We stayed last night at the Morgan Stewart shelter in New York. A nice shelter, but a smaller one, set in a forest of tall trees, interlaced with many footpaths, and one of those footpaths led to the privy. Another, to the water pump. God only knows where the rest went. The shelter itself was only a short distance from the AT. These details are very important.
Because thru-hiker Ziptie had to get up at 3:30 am to answer a call of nature. Headlight on, it was still half-awake stumbling around in the dark to try to find the privy path… and failing. Yes, the inevitable pee in the woods was inevitable. But after…
Could not find the shelter. Could not find the shelter. Could not find the shelter. It was pitch black still, and the headlight just could not penetrate the tree cover enough. I did stumble upon the AT, but in the dark, it was impossible to tell if I was facing north or south.
Fortunately for me, the wind had died down somewhat (it was downright chilly last night). I knew that the sky would be light enough to see by 5 am, and when calling out produced no result (my fellow hikers were deep asleep, and who could blame them?), I resigned myself to 90 minutes of waiting. Part of the time I sat on a rock, part of the time I paced from white blaze to white blaze, just to keep warm. Finally the sky was light enough to navigate by, and I was able to crawl back into the sleeping bag about 5 am, but in the first stage of hypothermia.
I just could not get warm. I woke up at 6 and 7 am, shivering still, until I crawled out and put on my rain jacket, and hiker Nova loaned me a knit cap. I was able to get warm and slept until about 8:30, then got up and made hot cocoa and oatmeal. Needless to say, very late start for me this morning, I did not leave until about 10:30.
Still, it was a good hike, easy terrain, 10 miles. I spent a fair bit of time on the shore of Nuclear Lake, it was beautiful. Tonight we are camped outside Tony’s Deli near Pawling, NY. Road on one side, metro rail track into NYC on the other, but the place is open 3a.m. – midnight, has excellent food and beer, a phone recharging station, flush toilets, and a comfortable lawn to camp on. All the comforts of home! Almost.
Tomorrow we will go into Pawling to get our maildrops, then hike five miles to the next shelter. It means I get to sleep in, if I can. With all the traffic and train noise. Unfortunately, Morning Song will be dropping off the trail on Sunday after we cross the CT border. I am really going to miss my hiking partner. Eight weeks of hiking together. More or less.
I hike on.