Today was the earliest of early days. I was awake at first light as usual, about 5 am, but the fact that I had no breakfasts left meant no time was spent making breakfast. I was packed and on my way by 6 am… into a driving rainstorm.
My goal for the day was the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Vernon, NJ – they run a full hostel in the basement/fellowship halls that is as well equipped as any I’ve seen yet… Including a full kitchen. More on that later.
So, six mile dreary slog. Up Mt. Pochunka, all slick, wet, treacherous rocks, the view was all gray cloud and fog, down Mt. Pochunka. I was still breaking in new boots. My feet were screaming. Swamp, fend off mosquitoes, walk over double boards, cross another highway. Onwards. At some point the rain stopped. The last 2.3 miles were over a raised boardwalk, with beautiful plants and flowers on either side, then a final push along a muddy path and then walking more boards through a pasture. A couple I met along the raised boardwalk trail kindly gave another thru-hiker (Magic) and me a ride to the hostel. It was about 11 When we arrived.
Morning Song was out watching the Memorial Day Parade a block away, but it was just about over. I got my shower, then we went to the VFW for a beer and some hot dogs, and witnessed a brief, but moving ceremony to the veterans and MIAs that included a 21 gun salute. I’d almost forgotten it was Memorial Day. That brought it home.
The rest of the afternoon was a much needed nap, and the usual nearo chores: laundry, food inventory, food restocking. We walked 1.5 miles to Smokie’s Brick Oven, which also had our long coveted steaks. I wore camp shoes for that walk though; my feet do still hurt.
Tomorrow starts with a 900 foot climb straight up – they call it the “stairway to heaven”. Assuming I survive that climb, I will probably walk as far as I think I can, then pitch a tent along the trail in a likely spot. The next shelter is pretty close, I don’t want another short day. Assuming I survive the climb.
Morning Song has to stay in town another day to take care of some business. He’s also kindly mailing home my cold weather clothes for me; I won’t need them again until the Whites. I hope he catches up with me again – I’m pretty sure he will though.
My feet still hurt.I think some Vitamin I, then sleep. I suspect I will have a relatively late start tomorrow!
I hike on.