I have a little bit of time to update before Djangle and Mzungu get here. Ah yes, an explaination is due: Eli goes by Djangle on the trail and we both started hiking with a fellow by the name of Mzungu (Swahili for 'white guy') about three weeks ago. I'm sitting right now at the Mohican Outdoor Center in NJ waiting for them so we can make new plans for the night because the next 10 miles of trail are closed for about three days due to a forest fire that started yesterday. I know what you're all saying: "but Paps, you won't have hiked all 2,178 miles!?". Well, I think exceptions can be made. It's just a damn shame these 10 miles aren't in the Northern part of PA- what every single NoBo has said to be their least favorite section. This is due to the 40 miles of trail comprised of nothing but football-sized rocks turned pointy side up, most of which is exposed to the sun for hours at a time. C'est la vie.
The whole trail has been magnificent. While some days are more action-packed than others or may provide more spectacular views, each state posesses it's own unique sights and experiences. I am constantly in awe and wonderment at the beauty in our very own backyards. We all have such an amazing resource at our fingertips and yet very few turn to Nature for answers to questions, heals for our hurts or satisfying so many other human needs and desires.
In the past 3 weeks I've traveled through VT, MA, CT, NY and NJ now. We stayed with the 12 Tribes at one of their intentional communities in Rutland, VT, the Back Home Again Cafe. Doing work trade got us showers, meals, a place to sleep and the wonderful comfort of a loving and selfless community in which we learned of their ways, rested, relaxed and generally got back in a great mindset. Here we watched Toy Story 3 in 3D. What a shock to go from such natural stimulation to this sort of production. Still great though :). I met up with another hiker who started the same day as us, but who we haven't seen since. Met a 75 year old woman who is completing a through-hike she started last year. She attempted her first IronMan in her mid-60s and made it to me 21 only to be cut off because of the time limit. But she was still going!
In Dalton, MA I stayed at Tom Levardi's house. Tom has been taking in hikers and giving them all the necessary hostel accomodations for free for the last 30 years. He really is a trail legend. He gave all of us an environment in which it was easy to take my mind off my swollen feet for which I am always thankful.
Connecticut had some big beautiful old trees and nice river walks. And it was expensive. That's about it for CT.
New York broght the Deli Hop, a chance to stop once or twice a day and get New York deli sandwiches. I had a Reuben, a pastrami and Swiss, an Italian, and several more. I think I managed to gain some more weight back. Hurray!
Someone left beer and all kinds of other snacks in a cooler for hikers on the side of the trail off of NY52. It just happened to be at 7:45AM so I had a beer or 4 with my deli sandwich and coffee. Hey, it's a great, readily accesible source of calories. Some other trail angel was parked beside the road a few days later giving away coke, apples, candy, fuel and socks. I can't think of a better gift for a hiker: food and socks.
New jersey is surprisingly beautiful! I say surprisingly because I only really think of Jersey City and the like.
Stayed at the house of the former Mayor of Unionville, NY for a few nights where we got free and cheap beer. I'll write more later about The Mayor's because it deserves its own. This guy is an amazing person who opens his home to hikers to give them the encouragement to finish the journey. Amazing.
And now, here I am at The Presbyterian Church of the Mountain hostel in Delaware Water Gap, PA. 7 states down and 7 to go.
I hope all of you out there are having a wonderful Summer and know that I miss each of you. Stay well!