We traveled to Bear Mountain NY this past weekend to see Sarra. Aside from being lost in the wrong park at midnight and the constant rain, it was great to spend some time with Mouse. The bonus was what a beautiful area and park.
We had a great weekend and she is doing well. The hiking terrain has been hard and she’s had a few issues (rash, ticks, poison ivy, lost weight, annoying bugs), but hey, it’s all about the AT experience right? She’s past the 1,400 mile mark, WOW. She should be out of New York this week and then into Connecticut.
We asked if anyone had any questions and here’s her answers:
1) Have your expectations of both the trail and people been met? Hmm . . . . that’s hard, yes they have been met. Especially meeting the people. Before coming out here you don’t understand how you can meet someone and a few hours later be really close, but you do. I was looking for people who were ‘like’ me and I’ve found people that are all different in many ways, but we’re all out here doing the same thing. You can’t come out here and be normal; we’re all weird, ha. For the trail . . . . I thought it would be hard and it is! But, I still enjoy it all.
2) Have you ever been scared while on the trail? Yes. When Vulture and I were camping by ourselves and in our tents. We could hear a thunderstorm in the distance, but it wasn’t raining so it was really eerie. Then, something started walking around our campsite, probably some animal. That was the first time it had been just us camping so it was a little unsettling.
3) How do you deal with the bad weather? Hike in it, ha. Seriously, you just keep walking. There is only different weather; its all just weather and you just hike.
4) How do you deal with the gnats? They were awful in PA when it was hot. Sometimes I can ignore them and sometimes I curse them. Sometimes I hold my trekking poles in one hand and swat with the other. Sometimes, I just stop and stand there clapping at them trying to kill them all. I hate gnats.
5) Have you learned anything about yourself that surprises you? I have, but it’s hard to put into words. I realize I don’t want to be a hippie living in the middle of nowhere. I’ve learned I want to be more than I thought. I actually want a real adult job and not just ‘make soap’. I am capable of more than I thought.
6) Have you been able to appreciate your surroundings or too focused on getting to the end? Thinking about the end doesn’t diminish my appreciation. But, sometimes the hiking does. Sometimes it’s such a long day you’re only focused on looking down, hiking and getting to camp. The newness of the trail has worn off; I’m out of the honeymoon stage. But, the trail is different now, more challenging and the scenery will change the further north we get. Soon we’ll get back to the awesome views, which are easier to appreciate rather than flat trail.
7) What’s the weirdest thing you have seen or that has happened? The caterpillars, they are everywhere. There are colonies of them on trees. You’ll be hiking and think it’s raining but it’s actually the caterpillars pooping from the trees, there’s so many of them. It’s insane. They hang from their little threads and you run into them. Seriously, there are millions. The other thing was, I woke up at midnight and half my bottom lip was swollen and I don’t know why. It looked like I got punched in my sleep. When I got up that morning it was still like that for a few hours. Weird.
8) What was your hardest day? Two days around Bland VA, I had to take a short day because of blisters on my feet. So, the people I was hiking with got ahead of me. Then the next two days I didn’t see anyone I knew on the trail and I was in a weird section where I didn’t see a lot of hikers. So, I felt lonely and the hiking was hard. I was tired and trying to catch up. Plus the rocks lately, the trail is just all rock and it’s really hard, especially when you have to stop to take off your backpack to maneuver through the trail. Stopping/starting takes a lot of time.
9) What has been your best day? Last week, Vulture and I woke up at 4:00, were on the trail by 5:00, hiked 13 miles up this pile of rocks, got trail magic that morning, went into town and hung out at a diner for 3 hours eating a bunch, got back on the trail and did the last 11 miles with our friends. It was just a normal yet simple, enjoyable, positive day
10) Alex, yes I have seen some monkeys – there were two hikers behind me that were imitating monkeys. They were fun.
11) How will you adjust when you get home? Although I will be glad to be home, it will suck. It’s going to be hard, but I will stay as busy as I can. I’ll go backpacking and hike as much as possible. Cars and crowds freak me out so it will be a challenge to drive and I’ll want to stay away from crowds.
12) What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home? I’m going to sit with my dog Molly for about an hour because I miss her. Then probably cook something because I miss cooking. Then open my windows and sleep in my bed continuously for 2 days!
13) What do you eat on an average day and how often do you eat? It hasn’t been hard to eat Vegan, but it’s been frustrating because there are usually not many vegan options in restaurants or with trail magic. For breakfast I’m sick of oatmeal so I eat a lot of high protein Builder Bars and dried cereal. I stopped having lunch and I just snack all day long on dried fruit, granola bars, peanut butter and tortilla, gummies, candy, veggie chips. Dinner is usually something mom sent, beans and rice, pad Thai, ramen noodles. When I’m in town I eat a lot of fruit, French Fries and Subway. I like to try to stop every couple hours and eat.
14) Do you whistle in the trail like you do at home? Yes, I whistle and I sing a lot to pass the time and it’s fun.
15) As you walk through different states are the trees and greenery different? I don’t notice the trees being different but the terrain is definitely different. The south was mountainous, the trail was soft dirt. In Virginia there were still climbs but not as extreme. In Pennsylvanian and New Jersey it was really, really rocky. So far, New York has been kind of a combination of nice dirt paths and short technical climbs. I imagine the last 3 or 4 states will have a totally different scenery and tress than where I started in the south.
16) What so far has been your greatest moment? Getting out of PA. Because above PA feels like the north and a really big accomplishment. It’s like were getting close to the light at the end of the tunnel. Also because PA was a really hard state terrain wise.
17) Was there anything you weren’t prepared for? The chaffing and how actually dirty you really are. We discussed chaffing, but until you experience it you have no idea. I’ve used different treatments 0ver the months, Gold Bond, baby powder, Vagisil, Monkey Butt Paste/Powder. I’ve tried different shorts, different types of underwear! You name it. I’ll probably have scars. And you smell so bad. Its not BO, its worse and so offensive. Its more like a salt and vinegar smell. Even after you shower all your gear still has the smell. For the most part we don’t notice it all the time because we all smell the same. But I’m really sensitive to the smell of clean people when we get into a town, ha.
18) No Uncle Steven, I did not hike naked on the 21st (which is actually hike naked day). Although, it was probably because I hiked through a state park that day. A crowded state park! If I had been in a random field I probably would have LoL.
We didn’t get to all of them, but we will. Stay tuned for ‘Questions, part II’ By the way, thank you so very much for the well wishes, cards, money, encouragement, gift cards, good thoughts and prayers. It still means a lot and really does help me push through some days. There are some really tough days out there, but I’m still enjoying it and having a good time.