As we left the West Mountain Shelter and headed toward Bear Mountain, we had frequent views of Perkins Memorial Tower atop Bear Mountain.
We met a couple and one family as headed toward Bear Mountain. There were stone stairs in places as we ascended Bear Mountain. The stairs were like old castles steps on this side. On our ascent we didn’t run into any other hikers.
The Perkins Memorial Tower was closed due to Covid. There were still many tourists at the summit. I was very glad there were porta potties at the summit, since this isn’t a good place to dig a cat hole. There’s a great view from the summit of Bear Mountain out over the Hudson Valley.
As we descended there were a lot more tourists hiking on this side of the mountain. The stone steps here were newer and wider. There were many interpretive plaques on the trail as we descended toward Hessian Lake.
Hessian Lake is a built up recreational area. There were a number of people here, but I’m sure nothing like the summer months. The positives are flush toilets and trash cans. I never knew before long distance back packing how happy a trash can could make me.
We stopped and talked to Buzz and Woody here. They had passed us earlier and were sitting having a snack. We thought they looked like thru hikers and they were. Buzz and Woody were the only thru hikers we saw during this trip. In fact, we didn’t even see any section hikers either.
It was great to talk to them. Buzz grew up in Jackman. Which I’m sure only a handful of people outside of Maine and New Hampshire know anything about. We shared some of our past adventures and heard their stories about their journey. We crossed paths with them four times today.
They had started their hike on January first. They had gotten off the AT at the half way point and did some desert hiking on the CDT. They were great guys and so humble. They didn’t mention that they were attempting a calendar year triple crown (which they succeeded in). I found that out later on instagram. Here is just one of the articles on Buzz & Woody.
Shortly after Hessian lake the trail heads into the Trailside Zoo. The fox was curled up resting.
One black bear was up and active. The other was lying down. These bears didn’t look like normal black bears. The one up and moving had a little hump more like a grizzly and lighter fur than the average black bear. I know… black bears can have light fur. But it just didn’t look right. The bear enclosure was filled with vultures. I’m guessing the bear is a messy eater and the vultures like the leftover scraps.
After the zoo, we crossed the Hudson on the Bear Mountain suspension bridge. Peregrine falcons nest on the bridge, but we didn’t see any. After crossing the bridge, the AT climbs steeply up Anthony’s Nose.
Around the Perkins Memorial Tower my left foot started hurting with each step. Now it was getting really bad. This slowed our pace down to a snail’s crawl. Then BAM! It felt like a little painful explosion on my foot.
I took off my shoe. I had a blister on the edge of my heel. This is odd. Of all the hiking I’ve done, I hadn’t had blisters before. I was hiking in the Altras that I used last summer. They only had about 160 miles on them and weren’t showing signs of wear.
Frosty helped tape up my foot with leukotape. My foot still hurt, but it wasn’t excruciating. And I could now move at turtle versus snail pace.
After awhile we came to an annoying cluster of roads veering off in multiple directions plagued by constant fast traffic. Amidst this muddle of roads sat an oasis, the Appalachian Market. A deli serving a variety of foods to order and typical gas station convenience snacks with a small variety hiking bars thrown in for good measure.
This was my first on trail resupply. I learned a lesson. When you’ve hiked hard and been limited in food options, your appetite can take over the driver’s seat. This was certainly the case for me. And as hungry as I was I definitely bought too much.
Frosty and I picked up snack and drinks. We ordered food as well. The seating was outside. It had sprinkled on and off for the last hour and of course, it rained as we were eating at the picnic table. When Frosty stopped here in 2018, the tables had umbrellas. There were no such umbrellas here today. We then had to huddle under the small eave of the market and eat our food.
I had a whole chicken and cheese quesadilla. When I ordered this I thought it was one tortilla folded over it’s gooey contents. NO! It was two whole tortillas sandwiching the gooey contents in between. Maybe if I’d been several days into a longer hike that would’ve been okay, but at the time this was too much food for me. I ate it, but was full. And couldn’t eat my snacks. So I packed those out. Rob had a deli sandwich and was much more in control of what he bought to eat than me.
My pack was very heavy leaving the market, and I was hiking with a stuffed and bloated stomach. I was happy to have the food, but definitely in a bit of food pain and felt like I couldn’t move very well.
Luckily, our destination for the evening, the Graymoor Franciscan Monastery, wasn’t far from the market. They have a long history helping hikers and letting them stay on the grounds of the monastery.
It was a great stay. We were there before the hiking season started, so it was in “set-up” mode. Hikers stay in an area adjacent to the ball field. There were porta potties nearby and a covered pavilion that was being worked on and full of stuff. There are also tables, outdoor showers, grills, and a set tub.
Locals come here to walk around the ball field in the evening. We hung out in the pavilion for a while. Then Frosty set up our tent. We made use of the trash can after eating some of our snacks from the Appalachian Market.
Today we made it 13.9 trail miles.
More photos from our day: