9-12: tent site, Gren Anderson, Jim Murray, tentsite, Wildcat 

Day 9: tent site to Gren Anderson Shelter 
It was the best sleep of my life. I woke up at 5:30 to the sunrise and the millions of birds. I laid in my tent for a few minutes, enjoying the sensation of slowly waking up with the world. 


And then I went and got the food down from the bear hang. 
Moss and FD and I ate breakfast in our tents (FD is very slow at waking up, so her needs time to eat and make coffee and lay perfectly still with his eyes open). 
I packed up first, so then I played with Disco until FD was ready. 


We had some great trail

And some good views 

But the real excitement was going 15 miles to Branchville, NJ to Gyp’s Tavern. 


Once we got there, it was incredible. A nice biker bar right on a lake, with lawn chairs for relaxing in the sun. I got a Coke 

And ordered food

And settled in for a spell. 

The tavern is VERY hiker friendly. The offer water refills and charging plugs as soon as you walk in. The food was delicious too (chicken fingers with hot sauce and ranch on the side; a giant basket of fries with old bay seasoning). 
We stayed there for quite a while. It was only 3 more miles to the shelter, so we didn’t feel rushed. 
But when it was finally time to leave…moss, FD, Sarah, and I split a six pack of beer. We each carried our cans (1 each for me and Sarah, two for the guys). 
FD and I got to the shelter first, after a quick climb up the fire tower. 

We settled in and cracked those beers, still cold from our packs. 

And then FD and I did our night’s writing and then drifted off to sleep. 


Miles: 18

MVP: chicken fingers

LVP: rocks 
*****
Day 10: Gren Anderson to Secret Shelter
We had all discussed doing a 13 today, on account of the rain that was supposed to start at noon. But when I woke up and saw that the night’s storm never happened…well, I decided to do an 18 instead. 


I told FD he said that sounded ok to him, as long as the weather held. Sarah wasn’t able on account of her injury, and moss was undecided. I set off around 7:30, knowing FD would catch up. 


Here is a dead tree with new flowering branches coming out of it. Never underestimate nature. 


I climbed to the top of Sunrise Mountain, but didn’t have much of a view. I sat and called my mom. 


I headed back down. The trail was pretty ok, but the water sources were all a little…yucky. 


I stopped for a second breakfast. 


And then there were more rocks. 

And more great trail. 


My feet were hurting pretty bad at this point. Only 7.5 miles in and I could feel the throbbing in my feet, the bruising pain on my heel. I sat down and propped my feet up. 


And this is how FD found me. We hiked on together. 


When we got to High Point State Park HQ, we popped in. This park will give hikers a free Pepsi if they sign the register. We did. 

I also took advantage of the carpet to do a bit of stretching. My lower back has been sort of seizing up, and I needed to try and stretch that out. 
I am constantly surprised and humbled by the hospitality and generosity I find on the trail. 
We said goodbye, and set off on our last 6.5 miles. 


We stopped in at High Point Shelter to snack. I tripped and fell and went down hard. I ate until it didn’t hurt anymore (jk it still hurts). 


And then off on the last 5 miles. 
There were some beautiful pasture walks that soaked our feet and gave me new, exciting blisters. And there were sheep. 


We were both hurting pretty badly. One last break and then off on the home stretch. The trail was gorgeous with only a few short (but steep) climbs between High Point Shelter and the Secret Shelter. 
And then we arrived! The cabin was actually pretty full, so we decided to sleep on the porch of a different outbuilding. The sun is slowly disappearing while FD and I write, with birds still busy in the trees around us. Two donkeys wander around, eating grass, and tomorrow I’ll turn 31. 


Life is really quite perfect. Besides my aching feet 🙂


Miles: 18.4

MVP: stretching 

LVP: rocks 
*****
Day 11: Secret Shelter to Tentsite 
There’s something so peaceful about waking up to the birds. They’re so loud when there are no other noises. I woke up on the porch of a locked cabin (the actual shelter was full of damp hikers– no thanks) to the first fingers of dawn and a chorus of a million birds. 


It was only 2ish miles from the shelter to Unionville. A lot of that was on a boardwalk in a swamp, but some of it was up very steep (but short) hills. 


Breakfast was calling, so we booked it straight to Hitler’s General Store. 


A cherry Dr Pepper, a chocolate donut, a bacon egg and cheese sandwich, and a hash brown later, I was feeling pretty good about 31. 

We did a short term resupply, and FD bought my lunch: a turkey sub to pack out. 


We stopped over at the park gazebo to repack our food. You take everything out of bulky containers and put it in ziplock bags. 

We caught two deer in the cemetery on our way out of town. Unionville is a very hiker friendly town. Would recommend. 


We had some beautiful pastures to walk through (and get our socks good and wet).  

We had a gorgeous flat walk around a wetlands. We sat on a bench for a bit, then carried on our conversation as we strolled around the preserve. 


I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but having a good hiking partner can make such a huge difference in your day. Hiking alone is important too, but spending so much time with a person, really getting to know them, feel close to them, build a friendship as you struggle physically along the trail… well, that’s truly special. FD has been a True friend to me in the short time I’ve known him. 

He helps with the rock scrambles. 

He’s fun at lunch. 


And you both celebrate when you get to the mile long boardwalk. Which SOUNDS great in theory, but in reality, it just meant pounding your feet on wood for way too long. 

The boardwalk ends with some random little dirt paths, not too bad. And then your cross a road with Heaven Hill Farms. 


We stopped in. They had flowers and fresh produce and then…homemade ice cream and cokes. 


It was a great little stop. 

Of course then came stairway to heaven. It starts out ok. 


But do you see that huge mountain in the distance? You go up it. On giant rock stairs. We got to the view (a quick blue blaze) and then pressed on, trying to get to the shelter. 


Buuuuuut we found a little tentsite first, so we stopped about 3 miles early. FD was worried about getting in to the shelter too late. I wasn’t sure why. 
Until we set up our tents and he pulled out a bottle of wine he’d bought at Heaven Hill and carried all the way up that mountain, just for my birthday!! 



We had an incredible birthday dinner together. 


FD French-Dipped the cheese dip can. 


And then we tucked ourselves into our tents as I said goodbye to my birthday. 


All in all, 31 is looking great. I have amazing friends and family. I do and see incredible things. I laugh a lot, I cry when I need to, and so far, no ones told me I’m screwing it all up. It seems like I’m doing pretty well. 

Miles: 15.2

MVP: birthday food!

LVP: knees. And rocks. 
*****
Day 12: tent site to WildCat Shelter
I stretched slowly in my tent. My heels had throbbed into the night, and I’d been a little restless from the pain. 


 I packed up first. FD enjoys his mornings. I like to get started. We sometimes hike separately in the mornings. FD will catch up to me when he’s awake. It’s a good system. 
This morning, my goal was to get 4 miles down trail to a state park HQ to wash out some clothes. 


The trail there was actually pretty nice. 

The water was brown when I rinsed out my shirt. I washed undies and a pair of socks and even my hair with the bathroom antibacterial foaming soap. 


I finished up and got back on trail. I passed some trail magic and a funny way to leave something for a fellow hiker. 


My hair dried well. 


There were more rocks. I ran into FD but hiked on as he wanted a break (I’d been sitting for a while). Most of the rocks here were ridgeline rocks; these are giant sloping slabs that aren’t that hard to walk on, but if you’re scared of heights like I am, then it’s downright terrifying. 


FD and I met up again just before the NY border. We crossed it together. 


The trail was… interesting. Up and down and across and then HEYO a rebar ladder. 


And then a giant rattlesnake rattled at me. I screamed. 


We finally got to the blue blaze to take us into Greenwood Lake. The guidebook said it was steep. 


It was. 
As soon as we got into town we changed into crocs. 


We hit up Murphys for lunch. I also had a side salad with great blue cheese. 


A CVS resupply and a bookstore for reading material, and it was back on trail. 


The last 2 miles to the shelter were actually pretty nice. Some ridgeline walks, but there were bad weather bypasses too. I took one. My knees are shot. 


And now the shelter! The tentsites are all full. Kim and Mix are here (two older hikers we met in DWG), and Fresh, a NOBO we met in DWG but have seen a few times now. F-Stop and her dog are also here. 


Rain tomorrow. A problem bear at the most convenient shelter means we’ll likely have to do big miles. Ugh. 
Miles: 15.8?

MVP: salad

LVP: knees. And rocks. 

Trip total: 156.6

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