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Sunday, August 20, 2006
Got moving at 7:30 a.m. so I could get ice cream in 2 miles, got there at 9 a.m. and they didn’t open until 10. So I left. Met Pokie and Woodstock, saw vultures and took pictures, crossed over into N.J. (near Hewitt). Made it to Wawayanda Shelter and stayed with John (last night I stayed with a retired doctor and his wife). It took me 10 hr. to go 12 miles, could be worse. I’m spent, my back is bothering me, don’t know how much of it is in my head, but I got some long poles to test out by dragging my gear behind me.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Got up ate rice, honey, powdered milk, protein, and garlic then played with my gear so I left at 8 a.m. Spread gear along the trail and in ten minutes I felt like it was all up hill. Back to the drawing board. Made it to town by 11 a.m. because I got a ride from Shamarock (a trail volunteer for maintenance) to St. Thomas church. Now in Vernon, NJ I met Pig Pen, who was staying for the day, and also met Seed. The reporter from the Star Ledger will come by tomorrow at 10 a.m. then I will be on my way.
Walked to A&P (.3 miles) and got some food, it seemed heavy, which made me realize how much upper body strength I have lost and there was also a scale there, I lost 15-20 pounds. When I get off the trail I am going to have to spend a few months at they gym so little girls don’t beat me arm wrestling. That reminds me once I arm-wrestled my oldest son, Zach, a while back (I think he was 21) it took everything I had and I just beat him left handed (I’m left handed) thought I was pretty hot. Well then my youngest son, Adam, wrestled his brother and slammed him down. That may not mean much to you but I had arm-wrestled Adam who buried my hand in the table. The next day I thanked Zach, he said no problem. Now there is a kid who knew and didn’t have to prove anything; knowing is knowing, faith believing you can (I had faith, he knew I’d rather know then have faith, cause faith can waver at times, know doesn’t).
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Got up at 6 a.m. had ovalteen with raw eggs, yogurt, fresh blueberries, and two hamburgers with onions; had a hot shower wand found a foot massager and Epson Salt so I indulged myself and read a book. Last night the guy running the hostel said he almost threw me out because he thought I was a bum. After we talked and he got to know me and saw my gear he realized I was a thru hiker (not one like he has ever seen). I thanked him for being open enough not to prejudge me, and I wonder how many I have not been so open to?
The photographers for the Starledger came and brought me to the trailhead to take pictures. We talked, he was moved, reached into his pocket gave me money for food and his blessings. I am always moved at how generous people are once a connection is made deeper than eye contact; I think it is our nature to love one another (what do I do to destroy that with another?).
Started walking at 10 a.m. and was in Unionville by 5 p.m. (about 13 miles, with a break in between). This is nice just doing 12-13 miles, it allows me time to stop into towns and explore a little (usually just exploring food). Met a boy (about 18-19) working side by side with his mom in their general store. He has been in ROTC volunteers for the ambulance and is thinking of going into West Point. I gave him our card, which he put on his board and will look up. At this point in his life he is the world’s oyster; can do anything but not all things. Where would I be now if I had different guidance? Would I still be here at this moment but only taken a different path to end up here? Maybe sometimes I just do mental gymnastics cause I am here now the only thing I can change about the past is how I see it. I was told this type of thinking is a “white thing”. What it does for me is give me experience and wisdom so that I may help guide another if I have the courage to do so, not manipulate but guide.
I am spending the night at a hostel attached to a bar (the back track). I lucked out they were having a buffet. God I could learn to love golf! In the bunk house the noise from the bar is blocked out but it’s right on the road so the traffic is loud for a small town.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Was up at 5:30 a.m. to the deli at 6 a.m. to get something to help raw garlic go down, which was Iced Tea, apple turn over, and a bagel with cream cheese. Eating as I left town the ground cover was great, soft, dirt, grass, and few rocks. Made a stop a little off road at a farm where the guys have donkeys and a bunkhouse for hikers with a shower; took a shower and felt great and saw Ziplock and Spoonman. Took a break after 7 miles and seeing a flock of wild Turkeys. The next 7 miles (as John P. would say) where Hanis with sharp edges up and the path looking like a dried up river bed, I have a bad feeling about Penn. Made it to Mashipacong (which is Indian for, how do you like them apples) shelter in NJ. Nobody will have to sing me to sleep tonight. Slow Step showed up at 7p.m.; he is retired and went hiking because he is stressed about retirement. He shared his water with me, it is getting scarcer and it was ‘ify’ if I had enough to make it to the next stop.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Left at 6 a.m. to go 9 miles to Branchbille, NJ half way there I met a man who smiled and said you are going to suffer in Penn. I laughed to myself, suffer, this is nothing compared to the guys coming home with P.T.S.S. They suffer every waking moment with their feeling and they wake up during the night with nightmares, they know suffering. My suffering I could end in a moment by putting on shoes and getting off the trail. Let’s help them ease their suffering maybe end it lets make it mandatory that they all get intense counseling before they get discharged. That is at least 1-2 weeks of group counseling, workshops for 12 hours a day; it’s more than a pair of shoes they deserve.
When I got to the road I walked 5 miles on pavement, got to talk to the road crew working on the highway. One of them had read about me in the newspaper and we talked; to him I was just a good idea that he would forget about, but after we talked he was going to write and give it to his daughter who is in high school. Before we started talking I cold see his co-workers smirk just looking at a 55 year old guy with paper camping gear wearing yellow flip-flops with a flower on them until they saw with their ears and eyes what I stood for. I stand for all the people in the Armed Service and the highest ideal they want to feel they fight for and that is freedom. That freedom is a responsibility to not endanger myself or others with how I choose to express myself.
Shortly after that the state police stopped me, questioned me. I told them what I was ding and that I was looking for a motel. They check out my ID, gave me a ride to the motel and gave me their best regards; I thanked them and asked them to write a letter. After finally getting settled in, feed, and washed I made some phone calls and for some reason looked up and there was a mirror on the ceiling, what a time to be alone.
Did another CBS radio interview, only this time it was located in NY.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Got a ride to the trailhead at 6 a.m. by one of the tenants of the motel I talked to yesterday. I offered to pay him, he wouldn’t accept, said it was just a few minutes (his few minutes would have been over and hour for me) and to keep it for the walk. Thanks Brian.
It rained after 2 hours until mid afternoon. I saw one other hiker near a ranger station; I am now in the Delaware Water Gap Park, completing about 13 miles for the day. Set up my tent and called it a day.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
8/26 Woke up in the middle of the night to thunder and lighting as well as pelting rain, went back to sleep then up at 6 a.m. and still raining, but not so bad. Got up, dressed, packed and started hiking wet (I haven’t mastered staying dry while camping out). Met a father hand his 2 children (teens) who had my picture taken with him and his family, so he can say he met me and will write to his representative. I say God Bless the person who writes without having to meet me. Then I meet Mark and his son who walked with me for about an hour and gave them my whole story. I apologized for talking so much, he said that is why he walked with me, to hear the story. He gave me a lift into Delaware Water Gap so I wouldn’t have to walk over the bridge, gave me his card and some money and said to call anytime or if I need anything. I thanked him and his son.
At the “Church of the Mountain” they let you stay in the basement, took a hot shower and 3 other south bound hikers showed up (Tent Pole, Gretel, and Book). We all went to the dinner to eat, then back to the basement to sleep. Gretel who got his trail name because his bro visited him on the trail with a broken pack and was losing stuff for 5 miles that one of the other south bounders was picking up behind him. When they caught up to ask whose it was, he got his name Gretel; as in Hansel and Gretel leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.