A day on the trail

I’ll start with last night. A BBQ place in Fort Montgomery, NY, was featuring a special called The Pig Out. Porter challenged me to eat it, and being the competitive person that I am, I accepted. It was a half rack of ribs, half BBQ chicken, pulled pork, kielbasa, and some other unidentifiable pork. Plus cornbread and two sides – I chose Mac ‘n’ cheese. Two hours later I limped back to my hotel room clutching my stomach in defeat. I couldn’t eat the kielbasa.

The next morning rolled around and I woke up feeling worse than I did the night before. I started to pack up to hit the trail, but decided a forced vomit was needed. After reliving the night before in a bad way, we headed out. I grabbed two yogurts while Pace tried unsuccessfully to call a cab. We ended up begging the manager to let a desk worker drive us two miles to where we got off the trail the day before. We offered her $20 but she refused. In our usual order – Pace, me, and Porter – we started our hike across the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson. We had to cross a crosswalk and waited a solid five minutes since NY traffic stops for no one. After a truck with New Hampshire plates finally let us cross, we began a steep uphill. I was still feeling weak and queasy, and Porter was nursing his own hangover. Pace was quiet with his own thoughts. I guess he was fantasizing about naked hikers. It was summer solstice, known in the hiking world as Naked Hiking Day. We were not naked. We finally peaked out and our climb ended so we chatted about hiking naked – the chaffing, sunburns, mosquito bites, and about which hikers we would hate to see in the buff.

Six miserable miles later, we came to a road with a gas station! We bought cold Gatorades and I ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Milk & Cookies. My tummy was feeling better. Pajamas, another thru hiker, showed up. We were surprised to see him with clothes on, since we pegged him as most likely to hike naked.

Two overweight girls wearing jeans stepped out of their card and set out for a hike with their dog. Their packs were huge – complete with a cooler and chair strapped to the outside. Before they set off we warned them about naked hiking day. We caught up to them a few minutes later and Pace asks for a photo with me in the center because we are doing a study on packs. I tried unsuccessfully to contain my laughter.

After passing the girls and joking behind their backs, we saw a big black snake to the left of the trail. It vibrated the end of its tail on some leaves, imitating the sound of a rattlesnake. I wondered where he would learn something like that – his mom, snake school, Kiwanis for snakes, maybe his best friend was a rattler.

We kept moving. Little ups and little downs. I turned my phone on occasionally to text and pass the time, and to share with Pace and Porter anything interesting I found out. We grabbed some granola bars out of our packs and ate while hiking. Pace stopped to pee so I went first, moving slowly in case of snakes. Then I saw them. Coolers! And on top of a mountain?! Surely they’d be full of trash and ants like so many others. But no, this Trail Magic was stocked and we stopped to enjoy cold Gatorades.

A few minutes later a southbound section hiker passed us and told us that her friend close behind didn’t have his hearing aids in. She also said she’d seen some partially naked hikers. We passed her friend, and Pace started mumbling things to see if he really couldn’t hear. I broke into laughter for the second time in one day and had to stop hiking to compose myself.

We hiked on, mostly in silence, pointing out a toad here or turkey there. Pace got hungry so I handed him some snacks from the outer pockets of his pack. We crossed a road and there was a pump house so we stopped to fill our water bladders since it’s nice to not filter it. It started to rain. Pace put his pack cover on, but Porter and I have Cuben Fiber packs, so didn’t need rain covers.

We hiked up to a view of a lake. A bit later we came upon two kids playing guitars. On the way down, two other kids passed and I could smell how clean they were. I told Porter and Pace I’d check their cars for a soda and steal it. They didn’t have any. I would have left them a couple bucks, don’t worry. We hiked on, under power lines, and Pace moved fast because he has a pacemaker. We finally got to a campsite with a water pump and set up our tents.

At the campsite were the only thru hikers we’d seen all day. I was disappointed because they weren’t naked (not that I wanted to see these particular people naked, but did want to have some sort of special experience on this day). I found a summer sausage in my backpack while unpacking – Porter had hidden it there while I was in the bathroom throwing up my bucket of meat! That is the last thing I want to see! We all laughed, I made dinner, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. Through the mesh part of my Echo Shelter I could see fireflies floating around the yard. I was reminded of my grandparents’ home and I drifted to sleep thinking of Kentucky and our 28-mile day.

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