Mile: 1396.4 - 1420.1 (23.7 miles)
The wind stops sometime over night and I'm covered in condensation but it's hard to care as I watch sunrise peeking through the clouds. I manage to sleep a bit longer and then hit the trail. It's my favorite kind of morning, quiet and totally alone. I climb over more rock ledges eating blueberries, passing tents and admiring the green hills of New York. The squirrels seem extra active and the deer and woodpeckers are out in force.
The last 2 miles up to Bear Mountain are gloriously paved except they aren't. I realize somethings wrong and check, I've somehow bypassed the tower on top of bear mountain. The trail must have turned off the road and I I'm didn't see it. The tower sounded cool so annoyed I backtrack, maybe a mile? I'm not sure but I climb from the south to the top to find locked buildings, overflowing porta potties and $2 water from vending machines. To say I'm frustrated would be an understatement. I have no water, this place is covered in trash and I'm cranky.
Even the trash can is mocking me this morning.
Instead of taking a long break like I planned I head down towards the rest of the park hoping for a water spigot annoyed with with extra circles.
It's beautiful wide trail down to Bear Mountain Recreation area which unfortunately is a bit of a dump. Despite the dozens of yellow vested folks picking up trash it's filthy. I kill time until ten when the Trailside Zoo opens. The AT walks straight through, if its closed there's a blue blaze around it but I really want to see it. I practically drool walking past the giant chlorinated pool but remember my priorities.
If the tower was a bit of a bust the zoo makes up for it. You can't go in expecting anything but what it is, but I'm thrilled. Opened in 1927 it rehabs local injured wildlife and houses a number that can't be returned to the wild. It's small and dated and awesome. Although I'm reminded of how not fond of people I am from all the wounded animals that are there because of gunshots and car accidents to the obnoxious hooting and clapping tourists that are trickling in beside me At least I'm there early and it's almost empty.
The enclosures aren't huge but I don't know the details and a three legged fox hit by a car wouldn't do well in the wild.
I feel like I've been vindicated, I knew that snake dropped out of a tree awhile back!
Tiny snapping turtle
Those are my little orange salamanders! At least I know more about them now.
The foxes stare at me while the bobcat and weasel hide. The coyote and birds are uninterested and the beaver is asleep. I spend most of my time staring at the two bears. One lounging, the other happily playing with its bowl and munching on grass. They totally ignore the humans and the black vultures and I'm totally enamored. The museum buildings are small but informative and I'm glad I got to see it all.
It's fun actually seeing where I am on this sucker.
Tiny little root cellar diorama!
Then it's across the Bear Mountain bridge and the Hudson River! This was way more exciting than it should have been but I've driven across the Hudson as a kid and now I'm walking! I have to run across traffic and then walk on the shoulder which seems odd and rather unsafe but I make it sweating in the humidity and free from car injury.
I'm not sure what the deal with the helicopters was but they were fun to watch.
Then it's back to trail and tourists; their perfume reinforcing how badly I smell. The tourists fade quickly and in 5 miles I'm at the Appalachian Market, a very popular deli and small market. I meet a few new hikers, eat way too much and resupply. Familiar faces appear while I sit trying to digest but I'm happy alone today and let them pass by.
The first 3 miles after the market take forever. They're a little rocky and lots of small rollers but really not that bad but I'm in an afternoon slump. I eventually cave, drink some caffeine, throw on some music and all is better in the world. I have to put both headphones in which I don't usually do but the whine of mosquitos and bugs flying into my ears is starting to get to me.
The last miles move much quicker. More scattered rocks, a few ledges and lots of very small rolling climbs. I push to a creek because water has become so unreliable that I didn't want to count on something that wasn't there. Springs and creeks are awfully dry lately despite how much rain it feels like there's been. The mosquitos are the loudest I've heard them but I feel safe enough in my tent to have no problem sleeping.
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