MA, CT, NY, NJ: The "Fun-Size" States

27 Sep

Day 89, Mile 1041

Seven states down, seven to go! I’m here at the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA, one of the great trail towns along the AT. The Doyle is what I would call “delightfully shabby.” It’s pretty low-rent; there are three of us splitting the “suite” for $11 per guy. Shower is down the hall, and it even has a lightbulb in the room! I’m now downstairs in the bar, using their free computer to try and put up a much needed post about my recent adventures.

I feel like so much has happened since my last post about Vermont. I’ve been through four states since then; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. All of those states are really small, each one taking only a few days to knock out. It’s nice going through those small “bite-sized” states, good for the ol’ hiker ego to say, “Why yes, I did walk across this state in three days.”

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The Monument at Mt. Greylock, highest point in MA

Massachusetts was very nice with lots of neat little things that make it great. For instance, in the town of Dalton there are not one, but two “trail angels” who take hikers in to their homes for free. It’s like the two guys are competing to get the most Christmas cards from hikers at the end of the year. Ten miles past Dalton is a blueberry farm where “the Cookie Lady” lives, who gives out free cookies to hikers who pass through. Massachusetts is also home to the Upper Goose Pond Cabin, the best shelter I have come to yet. The cabin is located on the pond, where you can take out canoes and paddle around, there are bunk beds with real mattresses inside, and a volunteer caretaker cooks blueberry pancakes for hikers in the morning! I also got to take a sidetrip into Boston to visit my friends Rachael and Sarah, who just moved there a few weeks ago. As you may remember, I lived in Boston last summer, so it was real nice to go see some familiar faces in a familiar place!

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Canoe at Upper Goose Pond

Connecticut was so short it feels like a blur in my memory. I’ve really picked up my pace over the past few weeks, doing 20+ miles each day. Consequently, I made it through CT in just a few days. I did get to stop in Kent, CT, which was pretty neat! Everything in town was named after me! Well, maybe that’s not quite the truth. The trail in CT is pretty much a straight line that follows the Housatonic River, going up and over all the ridges along the way.

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Hometown…?

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Colors of the Trees in Connecticut

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Covered Bridge in Connecticut

New York was a low-spot for me so far. Although I have hiked off and on with a few guys since Vermont, I have been mostly alone for the past few weeks, and it really started to wear on me in NY. On top of that, the trail in NY pretty much serves only to connect New England to the Mid-Atlantic, and is pretty sparse on views and wilderness—I could hear the highway almost every night! I did get to ride the train from the AT into NYC though for a few days and visit my friend Heather, which was a real nice trip.

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The Appalachian Trail Train Stop

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9/11 Memorial in NY

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Bear Mountain Bridge

Things completely turned around though as I crossed into New Jersey. For starters, I saw my first bear just 100 yards into the state! I couldn’t get a picture though…next time I’ll be ready. The sun came out as well, and it turned into a beautiful day. I spent my first night in the basement of a church in Vernon, NJ. When I went to sleep that night I was the only hiker there, but around midnight a middle-aged fellow came in. At first I thought, “Burglar!” but after talking to him, he seemed to be just a guy having a hard night. He told me he was just passing through town with his wife, they got in a fight and she kicked him out of the car, and then a cop told him to come to the church to spend the night. I uneasily went back to sleep. About three in the morning though, three cops came in and arrested the guy! It was a pretty exciting night, all things told. The next day, I finally caught up to Peeps, one of the SOBOs I started with all the way back in Maine. It was so nice to have some company again! We talked for about two hours straight, swapping stories and catching up.

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Corn Fields in New Jersey

And so now I am about halfway through Pennsylvania. Since I caught up to Peeps and the rest of the SOBO pack, my hike has become so much more enjoyable again. We’ve been building campfires, staying up late, making jokes, having a good time in general. Life is just more fun with companions I think!

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8 Responses to “MA, CT, NY, NJ: The "Fun-Size" States”

  1. uncle Craig October 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    if i’m seeing the map correctly, you should be doing left foot virginia, right foot west virginia for a few miles.

  2. uncle Craig October 5, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    Glad you made Maryland. By now you should be close to Virginia. Once there you get W. Va. and Va in same day. Will that be the 9 states in 30 days. Hiking might be toughter in the Shenandoas and the Carolinas. Keep a good pace and not a leisurly walk. Talked to your Dad last week. He was going on the road again so didn’t get him to play golf with me.

  3. Kenny Williams October 1, 2009 at 11:54 am #

    Robert,
    This is so awesome!! I remember a long time ago, when we exchanged dreams of adventures such as this. I remember telling you of my plans for a bike tour, and you told me of yours for the AT. It excites me that we have both followed through! This blog is awesome, and I am kicking myself for not documenting my trip in this way. Great to see that you are having a blast, and loving life outside. Happy trails man!

    Kenny

  4. Christy September 30, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    I just really liked Jules’ comment. Julia-I miss you. and Bob of course I miss you too. I just like the part about the arctic circle–maybe if you hadn’t had your creeper stash!

  5. Julia September 29, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    Wow, I am so glad you are safe! Good thing you don’t carry much on you, I guess. Is this church advertised as being open to the public for a night’s sleep?

    “Life is just more fun with companions I think!” RE: Arctic Circle, April 2008

    Are you switching from shorts to pants now that the weather is cooling down? Will you be picking up a coat along the way, or how does that work?

    Milk and cookies are waiting for you in NC! (I’ll make new ones once you get here, though!)

    Julia

  6. Rachael September 29, 2009 at 8:07 pm #

    your pictures are so beautiful Robert…I really love the canoe and the one of the corn field in New Jersey. gorgeous.

  7. uncle Craig September 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm #

    Glad you’re with your group again. Don’t slow down too much. day an half to maryland.

  8. Laura September 28, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

    Sounds amazing! Glad you left your first bear sighting un-mauled.

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