20.1 miles, 57,907 steps, 456 stories climbed
1411.5/786.5 miles/left, 3,651,546 steps, 31,440 stories climbed
Trail Magic Moments: 38
I woke up early in hopes of making up the miles I was short yesterday. I did my best to dry off all my belongings after yesterday’s torrential downpour but wasn’t able to do much. I attempted to use the bandages I had to wrap up my feet and use my actual hiking shoes but the bandages did nothing to lessen the pain. I left the bandages on for some ankle support and went back to my glorified slippers.
I was moving pretty well for the first few miles. I came across some more trail magic, a bunch of water bottles for thru-hikers. After a few miles however, the pain in my feet from the lack of support was starting to really bother me and I started to slow down.
The crocs I have are not regular crocs but are more like loafers. They are very comfy made with a stretchy fabric for comfort and the soles have individual cells of rubber tied together for flexibility and typical croc insoles. They are great for flat level ground but the stretchy fabric offers no support and the individual cells on the soles mean that when I step on rocks, which there are plenty of in New York, all my weight is on that one part of my feet instead of being dispersed throughout the whole sole. My feet were in so much pain! On top of all that the soles didn’t have the traction to hike on wet rocks. The odds of me making it to the train station by Saturday were looking pretty grim.
I struggled to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get as far as possible but with each step I realized that I was just going to end up hurting myself.
The trail itself was little help. New York has some nice flat portions of the trail that are absent of the constant rocks that you accidentally kick and trip over but it also has some sections that have difficulty and danger levels that rival Rocksylvania and Dragon’s Tooth.
Today, I walked through a section called the Lemon Squeezer. The first part is walking between two boulders where the path is too narrow to walk through with a pack. I tossed my trekking poles up ahead and with what’s left of my upper body strength, something the hiker life destroys quickly, a hefted my pack over my head and struggled forward, slipping on the wet rocks beneath me.
Eventually, I made it to a point where I could place my backpack on top of one of the boulders, climb on top and get everything back on to continue.
A few feet away I came across a sign that said “easy way”. I put my head down for a minute afraid to look ahead. For them to have enough compassion on us to make an easy way around something means what’s next most be really bad. The next part was short but not made for backpackers but, I follow the white blaze not the blue one.
The boulders ahead were too tall to simply step up and I didn’t see any good places to put my feet. The only way I could see up was using the tree to pull myself up. Again, I tossed my trekking poles up on the boulders and was just barely able to toss my backpack up there as well. Then using the roots of one tree, I hoisted myself up to where I could grab the wet, smooth stub of a branch from a dead tree.
At this point I was hanging upside down at a 60° angle with nothing but that small wet, slippery stub keeping me from the jagged boulders beneath me. I held that stub as hard as I could with one hand while I quickly brought my right arm around the first tree to get a grip and pull myself up.
I once again gathered my stuff and started hiking again, taking a moment to think about how easily I could have slipped and done a great deal of permanent, possibly even fatal damage to myself. Life is so fleeting and fragile that one brief instant, one small mistake can change it and destroy it forever…so why waste any moments?
Luckily, today I was hiking through familiar territory to help distract me from the pain. I entered Harriman Park, where Maria and I have hiked together, had views of the Hudson River, and went through Bear Mountain Park.
A few years ago, Maria surprised me for my birthday with a scenic cruise from Manhattan up to Bear Mountain were they have a huge Oktoberfest celebration. Along the way up to the festival Maria and I met Arturo and Saurabh, two awesome guys who had taken the cruise up to go for a nice hike. The four of us ended up talking and became quick friends. We quickly convinced them that hiking was not nearly as good of an idea as large quantities of beer and eating bratwurst. The 4 of us spent the whole day together and have been close friends since, so much so that we went back to Bear Mountain last year to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of when we met.
As I walked through the park however, I came across a very sad scene. I saw a couple and between them was a baby deer. They were trying to give the fawn some water while waiting for animal control to come.
The poor fawn was struggling to stand and was incredibly skinny and just did not seem alright and we all noticed the white foam in the corner of its mouth. Of course I hope for the best but sadly the best is probably animal control putting the poor creature out of its pain.
A thunderstorm hit as I walked through the park and luckily I was able to hide beneath a pavilion for the duration of the storm. During that time I decided to try and find a way to NYC from Bear Mountain. This would allow me to spend more time with Maria and also take care of my shoe situation along with any other gear issues I could take care of.
Surprisingly AWOL’s guide didn’t mention anything about how to get to NYC from Bear Mountain but there is a daily bus that I had unfortunately just missed. I called a local hotel to pick me up and spend the night with plans on catching the bus in tomorrow.
In the meantime, I was able to shower and do laundry so I won’t stink up the bus tomorrow. I was also able to have some of the best barbecue pork I have ever had at a place called Barnstormer BBQ in Fort Montgomery. Sooooo good. That and some nice cold beer helped make up for having to hike over 30 miles in slippers.