Day 92. Happy and Sharkbait are on a roll! We are almost hiking like two legitimate thruhikers on the AT. After last night’s early evening, we were up around 7am and on the trail by 9. Everyone else was gone by then, of course, but it was a good early start for us. We had nearly 9 miles to hike today, but the terrain was excellent and we made great time with a steady 1.5 mph pace. We hiked around the beautiful Nuclear Lake (a perfect lunch break and rest stop), and arrived at our destination before 3pm.
Side note, we ran into Scutch and Apollo today! These two lovebirds have now met half my family, as we continue to leap frog each other during our long travels. It was great to see them (briefly) as we caught up for a few minutes during a water break. Happy was extra happy, because friendly faces means he gets to tell his jokes again. We
groaned laughed, then parted ways for the umpteenth time … knowing it won’t going to be the last.
We walked on and quickly reached the hike’s end at a road crossing. Then I was hit with a realization … I’d been so preoccupied not worrying about our daily miles lately, that I completely forgot what was waiting for us at the road to Pawling … Dover Oak! The largest tree on the Appalachian Trail. At 6 feet wide, it is estimated to be over 300 years old and was quite a surprise to stumble upon. We took a few photos and then called a cab to Pawling 3 miles to the south. I would have been ok walking this, but Happy was beat after that long hike, and I can’t blame him for wanting a break.
The town of Pawling is about 2 blocks long, but absolutely beautiful. Unlike the trail towns of the south, this is full of life, character and money. No hard feelings to residents of Erwin, Atkins, or Port Clinton … but you can’t really compete with NY and New England towns. There is a laundromat, book store, deli, bar, pizza place, bakery, CVS, and a dozen other small town shops that are a joy to visit. I almost feel out of place as a hiker, but I’m past the point of awkwardness for my homeless hiker look.
Side note, got the new backpack and I have a very good feeling the Exos will work out. It’s not perfect, but fits extremely comfortably. I wish it had hip bent pockets, and if I lose 5 more pounds the hip belt won’t fit again … but if I lose 5 more pounds, I have much bigger problems. I don’t think there is anything safe left to lose!
We got super lucky on a room for the night also. The AWOL guide only lists a motel about 5 miles north in Wingdale, but a quick google search found a new place called the Station Inn Pawling with rooms available. It appears to be a house undergoing new renovations to convert to an upscale B&B, and in the interim, has 2 rooms available to rent. The normal cost is $150-200 a night, but the owner (Susan) was overly-gracious to provide a hiker rate and allowed Happy and I to stay in both rooms for $50 a piece. An incredible bargain for such beautiful accommodations! I told Susan she needs to contact Guthooks and AWOL to be added to next year’s guides. I imagine they won’t be too busy on weekdays and could support the AT community. If other hikers come through here, I HIGHLY recommend you call the Station Inn, though cannot guarantee you get such an amazing deal. The only downside is the train that rumbles through every hour, but that’s nothing new to us thruhikers.
As hinted yesterday, my wife’s aunt and uncle came up from Westchester to meet us for dinner, and took us out to another MUST-STOP for hikers. Big W’s Roadside BBQ is an amazing casual restaurant in Wingdale that has some of the best BBQ in New York. I’m still licking my lips over the burnt ends and brisket sandwiches we devoured. We ran into a few other hikers there as well (as its next to the Wingdale Motel mentioned earlier) … one of whom said this was his second meal there already today! Warren is the owner, originally from Brooklyn, and a very friendly proprietor we spent time chatting with. I’d hike this whole damn trail again just to eat here another time. New York is seriously spoiling me with its food, I mean look at this spread!!
Damn, I love NY and it’s amazing food. As for the weather … fortune smiled on us again today, as we escaped any signs of rain. It is definitely coming though. Tomorrow looks to be a 50/50 chance of showers, and Happy is contemplating a Zero day if it does. I agree with this idea, as this is as good a place as any to take a day off, and we are both a bit nervous of him traversing these darned steep AT rocks when slick with rain. He could do it, but unlike me, he doesn’t have to.
If he does rest here (assuming we can also get another night at the Station Inn), I’ll slackpack hike on without him tomorrow, then meet back up at Pawling in the evening. The only goal at this point is Kent, CT by Sunday, and either option will get us there in time.
Hello Neimans (Sharkbait and Happy)
- Start Mile: 1439.1
- Start Time: 09:05
- End Mile: 1447.6
- End Time: 14:50
- Miles Hiked: 8.5
- Miles to Go: 743.3
- Lodging: Station Inn Pawling