June 14

Start: Big Hill Shelter
End: Fingerboard Shelter, Harriman SP
Mileage: 9

Today was a short and relaxing day. My mom wanted to join me for some of my trip, and she came tonight and will leave tomorrow.

So much for what I said about my Kevlar bags being rodent-proof. Last night a family of mice chewed into one of the bags and feasted on EVERTHING! It's a good thing my mom came with more food today.

Much of what I hiked today I had already hiked last May on my leader training trip for Outdoor Action (a weeklong backpacking trip for incoming freshman, one of Princeton's pre-orientation programs). We had also stayed at Big Hill shelter.

The morning went pretty quickly. I passed St. John's in the Wilderness Church, an old but still active church that is along a road but, well, "in the wilderness" almost. It must've been around before Harriman State Park was created, because I think it's the only private land in the middle of the park.

There are a lot of bikers who use the roads in Harriman (both bicyclists and motorcyclists, neiter of whom had much respect for other users of the road. I also saw a lot of people out for day hikes.

After passing Lake Skanattati, the trail went through some areas that used to have heavy mining. The "mines" were still there - big holes in the ground filled with water. I also passed through an area that looked like it had been through a forest fire in the past 20 years. There were lots of burned trees and young forest growth.

So often we hear of forests being cleared for housing developments, mining, or other purposes. But much of the area I have walked through these past few days has been the reverse - formerly developed areas that were preserved and turned into forests.

Around 3, I got to Lake Tiorati, where I was to meet my mom at 5. Until then, I went for a swim at the public beach and dried out my socks and boots. The swim was pretty refreshing, but it was no hot shower!

Right before my parents and sister Molly came, I met my first Appalachian Trail hikers of the trip - Pony Express and High Octane. Pony Express was a teacher doing part of the AT for summer vacation - how cool! They were filling up water and then moving on, but I was excited to see AT thru-hikers.

For the next few days, I will be on the Appalachian Trail. Because the Orange County section of the Long Path has too many road walks, the suggested thru-hiking route is to take the AT from its intersection with Long Path in Harriman SP south to High Point monument, then the 30-mile Shawangunk Ridge Trail north from High Point, rejoining the Long Path in Wurtsboro, NY.

When my mom came we had sandwiches for dinner at the lake, then hiked 1 mile to the shelter, where we met Dutch and Bones, AT thru-hikers. A few more AT hikers came in after dark, when we were in our tent.


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