Day 117

Day 117 – July 2 – 18.8 miles – Graymoor Spiritual Life Center to RPH Shelter

Overnight a drunk “hiker” stumbled into the pavilion.  He was talking loudly in a druken stupor all through the night.  I did not sleep well.

When I got up in the morning he was sleeping peacefully on the ground.  I really wanted to wake him up in some sort of rude fashion. I didn’t.  I had a bigger problem.

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It was a little before six and I saw Flashfire getting her things together.  I looked around and said,” Where’s Zeus?”  He was usually up and making coffee by that time.  She looked at me in alarm and then went over to Zeus’ tent.  She called his name and he responded by saying he couldn’t hike.  She opened the door to his tent and it quickly became apparent why.  His eyes were swollen shut.

Zeus also had a rash all over his calves.  It was poison ivy.  That same rash was on his face.  He must have got it when we went through the zoo bypass.  Somehow the rest of us were ok, but he was in real bad shape.  Even the early mourning sun was causing terrible pain in his eyes.

There was another problem.  Stoats phone had broken a few days ago.  There was no way I could get a hold of him.  I didn’t want to leave Zeus in his current predicament, but I also was not going to abandon my brother in the woods.

I talked to Flashfire about it and she said she would stay with Zeus.  She said she would call me if there was a problem she couldn’t handle.

I looked up all the medal places in the area that were open on Sunday and sent them to Flashfire.  We were pretty sure that someone from the church would give him a ride if he needed one.

After saying goodbye to Flashfire and Zues I reluctantly got back on the trail.

It was still early ,around 7, and it looked like I was the first person on the trail.  The dappled sunlight combined with the humidity caused shafts of light to penetrate through the forest.

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That’s when I heard the chanting again.

I had woken up momentarily at around 4 in the morning.  I thought I heard the sounds of people chanting before I fell back asleep.  Then as I passed by the monastery on my way back to the trail, I heard the monks singing.  “Thats right it’s Sunday,” I thought, “Man, they start early!”

Now that I was deeper in the woods I was surprised I could hear them so clearly.

The chanting, combined with the setting, made me feel like I had traveled to a different time and place.  It sure didn’t feel like I was only a hours drive from my house in NJ.

The trail was still tough but it was easier than it had been over the last few days.  I met up with Stoat and we continued north.

The day was very hot and humid.  There wasn’t much we could do about it except to turn our brains off and just hike. Most of the day passed in a blur.

Some of the highlights include:

A touching poem.

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Rock artwork.

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And a bug.

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When we got to a lake, we decided to take a side trail to a beach area that had a concession stand.  We decided to wait out the hottest part of the day and resume hiking a little later.

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We wound up staying there about three hours.  While we were there, the crew that Cash and Songbird had been hiking with stopped by.  That crew included Kyu, who now goes by Chai. We had first met him on our first day in PA.  When he had just started his section hike.  We thought it was impressive that he had been able to keep up with the Thru Hikers.

When it started to get late, we decided to get going.  On the way back to the trail, a wild looking old timer stopped Stoat and I to extol the virtues of drinking olive oil.  The guy was nice, its just that it was hot out and we just wanted to get to the end of the day.  While we were in a conversation we rather not be having, other hikers passed us.  They gave us a look that said, “I feel bad for you, but better you than me.”

The remaining five miles were fairly uneventful.  There was one nice view, and a 911 memorial.

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Stoat and I got to the shelter and set up our hammocks.  The cash and Songbird crew were eating dinner on the back “porch” of the shelter, and we joined them.

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While we were eating, a woman named Amy walked up from the road nearby.  She was carrying containers of freshly baked cookies.  Awesome!  Then she said that she had an offer for us.

She said, ” In the morning you can hike several miles (north) down the trail.  My husband and I have a house nearby and we will make you breakfast.

Then we will drive you 17 miles north and drop you off (on the AT).  You can then hike 17 miles south, back to our house, where we will make you dinner.  We have plenty of room in our backyard if you want to camp overnight.

Then the next day we are having a fourth of July party with food available all day.  Oh, we will have a keg of beer as well.  You can sleep over again and then well drive you back to where we dropped you off the day before.  You can continue your hike northwards from there.”

Everyone’s jaw was on the floor.

Then she added, “My husband is into sky diving and he will be doing a jump on July 5th.  It isn’t free but we’ll bring you there if you want to go.”

Minds were blown.

We thanked her, probably not as hardily as we should have, but we were in a state of shock.  It sounded too good to be true.

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Throughout the day I had been in contact with Flashfire about Zeus’ condition.  He was getting better.  Flashfire had given him some sort of medication and it seemed to be working. They were not sure if he would be able to hike the next day, but he was on the mend.

They got some trail magic of their own.  While they were at the pavilion, soccer teams showed up to play.  Flashfire, an avid soccer player, was very happy to watch.

A BBQ grill was brought in.  Flashfire watched as soccer players would line up and buy a plate of food.  She thought she might as well try to buy some as well.  When she went up there she was given two plates that were full of salad, chicken, beans, steak, corn,etc.  When she asked how much, they said it was free.

I let her know about the party on July 4th and where it was.  If they were able to hike tomorrow they would be able to make it.

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