I started my time in New York in a less than ideal way. I slipped and fell. Hard. In the mud. Cheeto was there and can confirm that it was a good one.
Just like previous state crossings, it felt like the landscape changed. It probably didn’t, but apparently crossing made up lines has a bigger psychological impact than I thought. Anyhow, right off the bat New York hit us with some beautiful fields, on which stood what I assume is water towers. Not only was the terrain different, the temperature was a little cooler and therefore a little more pleasant. The trail continued through beautiful maple forest on mellow hills.
On the first day of entering the state, Cheeto and I made it to a highway and an outdoor centre/botanical garden (don’t ask, it was very random and I have no idea). We met another hiker named Fifty and her dog. We decided to walk 0.6 miles down the road to Tony’s Deli, drawn by the siren song of food that doesn’t come in a vacuum sealed bag and has an expiration date of April 2027.
I ordered a breakfast wrap despite it being sometime in the afternoon and a beverage that may or may not have been alcoholic. The fact that we very discreetly had to drink them with brown paper bags wrapped around the can I think gives it away. Because of food and that being more or less the most important thing in a hikers life, we stayed longer than planned. So long that we paid $2 to camp in the yard of the deli. To give you a feel for the location of this campsite (and because I don’t have a picture), imagine a railway and a busy highway right next to each other. So close that there is very limited space in between for anything. Got it? Good, because that spot in between is literally where we camped. And somehow, miraculously, I actually did sleep.
New York had a lot of cool things. Here’s a list, because everyone loves a good list.
- The Dover Oak. The largest tree on the AT. 6 feet (180 cm) in diameter.
- Nuclear Lake. Terrible name for a beautiful lake. I swam in it, trying to acquire superpowers. Didn’t work.
- An American flag painted on the top of a mountain.
- The RPH shelter, where you’re so close to society that you can order a pizza. Which of course happened.
- The Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River.
- Bear Mountain of which I apparently didn’t take a single picture. I’ll make an attempt at describing it though. It’s a popular weekend destination for New Yorkers. You can drive to the top, unless you’re on the AT, because that would be cheating. The AT takes the fun route instead. A million steps cut in stone. Quite impressive, but also not the easiest mountain I’ve walked over.
- The Lemon Squeezer. It sounds like a cocktail but it’s not. It’s a rock. Or two to be more precise. Two rocks located just close enough to where you can squeeze through the middle.
All in all, I really liked New York. New Jersey however, is a completely different story.
Now, New Jersey started like most other states on the trail. It had rocks, trees and white blazes. Doesn’t sound so bad, you might say. Well, you’d be wrong. There were mosquitos EVERYWHERE. And not the kind that just merely went away with a measly swat. No, these mosquitos came at me with everything they had, a full-scale military operation of the highest degree. Highly skilled, blood drenching, winged mini vampire bugs coming at me from every direction. Now, that might sound a little exaggerated, because it is. It was never as bad as Oregon got on the PCT and they never managed to take all my blood, so I count it as a win.
The only good thing about New Jersey is that it’s short. Ok, maybe that’s a little harsh, there were actually a couple of things that weren’t terrible. The lakes for example! There were several lakes to swim in, which was really nice seeing that it was 200 degrees outside. Also, New Jersey provided very easy walking, no real ups and downs, as well as decent trail. Until the rocks appeared that is. Just south of High Point State Park, the trail is covered in rocks. And not the round, boulderish, friendly kind in Maine and New Hampshire. No, these are jagged rocks that have perfected the skill of ruining shoes and hurting a lot. Little did I know at the time, but this was a taste of what Pennsylvania had to offer.
So all in all, even though the two states are somewhat similar, they were also polar opposites. At least in my case. Some people had completely flipped experiences. Also, notice how there’s a severe lack in pictures anytime I’m not fully enjoying myself. So much for an accurate, non romanticised depiction of the trail.
On a clear and sunny day Spirit and I crossed the bridge into Pennsylvania. If I had known what was waiting, I might have just quit right there and then. Again, I’m being overly dramatic, but check in soon for the full presentation on why the AT should be rerouted completely around Pennsylvania.