8/2 Stealth Camping before Orange Turnpike (20)

August 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm

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We woke up today with the sun and got an early start.  We were pretty excited to have a goal and to attempt our twenties across NY.  Unfortunately, we had no idea what we were in for.  The terrain was terrible. 

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There were trees blown down across the trail everywhere, making the already rough and rocky terrain into a total obstacle course. The trail was mostly slick rock that had just been wet by last night’s rain, and the ups and downs were all dangerous scrambles or drops off of cliffs.  In many places, we had to drop our packs and our poles before lowering our bottom halves over cliff edges and dropping ten or so feet to the rocky floor. 

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At least a ladder was provided here.

The trail was also pretty poorly marked and required a lot of orienteering.  There were many sections where the old trail hadn’t been blocked off or had its white blazes erased, so that two trails seemed to vie for the title of the AT, or where other mystery trails intersected with the unmarked AT at crucial turning points and led you astray.  Mostly though, we were just confused by the sections that seemed to disappear off a cliff face or be completely obscured by blowdowns with all their branches.  Today felt like bushwhacking. 

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So much America, though.

When we finally made our way up a small hill at sunset to find K2 and a new friend making food, we gladly decided to set up camp.  Kitchen Sink had just started hiking in Jersey and got his name from K2, who thought that he was carrying everything but.  He had a real “Springer Pack” loaded up with backups of backups and more than he would ever need and he was eagerly making all of us food after a day of hiking with it.  “Please eat this extra weight” he urged us with a heavy Jersey accent.  Then he spent the rest of the night telling us stories and keeping us laughing. 

In the midst of our little campfire, an older man huffed and puffed his way up the hill to find us and tell us he was bringing us breakfast tomorrow.  We were all in shock a little bit and couldn’t believe someone was going to so much work to do something kind for us.  We gladly accepted and Hedley told us he’d meet us at the road at 7, which meant we would get another early start.  Kitchen Sink passed around a giant glass bottle of rum that he produced from his overflowing pack and we all went to sleep happy and excited for the morning.