While we were at the lake yesterday, a front blew through, dropping the temperature and the humidity. This made for some great sleeping last night. Matter of fact, this morning while packing up, I slipped on my rain jacket because it was that chilly.
Swamprat left camp just a bit before we did, but we told him we'd see him at lunch time. Along the way, we passed some swamps. New Jersey has had quite a few swamps along the trail. We actually had the easiest trail that we've had in several weeks, which was great. We were all ready for a break from the rocks. We also hiked over several streams with footbridges, and we haven't seen those in a while.
At one point, we had to climb a stile to enter a pasture, and just when I got to the top, this little jack Russell came running up behind me, raced to the top, and then ran down the other side. He totally caught us by surprise! When we got into the pasture, we saw him there with two other jack russells, his owner, and three huge dogs called Shiloh Shepherds. They looked like huge, black, very furry German Shepherds. The little jack russells were hilarious, they were so excited and running in circles.
We came to a road that was the state line between New Jersey and New York, and from then on on passed back and forth between the two states all day. Keith was excited to be back in his home state, and we were happy to check another state off of the list of 14 that we will hike through!
We came across a sign that pointed to well water, just 100 yards away, and went over there. It was a property that belonged to Jim Murray, a former thru-hiker ('89), and he has several cabins on the property which he lets hikers use. One has an outside shower. The other had outlets where we could plug in phones to charge them. We took advantage of the shower, and it felt sooooo good. The day was still cool and breezy, and we just sat in the sun afterwards to dry off. Jim came over and visited for a while. He's been helping hikers out for 20 years by letting them use his place. We also filled up our water bottles before we left.
Before we left, Jim told us about a great swimming hole near where we'd be stopping for the night. We got all excited about another place to cool off in the heat of the day.
We hit a road about lunch time, and walked the half-mile into Unionville, NJto a deli. Keith was in heaven. They had a lot of his favorite things that he misses living down south - Boar's Head bologna, noodle salad, Ring Dings, and Wise potato chips. He also had a Yoo Hoo, although we can get that in Arkansas. We spent a ridiculous amount of money on the food we ate there, mainly because it was convenience store prices.
We had our fill and walked back to the trail, where we ended up making a big climb, but were rewarded with great views from the edge of a hay field. We later hiked completely around the edge of a Wildlife Sanctuary for water birds. We saw all kinds of birds as we hiked.
We also crossed a lot of boards today that went over boggy areas. These went on for quite a ways. We started looking for campsites towards the end of the day, but were not finding anything that would work. It was either on a hill or completely overgrown. We hiked on, as we were getting very tired and it was getting dark. We looked at the AT Guide and noticed an Episcopal Church Hostel in the next town that catered to hikers, and decided if we didn't find a site in the 3 miles before then, then we'd spend the night at the church. Many of the churches along the trail have places for hikers to sleep, shower, and eat. Luckily, we found a level site about an hour later, and had time to set up and eat before dark.
At one point today, we did try to find the great swimming hole that Jim Murray told us about, but it ended up not being as nice as we had hoped. It was pretty, but kind of mucky for swimming in. When he had mentioned it was an old quarry, we were expecting prettier water. It was really muddy though, so we had to pass on that, but we definitely enjoy finding a good swimming hole.
- Steady and F100