It’s been 15 days since I drove back from Montreal (Canada) to Massachusetts (USA) and started hiking southbound (Sobo) on the Appalachian trail (A.T.) from there. Since then I’ve hiked somewhat around 200 miles or more and crossed 3 more states – Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.
During that time I hiked solo and did some bigger mile days but also I enjoyed hiking with other people and taking it easy. Especially while the rain was pouring down or at night I was very thankful for the company of ‘Mama Duck’, in the short time we know each other, we shared a lot of laughs and thoughts. We met at Upper Goose pond where the hikers get fed pancakes in the morning – it’s a care taker tradition. We also experienced some really big and nice trail magic there provided by some former thru-hikers – they grilled all sorts of good meat and tuna and fed in total 14 sobo (southbound) AT-hikers that day.
Just before New York the terrain got harsh again, steep up- and downhills on slick rock faces. The water got sparse and comparably bad because of being so close to farmland and cities. At least there was a deli almost every day when crossing a road to go and get coffee, bagels or Burgers. Right after climbing up and over crowded Bear mountain on a Saturday I saw my very first black bear in the wild – it was followed by a short encounter the same night and a mama bear with it’s cubs just the week after when I returned to the trail from my New York City visit.
Hiking solo therefore definitely had it’s qualities – I was much more conscious about my surroundings while hiking and therefore able to see this wildlife. Fortunately/unfortunately the bears always ran away so fast and were far enough away so I couldn’t snap a picture of them.
For this part of the trip I was experimenting with a pair of barefoot running shoes. I loved how snugg they were fitting on my midfoot and they made my steps on slippery rocks much more secure. Although after 200 miles on these rocks the soles were so worn out that there was not much more than a flip flop left under my feet and longer mile days were just getting painful. Unfortunately they were much too costly for this short amount of time that they lasted. I will try more shoes in that direction for sure though. The direct response I had from the ground to my feet was just amazing and made it easy to evaluate if I was stepping correctly.