Monday, July 27, 2009

We Found a Bunch of Crap on the Trail

7-17-09 day 45
start: Melville Nauheim Shelter VT
end: Story Spring Shelter, VT
daily mileage: 17.4
total mileage: 607

We had to make up a little time today but our miles didn't come without breaks. Just before lunch we ran across a bunch of hiking gear on the side of the trail. there was a tent, a sleeping bag, and a bunch of clothing strewn all over that had clearly been there for a while. I dunno, maybe someone got dragged off by a bear...After lunch we felt super lazy and Disney read while I took a nap. Lunch lasted until 3 and we got back on the trail just in time to walk through intermittent rain. We popped into the next shelter to find Wisp, Double Vision, Jukebox Hero, and Solo. We hung out there for another hour before the final 5 miles to our shelter. DV and JBH are here too, and we are planning on all doing a work for stay at this 'commune' place a couple days from now.

The Allure of Movie Films and Moose Statues

7-16-09 day 44
start: Congdon Shelter, VT
end: Melville Nauheim Shelter
daily mileage: 5.9
total mileage: 589.6

Our big ambition of a 20 mile day didn't pan out. After 5 miles we hit the road leading into Bennington, VT. After looking in the book and reading about all the great stuff in town we made the decision to go into town, just for a little bit. We figured we be back on the trail at around 3 and hammer out the rest of the day, no big deal. We hitched into town and it turns out Bennington is in the midst of Moosefest, where local artists have painted life size moose statues all over town. Most were crazily decorated with themes and colors. We soon ran into Double Vision and Jukebox Hero, our friends from TN. We exchanged numbers and decided to go see a movie later. We had to kill some time and we were hungry so Disney and I went to Wendy's and fortunately had the self-control to pace ourselves better than the McDonald's event. We watched the new Harry Potter motion picture disaster then accompanied our friends back to Wendy's for round two. Two meals of fast food doesn't do a whole lot toward motivating you to walk surprisingly, so Disney and I went to the library and messed around on the Internet until 730. We eventually got back on the trail and immediately discovered a homeless person sleeping next to the privy in the trail parking lot...even if you are homeless it seems like you could find a better spot to bed down than next to a rotting pile of human filth, but that's just me. After a mile and a half walk to the next shelter we met up with the other two guys and ended our near'o ("near zero"). It's only our second one so we feel alright.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One of these days, I'm gonna climb that mountain... twice.

7-15-09 day 43
start: MA 2 at North Adams, MA
end: Congdon Shelter, VT
daily mileage: 14.1
total mileage: 583.7

Tom drove us north to North Adams again where we could hike north. After thanking him profusely for both dinners and nights spent at his fine abode, we started off the day by heading to the North Adams Shop N Save grocery store. Fortunately, we'd raided his hiker box at his house before leaving, so we didn't have to buy too much food - just a few breakfasts and snacks! We met up with Double Vision and Jukebox Hero again and got to enjoy the spectacle they made of themselves as they approached some random sunbathing on the pretext of having her take their garbage - only to find that she was definitely no more than 14 or 15!

Now, unfortunately, I had to be on the phone for part of the day while hiking because of a small problem with my undergraduate transcript being mailed out to OSU's Med School. We started off the day climbing a pretty decent mountain, and with Sea Monster a bit ahead of me, and me talking on the phone with mom and not really paying attention, I ally took the "Bad Weather Trail" all the way back down to where I'd started! I climbed all the way back up and met up with Sea Monster, Double Vision, and Jukebox Hero who had been waiting for over half an hour.

We ate lunch in the buggiest place I've ever seen, and that's saying something. The mosquitos were everywhere! It was unbelievable. DEET is amazing stuff though, and we perservered... otherwise, VT has been a nice state so far even if it is really muddy (we've heard it called Vermud).

I got into the shelter much later than Sea Monster, though. When dad and I finally got connected on the phone to work out the last of the transcript drama, I elected to just sit down on the trail where I knew there was service and have the whole conversation. I'm just glad it's taken care of!

Slackpacking Gives You The Winged Feet of Mercury

7-14-09 day 42
start: Tom Levarti's House in Dalton, MA
end: Mass. 2 @ North Adams
daily mileage: 23.3
total mileage: 569.6

For breakfast we all went down to this little corner joint called, Duff n' Dells. It was a tasty little indulgence before a big day. Just like the Mayor back in Unionville, Tom gives the option to slackpack. We had a real climb coming up and its a good way to put down big miles so we got on board. Tom even had an array of book bags we could take instead of just empty packs. He drove us up 23 miles to Mass Rt. 2 and dropped us, so we could walk back. Six of us all started together in a merry little band before Carpernter dropped out. He had been feeling chilled and lethargic for a few days and told us he was just going to take a nap in the sun. We made sure he had a phone in case he got in bad shape and pressed on. Its a little scary but his symptoms kind of sound like Lyme disease, he's headed to the doctor tomorrow though, so he should be alright. The push up Mt. Greylock was our first big climb of around 3000 ft. Its a little bit sickening to get to the top and see all the people who drove up, but I suppose their tourism doesn't detract from our endeavor. Our speed without packs coming down and all the way back into Dalton was amazing. Disney got on the phone to work out some med school transcript stuff, got way ahead, and I was even able to run the better part of a mile to catch up for lunch. Slackpacking rules. Back in Dalton I heard the Siren song of the Good Humor truck and ran it down for an ice cream sandwich. For dinner Tom made kielbasa and potatoes, followed by more ice cream. That night Disney, Buckeye, and I topped off the day with a trip to the pub and we exchanged contact info so we can hang out back in Ohio.

The Dude abides...

7-13-09 day 41
start: Upper Goose Pond Cabin, MA
end: Tom Levarti's House in Dalton, MA
daily mileage: 20.6
total mileage: 546.3

What a great day! I've ranted about the generosity of people to we through-hikers before, but surely, today takes the cake.

We woke up to blueberry pancakes that the caretaker of Upper Goose Pond "Grampy" made for us. Only a few, so not enough to fill, but absolutely delicious. We then hiked a few miles down the trail to a certain road the we'd read about the "cookie lady" residing on - sure enough, just down the road, we enjoyed some delicious free cookies from a kindly old woman named Madelyn.

We're getting excited as we roll into Dalton, because we've heard of a guy named Rob Bird who takes hikers overnight for free there (much like Dick the Mayor of a previous post). So we're quite surprised to find several of our hiker friends (including Whisp!) chilling in the lawn of another guy's house! We were then introduced to Tom Levarti, a kindly older guy who offered to cook us dinner, put us up for the night, and slackpack us 23 miles up the trail!!! So there are TWO people in the little trail town that feed hikers, put them up for free in their house, and drive them wherever they want to go the next morning. And feeding us was no small feat - there were at least 15 people at Tom's for dinner that night (quite an average night, he says!) and we all ate delicious pasta, hot dogs, and even each had ice cream sundaes for dessert! I was even so lucky as to get an extra scoop!

After dinner and showers, we popped in the Big Lebowski. Great movie. The dude abides.

We Got To Swim and Canoe, Just Like Summer Camp!

7-12-09 day 40
start: Tom Leonard Lean-To, MA
end: Upper Goose Pond Cabin, MA
daily mileage: 20.6
total mileage: 525.2

The shelter got movin' early this morning and we were out shortly after 7 and we put down some fast miles and had done 11 before lunch. Somehow south of the town of Tyringham, MA we got off the trail and bushwhacked through a marsh. We came out on a road and determined we were a mile or so west of where the trail picked up. We road walked into town where we ran into the Smith Brothers again. They were chillin' in the shade and told us we could buy brownies from the lady across the street. I don't know if she baked them or what but for $1.50 you got a brownie the size of your fist, packed full of nuts, chocolate chunks, and fudge. The brownie fuel got us to the cabin on Goose Pond, which is run by a Trail Club caretaker 'Grampy'. The place is a rustic old postcard type deal built in the '20s. We went swimming in the pond and there were even canoes we could take out. We paddled out around the island in the middle and met some locals in kayaks. They were friendly enough and gave us a couple of beers, even. The shallows around the island were littered with precarious rock stacks people had constructed. It looked like fun so I spent 30 minutes fishing around for the perfect rocks to build a truly great rock tower. Back at the cabin we broke out RISK again and started a game with a our new Ohioan friend 'Buckeye' (He just graduated from OSU). It got pretty tense, and while we didn't finish we can pick it back up tomorrow in Dalton, MA were there are tales of a second awesome guy who puts up hikers. Outhouse Part II !!!

Why would you let us eat that many hamburgers, mom? Why?!??!?

7-11-09 day 39
start: The Hemlocks Lean-To, MA
end: Tom Leonard Lean-To, MA
daily mileage: 14.4
total mileage: 504.6

Went into town today for some groceries, McDonalds, and to pick up mom's package! Before we got there we met a funny section hiker, "Mass Cowboy," who was wearing his huge pack so loosely we were sure he couldn't balance with it... and sure enough, in the 30 seconds it took for us to pass him, he fell twice! When we got in, we ate our first fast food of the trail... and my friends, it was glorious.

Sea Monster consumed a large Big Mac extra value meal, 4 chicken nuggets, 2 McDoubles, 2 Apple Pies, and a Medium Milkshake. I opted for all dollar-menu items, and had a McDouble, 5 McChickens, and an ice cream sundae. We waddled over to the Price Chopper to do our grocery shopping afterwards (where we both bought AWESOME, identical orange imitation crocs for $7!), and then to the post office for our package! After hitching with a pair of very weird people to the Post Office, we were devastated to find that it was closed by early afternoon on Saturday!! Evidently, this is a national trend for post offices. Who knew. We'll have it forwarded to another Post Office up the trail.

We got to the shelter tonight to find about 7 through hikers and 5 or so day hikers - quite the party! The section hikers had music and some liquor, which was shared freely, and we enjoyed a fun evening. All of the through hikers are headed to Upper Goose Pond tomorrow, so it should be a fun crowd tomorrow night as well!

Gorgeous Valleys, and Awesome Peaks

7-10-09 day 38
start: Lime Rock Shelter, CT
end: The Hemlocks Shelter, MA
daily mileage: 17.5
total mileage: 498.9

We did the last of the Connecticut miles today and moved onto Massachusetts. After unexpectedly having to spend another night in the company of No Name at Lime Rock we think we have finally put some distance between ourselves. The last miles in Connecticut went through a gorge called Sages Ravine. The river cuts right down the middle and pours over waterfalls and rapids. The rocks were covered in a thick layer of plush green moss and the banks were alive with ferns all the way up to the sheer rock walls holding it all in. The whole thing was just so green and lush, it was truly a gem. After we hit the state line we spent the rest of the day climbing up and down mountains. We hit Bear, Race, and Everett. Mt. Race was by far the most gorgeous. The summit ridge opened up in a half dozen places to fantastic panoramic views. You could literally see 180 degrees from the side of the mountain out over the Massachusetts hills. Great stuff. On a more indulgent note, we met a couple of ladies out for a day hike who confirmed, without a doubt, that there is definatley a McDonald's in the town we hit tomorrow. A lunch of Dollar Menu gluttony, and moral will be high...

Our First Encounter with an Animal that could Legitimately Kill Us (Black Bears Don't Count)

7-9-09 day 37
start: Stewart Hollow Lean-To, CT
end: Lime Rock Lean-To, CT
daily mileage: 22.3
total mileage: 472.4

Another long day, over 22 miles! We were having a bit of trouble with the long days, so yesterday we bought a big box of cheerios to snack on as we hiked. It really helps to have something to munch on - otherwise, we're finding that we just think about food all the time (which really makes it less fun!) The other brilliant food buy from yesterday was a few boxes of dehydrated potatoes. We're having hot lunches and dinners every day now, and adding dehydrated potatoes to both meals made them SO much more filling! It's a super cheap way to enhance our diet!

I was hiking a little behind Sea Monster and was listening to The Count of Monte Cristo on my Kindle (I just now started trying audiobooks on the Kindle while hiking) and suddenly, I hear a loud noise through the headphones! Sea Monster is up ahead, just behind a huge rattlesnake, right on the trail! It was SO loud, and was rattling constantly. Apparently he had been startled by it from 20 feet away as well it was so loud! We enjoyed getting a pretty up-close look at it before it slithered away.

Towards the end of the day we had to follow a several-mile long AT Detour. Apparently one of the bridges it goes over was out, so they had us hiking along a road for four miles. It was an awful road hike - made worse by the copious amounts of McDonald's trash left all over, making us wish we had some Mickey D's! When we finally got into the shelter that night, we were disappointed to find "No Name" there... he'd evidently hitched about half of the hike, so we got to put up with him for another night. Ah well - I guess we were bound to meet some odd folks out here.

We were amused to find a group of Boy Scouts also there playing cards. Sea Monster was eating a bag of Fritos, and a leader asked if it was OK to eat junk food on the trail. We replied by informing him that we'd eaten a box of powdered donuts for breakfast that morning...

RISK, The Game That Ends Friendships

7-8-09 day 36
start: Mt Algo Shelter, CT
end: Stewart Hollow Shelter, CT
daily mileage: 7.3
total mileage: 450.1

Right down the trail from our shelter was the town of Kent, CT. We needed groceries and I wanted to check out the shoe store so we went in. The shoe store had a 10% discount for hikers so I picked up a new pair of low-cut trail runners and mailed my old boots home. In hindsight they probably should have been thrown away but whatever. We didn't leave town until after 11:00 and feeling super unmotivated our 17 mile day was abridged into a 7 mile day. We even packed out a bunch of hot dogs to eat for lunch. They were not however very filling so we whipped up some soup as well. We met a girl, Blue Sky, and ran into Intense again then cruised on up to the next shelter where we met No Name. Right off the bat he was a personable enough guy, but after he got going he would not stop. We made the mistake of inviting him to play our travel RISK, a topic he would not shut up about. After while it was like, "Alright dude, yeah its cool, but seriously chill out". All and all he was a nice enough guy but only in small doses...really small doses. Like half a Flintstone Vitamin size dose...

The Privies are Dangerous

7-7-09 day 35
start: Telephone Pioneer Shelter, NY
end: Mt. Algo Shelter, CT
daily mileage: 21.1
total mileage: 442.8

Today we made some pretty good miles, over 21! Even so, we took a nice long lunch in which we met three section hikers. It was pretty obvious they weren't out for long, with their huge packs: one guy had his pad dangling half a foot below the rest of his stuff, swinging freely, as his sleeping bag stuck awkwardly off to one side. Upon further inspection, he even had a full sized axe! It was easy to feel superior. :-)

We met two through hikers today, Stretch and Tinman. They're like us, only Bizzaro verisons: they've been friends for years, just out of college, both Eagles, and were even at Philmont the exact same time as we were! What a crazy world! Tinman had a fun adventure in the privy- he entered to do his business only to come streaming (and streaking) out a minute later. Hornets! He got stung a couple of times, and had to dash back in for his toilet paper and purell!

"Nuclear Lake, You Say?... You Sir, Have My Attention"

7-6-09 day 34
start: Bill and Amy's House, NY
end: Telephone Pioneer Shelter, NY
daily mileage: 13.3
total mileage: 421.7

After Disney updated the blog we finally said goodbye to Bill and Amy and hit the road around 11:00. Ah, we felt like real hikers again...About 5 minutes down the trail we saw a wild turkey pop up out of the under growth and bob across the trail. Then we noticed all her little chicks racing frantically after her. Nature is fun! For lunch we stopped in at a shelter and met two guys, Tinman and Stretch, but finished eating shortly after they arrived. We crossed a neat little stream with some cool rapids and made a quick decision to go swimming. Better yet we looked ahead and saw we were to pass by "Nuclear Lake" and felt it was our duty as adventurers to swim there as well. The lake was named after an old nuclear fuels research facility and the lake has been given a clean bill of health. However, when we got there we discovered the whole place was a marsh with wicked mosquitoes so we pressed on. Looking back we missed maybe our one and only chance to get some super powers...bummer. We ran up on the shelters faster than expected which was nice. We can get some sleep after our short day of easing back into the hiker life.

Monday, July 6, 2009


We've got some pictures uploaded! Go to
Have fun!


7-5-09 day 33
start: Bill and Amy's House, NY
end: Bill and Amy's House, NY
daily mileage: 0
total mileage: 408.4

We had been planning on moving along on the trail today, but an opportunity came up that could hardly be missed: skydiving!

Bill is a licenced skydiver with all his own gear, and was planning on going today when he invited everyone at the party to join him! I've already been a few times and didn't think I could fit it into my budget, but Sea Monster hadn't and was thrilled to get an early birthday present from his parents! Including Bill and Amy, seven of us drove down to the skydiving place. Amy and I didn't jump, but took lots of pictures of Sea Monster (of course) and our new friends Rabbit, Meesha, Holmes and Bill. They all tandem jumped (except for Bill), so they got the full experience of free fall and everything! They all seemed to have had a blast. Sea Monster and I are already talking about getting certified ourselves someday!

We got back to the house pretty late and ordered some pizza, and fell asleep watching Fight Club. Our experience at Bill and Amy's has been utterly fantastic, and we're so grateful to them for everything they've done for us! But tomorrow we'll have to get back on the trail for real... two zero days in a row is an awful lot of vacationing from our hiking vacation, so it's time to get back to work and pound out some miles!
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Happy Fourth of July!

7-4-09 day 32
start: Bill and Amy's House, NY
end: Bill and Amy's House, NY
daily mileage: 0
total mileage: 408.4

Today was our excellent fourth of July shindig! We got up nice and late, and started the festivities early as hikers poured in! Some people came back from up north, some people came ahead from down south, and some (like us) arrived at just the right time! All told, 25 guests came, not including Bill and Amy, and not including the dogs. We all had delicious burgers and hot dogs, plenty of beverages, loads of chips and salsa... it was an amazing night.

We built the biggest fire I have ever seen. We used 7 railroad ties to build the giant teepee that was the base of it, one in the center and six balancing each other to form the sides. These ties were at least 10 feet long, maybe more like 12. Balancing them was precarious, but once we did we loaded up the center with sticks and gasoline and lit it up with some fireworks! It was great.

We're hoping to stay in touch with Bill and Amy, and send them a picture of ourselves on Katahdin!
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Bill and Amy are awesome!

7-3-09 day 31
start: Clarence Fanestock State Park, NY
end: Bill and Amy's House, NY
daily mileage: 10.5
total mileage: 408.4

Whisp stayed with us in our tentsite at the state park last night (hikers stay for free). The site was really unremarkable... I can't imagine paying for it, actually! It's right next to a highway, and several people's houses can be easily seen from the site! It was hard to get to sleep, actually, with the noise.

We hit some awesome trail magic today: fresh fruit and muffins! We're so overwhelmed by everyone's generosity out here on the trail!

Quick back-story about our destination tonight: when we stayed at the Outhouse, a guy named Bill (who through hiked in '99) told us about a July 4th party he was having at his house. His house just happened to be about the right distance up the trail from the Outhouse, and it is right off the trail! He made it clear that it was cool to arrive on the 3rd... so we made it a short day today and got in around 2:00.

Bill's place is great! He has us staying above the garage in a big room, and he and his wife Amy made a delicious dinner for us (turkey and a greenbean casserole that was out of this world!), and we got driven to Walmart for a few groceries and supplies. We watched 7 Pounds and ate cookies before bed. We're excited to take our first zero mile day tomorrow and enjoy the party here!

Water water everywhere...

7-2-09 day 30
start: Hemlock Springs Campsite, NY
end: Clarence Fahnestock State Park
daily mileage: 16.0
total mileage: 397.9

No picture today... it seems that the camera was damaged in the deluge (but don't worry, it will turn out OK in a few days). Lots of animals around the campsite last night - we heard coyotes yipping away from really close! We woke up lots because of the rain, but our fly was keeping us pretty dry except for little flecks of water coming in from the sides... until a flash flood-like river suddenly started pouring in from the open end! Lots of our stuff got pretty wet, but we're used to hiking in wet socks... it's been a very wet month!

The trail was soaked, and we were constantly navigating around huge pools of mud and water. The craziest part was a river crossing which had swollen to epic proportions. The rocks that were probably intended to serve as stepping stones were easily a foot and a half under water (which was flowing really fast), so we took off our boots and just forded it! It was pretty cool in retrospect! Met lots more people today: Tropic Thunder, Axman, and Intense. We've been hiking with Whisp for a few days now, too. Woo trail friends!

35 cent wings!

7-1-09 day 29
start: Fingerboard Shelter, NY
end: Hemlock Springs Campsite, NY
daily mileage: 16.3
total mileage: 381.9

Some more tough climbs today, but they were definitely still fun. We saw our first wild turkey off the trail!

The AT actually passes through a small zoo, so we spent some time in the "Bear Mountain Zoo" which rehabilitates injured animals. Many of the zoos cages were pretty smallish, and lots of the hikers going through reacted pretty negatively. All the animals were local (I guess porcupines and sea otters are around here?), and we saw a funny sight around the turkey vulture cage: he'd just been fed some carrion, and six or seven free turkey vultures from the mountains all landed around his cage to try to get some. So we have this picture of the free turkey vulture on the left, and the caged one on the right. We were comforted to realize, when we asked a zoo attendant, that they hadn't just escaped!

We were starving by the time we got to Fort Montgomery around dinner time (we had to do some grocery shopping), but lo and behold, we saw a restaurant with 35 cent wings on Wednesdays! We did some quick math, decided it was probably wednesday, and ran up. But no! It was closed! But yes! It opened in five minutes! In short, after a lot of emotional ups and downs, Travis and I each ate 25 wings, and are now feeling extremely fat and sassy. We hiked a bit farther into camp (no shelter tonight) and got poured on... but nothing can dampen our wing-induced euphoria.
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Trail Magic Bust!

6-30-09 day 28
start: Wildcat Shelter, NY
end: Fingerboard Shelter, NY
daily mileage: 14.3
total mileage: 365.5

Another very rocky day today... NY has some very interesting terrain! It's been cool though. A few very misplaced seeming 50 foot tall piles of boulders out in the middle of nowhere (the trail always seems to go over these). The forests are awesome too: a few miles today of forest with no undergrowth at all, just grassy bottom. Bizarre, but pretty. We're both impressed with the variety the trail has offered us so far.

We climbed through the lemon-squeezer today: an awesome pair of rocks (pictured right) sloped at 15 degrees or so, so they're almost impossible to walk through! The people that routed the New York trail must have had something against hikers, although we both thought it was really fun. We had a giant disappointment today though... trail magic cooler, full of empty beer cans. Both of us were devastated!
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Into New York for real!

6-29-09 day 27
start: Warwick Turnpike, NJ
end: Wild Cat Shelter, NY
daily mileage: 11.7
total mileage: 351.2

Today we set off from the Outhouse for the last time, and crossed from New Jersey into New York! We were driven to our starting point on Warwick Turnpike, and passed the Smith Brothers right at the outset. We've been making good friends with all kinds of people on the trail... it's been awesome.

There were tons of huge rocks today, so it was pretty slow going. The huge rocks that we're bouldering over are a lot of fun to climb though! We made a delicious stop at Bellvale Creamery (just off the trail) for some tasty homemade ice cream, and took our lunch there. When we finally got to the shelter, we were enjoying some nice conversation and blew right past it... didn't realize for about another mile that we'd missed it. There's another 2 miles on our day today... we're hoping that if we keep getting lost this often, we'll end up doing 3,000 miles instead of a wimpy 2,200! Good thing we hike fast!
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6-28-09 day 26
start: The Outhouse in Unionville, NY
end: Warwick Turnpike, NJ
daily mileage: 17.3
total mileage: 339.5

Today, we slackpacked for the first time. It turns out that Dick, Bill, and Butch's kindness was far greater than expected... he likes to give people a chance to stay at his house twice in a row, and so he drives people up 17 miles to Warwick Turnpike and lets them hike back to his house for a second night there! From there, he drives you back to the turnpike the next morning to hike north! So, we let him drive us up to Warwick Turnpike, hiked back to the Outhouse, and had another great night in the lap of luxury!

We didn't take our full packs (since we were heading south, and ending up back where we started). We had an interesting hangup right at the beginning, though... a great younger guy, also named Bill, was slackpacking with us. We enjoyed a bit of chow for breakfast with him just as we started, and set off... only to somehow, on a linear trail, to get totally turned around. It wasn't until we got all the way back to the turnpike that we realized... we had somehow hiked 2 miles south (as we should have been today) and literally turned around without realizing it, only to hike 2 miles back north! I guess our internal compasses couldn't stand the idea of going southbound for a day! Our little adventure added 4 miles to the day, but it was relatively flat so it was fine.

We hiked on a neat boardwalk for a few miles today, and saw lots of weekend hikers, which was a lot of fun. Beautiful weather, for a change!
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Outhouse is the coolest place ever!

6-27-09 day 25
start: Rutherford Shelter, NJ
end: The Outhouse in Unionville, NY
daily mileage: 11.4
total mileage: 322.2

Today was incredible... a relatively short hike to the coolest place on the trail. New Jersey dips into New York for just a tad on the trail (it then returns to Jersey before entering NY for real 25 miles later). We stopped in Unionville, the NY town the trail dips into, because we'd heard from a fellow hiker earlier on that Unionville's old mayor was super friendly to hikers and would put us up for the night.

We were blown away. We entered the General Store where she called Butch, an older guy who came down to pick us up. We weren't sure what to expect, even as he explained the house rules: basically, the house is yours to do with what you want, but be sure to recycle the beer cans and we'll charge you a quarter for every word over three syllables you use! This "four syllable" rule was kind of the opposite of the normal "four letter" rule... since Butch swore freely explaining these rules to us. We got to the house and met Dick, the owner. It turned out that the house was actually Dick's real house, and he told us to help himself to his beer, his shower, his laundry machine, and that he'd feed us dinner AND breakfast! The craziest part of this generosity is the scale of it... he does this full time for through hikers, and just tonight, there were another 12 people in his house along with us. It was amazing how good the food was, how great his hospitality, and generally, HOW FREE IT WAS! He was an amazing guy, and I could ramble about him for forever. He, Butch, and Bill were the three guys in charge of the operation.

After dinner, he showed us a motivational movie about how we can definitely finish our hike if we stick to it, and then let us free to watch TV or movies or whatever. We're really grateful to him!
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