The nobos were up late into the night, but having my own agenda, I popped in my earplug and went to sleep in the fetal position, my gut full of pizza. I woke, got ready, and left before any of my bunkmates began stirring. I guess we're just on different schedules. The hiking was fast but choppy; I had to pay attention to rocks all over the path. This task was made considerably harder by the swarm of gnats that followed me all day. As I walked, they all flew around my head. When I stopped, they would enshroud my whole body, concentrating right beneath the chest strap on my pack. They didn't bite, but they were just a nuisance. They'd get in my eyes, my nose, my mouth, my ears. "What do you want?" I shouted angrily, "I'll give it to you, just tell me what it is!" I came upon a couple sitting by the road. I asked them why these bugs acted this way. They didn't know but suggested I take a break so the gnats would leave for a bit. Another nobo joined us, and I hopelessly asked him the same question. "I think they want the sweat," he suggested, "See how they concentrate on your chest right there?" At least I had a feasible answer to my quandary. I bid everyone good day and started moving again, immediately rejoined by the gnats. On the nobos' suggestion, I scanned the brush for raspberry bushes. Once I started looking, they were everywhere. I was constantly stopping to pick them. They tasted so good!
The previous day's effort wore on me, but soon enough I heard the church bells from Graymoor Spiritual Life Center. This friars in the monastery have made their ballfield into a shelter for hikers. Unfortunately, this came to early in my day to be my stopping point. Instead, it served as an alert that I was close to a deli! I really enjoyed listening to the bells being played for their own sake, too. I popped out of the woods at a busy road intersection, spying a gas station across the street. There it was! No side trail, no road walk, just a deli right there on my way. I ordered an eggplant parm sandwich and got a huge container of Powerade. That blue sugar was in my guttiworks faster than they could make my sandwich. I enjoyed scanning through my AT Guide as I ate with the news on in the background. I scouted ahead for delis in my future and planned the end of my day. I was unfortunately too late to get to the Bear Mountain Zoo before it closed for the day, so I was in no rush to get to the next town. After a solid rest, I hoisted my pack again and started up the trail.
At the trailhead, I spotted some fresh trail magic in the form of soda. Already satisfied from lunch, I passed it up. This is considered sacrilegious in the hiker community, but I knew I wouldn't even enjoy it if I took it. After getting distracted and walking down the wrong trail for a quarter mile, I made a quick climb to the ridge. I was taking a break on a log when I heard the longest continuous roll of thunder I have ever heard. I decided it would be prudent to get to the campsite ASAP, and I was right. As I walked into the valley, rain started to fall. It hasn't stopped since, but it isn't especially hard. The TV weatherman was right! He said to expect an evening shower, and in comes a shower! I would like to draft this man to cover the weather on the rest of my hike, please.
Nobo count: 18
Sobo count: 0, but I heard about one in front of me
I kind of forgot to take pictures, but there wasn't much to see. If I had taken one, it would have been a gas station picture to commemorate my first deli. So just imagine a clean gas station.