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Unfortunately, I got off the trail on June 19.  I was in Dalton, MA, 30 miles from Vermont.  My achilles tendon in my left leg had been hurting for about 5 days prior, and it was getting worse.  On my last day of hiking I was limping.  I limped into Dalton, MA, got some ice, got a beer, and got some sleep.  The next morning, the sharp pain returned after walking just to the trailhead from town.  (It is only 1 mile.)  I then made the decision that I think I better wait and finish this adventure at another time.  I told myself that I would get off the trail as soon as I stopped having fun.  Well, hiking several days with sharp pain is not fun.  Since things were not getting better, it was time to call it a day.

I hitched a ride from Dalton, MA to Pittsfield, MA.  From there, I took a 5 hour bus ride to New York city.  (That was also an adventure.  Stopping in every small town in Massachusetts and Connecticut.)  My taxi ride from the NYC Port Authority to LaGuardia was also exciting.  Wow!  Taxi racing at its best.

Disappointed? Yes, but no regrets. After 1,561 miles, lots of adventures, laughs, and weird experiences, I would say it was a lot of fun.  Maybe next year I can convince one of my friends to take 5 weeks off and walk three states: Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

So, this is my last post.  Until August and the beginning of the school year, I intend on taking some long bike rides until my achilles heals.  Then start running again.  Although I am skinny, I have not run since March!   I am also planning a trip to Maine to visit Lane. I guess if I can’t walk there, I’ll fly!

Here are some pictures from the last couple of weeks.

Showing off in New Jersey somewhere. Picture taken by "Whamo"

The AT has plenty of rocks and views.  The views get pretty nice in NJ and NY.  (And, of course NH and Maine.)  One of the things that surprised me were the number of bogs and swamps. NJ, CT and MA are full of bogs and swamps.

And yes, lots and lots of mosquitos.  I was covered in deet to keep them off. Most nights are spent in tents, not shelters, to prevent bites.

View of the Hudson from Ft. Montgomery

On the AT, you cross dirt roads, paved roads, one very dangerous 4 lane divided highway in NY, foot bridges, and big bridges.  Crossing the Hudson River was pretty cool.

Walking across the Hudson!

Monument marking the highest point in NJ

After visiting Lane and Maddy and in West Orange, NJ, I left High Point State Park, NJ and started walking toward NY.  Since Whamo left the trail, I was walking alone for several days in this part of the AT.

Here's Lane and Maddy in NJ. I took a wonderful ZERO day with them.

Yummy Deli in West Orange, NJ.

Beautiful pond where I had lunch in MA. Walking to Upper Goose Pond Cabin

For lunch in the late spring and summer, you look for a place that is higher altitude or off a breezy pond or lake.  If you don’t, your lunch will be quickly ruined by biting insects.  This pond was very peaceful and a great place to dip my feet into some cold water and have a snack.

In a couple of days, I would reach Upper Goose Pond Cabin.  This is an enclosed cabin, with bunk beds and everything!  Dave “Slow Foot” is the caretaker and makes us all pancakes in the AM.

NYC street from the 5 hour bus! Strange transition from trail to NYC.

NYC!  Almost at the Port Authority!

Self portrait before shaving. Picture taken at home in Atlanta GA.

It felt good to come home.  Next stop, shaving this thing off my face.  I’m done with the homeless look for awhile.

Trekking pole - broken at Bear Mountain.

Finally, my broken trekking pole.  During the last painful week of hiking, I fell many times during the day.  Climbing down Everret Mountain and Bear Mountain were particularly bad.  I fell over 5 times in one day.  Part of the problem with hiking with a sore leg, foot or achilles, is your footing.  You tend to hesitate which lends to slipping on slick wet rocks.  Results: falling backwards, snapping carbon trekking poles.  Lots of fun!

That’s it!  Bye bye!  Just got off the phone with Scott.  Since he was going to hike some of NH with me, I owe him an adventure.  Let’s see what we can do on a bike before the summer is over.

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Good news is that i am in MA. Bad news is that i had to dump into Geat Barrington to ice my left archilles. I hope it behaves itself tomorrow.
Good news is that i found a great Indian restaurant called Aroma. Lamb kashmiri is spectacular. (your loss Jay)
Bad news is that I go back to trail moosh tomorrow.
Good news is that I am finally meeting Butter, the Buddha, and Peach day after tomorrow.) bad news is that i’ll need to keep up with them now that I finally caught them.
Onward into the fog,
Peter

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CT to MA

It’s sunday June 12. I’m in Salisbury, CT which is about 7 miles from MA. MA is about 80 miles on the AT and includes the Berkshire Mountains.
Susan sent me my mail drop and she continues to be a great supporter of this never ending adventure. About 7 more weeks and I should be in Baxter State Park or very near it.
Salisbury looks like your little New England town, where everything is linked to or connected with their Puritan roots. The town hall, church, library, and post office square each other off across main street.
Still been hiking with Turkey Feathers. I will likely rejoin Butter, peach, and The Buddha by the end of this week. They have slowed down a touch for family and college orientation.
A few miles and days back, we were attempting to hike in 96 degree temps. After 12 miles, we dumped into a convenience store-pizzeria for a midday break from the sun. After a delicious hero/sub/grinder, getting moving in the heat was impossible, so the proprietor let us tent in the back of his building. By the end of the day, there were 8 hikers camping behind the Mountain Deli and grocer. Pretty funny.
I have not taken any new pictures. Sorry. (I went outside took a couple.)

Best
Peter

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After stepping across the state-line into NJ, and then again into NY, things got much better.  Although both NJ and NY have very challenging steep, rocky climbs, they don’t have miles and miles of little jagged rocks.

Currently I am in Ft. Montgomery, NY.  It is on the Hudson.  Tomorrow I cross the Hudson and make my way to Connecticut.  I’ll be in Kent, CT in three days.

Ive been hiking with a guy named “Turkey Feathers.”  He is named that because attached to his pack is a full set of turkey feathers which he found.

I think I have about 750 miles to go.  Once I hit VT, I thnk the reality that the end is approaching will hit.  I have about 7 weeks left.

Part of the walk on the AT today involved walking through the AT Museum and Trail Zoo.  As you know, I have yet to see a black bear. So, I was kinda of excited to see one at the trail zoo.  I finally got to the black bear area, and the little buggers are not there.  So, I have walked from Georgia to New York and have yet to see a bear: caged or not.

Here are some pictures.

Looking across the Hudson River from Ft. Montgomery.

Waterfalll in NY - NY AT is very scenic. Tough, but scenic.

I’m in West Orange, NJ today, taking a day off from the trail and enjoying time with Lane and the Popkins. (Picture of Sam, Maddy and Lane. Sam is Maddy’s brother. He is 17 and going to be a senior. Likes the Ramones, and the rocks the guitar.) We just had lunch at Eppeys Deli, where I had the Pilot – pastrami, coleslaw, swiss cheese, and russian dressing. It was huge and sated the cravings of a hunger crazed hiker. (See picture below.)

Of the 7 states, PA must rank the lowest in terms of the AT hiking trails. I don’t like being negative, but the truth must prevail. Here are a few facts that support my conclusion:

1. PA has more snakes than people. I was almost bitten, then eaten by a giant Timber Rattlesnake. In true PA style, these snakes from hell are protected as being endangered and rare. Mmmm. I saw three other rattlesnakes in the next two days. I stopped listening to music during the day in order to hear their insidious warning rattle. (By the way, in NJ I have only seen one rattlesnake, on Rattlesnake Mountain…no kidding. Also saw a copperhead.)

2. PA has more rocks than the universe has stars. PA rocks come in all sizes, but they specialize in 6″ to 8″ rocks, that have a knife edge facing up, or a pyramid with a polished point. They also have the “oh, you can step on me flat rock” which is a deceitful rock. Those rocks will tilt and break your ankle. Now, to understand this rock thing of PA, you must imagine this nightmare going on for miles. I am talking the entire day.

3. PA trail designers need to go back to trail design school. Unlike other states that correctly place switchbacks when there is a sharp grade – either ascending or descending, PA designers thought: “Let them climb up this this thing! It will be fun to watch. Going down, if they fall, well the rocks will probably kill them anyway.

4. Ticks. You like ticks? No one likes ticks. Parasitic, nasty, Lyme disease carrying hitchhiking insect. One through-hike pulled 40 ticks off of his body in one day! Fortunately, my worst day was 7 ticks.

5. Did I mention rocks?

So, I am sure some of you are imagining that a few days hiking in the woods would be very relaxing. Well, not in Pennsylvania. You are on edge for 300 hundred miles: waiting to break an ankle, to be injected with venom by Mr. No Shoulders or to be a host to a diseased insect.

So far, NJ is rocky, but not as bad. Weather has been hot. Very hot. I will say that PA shelters are nicer than NJ so far. Two nights ago I stayed at the Brink Road shelter, which is located in a swamp. Nice. On the plus side, the AT in NJ goes through many towns and places to eat. So, in typical Diva style, I taking full advantage of that.

I have hiked alone for a few days, and have also hiked with some nice folks. We all share a common enemy: Pennsylvania.

After today’s relaxing and wonderful day with Lane, I will return to High Point, NJ and begin again. I’ll be in NY by Saturday. I am doing well, excepting my feet. Because of PA, I have a whole new set of blisters in both feet. If I sound a little negative, tough. It’s been challenging the last couple of weeks, OK?!!!!!

Peter

I am in Delaware Water Gap. When I cross the bridge tomorrow I’ll be in New Jersey. When I get in front of a computer, I’ll list my 100 reasons why I hated the AT in PA. But the first two reasons are: rocks and rattlesnakes.
The rocks did my hiking friend, Whamo, in. He went home with a sore and swollen leg.
Despite the snakes and rocks, I’ve managed 100 plus mile weeks. PA was very long and tedious. Hopefully, the shorter miles to travel through NJ, NY, CT, and MA will re-energize this tired old man.

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I’ll post more tomorrow when I get to Port Clinton. But for now, here are a few pics.

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Right after nail removal. Pretty?

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Peter… Slowly losing his mind in the woods.

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Hiking buddy “Whamo” from Lake Hartwell, SC