Start Milepost: 1388.3 Time: 05:53
End Milepost: 1403.8 Time: 13:00
Miles hiked: 15.5
Miles to go: 786.0
Temps: 50’s°, High 70’s°
Blue Side trails:
Overnight: Bear Mountain Bridge Motel
Map: Click on map pin
When I arrived at the Fingerboard shelter last evening there were three people present: a man making an entry in the shelter journal (and would soon leave) and a grandfather with his 12-year old grandson. Others passed thru looking for a privy that did not exist. Two who stayed were women who arrived in the early evening.
The two women set up their tents and put up a bear bag. They enjoyed supper on a rock slab and spoke briefly with the grandfather who was also putting up a bear bag. (Recall there was a sign to put food in the trunk of your car!)
After the women turned-in I lay back to get a good night’s sleep. Not so fast. The women nearest my tent declared at about 19:30 that last year at this time her FB page said she was on the border of VT and NH. Up to that time I was asleep. After falling asleep again I was wakened by cheers in a youth camp down the mountain. I fell asleep again only to be wakened near 20:00 with a query from the woman nearest me to the other about waking at 05:00 as usual? I wanted to declare that I would get up then as well if she would let me go to sleep. I held my tongue; no other conversations woke me.
But I was wakened at 02:35 by hollering from the youth camp. I figured camp curfew was 22:00 so I was annoyed until one word broke thru: Bear! Ah, camping on the AT. I fell asleep and did not wake for several hours.
The cold woke me after 03:00 so I adjusted my small quilt and put on my socks. And eventually it was 05:00 and I heard the sound of yawning from my neighbor. I lay still for a while and then figured my day had begun. As I concluded my packing, my neighbor and I spoke in quiet tones about our plans for the day. All three of us were headed to Bear Mountain. I headed out before the other woman ever popped her head out of her tent.
I passed the two Aussies I’d met three days earlier. She still had her birthday balloon on.
Then I came up on the man who’d left the shelter last evening after writing in his journal. When he passed by my tent yesterday he remarked that it was pretty early to be setting up a tent! I squared my shoulders, picked up a hiking stick, and swung it… No, I did not. I merely remarked that I’d put in my requisite 17 miles to stay on my plan. I added that I was too old to regularly hike more than eight hours. He moved on after suggesting I was near his age. I picked up a rock…
When I saw him this morning I asked where he had camped last evening and he said about three miles back which was about three miles beyond the Fingerboard shelter. His final comment surprised me: “You are moving at a good pace!” I replied that my daily goal was to get off the trail as soon as possible. Today that soon was not soon enough. It was a slow 2 MPH or thereabouts given the terrain and perhaps a bit of aging. Nah.
Near the top of Bear Mountain I stopped to speak with two late-50s women (so they said) who were slack packing a section. The one from Texas asked where I got my shiner and I said from a bear! Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped until her friend from Tennessee brought her to reality. We had another of those great conversations that can be held by adults on the AT.
Easy. Easy. Take no offense you young ones. Yes there are some youthful hikers who can be engaging. A few. And I hope I have written about them. Many though are unemployed or recently quit employment and are hiking to find themselves – whatever that means. Which is why I generally can’t relate. Those who quit jobs include a King Air pilot, a bartender, a facilities manager in a family business and a store security agent to name just a few that I can recall.
I eventually passed thru the Bear Mountain zoo at the suggestion of the motel owner. The zoo does not open until 09:30 so hikers who want to walk that segment better get the distance in before the end of business or wait until late morning to resume. Good advice. I only took time to look into the muskrat cage but could not see any.
The new Nemo tent is pitched in my room. It is a vast improvement over the single walled tent. It has quirks, but so do I.
A cooked meal and a beer beckon me from the BBQ across the street. New York prices for everything are high even in small restaurants such as it; but I smile, knowing that in several jobs over the years Scamper and I have saved a buck or two just for such an occasion.
Tomorrow is my rest day and I so look forward to my sister’s visit and a call from Citadel Yankee – who tried to sneak in a call last night as I was closing out my day.