Saturday, February 6, 2016

Southbound on the Appalachian Trail 2015: New York

Spoon, Footloose, and Taco hiking in New York on a perfect summer evening...
A few memories come to mind when I think of hiking through New York on the AT last summer. Heat, few water sources, delis, hiking with and eventually saying goodbye to Footloose, Spoon, and Taco, losing my camera and then finding it, crossing the Hudson, and hiking through a zoo. Civilization never seemed far from the trail either, in fact, much of New England felt that way to me except for Maine and New Hampshire. It was a strange feeling at times to literally be walking through people's backyards at times.

Footloose, Taco, and Spoon relax around a fire playing tunes

Crossing the Hudson River
I started to develop and be consumed by what felt like an unhealthy expectation on the trail: Daily access to roadside stores. I simply could not get enough ice cream and soda, and just straight up junk food walking through New York. In fact, I drank 4 Dr. Peppers in one day near Bear Mountain, which usually left me feeling kind of disgusted with myself. It really seemed to disrupt any hiking rhythm I had hoped to develop. At the same time, there were excellent trail side stops like Tony's deli and Bellvale Farms that really hit the spot after a long, hot day on the trail.

Bellvale Farms: a perfect trail break

Spoon, Footloose, and Taco hike towards Tony's deli
Once again, I really enjoyed the company of Footloose, Spoon, and Taco, and camped with them on several occasions. After a long day, sitting around the fire playing songs or telling stories always hit the spot. Unfortunately, I had to say goodbye to those guys shortly after Bear Mountain. I accidentally lost my camera one morning along the trail and spent half a day looking for it. Miraculously, I found it along a highway median after having about a 2 and a half mile search zone which I walked back and forth on twice. By this time, Footloose, Spoon, and Taco were half a day or more ahead. I also started feeling real worn down around this point. I guess my age was finally starting to catch up to me. The next day I had to set up camp at 4:00pm and slept until morning. My hiking style changed from this point on, I stopped really pushing myself and took a more relaxed approach. It wasn't long before Footloose and company were days ahead. I fell into more of an independent rhythm again, focusing on my body's needs. That is simply the nature of these trails.
The most magnificent trail tree in my opinion: the Dover Oak.

Another awesome Oak tree in New York
One of the more bizarre sections of the trail was hiking through the zoo near Bear Mountain. There were bears, snakes, owls, eagles and other animals.  For some reason, there were huge vultures all over the place. I'll never forget the visual of seeing a young deer on exhibit at the zoo. The deer was lying down under a small wooden overhang in a pile of straw. There were at least a dozen, enormous, black vultures quietly standing around the deer. They all looked at me when I stood there almost with the expression "What are you looking at, does this seem strange to you?" I also remember feeling like a wild animal compared to the other tourists. I was ready to get out of there ASAP.
Footloose and Spoon at the Hudson River Bridge

New York City skyline
As I mentioned, water was hard to come by in New York. At the time, I was sad to leave the fantastic spring water of New England behind. New York seemed to be an anomaly in retrospect, as pretty much every other state on the AT had great regular water sources. There were several water caches set up by trail angels along the trail as a result. Once again, before I knew it, another state was in the rear view mirror as I entered New Jersey on August 23rd...


  1. It's good to see all of your pictures from the trails :) How do you guys fund your hiking adventures? I assume you must have very flexible careers or do work online. I am asking out of curiosity of course!

  2. Hey Cody,

    I can only speak for myself, but I've been fortunate to work with kids with autism the entire time I've been hiking. Employee turnover rate can be quite high at times, my employers have been awesome and seem to understand that we need breaks to "re charge the batteries" so to speak. They have hired me back thankfully after each hike, and I feel like I'm able to do better work as a result of stepping away for a bit.

    That being said, I have had to live a pretty frugal life as a result. The only thing I really own of significance is my car. I've haven't had health insurance in almost a decade. I have no wife or kids to support. I have no idea what's going to happen when I get older as I have very little saved. It's going to be a faith walk I guess, much like hiking, believing everything will work out some how, and if not, will have to find a way to adjust. I guess that's the flip side of the coin of being able to do these trips...

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