Daily Archives: July 19, 2014

Day 95 – mile 1388 to Fort Montgomery, NY

We got up pretty early because we were motivated to get to town to do laundry, take showers, and relax in town after 5 full days of hiking. We hiked out of Harriman and towards Bear Mountain State Park. We first had to climb Black Mountain, which had some nice views of the Hudson and a very cool but very faint view of the NYC skyline.


Hudson River Valley

We then descended and had to play frogger to cross the Palisades Parkway (road crossings are easily the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on the AT so far). We tried to remember the details of the Seinfeld Frogger episode, but didn’t have a Swatsky handy unfortunately.


Palisades Parkway

Then we climbed West Mountain, which was the hardest and steepest climb we had since sometime in central Virginia. That descended down and then we had our last climb of the day, up to Bear Mountain. It was like entering a different world, probably because it was a Saturday. Tourists and day hikers were everywhere. The terrain was well graded and pretty easy hiking. I’d imagine they were wondering wtf was up with the smelly backpackers. One nice older lady asked if we were thru-hikers and then gave us some fresh apples when we confirmed we are. She said her friend told her thru-hikers crave fresh fruit (true, along with fresh hot dogs) so she brought 3 apples along on her hike, which was super sweet of her.


Bear Mountain view

This descended down to Hessian Lake, which was teeming with people. It was quite a shock from the relative peace and quiet in the woods. This is probably the weirdest section of the trail we’ve seen. After going past the lake jammed full of people rocking boom boxes and picnicking, it went through the Bear Mountain zoo. We saw two bears, bringing the total count we’ve seen to 11. I’m not sure if these two really count though.


Zoo bears

I felt kinda bad for these guys considering how many we’ve seen out in the wild. At least they aren’t in danger of being shot by angry farmers in Virginia. Another interesting side note is that this is the lowest elevation on the trail at 124 feet.

We then went to the southwest side of the Bear Mountain Bridge and got a lift into Fort Montgomery from the owner of the Bear Mountain Bridge Motel. This motel is small, but nice and clean. It’s about 3 miles south of West Point. We got some good town food and relaxed for the afternoon. It’s been a nice nearo. It was tempting to stay for a full zero, but I think we will push on tomorrow while the weather is nice.

Vital stats for Saturday, July 19th :
Miles hiked today – 11.7
Mood – chill
Physical state – good
Smell – I think the tourists finally stopped staring and screaming finally
Song stuck in my head – Over & Over by Smallpools

Day 94 – near Wildcat Shelter to mile 1388

Last night we heard a coyote for the first time. Early in the night, it sounded like it annihilated some other animal for dinner. It was crazy sounding. Then late in the night, it started yipping and howling. It was pretty eerie and cool.

Today was another fantastic day of weather for hiking. I decided to take videos of a lot of today to later make a “day in the life of a thru-hiker” video compilation that shows all the routine stuff we do throughout the day that is unique to thru-hikers. I think it’ll be cool, but I won’t get to post it until we’re done. It was good day to do this because it was action packed.

We started the morning with a hike by Fitzgerald Falls.


Fitzgerald Falls. The water was mostly not orangey yellow like the rest of the water in Jersey and New York

Then we climbed Buchanan and Arden Mountain, which were both very steep and full of rock scrambles. There are numerous swamps and bogs in the gaps between these mountains, too. The terrain is most definitely getting harder again. On the positive side, it’s also getting more interesting.

We ran into some good trail magic around lunch. One of the thru-hikers in this vicinity is a recent retiree named Mad Jack. His wife, Good Vibrations, is following his hike with a brand new Airstream. We chatted with them both for a bit today and Good Vibrations hooked us up with some sodas. Less than a mile later, we ran into a guy named Tent Man who works for campmor.com. He hooked us up with more soda, fruit (gotta eat something healthy once every month or two), candy, darn-tuff socks (usually $20 or so), Mountain House dinners, protein bars, denatured alcohol (for our cook stove), and numerous other goodies. This dude was awesome and was literally shoving this stuff on us. He also gave us some good tips on the area we are in and even some tips about camping up in Maine.


Crazy Trail magic

We then hiked into Harriman State Park. Wow, this place is cool. It’s like a hiker playground. It has everything. It’s got lakes, ponds, swamps, boulder scrambles, mountain climbs, views, grassy peaks, midgets on grassy peaks, etc.


Cool grassy meadow peak in Harriman

It certainly seems like it gets a lot of foot traffic, as some of the deer let me get really close, but it’s an awesome place. We also went through the very tight Lemon Squeezer. I have some amusing videos of us trying to fit through with our packs.


Lemon Squeezer rock formations

We later stealth camped in a nice flat spot a couple hundred yards from the trail somewhat near Seven Lakes Drive.

Tomorrow we are excited to head into Fort Montgomery after about a 12 mile hike. It’ll be excellent to take a nearo to get cleaned up and relax in town with a beer or two or three.

Vital stats for Friday, July 18th:
Milestone – less than 800 miles left to Katahdin
Miles hiked today – 18
Mood – excited for town
Physical state – good
Smell – dirty socks filled with mustard and anchovies
Song stuck in my head – Swing Set by Moving Mountains