I woke up at 7:00 feeling great – I guess I needed to work some things out in my head. I started packing immediately, excited to catch up with the rest of the group. I checked my phone – Black Santa was already up and moving, presumably about five or so miles behind me.
I ran outside to use the bathroom and, while I was digging a cat hole, unearthed an old, brown bottle. I decided to keep it – I’ll mail it home once I hit Fort Montgomery, NY in three days.
I was all packed up and ready to hike north at 8:15am. It only took a few minutes, but I soon found myself at the pavilion on Sunrise Mountain. Savage, McDoubles and Champa all decided to camp here last night – I was literally 100 yards south.
But the weather was awesome – the forecast called for a high in the mid-70s with a nice breeze all day. After a quick breakfast, the four of us started hiking north.
For the most part, the four of us stayed in close proximity to each other. We chatted about the possibility of everyone going to New York City – most in the group are still undecided. We also talked about our potential end dates (when we see ourselves summiting Katahdin) – I’m still shooting for the first week in August.
At 10:30, we came across the Mashipacong Shelter. Water management has been an issue for a while now – quality water sources in eastern PA and NJ have been hard to come by. I hiked water into camp last night, but I was nearly out. Thankfully, we found gallons of water stashed for us in a bear box – it’s the little things out here that make all the difference. I did get a little turned around while at the shelter.
With fresh water on board, the four of us hiked on, spilling out onto Deckertown Turnpike at 11:00. As we crossed the road, I saw a familiar face – Get Weird was relaxing by the trailhead. She had just gotten dropped of to start a slackpack towards Unionville, NY – and she brought trail magic. I slammed few Mountain Dews before heading north.
Having just been in Unionville, Get Weird recommended we stay there for the night. The city actually lets hikers camp in the small park right in the heart of downtown. I checked the AT Guide and, sure enough, it didn’t look like a bad idea at all. While I’m carrying plenty of hot meals to reach Fort Montgomery, I’m running very low on snacks – maybe a quick stop in town is in order after all.
Two attractions lay six miles ahead – a beach (lake) and a giant stone monument marking the highest point in NJ. While everyone else was hiking hard to reach the beach, Savage and I decided to check out the tower instead.
At 1:15, we started catching glimpses of the monument in the distance – 20 minutes later, we were having snacks at its base.
We decided to climb to the top – there were 300 terrifying steps leading up to the biggest disappointment on the AT. There wasn’t any sort of observation deck – it was more like a closet with four dirty, narrow windows. You couldn’t even take a picture – we started heading back down, texting our friends along the way in hopes they’d not make the same mistake we had.
I was moving great today – Savage and I bypassed the High Point Shelter and started booking down the ridge towards town. We passed a lovely pond and spent much of our descent walking on a makeshift boardwalk. We made it to Lott Road at 6:00pm and turned to march into town.
The four of us set up camp in the park – Get Weird was already here (she really flew down the trail since she was slackpacking). Having heard that the town tavern has a pool table, the five of us strolled down to Wit’s End and played a few games.
Note: I actually ran the table all night – I was unstoppable. By the time I’d won my seventh game, I was getting tired and had to just walk away.
While we were enjoying dinner, Black Santa texted me – he had just made it to town. I left the tavern and walked him over to the campsites. After cooking a quick dinner on the basketball courts, I retired to my tent to start writing.
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Today was a great day hiking – even though the terrain has remained rather rocky, it seems that it’s starting to get a little easier. Tomorrow looks like more of the same, but the AT Guide lists the upcoming section as “more difficult than it looks” – we’ll have to wait and see.
Our small group has found itself in the midst of a larger bubble of hikers. I recognize most of them – even played pool with a few of these guys in Duncannon and Port Clinton, PA.
I’m hoping to be in Fort Montgomery by Monday afternoon – it’s about 60 miles away.
My boots are completely shot, I did end up buying a roll of duct tape to keep the front sole attached to the shoe. It works – I just look pretty ridiculous.
Breakfast: two 20 gram protein bars
Lunch: bag of beef jerky, dried cranberries, one 20 gram protein bar
Snack: handful of almonds, one LD oatmeal creme pie
Dinner: Queso Rice Side with tuna, four slices of rye bread