Einstine and Little Cheese were still sleeping we I left camp this morning, but to no ones surprise BR and O2 and had already pulled stakes and were on the trail. In about 30 minutes I arrived at the RPH and saw the father and son from Dothan starting to break camp. The Ralph’s Peak Hikers (RPH) Shelter (other than the ability to get pizza delivered there) is unique in that it is totally enclosed and it looked like a nice place to stay.
Past the shelter, there was some sort of trail maintenance going on that necessitated a half mile detour on a road walk. I don’t care much for road walks in the first place because the asphalt is hard on the feet, but this one was also up a steep hill. At the end of the detour the A.T. passes under the Taconic Parkway and finally enters the woods.
There was a short but rocky climb up to Horner Mountain, but once at the top there were some pretty views of the countryside below. Along the way I caught up with BR and O2. BR said that his knee was killing him and described a pain that shot all the way up the back of his leg. I told him that I thought it sounded like an IT band issue and that he probably needed to give it a rest.
Just before noon the A.T. crossed NY 52 where there was a deli located 0.3 miles down the road. The deli acted like a black hole and sucked me off the trail and pulled me towards it. After I paid for my grinder and Gatorade, I saw BR getting into a car with a nice lady that had offered to take him to the local CVS to get a knee brace. Behind the deli there was an area with a picnic table where I joined several other hikers to enjoy my food bounty.
After spending way too much time relaxing behind the deli, it was time to start hiking again. The trail continued its generally flat course and, after crossing over over NY 52, started a gentle climb towards the Morgan Stewart Shelter on Mt Egbert.
The Morgan Stewart Shelter had an interesting newspaper article laminated and posted on the wall that told about the history of the shelter. The shelter was a prefab kit that was purchased by Ralph’s Peak Hikers in 1983 with an IBM Community Service Grant and was constructed in the garage of one of the club members. They then numbered all the pieces, dismantled it, and lugged it up the mountain to be reconstructed. I’ve often wondered about some of the strange shelter names and in this case it was named after a club member who died following quadruple bypass surgery.
BR and O2 soon joined me at the shelter and decided to call it a day. BR said that the knee brace seemed to be helping a little but but he wanted to give it some rest. Since it was only 3:30 in the afternoon, I decided to press on to the next shelter. It was a decision that I would soon regret.
I don’t have any pictures to share for the remainder of the day because I hadn’t made it far down the trail before I got caught in a torrential thunderstorm. The trail quickly turned into a river and there was a lot of thunder that seemed to mostly be cloud to cloud lightening. I was well below the ridge line, so I wasn’t too concerned about the lightening but at one point I had to cross a power line break where I hiked double time to reach the safety of the woods on the other side.
Most of this trail section followed the shoreline of Nuclear Lake. Every time I hear that name I envision the three eyed fish from “The Simpsons.” Years ago, there was a plutonium plant here that had a small accident. The ATC tested the area and deemed the land safe, but I’ll bet you that they bought this corridor for a song. I could barely see where I was stepping due to my fogged glasses, but the Nuclear Lake seemed to have an eerie green glow in the light of the thunderstorm.
After slopping through the water and mud for a couple of miles, I finally arrived at the Telephone Pioneers Shelter. I quickly set up my tent, peeled off my rain soaked clothes, and climbed under my quilt. I’m going to hate putting on all that wet stuff in the morning.