Delaware River to Connecticut border
New Jersey-New York

Here´s how
you can write
to me during
my hike

The journal of Andy Linger ... thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 1997

Back to July 22

July 23—Backpacker Campsite (Day 102 ~ milepoint 1271.9)
Today I was one of the first to wake up - at 10 am. The weather was overcast, and no one was in a hurry to leave. In the afternoon, we saw Kampfire, who was in the area for a few days. We figured hey, let's go see a movie. We headed to Stroudsburg in Kampfire's van a few miles away to a shopping mall with a theater. Not having any idea what the summer blockbusters were about, we went from store to store, asking people. Eventually, half of us settled on seeing Contact. For most of us, it was sensory overload. Not many of us had seen a movie on the trail, so it was more fun than expected. On the other hand, there were a few hikers that were at Great America a couple days ago, and to them, it was just another day off. When the 14 of us got out of Kampfire's van, some of us knew if we didn't leave tonight, we'd get sucked into town for another day. Four of us ended up leaving this evening. As we crossed the Delaware River on the I-80 footbridge, we jumped up and down with joy, with cars and trucks honking at us as we entered New Jersey. Flashlights were needed to arrive at camp and set up tents as the sun disappeared behind the horizon.—Andy

July 24—Brink Road Shelter (Day 103 ~ milepoint 1291.8)
This morning was a nightmare. The rain that started last night was still coming down steady. I figured it was going to rain all day, and new that the earlier I left, the earlier I could find shelter. My food bag hanging from a tree was dripping like a faucet from the water in it. My pack, leaning against a tree with a garbage bag over it, was still wet, and most fun of all, my tent was a mess. Being that my tent is so small (I only use it basically when it rains - this was only the 5th time in 1300 miles) I had to run outside in the downpour just to change into my hiking clothing (the last time I tried changing in the tent, the thing collapsed on me). As I left the campsite, drenched, with a pack weighing an additional 5 pounds in water weight gain, I counted my blessings. Doing almost 1300 miles, this is my first experience hitting the trail with everything wet. The 20 miles to the next shelter wasn't much better. After 5 miles, there was a retreat lodge where I was able to fill up my water bottles (I could have done that by simply keeping the lids off), and sit on the porch of a garage nearby. After my feet dried somewhat and I ate breakfast, it was back to the trail in the rain. The next 15 miles seemed more like 50. There were no places or shelters to stop at in the driving rain, so I had to tromp on to the first shelter in New Jersey. The shelter was almost full with Boy Scouts, but fortunately it had room for one more. I got water, got onto my sleeping pad and stayed there while I cooked and shared horror stories with the scouts.—Andy

July 25—Rutherford Shelter (Day 104 ~ milepoint 1307.4)
This morning started out cloudy again, but fortunately there was no rain. Around noon, I arrived at the Worthing Bakery on the A.T. It's long been a tradition to take a break there and get some food. There were 8 of us there, drying stuff and eating. By the time I left, magic happened - the skies cleared! We were all eager to get to camp and dry stuff out. On the way, I stopped at the pavilion on Sunrise Mountain for some lunch. I took all my food out of the bags to air out on the picnic table. As I pulled out a sauce mix for a Hamburger Helper, I noticed a nice large slug attached to it. Wonderful - I told myself. Brooster was up there and smirked as I peeled the slug off my dinner. I arrived at the shelter around 8 pm with no one else there. I cooked dinner on one of the tables with several chunks missing from it. I read the register and noticed from most of the entries that a bear frequents the shelter. The 4 hikers camping on the ridge above told me they were up there because of the chunks of table missing. I told them it was probably from a porcupine and not a bear, but they still weren't eager to stick around the shelter. I put my food in the bear box provided, and hoped I'd see a bear wandering around in the morning.—Andy

July 26—Summit of Pochuck Mountain (Day 105 ~ milepoint 1325.5)
Nope, no bears came by, but met a southbound section hiker (climbed Katahdin the day it opened in June - with 16 feet of snow in places) who arrived at 10 pm. He had done 2 previous sections that totalled the entire trail. We shared information about the trail we had hiked so the both of us would know what to expect down the trail. This morning we took off in our different directions. My first point of interest was High Point State Park. At the Visitor's Center there were 8 of us filling up on water and making phone calls. The park isn't much from what I hear. There is a monument (similar in appearance to the Washington Monument in D.C.) at the highest point in the state (it's essentially a little "bump" on the ridge). I ran out of breakfast and lunch items, so I walked in to the small town of Unionville, NY. The heat was oppressive again, so I slammed down a half gallon of ice cream before I got my groceries. As I left, I noticed some old, faded A.T. blazes on the telephone poles. I figured instead of backtracking almost a mile to get back to the trail, I could follow the old trail instead. I followed roads rolling through countryside, and passed a recently fallen tree in someone's front yard that reminded me of the Keefer Oak in Virginia. The top half of the tree was on the other side of the road, and the girth of the trunk that was cut in half looked like it could house a motor cycle if it was hollow. The next shelter was full with a church group. I also still had tons of energy left from my ice cream buzz, so I headed to the top of the next ridge. By the time I reached the top of the ridge, I was soaking wet with sweat and worried I didn't have enough water. I hiked another mile or so to the summit of Pochuck Mountain. The side of the ridge had a rock outcrop, so the views were fantastic. I could see back to the monument at High Point, and the sunset lit up the clouds with an orange glow. The skies started to cloud up, so I threw my tent up (which was sti
ll damp from 3 nights ago) in case it rained and to let it air out, and went to sleep.—Andy

July 27—Wawayanda Shelter (Day 106 ~ milepoint 1336.7)
This morning I was up early again to beat the heat and maybe even rain. The morning was incredibly humit. When I got going, I saw Griz and Bean Man coming down the trail coated with sticky, slimy sweat head to toe - and it was only 7 am! The day got progressively worse, even though it was hazy. I arrived at the Heaven Hill Farm to resupply on water. Griz and Bean Man were there, wolfing down an apple pie. There was only one left on the 1/2 price cart, so I grabbed it. We looked up at the ridge we had to climb in horror. It was noon, in the 90's, and very humid. A local talking to me said a hiker died climbing a ridge on a day like today. That made me even more excited for the climb ahead. Even though I took it easy, I was soaked head to toe with slimy sweat. Several day hikers were out today, and one after another they turned around and went home from the heat (hmmm ... I'd like to do that!). When I reached the top of the ridge, I was exhausted. I could feel my feet squish squashing in my boots, and my wet stomach was absorbing dirt and leaf debris from the overgrowth on the trail better than a vacuum cleaner. I reached Wawayanda State Park around 2 pm during the hottest part of the day. I refilled on water and rested outside the visitor's center for some lunch. Many people stopped and asked what I was doing in the middle of New Jersey on a day like today with a pack. I gave them the thru-hike speech, and their jaws dropped in amazement. The Bates family (they hiked in New Hampshire last year) came up to me again after picnicking and offered me some leftovers. Like a hungry bear, I jumped up when they asked me. The fed me pretzels, a sandwich with lunch meat (yes, meat!), pickles, potato salad, and chips. After 20 minutes of eating and 3 1/2 hours of rest, the clouds started rolling in and the park rangers were calling for on and off storms tonight. I ended up going back to the shelter a quarter mile from the park office. I'm glad I didn't go on. At 5 pm, the
temperatures were still in the 90's, and I had enough with the high humidity for the day.—Andy

July 28—Wildcat Shelter (Day 107 ~ milepoint 1348.6)
I'm glad I stayed where I did last night. It rained on and off all evening, and it was still very warm and muggy. On the other hand, the mosquitoes are out in full force. I thought I would be able to get a nice long night's sleep - nope. The mosquitoes buzzed around my head all night long, trying to suck me dry. As I sat up half the night swatting them (not to mention it was too uncomfortably warm to sleep), I considered tenting, but by the time I would have done that it would have been morning. As I wrote this journal 20 hours later, still no signs of bites. The weather today was similar to yesterday, but most of the mid-day hiking was done on a ridge overlooking Greenwood Lake. Most of the terrain involved climbing rocks which were fairly steep (a hiker was injured here a couple of days ago) and difficult. On the bright side, the breezes swept over the rocks, making the heat and humidity problems less severe. I also entered New York state today and saw a bear tromp into the woods near here. I arrived at Wildcat Shelter around 1 pm, foaming at the mouth, looking for the water pump. The distances between water are getting longer again, making it important to conserve. Technicolor and Trailmouse arrived a little while later, followed by Phoebe and Hackmatack. Trailmouse was shriveling up and about to turn to dust by the time she arrived. We all sat in the shelter, rehydrating and trying to figure out what the sky was going to do (a light sprinkle came through). The 4 of them eventually left to camp a few miles ahead. Later, Redwood showed up, bragging about a stay at a bed and breakfast he and a bunch of others did a few nights back (breakfast, dinner, ride to town, laundry, shower, swimming pool, etc.). After hearing his story, I felt like whacking him up side the head with my hiking sticks. It's 8:30, and instead of thunderstorms, it's clear and the sun is setting. I'm a little disappointed I didn't go on, but it still could storm tonight.—Andy

July 29—West Mountain Shelter (Day 108 ~ milepoint 1371.7)
Today was a trail magic day. The first great thing happened to me as I was cooking dinner last night. After cooking, I depressurized my fuel bottle and noticed that I had less than an ounce left. There weren't any places to refill my bottle for several days (except with unleaded gas - no thanks), so I'd be stuck with many cold dinners. As I reached for the shelter register, I noticed a gallon container of white gas - and it's half full! Texas Tapeworm left it there for others to use. That made my day. The terrain today was filled with many ups and downs, which would have made for a torturous day of hiking if the weather was like that of a couple days ago. Fortunately, a front came through, bringing with it cooler temps, lower humidity, and a nice cool breeze. I sweat less today during the steep ascents than what I did the last few days on the flats. A few miles into my hike, I reached Mombasha High Point. I ate breakfast up there, eagerly trying to find the skyline of New York City. After a few minutes, I gave up and threw my pack on and hopped over to a different rock before I left. And there it was. The Empire State Building and the World Trade Center visible on the horizon. My first view of NYC gave me a little more of a kick to keep moving. A few hours later, I entered Harriman State Park, which is where the short, steep ups and downs generally start. About a mile or so from the park entrance, I saw a bear scrounging around some blueberry patches, not noticing me as I passed by. As sunset approached, I reached the West Mountain Shelter on a long side trail after doing 24.5 miles today. I was happy to get in so I could start dinner. I met Mickey Mouse Cowboy of '86-'87 who was tenting nearby with his sister. The views from the shelter were spectacular. New York City was visible, with the skyline lighting up as the sun went down. Mickey, who grew up in New York, pointed out several prominent features including the Meadowlands in New Jersey, bridges le
ading to Staten Island, and several skyscrapers. I had trouble sleeping tonight, as I found it difficult to take my eyes off the city and the Hudson River that lie below. Several hikers I talked to planned on staying somewhere else because of the long side trail to the shelter and lack of water. I'm glad this place was my goal today - it was well worth it.—Andy

July 30—Graymoor Friary (Day 109 ~ milepoint 1383.3)
As sunrise occurred this morning, the skyline lit up in a bright orange glow from the sun reflecting off the windows of Manhattan. It was a great sight to be greeted with first thing in the morning. The next mountain I passed over was Bear Mountain, where one of the first portions of the 2,100 mile A.T. opened 73 years ago. The terrain down to the Hudson River was steep, but the views were excellent. After passing through the tourist town of Bear Mountain (pop. 55) I saw an incredible variety of animals and wildlife. I saw a bald eagle, a bobcat, 3 types of owls, 2 bears, 4 snakes, and dinosaur fossils! Okay, actually I saw it from the trail at the Trailside Museum and Wildlife Center. In front of the bear exhibit, the trail reaches 124 feet, the lowest point on the A.T. A few hours later, I arrived at the Graymoor Friary, where the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement allow thru-hikers to stay. A Friar showed me to my room, where I frantically ran to the bathroom to take a shower. A total of 9 of us were there that night. We were invited to the dining hall for dinner and then headed back to our rooms to rest up and share the familiar hiker "horror stories".—Andy

July 31—RPH Shelter (Day 110 ~ milepoint 1401.9)
This morning at 7:30 we headed ato the dining room for breakfast. Huge piles of scrambled eggs, bacon, and potatoes were brought out to us. We feasted until our stomachs were about to reach the point of explosion. As we finished up, Father Fred introduced us to Ed who was visiting the Friary.. Ed wrote some of the first books about the A.T., and was one of the first prople to thru-hike it. After breakfast, it was back to our rooms to pack up, head out, and thank the Friars for extending their hospitality to hikers. That afternoon I arrived at the RPH Shelter to meet 180, Solophile, Moose, and Redwood. The skies were clear, no one was in the shelter, so I decided to do what everyone else did, minus the tent. The night was beautiful. The Milky Way was directly overhead, and I saw several shooting stars and satellites make their way across the night time sky.—Andy

August 1—Murray Park Pavilion (Day 111 ~ milepoint 1418.9)
When I arrived at the road leading to Pawling, NY today, I saw what is claimed to be the largest tree on the trail. The Dover Oak had branches that reached dozens of feet in several directions. After admiring that, I found my way into the town of Pawling. After going to the post office and grocery store, I headed to the swimming hole and park pavilion hikers are allowed to stay at. I met a few hikers I have read about in the trail registers but haven't met yet, including Yahoola, Rufus, Thunderfoot, and Casey & Casey. The afternoon was spent cooling off in the pond under sunny skies. The evening brought few bugs along with everyone sorting through their maildrops. Before going to bed, I was shocked by the fact that it's already August! Actually, we were all in shock wondering what happened to June and July.—Andy

Continue reading my journal

Georgia-North Carolina | North Carolina-Tennessee | Southwest Virginia | Central Virginia | N. Virginia-W. Va.-Maryland
Pennsylvania | New Jersey-New York | Connecticut-Massachusetts | Vermont | New Hampshire | Maine | After the Hike

An Interactive Website for Appalachian Trail Thru-hikers
Send comments or report problems to:

Sponsored by the Center for Appalachian Trail Studies
© 1997 Dan Bruce. All rights reserved.