New Jersey is a breath of fresh air to put it simply. This is a land of rolling hills, smooth trails, birds chirping, sun is always shining, loads of deer and bears- simply paradise! Every hiker that has made it through PA is so excited and pumped about the awesome terrain.
However, PA did leave its marks on me before I was done. My feet became swollen because of the terrain. This has never happened before on the trail. Swollen feet forced me to take an unexpected zero. As if chubby feet were not enough, my heel cracked in several spots. It was quite painful to walk on it but I super glued it together, took another zero and continued trekking.
PA really put me behind schedule. But the worst thing that happened to me was “The Gatorade Incident”. Somehow my Gatorade bottle soaked my cell phone. Yep, the cell is now dead so I can’t return your calls and texts. However, Mike another hiker, had it worse. We had an unusually cold night no he boiled water and put it into his Gatorade bottle. This works great when you put it into your sleeping bag. Mike did just this and crawled into bed. Then he heard a “pop!”. The cap came off and hot water started pouring out. He grabbed the bottle and tried to throw it out the tent but he forgot the mesh door was closed! The bottle bounced back at him and soaked everything else! Hahaha! Gatorade bottles are the worst.
I came across this lovely family the other day. They asked to be put on my blog so I of course I couldn’t refuse. Fun group of people.
The Koreans were such a pleasant surprise when I came across them. Last time I saw them was in the Smokies on that 0* night with the T-Rex dream. Seeing hikers from a long time ago is like seeing family for the first time in ages.
The past few days I have hiking with The Kallins. Super awesome trail family. They started hiking on March 30th. The kids are great! Cartwheel is a 8 year old lady who is a bundle of energy. Robin Hood is her brother who is a sharp kid who has the greatest memory I have ever seen. He recited to me a 12 stanza poem with no hickups! They have a blog too that you can read: http://kallinfamily.com/
This pic is a little blurry but after studying the bear tracks carefully I have been able to determine the following facts: Its approximately 1 year and 3 months old male that is 268lbs. Looking at the tracks it is clear that he is a very happy bear but is slightly bloated from the last meal.
I have a bear story that I simply must share with you guys! But, Mom if you are reading this, simply skip ahead to the next pic. (She is terrified of bears). Martial Arts was hiking in the Shenandoah’s when he saw a large pile of bear poo on the trail. He was thinking to himself that there must be a large bear somewhere nearby. As soon as he walked past a large tree he stopped and glanced to his side. Sitting there within arms reach was a huge bear starring him into his eyes!!! Martial Arts simply froze with indecision. He didn’t know whether to move forwards or backwards. He stood there for a couple seconds and blinked. The bear blinked back. And then he had a moment of clarity and decided to continue forward. He was so scared walking away that he never even looked back to see what the bear was doing! haha!
I spotted this guy hiding in his shell so I put the GoPro in front of him and waited for him to come out. So I waited…and waited… and waited… he FINALLY came out and walked off 18 minutes later! The lesson learned: Turtles are in no rush to go anywhere.
Huge thanks to my friends back at home that sent my the last care package! The candy was great and the card was super cool. I almost shed a tear when reading the card but that wouldn’t have been very manly…
Right now I am in Vernon, NJ. Awesome locals! I hitched a ride immediately into town with no problem. Then a lady, Andrea, gave me a ride to the hostel and even offered me her couch if the hostel was really bad. That was extremely thoughtful but the Church Hostel here is excellent so I declined her offer. This town has surprised me with their hospitality.
I am looking forward to NY and what it has to offer. As of right now I am only 10 miles from the NJ/NY border. PA messed me up a little and really slowed me down but I’m hoping to make up those lost miles quickly.
Take care everyone and God Bless.