16 miles, 1371.9 overall (Stealth camp, Mombasha High Point)
I get up reluctantly at 5 but fall back asleep. At 5:30 I wake again and this time I have to get up. I pack up and by the time I’m eating my breakfast the ridge runner is also up and Scholar is making noises like she’ll be up soon. I get out of the shelter at 6:10 but I’m low on water so I stop off at a state park only 0.2 miles off the trail. The detour is successful but takes almost 20 minutes.
The trail this morning is quiet but it is starting to have annoying PUD’s (pointless ups and downs) which had been largely nonexistent since Virginia. New York will have more of them, so I’m told. I am only a few miles from the border and will reach it shortly. As I hike I think primarily about 2 things. First, it is the 3 month anniversary of the day I started in Georgia. It seems like so much longer ago that I started, which makes the end, being another 2 months away, seem all the more distant. Luckily I have several border crossings and a few visits with friends to look forward to on the way. Second, it is the summer solstice, which means it is Hike Naked Day. I contemplate whether I should hike in the buff for a little while. It is tempting, but eventually I decide that I am too afraid of ticks getting someplace unpleasant to actually hike naked.
Around the time I come to this decision I climb up a large rock wall and find the NJ/NY state line. There are actually 2 markings, one marked SL (presumably State Line) and the other marked with the state abbreviations. They aren’t too far apart so I focus on the one with the state abbreviations because it makes for better pictures. There is also a register there and I get a kick out of reading some of the entries from the hikers ahead of me. Rook was sad she didn’t see Snooki in NJ and in the column “how many days have you been hiking?” a common response is infinity.
Once I take care of pictures and logging myself in (I put pi for the number of days) I hike on and soon pass the highest point on the AT in NY. It’s all downhill from here! Just beyond it the trail runs through a sort of canyon in the rocks and in that space I find a doe and fawn on the trail. They see me and start walking away but they don’t run and they stay on the trail. I follow them, trying to remain slow and quiet, and am able to get within about 15 feet and get a crisp picture of them both before they decide they would like some more space and walk away.
A few miles later I reach the 10 mile mark for the day at a road crossing where the data book informs me there is ice cream to be had 0.3 miles up the road. The distance is worth it, especially for the possibility of a place to hang out for several hours. It has gotten hot and it is time to hunker down and wait for the afternoon. On the way to the ice cream shop (Bellvale Farm Creamery) I see a hot dog stand. It isn’t open but there is a man inside who seems to be prepping to open. I take note as this would make for a perfect combination.
When I arrive at the creamery I find out I doesn’t open until 12. It is 10:30. It seems like a long time to wait. I go to the back of the building to contemplate my options and as I’m settling down a woman who I assume is the owner pops out. She asks if I am there for ice cream and I explain that I had seen the sign and was just about to decide if I wanted to wait. She ushers me inside and instead of waiting I end up with a waffle cone and a root beer which she says are on the house! Amazing! The wonderful woman has to go pick up her son from school so I have to eat outside. No problem. I assume the seat in the shade on the pavement that I was previously about to secure and I spend the next 30 minutes eating ice cream and relaxing.
Once I’m done I decide to stick around. The shade isn’t so bad and I don’t need to hike a ton more today. Around 11:30 a girl arrives and starts opening the shop and at noon customers start arriving. I decide to get out of the way by heading to the hot dog stand where I procure the “special,” 2 hot dogs with 1 topping each (I pick cooked onions), chips, and a soda. When I finish I head back to the creamery. I go in and buy another waffle cone, partly because I can eat more, partly to support their business since the woman was so nice, and partly so I don’t feel bad about sitting in their air conditioned building for the next 3 hours. Around 1:30 I’m joined by a flush-faced Scholar who took too long getting out of camp this morning and has been walking in the heat. She gets a milkshake and joins me in squatting at a table.
I find ways to kill time playing on my phone until 3:30 (they even let me charge the phone, what a hiker-friendly place! Go buy stuff from them!) when I decide it is time to head out. On the way I see Porkroll on his way in. He also slept in too long and paid the price, but he is about to feel better.
I start hiking again but take my time. Anything I hike at this point just takes miles away from what I have to hike tomorrow. I plan to stop for a break at the shelter 2 miles away but I miss it. Apparently the podcasts I downloaded for learning Chinese while I was at the creamery are incredibly engrossing! I cross a road and shortly arrive at a waterfall where I fill my water. I would think about stopping but a group is already camped there. I continue, hoping for a campsite at the top of the next ridge where there is supposed to be a view. The view is not what it is cracked up to be and there are no campsites, so I continue on again. It is getting past 6:00 and I’m starting to get anxious when on the way down the ridge I find a little clearing where obviously people have camped before. It will do perfectly and I set up camp, even finding an old tent stake in the ground that somebody forgot. I fix dinner, give Christy a call, and I’m in my tent earlier than usual at 7:30. The campsite is a full 6 miles past the creamery, leaving me with about 19 miles to do tomorrow to reach the shelter and set myself up for picking up my mail drop 2 days from now. For now I will fall asleep to the hum of mosquitoes outside my tent while I am safely ensconced inside on the Appalachian Trail.