June 19, 1998

6/19/98 Wildcat Shelter

17.4 miles (1352.4 total)

Had an OK night’s sleep except for when the sheriff decided to drive right by the pavilion in the middle of the night. Glad I was in the bivy because I knew the mosquitoes were bad.

Had some incredible pastries from the Saxony Bakery, and cheap too! When I finally lifted the pack to leave, I couldn’t believe how heavy it was. Maybe it was the bug repellent I reluctantly bought, or could have been the cheese sandwich I got from the very sweet girl at Dug’s Deli. Getting a ride during the morning rush hour didn’t work for me in Port Clinton, but I was picked up immediately. Turns out to be a trail maintainer, who asked a bunch of questions about the trail just south of Vernon. He wasn’t too happy about the ankle deep wade across the bog bridges.

The day couldn’t have started any better weather-wise . I had a long climb up the rock steps to get back to the ridgeline. Once over the top, the trail was a beautiful ‘average’ trail, more like the ones in Georgia.

It dawned on me that I would be leaving New Jersey today and yet hadn’t seen any of their infamous bears. All of a sudden, I heard a crashing through the woods. "Deer" I thought. Looking toward the noise, I saw two big black bears running parallel to the trail. Couldn’t tell if they were chasing each other or not. They paced around a bit, about 50 feet from me, as if they knew I wanted a photo opportunity. Hope the pictures turn out. Then I decided to continue down the trial.

Lions, tigers and BEARS...

...Oh my! These two seemed to be playing just
long enough for me to take their picture.
They were a lot closer than the photo shows, believe me!

The effects of the recent rains were mostly diminished now. A few puddles here and some mud there. The only big problem was Long House Creek. I had to wade knee deep in water just to reach the bridge that crosses the creek. But by afternoon I said goodbye to New Jersey and "Hello!" New York.

Looks like we're going to get a little wet

Takin' a break while I dry out

But the first seven miles into New York seemed more like a rock climbing route than a backpacking trail. Lots of rock traverses on top of the ridgeline, some I’m glad I didn’t have to do in the rain. One part was so difficult, they put a ladder to get up the rock face. Only got lost twice. Didn’t see the trail veer off a road walk and there was no sign for the shelter. Probably walked an extra mile or two.

Surprising because it’s Friday night, I’m alone again at the shelter. No thru hikers, section hikers, or weekenders. Maybe Ghandi, Piper and Longstride will catch me in Bear Mountain. The mosquitoes are pretty bad so I’ve got a fire going. Tonight’s dinner was "salad in a bag", that even came with dressing and croutons, plus a little cheese cake for dessert.