Fortunately, today I didn't have to walk on my hands.
But I had to use them repeatedly to get up and down some serious rock climbs!
It was a blast, too. No, I have no interest in becoming a rock climber, but
I'm enjoying the tough little climbs and descents that New York has thrown my
This morning I woke up with two fat feet, two fat calves, and one fat arm.
The right arm and foot/leg swelling is from the two wasp stings I got
yesterday morning. You should've seen how much I swelled up! Jim googled some
wasp sting information for me on the internet last night and we couldn't find
anything that said "don't exercise," so I decided maybe the swelling would go
away during today's run/hike. Seems like that's worked for previous stings.
Increased circulation and all . . .
And if I went into shock, at least I'd have my phone with me (and I have
The left foot/ankle swelling is from a strained tendon in the front of my
ankle. I've been icing it and there isn't any pain. It's similar to a problem I
had a couple months ago with the right ankle, and it went away with RICE
treatment. Usually this kind of swelling is reduced when I run, so this wasn't
going to stop me today, either.
I had no pain at all during today's run. All I'm taking for pain is Naproxen.
I got a total-body workout today with all the elevation change and large steps
up and down and verticals. I could have gone longer. I love it when I end like
But you should have seen my funny legs when I got done! Because of the ankle
supports, my feet and ankles were normal-sized but just above that the calves
were both swollen. No pain, and the total swelling from both causes is less than
it was this morning.
Another couple days and I think the swelling will be gone. Oh, yeah - I was
able to run more today, too! I'd have done more miles if it hadn't been too
rocky for me. It feels so good to be able to run again!
TRAINING FOR NEW ENGLAND
I mentioned recently that I've been concerned about the de-conditioning
effect of less elevation gain and loss in the last few weeks, since I came down
from the mountains in Virginia. I'm less concerned after today. I had more
elevation change today than I've had in weeks and from what south-bounders are
saying, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont should be good
"practice" for the tough stuff in New Hampshire and Maine.
The popular saying among hikers is that "everything is practice for Maine."
But it sounds to me like New Hampshire is worse.
There was at least 4,400 feet of gain today and 4,100 feet of loss. That's a
lot, considering I didn't get over 1,400 feet high. But it was constant up and
down over eight mountains. Many of the climbs were steep; fortunately for me,
with my gimpy knees, only one descent was really steep (from Arden Mtn. down to
Thank goodness for my grippy-soled Montrail Hardrock shoes. I'm relying on
them totally now. I love the Vitesse but I can't "get a grip" as well on rocks
with them. The Hardrocks are very comfortable, they drain well, and they have
enough protection in the toe box and underfoot that my feet aren't taking a
beating like you'd think they would.
In fact, my feet have been virtually problem-free this entire trek.
It was fun to run over more puddingstone formations all day, although there
weren't any great views into the valleys today. On East Pinnacles and Wildcat
Rocks I found two small rocks for Jim that show the chips of colors and the
streaks of quartz in puddingstone. I love these colorful rocks!
THE LEMON SQUEEZER
There are several fun places along the AT that are famous - or notorious,
depending on your view toward such things - among the hikers. One of these is
the Lemon Squeezer.
After reading Horton's account of this rock formation, and journals from
thru-hikers, I was really looking forward to the challenge of squeezing through
the very narrow rock walls and then scaling the very vertical wall beyond. I
knew there was a "weenie" route around that's perfectly legal, but I wanted to
try the hard way first.
Lemme tell ya, I barely got through the Lemon Squeezer with my small Camelbak
HAWG pack on. I would have been easier to take it off. Not only are the rock
walls narrow, but they are also slanted so you can't just walk through. You have to
kind of ooze through sideways and leaning over.
Then right beyond this is a six-foot wall of rock that is nearly impossible
to climb alone. I tossed my hand-held bottle and trekking pole up on top (I
could tell it wasn't going to fall into oblivion on the other side) and made
several attempts to climb that sucker. I finally found enough obscure little
hand- and foot-holds to make it up, but it was a struggle.
The other legal route isn't real easy, either.
The Lemon Squeezer is in Harriman State Park, a huge tract of land just south
of West Point that totals 52,000 acres with the adjacent Bear Mountain State
Park. The portion of the AT that crosses Harriman SP was the first section of
the Trail to be completed. It officially opened in 1923.
Financier and railroad magnate Edward R. Harriman, who owned immense tracts
of land here and in the Sterling Forest (which I ran in earlier this morning),
conceived the idea of establishing a park in this area.
Going up Green Pond Mountain when I first entered the park I noticed what
Horton meant about the forest looking different than anywhere else on the Trail.
He didn't elaborate in his book, so I didn't know what to expect. I was
pleasantly surprised by how beautiful most of the woods were - airy and open,
with grasses growing under the large trees instead of an under story of shrubs
and small trees. It looks like the trees were thinned out many years ago in some
places, leaving only huge, stately shade trees spaced farther apart than they
would grow naturally.
I loved the look! I could see far into the woods and there were cooling
breezes. The trees were close enough together to provide shade. There were many
rock formations that were more visible than in many areas where I've been on the
AT (and through this park, the designers didn't put the Trail up and over every
one of them!) and I could see Island Pond and Lake Tiorati more clearly. ("Tiorati"
means "sky-like" in the Algonkian language.)
In the seven miles I ran in Harriman today there was one scruffy area with
pine trees and lots of deadfall, but most of it was just very neat. My main
disappointment was the trail surface. I was hoping for more groomed trail;
it was pretty rocky.
Recently I've gotten letters from the sister and mother of a young man (Kris
AKA "Yahchild") who is thru-hiking north. They hoped I'd meet him soon, as he
was in New Jersey when I was there. They provided a description of him so I'd
know what he looks like.
Kathy and Judith, I met Kris today! I didn't know who he was, but saw a tall,
blond fella leaving the Wildcat shelter this morning a bit ahead of me on the
Trail. I thought with a little running, I could catch up to him. But let me tell
ya, he moves FAST! Not only does he walk faster than me, he was also running
So it took me several miles to catch up to him. Meanwhile, a friend of his on
the Trail, "Moss" caught up to me at the bone-dry Fritzgerald Falls. Moss
confirmed the hiker in front of me was Yahchild. Moss is from KY and is part of
a trio of friends who are hiking the Trail together. The other two ("Ziplock"
and another fella whose trail name I don't recall) were behind us and I never
saw them today.
When Moss went on ahead of me he caught up to Yahchild and asked him to wait
a couple minutes for me to catch up. I introduced myself and told him his mom
and sister wanted me to say "hi" from them. We talked a little bit, then the
guys went on ahead. I later passed them when they took a break and didn't see
I took this photo of Yahchild (on the left) and Moss:
And Mom, Kris saw a doctor and is on antibiotics for the Lyme Disease. He was
wise to catch it early so treatment will be effective. He's doing fine! :-)
GOOD CREW DAY
Jim had a good birthday today despite the fact that I was out running most of
the time (or maybe because of it!). He was indeed surprised by all the
e-greetings and cards he received. Thanks for remembering him!
After dropping me off at the trailhead Jim returned to West Point, parked
the truck, and ran all over the military base. He took as many photos as I did
today! He loved the cemetery where many famous generals and war heroes are
buried (including Custer), the numerous statues and old buildings, and views of
the Hudson River:
West Point was a strategic defense position for our country during the
Revolutionary War. Jim enjoyed reading the various historical plaques throughout
the post during his run. I'm glad he had a fun day, too!