June 20, 1998

6/20/98 Fingerboard Shelter

14.4 miles (1366.8 total)

Except for the bugs, had a pretty good night, if a little warm. This morning looked like another good day - would have been if I didn’t get lost again. Took the wrong trail, backtracked and followed the blazes until I found myself back at the shelter 45 minutes later. Turned around and started again. The trail was a little of everything this morning. The hardest part being a huge area of blowdowns. Had to bushwhack around and through 10 to 20 big trees. Even used one big tree to tight rope across a stream. But near there was a beautiful waterfall (and I should have figured, a rock climb). Made the road crossing in 2 hours. Decided to try my luck at the deli. Bently’s Deli just opened 4 days ago. Used to be Pappy’s Deli - great sandwiches and nice people - worth the 3/4 mile walk.

Spectacular waterfall in Harriman State Park
but the trail ascended the same cliff

New York does its best to be the rock climbing portion of the AT. Very scary climbing with a pack on, slipped a few times. The goddess definitely watches over me. The ups are just hard work, the downs too difficult to balance. The worst part was the descent to the Orange Turnpike. I really don’t know how people get their dogs down something like this.

Had some beautiful days (but hot) hiking in New York

Good water being scarce in this section, I headed for a piped spring with a 1/2 mile road walk. I needn’t have worried about finding it because 3 cars stopped to fill jugs while I approached. One even was a New York Highway Patrolman (at first I thought he was going to hassle me about being a vagrant). I guess it beats paying bottle water prices in the city.

At first I was very impressed with Harriman State Park - nice trails, marked well, not too steep, wide with soft ground underneath. But the farther from the park entrance, things got run down. Lots of blowdowns, plenty of muddy areas, poor trail markings and the mosquitoes were worse than normal. One interesting part was the "Lemon Squeezer", a crevice the trail slips through. I was just small enough but it was a chore to get the backpack through. Kind of fun actually.

Try getting both yourself and pack
through the Lemon Squeezer, only 18" wide

Arrived to find Fingerboard Shelter empty. I can’t believe there’s no one on the trail near me! This makes 3 nights alone in a row. Met a few women out for a lady’s hiking weekend, 2 daughters and their mom. We chatted a bit about the trail and the weather - we’re both tenting tonight. Plus lots of trash around the shelter.

One reason I don’t want to sleep in the shelter is the place is overrun with chipmunks. The hillside is covered with them. At least I hope the ones out in the field are less aggressive than the chipmunks living in the shelter. Dark clouds all around plus thunder, but blue sky overhead. Short day tomorrow, only 10 miles, but with a nasty climb near the shelter.