Day 87. Lots to cover today. First of all, we are both feeling pretty good after reaching our planned destination around 5pm. Although it was a difficult day in many ways, we ended with plenty of time to enjoy a quiet and restful evening. Or so we thought … more on that later.
For Happy’s first day hiking the AT, it could have been worse (it could have been raining). But he would say it could have been better too. Unfortunately, no sooner had we crossed the Hudson, the trail shot straight up. We were met with a very steep staircase of a trail, which was very strenuous, and also crowded with day-hikers headed to the popular “Anthony’s Nose” lookout. All in all, it was not a good first experience for a new AT hiker trying to get comfortable in their new surrounds.
Side note, but he’s still Happy. Look at him with this white blaze!
We also quickly realized Happy’s pack is significantly heavier than first thought. After doing some walking calculations, we expect his backpack is between 40-45 pounds. Compared to mine at 25-30, that’s a big difference in comfort and speed. Our pace was a slow and steady 1 mph all day, as we traversed the remaining ups and downs with many breaks.
In the early afternoon, we arrived at the Appalachian Market, a combination gas station and deli that is common in NY. Happy dropped his pack, laid down on a picnic table and started dictating a list of all the heavy food he is throwing away … gouda cheese, powdered milk, etc. I can’t say I blame him, those items would be too heavy for me too. We hydrated up with some Gatorade, had a snack, and headed out to finish the day’s hike.
A half-mile later, we took a side trail to tonight’s campsite … a ministry that allows hikers to sleep at the old sports field on the edge of their campus. The field also has a covered pavilion with electric outlets, a water spigot, a portapotty, a fire pit and a shower building (though it is locked). It is a little run-down, but it is a beautiful place, and we are fortunate they open it so graciously to hikers for free.
This is the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center; a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, dedicated to the reconciliation of people with themselves, each other, and God. In their words, it “offers people of many different religious traditions and all walks of life an opportunity to slow down and encounter the Spirit in their lives.” You can read more on it here.
Shortly after we arrived, a few more familiar faces wandered in. Starman, who I haven’t seen since the Smokie Mountains is here, plus a few others: Transformer, Shaggy, Bubs, and others whose names escape me at the moment. In all, there are nearly a dozen hikers camping here. At first, we all setup in the pavilion, since we know rain is expected tomorrow. However, once hammocks we’re strung and beds laid out, a gentlemen walked over and told us he had the pavilion reserved for the evening. He has a bonfire party planned for 50 people until midnight.
Fifty people?! Midnight?! The pavilion, fire pit, and picnic tables were all forfeited and we grumbled sullenly as we gathered up our belongings and moved to the far side of the field. We still had a place to camp at least, but peace and quiet was forfeited for the night as well. Happy is … for lack of s better word, happy … to use his fancy new 1-person tent, but it’s a small consolation compared to everything else we had to give up. Needless to say, after the day we had, this was not how I hoped it would end.
We made the most of it though, finding our own private corner to camp by ourselves, and even carried over a picnic table for dinner.
After review of today’s difficulty, and the knowledge of tomorrow’s rain, we may take it easy and do a smaller 5 mile day tomorrow. I initially planned for us to go 12 miles to Clarence Fahnstock State Park, but that is looking less likely. We’ll play it be ear and see how Happy feels in the morning and later that afternoon.
Side note, as I lay in bed typing this, Happy yelled out something to me before falling asleep. “I want you to know, I’m having a great time.”
Me too dad, me too.
Hello Neimans (Sharkbait and Happy)
- Start Mile: 1404.0
- Start Time: 10:00
- End Mile: 1411.3
- End Time: 16:45
- Miles Hiked: 7.3
- Miles to Go: 779.6
- Lodging: Graymoor Spiritual Life Center