Wednesday, 1 June
|Destination: Bear Mountain Bridge Motel (1407.9)
|Today’s Miles: 8.7
|Start Location: Old Mine Road (1398.3)
|Trip Miles: 146.5
The campsite on the old mine road was a real find with good water nearby. The old roadbed was covered in moss with nice flat spots. Before turning in for the night Bob told me that he had gone to pee earlier and saw a chipmunk, later when he went back it was dead. After we were in our tents a bit Bob said now there was a rattlesnake coiled up there with a chipmunk shaped lump in its middle. Snakes in camp two nights in a row. We had a thunderstorm about 1:30 that finally cooled things off. The overnight low was 58 and things were mostly dry in the morning. I slept much better without the road noise.
Bob and I started a short day with a climb. If you camp near water you always get to start the day uphill. There are some nice campsites on top to see sunrises or sunsets without water nearby. You can carry extra water up but two liters of water adds over four pounds to your pack so it is a difficult decision sometimes.
We saw a nice buck with about six inch horns already. Yesterday and today we heard booms in the distance and we were getting closer to the sounds. Turns out we are only four miles from the military academy at West Point and they are having artillery drills.
After less than two miles Bob and I came to the Palisades Parkway crossing. The parkway is four lanes with a wooded median. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy recently announced a detour which avoided the at grade crossing in favor of a bridge. The detour adds about a mile and a quarter or about forty five minutes. Previous hikers have described the crossing as a human game of Frogger. We had a short discussion and decided on attempting the crossing. The first two lanes were quite busy and it took two or three minutes to get a break in traffic. After going through the median the other two lanes were an easy crossing. It did take a little while for Bob’s pulse rate to drop.
Soon we passed the 1,400 mile mark going north on the AT. I have now completed all 1,400 of those miles. The rest of the day was lots of ups and downs sometimes steep but many places had rock steps and we had no rock climbing. We plenty of stone steps to speed us along. Around noon we reached Bear Mountain Summit. There is parking at the summit and benches, lots of people. From there it was all downhill, over 1,000 stone steps spread out over a mile and a half.
Then Bear Mountain State Park with many more people, picnic tables, a lake, vending machines. A tunnel took us to the other side of US 9. Then a little disappointment, the trail goes directly through the Trailside Museum and Zoo and the lowest point on the Appalachian Trail. When the zoo is closed there is a bypass. Well the zoo is only open weekends because of construction so it was closed.
So it was the bypass to a small parking lot to meet Grandpa for our ride to Bear Mountain Bridge Motel, our home for two nights. Grandpa is quite the character and provides great entertainment. He worked at the closed GM plant in Tarrytown. Many of his stories are about the plant. The motel has five rooms, four of the rooms only have space for one single bed. Bob and I have luxurious accommodations in the room that has a double and two singles.
First up was lunch at a tiny place nearby that serves breakfast and lunch. Pastrami and swiss on rye, Fritos, iced tea and chocolate Ding Dongs for dessert. Showers after a week are indescribably refreshing. We unpacked and gave our laundry to Grandpa. Clean clothes, showers, flush toilets, sheets, pillows,a day off – little things you take for granted at home that you come to appreciate while hiking.
Grandpa told us that the BBQ place across the street is not always open. Since that was our first choice tonight I called and we were in luck. Bob and I took our rain jackets after seeing a thunderstorm in the forecast. We each had a Slider Sampler Entree, pulled pork, Carolina and brisket at the Barnstorner Barbecue with a cold beverage. Timing was such that we had a hard rain when we left. Since we only had about a hundred yards to go the road spray from the cars was not too bad. Back in a dry room.
Tomorrow will be a zero for Bob and I. No hiking but a rest and recovery day. We have hiked fifteen days in a row, over 146 miles, for a well earned rest. This is a good place with some places for food nearby, WiFi and TV. Although I am not sure I am ready for the news again yet.