Monday, July 12, 2010

One Thumb in the Air for the Big City

Here I am, sitting squeaky clean in my friend's apartment in New York City.  You may be asking yourself "How on Earth did Thunder get to New York City"?  Sure enough, the trail doesn't go through Central Park, but I am going to be walking through it in a few hours. It's an interesting story, but the fully understand my New York state of mind we have to go back a few days to the New Jersey/ New York line.

Numerous people have warned me about the often overlooked difficulty of the Appalachian Trail in New York.  It's short, just like New Jersey, but it's steep and rocky.  Remember my description of the Roller Coaster, a section of trail in Virginia that is difficult due to its pointless ups and downs? If those hills in Virginia had a baby with the rocks in Pennsylvania they would name it New York.  I should give it a break though, because under normal circumstances it wouldn't be too bad.  It was just HOT. Again, 100+ degree days on the trail are no picnic.  The heat just zaps all of our energy and causes dehydration and sickness.  Every day during this recent heat spell was harder than the previous, and it definitly took a toll on us.  I was reluctant to go to bed every night because I dreaded waking up in the morning and walking.  That's not how it's supposed to be.  I found myself fantasizing about playing Flash games in an air-conditioned office cubicle.  

So in an act of desperation, another thru-hiker, Heads Up, and I hitched into Greenwood Lake, NY.  This was the one time on the trail that I most wanted to stay in a hotel.  I almost threw my budget into the wind and said screw it, it won't matter if I'm broke if I die of heat exhaustion.  But I really do want to make it to Katahdin, so we did the next best thing.  We went to Subway in an attempt to sit in the air conditioning all day.  Just our luck- the AC was broken, but it was a cool 86 degrees and we were able to drink gallons of fountain drinks to rehydrate. It was actually a blessing that the AC was broken because it was easier to start hiking again.

Heads Up and I hiked some big miles together to make it to the train station by Sunday.  I was planning on a trip to NYC to visit my friend Mallory in Manhattan and pick someone up at the airport.  There is a train station on the trail near Pawling, NY but the train only runs on weekends.  After three 20+ mile days pushing for the train station, Heads Up gave up and hitched a ride from the trail to the bus to the city. I was on my own to finish two more 20+ mile days

I made it to the train station, only to find that the schedule was wrong and I was three hours early!  I was starving and fantasizing about ice cream.  The station was actually just a platform next to the train tracks and there was no TCBY for miles around.  Well the second-best trail magic of my hike occured.  As I was sitting in the shade, a day hiker came to the platform.  I thought she was taking the train into the city, so we starting talking.  She was actually just waiting for a friend and was then going to drive into Manhattan.  She offered me a ride and said "as long as you don't mind stopping for ice cream first".  Was I dreaming? Nope.  I had lunch and ice cream with Cathy and Khristine.  Then I rode with Cathy to Brooklyn and we took the Subway to Manhattan.  It was wonderful to have someone help me navigate the Subway and point me in the right direction in the big city.  The universe provides!

The city has been unreal, but I am really enjoying it.  It's nice to walk around and see so much going on around me- these people are much more entertaining than the chipmunks and squirrels I have been watching lately.  One thing I have noticed is that people really don't pay attention to anyone but themselves.  I was nervous about being so dirty and smelly in the city, but aside from one girl who moved away from me on the Subway, no one has even looked at me.  It's kind of sad after experiencing the instant connections that I have with other hikers when I meet them.  Also, I am reminded of what I love about the woods in the first place.  It's a simpler life with less things.  But I'll admit, I did enjoy seeing people wearing cute clothes, and Mallory even let me borrow a dress to wear for the day.

Now I'm off to navigate the subway/bus system alone so I can go to the airport to pick up Day Tripper.  Yes, he is coming back to the trail!!! Unfortunately only until Rutland, VT- about two weeks.  Then I'll be on my own again for the White Mountains and Maine.  We're going to walk around Central Park this evening, which I'm not too excited about because I don't want to walk anywhere but north on the AT.  My feet hurt.

No wonder they hurt, another milestone has been reached.  I am officially 2/3 of the way from Georgia to Maine!



  1. Congrats on your success thus far!! We are more than proud of you and love to read about your adventure! Enjoy your time with Day Tripper, I'm sure he's just as happy to see you as you are him. Many blessings!

  2. That's great to hear you 2/3 complete! Not much further now! Hope NYC is treating you well. Safe Travels


  3. big lights big dreams all lookin pretty =) congrats. keep on keeping on!