Epilogue Day 4. I woke up this morning determined to have an amazing day. Attitude is a choice, and I was choosing the wrong attitude for being out here these last few days. So today, I decided I’d put a positive spin on whatever was bothering me and enjoy this trail for all it’s worth on my penultimate day. And you know what? It worked. I had an AMAZING day today, as I enjoyed the majesty of hiking through America once again.
I wanted to get a very early start on the day, so crawled into bed last night while it was still light out. However, a few hours later (after dark), 3 southbound hikers wandered in from the rain and cold to join me at the “Secret Shelter”. That did not bother me, as the floor of the cabin could easily fit 4 people with room to spare … but the snoring did. It was 2 girls and a guy, the latter of whom spent the whole night loudly sawing wood. It may have been the proximity, or the echo of the empty room, but it was deafeningly loud. I woke many times throughout the night to the sounds of his snores, but eventually did get some good rest.
At 6am, we all crawled out of bed and packed up for the day. I was on the trail by 6:45 with nothing but blue skies to greet me. The ground was still flooded from the week’s rain, but my socks were still wet anyways so I didn’t let it get to me. I hiked for miles before stopping for a break, admiring the wide and soft trail that bordered people’s homes here. It had been pretty rocky in NJ this far, so these miles were a mice treat on my feet to start the day. After not too long, I entered the Wallkill Wildlife Refuge, a gorgeous wetland of marshes that also hosts a bird sanctuary. I saw cranes, geese, swans, ducks, and more as I walked along the sunny path circling the marshy refuge. I decided to throw some John Denver tunes in my ears to really maximize the effect of the beauty … and it did. I’ll remember the hike around that marsh for years to come.
A little while later, I came to another marshland crossing. This time, however, a nice boardwalk offered me a dry path through the bog and creek. The Pochuck Creek Boardwalk was a popular destination for runners, hikers, and dog-walkers, so I had plenty of company as I journeyed across. I chatted with a couple that was section hiking with their RV, and then a group of girls walking their tiny dogs for exercise. It was nice to have conversation and be social after so much time alone that morning.
By midday, I had put in 18 miles and felt confident I could push another 10 before dark. This would put me in the town of Greenwood Lake, which I found had a new trail angel hosting hikers coming off the mountains. It was just a small comment in the Guthooks app, but I decided to give it a try and called the man named Carl to inquire. Carl is a trail angel indeed! He offered to pick me up at the trailhead later and bring me back to his home, where he had converted the basement to a 1 bedroom apartment. Although still under construction (no toilet yet), he was only asking $10 for the night which was too good to pass up. It all sounded perfect, so I threw my pack on and ignored the blisters on my feet as I headed North again.
The trail wasn’t too bad from there, but I did notice a significant shift in terrain once I crossed into NY. Someone painted the state border on a rock, and almost immediately the trail went up. For the next 5 miles it was rock climbing and boulder scrambling along the mountain ridge line. Not what I was hoping for after already putting in 20+ miles, but I made the most out of the situation and enjoyed the fact it was still sunny. My feet are pretty sore now, but they are happy those miles are done and not waiting for us tomorrow morning.
Carl was waiting for me as promised, and his place is as good as he claimed. The shower is still in an unfinished bathroom, but the water was hot and the soap cleansing. There is a bed, couch, table and kitchenette to make anyone feel at home. I made some dinner, and shared a couple cold beers with Carl before calling it a night.
I’m glad I made the decision to enjoy today more, as I truly think it made a difference. Tomorrow is my final day out here … the epilogue and hike in whole will be done. I’m excited to finish this once and for all, and thankful for the experience and opportunity to live out this dream to its fullest.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 1344.9
- Start Time: 06:40
- End Mile: 1373.1
- End Time: 18:45
- Miles Hiked: 28.2
- Miles to Go: 19.6
- Lodging: Carl’s House (Greenwood Lake, NY)