Saturday, July 5, 2014

Days 111 - 130: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut

Day 111: PA 309 to George W. Underbridge Shelter (12.7 miles)
Day 112: Dubya Shelter to Leroy Smith Shelter (16.7 miles)
Day 113: Leroy Smith Shelter to Delaware Water Gap, PA; Church of the Mountain hostel (20.2 miles)
Day 114: Zero in DWG 
Day 115: DWG to Rattlesnake Spring Campsite (13.2 miles)
Day 116: Rattlesnake Spring to US 206; High Point Motel (14.9 miles)
Day 117: NJ 23 to Murray Property Cabin (7.1 miles)

Days 111 - 116 were some of the wettest days we have had so far. Having Cooper back was great, and Cowgirl carried on from DWG when we decided to zero. We traversed the Palmerton Superfund Site on Day 112, getting the steep scramble out of Lehigh Gap out of the way early. This was the worst tick day that we have had! We spent 2 hours at lunch picking a hundred ticks off of Sheila, and another 2 hours that night at the shelter. The rain started that night and the 20.2 miles into DWG was one of the toughest days we've had. I was simply fed up with the rocks, and the rain made everything slippery and dangerous. Surprisingly enough, it did not rain during our zero in DWG. This was probably our favorite trail town so far! $2.50 hot dog and pie anyone? We hung out with a great group of thru's and even got to slackpack to the Mohican Outdoor Center the next day. The rain didn't want to quit on day 116, so we pulled off at Culver's Gap and got into the High Point motel to dry out and recoup. It wasn't supposed to rain until around 4:30p on day 117, so we hit the trail around noon and booked it to the Murray Property. We ended up getting there with plenty of time to spare and enjoyed a lovely evening to ourselves watching the rain come down.

Day 118: Murray Property to NJ 94; Appalachian Motel (18.9 miles)
Day 119: NJ 94 to Wildcat Shelter (17.1 miles)
Day 120: Zero at Wildcat Shelter
Day 121: Zero at Wildcat Shelter
Day 122: Wildcat to Fingerboard Shelter (14.3 miles)
Day 123: Fingerboard to West Mountain Shelter (8.4 miles)
Day 124: West Mountain to Fort Montgomery, NY (7 miles)

We caught word from Cowgirl that she and Chef were getting a room at the Appalachian Motel in Vernon, NJ, so we decided to take them up on their offer to join. We got in early enough to enjoy a couple of movies and to resupply in town. This section of NJ was mainly a boardwalk hike, so the going was easy, and one of my favorite sections of trail. On day 119, we entered NY with a bang! It was a steep climb early in the morning, followed by rocks in the afternoon. To get up to Prospect Rock, we had to climb a ladder and Sheila, being a butthead, decided just to throw herself at the mountain rather than to wait for instruction and help from the two of us. By the time we got into camp that night, she was limping on her left forepaw. We decided that we would watch her the next morning and see how she was feeling before pressing on. The next day she was still limping, so we decided to zero to give her the rest she needed. We spent the day hanging out, reading Harry Potter and eating. Sheila was still limping the next day, though it seemed a lot better. We decided to play it safe and take another zero. At this point I was suspecting Lyme or another tick-borne disease, but I wanted to wait and see. Maybe she had just outdone herself when we got into NY and just needed to rest. We decided to move on Day 122 to Fingerboard Shelter. We were running low on food and Sheila seemed to be doing better. This was actually one of the tougher days on the trail, terrain-wise. Before entering Harriman State Park, you come down this section of trail called Agony Grind. It was steep and rocky, and very treacherous. It was slow going and we were absolutely beat by the end of the day. I felt bad for pushing Sheila through this, but she seemed fine while hiking, just stiff after we sat for a while in camp. Fingerboard was a really beautiful shelter in a great setting. We met some section hikers at Fingerboard Shelter, a guy named Eric, his son, and his son's friend, and also recieved some trail magic from Paddy-O in the form of beer, gatorade, and donuts. The next day we spent the morning chitchatting with Eric and the boy's and then made our way down to Lake Ticora for a couple of sodas and some snacks. While there, we watched dozens of swallows tending to their nests. I noticed that one nest was knocked down, and the baby birds were lying on the concrete. At first I thought they were dead, and I asked Ramen Shaman to move them to a place where they wouldn't be trampled underfoot by any of the beach-goers. But they were still alive! So we put them in a box and handed them to the staff at the front desk, hoping that the folks at the Trailside Zoo could so something about them. We hiked on to West Mountain, getting caught in a torrential downpour 2 miles from the shelter. We set up camp just after the clouds cleared and had one of the most picturesque campsites we could have hoped for. Sheila was still limping in camp, but it was a lot less noticable than it had been at Wildcat Shelter. The next day, we had only 7 miles into Bear Mountain/Fort Montgomery. The day was pretty easy. There were 400+ stone steps up to Bear Mountain, and probably 600+ down into the trailside zoo. These steps really aggrevated Sheila's leg, but thankfully we were taking another zero for the next 2 days to attend the wedding reception of Treefrog and Squirrel, a thru-hiker couple who were getting married on the trail!

Day 125: Zero; Treefrog and Squirrel's Reception
Day 126: Zero in Danbury, CT
Day 127: Bull's Bridge Rd to Mt. Algo Shelter (7.1 miles)
Day 128: Mt. Algo to Pine Swamp Brook Shelter (17.3 miles)
Day 129: Pine Swamp Brook to Fall's Village, CT; Bearded Woods Bunk-n-Dine (8.1 miles)
Day 130: Fall's Village to Salisbury, CT; Bearded Woods Bunk-n-Dine (7 miles)

The wedding reception was awesome! We picked up some outrageous matching outfits at Walmart (American flag tees and neon yellow running shorts) and rolled in a few minutes late, making one hell of an entrance. Treefrog and Squirrel were so ecstatic to see us all, and we were thrilled to be there! The Ramen Shaman and I were especially excited to give them our wedding present; a real white blaze that had flaked off of a down tree in NY. What a great party, and a night we will not soon forget! The next day, Red and Canadiahhh! got back on the trail at the Bear Mountain Bridge, while we decided to jump up to CT with Cowgirl. She had the rental car until Monday, so we took advantage and drove to a very affordable La Quinta in Danbury, CT. We hit the Eastern Mountain Sports to get Ramen Shaman some new shoes and ran into Reroute, Kristo, and Geared Up! They were there with a trail angel Dora the Explorer, who had hiked the PCT with Geared Up last year. The trail is completely unexpected sometimes! We caught some of the US v. Portugal game at the Outback and called it night. Leaving town has always been very difficult for us, and day 127 was no exception. Not only did we have to run a few last minute errands, we also had to return the rental car by 2pm. So we didn't get back on the trail until maybe 3pm. It was hot and humid, so the 7.1 miles to Mt. Algo shelter was perfectly fine by me! Reroute, Kristo, Geared Up, and Dora even showed up with a little trail magic and invited us to dinner! The stretch from Mt. Algo to Pine Swamp Brook shelter was tough, and the water at the shelter ended up being a pond, but Sheila seemed to be doing very well, with no signs of limping even after the tougher day. We planned to do 15 in Salisbury the next day, but I was schemeing a scheme to celebrate Ramen Shaman's 28th birthday at Bearded Woods, so we pulled off early at Fall's Village. Everyone ended up being at Bearded Woods! Cowgirl, Geared Up, Reroute, Princess, Rocketman, and some new faces, Honeybadger and A-Train. Hudson and Big Lu really treated us like family. Not only did we have an amazing BBQ dinner, but Big Lu made a surprise birthday cake for Ramen Shaman! We celebrated and laughed throughout the night. We loved Bearded Woods so much, we only made it to the next town the next day and just had to come back! Sheila had fun playing with their two dogs, Cedar and Glacier, and Big Lu spoiled her like the rest of us with sausage dog food and all sorts of goodies!

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