Saturday, July 04, 2009

Pochuk Mountain Shelter to St Thomas Episcopal Church Hostel in Vernon, NJ

Saturday, 7/4
Happy Independence Day!

AT Miles = 6.5 / 1346.9
Other Miles = 0.1 / 47.0
Total Miles = 6.6 / 1393.9

Wow, the campsite was crowded last night! Only a few thru-hikers but a
lot of people out for the long holiday weekend. Someone set up their
tent so it was actually partially under my hammock tarp!

I was up early this morning, and not particularly caring if I woke up
my too close neighbor while packing. Yeah, that's a bit cranky of me,
but that's the way I felt. I had less than 7 miles to go to reach NJ
94 from where I would hitch into Vernon, and I knew I'd be getting
there early. It was a really nice morning's walk, which included a bit
of skirting through some neighborhoods with back yards visible through
the trees, but was highlighted by the Pochuk Boardwalk, which is a
boardwalk through a swampy area that goes for about 3/4 mile. It was
really beautiful in the dry morning air and alternating sunshine and

Since most of the walk was flat this morning, I was at the road by
9:15. After double checking my map and guidebook to make sure I was at
the correct road (a little sign identifying roads as the trail reaches
them would be really nice!), I stuck my thumb out in hopes of a ride
to town. In some places it is really easy to hitchhike, and in some it
is not. This is one of the ones that is not. For one thing the road is
narrow with no shoulders, and the traffic is reasonably heavy and
fast, so it is a tough place for a driver to stop. So I stood there
for quite a while trying to look as respectable as possible, but with
no luck. I finally decided that I would keep trying until 9:45., and
if I hadn't gotten a ride then I would start walking the 2.4 miles to
town. That would be well under an hour of walking, but walking on the
road is brutal on the feet, and my feet already hurt badly enough.

Well, at 9:43 I got a ride! Just in the nick of time. The driver
apparently wasn't a local, as he had NY plates on his truck and he
didn't know where the church was in this little town, but he was
patient enough to drive around a bit and we asked directions and
finally he dropped me just across the street from the church.

One of the recurring stories you hear on the trail is of hikers
hitching somewhere and when they get out of the vehicle the driver
takes off not realizing that a backpack or hiking poles are still in
the back of their vehicle, so whenever I hitch I always leave the door
open when I get out, then I go get my stuff out of the back of the
vehicle, then finally I go back, stick my head in the door and thank
the driver again, then close the door. Just a little bit of insurance.

The hostel here is quite nice. There is a big room with carpeting on
the floor, a computer, and a TV with cable. There is a kitchen which
they allow hikers to use. There is also a clean batroom with a shower,
plenty of soaps and shampoo and towels, and a washer and dryer. Heck,
they even have a printer hooked up to the computer. I did the clothes
I hike in every day, and all my nasty socks, in one load, putting on
my long pants. which I rarely wear now that it's warm every day, after
my shower. Then when the first load was done I put my hiking clothes
back on, and washed my other clothes, along with all my socks again --
they can surely use two washings -- and a load of dirty towels that
were in the hamper from previous hikers staying here last night. So
every bit of clothing I have is now clean and dry. Quite an

I've made my foray to the grocery store, and I have stocked up with
enough food to get me to Kent, CT. Wow, it's hard to believe I will
soon be back in my native New England! I've checked the forecast for
the next week, and it looks about as good as one could possibly hope.
Maybe some rain showers one night, but mostly sunny and warm but not
too hot, all week.

I ate lunch at Burger King on the way to the grocery store, and had a
pint of Ben & Jerrys ice cream right after shopping, so I will try to
find something a bit healthier for dinner tonight. It loosk like there
is a diner of some kind open around the corner. Maybe I'll try that.

Since there are no bunks here, and since I don't carry a sleeping pad
since I don't need one with my hammock, I am planning to sleep in the
reclining lounge chair here tonight. I hope there aren't too many
other hikers coming, as that could mess up those plans!

I know the Tour de France started today, and I was hoping to get to
watch it on TV, but apparently they don't get Versus here. Darn!

Oh, one last thing. I toasted my camera the other day. I had my
backpack on the ground under the eaves of the shelter at Rutherford
Shelter when that thunderstorm rolled in, and I thought it was safe
and dry, but the water was rolling in on the ground and my pack, with
my camera in the left hipbelt pocket, was sitting in several inches of
water. That water seems to have destroyed the display on the camera.
So I have Jodi doing a bit of research on a new camera. Hopefully I'll
get it replaced soon.

The atatched picture is of the main room here at the hostel. The blue
chair in the middle is the recliner I plan to sleep on, maybe while
one of the videos they have here plays on the TV. Do women sleep with
the TV on too, or is that mostly a guy thing?

Here's hoping everyone is having a Fabulous Fourth. I am certainly
enjoying mine. While I was at the A&P shopping, I was thinking about
just how much fun I was having doing that simple chore. Such an array
of food to choose from! If I could only eat it all.

Allen F. Freeman

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