New York State has the reputation of being one long jaunt from deli to concession stand to food truck, but it seemed that by the time we were there, they had all left. What I remember most about hiking in New York is that we were never very far from a road, and there are plenty of motorcycles to remind you of the fact.
The first two days in New York were largely flat and unmemorable. We did have one small problem when we wanted to get a resupply on our second day. Hitchhiking is illegal in New York, so we eventually had to call a taxi to take us into a little town. To leave town, we were thinking about doing the same thing, until I noticed a pizza-delivery car in the parking lot of the shopping centre that we were in. I went to the pizza place and ordered a delivery. I would only buy the pizza if they delivered it (and us) to the trail. It was a double-score: a great lunch, and a free ride back to the trail.
On the third day, we crossed the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River. At that point, the Hudson is nearly at sea level, so we were nearly to the lowest point on the trail. The bridge is a few hundred feet above the river and has many signs urging people not to jump. Naturally, these signs make me think of jumping, so I scooted across the bridge as quickly as I could. It's a bit strange to be a hiker that's afraid of heights, but it's an issue that really doesn't come up too much.
After the bridge, we entered a zoo. It's not a great zoo, but the trail goes through it, so in we went. I'm not a big fan of zoos anyway, and when the lowest point on the trail was right next to the bear enclosure, it seemed apt. Past the zoo, we entered Bear Mountain State Park. It was awful too. Full of people, nearly all paved over, with rangers in golf carts. We stopped at a concession stand and got an overpriced soda. The trail up the mountain had fewer people, but just as much trash. We even saw a pair of men's underwear right next to the trail. The higher we went, however, the more sparse the trash became, and when we reached the summit, the trail had become mostly clean once again.
On the other side of the summit, we saw a couple of deer. They skittered away, but then we saw them five minutes later. And five minutes after that. They were clearly habituated to humans, and seemed to be playing coy with us. We hiked over one more small mountain but by the time we were going up Black Mountain, both Picker and I were having heat-related chafing issues. We stopped at the top of Black Mountain and took some pictures of the sun reflecting off the New York City skyline.
The sunset was pretty too.
The next day was hot as well. We went down to a lake with showers and vending machines, but everything was locked up. Nearing the end of the day, we hit a water cache that had a note inside from the people who had left it. The note said to give them a call and they would come and pick us up. It turned out that they were busy when we called, but we didn't have much to do, so we just hung out and waited for them. When they did come and pick us up, they were so nice. They practically forced us to eat with them and we slept in extremely comfortable beds after a luxurious shower.
In some sense, we had been lucky to get to the cache when we did, because Just Jill and Day Tripper were right behind us and would have taken the hospitality if we didn't beat them to it. I've introduced Just Jill before, but Day Tripper is new. My main memory of her is of her mobile phone. It was always on and she was always doing something with it. She was a bit behind a larger group of people and was keeping in close contact with them. The morning after our stay with the people who had left the cache, we thought that she and Just Jill must be ahead of us, because they would not need a ride to get to the trail. However, we soon heard Day Tripper talking on her phone as she was walking up the mountain, right behind us. It was a bit strange for me, but she was a nice person, so I tried to not let it get in the way.
In any case, the rest of the day was pretty flat, so the five us could walk at a good pace and chat a bit. We hit a hot-dog stand at lunch time (not so great for a vegetarian: when I asked if he had veggie dogs, he laughed at me), and before long, we crossed into New Jersey.
It might sound like we were going out of the frying pan and into the fire, but the trail in New Jersey is actually really beautiful. It also has the highest concentration of bears of any state on the trail. Foreshadowing!