New York. We’ve had quite a time here. The heat and humidity continue to be a challenge, and the trail here has been going relentlessly up and down, with some rock scrambles and even a ladder bolted to the rock face we had to climb. But the forest is so beautiful, open and grassy, and the scrambles, while tough, are really fun. They make me feel like a kid. And we’ve gotten some amazing trail magic here. I wanted to tell two stories.
The first begins with a mistake. After the PA rocks my shoes were shot, so I ordered some new ones from Amazon and sent them to the post office of the next town we planned to hit for food. Unfortunately it didn’t register that Amazon ships UPS, which can’t be delivered to a post office. So when we showed up, my package was not there. Eric got on the phone and found it, at a UPS store half an hour away.
Without a car that might as well be the other side of the planet. We didn’t know what to do. But then, while Eric was on the phone trying to work something out, an employee at the store overheard and offered to meet us at a road crossing the next day, his day off, and hand deliver it to us.
We couldn’t believe it, and tried not to get our hopes up in case it didn’t work out. But the next day when we got to the road and called, Mike showed up within three minutes and handed me my shoes. He did it properly, of course, and asked for my ID first. And he took away my old shoes and the box to throw it away for me. It couldn’t have worked out better.
Then, a few days later, we were hiking our last mile or two of the day, looking for a place to camp, when we found a cooler full of much needed water and a box of business cards offering a shower, meal, and place to sleep for the night. We debated for a minute but were enticed by the mention of a “hearty meal”, so Animal called and we decided to check it out. John gave us directions to his house a half mile away. When we got there, he brought us inside, got us clean clothes to wear, directed us to the shower, and started washing our laundry. His wife Susan cooked up a feast of chicken tikka masala, tabbouleh, rice, falafel, and pita. Two south bounders were staying the night too. After dinner, we watched HGTV and then fell deep asleep.
In the morning John cooked us French toast and offered to slack pack us 17 miles and bring us back there to repeat the whole miracle over again. Eric and I had both been fighting a cold for several days and were feeling really tired. We accepted eagerly. We did 17 really hard miles that day. It couldn’t have been better timed.
Johns picked us up at the end of the day. We cleaned up again while he grilled steaks and hamburgers. He also made amazing guacamole and nachos for appetizers. We hit the HGTV again until we couldn’t keep our eyes open, then slept again in a bed.
I was overwhelmed by John and Susan’a generosity. It’s hard to accept such gifts graciously. The whole thing was so, so needed at the time, too. It’s one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.
So that’s been New York. We’ve got a few more days here, and then we’ll cross into New England. I really can’t believe it. Lately, when I feel weak hiking, I have to remind myself where I am and that I walked here from Georgia. All I can say: wow.