I wanted to work on my journals last night and went looking for the ziplock bag in which I store my trail notes and old A.T. Guide pages. After emptying every orifice of my backpack, the ziplock bag was nowhere to be found. I just couldn’t imagine why it wasn’t in the interior pocket where I always store it. Just prior to going into complete panic mode, I received a message from Cousin Eddie telling me that Oh Yeah had found my ziplock bag and asking what they should do with it. I’m guessing that my notes somehow came out of my pack at the Bear Mountain Resort while Oh Yeah and I were sitting outside charging our phones. Cousin Eddie and Oh Yeah were camping at the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center, so I asked her to leave the bag in the hiker box at the pavilion and I would pick it up when I passed through there tomorrow.
Doug Johnson, the motel owner, gave me a ride back to the Bear Mountain Bridge a little before 9:00 am. The A.T. follows the bridge on a pedestrian walkway, so I began the half mile road walk across the Hudson River in the already hot morning sun. The Bear Mountain Bridge is a neat looking suspension bridge that is one of the busy commuter arteries to New York City, and it offers some great views of the Hudson River.
After crossing the river, the A.T. follows NY 9D for a while before turning in to the woods and and starting a very steep climb back to the ridge line. About halfway up, I stopped to catch my breath and drink some water when I was joined by another hiker named Birdsong. He rather sarcastically said, “Just another wonderful day on my summer vacation!”
I was cruising along the trail on the ridge line when I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sound of a rattlesnake rattling. The noise was coming from my left rear and my first thought was wondering how close I came to it when I walked by. When I turned to look, I discovered that it was a big black snake vibrating its tail in the dry leaves to mimic a rattlesnake. After taking his picture, I called him a poser and told him to go away. So I still haven’t seen a rattlesnake on my hike. About a half mile later I passed a turkey hen with a couple of chicks crashing through the brush, but they weren’t quite as amenable as the snake at the prospect of having their picture taken.
One of the cool things about hiking the A.T. through New York is that the trail passes close by several delis along the way. Around lunch time, the trail literally went by the parking lot of the Appalachian Market at US 9, so who could possibly resist stopping for food. Birdsong and I went inside and while the selections were overwhelming, I came out with a huge chicken cordon blue sandwich and ice cream.
Following lunch, I soon arrived at the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center. Back in the day, this place was a monastery and the monks would invite up to twelve hikers to join them there for dinner (I totally get the symbolism). I believe the place is now some sort of rehab center, but they have been letting hikers camp for free in their ball field since the early 70’s. I made a beeline for the pavilion and recovered my ziplock bag with its precious cargo. Thank you Oh Yeah and Cousin Eddie for making this happen. You have no idea how important these notes are to me.
At this point I was hot and tired from packing a five day food resupply uphill and I just wasn’t feeling it, so I decided to camp in the ball field after hiking a mere 6.4 miles. At the time, the only other hikers there were Birdsong and a section hiker who had zeroed in the pavilion, but it soon turned into a hiker reunion.
First BR and O2 arrived and O2 shared some hysterical videos that he had taken of their bear encounter at the Fingerboard Shelter. Then a father and son from Dothan, AL, arrived. I had met them a day earlier and learned that the son was an Eagle Scout that had just graduated from high school. The dad had originally planned to walk the first week with his son but was having so much fun that he arranged his affairs to the he could accompany him for the entire thru-hike (much to the consternation, I’m sure, of the son). Later on, a section hiker named Ranger arrived that I had met a couple of nights ago. While we were talking, I found out that he was a Certified Flight Instructor so we had a fun time swapping aviation stories. Just before dusk, Einstine and Little Cheese walked into camp. I hadn’t seen them since way back in Virginia at Middle Creek Camp when they got off the trail to recover from Norovirus and attend a wedding. Many other hikers arrived over the course of the afternoon and in the end, there were over a dozen tents (several with couples) and four hammocks set up in and around that ball field.
With my recovered notes in hand, I soon adjourned to my tent to work on my journals. Because of my early stop, I was now ten miles behind my plan for the week, but this stop was totally worth it. I will make up the miles somewhere down the trail.