The Squeeze

May 30, 2018

Destination: West Mountain Shelter Today's Miles: 21.10

Start Location: Stealth Campsite at Fitzgerald Falls Trip Miles: 1398.10

New York forest
I had a great sleep last night and woke up to a muggy, but pleasant morning. I was on the trail hiking just a little past 6am.

I had no real goal in mind yet; I just wanted to walk about 20-23 miles. When I left camp, there were a lot more tents than when I retired for the evening. I saw Clothesline brushing his teeth. We were starting to form a little NOBO mini bubble! 

The day was cloudy in the morning, but cleared up later. I was first out of camp and got into the hiking quickly. I’m really liking the New York scenery so far. There are lots of ups and downs over rocks, and plenty of rock scrambles and complicated climb ups and turns to keep it really interesting. I crossed over I87 and the crazy rush and noise of the cars was intense. I thought about how the trail always leads me to the sanctuary of the woods, even if sometimes it passes through some rough patches. It’s such a metaphor for the spiritual journey of life. After the highway, I passed into Elk Park and climbed up into some wonderful scenery. I was fortunate to get a breeze here that would stay the rest of the day. It really helped with the bugs and gnats.

About the gnats....They are the most persistent things. I wonder if gnats just view my body as one large restaurant. So they try and call for reservations? “Hello, this is Gnathaniel, so you have space for two to dine tonight? Yes, two - I’ll be bringing my wife Nit. Also, do you have any corner eye seats? We love the corner.... If we can’t get in there, do you by chance have VIP under kid seating?” Whether they are that organized or not, they sure do love eating me.

I walked through a cool section of trail today called the Lemon Squeezer. There is a triangular window of rock that you walk under, and then a tight corridor to walk through and up. I got a little stuck in the corridor and had to take my pack off and throw it up onto the rocks and squeeze through without it. After that, there was some hand-over-hand bouldering. It was a good challenge and fun! I also passed the intersection with the New York Long Path trail today. It apparently runs into NYC after about 53 miles. Dude is actually walking that trail to meet his siblings in New York for his birthday. I think that is pretty awesome! I was tempted to walk it myself, just so I could say that I walked out of the woods and into Manhattan, but I have my eye on the prize.

It was a long day and I ate a lot of snacks. I decided to stay at West Mountain Shelter, but I actually wanted to tent at the shelter turn off or a little past because the shelter itself is half a mile off trail, and has no privy and water that is another .3 miles from the shelter. The shelter trail was on a ridge, so I headed in to find the first possible camp site. I met No Excuse on the way in. I have seen him in the log books.  He’s also a NOBO and hikes with guys named Chimney and Big Push. I’m finally meeting some of the faster guys who left at the same time I did. I stopped to set up my tent and as I pulled out my tent poles, I heard the rope inside snap. Ugh! I ended up getting a shelter spot, but I will need to get some new poles ASAP. I plan to deal with that tomorrow. I can probably use duct tape in the meantime, but it’s not ideal and there is some stormy weather coming.

I was grateful for the wonderful views today, the incredible hiking, and to be by a shelter when my tent poles broke. Tomorrow I should cross the Hudson!

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