04 Dec AT Section – Delaware River to Salisbury
This was a 206.8-mile section hike of the Appalachian Trail between Delaware Gap, PA, and Salisbury, CT. The section was done in 2 parts. The first part was a northbound hike from Delaware Gap, PA to Bear Mountain State Park in New York. The second part was a southbound hike from Salisbury, CT. to Bear Mountain State Park, NY. I used a shuttle for both parts, leaving my car parked at Bear Mountain State Park for the entire trip.
Note: Bear Mountain State Park provides a safe spot to leave your car during an extended hike. Park at the far end of the lot at Bear Mountain Inn, near the state police headquarters. Check-in with the police at HQ to provide information on your car and length of stay. Depending on the time of the year and the day of the week that you leave the parking area, you may need to pay for parking; however, at most, you will pay a single-day price no matter the number of days you are parked.
Sept 20, 2021
Starting at mile 1296.1. Hiking northbound.
Northbound Delaware Water Gap to Tent site – 9.6 miles
At mile 1305.7.
After a late start, I hiked quickly to cover the 10 plus miles to my planned campsite, but I ended up hiking into the dark. I searched for a well-hidden tent site that was supposed to be at mile 1305.7 and gave up, then found it 0.1 miles further up the trail.
September 21, 2021
Tent site to Gren Anderson Shelter – 22.0 miles
At mile 1327.7.
The warm humid weather was disappointing. I had been expecting cool weather hiking this far north. The rocky trail seen in Pennsylvania continued somewhat, but I was glad to be on the trail. I caught up and hiked with a couple of ladies that were slackpacking a section. One had hiked all of the trails in the Smokies. She was in her 70’s and the other was not much younger. They gamely climbed ledges though their hiking pace was a little slower than mine. We parted ways at the Sandwich Lobby where I ordered an enormous turkey sandwich with all the fixings including coleslaw. With coleslaw spilling out, I ate most, then packed the rest to the Gren Anderson shelter. It became humid again and the mosquitoes came out.
September 22, 2021
Gren Anderson Shelter to Secret Shelter – 18.3 miles
At mile 1346.0
The morning was a little foggy and damp and quickly turned hot and humid. After the strain from 22 miles on the previous day and the continued heat, the hiking became less enjoyable. At least, I took some pleasure with the thought that this would be a shorter day.
September 23, 2021
Secret Shelter to Wawayanda Shelter – 18.7 miles
At mile 1364.7.
A few miles north of Secret Shelter the trail turned to road walk. As I was approaching a Southbound thru-hiker, I heard a sudden crack and watched as a large tree fell across a driveway. The southbound hiker and I just looked at one another. The tree looked healthy and with no wind, the tree seemed to have fallen spontaneously. A man came out into the yard and walked over to the newly fallen tree. I called over to the man in the yard and said, “I looked at the tree and it fell.” For the next 20 minutes of hiking, I thought about the randomness and danger of falling trees for backpackers. I also wondered whether I had superpower sight or some kind of telekinetic power.
The heat and humidity worsened. Southbound hikers assured me that the mosquitoes would get worse further north. Leaving the road, I began a long hike around the perimeter of an enormous field. Continuing on the road a short while would have been a shortcut that saved a couple of miles and about 10,000 mosquitoes. Fortunately, I had already covered any exposed skin with long pants, long sleeves, and Deet. Upon leaving the field, I entered a truly swampy area where the trail ran along elevated boards and the mosquitoes got worse. Even where the trail steepened and climbed out of reach of the swamp, the mosquitoes were bad. It was humid and the air was still. I kept hoping that elevation gains would allow for the slightest breeze.
Another hiker suggested that I visit a stop at Heaven Hill Farm and Garden to rest and eat ice cream before tackling a climb known as the Stairway to Heaven. Taking his advice, I took a long break where I stuffed myself with a large apple pastry. I lingered as I watched a black rain cloud gather and the wind pick up. When a few raindrops landed, I quickly packed out for the steep boulder climb up the Stairway to Heaven. The rain increased as I climbed. By the time I reached the summit, the rain was soaking through my rain gear and the rain was coming down in torrents. Though not yet 4 PM, it was nearly dark. As I picked up my pace, the already torrential rain turned up the volume. I was completely soaked. At times I could barely see through the darkness and downpour. I turned toward the Waywayanda Shelter and the seemingly impossible happened. The downpour briefly intensified yet further. It seemed intent on drowning me. At that moment, I popped into the shelter and out of the rain. To the one lonely occupant of the shelter, it must have seemed that a ghost had emerged from the dark and deafening storm.
Though I was 3 miles from my itinerary’s destination, there was no question of hiking further. I shed all my wet clothing and changed into dry long johns and dry socks and crawled into my dry sleeping bag. I shared the shelter with a north-bound thru-hiker with the trail name of “Maybe”. There was no maybe about it. He wasn’t going to make it to Katahdin before it closed and he knew it.
September 24, 2021
Waywayanda Shelter to Tent site near Mombasha High Point – 15.7 miles
At mile 1380.4
By the start of the day, I was 3 miles behind my itinerary and I wasn’t enjoying the hot weather, long miles, and rough trail. I chose to drop my overly ambitious hiking plan, cutting 40 miles out of my 250-mile hike. The new plan was to arrive at Bear Lake, NY a day and a half later than planned, then shuttle to Salisbury, CT for a southbound hike back to Bear Lake. Without having to push as hard, I could plan on a more restful hike.
To get back on the original itinerary, I would have had to push 23.8 miles today. Instead, I relaxed with a 15.7 mile recovery day that included a banana split break at BellVale Farm Creamery a short walk from where the trail crosses NY Hwy 17A. The banana split was the best I’ve ever had!
September 25, 2021
Mombasha High Point to West Mountain Shelter – 19.3 miles
At mile 1400.1
New York has some harsh trail. There are steep climbs over boulders and deadfall at an unnamed climb at Buchanan Mountain and again where I had a treacherous descent at “Agony Grind”. In between, it seemed like someone had randomly painted white blazes on trees without bothering to have built a trail. It’s obvious that this section of the NY AT received little thought in the building and less care with the maintaining. After climbing down Agony Grind, I took a break with about 5 other AT hikers. We consoled one another by sharing our complaints about the NY trail, particularly, Agony Grind.
Following Agony Grind, I soon entered Elk Park, a beautiful park that I would recommend to day-hikers.
Given the terrain, I was glad that I had cut back my daily mileage. Even so, I was happy to have managed over 19 miles on a tough day.
September 26, 2021
(Northbound) West Mountain Shelter to Bear Mountain State Park – 5.7 miles
Shuttle to Undermountain Road at Salisbury, CT
(Southbound) Undermountain Road (SB mile 690.2) to Belter’s Campsite – 10.4 miles
At Southbound Mile 700.6 (Miles from Northern Terminus at Mt. Katahdin)
Today I transitioned from a northbound hike in New York to a southbound hike in Connecticut. My shuttle driver took me by La Bonne’s Market in Salisbury where I bought 2 giant double meat turkey sub sandwiches and a pint of Kozy Shack rice pudding. I ordered the subs loaded up with veggies, pesto, and cheese. They were at least 12 inches long but were also nearly 5 inches wide. They had to weigh 2 pounds each.
My driver dropped me off at Undermountain Road where I ate a late lunch half a sub and a little rice pudding. I loaded the leftover subs and pudding into the top of the pack, adding another 4 pounds to my 6-day resupply. At nearly 4 PM, with no working headlamp and a weighted-down backpack, I needed to shift into high gear to cover the 10 miles to my campsite before darkness.
September 27, 2021
Belter’s Campsite to Stewart Hollow Brook Shelter – 15.3 miles
At mile 715.9.
Not a very memorable day. At the end of the day, I completed a 2nd long walk alongside the Housatonic River.
September 28, 2021
Stewart Hollow Brook Shelter to Ten Mile River Shelter – 15.7 miles
At mile 731.6.
With less mileage required, given the easier hike plan, I could have slowed down, but I hiked fast. I started early and moved quickly to beat forecasted rain and to reach the Bulls Bridge Country Store to allow additional time for battery recharging. The rain outran me. After several hours of hiking in a downpour, I was once again wet. At the Country Store, while charging and drying, I lunched and snacked and generally killed time for about 3 – 4 hours. I had to sit outside at the picnic table where it continued to drizzle. The drying didn’t go well and I started to chill. To warm up, I periodically entered the small store and loitered around while examining the merchandise, particularly the interesting assortment of smoke supplies.
After becoming bored out of my mind, I gave up on the charging and hiked the few remaining miles to my shelter.
September 29, 2021
Ten Mile River Shelter to Telephone Pioneers Shelter – 12.8 miles
At mile 744.4.
Not sure where, but at some point, I entered New York. It was a lazy day with a lot of wandering through the woods and walking along boards across muddy areas. Where there were mosquitoes, I kept moving. The weather was cooler, breezier, and less humid. Upon reaching an open pasture, I unrolled my mat and had a long lunch and nap.
Before the final climb to Telephone Pioneers Shelter, I came across wild grapes growing at the edge of fields. They were much larger than I had ever seen in the south. I gorged myself on grapes and picked more to carry and snack upon for the next couple of days. (The next day, near the Taconic Parkway, I found a spot with even larger grapes, in fact, almost as large as those sold in grocery stores.)
September 30, 2021
Telephone Pioneers Shelter to RPH Shelter – 16.8 miles
At mile 761.2.
Again, I hiked quickly to reach a Deli at mile 756.1 where I could eat lunch and hang out while recharging my cellphone and battery supply. I’m having real trouble getting enough charge in the little time that I am around a power source. On my last section hike through Maryland and Pennsylvania (Spring 2021), I stayed in hostels and a hotel for 4 nights and at a campsite with power receptacles another night. Each night I could fully charge up. That didn’t count a few lunch spots where I could top off the phone. On this trip, the only night with electricity was at Secret Shelter.
After crossing the Taconic State Parkway, I came across spectacularly large wild grapes. I ate a few, then hurried on to RPH Shelter where I planned on delivery from a pizza place.
RPH Shetler was nestled in a neighborhood; pretty much in people’s backyards. It was easily the best shelter I had ever seen. It was the Cadillac of shelters, but it had no electricity. I ordered parmesan chicken for delivery. There is also a Chinese or Thai restaurant that delivers here. This was one of the few really cold nights so, of the 4 people staying at the shelter, only one decided not to tent.
October 1, 2021
RPH Shelter to Canopus Hill Tent site – 15.1 miles
At mile 776.3.
As I was approaching Canopus Lake, I ran into “Maybe” heading north. To only have come this far since our night together in Waywayanda Shelter, he must have taken time off. He told me that 2 nights prior, he stayed at West Mountain shelter. I told him that I also stayed there about a week ago. He told a story about how he hung his food on a low tree branch and how the bear took his food. The bear was choosy and only wanted his energy bars. Like “Maybe”, when I stayed at West Mountain shelter, my food was hung very low and resting against a small tree. I was lucky that the bear was busy elsewhere that night.
October 2, 2021
Canopus Hill Tent Site to Bear Mountain State Park, NY – 11.0 miles
Finished at mile 787.3
The highlights on this final day were eating 2 breakfasts at the Appalachian Market on Route 9 and walking across the Hudson on Bear Mountain Bridge.