2022 – Hike Day 11 – Mile 121.5

Just a routine scramble where you did not want to slip on a rock or root

Day 11 was a technical day with loads of elevation change. We agree this early NY section was one of the more challenging of the almost 1400 miles so far – for us, at least, and maybe for reasons unique to our June hike(?).

One gent behind us took a backward fall on one of dicey climbs. Fortunately he was okay, though it took awhile to find a pole that went airborne during his yard sale. That was unsettling. I wanted to be wearing a helmet.

The 7 or 8 mile lead-in from Wildcat shelter on left to Agony Grind was nondescript but hard. Enough to wear you down physically and mentally before the steep and rocky descent.

Across about 13 miles we had around 3300 feet in ascent and about the same in descent. Not alarming but for the way it was packaged. Very steep and technical, generally experienced in bursts. Lots of falling hazards which added a mental component.

Agony Grind went on and on and on
Then back up the far side of Agony Grind and into the cave that leads to the Lemon Squeezer
Lemon Squeezer: The width barely fits a pack and depth is over shoulder high. The whole thing is pitched left which throws you into the left wall.
“Badger” helped us with our packs up the short but demanding vertical that concludes Lemon Squeezer.
Fingerboard Shelter – CCC era structure set in a striking open forest that had a weird energy to it.

It’s hard to explain the energy – sort of a presence. There was recent bear activity in the area so there was an awareness for uninvited visitors. And that night we were reminded that Whip-poor-wills rule the darkness – as in all night long with their loud, haunting song.

Some kind of creepy cultural references to Whip-poor-wills, too. Like the New England legend that says they can sense the soul departing the body and can capture it as it flees.

Or the earlier Native American and general American folk belief that the singing of the birds is a death omen.

So, we decided it was a good idea to finally listen to the steady stream of weird cues that occurred during the trip to pack up all of the magnificent wins we gained. Although we had a couple more weeks we could’ve gone, it just felt like we would be pressing luck. Hard to explain but sometimes you just gotta follow your gut, right?

Remember the horrendous car wreck we missed on the way out east? Then Jen was ill for the first two days (hiking with nausea, inability to eat and a throat that felt full of needles – NO FUN). RJ’s fuel tank that always felt empty – along with a dangerous lack of focus. Add to this, the super weird vibes the last couple days of the hike. Finally, the last morning before hiking out, the really weird and scary RJ allergy attack (“At what point do I grab JJ’s Epipen?? I usually do not have allergies and I don’t know what to do!!!”)

As long distance hiking goes, moments of bliss and brilliance co-mingle with despair and “agony”. This trip was no different in that sense. As always, wouldn’t trade it for anything!

The last day we toured around Fort Montgomery NY. Really neat place with Revolutionary War history. And, the AT passes over Bear Mountain bridge and straight through the Zoo! (Factoid: The Zoo’s bear pen is the lowest elevation on the AT). But the Zoo will be the next trip!

Al (“Grandpa”) is the proprietor of the Bear Mountain Motel. His son, the lil tyke’s dad, had a birthday while we were there and we were invited to the festivities! Tho a bit much for us at that moment (opted to laze in the super clean room!) Al still dropped by with two pieces of B-day cake! Such a kind and caring soul! And long after all memories of pain fade away, this is the type of memory that stays alive and serves to define the trip.

2 thoughts on “2022 – Hike Day 11 – Mile 121.5

  1. Does not sound like fun but i’m sure the feeling of challenge and accomplishment drive you on. Glad you went with your instincts in deciding to take a break! You guys are amazing!


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