September 12th 2014

Thank you to everyone who has sent care packages to us! We love knowing family and friends are following our journey and sometimes it helps me finish up a long day knowing that you’re watching!

If you are shipping to us general delivery at a post office, please send it via USPS. We are able to bump the package forward to another post office if we miss it. If UPS is the only way, let me know and I can give you an address of the closest hostel that will hold it for us.

Our next mail drop stop will be in Duncannon PA P.O. 17020 by September 18th.

We love you!

September 8th 2014

The boarder crossings keep getting less impressive the further south we go. New York to New Jersey was literally a painted line on a rock. But there was a noticeable difference between states! People seem to be much friendlier in the garden state.

Our first stop in NJ was in a small town called Warwick with one of the last operating drive-in movie theaters in the north. We made it there on Labor day and spent some time at a farmers market/farm/outdoor bar with outdoor music. It was a hot day in the shade and we just enjoyed the opportunity to relax for an afternoon. After dinner we camped at the drive-in and caught a double feature to the backdrop of fireflies on a cool summer night. It made for a very quaint, small-town American day. (We caught Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

We took another easy day and hiked 6 miles to Vernon NJ where we stayed at a lovely hostel in the basement of a church. Plenty of hot showers, laundry and Seinfeld reruns hit the spot.

We’ve made it through some of the wildest parts of Maine, NH, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York without seeing a bear but for what ever reason they are all over New Jersey. I saw 6 bears in 2 days! The cubs are cute but I know better and keep my distance.

We had heard from day 2 on the trail that NJ was a walk in the park and for the most part it was. The northern half of the state was mainly fields of flowers and miles of boardwalks! Easiest state so far.

One night we stayed a quarter mile off trail on a past thru-hikers property. The land had some old buildings on it from the 1800s and he refurbished the old ice house to be used as a cabin for hikers. We loved it there - Drew felt right at home cooking dinner on the porch listening to bluegrass.

The trail took us right through Branchville and dropped us off at a place called Gyps Tavern. On a really hot and humid day how could we not get distracted by ice cold beer and a beautiful view of the water.

We had a beautiful, angry thunderstorm that same night. One of my favorite things in the world is to watch the lightening from a dry place. It brought a cold front with it that feels like the first tease of fall! I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited for nights in the 40s before!

Now that New Jersey is done we’ve got the dreaded PA rocks coming up. I hope this cooler weather persists. We are almost at the 1000 mile mark and the 4 state challenge, and we are feeling strong!

August 31st 2014

Strange getting back on the trail again. It felt too quiet? Not sure how to describe it but it was like I had to relearn how to be peaceful and not caught in the hustle and bustle of city life.

We took the train back out to the trail. It’s a different ride when you’re tired out and the thing you have to look forward to is the same trail you’ve been on for the past two months. The weather was getting hotter and the terrain promised less water but we knew NY and NJ had a lot to offer in terms of things to do.

For instance, our first stop back on the trail was a shelter that was close enough to a road, we could order pizza for delivery. New York had a lot more road crossings than any other state so far, and there was usually a deli within walking distance off the trail. We could eat sandwiches for lunch and dinner everyday if we wanted to.

On our hottest day out so far (heat in the 90s) we ran into a state park with a beach and ice cream! What a perfect find for such a hot day. We decided to stop there for the day and ended up meeting a trail angel who spends his summers at this park feeding thru hikers. First time I’ve had eggs in a while - I miss them.

The next night we stayed at a Fransiscan monastery. They had a shelter out by the baseball fields with a shower and picnic tables. It was a beautiful field but no monks came out to say hi. Drew was itching to play soccer with some.

We made it to Fort Montgomery for an afternoon of fun! We walked over Bear Mountain Bridge (Drew’s favorite part) and through a revolutionary war fort. Then the AT took us straight through a zoo and walked us by the bear cage. We thought this was going to be the first bear we saw on the trail but the cage was empty! The trail literally hands us a bear and we still couldn’t find it. Ha!

We passed a beautiful lake and stopped just to enjoy the afternoon. It was the Friday of Labor Day weekend and we were half hoping to get invited to someones dekicious smelling BBQ but no one took the hungry hiker bait. ;)

We climbed the 815 steps to the top of Bear Mountain (yes there were steps and yes someone else counted them) and saw NYC skyline from the top! It was 34 miles as the crow flies. How cool to look back on the city we just explored from a different perspective.

The rest of NY proved to be a wet hike - if it wasn’t rain, it was 80% humidity! We were trying to beat the rain to a shelter when we were interrupted with trail magic! This is the first cooler we’ve come to that hadn’t been ransacked by NOBOs. Huge NY bagels and string cheese and fruit and fresh food! Our long lunch put us behind and we ended up getting soaked. It worked out for the best though because the water source at the shelter was dried up and we ended up collecting rain water instead. Plus, we got showers and I kind of felt clean that night.

New Jersey should be short and sweet!

August 25th 2014

New York City!

What a whirlwind adventure! Drew did a lot of firsts this week including visiting the city!

We took the Metro North train into Grand Central Station. I loved riding the trains and the subways (which I found out are also called trains by locals). Not exactly sure why I find them so charming but I think it has to be a combination of the historical yet run down feeling you get when they screech and squeak along the railway. For some reason I also like the musty smell and loneliness of staring down a dark tunnel. Gives me chills! I could spend a day down there exploring the stations and inventing stories about what those walls have seen.

I picked up the subway routes pretty quickly and Drew was plenty happy to follow my lead. From the moment we stepped into the main atrium of Grand Central Station he was awed, over stimulated and exhausted with the city. It’s a big change to make in a day - that morning we woke up on a peaceful mountain side and by lunch we’re bumping our way through midtown.

He was delighted, of course, by the grandeur of the old station and needed a moment to take it all in. We only had enough energy to sneak a peek at the 42nd street library before heading to Brooklyn for the night.

Much of the next day consisted of laundry, showers, and naps, topped off with authentic NY pizza by the slice. It lives up to the hype, people. We did find the courage to venture out 3 blocks to the local Salvation Army to find some city clothes to wear. It’s amazing how different one block can feel from the next. And the smells! They changed drastically from block to block (not always a good thing).

On our second full day in the city I convinced Drew to wander outside our 3 block comfort zone to search for lunch. We were able to weave in some sightseeing and walked the Brooklyn Bridge on our way to Chinatown! What a cool experience! The skyline of Manhattan is breathtaking. We could see the Statue of Liberty and it surprised Drew how tiny it was - relatively speaking of course. Those grand photographs and sweeping camera angles make it seem larger than life, but its dwarfed compared to the southern half of Manhattan.

We made our way to Chinatown for some Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles, Inc. dumplings and roast duck soup. I could go for a bowl of their soup right now actually. We knew we we’re getting close to Chinatown when we paused in a park and suddenly realized everyone around us was Chinese. We lingered in the park to watch groups of old Chinese people playing checkers or cards and gambling on the outcome. They were throwing money down and all yelling over eachother in a mass of confusion. I found it comical as it sounds.

We spent some time in the Brooklyn Bridge park that night eating a wonderful picnic dinner overlooking Manhattan skyline. They pulled out a big projector screen to show Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. It was a gorgeous evening. We biked around Brooklyn to get there - my first time biking in a city like that. What a rush! It was fun but got my adrenaline pumping. It was a nice way to see all the beautiful old brownstone architecture, and I enjoyed getting off my feet for a while. Biking feels so fast when you’re used to walking!

After seeing Chinatown, Drew was feeling brave enough to let me take him back to midtown for an afternoon. This time we went to the heart of Times Square and realized the only thing to do there is eat and shop. We ducked into Toys R Us to see the big ferris wheel and check out the Lego collection. Too bad we can’t justify bringing Legos on the trail.

M&M world was our next stop - I had to show Drew the rainbow wall of chocolate. We had a field day picking out new flavors (raspberry and coconut) as well as stocking up on dark chocolate peanut m&ms. We left with two pounds of chocolate.

It’s hard staying in a place that crowded and stimulating so we ducked out of Times Square to eat some street cart gyros in Rockefeller Plaza. Perfect place to people watch for the afternoon. A lady sat down near us to start painting her toenails. I think that’s when I started to see how public yet private people’s lives are in a city this big. When there are millions of other people around you fighting for attention, it’s hard to notice any one in particular. Except the ones that smell like acetone. ;)

We found ourselves gravitating towards Central Park for some peace and quiet but it was much busier than we expected! Runners and bikers everywhere.

Along with the sight seeing, we enjoyed some of life’s simple pleasures as well.
Something as common as relaxing on a couch or curling up under a blanket we took great pleasure in. We watched the Birdcage in honor of Robin Williams death (first we heard of it was getting into the city) and just enjoyed spending time with family.

The longer we stayed the more comfortable we got exploring the city and really got to see a wide spread. Upper west side bagels, lunch in grenwich village, window shopping in soho, world trade center memorial, upper east side poking around, and Washington Square park dog watching. I was surprised to see how many people owned dogs in the city. Some big dogs too! I imaging that’s what contributes to the smell on the streets.

The week we were in the city went by SO FAST the next thing I knew we were rushing to Grand Central Station again hoping we got back on the right train. I wasn’t ready to leave but knew we had to keep making miles. There’s so much I feel like we didn’t do but I know we’ll be back.

Onward and upward to the southern states!

August 19th 2014

I apologize for being so tardy with these posts! It’s been a crazy month and when we go into town we’re so busy getting stuff done I usually forget to post. So here we go - backtracking all the way back to Massachusetts!

Two back to back 20+ days make for tired feet!! We hiked out of Dalton freshly showered and ready for a flat day of hiking. Our destination was a cabin at Upper Goose Pond. The family who used to own it donated it for AT thru hikers to use. The day was long but we stopped at a blueberry farm and picked ourselves a pound of fresh blueberries! We were told if we brought them to the cabin, the caretakers would put them in our pancakes.

The cabin was beautiful and we met 16 other South bounders staying that night! It was the biggest group of SOBOs we’d seen in one place. I loved meeting people we’ve been following since Maine and others who had been following a day behind us since then too. We would’ve liked to take a zero there and spend the day canoeing and swimming but, alas, we had miles to make.

It ended up raining all day the next day anyway so the canoeing wouldn’t have happened. The hiking still did and it was not fun. If I could name the top 5 most miserable days out here that day might make the list. We hiked in hard rain for 14 miles straight. We didn’t even stop for lunch because we couldn’t find shelter. It was fun for the first few miles - like we were playing in the rain as kids. We made it to the shelter in record time that day.

With the rain brought the cold and it was a nice change. We felt we deserved a half day after pushing so hard so we stayed snuggled dry and warm in our sleeping bags with a good book. Later that day we pushed through fields of corn and ended up popping out at a road crossing where a guy set up a grill and was passing out burgers and hotdogs and fruit salad and cold beer and everything a thru hiker wants at the end of the day. I couldn’t believe our luck! His son was on the trail and he wanted to treat other thru hikers as well - it’s the best trail magic we’ve got so far!

A couple days later we needed another half day to rest up. We were heading into town the next day to resupply and figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to add a couple extra miles in the morning. We forgot the next day was Saturday and had a package to pick up at the post office before noon! We had to hike 12 miles that morning - of course Drew treated it like a race and made it there in 3 hours!!! We won’t do that again.

The next three days were very pretty through Connecticut. We passed through little villages along the Hoosatonic River and had long stretches of flat next to the river. We’ve been taking nice 2 hour lunches and mid day naps if we got tired. But we had miles to make to reach NYC!

It took some major pushing each other, and my first blister and raw toes, but we finally made it to Wingdale, NY what felt like 3 days overdue. It was a romantic way to get off the trail for a few days - walking through a covered bridge to get to the train station - but that’s for the next post.

August 11th 2014

Vermont ended in a muddy tease. Not as muddy as Maine was but still enough to slow us down a bit. It was slated to rain for 5 days straight and we didn’t even see a drop! The mountains make the weather we’ve been told and it’s taken us a few weeks to get used to that.

It’s been a leisurely week. The miles really do melt beneath you when the terrain is nice. We’ve been starting late and taking 3 hour lunches and still doing 15 mile days. What a wonderful way to hike!

We made it to the Massachusetts boarder and things started to feel like Maine again. The rocks came back. Oh those rocks!

We stopped in the first town we passed called North Adams because they had a Chinese buffet half a mile from the trail! Our planned 16.5 mile day suddenly turned into a 9 mile day. Fine with me! After refueling on Chinese food we conquered Greylock Mountain - the highest peak in Mass. Ha! We ended up camping on a rocky outcropping with a view of North Adams below and a beautiful pink sunset.

We decided to make it to Dalton Mass the next day to resupply which meant our first official 20+ mile day. So far, we’ve done a bunch of 18 and 19 miles but haven’t done 20. It wasn’t too bad. We got to a small town called Cheshire by lunch time and bought sandwiches which helped us finish strong. The last mile was a walk through town which felt more tiring than hiking the trail!

We camped in Tom Lavarti’s backyard - he lives on the trail and has been a legend for 35 years. The nicest guy who just loves doing trail magic. He had a bunch of bikes for us to use to take around town. It felt great riding a bike! We felt so fast!

We met a small SOBO bubble at Tom’s finally! It’s been almost a month since we’ve seen another SOBO and now we’re catching a bunch of them. Most we haven’t met yet. It’s nice to hang out with all these SOBOs amidst the huge NOBO bubble.

There are so many people on the trail right now it’s a bit overwhelming. I don’t like it very much but I try to take time to talk to people because I know we’ll miss seeing people in about a month when the NOBOs dry up and back-to-school starts.

It’s predicted to rain all day tomorrow so that means we’ll have a dry hike ;)

Next stop (and maildrop) is Pawling NY! We’re taking a trail-cation in NYC a week from tomorrow!!

August 5th 2014

Vermont has been such a joy to hike so far! I love it because we aren’t climbing up and down mountains all day and the trail is so nice! There are stretches that are just pine needles covering dirt and it feels like walking on carpet! I don’t want to jump the gun (because I haven’t lived through a New England winter!!!) but I think I would love living here!

The first day back on the trail after 3 lovely zero days in Hanover went so fast! We slack packed 14 miles which means we only carried small daypacks with us. We hiked so fast we could’ve done a 25 mile day if we wanted. (Thank you Shelby!)

The shelters in Vermont are some of the oldest on the trail. Most that we’ve seen are at least 70 years old and are made of stone. We saw one with a covered porch and a fireplace.

Vermont weather is so weird. This whole past week was predicted to have thunderstorms and we haven’t seen a single drop. The sky could look cloudy all day and we would get to camp dry. (I’m not complaining!!)

The first day out with our fully supplied packs was a bummer - especially after our slack pack! And so we took our time. It’s nice not to have a time line so if we’re tired we can take an early day.

We hiked through a state park that had showers and a ranger station with outlets so we took a slow morning reading in a hammock and just relaxing in the beautiful weather. Oddly enough, we ran into our friends from Hanover again! They came to swim in the lake at the park so we joined them and stole a few more hours of their time. It was a wonderful surprise!

The AT joined up with the Long Trail once we passed Rutland and now we’re seeing more LT hikers than AT. However, just in the past day we’ve started meeting the beginning of the NOBO bubble.

We found a cool spot on top of Bear Mountain (?) where hikers built a bunch of stone pyramids all over like a cemetery. It came out of nowhere. They looked cool contrasted against the bare trees and orange pine needles on the ground. We built our own little pyramid I hope survives a while.

Everyone has been talking about the Green Mountain House hostel in Manchester Center so when we finally got here we had to check it out. Cleanest hostel we’ve seen yet and a free pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream comes with our stay! When in Vermont…eat as much ice cream as they give you!

(Side note - I find it odd that Vermont, such a cold winter state, is home to a big ice cream brand. Who made that risky start up investment? That’s like starting a hot chocolate company in FL)!

I’ll be sad to leave Vermont in a few days but I’m equipped with new shoes and a new pack so I’m excited to try them out tomorrow! I can’t believe how fast we’re going thru these states now!

Next stop (and mail drop!) Dalton, MA!

July 28th 2014

Part 2: Our 7th day in the whites found us on one of the most beautiful sections yet. The Franconia Ridge is another stretch above treeline that gives you 360 views of the surrounding area. It was a perfect day - cool enough for hiking but the sun was out to keep us warm on our breaks.

I was feeling really tired from all the climbing we’d been doing and we decided to stop in Lincoln for a night of pizza and ice cream. We found a cool hiker hostel called “chets place” and met some of the SOBOs we’ve been chasing for a while. Chet is an awesome local who opens his home to hikers because he loves the trail so much. We were told to go down school street and take a left at the rainbow house - you’ll know it when you see it. Ha! What did that mean? It literally meant a rainbow house.

When we left Lincoln we only had two more mountains in the whites and 4 more days until my friend in Hanover. I was stoked.

On our way up to Kinsman peak we met another Jetpack from 2011! She and her friend told us about a killer stealth spot with a view of the Franconia ridge in the background. As you can see from the pictures, it was a beautiful sunrise and my favorite spot we’ve camped so far.

We slack packed our last day into Hanover which was SO NICE! We did 17 miles that day and it felt like nothing! Got to do this more often. The trail clearly cleaned up - pretty much pine needles the whole way which felt like carpet - once we officially left the whites.

It’s been nice to relax the past few days and be indoors when it’s rainy. I’ve loved eating fresh food and dairy again but alas it is time to hit the trail. Back to cheese itz, honey roasted peanuts, honey buns and dark chocolate m&ms as our favorite snacks.

Our next stop is Manchester Center VT in 6 days where we’ll chow down on Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

July 25th 2014

Part 1: The Whites Mountains were BEA-Utiful! I don’t know what I was nervous about.

We took on the Wildcats in rainy, foggy weather which made our visibility about 50 feet. We felt strong coming out of Gorham but tried to slow our pace to let the weather pass us. We got lucky the night it rained when we did our first work for stay at the Carter notch hut. The hut system is a series of huts with bunk rooms people can rent to stay in while hiking thru the whites. They are staffed by college kids and provide breakfast, dinner, and hot soup for visitors. As thru hikers, we did work for stay, ate the left over food for free and slept inside. We did this 3 times in the whites to hide out from the rain or cold and to get a free meal. It’s a cool idea but we liked the smaller huts the best.

After the wildcats we got to the famous presidential range we kept hearing about. We camped at the base of Madison (giving us a 3000 foot climb first thing in the morning ugh) at a camp site called Osgood. We had read there was reported bear activity there in seasons past so we were being pretty careful about our food. What we ended up seeing surprised us! As we were unpacking for the night to set up camp we saw a momma moose and her baby eating about 150 feet from our site!! Drew grabbed the camera as we quietly watched them not wanting to scare them away. It turns out they were more curious about us and the baby started walking closer to investigate! We didn’t want momma to get mad so we kept backing up to keep our distance. The baby got the message eventually and went exploring elsewhere while momma followed. They came back later that night after we had gone to sleep and started making a ton of noise knocking over trees and stomping around. Those crazy moose.

The hike up Madison to Mt Washington was a gorgeous day! I’m glad we took the time for the rain to pass. We had a 12 mile stretch above treeline. All day long we could see the trail snake it’s way toward Washington. Drew decided to do the presidential challenge and peak all the president’s which I was more than happy to skip.

It was weird getting to the summit of Washington (and really the whole time we were in the Whites) because we saw SO MANY PEOPLE out on the trail. Some NOBOs started calling all the day hikers Muggles and it stuck. ;) We’ve been so secluded the past month I wasn’t sure how to react when we got to the top and had to wait in line for a picture! That hasn’t happened to us this whole hike.

We stealth camped once we got below treeline again just to get away from the crowds (the NOBOs are starting to come in droves and fill up the spots near the shelters - I think we are approaching the bubble). And saw a beautiful red fox with a few chipmunk in its mouth. I wanted to make it my trail pet.