End: Wildcat Shelter, on AT
Today was a long day. It was really nice to have my mom join me.
Last night we got hit with some thunderstorms and, though the tent held up well and kept us dry, we awoke to a lake all around our tent.
In the morning we passed the intersection of the AT and the Long Path. It was 50 miles south on the LP to the George Washington Bridge, where I started. We took the AT. I'll rejoin the Long Path in 82 miles.
We made our way out of Harriman Park, crossed the NY Thruway, and had to tackle Agony Grind, a short but steep rock scramble. We crossed paths with a lot of AT thru-hikers, all heading north (we were going south). We had to minimize our breaks because we were meeting my dad, who would take my mom back home.
In the afternoon we got more rain, with thunder in the distance. We climbed to Mombasha High Point, but the overcast sky meant the view wasn't great.
I told my mom about the cemetary from a few days ago (with barely any headstones), and she knew exactly what it was - Lechworth Village Cemetary! Lechworth Village was a mental hospital that used to be in the area. That would explain the nameless graves - patients.
The sky cleared up later in the day, and we passed a beautiful waterfall (25 feet) before meeting up with my dad and Molly. I dumped some of my food with them and they gave me a Chipotle burrito for dinner. Just then the sky got grey and it was going to rain again. We all said goodbye, and I was off on the trail by myself again.
It started to rain really hard and I covered the 1.5 miles to the shelter - uphill - in 25 minutes! (Now if only I could keep up that pace all day!) When I got there, it was full with AT thru-hikers, but I was able to wait out the rain in there with them. It was so nice that there was a campfire going when I got there. Even in the rain, they kept it going. I hadn't made a fire yet on my trip, because the wood has been too wet, but Ryan and Sire had started the fire before the rain started.
The other hikrs didn't talk much, and I didn't get their names. Then Big Turtle came an hour after I did. He was a character - a Vietnam Vet who rolled his own cigarettes and loved to talk and laugh at himself in his raspy voice.
As my mom rightly put it, there's a whole culture and community on the AT. Most thru-hikers started in Georgia in March or April, heading north to Maine. I'm encoutering the early part of the northbound wave. Since I got on the AT, I've crossed paths with about 15 hikers each day.
Some quick terminology for those who don't know... Thru-hikers are people who hike the trail in one trip or hiking season. (Technically I'm thru-hikng the Long Path, but it's not quite the five-month jouney that the AT is.) Section-hikers do the trail in sections, and it can take years to complete.
Most hikers on the AT go by trail names (like Dutch, Bones, Big Turtle). Trail names are usually given to them on the trail by other hikers. I felt a little weird introducing myself by my real name. Maybe I'll get a trail name before I leave the AT...
I set up my tent near the shelter and went to bed quickly.
We passed a lot of trail magic today. Trail magic on the AT is when someone gives stuff to hikers - food, water, anything. We mostly saw jugs of clean water, left by trail angels for hikers to fill up. Trail angels are people who provide help to hikers, such as trail magic, rides, etc. Dutch had told us about some trail magic where a trail angel pulled their car up to the trailhead and had free food and beer for hikers. Too bad I missed that one by a day... :)