Miles from Springer Mountain: 1436.5
Miles to Mount Katahdin: 755.5
When the trail beats you down for three days, it lifts you up the three days after. If you read my previous post then you’d know my days were wet and miserable, thankfully I can tell you the last three have been (mostly) dry, full of beautiful miles, and enjoyable. It wasn’t an easy weekend – I put a lot of miles in and I beat my legs up for it, I’ve also been the main entree for mosquito Thanksgiving!
After all the rain I slept in on the 31st, I felt I earned it, but I might have also been feeling a little lazy. The beginning of the day was rough mentally, I beat myself up in my head when my legs don’t move like I want them to – maybe the trail knew this, because after I recovered I arrived at the beautiful Island Pond. The miles of trail surrounding it were filled with flowing grassy knolls, sprawling rock, and shimmering waters. I passed through the famed “Lemon Squeezer”, a gigantic boulder snagged between two rock faces waiting to crush an unlucky hiker, then a suffocating squeeze through another stepping rock portion. I earned my sweat for the day!
With the coming of a new month I decided it was time for a change with my morning habits – I’m dedicating myself to starting my day earlier. Getting out of camp and on trail around 6 gives me more time to knock out miles before the heat of the day, it boosts my sunlight usage efficiency, and I’m finding that by the time I severely tire in the afternoon I’ve already accomplished more miles than I probably needed to. I started small, waking up at 5:30. It may not be that early to you, but after walking for 10-12 hours it’s a tall order! I’d like to think that after the Navy, when I would be force to wake up at any godforsaken time of the night, I can handle the earlier days.
I set off on the 1st with a shorter day in mind, I needed to resupply and rest for a big mile push in the coming days. I made it to Bear Mountain around 10, it was mostly too hazy to see the New York City skyline, but I could definitely see smudges that were man-made. My next stop was Bear Mountain State Park, which is the peculiar location of a zoo. In fact, the Bear exhibit is the lowest elevation point on the entire Appalachian Trail at 124 feet. I’d imagine that most of the hikers that see it are only carrying the bare necessities! Right after leaving the park I crossed over the Hudson River, only a few miles south of West Point. I continued onward and resupplied for the next week at the Appalachian Deli. My rest stop for the night was only a half mile further – the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center, a Franciscan monastery that has hosted hikers since the 70’s. The didn’t give us any monk-made beer, but the had a pavilion to charge batteries and relax, a cold shower to clean up, and a large field to tent in. I cleaned up a lot of my gear, patched some holes and air dryed all I could.
I woke up early and set off earlier on the 2nd – the first day of a string of larger mile days I’ll be doing for the next week. It was only 24.5 miles but an early start is paramount to getting in large miles and still having time to relax in the evening. I stopped at Fahrenstock State Park to let my tent dry and eat a burger for lunch. It was so hot and even with consuming large amounts of water my body hit a wall around 5 so I stopped and set up camp.
I think my good fortunes with the weather and early mornings will continue into this week, my spirits are high and my legs relatively comfortable. Soon I’ll be in Connecticut, then shortly in Massachusetts! Thanks for following along, I posted a nutrition blog yesterday and I’m working on a post about my daily routine, if you have any questions or requests on trail life you’d like to read about please let me know!