Some days that's harder than others, Dave.
I try to have fun every day, enjoy the new people I meet and places I see,
and learn new things about the world and myself - but some days just aren't as
much fun for various reasons.
I had high expectations for today's run. I can actually run again now
(nothing hurts), I was going to go right through the middle of a zoo -
how cool is that?? I'd be going over the Hudson River. And the weather report
looked favorable (at least no thunderstorms were predicted).
But a lack of sleep, poor water management on my part, slow rocks, poor trail
markings, and excess heat did me in. I bailed out at 21.7 miles instead of doing
the 25.5 I'd planned, thereby disrupting Jim's afternoon.
The morning started off well on the Trail. I met up with "Moss" (who I met
yesterday) and "Sweep" at the Brian shelter only two miles into the run. It's
the first shelter I've visited in a while; it was right on the Trail, blending
in nicely with the rock wall behind it (the shelter is made of stone). Moss and
Sweep had just stopped to read the register and talk with "Hillbilly," a
chain-smoking section hiker.
I followed Moss and Sweep up to the top of Black Mountain, still in Harriman
State Park, with its pretty views toward the Hudson River to the south and treed
mountains to the north. It's hard to believe sprawling metro New York is only
about thirty miles away. There was supposed to be one viewpoint today where I
could see the city, but I missed it.
Sweep is a young woman from Illinois who is thru-hiking north. Moss and Sweep
got ahead while I took some photos on Black Mountain. I passed them later when
they took a snack break at Palisades Parkway and never saw them again.
Palisades Parkway was interesting. The AT guide warns about this crossing
because it's so busy. It sure was, with early morning commuter traffic. The
north and south bound lanes are separated by about 100' of trees. In the middle
is a trail register on a post! I thought that was a mighty odd place for "tree
mail," as I call it. But I signed it anyway.
Today's section was another series of steep, rocky climbs and descents up
several mountains: Goshen, Black, West, and Bear on the western side of the
Hudson, several more east of it. The descents from both West and Bear mountains
are just plain treacherous. I fell once on each very steep downhill on the loose
rocks. I do much better climbing up steep slopes than coming down them.
Those are #18 and #19, right?
WALKING THROUGH THE ZOO
Somewhere after Palisades Parkway, Harriman State Park morphed into Bear
Mountain State Park. The highlight of my day was walking by Hessian Lake at the
foot of Bear Mountain and right through the Trailside Museums and Zoo.
Thru-hikers get in free.
Benton MacKaye not only was the original AT dreamer, he also envisioned
nature trails and study centers along the Trail in each of the fourteen states
through which it passes. This center opened in 1927 and includes nature,
geology, and historical museums as well as a children's zoo in which many of the
animals were rescued after being crippled.
The walkway through the center is just beautiful. There were enough visitors
that I didn't think it appropriate to run. Besides, I would have missed too many
signs and animals. In the photo above is the statue of Walt Whitman on the zoo
grounds. Included are the verses from "Song of the Open Road."
BEAR MOUNTAIN BRIDGE
Right outside the zoo is the 2,332-foot Bear Mountain suspension bridge over
the Hudson River. At the time of its completion in 1924 it was the longest
suspension bridge in the world. It took me a while to walk across in the hot sun
(just too hot today - about 95 degrees - to run across). This is a view to the
north from the bridge:
Although I saw only motor boats and sailboats on the river here,
Jim saw one ship this morning while he was running at West Point a few miles to
DOWNHILL FROM THERE . . .
By the time I got across the river, dodged traffic on busy NY 9
for a quarter mile, and slogged my way up the very steep mountain called
"Anthony's Nose," I was fried. The rest of the afternoon is a blur of steep
rocky trails, not enough markings (I had to do lots of searching for the trail
at several intersections and through boulder fields), and dehydration. I got at
least one bonus mile today hunting for water and trail markings.
Yesterday there were jugs of water at three road crossings.
Today, none. I never count on them, but could have used water today. In
retrospect, I should have hunted for some at the zoo. I went through a friary at
mile 16 but was also unable to find water there (they have a shelter area for
thru-hikers). I ended up calling Jim at mile 20 to let him know I was getting
dehydrated and had water only until the next road crossing at 21.7 miles. Could
he please come get me an hour early?
Jim was fine with that, although I'm sure it disrupted what he
was doing. The road I chose was a narrow, winding one that was difficult to find
and a bit dicey to travel with the locals who ZOOM FAST on any road in the area.
(New York traffic is about to drive Jim nuts.) And now he's gotta take me back
out there in the morning . . .
To make matters worse, as we arrived back at the campground the
front brakes on the truck started making noises that are not good. So instead of
moving to another campground tomorrow, Jim's got to deal with getting those
fixed. At home he has the equipment to do it himself. Here we're at the mercy
of a brake repair shop we don't know.
Always something . . . let's hope tomorrow is
better for both of us.