The rest of Massachusetts and Connecticut went quickly (Connecticut’s only 52 miles). Easy hiking and numerous encounters with civilization, and I took advantage of it all, from places to eat to places to stay, to lighten the load and make some mileage. One difficulty has been the lack of water sources because of the drought, although the cool weather has helped the situation. Normally the water sources in the guide that are cited as reliable are now becoming barely reliable or totally dry, making water supply somewhat problematic but definitely manageable.
Hiking through New York and New Jersey were similar, although both have their rough spots for sure. Even though days are getting short, I’m still able to make some pretty substantial mileage, feel fortunate to still be in good shape and have the energy. Now that I’ve made firm travel plans for returning home, I’ve also upped the Yellow Blaze factor, skipping little sections here and there to make sure I keep pace with my plans. Even though my yellow blazing is a minimal proportion of the trail, I won’t claim the official ATC thru-hike in the end. I’ve known that for some time, and will leave that accomplishment to the few that actually can claim it in all honesty.
And don’t forget, every state has its “Little Maine.” There’s rugged spots here and there, but they don’t dominate the day, and they’re interconnected with stretches of open forest and soft trails that allow long episodes of daydreaming. New York defines the PUD (pointless up and down), a roller coaster affair interspersed with road crossings, and a particular rough spot reminiscent of Maine, all do-able but somewhat annoying. I can look back now to Southern Maine and New Hampshire as clearly being the most rugged part of the trail.
Civilization constantly beckons in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, just by the the traffic on the roads and the numerous places that are near the trail to stop. And I’ve took advantage of those places, to eat and stay, especially as it’s been raining through much of Connecticut and New York.
The forest has become yet even quieter, now being populated by day hikers and a few section hikers, with rare encounters of SOBOs. I saw Molasses on Bear Mountain, churning away mileage that I remember from Virginia and the Hundred Mile Wilderness. I thought my mileage was impressive! And what do you know, on my second to last day near Sunfish Pond, I hear behind me, “Big Horn?”. There, once again, was 2-Taps making his way down to Delaware Water Gap. I’ve been fortunate to see someone pretty much every day until the end. I also met Father Goose and a future thru-hiker, Second Chance, at Mohican Outdoor Center. Second Chance will be representing a rare bunch of cardiac patients, those who have essentially died from sudden cardiac arrest, and by his research will be the first with his medical history to do the AT next year. I wish you good luck!
I could have easily hiked into Delaware Water Gap, but decided instead to slow down the last three days, keep my schedule and at least camp the last night. I’m looking forward to the last hike and ending this journey!