I woke up the next morning in my hammock. I left it set up, and emptied my backpack into it. I put Copper on the floor inside the shelter (one of the earliest lean-to-style shelters I saw, complete with deacon seat separated from the sleeping shelf by a gap to trap porcupines–Copper had come in limping the night before so I figured he’d be happier sleeping in all day and recovering), and walked my empty pack into Kent. Continue reading
We all got out of the Graymoor Center reasonably early, despite the vast field that had to be crossed to get to the porta-potties. We all wanted to beat the heat. Toast and Rusty left as soon as there was enough light to travel by, hoping to make it to the Appalachian Trail Train Station in two days in order to get to NYC, and I left not too long after, maybe around seven. Noodle and Candy Pants were hot on my tail, as was evidenced by them catching me eating snacks on a rock at the first road crossing, pondering where I would find that day’s lake to swim in. Candy Pants had gashed open her knee something awful, bleeding all the way down to her socks, and stopped to clean and bandage it and decide whether or not to keep hiking. Continue reading
Everyone knows the old adage
About how Beauty exists
Nowhere in the World
Except Behind Our Own Eyes
But how many behave as if they believe it?
From the tip of Saddleback,
The last dwindling rays of Sun could be Seen
Painting the clouds in a myriad hues
Of Blood Orange and Cornflower
Illuminating the Sky
From the Northwest
To the Southeast
The trees traded their usual Browns and Greens
For a wan Yet Brilliant Gold
So that they might provide a sharper contrast
to The Mountain’s own imposing Shadow. . .
. . .yet no one stood there. . .
. . .and no one saw it. . .
. . .and the ephemeral panorama. . .
. . .passed before No One’s Eyes. . .
. . .before disappearing into Oblivion. . .
. . .and so it was not Beautiful.
The evening before
When thereupon I stood,
Everything was exactly as it was today.
And I give Thanks
I can only thank myself.
Is ever only used as a
But why should I not be
Just a little bit proud
That I was able to bring Beauty into the World
Even if it were only
The World behind my eyes
The Worlds behind yours as well?
It stopped raining just around sunrise that morning at Waywayanda Shelter, and somehow I managed to be the first one out of camp, out into the foggy, grey dampness the storm had left behind, the storm which heralded the arrival of a miserable heat wave. The goal was to cross into New York, then take the side trail into Greenwood Lake to find some wifi to upload the video I had failed to upload at the pub in Vernon for the blog post I was working on, resupply my snackage, and have a nice dinner, then hike out of town to the first shelter.
Less than a mile from the shelter, I turned off onto the side trail to the Waywayanda State Park Visitor Center, where I used a real bathroom and refilled my water bag from the city supply. New Jersey and New York are enough to spoil a hiker.
A couple of miles later, I climbed a short but fairly steep hill, and soon discovered that my bowels weren’t quite relieved. Continue reading
I left before any of the other guys I camped with, hoping to make it into Branchville and get Copper back from Bob. It got muggy and hot really quickly, and the trail mostly went along the top of a ridge, exposed, treeless, continuous views, much like it had through most of Pennsylvania. In fact, it was the same ridge. Somehow, despite the scorching sun, I managed to avoid getting sunburnt. It was a very busy day on the trail, and most of the folk on it were day hikers and short sectioners. Not much happened. I passed Crater Lake, strongly tempted to jump in, but more eager to get my dog back, and climbed straight up a rock wall to the cliff that ran along the lake. I stopped on a rock to eat some bagels while listening to my audiobook, and somehow a snapping, flomping sound caught my attention even through the headphones. I turned to spot a young black bear galloping speedily down the hill through the underbrush. Everyone said I’d see bear in New Jersey, but this one that I could barely make out as it fled was the only one.
So, when I left off writing two weeks ago, I was in Palmerton, PA, June 1st. I woke up in the Jail House Hostel fairly early, and immediately crossed the street for the laundromat to put a load in. Then, I got into the diner with a line of other hikers (Rolling R and the Aussies were there) to get breakfast. Although, I planned to be in town most of the day, I was still hungry early and all slept out.
I know I’m over 3 weeks behind now. I’m writing this from a library in Connecticut, and you can only reserve a computer for a half-hour at a time here. I can’t write long posts on my phone because the hardware keyboard is fried. I’ve ordered a new one under warranty and it has already chased me across half the country. When it finally catches me, I’ll take a zero to set it up and get as much writing done as I can. In the meantime, you’ll just have to be as patient as I have to be right now.
If anyone has any mp3 audiobooks just sitting around on their drives, please let me know. I’ve finished the last of the ones I got before the beginning of the trip, and getting new ones is very difficult without a proper computer.
I woke up in Rausch Gap before the other two hammockers. I walked down to the (recently-restored) shelter and said hello to the one hiker who stayed there, and admired the spring, which came right out of the retaining wall and landed in a large metal tray inches from the shelter. I greeted the bees who had taken over the shelter and used the privy. I drank my breakfast and returned to camp, packing up and leaving before the other hammockers had even gotten up.
Rausch Gap, it turns out, was once a thriving coal mining and railroad parts repair community in the late nineteenth century. The mining was poor and the railroad moved operations elsewhere, so it wasn’t long before the community disappeared. The road still running through where it stood and an old cemetery is just about all that remains.
Things go very fast for me for the next few days. This morning, I was down to the road in just a few hours. I had to go through a meadow, over a road, beside a creek (where I stopped to collect water), under a road, over a pedestrian bridge, and under the highway (which towered above me on stilts). By the time I climbed halfway up the hill, it was sweltering out and time for my afternoon nap. I hung in my hammock for four hours or so, checking messages and getting forty winks. I weather a short afternoon storm, and then when it felt like it was starting to cool off, I packed up and headed on, hoping to get to 501 Shelter that night.