10 days, 226 miles, 3 states, 1 case of Lyme disease, 1 case of Giardia, 1 bee sting to the eye. The last 10 days have been a grind. It has been the toughest stretch I have endured on the trail so far. I have hiked from Port Clinton, Pa, to Pawling, NY in the last 10 days.
One of the best things about being on the trail is the freedom from schedules and obligations. Unfortunately, I was on a tight schedule to get to Pawling to take a train into New York City today to see a good friend before he sets off on his own adventure. I had plenty of time, but the procrastinator in me and the relaxed hiker mentality tricked me into hanging out with friends, eating pizza, and having beers for too long. It was totally worth it, but before I knew it I had to go 23 miles per day for 10 days to get to NYC. It seemed difficult when I did the math, it was nearly impossible when I was actually walking it. It started with a slightly hung over walk up a mountain out of Port Clinton and ended with police woman pulling us over while sitting in the back of a truck with one hiker clutching his swollen eye. And a lot of walking in between.
Those 226 miles were actually really beautiful. We had the rocks of Pennsylvania, the climb out of the Lehigh River, a superfund site where zinc mining had contaminated an entire town, boardwalks of New Jersey, swamps, the Hudson River, Bear Mountain, beaches, lakes, farms, and berries. Oh, the berries. So many berries.
There were definitely casualties too. On day 4, Icarus was feeling especially exhausted. We assumed it was the fact that we hiked 30 miles the day before. While waiting for him at a tower I got a text saying he wasn't going to make it. He went into a nearby town and found out he had Lyme disease. He was going to take medicine and rest for the best week and meet us in NYC. So then there was one.
Luckily for me, Boris had Giardi! Which meant that he had been sitting at a hostel for multiple days trying to do as little moving and eating as possible. I caught him going into New Jersey when he was feeling better and we hiked the rest of the way to NY together.
When we finally reached the road to take us into the town of Pawling, we tried to hitch hike the3 miles into town even though we knew it is illegal in New York. We weren't very successful. I guess the drivers knew it was illegal too. After a minute a small pickup truck pulls over and one guy leans out of the window with what I thought was an eyepatch. That was a good sign. Usually anyone with an eye patch is willing to pick up a couple hitch hikers. As I looked closer I realized the pirate was Detox. He had been stung in the eye by something and flagged down a truck to get into town. He saw us on the side of the road with his good eye and asked the nice gentleman to pick us up too. Extremely lucky for us, not so much for Detox. As we made our way into town we immediately got pulled over by a cop. They take hitch hiking seriously here I guess. Once again the swollen eye came in handy and we got off free. Thanks for taking one for the team Detox.
These 10 days have really worn down my body. My legs are tired. I physically can't walk faster than 2 mph. That's not very fast for those of you who don't measure your walking speed on a daily basis. This meant that in order for me to do 23 miles in a day I had to wake up as soon as the sun rose and start walking. Is finish as the sun was setting and the mosquitos were coming out in full force. That's at least a 13 hour work day.
I made it though with just the usual aches and pains and swollen, blistered feet. I feel lucky since there was so much injury and illness around me. It was challenging and I'm happy it's over. Now I get two days to rest in New York City. And by rest I mean walk miles and miles around the city in the heat trying all the food.