Start Milepost: 1403:8 Time: 06:53
End Milepost: 1424.0 Time: 17:00
Miles hiked: 20.2
Miles to go: 765.8
Weather: sunny, cool
Temps: 50’s°, High 70’s°
Blue Side trails: 1 mile – park office
Map: Click on map pin
I was hoping that the friendly motel proprietor would put me at the trailhead at 06:30 so I was ready at 06:15 with a warm bagel and cream cheese in my pocket. Unfortunately he did not show until 06:50. So I lost cool-temperature time on the trail.
After climbing to the ridge line on the far side of Bear Mountain bridge, a young man ran by. I called out asking if he was with West Point – something about him suggested it. He stopped running and that is when I noted he had a small dog with him who was reluctant to pass me. Bear was the dog’s name, Josh was the runner who indeed was on the USMA staff. He was in a master’s program at Columbia with most classes conducted at USMA. We had a rather long conversation given our location. He was destined to become a tactical officer once he completed his masters. He, his father and his younger brother are all USMA graduates. His sister is in the Navy engaged in nuclear power engineering. Like John back in PA, I could have drawn up a chair and grabbed a coffee and continued the conversation.
At noon I met two ladies at a brook who were out on a SOBO local hike. I asked if there was a good place on the trail behind them – to my front – to have lunch. They did not think so. Minutes later I found a nice rock to sit on. I am not sure what the hiker who passed by thought of the layout!
Shortly after sending the picture to Scamper and Suzanne I got word that Michael would be at Dennytown Road with trail magic. He anticipated my arrival between one and two o’clock. Michael and I have been corresponding for several months beginning with a discussion of water availability on the trail. When we met today he had lemonade and home baked nut bread for the passing hikers. We talked for almost an hour before I concluded I needed to get back on the trail. Another conversation that could have been extended!
At that point it was obvious that I would not reach the 25-mile objective of the day. Consequently I went off trail to Clarence Fahnestock State Park. Bad idea. The blue trail led to a beach and a beach concession that was closed. I eventually got directions from another hiker on how to find the park office about a half mile uphill. Without the Hiker’s help, I would have had no idea where to set up a tent – although there were some nice spots behind the concession area. Had I pitched there I would certainly have been rousted.
When I got to the designated AT tent spots, I sent this text to Scamper: “I am in what should be called a slum. The AT tent spots are right off a busy highway about a mile off the AT itself. You can’t carry on a conversation over the traffic. Bad decision to come here. “
A nearby hiker advised that the WC is not clean.
OK, the good news. I got two free hotdogs and two glasses of iced tea from the men at the park registration office who were cooling their heels after a hot day in the park. I just had peanut crackers as a side dish. Probably not a good idea to skip my Mountain House meal, but I did. I’ll find some more snacks and call it a day. Miles not booked today will be added to the scheduled 17-miles for tomorrow.