DELAWARE WATER GAP TO SUNRISE MOUNTAIN
Dates completed: June 29-30
AT Sections Completed: 6, 5 and 4
Trail Miles: 32.5
Elevation Gain: 6,700 feet
Hiking Time: 13 hours
Weather: Hazy Hot and Humid (HHH)
We had been looking forward to this weekend since we ended our southbound journey in the spring, but it got off to an ill-fated start. After a traffic-snarled slog up the New York Thruway to Route 17, we were hungry and tired upon our arrival at the Stokes Forest Campground. Jeff had forgotten that he reserved a campsite with a lean-to, so at least we didn’t have to set up camp. We had dinner at a local tavern, got our packs ready and settled in for the night.
Frustrations continued Saturday morning as our hunt for the Blue Lakes Road trailhead seemed fruitless. We finally, with spotty cell phone service, were able to contact our shuttle driver, Bob, who came to us and led us back to the right location. Bob was one of our more interesting drivers, as he has hiked most of the AT and does trail maintenance on some of the New Jersey sections. He shared a lot of helpful advice as he shuttled us back to Kittatinny Visitors Center, where we had ended our Pennsylvania trek nine months earlier. We were on our way!
We started off energetically down the road to the Dunnfield Creek trail head, and proceeded up toward Sunfish Pond. We had hiked parts of this section back in December, and it was fun to revisit it in summer.
As the morning waned into afternoon, the heat set in, as did the mosquitoes! Throughout the day, along with the buzzing of skeeters in our ears, we were serenaded by the 17 year cicada emergence, which sounded like an alien invasion.
We planned to stop for lunch at a fire tower with a picnic, but it seemed to be a longer way than it should have been, so we stopped at a campsite along the trail and fired up the jetboil for our favorite freeze-dried lunch, beef stroganoff. It turned out the fire tower was only minutes further along the trail, but it was obscured by trees.
Reenergized after our lunch, we made good time heading down hill, along service roads, past a pond, and on into the swamps of Jersey (land of mosquitoes).
We reached the Pilot in good time, and decided to venture down a gravel road, where Bob had told us we would find a beautiful lake. Along the bumpy way, a huge bear crossed the road right in front of us! When we found the lake, it was indeed beautiful, with a number of families spending the day swimming, picnicking, fishing and boating. One of them invited us to have some water and grilled sausage as we chatted with them about our hike.
We returned to camp and showered. Then we filled our water bottles for the next day at the Park’s refreshing artesian well before starting the campfire and our dinner of salmon and asparagus. We turned in as darkness fell to rest up for the next day’s hike.
Sunday morning we had a short trip to the top of Sunrise Mountain to meet Bob, who shuttled us back to Blue Mountain Lakes Road. Jeff hiked behind me to let me set the pace.
Sunrise Mountain Sunrise
Less than an hour into our morning, I looked up as we moved from a clearing into woods and stopped in my tracks. About a hundred feet away, I found myself gazing into the face of a very large bear!
Black Bear on AT in Delaware Water Gap
Jeff and I snapped a few photos from a safe distance and then considered our plight. The bear was in the middle of the trail, and our car was a good 12 miles away, down that trail. And he was not moving. He just stood there panting in the heat and looking back at us. We put our cameras away and began talking loudly. He just stood there. So we took a few cautious steps forward and began singing American Pie at the top of our lungs (it was the first song I could think of that I knew all the words to. We stopped abruptly when we got to the line “this will be the day that I —”). That seemed to do the trick. The bear (Jeff named him Toby) turned and slowly walked down the trail away from us. We walked slowly behind him, continuing to sing, and he finally turned off the trail. We walked past him quickly without looking in his direction and that was the end of our bear encounter.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully. It felt longer, and as the hazy hot and humid conditions intensified, our (my) pace slowed. We stopped for lunch at Culver Gap, only a few miles from our ending point at Sunrise Mountain, before taking on our final elevation challenge of the day. When we reached the Pilot, we were tired, footsore and soaked in sweat. But we headed home, feeling the accomplishment of completing our first 32 miles into New Jersey.
SUNRISE MOUNTAIN TO ARDEN VALLEY ROAD
Dates completed: July 4-7, 2013
AT Sections Completed: 4, 3, 2, 1 in NJ/NY 13, 12
Trail Miles: 57
Elevation Gain: 14,100
Hiking Time: 30 hours
Weather: HHH – extreme heat and humidity
We celebrated our independence by hitting the trail four straight days in a heat wave. We drove north to Mt. Vernon, NJ for an overnight at the Appalachian Motel on Wednesday. There we met M-80, Spoon and Willow Walk On (their dog), through hikers from Texas, who were taking a few days off to recuperate from a tough stretch on the trail (the one we were headed to).
Bob met us at Wawayanda State Park, where we left our car, and shuttled us back to Sunrise Mountain for our sunrise start. We hiked from Stokes State Forest through High Point State Park and on northward. The terrain ranged from rocky to swampy, and was consistently buggy. We carried our heavy packs loaded with our sleeping bags and extra food. I felt fatigued from the heat by mid-morning, but we forged on, and I was energized after our lunch break.
AT through High Point State Park
By early afternoon, we arrived at the Murray property, which Bob had promised offered a shelter, fresh well water and an outdoor shower. The afternoon stretched out before us with not much to do. We organized our packs for the next day, showered and changed, and watched the groundhogs, chipmunks, squirrels and turkeys go about their business on the large property.
A bit later, a large group of through hikers arrived. They took advantage of the shower and the water, then decided to hike another couple of miles to the town of Unionville to celebrate the July 4th holiday with some drinks and fireworks. So Jeff and I had the place to ourselves. We passed the evening with a jet boil dinner, visiting the donkeys on the property and spreading out our sleeping bags in the shelter for an early bedtime.
We rose early on Friday to start the day’s 18 mile trek with headlamps. The mosquitoes were particularly bothersome in the swampy heat. By mid-morning, Jeff was already running low on water, and stopped at a house at a road crossing, where the resident kindly gave us a few bottles of cold water. Much of the trail was over boardwalk through wetlands, and I wore my bug net for most of the day.
By lunchtime, we had traveled only about 12 miles, but were exhausted from the heat. We cooked our lunch in a trailhead parking lot at the base of Mount Wawayanda. Robin and Melissa pulled in for a day hike and shared their extra water and a bag of ice with us, for which we were deeply grateful. After lunch, we started our climb up the mountain. We only had a few miles left to reach the car, but the heat and humidity were so oppressive we thought we would never make it.
Climbing Mt. Wawayanda on a very hot day
As we hiked into Wawayanda State Park, a young woman and her father asked if we had seen the shelter. They had apparently passed the blue blazed trail leading to it, going back and forth several times, but it was not well marked. When we finally reached our car near the park office, they came along to refill their water and we chatted with them a bit. The father was spending his vacation joining his 19-year-old daughter for part of her through hike. We drove up Route 17 to the Tuxedo Motel, where we settled in before scouting the next trailhead and finding dinner at the Hideaway Bar (good stout, mediocre food).
We met our new shuttle driver, Dorothy, at the Lakes Road trailhead on Saturday morning. She drove us back to Wawayanda, where we made breakfast in the dark before beginning the next leg of our journey. This day would be a milestone for us as we crossed the border from New Jersey into New York.
Rock scrambles escorted us across the border and into New York. We were happy to be leaving New Jersey and its mosquitoes (although they followed us into New York for the next couple of days!). The high heat and humidity continued to dog us. I stopped at a stream crossing to splash cool water on my face, and managed to slip off a rock into the stream.
As the morning progressed we enjoyed the views from Prospect Rock and soon found ourselves entering the “ladder” section. The scrambles across the pudding rocks were challenging, and would have been more fun had we not been crossing them in the oppressively hot mid-morning sun. We plan to return and tackle them again.
Jeff recognized how much I was struggling with heat and fatique and transferred much of the weight from my pack into his while I was on a separation break. But we both were feeling the effects of the heat wave and were very happy to see the Pilot at the end of the trail. We retreated to our motel room to shower and prepare for our fourth and final hiking day. We drove back to an ice cream shop near the Trail crossing at Route 17A, and bumped into many of the through hikers we had encountered over the last two days.
Sunday was expected to be a short, easy day. We started early, with only about nine miles to go, expecting to finish before the heat of the day set in. From the Lakes Road trailhead, we shortly arrived at a beautiful waterfall. The day continued with significant, steep and rocky elevation gains, given our relatively short distance, and our progress in the heat was slow. This section of the trail continued to be extremely rocky and challenging, ending with a very steep and rocky descent to Route 17. We crossed to Arden Valley Road, which took us over Route 87. We reached our car, exhausted, but happy to have completed an ambitious four-day trek, covering more than 50 miles.
ARDEN VALLEY ROAD TO GRAYMOOR VILLAGE
Dates completed: July 13-14, 2013
AT Sections Completed: 11, 10 and 9
Trail Miles: 25.7
Elevation Gain: 8,400
Hiking Time: 12 hours
Weather: humid, a bit rainy on Sunday
We returned to the Tuxedo Motel on Friday night, and dined at the Tuxedo Junction Inn, where we enjoyed some live music and good food.
We scaled back our mileage goals, as there still was considerable heat and humidity. We met Dorothy on Saturday at our ending point on Lakes Road, and she shuttled us back to last week’s ending point at Arden Valley Road. We fixed coffee in the parking lot and hiked off in the early light into Harriman Park, deferring breakfast until a bit later in the morning.
The first landmark of the day was the lemon squeezer, a narrow crevasse within a huge rock formation. There we met a through-hiker named Woodman. He was making his journey slowly, with an artificial knee, but he progressed steadily. On the northern end of the lemon squeezer, he opted for the “easy” blue trail around a steep, high ledge, while we puzzled how to get over it. In the end, we also took the blue trail, but vowed to return another time to conquer that ledge (which we did the following November!). Later that day, we met an elderly couple completing a long section hike. They said when they passed that ledge, a through hiker tossed his pack over the rock and jumped up to scale it.
A bit further down the trail, we saw a doe, practically on the trail and too curious about us to move away. We walked practically right up to her and she stared back as I snapped her photo.
We had breakfast at a road crossing and continued on through the misty morning. Along the way we encountered Revolutionary War structures, including an AT shelter, many ancient stone walls, and a number of challenging rock scrambles.
As the day wore on and we increased our elevation, the weather was moist and misty, and the viewpoints were shrouded. But the Trail offers its own beauty regardless of the conditions, if we allow ourselves to appreciate it.
At one point, I tripped and skinned my shins on the sharp rocks, but otherwise our hike was uneventful.
We spent Saturday night at the Bear Mountain Bridge Motel, with dinner at a nearby second-rate barbecue place. Sunday morning, we met Dorothy at a local convenience store for coffee. She followed us to our ending point at Graymoor Village, a hiker friendly monastery, and drove us back to Lakes Road.
Our morning took us through the Revolutionary War history and beautiful scenery of Bear Mountain State Park and the Fort Clinton area. For most of the early morning we had the place to ourselves. By mid morning, we descended to Hessian Lake, the lowest point of elevation on the Trail, at 160 feet. The AT then passes through the Park Zoo, but only during the hours of 10am to 5pm, so once again, we found ourselves taking a blue trail around the zoo. At one point, Jeff was sucked into deep mud, resulting in a rare fall for him. The misty morning, high fences and smell of the animals were reminiscent of Jurassic Park.
Bear Mountain Bridge
Shortly we emerged from the zoo, and reached Bear Mountain Bridge. We crossed the Hudson at a brisk pace and moved on to climb the mountain. The trail reached a poorly marked mountain road, and we lost a bit of time hunting for blazes, but soon were on our way again.
We hiked on until lunchtime, when we reached the Appalachian Trail Deli. Jeff suggested we stop for a cold drink, and we ended up getting sandwiches and making a lunch stop out of it. We met a brother and sister taking a break there. They were section hiking for several weeks to celebrate her recent graduation from Rutgers University. From there, we had a brief hike to Graymoor, where we climbed into Jeff’s Pilot and began the drive home.
GRAYMOOR VILLAGE TO ROUTE 52
Dates completed: July 20-21, 2013
AT Sections Completed: 8, 7, 6 and 5
Trail Miles: 23.9
Elevation Gain: 6,900
Hiking Time: 10 hours
Weather: still hot and humid… adjusting trail miles to cope with heat
Unable to secure a shuttle driver local to the Fishkill area, Jeff and I drove to New York separately in order to post our cars at the trailheads. We met Friday evening at a Ramada, with a king-sized bed and a pool!
We enjoyed a nice dinner in historic Fishkill, with jo-mama stout, at Eleven-11 Grille before returning to the room to ready our packs and turn in for an early start on Saturday morning.
Saturday’s hike took us from Graymoor Village to Clarence Fahnestock State Park. We set off at a good pace, and the Trail soon led us across Old Albany Post Road, one of the oldest unpaved roads still in use in the US.
We continued on amidst old stone walls, and I wonder about the people who built them and how much work it was. Frost wrote, “something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down,” but these walls continue to stand, just rocks stacked neatly one upon the other, hundreds of years later.
Old Stone Wall & Mining Railroad Bed
Further on, the Trail followed an old mining rail bed, then led to a brook and a pretty waterfall. With the continuing heat and humidity, we had a shorter mileage goal, and reached our car before lunch.
We returned to Graymoor to retrieve the Pilot, and made a return visit to the Appalachian Deli for lunch. Then we headed back to the Ramada to spend the afternoon by the pool. Dinner was Italian, with a nice bottle of wine, at Trattoria Locanda, in Fishkill, followed by a visit to Paula’s Stone Cottage Wine Bar, a delightful place with a delightful hostess.
After posting cars, we hiked from Clarence Fahnestock State Park on Sunday morning, strapped on our headlamps and gained elevation steadily, to a view of Canopus Lake in the morning light.
The highlight of our morning was arriving at the summit of Shenandoah Mountain, where we enjoyed a spectacular view and took photos with the American Flag painted on the rocky peak.
Along the Trail, we came upon Ralph’s Peak Hiker’s cabin, with fabulous accommodations, including well water, several bunk beds, a picnic table, a garden and a well-maintained composting privy. No one was staying there at the time.
Ralph’s Peak Hikers Cabin
We crossed under the Taconic Parkway, gained elevation to some lovely views, and eventually descended to our ending point at Route 52. We grabbed some sandwiches at a nearby deli, and began our long drive home, already making plans for the next hike.
ROUTE 52 TO ROUTE 112
Dates completed: August 2-4, 2013
AT Sections Completed: 4, 3, 2, and 1 NY/5, 4, 3 CT
Trail Miles: 55.8
Elevation Gain: 16,500 in only 3 days
Hiking Time: 26 hours
Weather: heat wave broken – making up trail miles big time
Jeff had hoped to mark his 50th birthday by completing the state of Connecticut, but it was not to be. We were behind schedule and still had New York to finish. With the break in the heat and humidity, we planned an aggressive hiking schedule to make up some ground over our three day weekend.
Again, we did not have a shuttle driver, so we drove our cars separately and met at the Dutchess Motor Lodge in rural Wingdale, New York, site of the former Harlem Valley State Hospital. We dined at McGrath’s Tavern, and set about the usual routine to prepare for the next day’s hike.
Early Friday morning, we positioned our cars for starting and ending points at Route 52 and the Appalachian Trail Train Station on Route 22, respectively. We began with headlamps and paused to admire a beautiful old tree along the trail in the early light. The morning passed pleasantly with fun rock scrambles, some easy elevations, and a walk along Nuclear Lake, where we met our first southbound through hiker. We passed an even older white oak tree as we crossed West Dover Road; and continued on through meadows and marsh lands until we reached a boardwalk through wetlands to the Appalachian Trail Train Station, where our car was parked.
Having completed this planned 14.8 mile stretch with energy to spare, we retrieved Jeff’s Pilot, posted my car on Hoyt Road, and returned to the parking area by the train station for a revitalizing lunch. From there, we began Hike B, a seven mile walk through meadows and woodlands to the Connecticut border at Hoyt Road. We had officially completed New York and almost 22 miles!
Saturday was Jeff’s 50th birthday and we had another ambitious day of nearly 18 miles to cover. We started from Hoyt Road, again with headlamps, hiked along the Ten Mile and Housatonic Rivers, and climbed to some scenic vistas. We met a through hiker named Story, having her breakfast at one of them, and prevailed upon her to take our photo.
The day continued with steady gains and losses of elevation. After lunch, we continued to progressively gain elevation until we reached Caleb’s Peak. As we began to descend, we met Matt, an AMC Ridge Runner heading southbound, and chatted with him a bit. He cautioned us to take our time at St. John’s Ledges, where we found a very steep and rocky descent. We rose (or descended) to the challenge, and reached River Road, and our last mile of the day, by early afternoon.
St John’s Ledges
According to Jeff’s GPS, we had logged more than 6,000 feet of elevation gain to mark his 50th birthday! Two AMC trail maintenance volunteers were in the parking area by our car, and we talked with them for a while, before finding our evening accommodations at the hard to find Amselhaus Bed and Breakfast.
The hunt for the Amselhaus was worth the effort, very private and cozy. We enjoyed Jeff’s birthday dinner with a second night at the Fife and Drum Restaurant. While the long miles and challenging elevation were Jeff’s preference to celebrate his 50th birthday, I was exhausted and happy to crash for the night before another early start on our third and final day of hiking on Sunday.
We anticipated an “easy” day on Sunday, which started with a four mile flat walk along the river. Eager to set a fast pace, with my headlamp, I plunged along, tripped and fell flat on my face 10 minutes into the hike, an inauspicious start to say the least. Just before a road crossing, we stopped to check a sign on the trail that said a brook up ahead was unsafe to cross and recommended a blue trail detour. We probably should have checked out the brook first, because the blue trail added about three quarters of a mile to our day’s walk.
Our trek continued on, up and down elevation, over and through rocky ledges. The miles of the past two days caught up with me and for most of the day I was ready for the hike to end. My pace slowed and we arrived at Route 112 a half hour or so later than planned, but we made it, happy to see the car and head home.
ROUTE 112 TO BUNKER HILL ROAD
Date completed: August 10, 2013
AT Sections Completed: 2, 1
Trail Miles: 13.4
Elevation Gain: 3,200 feet
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Weather: Perfect! Cooler temperatures with low humidity and blue skies.
We had only one day to hike the AT this weekend, as we were signed up for a Catskill bushwhack on Sunday. Jeff found us a lovely place to stay with an Austrian woman named Maria who hosts hikers in her home and provides breakfast. We enjoyed chatting with her on Friday night and then grabbed a nice dinner and bottle of wine at the Country Bistro in Salisbury. We particularly enjoyed dessert! Jeff had strawberry rhubarb pie, which brought fond memories of his grandmother; and I had a delicious lavender lemon cake.
We planned to cover about 14 miles from Route 112 to Bunker Hill Road, which was less than a mile off the trail. The morning started with a fairly easy, flat walk along the river to Falls Village, where there is a hydro electric plant and beautiful waterfalls. After spending a few minutes taking in the views and snapping photos, we moved on to a bit of elevation through the woods.
All in all, the day went smoothly (I didn’t fall once!). Before taking the blue trail to Bunker Hill Road, we continued on the AT for another two tenths of a mile to Lion’s Head Peak, where we enjoyed a clear and far reaching view, and a picnic lunch, before descending back to our car and heading to the Catskills.
BUNKER HILL ROAD TO COUNTY ROAD
Date completed: August 23-25, 2013
AT Sections Completed: 1 CT/10-5 MA
Trail Miles: 53.2
Elevation Gain: 15,900 feet
Hiking Time: 26 hours
Weather: Beautiful – blue skies and low humidity
We arrived in Massachusetts on Thursday evening for the start of three days of hiking. The weekend got off to a frustrating start, as we attempted to have dinner at the Barrington Brewery, but left after an hour of waiting for our entrees. We learned that a hiker had died from a fall that day on a side trail to Race Mountain Falls near Sheffield, Connecticut, where we would be passing on Friday. It was a sobering thought to begin our weekend.
We had both our cars, so we posted mine at the “stretch” end of Friday’s hike at Kellogg Road – about 20 miles from our starting point at Bunker Hill Road. Marilyn, our shuttle driver, met us at Jug End Road, where we left Jeff’s Pilot at about the 15 mile point, and drove us to the Bunker Hill Road trailhead for an early morning start.
From Bunker Hill Road, we retraced our steps from two weeks before for about a mile, arriving back at Lion’s Head Peak just in time for sunrise and breakfast. Then we moved on to Bear Mountain, which offered a challenging but fun steep and scrambly descent.
After a few short miles, we crossed the border into Massachusetts! The trail led us along a beautiful brook with waterfalls before ascending to a rocky ridgeline with beautiful views. We passed an 87 year old German through-hiker named Harry here. We had heard about Harry when he passed through Pennsylvania, and were glad to know he was still heading north (“nord” as he said in German) toward Maine.
We continued on, down one mountain and up another until we reached a pleasant lunch stop in a park. We hiked a few miles further after lunch to Jug End Road, where we refreshed our water supply at Jeff’s car, took some weight out of our packs, and set off at a brisk pace to complete the last five miles.
Saturday presented a similar challenge of about 20 miles. We posted our cars at each end and did not use the shuttle. The terrain was similar, up and down elevation, rocky scrambles, and stunning views. I was a bit more tired than the day before, but overall, we made good time and the hike went well.
We stayed in Becket, MA on Saturday, and made a long drive back to Lee for a late dinner, after we spent considerable time trying to locate the County Road trailhead where we would end on Sunday. We never did find it. After contacting Marilyn, she agreed to meet us at a nearby intersection and lead us there. We left my car along Route 20, where we could pick it up on the way back to Route 90 to head home.
We shortened our hike on Sunday, from 18 to 14 miles, in order to get an earlier start to the long ride home. Our hike took us through forests and along Upper Goose Pond, with some moderate elevation. It was a bit warmer on Sunday, and after two long days, we were happy to see the Pilot when we reached County Road.
COUNTY ROAD TO MA ROUTE 2
Date completed: August 30-September 1, 2013
AT Sections Completed: 5, 4, 3, 2 MA
Trail Miles: 37.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 9,400 feet
Hiking Time: 18 hours
Weather: More humid, rainy, foggy
This was to be our final weekend of our northbound journey on the AT this summer. We planned to hike a few miles into Vermont on Labor Day, September 2, and celebrate our accomplishment.
We arrived Friday night in Dalton, and checked in at the Shamrock Village Inn, which offered friendly, cozy accommodations. Marilyn met us at a parking area along the rail trail in nearby Cheshire, and drove us back to County Road. Our plan for the day was aggressive, nearly 23 miles. It was a bit rainy as we started and the rocks and plank walkways were slippery. We reached Dalton around noon, and stopped for lunch along the road. The highlight of the afternoon stretch was the cobbles, a rocky section of the trail approaching the town of Cheshire. We scrambled over the rocks and tackled the steep descent, ending with a road walk of a mile or so back to the car.
Once again, we found ourselves challenged to locate Sunday’s ending trailhead on Route 2 Saturday afternoon. We finally gave up and headed to Bascom Lodge, on the summit of Mount Greylock, where we would hike the next day. We drove up the mountain as fog and heavy rain set in, soon giving way to strong thunderstorms. We talked with our bunkmates at the Lodge, who helped us locate the trailhead on their map. We had a delicious, but late and long dinner, turned in for the night and woke early on Sunday to begin our trek.
Dave, our new driver, met us at the community center on Route 2. He drove us back to Cheshire, and gave us some advice along the way, as he was well acquainted with this section of trail over Greylock. The day was misty and foggy. But the climb was not difficult and the air was filled with the scent of balsam. We reached the summit (3,961 feet, but had no views due to the heavy fog. We continued on to Mt. Williams, where we stopped for lunch and chatted with other hikers.
After lunch, we completed the rest of our 15 mile trek for the day, up Mount Williams, and on to a very steep descent. It was at this point, and many tumbles on the steep footing, that I accepted the fact that I needed new hiking boots. The traction was completely worn off of my year-old asolos after hundreds of miles. Fortunately we had completed most of it before the rain began. We reached the car and checked in down the road at the Williamstown Motel. Heavy thunderstorms continued into the night and threatened until mid morning. With heavy hearts, we canceled our plans to finish our 2013 AT journey on Labor Day and drove home.
MA ROUTE 2 (N ADAMS) TO BENNINGTON, VERMONT
Date completed: September 14, 2013
AT Sections Completed: 1 MA/9 VT
Trail Miles: 18.4
Elevation Gain: 5,800 feet
Hiking Time: 9 hours
Weather: Misty, rainy, foggy
Our plans to cross the Vermont border on Labor Day, having been thwarted by violent thunderstorms, we were unable to return for our 2013 finish for two more weeks. Again the weather was questionable, as we made the long drive north in heavy rain on Friday evening. But the forecast indicated that we would have a clear day on Saturday. Although our plan for two weeks ago called for a brief seven mile walk just past the Vermont border, we extended the day’s journey another ten miles or so to make the trip worthwhile.
We spent Friday night in the charming town of Bennington, and enjoyed dinner, and big stouts, in the bustling Madison Brewing Co. Dave met us at our final trailhead in the pre-dawn darkness, and took us on a long ride back to North Adams. We were still waiting for that clearing weather, but hiked most of the day in alternating light rain and mist.
We stopped for photos at the Vermont border and the start of the Long Trail, which joins with the AT for 105 miles. The trail took us into Vermont, through bogs, over split log bridges, along a beaver dam and rushing stream, with early views of New England fall foliage. The trail was very very wet – practically a stream itself for many miles. As we neared our destination, we reached a viewpoint overlooking Bennington, as the skies finally cleared. It was exciting to know we had achieved our goal!
JEFF’S FINAL AT NOBO 2013 STATS: 320+ miles 87,000 ft elevation gain 9 weekends (2 o/w were single days) 20 hiking days 150 hiking hrs Avg 16 miles day. Avg pace > 2.1 mph 4 – > 20 mile days. High was 23 miles 12 – > 15 miles days (9 o/w 17+) Only 1 day < 12miles 9 days hikes > 8 hrs in day 2 -three day weekends > 55 miles. (55 and 57) Daily Elevation- 11 days > 4,000 ft 6 days > 5,000 2 days > 6,000. Highest 6,300 From Aug.2 weekend to end was 10 days, 178 miles = 17.8 miles/day and 51,000ft elevation. Mileage+elevation equivalent was 494 miles (1000 ft = 2 miles) …. Need to check calc. Most awesome sight – huge black bear on trail in Delaware Water Gap, NJ. Hiking this journey with the love of my life…….. Priceless!