Hey friends! I am writing this post from Upper Goose Pond Cabin, in Massachusetts. It’s a really cool cabin on Upper Goose Pond, with great swimming and even a few canoes for hikers to use. There is a care-taker who makes a pancake breakfast every morning, so I’m looking forward to that when I wake up tomorrow. I ran into my friend Bebop here whom I haven’t seen since Damascus, VA, so it’s been fun catching up with him and hearing what he’s been up to. Before I get any further north, I wanted to write a post on New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
I was counting down the miles until reaching the New Jersey border, as I couldn’t wait to be out of Pennsylvania. While the beginning of NJ was still a bit rocky, it mellowed out quickly and gave way to some really enjoyable hiking. My feet finally got a break from constant rocks and I couldn’t have been happier about it. I put in a few good days and the state flew by. The most memorable part of the section for me was a long section of board walk which wound through a wetland area. It was really nice to walk on a different surface for a little while, and cool to see such a different environment than I’m usually walking through. I also got off trail for a couple of days and visited Emily’s home town of Pearl River, NY. We had a lot of fun, and I got my first taste of New York pizza and bagels. I got back on the trail after a couple of days hanging with her, and before I knew it I had reached the NJ\NY border.
New York…. What a state. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of hiking there. I learned quickly that if I started early and hiked fast in the morning, I could reach a deli or pizza shop almost EVERY DAY by noon or so when the heat was really becoming unbearable. Yes, basically every 20 miles or so there is a deli and/or pizza shop within 1/2 mile of the trail. IT WAS A DREAM. I thought the Way Side restaurants in SNP would be hard to beat, but this was a whole new sort of amazing. I would typically stroll into an air conditioned pizza shop around noon, and savor a few slices and a massive soda. I always ordered my slices one at a time, in order to hang out in the AC for at least a few hours. For dessert I’d have some ice cream or a cannoli, whatever was calling my name. Before heading back to the trail, I’d swing by the deli and pick up a large sub sandwich, or “wedge,” potato chips, and a brownie or cookie to pack out for dinner. So I was eating delicious food every day, and only carrying about a day and half of food at time. I really wish I could hike the entire trail the way I hiked through New York. Aside from the trailside delis, the highlight of New York for me was taking a train into NYC for a few days.
As I hiked the trail through NY, I could see the Manhattan skyline in the horizon several times. I figured since I was already so close, it would be a shame not to pop in for a visit. I made plans to travel in from Pawling, NY, where there is a rickety wooden boarding platform directly on the trail. It’s a pretty funny site. I took a Metro North train from Pawling directly to Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Stepping off the train into a sea of people in the station was a real trip. After walking around the city for a little while I met my cousin Nick for drinks in East Village. After a few beers he brought me to a speakeasy which was really awesome. We entered the place through a phone booth inside of a hot dog place. They were mixing some incredible cocktails, and it was a really cool experience. Later that night I went on a pizza tour, walking from pizza place to pizza place and trying a slice at each one.
The next night I stayed in Brooklyn at the home of my friend Thibaud. We met last year while we were both traveling through Bangkok, Thailand. We had a great time reminiscing about a couple of wild nights we had there. His wonderful wife Daniela cooked a feast of salad, pasta, and meatballs, and I went to sleep feeling fat and happy. The next morning I ate an amazing bagel before taking the subway back to Grand Central. I boarded a train back to Pawling, and arrived about 2 hours later. I stopped in town for one last slice of New York pizza, then got back to the trail and crossed into Connecticut a couple of hours later.
Connecticut only lasted a couple of days, but I was pretty impressed and surprised by how beautiful it was. I guess I wasn’t expecting much for some reason, but it turned out to be really nice. The trail was smooth, the heat was tolerable, and there were some excellent views.
I’ve been in Massachusetts for a few days now and it’s been pretty great. There have been some awesome swimming opportunities, several good climbs, and many great views. My Aunt Deb and Uncle Erik also drove out from Boston to see me near Great Barrington, MA, which was a treat. We spent a night at their friends’ home in the area, visited Edith Wharton’s home, and enjoyed some great food and beer. The next day they hiked a few miles up the trail with me before saying goodbye. They brought me an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies. Talk about trail magic!
In just a couple more days I’ll be in Vermont, and there will be only three states left between me and Katahdin. I can’t believe how far I’ve come since April, and I’m excited to get back into some real mountains. I’m slowing things down to enjoy this last month and a half. 641 miles to Katahdin…