Day 104 – Tuesday, June 21: Bear Mountain to Fort Montgomery, NY to Stealth Camp (Dennytown Road), 17.3 miles, 1,417.7 total AT miles.

Note: I lost my phone in NYC and, with it, all my photos and notes from the past week of hiking. I’ll do my best to catch up.

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I woke early, right before 6:00am – the wind was howling overhead and there was a chill in the air. I rolled over and looked around the parking lot. I watched a deer graze very close to me for about 15 minutes before starting to pack up. I checked my phone – Black Santa had just woke up and was packing as well. I told him to meet me by the vending machines. I checked the weather forecast for the day – sure enough, storms were moving in. I was ready to go by 6:30, just as the first raindrops were starting to fall.

The storm was brief – not a lot of rain at all. Black Santa and I put on our pack covers and began descending Bear Mountain. The trail was awesome – excellent grade and very well-maintained. When I reached the bottom of the mountain, I saw why. A sign was posted declaring the Bear Mountian section of the AT to be the first part of the trail ever created – very cool.

Black Santa and I stuck together – I needed to head into the Fort Montgomery post office to retrieve my mail drops. And Black Santa needed to buy more snacks as he was running out of food as well. We made the short hike around Hessian Lake – unfortunately, the trail side zoo was closed (the AT actually runs through the zoo). We had to take a blue-blazed trail around the zoo grounds – too bad, the lowest point on the AT is located inside the zoo.

We made our way down 9W towards Fort Montgomery, but were stopped short by construction – all of the sidewalks were closed. I guess we looked puzzled – a park ranger pulled over and offered us a ride into town, bypassing the construction zone.

We got dropped off at a convenience store/market at 8:00am, waiting for the post office to open at 8:30 – I was the first in line. I had three huge boxes of food waiting on me. I loaded up my food bags and barely had room to cram everything into a box so I could restart my bounce box again. I also got my old trail runners back – the Merrell boots went straight into the trash can.

We didn’t waste time trying to get back on the trail. We walked back down 9W, searching for an alternate route around the construction – we eventually found it near the Fort Montgomery Historic Site. We actually spent some time touring the grounds – it was very interesting learning about the fort and its role in the Revolutionary War.

After making our way back up to AT, we turned and hiked over the Hudson River on the Bear Mountain Bridge – it was 11:00am at this point and starting to get hot. The ascent back to the ridge was rocky and steep in places, but my feet felt great – I could already tell a huge difference since switching into my trail runners.

By 1:00pm, I needed my nap – I only slept about three hours last night and was starting to get tired. And the heat was only making matters worse. I told Black Santa I needed to stop – he also wanted a break. He knew I would probably be doing a little night hiking tonight and might want to join. We found a flat spot just off trail and set up our tents for a quick sleep.

We woke at 4:00pm – I felt refreshed and much cooler. After eating a hot dinner and relaxing in the shade for about an hour, we hiked on. Our plan was to hike all the way to Pawling, NY some 30-plus miles away. But the terrain did not cooperate. The trail stayed rocky and was very difficult to follow in the dense forest. We continued hiking as the sun set – that’s when things got really slow – it was next to impossible to stay on trail. We probably missed turns (or just walked off trail) numerous times.

It was nearing midnight and I was starting to get tired – and I knew we hadn’t hiked far. Savage, McDoubles, Champa and Get Weird were all tenting just ahead at Dennytown Road – Black Santa and I made it there by 1:00am. I couldn’t initially find their tents, so I decided to cowboy camp next to the information booth by the trail head. I was out like a light.

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I kept my food diary saved on my phone, so I really have no idea what I ate.