Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pamola's Quest - Push 19 - The Push Beyond Kent, CT - Part 2

Push 19 - The Push Beyond Kent, CT - Part 2

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

Push 19 continued as I headed out of Fort Montgomery, NY.

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

Heading to the Spiritual Center

After another night in a motel bed, my mind was back where it was supposed to be.  I now had enough fuel to last me a while and even found a couple good meals in the hiker box at the motel.  

Kurt took me back to the trail and I cross the Hudson river on the Bear Mountain bridge.  I made my way up the next mountain, thinking that I was glad I didn't do it yesterday while I was in my funk.  I would have made it, but I wouldn't have been happy.

Crossing Bear Mountain Bridge

Today, I was planning on a short 6.4 mile day.  The Graymoor Spiritual Life Center was nearby and they have a nice place where hikers can stay for free.  

Today's hike would start a trend that was very satisfying and a little more expensive than I  was used to compared to down South.  The trail crossed some roads that had a nice Deli, right there.  I came up to the outside tables and three hikers were hanging out there.  I went in and ordered some lunch and a nice big beer.  This was bringing back memories of Shenandoah and her Waysides.

The three hikers were Firefly, the German boy, Swamp Donkey and a girl named Sleeping Beauty.  I immediately recognized her as a girl I had walked along with in Damascus the day I headed home.  I remembered that she was from South Africa and she remembered that I was getting off trail.  We caught up.  She was almost done with here two year flip-flop hike.  She only had about fifty miles left to do to complete her Hike. 

Sleeping Beauty and Swamp Donkey

I hung out for awhile, having another beer and buying one to bring for dinner.  Firefly decided to also head to the Center and we walked the last .3 together.  As we headed in, we encountered Fairy Baby and Cave Bear.  They asked if we had seen Sinatra.  The story had spread up and down the trail.  Facebook makes the hiker grapevine move very fast.  

When we got to the pavilion, there was another hiker here, Pumpkin, who had been at the pavilion for a week.  She had a stress fracture in her foot and was hoping that it would get better, but it hadn't.  She was heading home.  I carried her pack up the .3 or so to where she would get a ride and said farewell.

The pavilion was really nice.  It had all we needed.  I was able to set up my hammock in the corner and we had a good cool shower, outlets, some porta potties and plenty of camping space.  It was a nice nearo, lazy day.  Sometimes I enjoy the camping part of the Hike more than the walking part.

Later in the day, a few other hikers came in and we all had a nice evening next to the field.

Free Park Camping and Joe the Trail Angel

The next morning I was up and out early.  The day would be a hard one for me once again.  It wasn't a particularly long day, but the climbs would continuously kick my ass and keep me exhausted throughout the day.  It was one of those days where you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow.  Eventually, you get up that hill and when all's said and done, you are at your next day's camp.

Today I was heading to Fahnestock State Park.  There is a lake and a concession stand and you can camp one night for free in the campground.  

During the day's hike, I came upon a hiker sitting by a stream.  It was Red Bull, who we have seen in every Phase of our hike this year.  We first saw him near Fontana, then we saw him at the first Camp Store we were hanging out at in Shenandoah and now, today, I saw him once again as he headed north.  We caught up quickly and I moved on.  I wouldn't see him again during this Phase.

I arrived at the Park and walked the .2 down to the lake.  There were a few of us who all headed over to the concession stand and ordered some food. I continued on alone to the campground, which was another .5 or so.  The three sites they designate for the Hikers are not the best site and I had a little trouble finding two trees that would suffice for my hammock, but I did persevere and got set up.  

There was another Hiker there who told me about Joe, the Trail Angel, who gets a campsite for a week every couple of weeks and feeds as many Hikers as he can in the time he is there.  Sleeping Beauty had told me about him, but had thought he was leaving the morning I was heading there.  Luckily, he was still there and he came down to see if anyone wanted some food.  Of course, you all know the answer to that one.

Joe, the Amazing Trail Angel.

I headed up and Joe made me a nice egg, ham and cheese sandwich and I had lots of sweet soda.  Joe likes to talk to the Hikers and we had some good conversation while I hung out there.  Eventually, I headed back to my hammock for the night.  

A couple other hikers came in late in the night including Dragon and Camp and a Section Hiker who I had named Brooklyn (that is where she lives) who luckily found the only other possible hammock space in the camp.  

Ask The Trail and It Answers

Joe had told me that he would probably be leaving very early the next morning, but decided to wait until all of us were up and fed before heading out.  He is truly one of the Awesome People of the Trail. So, after a quick second breakfast, I was on my way back around the lake and up the blue blaze to the AT.  On the way up, I passed a guy going down.  He was packless, but looked like the famous trail serial murderer, Sinatra.  I saw a tent set up as I entered the AT.  Maybe that was his and he was sneaking down to the lake for a early morning swim or something.  I'm not positive it was him, but if it was, he appeared to be avoiding the populated places at busy times. 

911 memorial graffiti

At the concession stand the day before, I had seen Tim Messerich, the maintainer of the RPH Shelter who I knew from AT Museum stuff.  I told him I was looking forward to checking out the shelter the next day and that was my first stop of the day.

As I walked the five miles to the shelter at a pretty quick pace, I day dreamed about there possibly being leftover pizza at the shelter that I could snack on.  I quickly dismissed the possibility, thinking that Hikers don't usually have leftovers.  

I came to the shelter and was a little bummed that I didn't plan my days to end up here.  They had some nice poles for hammocks in a small camping area and the shelter, more a open faced cabin was pretty nice.  As soon as I walked through the back door, a Hiker asked me if I wanted a piece of pizza.  Once again, I asked and the Trail answered.  It is just unreal sometimes.  I enjoyed a slice and talked with the others who were there.  Firefly was there and a couple of SoBos.  One hiker, Rainbow, thought I was messing with her when I introduced myself as EarthTone.  She thought I had made up an opposite name on the fly real quick.  Little did she know, my brain doesn't work that fast, but we both had a laugh.

An interesting turn in the Trail

Next on the day's 14 mile walk was another Deli stop.  This one was .4 off the trail, but by now, I was starting to rely on them and plan my days around them.  I happily walked down the road to find the Deli and once again see Firefly hanging out.  

We ordered and I headed back behind the store, where they have water, a charging outlet and a picnic table in the shade.  It was a great way to break up the day.

I hiked the last 3.8 to the shelter. Firefly was there and another couple I hadn't seen before.  I set up and was hanging out at the table when a bunch of other hikers came in for water.  We had some funny conversation about being able to fly or teleport, which would you rather be able to do.  A Hiker's imagination gets really creative when you are out here for a while.  For the record, I choose the flying ability, but by the time the conversation was over, I wasn't sure anymore.  

When I set up my hammock, the wind had started to pick up.  Just as I had most of my kit rigged, I caught a whiff of the privy, which was about 50 feet away, as the wind shifted.  I decided to ignore it as it was only every once and awhile.  No big deal.  I'm sure the privy was pissed off when it caught a whiff of me.

Along with the wind was the threat of thunderstorms.  It turned out to only be a threat though, as it only rained a little during the night.  

Twenty Miles To Go With Bugs In My Face

I was up early as usual the next morning headed out to what was first planned to be a 16.6 mile day.  My goals for the day would be passing Nuclear Lake and stopping at a Garden Center near the trail where they have ice cream and soda and you can charge your electronics and hang out in their gazebo. 

Misty morning photo op

Nuclear Lake

I was able to complete another 10 by 12 with the decent track, so I strolled in to the Garden Center and dropped my pack.  I got some ice cream and a soda and settled down at the gazebo to make some lunch as my phone charged on the porch.  Today's deli was .6 down the road, so I opted to lighten my food bag instead of walking the extra 1.2 miles.  

While I was there, a couple came in with a young, not quite toddler, on their back.  It was a family that was hiking the trail with a 1 year old.  They had flip-flopped a while back and were now heading south.  I had read about them earlier in the year and it was cool to get to meet them briefly.  

The Dover Oak

After lunch, I was walking along and the gnats were just the worst they had ever been.  You could clap your hands in front of your face and kill close to a dozen in one clap.  I had pretty successfully been able to ignore them up to this point, but I decided it was time to dig out the bug net.  

I had been carrying this bug net for several hundreds of miles.  I never felt the need to pull it out until now.  I took a break and found the bug net.  While I was there, Firefly came by and rested also.  He told me that he was going for the 20.6 today, so I decided that maybe I could do that too.  It was still early and I could eat my dinner at the next shelter and not have much to do when I arrived at the night's shelter.  We continued on.  Me in my bug net and Firefly pulling ahead on his 19 year old legs as usual.  

I stopped at the next shelter and as planned, made some dinner before watering up and continuing on for the last four miles.  In a little over a mile, we entered CT.  NY was done.

Ba-bye New York.  You were more challenging than I expected.

The miles actually went by rather quickly and pleasantly and before too long, I could hear the music of the Ten Mile River, coming through the forest.  As I walked alongside the river, it beckoned to me continuously.  Just before turning up to the shelter, I saw a decent access point and promised the river I would be right back.

I set up behind the shelter.  Firefly, Dragon and Camp were there, eating their dinners. I grabbed by crocks and a bandana and headed down to the river after setting up.  I sat in the current, near the shore and cleaned up a bit.  Reveling in the cool, flowing water.  

I returned to the shelter refreshed and headed to my hammock.  My feet were throbbing a bit, but I felt good.  I had just completed my first 20 mile day of the Quest.

Karma Strikes On The Way to Kent

I was all set to get up and out early in the morning, but the chill kept me under the down for a while.  Eventually, I rolled out, packed up and headed out.  The plan was to head into Kent, CT with Firefly, so I had to get a good head start.  

As I headed up the Shaghticoke Mountain, I was wearing my bug net again.  For some reason, I had my hat on over the bug net, instead of a better way to have it over the hat to use the brim to keep the net away from my face some.  I'm not sure why I did it this way, but blamed LoGear as she kept thinking of different ways to use the bug net and I remembered that was one of her set ups.

Regardless of who's to blame (me), I was about 3/4s up the mountain, huffing and puffing, when I realized that my hat wasn't on my head anymore.  The presence of the bug net had prevented me from feeling when it fell off or maybe it was just me being inattentive as I concentrated on getting up that mountain.  

I decided to drop my pack and go down hill for a bit to see if it was nearby, but feared that it was closer to the bottom of the mountain than the top.  After about .1, I gave up and sent a wish out to the AT that someone would recognize it and bring it along.  I have picked up lots of gear and returned it to its owner.  I was hoping that one of my Tramily, which were all behind me would do the same.  But, Karma was about to strike.

After I had returned to my pack and continued up the mountain, Dragon and Camp caught up to me.  I asked them if they had seen my hat and they said they had, but didn't realize it was mine.  I accepted that, but felt a little pissed.  I have been seeing these girls since before the Smokys and I have been wearing this hat (a gift from my daughter) for the whole way.  Hundreds of miles.  I had put a turkey feather in the hat and it usually garnered more attention as people saw the feather.  I'm pretty sure they had recognized the hat as mine, but didn't take the time to scoop it up.  Just like I had done with the trekking pole piece.  Karma had come to visit me.  

Lesson learned. Help others when you can, but don't expect everyone to do the same.  Rejoice in it when it does happen.  I consider one of the best experiences on the Trail, is when a hiker is reunited with their lost gear.  It's a real good feeling. 

EarthTone, Hatless due to Karma

Oh well.  Even though losing the hat really made me sad for a while, I had to push on.  Kent, CT was ahead and I needed some town food and I was finally going to be able to resupply in a real grocery store and not a gas station convenience store.  

I made it to the road and waited for Firefly to catch up.  Once again hoping that he had seen and picked up the hat.  When he arrived, he said that he hadn't seen any hat.

We started the road walk and shortly after starting, I noticed my buff was gone.  Karma wasn't done with me yet.  I was hoping that I had stuffed it into my bag, but when the sun got hot and I needed some protection, I stopped and went through my pack.  It wasn't there.  Today was turning into a bitch.

Kent, CT

Our first stop in Kent was at a ice cream parlor/outfitter, where I was able to buy a pretty expensive hat to replace the one I lost and cool off with a cone.  

New AT hat

After hanging out there for awhile, we headed over to a nearby pizza parlor and had some lunch.  The pizza was good and the meal wasn't too expensive.  The beers also tasted pretty good.

Next we headed over to the new welcome center, which is basically a rest room with a pay shower in the back.  We dropped our packs and went to the nearby grocery store for a real resupply.

I picked up a six pack with the resupply and we sat at the welcome center while we processed our purchases into trail food.  I gave a couple of the beers away and planned to hump the last two out for the last leg of the day's walk which was about 7 miles to the next shelter.  

Even with the great food and a few beers in me, I was still having a hard day.  When Kitchen Sink, a section hiker that I swear I had met before somewhere, suggested an easy road walk along the Housatonic River that meets up with the AT down the trail and avoids the last few hills, I decided it fit into my new rule called "EarthTone's Appalachian Trail Inclusion Corridor" (which extends about a mile to either side of the trail).  I was going to take the nice flat road along the river instead of climbing more mountains.  I needed this.

I headed out as Firefly stayed behind to take advantage of the shower. I was still feeling "fresh" from my river cleansing, so I hiked on.  I had brought along two pieces of pizza and two beers and I enjoyed them along the way as I easily walked the road next to the river.  I made a mental note to return one day and walk those hills, but it wasn't happened today.

I eventually met the trail again as it came near the river and before too long, I was pulling into the shelter area and setting up behind the shelter.  I was spent. Push 19 had come to an end.  

While in Kent, I had sent some texts to Hudson, the proprietor of Bearded Woods Hostel and had arranged for a pick up the next day.  It was time to sleep in a bed again.  I had been looking forward to checking out Hudson and Bug Lu's place since I had followed him on his last hike.  It would be a good visit.

Tomorrow would start Push 20. The last push of Phase II-b of Pamola's Quest.

EarthTone and LoGear

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