One fine day

The day started the night before…

I hiked to a monastery and camped in a ball field. Upon arrival I saw that my friends had ordered pizza to the ball field! I had to order pizza too, so I scanned the menu to find the perfect pizza pie. One in particular caught my eye, Hawaiian; pineapple and Canadian bacon ( I was feeling homesick). So I ordered a large and ate 5 slices and saved 3 for breakfast, set up my tent and went right to bed.

I woke up around 3am to a crazy storm right overhead. The rain was coming down so hard that in my sleepy stupor I though for a second it was going to rip my tent fly. The lightning was right above me and the thunder was quick to follow. My next thought was “If this storm isn’t over in the morning, I’m not getting up.”

At 6:30am I woke up and not only was the storm over, but the sky was clear and bright blue! I packed up and headed out. My first stop was the Appalachian Market, a small convenience store. There I did a small resupply and bought a giant breakfast sandwich and then was on my way.

I was hiking with my friend Scrum and he waited for me while I called my friend Laura. We made it to the Bear Mountain bridge and crossed the Hudson river, stopping no less than 5 times to spit off the side. 🙂 The view was really nice!

We followed the white blazes across the road and right into a zoo! The zoo takes in local animals to rehabilitate them after accidents or injuries. We saw bald eagles, owls, deer, beavers and bears! After walking the zoo we met up with Starfish and Sherpa. We were all hungry for one thing… Ice cream. We found the vending machines and got our treats.

Right beside us was a swimming pool, and Starfish had heard from a NOBO that hikers get to swim for free! This was music to my ears since I hadn’t showered in about 5 or 6 days. We all hopped in and did a bit of swimming and a bit of scrubbing…

After swimming we hiked up Bear Mountain to our shelter. By this time it was pushing 6:30pm and we were all tired. The next shelter was only 3.5 miles away, but we could see from the top of the mountain that another storm was coming in. After a few minutes the sky opened up on us and we got power washed by the rain.

Just as we arrived at the shelter the rain stopped. There were 5 boy scouts camped out in the shelter so I set up my tent out back. I was pooped from all the excitement of the day and went right to sleep.

Another great day on the trail. I’ve hiked 6 states and am now in New Jersey hanging out in a church basement. 🙂

The Cookie Lady

Somewhere in Massachusetts there is a lady who lives just off the trail on a blueberry farm who has been giving cookies to hikers for many years. I’m not sure how this all came about, all I know is that I love cookies.

Sad Fish, Quickstep and I walked up to her property and saw that she lives on a blueberry farm. We heard earlier that the next shelter up the trail, Full Goose, serves pancakes for breakfast, and if you pick blueberries and bring them with you, they will put them in the pancakes.

The cookie lady wasn’t home, but her husband, the cookie man, was there and he brought us out 3 homemade chocolate chip cookies each. We also bought fresh hard boiled farm eggs and Klondike ice cream bars. Just as I finished my ice cream a man walked over with 2 big branches from a blueberry bush and told us he just trimmed a tree and we were welcome to eat all the berries. It was like a free for all. We picked those branches bare!

Just as I was getting a taste for the blueberries another hiker came in named Shipwreck. He told us that he was going to pick some to bring to Full Goose Shelter, I instantly volunteered to help him pick. Maybe I knew subconsciously why I volunteered to help, but I didn’t really mean to do what I did. It started with one or two blueberries, then a few more. One for the bucket, one for me. 3 for the bucket, 5 for me. Then before I knew what was happening I was going full force eating blueberries by the handful at lightning speed. They were SO GOOD! You couldn’t stop me if you tried. I looked over at Shipwreck and he was doing the same, we burst out laughing. We started to make excuses for our behavior saying that short people wouldn’t be able to reach the higher branches, so we were actually doing them a favor by eating them.

It was ridiculous, and delicious. My only regret is that I didn’t eat more. I didn’t know I loved blueberries that much.

The next day at Full Goose we had our pancakes with blueberries. Delicious!

The Bird Cage

As I neared Dalton, Mass I kept on seeing guys with Mohawks and hearing of this place called the Bird Cage where you can stay for free. I was hiking with Sad Fish, Quickstep and Scrum and we decided that we had to stay there.

We got Rob Bird’s (the guy who runs the Bird Cage) phone number from a NOBO and called him up the morning we strolled into North Adams, Mass. He picked us up in a big white 15 passenger van with no seats in the back, which is affectionately called Casper. Rob told us that Casper never passes a Dunkin’ Donuts and so he pulled in and bought us all these giant orange slushie type drinks topped with whipped cream and a dozen donuts. What a treat! We could hardly believe that just 20 minutes earlier we were on the trail and now we were cruising down the road with delicious treats and on our way to hot showers and beds.

Robs place was filled with photos of hikers and art work that hikers have left behind for him. You could tell right away that this man was loved by many. He takes a photo of every hiker that passes through and keeps it in a album with our contact info so that we can keep in touch with him.

That night he drove all 12 of us hikers down to the Old Country Buffet for dinner. We cleaned that place out! Plates were all piled high with tacos, salad, steaks, ham, veggies and dessert! You should have seen the dessert plates. This one guy put brownies, chocolate cake and cheese cake on the bottom and then used the soft serve ice cream to re-make Mt. Katahdin on top of it all.

The next day we hiked 24 miles over Mt Greylock and then stayed another night at Robs. It was nearly impossible to leave town. We were all having such a good time and we kept going to the restaurants and buying food. It was unlike me, I am usually quite frugal, but you couldn’t stop me. Bagels, coffee, breakfast sandwiches, wraps, frappes, chocolate bars, orange juice… I was on a roll.  We eventually left on the third day after stopping at the other hostel in town on the way out to eat more and watch a hilarious movie called “The Southbounders”. (I would recommend it if you are looking for a good laugh. It doesn’t really give you much of an idea about trail life though.)

Thank you to Rob Bird the trail angel for his hospitality and opening his house up to us.

Listens Birthday

I was hiking with Listen for a few days and knew her birthday was coming up soon. We were approaching a town and she wanted so badly to go in a sleep in a bed for her 23rd. Along the trail some North Bounders or NOBO’s had told us about this cool hostel you could stay at for free if you do some work for them. But they all warned us that although the people are all really nice, the place really cool and the food really good, the whole vibe at the hostel was a bit weird. This one NOBO named Meat said that it was some weirdo religious group who runs the place. That was enough to freak me out, but Listen guilt-ed me into going there because of her birthday.

When we arrived at the hostel we were greeted by many pony tailed men and women who were all very happy to see us and took us to our rooms to shower and get settled. The best hiker clothes we could find were long floral skirts and funny collared shirts. We told them we wanted work for stay and they put us to work washing floors and windows. The inside of the hostel was really cool. Everything was made of wood and it looked like we had stepped back in time to the middle ages or something. The furniture was all hand made and had a rustic feel. The music playing in the background was fiddle and flute type music and it sounded like I was in the movie A Nights Tale.

That night we went out and got ice cream and took it back to the cafe where they had root beer on tap and made birthday floats after our delicious dinner of turkey burgers, salad and chili. The next day Listen and I met with a lady named Meg Wilson who is writing a book about female thru hikers. She took us out for brunch and asked us some questions about our hike. We are both pretty excited about the possibility of being in a book. We plan to meet up with Meg in each state as we head south so we can share our experiences with her.

Nothing weird happened at the Yellow Deli Hostel while I was there. The people all seemed really nice and friendly. They are part of a religious group called the 12 Tribes, I’m not sure what their beliefs are. I hear there is another hostel down the trail, I think I will check it out.

Happy 23rd Listen! 🙂

Hikin’ with my Bestie!

My week spent with Laura was lots and lots of fun. I wanted to start her off slowly so that she wouldn’t get too tired or hurt herself, but she did so well that I think I could have pushed her harder! She came for the last section of the Whites which meant we still had a few BIG climbs up to 4800ft.

The first day before we got on the trail we took a shuttle into town to get some lunch and to mail something at the post office. Laura was all decked out in hiker gear looking like the cleanest hiker you’ve ever seen. People kept on stopping to talk to her and she was loving all the attention, but any real hiker could tell by her bright white shirt and nice clean legs that she hadn’t been on the trail yet. We ate turkey burgers in a cafe and then headed to the trail.

The first part was along a paved bike path through the woods and Laura kept saying “Is this how the whole trail is? I could get used to this.” But after the 3rd day when we did one of the tougher climbs on the trail she shut up. Just as we reached the shelter it started to down pour on us, and shortly after 3 of my friends arrived soaking wet. We all piled into the shelter and the rain stopped shortly after.

The next day we climbed the rest of the way up Moosiloke Mt and 4000ft peak. At the top there were lots of rocks that people had piled up into different shapes, so naturally, we made an Inukshuk to represent and show some Canadian pride (not that any Americans would recognize what it was).

The next few days were filled with hilarious hitch hikes, ridiculous characters and incredible hospitality. At the “Ice Cream Mans” house (yes, a man who give out FREE ice cream to hikers who stop by his house), we met a nice lady named Sue who invited us to her house for dinner, laundry, showers, beds and a ride back to town the next morning; an offer we could not refuse.

One rainy day we spent over 3 hours sitting outside a gas station eating salad, ice cream, drinking chocolate milk and talking to people about the trail. I tell ya, you meet more people when you smell like muggy B.O. and carry a big ol’ back pack than you ever do when you are clean and carry a purse!

We had a great week and lots of adventures both in town and in the woods. I am still welcoming friends and family to come out and hike or visit for as long or as little as you’d like.