Day 123- 7.22.15
Fuego: We slack packed 28.4 miles today (1293.4-1321.8)! We got up early to start our big slack packing day. Mom and dad drove us back to Delaware Water Gap to meet up with Downhill, Toasty, Goldilocks, and Freestyle. Mom and dad took their packs and we took off right away to start the hike. We were excited and happy to be slack packing. It makes it feel like you’re on vacation from backpacking. On top of that, the weather couldn’t have been any better! For the past several days we’ve been dealing with intense heat through Pennsylvania. As we crossed the bridge over the Delaware River, we crossed the New Jersey state line! This is by far the most excited I’ve been to leave a state.
Out of all the hikers I’ve talked to about Pennsylvania, no one had anything positive to say about it. There was many reasons for this. There is hardly any views or sites for the 300 miles it takes to cross the state. For most of the time you are walking through private property and game lands, which also involves many restrictions for the hikers. The combination of heat, humidity, bugs, flooded trails, and mud didn’t help either. What most hikers complained about was the rocks. Not all of Pennsylvania is rocky, but towards the end it was brutal! I’ve never experienced such a rocky terrain in my life. You’ll have days where you only walk on rocks and be lucky to see any dirt. It was definitely time to move on. Good riddance Pennsylvania!
For the first 10 miles, we already saw a big difference in New Jersey. It was beautiful! My boss Guthook said that this was one of his favorite parts of the entire trail. There was mountain sites, gorgeous flowing rivers, tons of views, and plenty of wildlife. I was shocked about how nice New Jersey was, because I’ve only seen the Jersey Turnpike side. I ended up seeing 2 black bears as I hiked through. Everyone was in the best mood they could possibly be. We walked up a fire tower and saw a spectacular view from every angle. Once the trail leveled out, everyone decided to start running. We ran for at least 2-3 miles straight. Once I almost tripped over a rock and face planted, I decided to simmer down on the running. After 20 miles we were still feeling great and knew we could pull off our goal. Once I got to mile 25, I was feeling a huge drop of energy. Fancy Pants and I were ahead of the group at this time and I was hoping everyone behind us were alright. The last few miles felt like they were taking forever. I was ready to be done.
We finally made it to Branchville, NJ where mom and dad met back up with us. They had a cooler full of Dr. Pepper, Snickers, and beer. Couldn’t have asked for more! I sat there and waited for the others on the back of the car while having a beer and Snickers. After I rested up a bit, I really did not feel like I hiked 28.4 miles! Dad showed me the map of how far we got and it blew my mind! Dad had to drive about an hour to get to us from Delaware Water Gap. The rest of the group showed up and they were excited to see the cooler full of goodies for them!
We all jumped in the car and we stopped by a pizza place. The service took awhile because they were short handed, but it was all worth it at the end. My dad surprised everyone by paying for the entire bill. Everyone was very thankful and happy for that and it meant a lot to me.
Once we all got back to the cabin, everyone looked like they were ready to crash. After we all got showers and made a few cocktails, everyone was bright eyed again! We stayed up later and chatted all night. There was a pull out sofa that I pulled out so we could all sit and stretch out our sore legs. It was so relaxing. This was definitely a great night for us!
Fuego: Zero day. Fancy Pants and I woke up to see if anyone was awake. Everyone was in deep sleep mode. We were certain most of them wouldn’t want to get back on the trail. After after having a discussion with mom and dad, we gave them an option to get back on the trail late morning or late evening. Everyone chose late evening, except Freestyle. We dropped Freestyle off and had to drive to the other side of town to pick up stuff from the post office and do a quick resupply. The driving took forever and once we got back we had to hurry to get our plans with mom and dad for the day back on the road. The rest of the group stayed at our cabin to chill and rest.
We went and visited the Martin Guitar Factory and Museum and I must say that everyone should visit if they are in the neck of the woods. There was so many old Martin guitars from the start of their history and also guitars that had been played by any famous guitar player you could think of. The factory part was incredible! You had a tour guide give you a walk through from start to finish basically and the whole thing is pretty impressive. Once we left, we went to visit Blue Ridge Winery. It was a beautiful day and we all relaxed on the deck and enjoyed a bottle of wine.
Coming back to the campground, I had to get the group back off the trail. I drove out to drop them off, but when I was driving back I noticed I was getting random chills. I made it back the campground trying to enjoy my last night with mom and dad, but it wasn’t happening. I was able to cook dinner and eat most of it, but I ended up with a fever and had to lay in bed early. I was scared that I may have gotten Lyme disease. I never remember getting a random fever in the summer, which is a leading symptom of Lyme disease. I was so sick that we were prepared to take me to urgent care in the morning. I took medicine and hoped for the best in the morning.
Day 125- 7.24.15
Fancy Pants: We hiked 16 miles today (1321.8-1337.8). We woke up early to finish packing. Thankfully, Fuego’s fever broke last night and he was feeling much better. Jessica made us a big breakfast and then we headed out. No matter how much time you have together, it never feels like enough. Preston took us to the Mohican Center to get our package from Guthook. It was pretty heavy, so I’m glad we didn’t pick it up while we slack packed! When we got back to the trailhead, I was happy to see that someone found my knee brace and tied it to a tree next to my note. At the Culver fire tower, we ran into a group of girls from a camp who had a lot of questions for us (like how often we shower and how many miles we hike).
We had lunch at the top of Sunrise Mountain under a pavilion to enjoy the beautiful views. We also saw a bear right after lunch! Ran into Janezilla and Mushu and debated whether to go to Marcia Lake or not. It was close to 6pm when the beach was closing, so we decided to keep hiking. To check off another bucket list item, we submitted the highest point in New Jersey, aptly named High Point.
Fancy Pants: We hiked 18.9 miles today (1337.8-1356.7). Within the first few minutes on the trail, we saw a bear! 3 bears in 3 hiking days so far in New Jersey- not too shabby! The trail today passed a lot of stone walls, remnants of stone walls, private property (and signs saying so), and boardwalks. New Jersey definitely wins the award for the most raised walkways! Pennsylvania could have used some raised walkways in the really muddy areas! There was also a lot of wetlands (like Wall Kill NWR), with lots of pretty flowers and birds.
We decided to go into Vernon today and stay at the St Thomas Episcopal Church Hiker Hostel. We needed showers and a little bit more food to make it to Tuesday when we meet up with Tyler. We stayed with Shades, Tattoo, Dancer, John Rambo and Quiet Guy.
Fancy Pants: We hiked 17.1 miles today (1356.7-1373.8). Fuego wanted Burger King for breakfast, so we did that then hitched a ride back to the trail. We started the day with a climb and ran into Phoddo- we haven’t seen him since The Captain’s. Today was rough for me. All of our group stayed off trail at someone’s house and we didn’t even get a text or something. It sucks to feel left out. I talked to Ashton today for awhile, so that made me feel better.
On a happier note, we crossed into New York today! We had nice views of Greenwood Lake, although the boat noises were a reminder that we were hot, sweaty and waterless and they weren’t. The “reliable water” sources listed in the guide were either totally dry or were just a brown puddle. Thankfully, we ran into trail magic at the NY 17A road crossing. We definitely needed the pick-me-up after having a rough day.
When we arrived to the shelter, some noobs had spread out their gear taking over the entire shelter, so we set up our tent. After hearing some ominous thunder and seeing the sky, we packed up the tent and decided to stay in the shelter. The noobs were tenting, but still left a bunch of their gear in the shelter. In talking with other hikers, 3 people cried during the hike today and everyone admitted to some curse words. It was a rough day all around.