Bear Mountain and heading into Fort Montgomery for the night might be a good idea for both my body and mind.  

After walking through the sad zoo, I came out to where the Trail crosses the Hudson River on the Bear Mountain Bridge.  I saw to woman sitting under a tree and asked them if they were waiting for a ride.  It turned out that they were waiting for the proprietor of the Bear Mountain Bridge Motel to pick them up and that was where I was planning to go.  I made a quick call to ensure a room was available and when Kurt showed up, I explained that I had called his wife and would like to come along with the two women.  

The Bear Pen at Bear Mtn Zoo (with vultures as a bonus)
The lowest point of the trail.

As I was talking with Mud Face and Fuss Bus, a daughter, mother team who had come out for a 30 day Hike, Fuss Bus said she would give me her leftover canister of fuel.  The Trail had Provided.  This canister would last me the rest of this Phase.

I settled into my room and cleaned up.  There was a restaurant across the street and I ended up eating with Mud Face and Fuss Bus and later I sat and hung out with them on the porch of the Motel's owners as they drank their celebratory wine.  

This Push was getting expensive with all the Motel stays, but you gotta take it when you need it.  

Next: The last five days of Push 19

EarthTone and LoGear

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pamola's Quest - The Pushes (17b and 18)

On Trail Once Again

It was July 30th.  I hoisted my pack, kissed LoGear and started down the road to where the trail crossed.  I looked back once and she stood there, watching me.  I waved and turned back towards the trail.  I saw the first white blaze.  I was back...

The Push to Delaware Water Gap (Push 17b)

The Push is labeled 17b since I was starting the second half of a longer Push that would have started in Duncannon, PA.  This Push would be 41.1 miles and would take me three days to hike.  

Day 96 - 15.7 miles - Leroy A. Smith Shelter
Day 97 - 13.7 miles - Kirkridge Shelter
Day 98 - 11.7 miles - Backpack campsite (NJ)

Phase II-b started out with a fun scramble up the ridge and a chance reunion with hikers I had last seen in NC.  After feeling that same sensation that something is missing (LoGear), I crossed the road and started up the trail.  I was in no hurry. I had over 15 miles to go, but it was still relatively early and I had other options if 15 turned out to be too much to start back with.

I made my way up the trail and veered off to check out an informational sign that told about the ecology of the surrounding ridges and valley.  I looked over and saw two hikers that had came up after me.  I walked over to say hi and they recognized me.  It took me a second, but quickly I learned that this was Scrambles and Grouch.  We had met them somewhere between the NOC and Fontana. I would cross paths with them several times during this Phase.  

We all headed up the ridge together.  It was kind of fun.  Lots of slow hand over hand scrambling.  We took pictures for each other as we made our way up, but eventually I got ahead of them and didn't see them again for several days.  

Heading up from Lehigh Gap. Grouch and Scrambles follow behind.

After I got up to the top of the ridge, I leisurely made my way along the trail.  It wasn't too bad up here. The recovery from the valley zinc processing seemed to be going nicely.  There was lots of flora and even some young woods.  Looking across the valley to the next ridge with the zinc smelter in between, you could see that the other side still needed lots of work to recover.  It was barren and sad looking.

During of my view breaks, a woman came up behind me.  I notice she was wearing a headband that I had just seen, hanging on a branch next to the trail. I made a quick comment about the headband along with my hello.  She moved on ahead of me.

Around lunch time, another hike came and passed me.  I recognized him from Push 14 in Shenandoah.  We ended up eating lunch at the same place.  He is a little reserved, but I learned his name was Lazy Boy.  He carries a camp chair as part of his kit.  That was mainly how I remembered him.  

Later, I saw the woman again and learned her name was Bonnie.  She was out for a solo section from Lehigh Gap to Crater Lake in NJ.  I lent her my nail clippers and our friendship was born.  We would end up at the same place for the rest of her hike.  As we learned more about her, she would transform into Coach Sunny.

On this first day, after about 10 miles walked, I decided to try something that I had been wanting to do for awhile.  I set up my hammock and took a nice long rest.  I still had plenty of daylight and felt pretty good, even as the rocks had started to get plentiful.

After resting for awhile, I felt that I had the energy to finish the day at 15.7 miles.  I decided to cook dinner first and when I got to the shelter, I would only have to set up the hammock and get water to be done for the day.

I arrived at the shelter as the light of the day was waning.  Bonnie was there and also another guy named Tortoise.  I went and got water and when I came back another hiker was in the shelter.  She looked familiar and turned out to be Camp from another duo, Dragon and Camp who we had also met around the Smokys.  She had remembered me as Half-Crocked, another trail name I had picked up at the beginning of this Quest.  

I slept without my tarp that night, as the weather forecast was dry. I felt good.  The usual soreness of a good day's hike in my muscles and feet were back.  I was becoming an Outsider once again.  

As I laid in my hammock and darkness settled over the camp, I heard what sounded like classical music wafting through the woods.  Someone up at the camping area was playing some music.  I learned the next morning that it was Pantry, who had a violin with her and had a job lined up for some orchestra when she was done hiking.  She brought it along so she could practice each day to stay sharp for her new job. It was a very calming sound to hear as I reflected on my first day back on trail.

Just Another Rocky Day in PA

The morning started with a small headache, most likely caused by dehydration.  Today would be another dryish day, so I headed out with three liters again.  Today's hike would be mostly rocky ridge walking.  Wind Gap would be the only deviation, with a short, steep decline followed by the climb out of the gap.  

As I walked along, I saw a hiker, standing and looking into the woods.  He was watching a rattler that was minding his own business, just off the trail.  I did my own watching of him for a couple minutes as he meandered back and forth through the underbrush, slowly reacting to my prodding trekking pole.  He never grew defensive or rattled his tail.  He was just some mellow forest dweller, looking for a patch of sun to bask in.  


The track smoothed out near the end of the day and before I knew it, I was done with the day's miles. I had drank all the water I carried for the day and hadn't replenished all day. 

This shelter had a water source that was a faucet next so some church retreat.  I found a nice place to set up and had some good conversation with Ashes, a hiker who has basically been living on the trails for the last couple of years.  He was just out doing his thing. Hiking a few miles each day until it was time to move to another trail.  

Wolf Rocks was an interesting rock scramble that was pretty fun at first, but after awhile it became 

Bonnie and Tortoise stayed at the shelter.  A large group of kids (summer camp I think) had started at Wind Gap, but they camped a little away from the shelter in a nice open area.  I would see several large groups during this Phase.  Most of them were college freshman orientation hikes.  Seems to be a popular thing nowadays. The large groups do seem to tax the shelter areas a bit much, but as long as they are learning to minimize their impact, I'm ok with them being out there, even if they take good spots and fill the bear boxes up with all their gear.  

Coach Sunny and Tortoise

Finishing the Push, And the State

On the third day of the Phase, I was ready to finish the first Push and move into New Jersey.  I planned the day to not be too long (11.7 miles) and I hoped to maybe get a shower and do some resupply at Delaware Water Gap.  

I was up and out pretty early in the day.  Town days always draw me on, even though I had only been back a few days.  I could already taste the food I would eat and the anticipation of a cold beer made my mouth water.  I quickly made my way along the trail and down into the Gap.  

Delaware River

After a restful lunch by Lenape Pond, I walking into the town.  The first stop was Church of the Mountain Hostel, a donation based Hostel that was not two blocks from where the trail skirted the edge of town.  The first order of business was to shower off the three days of sweat and grime I had accumulated.  I also did a little cowboy laundry in the shower and changed into town/camp clothes.  Next was food.  I walked to the Sycamore Grill and had another lunch and a couple of beers.  After filling my belly, it was time to fill my food bag.  

Resupply here was basically gas station convenience stores unless you wanted to get a ride into Stroudsburg.  I didn't have the time and found what I needed at the Fuel On.  I headed back to the Hostel and just hung out for awhile until it was time to leave PA and enter NJ.  I few other hikers came in while I was there.  Lazy boy, Tortoise, Lakes, Pearl, Mantis, Big Country and Stray are who I remember.  Lakes mentioned that she had read my The Trek article and commented on it before we both started hiking.  She had mentioned that maybe we would meet on the trail.  Well, we just did.

The resupply officially ended Push 17b, but I still had some miles to go before I slept.  It was time to finish PA.  I had attempted to do this a couple years ago, but my feet had made me end my hike early back then.  It was finally time to complete the state.

Push 18 - The Push to Unionville, NY

Push 18 would cover 46.2 miles and would again take me three days to complete.  

Day 99 - 15.6 miles - Camp by Buttermilk Falls trail
Day 100 - 16.3 miles - Mashipacong Shelter
Day 101 - 14.3 miles - Unionville, NY

I headed out with some sprinkles in the air and made my way across the bridge, leaving PA and entering NJ.  After a short stop at the DWG visitor center during the hardest of the rain, I started back up onto the ridge on the other side of the river. 

I met a guy on the way up, named Sweet Boy.  We talked a bit and he asked me, "if I could have anything right now, what would it be?"  Of course I answered "a beer" and he pulled a Lager out of his pack and gave it to me.  The kindness of Magic never ceases to amaze me.  I pocketed the beer, thanked Sweet Boy and headed up the ridge as he turned onto another trail.

I arrived at the campsite after 1700.  It was a large, sprawling area with plenty of very good sites.  I quickly found Coach Sunny and Tortoise, who were camped down aways and set up near them.  We all had our dinners together as the sun made its way towards the ridgeline. I shared the beer with Tortoise, who was very appreciative of the offer. 

Farewells and Rain

The next morning, I headed out with Sunny, but lost her at Sunfish Pond.  There was rain in the forecast and my plans for the day's miles was somewhat fluid.  I had a possible camp location for another rather short day where Tortoise was planning on stopping for the day, but I was pretty sure that I would be able to go further.

The first order of business for the day was to head to the Mohican Outdoor Center for some lunch and to charge my phone some.  I left a short farewell note for Sunny at the bridge before the road to the Outdoor Center and walked in.  

The place is nice, but they still hadn't restocked their supplies after the weekend (it was Wednesday) and all they had was rye bread.  I ordered a sandwich with that and it was delicious.  I hung out awhile, charging my phone and using their wifi until it was time to move on.  

In the afternoon, the temperature suddenly dropped several degrees, the wind picked up and the slow roll of thunder, rumbled in the distance.  Soon the rain began to fall and it steadily grew heavier as I walked along.  At first, the cool rain was a relief to my sweaty body, but after awhile, the chill sets in and you need to either cover up or get out of the rain.  I don't carry a pack cover and decided to not put on my rain jacket as the rain started.  I passed several hikers who had hunkered down for the storm.  Most of them would just look at me confused, wondering why I continued to walk through this storm. The rain fell in sheets and there was lightning and thunder, but none of it too close.  

The area I was hiking in now was where LoGear, her sister, dog and friend and I had did a short section two years ago.  I remembered that the ridge becomes exposed in a bit and saw that a blue blaze circles around Crater Lake and there was a parking lot.  I was hoping for either a picnic pavilion or a rest room to let me get a relief from the rain, so I took the blue blaze as a weather bypass.  This was trail that I had already walked, so it was all good in EarthTone's Invisible Rules for Long Distance Hiking rule book.  

I walked around the lake and arrived at the parking lot.  The only structure was a small pit toilet building.  Good enough for this Hiker Trash, so I set up shop in one of the "rooms" and tried to dry off some. I decided to make me some dinner while I was there and by the time I was done, the rain had stopped.  I headed out and back up to the trail.  I arrived at the Buttermilk Falls trail where another dry camp was located and decided to stop for the day.  

Mmmm, dinner

The mosquitoes were vicious as I set up camp and I was glad that I didn't have to still cook dinner as I rolled into the hammock and zipped closed the screen.  The rain had brought them out in droves.  

From One Day to the Next

The next morning I packed up in record time as the mosquitoes were still hanging out at the campsite waiting to suck my blood.  

My first stop was at Brinks Shelter where we had stayed two years ago.  I knew the water there was pretty good and it didn't disappoint. I also took advantage of the privy while I was there.

My food goal for the day was to hit Gyp's Tavern in Culvers Gap.  I arrived right around lunch time and sat out in the patio area which overlooked the lake and ate a nice lunch, drank several beers and ordered something to pack out for dinner.  The day was beautiful, sunny and mild with a perfect view of the lake.  It was hard to leave that place, but it was necessary, so after most of my gear had dried out and I felt good from the great food and cold beers, I climbed out of the gap and continued on.

View from Gyp's Tavern patio

I stopped at the Sunrise Pavilion and had my dinner on the trail once again.  I arrived at the shelter where Coo coo, a SOBO hiker was in for the night.  We had some good conversation and I headed to my hammock.  Thumper came in right before I retired and Scrambles and Grouch came in late, after I was sound asleep.

Lake Swim and Another Push Complete

I was up and out early the next morning and getting out at that time paid off.  Not 30 minutes after leaving camp, I heard a noise in the forest.  It was a yearling bear, completely focused on the task of ripping a rotten log apart, looking for grubs I guess.

He didn't notice me as I took a photo or two then started taping a video.  I made a few noises, but he seemed oblivious until he must have caught my awesome hiker scent and then moved off away from me.  

I was approaching High Point State Park and there was a lake there with a beach. That became the goal of the day and after getting a free Pepsi at the visitor's center, I hiked down to the lake.  Of course, I took the wrong trail at the lake and had to completely circle it before I arrived at the beach area.  It was all good.  Thumper had come down too.  I had a nice swim, doing some more cowboy laundry with my hiking clothes and then had some overpriced lunch at the concession stand.  

Lake Marcia, in view of High Point memorial on a foggy morning

NJ Boardwalk

The trail in this area is very close to the NY border and actually crosses over once or twice before you leave the state for good.  Unionville, NY was a small town that would be about a .7 walk off trail.  They let you camp in their small park for free and there is a general store, a pizza place and a tavern.  All that this dirty hiker needed.

Entering town, trying to not look suspicious

I came into town and saw Scrambles and Grouch at the pizza place.  They had picked up a mail drop and were going through their stuff.  I mentioned that I might take some of their extras if they had any.  I found a place for my hammock in the park and set up.  Next I went over to the General Store and registered my stay in the park.  I picked up a couple of beers and a few other items.  At this point I was still planning on resupplying in Vernon, NJ to end the Push, but in the morning I would decide that getting into that small town would be burdensome and decided to resupply here and call this Push done.

I headed over to the pizza place and ordered a medium pizza for myself and popped open a PBR.  After stuffing myself, I went back to the park and finished setting up.  In the evening I went over to the tavern and had a couple beers with the other hikers that had come into town.  In addition to Scrambles and Grouch, Thumper had come in and also a couple Snake Eyes and Fugitive.  I had a couple of beers, then headed back to the park.

My fun activity of this day, was to count the numerous Red Efts that like to hang out on the trail after a rain.  My count reached 42 before I grew bored with looking for them.  I also had a cool experience with milkweed and monarch butterflies.  I was walking through a pasture area and came to a part of the field that was all milkweed.  I remembered that the monarch relies on the milkweed for its whole existence and just as that thought entered my head, I saw two of them flitting about the plants.  It was cool.

Red Eft #35

The katydids were pretty loud in the night and didn't stop their chanting until a short rain session passed through.  Tomorrow would start Push 19. The Push to Kent, CT.  

The next Push would be over 100 miles and would encompass the whole state of NY. 

EarthTone and LoGear

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Pamola's Quest - Phase II-b - PA to MA (Pushes 17b thru 20)

Once again, the Quest continues

After another 16 zeros in which many side-quests and mini-adventures ensued, culminating with attending the Tom Petty concert in Philly, I was back on the trail.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

LoGear had decided to sit this one out and instead acted as transportation to the trail up in PA and home support.  

When we finished Push 14 (Shenandoah), back in early July we had come to a point on the trail where both LoGear and I had already hiked.  Back a few years ago, we did a 30 some mile sobo hike over a few days.  LoGear's miles from there weren't as extensive as mine, but for me, my miles stretched from that point on the forest road outside Front Royal, VA all the way to Lehigh Gap in PA.  

This year's Quest had evolved into just hiking all of the trail.  Direction, duration or date of the hiking didn't matter.  I had decided to hike as much new trail as I could this year, minimizing re-hiking trail that I have already travel.  So, that is why I jumped back onto the trail up in PA, with only two more days of PA rocks to endure.  

After climbing out of Lehigh Gap

The memory of the rest of the state that so many hikers complain about was still fresh in my mind, even though it had been around 2 years since I hiked the other Pushes of the state.  I was happy to be able to start near the end and see how far I could get up into New England.

The vague plan was to just start hiking north for at least three weeks and see where I could get to.  My schedule was open and my goals potentially numerous.  There was even the possibility of continuing on into the last three states or even jumping up to Monson and doing the last 100 miles of the trail.  Options were open.

With that freedom in my mind, I kissed LoGear bye, threw on my pack and started down the road to where the trail crossed the highway and up into the Super Fund site outside Palmerton, PA.  

The Pushes of Phase II-b

Down south, the division of the Pushes was pretty simple.  Resupply points were more defined with a whole lot of nothing in between.  You knew it was going to be three or four days until you were at a point where you could get some resupply or even a meal or two.

Up here, in the more densely populated Mid-Atlantic the potential to grab a meal, resupply and yes, even a beer or three was high.  Deli's close to the trail pull you in like a magnet with their promise of fresh, hot food that you didn't have to cook and cold stuff to drink too.  So, the four days of food I started out with, ended up lasting much longer than that.  Some stuff I carried the whole hike, like two little tubs of peanut butter.  

I still managed to defined the Pushes into 17b, 18, 19 and 20. Their borders changed along the way as my plans changed to fit my current situation and what was available.  For instance, I had planned the end of a Push and a major resupply in Vernon, NJ, but ended up crossing the border into NY a day earlier and staying in the Park in Unionville, NY.  Resupplying in the morning and calling Push  18 complete.  

A misty morning somewhere in NY

Here are the Pushes of Phase II-b as they worked out:

Push 17b - Lehigh Gap, PA to Delaware Water Gap, PA (actually to backpack campsite in NJ) - 41.1 Miles - 3 Days.  Push 17 was split into two parts as it originally goes from Duncannon to DWG. The Push officially ended and Push 18 started when I left DWG on my way into NJ.  

Push 18 - DWG to Unionville, NY - 46.2 Miles - 3 Days. Changed end of Push from Vernon, NJ to Unionville, NY. About 12 miles less than original plan.  

Push 19 - Unionville, NY to Kent, CT (actually shelter 7 miles from Kent) - 129.2 Miles - 10 Days.  This Push included a zero day to give my feet a break and many small resupplies and Deli visits.  

Push 20 - Kent, CT to Williamstown, MA - 117.9 Miles - 9 Days. This Push included a Hostel stay along with my first time slack packing.  

In my next post, I will tell the story that each Push became as I walked my way north into New England, completing another 334 miles of trail in Pamola's Quest.

War memorial on Mt Greylock

EarthTone and LoGear

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pamola's Quest - Phase II-a - Shenandoah (Push 14)

Back to The Trail

After enjoying 30 zero days in a row, it was time to get back on the Trail.  It was time to start Phase II of Pamola's Quest.  All of the trail will be walked in due time.  We were no longer concentrating on hiking from the southern terminus to the northern.  We were just going to experience all the miles of the Trek, wherever and whenever we could get to it.

The Quest continues until it is complete.  There is no time limit other than the span of my walking life.  I will either complete the Quest, or be unable to walk for some reason.  

EarthTone and LoGear back on the Trail

Push 14: Shenandoah National Park

We decided to flip up to Rockfish Gap.  The beginning of Shenandoah National Park and proceed north 106.4 miles to a little road in the woods, just short of Rt 522 near Front Royal.  

Why were we stopping here, you ask?  This is where LoGear and I completed a 30 some mile southbound section back in 2012.  I have decided that I want to hike all new miles this year (after hiking no new miles in 2016), so I am now going to skip over the miles I have hiked (some of those miles, several times over), so I can experience more unique trail during this Quest.

The last Push I completed was Push 9 that ended in Damascus, VA.  Jumping up to Rockfish Gap, skips four VA Pushes (10 through 13). That is why this is named Push 14.  I also continued the day count from day one.  We would be getting back on trail on day 72 of the Quest.  

The plan was to complete the 106.4 miles in nine days.  We knew we had pretty much given up our hiker legs along with our Outsider badges, taking that much time off trail.  The workouts I did at the gym was most likely less energy expenditure than one full day of hiking, but it was better than nothing.  We would hike conservative miles, see how we felt, and move on if we felt like it.  We would finish the Push in eight days.

Day 72 - 7.7 miles - Calf Mountain Shelter
Day 73 - 13.0 miles - Blackrock Hut
Day 74 - 13.2 miles - Pinefield Hut
Day 75 - 19.8 miles - Lewis Mountain Campground
Day 76 - 12.3 miles - Rock Spring Hut
Day 77 - 15.3 miles - Pass Mountain Hut
Day 78 - 13.1 miles - Gravel Springs Hut
Day 79 - 12.0 miles - VA 602 - End of Push

This Push would require us to handle some of the challenges that Section Hikers have.  Since we were only coming out for this one Push, we had to figure out the getting to the trail and getting to the trailhead to start the hike.  We did the usual, drive and park at the end of the Push and get a shuttle down to the start.  We decided to park at the 4H Center near Front Royal where we had parked before.  You register with the office and they kind of keep an eye on the vehicle for you.  I had requested a shuttle down to Rockfish Gap from Stanimal, a local hostel owner and Hiker.  

We arrived at the parking after driving through steady and sometimes heavy rain all the way to the Trail.  When we parked, the rain had subsided.  We noticed another couple at the parking lot, getting their gear ready.  We quickly found out that we were both waiting for Adam to show up.  We were riding together.

We got to know Turbo and Hermit on the ride down to Rockfish.  They were very nice people and world travelers from PA.  They had decided to sample a bit of the A.T. to see how it was.  We learned about their other adventures on the ride, including their trip to summit Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa.  Their mileage plans were a bit more challenging as they had reservations at one of the Lodges in the park in a couple of days.  We would enjoy their company for the first couple of days though.


Hermit rests

Getting Back in the Groove

We arrived at Rockfish Gap, registered our back country hike with the ranger, ate our Sheetz sandwiches and hit the trail at just after Noon on a day that had turned sunny and humid at our start.  

As we started hiking, we immediately noticed a difference from when we were last on the trail.  When I got off in Damascus, it was the end of Spring.  Up here in northern VA, it was now high summer.  Heat and humidity would be our companion for this whole hike.  We actually were hoping for it to rain from time to time, but we had very dry weather for the whole Push.  We were covered in sweat in a matter of minutes as we headed into the woods.  We had planned an easy 7.7 mile day to get back into the swing of things and I was glad we did.

Stone pillars, with small writing on the metal bands.
A unique feature of Shenandoah.  

Those seven miles would leave us tired and sore as our bodies asked us what the fuck we were up to again.  Of course, we both kept asking ourselves once again what we had gotten ourselves into.  One redeeming character of this part of the Trail, is it seemed a little less challenging, elevation wise than what I had last hiked on down in SW VA. 

We pulled into the shelter area and saw hikers everywhere.  The camp was full of a group of southbound hikers who had come out for the holiday week to hike the park southbound.  We had no problem finding places for our hammocks and enjoyed the great conversation around the table that I had come to miss while being off trail.

After a good night's sleep back in my hammock, we did our morning evolutions and were on the trail pretty early.  Today would be a longer day and we wanted to be able to take our time as we still adjusted to being back on the Trail.  The night's rest had rejuvenated my body as it usually does and we had a good day of hiking.  It was still hot, but a nice breeze and some overcast skies helped get us through the day.

Today we wouldn't have any decent water sources for the whole trek of 13 miles, so we took what we could and hoped that we would make it without becoming too dehydrated.  We took plenty of breaks during the day.  This would be the theme of this Push.  Break often.  Take your time.  We were in no hurry and felt no pressure to do long miles.  It was liberating actually, to not have to worry about getting in decent miles each day.  As long as we continued moving north, we would be fine.  Once we discovered the camp stores and Waysides, we would perfect the art of the "long break".  

Setting up camp at Blackrock Hut

Along with Turbo and Hermit, who hiked fast and didn't take as many pack off breaks, there were a couple other Hikers who were moving along with us at a similar pace and daily distance.  At first, we thought they would move well ahead of us, having their trail legs and all, but we would end up stopping at the same places or nearly so each day of our Push.  They were Huck and Hazmat.  They were both very interesting in their own right.  Huck had started back in March and gave me a cool, bushcrafter vibe.  He carried a couple knives and had a wool blanket in his kit.  We had some good discussions about the flora and fauna of the forest.  Hazmat, had started in Damascus at Trail Days, taking up where he had left off the year before.  Hazmat refined his breakfast beers and drunk night hiking skills while in the park.  They were a crazy group, that's for sure.

Along with those two were some other we came to know along the way.  Snake Eater, Chipmunk, Tunnel Rat and Casper.

After the second day, we had rekindled a bit of our trail legs somewhat and were able to complete the day's miles without too much trouble and pain.  Of course, the terrain in the Park is really mild compared to the south, so we got spoiled quickly. 

Camp Stores and Waysides

On day three, we discovered the magic of the camp store.  We arrived at the Loft Mountain camp store just around lunch time.  We spent the next couple of hours, drinking very reasonably priced 24 oz Yuenglings, eating lunch, taking a shower and charging our electronics.  There was a well stocked hiker box that provided some of our resupply and we picked up a few other things to top off our food bags.  We had purposely started with around four days of food, as we knew there would be plenty of opportunity to get food along the way.  

When we left the camp store we set our sights on dinner at the Calf Mountain Wayside which was another mile down the trail and then .6 off trail.  It was totally worth it.  On the way down the old forest road, we saw a mother bear and her cubs.  After a decent (but somewhat overpriced) dinner, we walked back up the road and saw the bears again.  She showed no fear of us, and basically just ignored us, but kept her body between us and the babies.  It was a very cool experience.  We would notice that the deer and bears in this park are very used to us humans being about.  They usually would ignore you as they went about their business.  

Our Longest Day

The next morning, Larry, the Hut maintainer came in and told lots of stories.  This day was planned at a short 8.2 miles and we were pretty sure that we would be ready to move on beyond that, but not quite sure we could da a 20.6 day.  Larry told us about a nice camping spot that would be about 17 miles or so.  We made a mental reminder to maybe try getting that far for the night.  

Today, there would be no Waysides to delay us and the water situation was much better throughout the day.  When we stopped for lunch at the Hightop Hut, LoGear was at first ok with calling it a short day and recovering some.  She was still having trouble on the uphills.  They would sap her strength and energy, but after a nice lunch and a rest at the shelter, she decided that she felt better and we should move on to that fabled camping spot.

We arrived at the spot late in the day and either I remembered the directions wrong, or Larry had "mis-remembered" the way.  We saw nothing at the milepost he had mentioned and besides, we were pretty near Skyline drive and it is against the rules to camp that close to the road.  We decided to continue on until we either came to a decent (and legal) dispersed campsite or maybe we could make it to the campground that was ahead a few more miles.  After a few half hearted attempts at finding a campsite, LoGear announced that we were making for the campground.

We watched the sun set through the trees as we approached the campground and walked into camp as dusk settled on all the car campers.  After talking to one of the campers, we found a spot, registered, paid our fee and set up camp.  As we were doing so, we saw an owl flying around the campground.  This owl was soon joined by the rest of his family and they screeched and squawked at each other for at least an hour.  I could hear one or two of them all night long as the parents most likely were training their babies how to hunt.  

We had just hiked our longest day of this Quest.  19.8 miles.  

More Waysides and an AYCE Breakfast

The next three days would be highlighted by the Big Meadows Wayside, an awesome breakfast at Skyland Resort and the Elkwallow Wayside.  We spent over five hours at Big Meadows.  Eating, drinking, charging and just hanging out with the other hikers.  We got to meet Turbo Turtle and Cheese another couple team.  We finally broke away from the whirlpool of the wayside and headed to the next shelter.  We heard the others coming in after dark when we were all snug in our hammocks. I remembered saying to myself as I lay in my hammock, that these are the kinds of days that make me want to stay out here for a very long time. I really enjoy this simple, honest lifestyle. I was very happy to see how quickly and comfortably we once again fell into the role of the Outsider.  The Long Distance Hiker, enjoying the Trail.  

The next morning, we started out as usual, with a possible plan to get some breakfast at the resort.  We took a break at a horse shelter and noticed that we had about 30 minutes to get their breakfast.  We hurried on and arrived to be seated.  I think they seated us in the corner to reflect our ripe odor.  We have finally stopped apologizing for our odor.  They know who and what we are and secretly envy our adventure cloud of stink that we travel in.  No worries, we learned that they have an all you can eat buffet and we quickly filled our plates with just about everything they offered.  The made to order omelettes were the highlight of the meal.  We continued on with full bellies and sated appetites.  

On day 78 we stopped at the Elkwallow Wayside, the last we would visit in the park.  We stayed once again ate, drank and recharged.  I went over to listen to a park ranger present a talk on bears in the park.  It was interesting.  We were getting everything together to head out when Chipmunk came in for a break, trying to entice us to stay longer.  We broke loose of the whirlpool and headed to camp.  

Bears and other Fauna

After that first sighting of the momma bear and her babies, either LoGear or I saw at least one bear the next three days.  We saw a lone bear moseying along below Big Meadows Campground.  We had just walked past a guy with a big telephoto lens.  I guess he was filming him.  The next day, I apparently walked right past a bear (also maybe a mother with cubs) sitting on a rock about 20 feet from the trail.  LoGear was behind me and she spotted it and talked to it while she took a photo.  I was far enough ahead that I had no idea what was going on.  The day after that, I was ahead again and I heard a ruckus in the woods behind me and saw the head of a yearling bolting away from us.  

I swear that dark area is a bear

The deer would totally ignore you unless it was standing in the middle of the trail.  If it was on the trail, it would stand there and stare at you, as it if was telling you to get off the trail instead of stepping off.  I also had a nice eight point graze behind my hammock all the while we were setting up.  

Doe grazing at the edge of the clearing at Pinefield Hut
Eight point wandering around our campsite at Pass Mountain Hut

Apparently I also walked past a frog hunting snake.  LoGear reported that she had seen a snake that appeared to have its head stuck between some rocks.  It was writhing and grabbing a nearby sapling trying to pull itself out.  Another couple that were hiking in the area, later reported that it was hunting a frog and was trying to get it out of its hidey hole. 
A young black rat snake soaks up the heat of the trail

Finishing Strong and Trail Magic

On our final day in the park, we only had 12 miles to go to get to our truck and complete this Push and Phase II-a of the Quest.  Our packs were the lightest they could be with almost empty food bags and only a liter of water.  We knew showers lay ahead of us on this day after six days bathing only in our own sweat.  

An overlook, overlooking an overlook

The whole camp had started stirring earlier than usual as they were all heading into Front Royal to do various chores that a hiker must do.  Post office, resupply, maybe a shower somewhere.  They all had a subtle urgency about them as the got ready for their day.

Saying "see ya later" to our latest Tramily
Cheese, Tunnel Rat, Old School, Turbo Turtle, Chipmunk, Lightweight and Hazmat

We were still the first out and we thought that at least some of the faster hikers would overtake us during the day, but that never happened.  We hiked along, crossing the road as happens a lot in that park.  Ate lunch in a parking lot and then followed the trail along a nice old forest road as we exited the park proper and then descended down some steep, rocky switchbacks to the last shelter before the road, Tom Floyd Wayside (not really a wayside).  We decided to take one last pack off break at the shelter before finishing the Push.  
Crossing the yellow blazes

At the shelter we met Wanna b and his son Flashback.  They had just started a nine day southbound traverse of the Park and had been hit squarely in the face with reality as their way too heavy packs weighed them down on the previous day's hike.  They had conducted a pack shake down and had a bag full of stuff that they had decided they didn't want to carry for another eight days.  We hung out for a while and when it was time to go, I asked if there was anything they wanted us to carry out, implying that it would be either hiker boxed or used by us.  I thought the bag had nothing more than extra food and a few extra cooking items that they didn't need.  I only took a quick look and saw coffee and a small frying pan.  

Wanna b was super grateful that we offered to carry it out and he handed over the bag to me which I put in my pack.  LoGear carried the pound of coffee.  We said our goodbyes and wished them a more pleasant hike with their slightly lighter packs.

On the way down, LoGear said that we should have gotten their address to send the stuff to as we were pretty sure we didn't need any of the gear.  I already had plans for the coffee as the cost of being a sherpa, but I agreed that we should have done that.

We finished our hike and went into the pool area to get a soda and some ice cream before heading to the nearest Pizza Hut Express for some pizza, my eternal craving when I am out on the trail.  I took my phone out of airplane mode to check for signal and saw I had a Facebook Messenger notification from someone I didn't know.  I accepted and saw a picture of, wait for it...  Wanna b's contact information.  I was blown away.  It seems he had left a satellite hot spot in the bag and had forgotten.  Our wish had been granted.  The trail had provided (along with Sprint and Facebook).  I got Wanna b's address and assured him I would send his stuff along as soon as we got home.  

When we got home I went through the 7 pound bag and was amazed.  Along with the hot spot (which was big and heavy), there were all kinds of electronic things.  One thing looked like an antenna extension for your phone.  There was a remote shutter switch for an iphone a carrying case for your arm, all kinds of stuff.  I took all the stuff that wasn't food and put it in one of our priority mail boxes and sent it out the next morning.  

After our traditional pizza fest at the end of the Push, we left the trail once again.  We now have things to take care of at home and have planned another visit to the Jersey Shore.  I will take another 16 zeros and then will once again head back to the Trail.  This time LoGear has elected to stay home.  She had fun on this Push, but is ok with taking a longer break and maybe coming out in the fall, when we maybe do one or two more Pushes somewhere, before the winter weather arrives.  

Taking some zeros at Exit Zero

Phase II-b of Pamola's Quest

This time, when I head back to the trail, it will be at the other end of a long stretch of trail that I have already hiked in the last five years or so. After we go see Tom Petty in Philly, LoGear will drive me up to Lehigh Gap, just outside of Palmerton, PA, where I completed a 77 mile Section back in 2014.  From there I will continue north to finish PA and then try to complete NJ, NY, CT and maybe MA.  

From there I can either return home once again or maybe catch a ride from LoGear's cousin, who will be heading up to Monson around that time and maybe I will go do the 100 mile wilderness and head up to Katahdin herself.  If I do that, I probably won't continue on over the Knife Edge to Pamola Peak, as I need to finish all the trail before I can do that.  I will be content to gaze over to the next peak to see my final goal and promise to return.  

I have come to really enjoy the way this Hike, this Quest, has turned out.  I have found a way to keep getting to the trail and walking the miles, but I have also found a way to intersperse other things that I like to do in the summers.  I'm in no hurry to be "done".

The Quest is always on my mind.  I continue to plan on where to go next and will continue to do so until I have done as Pamola has commanded.  To walk all of the trail, gathering the items for the Talisman of the Storm and once I have done all that, to then go to Pamola Peak on Katahdin and present the Talisman to Pamola for his judgment.  

Stay tuned...

EarthTone and LoGear