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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
 
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DAY 96:  WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3
 
Start: Canopus Hill Rd., NY                                 
End:  NY 52/Stormville
Today's Miles:                      19.5
Cumulative Miles:           1,429.6
   
 
"Reading your journal has inspired this old 71-year-old to keep at running as much as possible. I need all the inspiration I can get these days."
- one of the ultra runners who is reading this journal
 


Abandoned stone building at Torreytown Road

AT on part of an old mine railroad bed in Fahnestock State Park      8-3-05

And just knowing that inspires me to keep on trekking and writing.

Sometimes I feel more pressure to write this journal every night than I do to get up early every morning and run or walk on the AT!

I am continually amazed how far this journal has spread via the internet and by word of mouth. I just never dreamed the audience would be more than a few running friends and family.

Several running and hiking sites have this site listed but there are other ways that folks have discovered it that just amaze me. For example, you can "google" some of the topics I've covered or places we've been - and come up with a link to the day I mentioned it.

This "dates" me, I realize. I just didn't grow up with so much accessible information so readily available. It sure took a lot longer to find out a lot less in the library 'way back then!

Computers. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

DON'T FENCE ME IN

There wasn't anything particularly special about today's section, although I can recommend the first fourteen miles for a pleasant hike. Most of the Trail here is in Fahnestock State Park.

The prettiest piece of trail today was a fairly level mile along the side of an unnamed mountain just before I reached NY 301 and Canopus Lake. Apparently this was an old mine railway bed in the 1800s. There were interesting rock walls to my left up the hill, and plenty of boulders down below on my right. But wonder of wonders, the Trail was mostly smooth and runnable here.

In the first fourteen miles of today's section the woods are pretty, there aren't a lot of unnecessary trips up and down to experience the rock walls (thank you, thank you!), the climbs and descents are all pretty tame by AT standards, there are lots of interesting stone fences and an abandoned stone house (at Torreytown Road), and the deer will practically let you pet them.

I didn't see many flowers except under a power line. Laurels grow thickly in several areas, especially above Canopus Lake. On a large stone "bald" on the ridge above the lake someone has painted a US flag (see photo below) with the notation, "In memory of Sept. 11." As you read it, you're facing New York City although you can't see it beyond the wooded hills.

Yesterday I met an older gentleman day-hiking on one of the mountains in Harriman State Park near the overlook where you can see New York. A resident of the city, he was lamenting how different the skyline is now that the World Trade Centers aren't there.

I was reminded of that today when I saw the flag above Canopus Lake. I have a lot of time to think out on the Trail every day, you know. Today's profound thought was about how tenuous life is. You never know when your time on Earth is gonna be up. Whether you believe in heaven/hell, reincarnation, or whatever, it isn't going to be the same as now when you die.

Maybe it'd be a good idea for each of us to live each day like it may be our last. Think about who and what is most important to you, and attend to them/it. Be nice to others. Slow down. Stop tail-gating.

Oh, sorry. We've about had it with New York drivers. I got side-tracked a bit . . .

BERRY, BERRY GOOD

The last six miles today (from Hortontown Road to NY 52) there was too much traffic noise from the Taconic State Parkway and I-84 for anyone to enjoy hiking. I never wear headphones when running or hiking but this would be a good place for them!

As I walked (too rocky to run most of it) that part, I kept wondering why the trail designers put the AT on the west side of Hosner Mountain so it's subjected to the din of traffic. When I got back "home," I looked at the AT map and saw exactly why: the park service/AT owns a pretty narrow strip of land through there, and it's all well down from the ridge on the west side. Too bad, because the Trail is really pretty there. It's just hard to turn off all that noise in your head.

Yesterday I wasn't too pleased with the Trail after I crossed the Hudson River. I guess I was spoiled by the beauty of Harriman State Park and forgot how "wild" some of the woods are along the AT. I wasn't happy about all the blow-downs, missing markers, and overgrown paths, but thought maybe being brain-fried from the heat yesterday afternoon was clouding my assessment.

Not.

The first few miles today were like that, too. But the good news about the overgrown trails in today's section was what was hanging out in the trail - luscious ripe red raspberries and bigger blueberries than I've seen previously on the Trail! I grabbed a few raspberries here and there but could have easily spent hours happily indulging my berry passion. There were lots of raspberries yesterday, too, right before the Bear Mountain Inn.

I guess there are some positive things about being behind schedule right now. Otherwise, I might have missed all the berries in New Jersey and New York!

"RAIN-DANCE," "SKILLET," AND "BOTTLE"

I saw only eight people on the Trail today: two day hikers at Canopus Lake, two SOBO thru-hikers, and four NOBO thru-hikers. I talked with five of them (more than the cursory greetings).

The only shelter I came across today was the Ralph's Peak Hiker (RPH) shelter shortly before the Taconic State Parkway underpass. A young couple was inside playing cards. We had a nice chat for about ten minutes before a young male SOBO thru-hiker came in.

The married couple lives in Texas and began hiking in Georgia on February 23. Yes, they had some snow and cold rain along the way and they wished they had some of it today! (All kinds of warnings about the heat this morning on the radio. It was 92 degrees in the shade at our camper when I got home this afternoon.) Their trail names are "Skillet" and "Bottle." I forgot to ask how they got those names.

"Bottle" has excellent taste in hiking shoes - she's wearing Montrail Hardrocks, just like me!

The south-bounder goes by "Achilles." We enjoyed hearing some tales about his two months on the Trail, since we're headed where he's already been. Katahdin had snow on it when he began. This would have been before Andrew Thompson started. Andrew finished his speed attempt yesterday, I believe, beating the old record by a few hours. Andrew's new record, going south, is 47 days, 13 hours, and some odd minutes.

Congratulations, Andrew! I don't know how you got over all those rocks so fast!

On the way up Hosner Mountain after the shelter, who should I run into than Rain and Dance, the young couple with the dog that we met back in Damascus, VA. They're doing fine but had to send their dog home when they got to PA - too hot, too many rocks. They miss her. It was good to talk with them again! They even remembered that the last time they saw Jim was in Buena Vista, VA.

Young folks have better memories than I do!

HOME FOLKS: DON'T WORRY ABOUT YOUR HIKER

Rain-Dance and I got to talking about the perils of life on the Trail, like the folks we have heard about with Lyme Disease. It got me thinking about the relatives and friends of thru-hikers - the older ones as well as the younger ones - who are at home worrying about how they're doing.

My advice is "stop worrying." Hikers are probably safer on the AT than at home. I talked about this in one of my prep pages. Hikers take care of each other on the Trail, and from what I've seen and heard, the locals take pretty good care of 'em, too (offering rides, food and drinks, places to stay, medical care, all kinds of advice, etc.).

Plus, by now your hiker has learned an awful lot of "woods savvy." The AT and other hikers are great teachers. Some lessons are learned in tougher ways than others, but most hikers who've come this far are strong individuals who can take care of themselves. They are winners, whether they make it all the way to Katahdin in one year or not.

I know Jim worries about me every day I'm out there. I'm probably less "woods savvy" than most of the thru-hikers, but I know most of what I should know to stay reasonably safe on the Trail. I'm schizophrenic re: safety. I take more risks than some people (like photographing that bear instead of screaming at it to go away), yet I'm very careful on the rocks so I don't get hurt. (Had fall #20 today anyway.)

We're all out here to have fun, test our limits, see beautiful places, meet interesting people, and learn more about ourselves and the world. Please don't worry about us. Think of all the great stories you'll hear when we're all done!

MR. FIX-IT

I'm so fortunate to be married to the world's best crew-person AND handyman. Those truck brakes that started squealing yesterday afternoon? Well, Jim decided to just fix 'em himself even though he didn't have one tool he needed. He got the brake shoes in town this morning after dropping me off at the trail head, borrowed a C-clamp from a guy in the campground maintenance shop at Round Pond, jacked up the truck, and had the brakes fixed in a little over an hour.

Forty-eight bucks. MUCH cheaper than the back brake job we had done professionally in Bristol, TN a couple months ago.

And since he didn't have to spend all day in a repair shop,Jim was able to move the camper up the road today. I'm not mentioning where we are because the place is the pits. Tomorrow we're moving to a much nicer place in Connecticut.

Connecticut?? Yes - today is the last full day of Trail in New York!

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil