We stayed at the Warwick Inn, and the owner, Rami, could not have been nicer. He got us a 2 bedroom suite, instead of our usual single for Road Runner, double for Subaru and I, which ended up saving us around $35. Then he called a local pizza place, which closes at 8:30 on Sundays and convinced them to make just one more (ok, two more) pizzas for some hikers who just got off the trail. Then he drove down to pick up the pizzas for us!
It was a late night for us, by the time we showered, ate, and did laundry. And this was just the beginning....
July 15: We woke up, ate breakfast at the hotel, and got a ride back to the trail from Rami by 8:30. A little later than we hope to start, but as I said, it had been a late night. By 8:30 am, it was in the high 90's with extreme humidity. Cooler in the shady woods, but still very uncomfortable. We had looked at the guide book and planned to stop and have a swim in Little Dam Lake around mid-day, to cool off and rejuvenate. New York had other plans.
The first few miles were not bad- flat, scattered rocks, a forest path, really. We came to the shelter we were supposed to stay on the night before and saw that it was a blessing we did not make it there: mosquito infested with a poor water source. That also would be a recurring theme throughout NY.
Then the rocks started. And the steep, short ups and downs started. Rock scrambles like the day before. Sheer bouldering climbs with full packs. Sharp, rocky descents.
Road crossings became our best friends, as trail angels, clearly familiar with the lack of water sources, had left gallons and gallons of drinking water along the trail for hikers.
We came to Little Dam Lake around 1:00 and each in turn yelled out our disappointment: "Hey! This isn't a lake!" It was around 2 feet deep with algae and Lilly pads and Mosquitos. We had to make due with hanging our shirts in the sun to dry.
The afternoon brought a few more climbs, some views, and the blessed breeze that comes at the top of higher climbs and keeps the bugs away. By late afternoon, it was clear that all the climbs and rock scrambles had slowed our pace WAY down. 18 miles was a near impossibility. We planned to try to push to a pond at 15.5 miles- rumor was, the pond was swim-able).
Alas, the descent into Harriman State Park was so rocky and steep, that 0.8 miles took us an hour and a half!
We hitched a ride into Harriman to the Budget Inn for the night. Again, somebody going the opposite way turned around just to give us a ride! Angels everywhere, I tell you.
Once showered and dressed in dry clothes, we walked over to Fridays for dinner. I took the chance to call my Dad for a quick pick-me-up. I was feeling really low. This was theist exhausting day I had had on the trail and we had only covered 13 miles! What was I going to do when we hit New Hampshire and Maine? At this rate, I would never finish!!
My Dad was quick to point out that the temps were in the high 90's and humidity near 99%. "Thirteen miles is amazing on those conditions. I would be very upset if you didn't stop and tried to push yourself too much. What would have happened on those steep rocks if somebody passed out?" He was right. I felt better.
At dinner, trying to be helpful, Road Runner and Subaru offered suggestions on how I could go faster on the rocks. Faster? Whenever I tried to go faster on rocks, I fell. And like Dad said, what would happen if I fell on those steep rocks? I was NOT going to try to go faster!
On the way back to the hotel, I remembered a promise I had made to myself before starting this hike: if I was hiking with somebody who was consistently holding me back, I would stop hiking with them. And if I was consistently holding somebody else back, I would stop hiking with them.
I was holding these guys back! Road Runner has a time limit on his visa and has to finish. I had to stop hiking with them!
I made a decision that when we got to Bear Mountain, I would tell them to hike on without me and I would zero and find another hiking bubble.
I had been hiking with these guys since late April. And now I was going to have to leave them. It was the only fair thing to do.
So now I was both physically and emotionally spent.
We got to the hotel, turned out the lights, and I just cried my heart out into the pillow.
That would be the perfect way to end the blog post, wouldn't it? "And I cried myself to sleep." Everyone would feel bad as the curtain closed.
But it's hard to wrap yourself up on your own misery and cry yourself to sleep when your sharing a room with somebody.
Subaru came over and asked me what was wrong. "It was just a hard day." He asked if something else was bothering me. "I feel like I'm holding you guys back. I can't go as fast as you on the rocks. I'm holding back our Milage." He went on to say that nobody expected me to go any faster than I was comfortable with. And that I wasn't holding anyone back. And then he just sat with me for a while.
Which made things better. And worse. Because I still had to leave them when we got to Bear Mountain.