Monday September 6th, 2021, 0600-1700
Wildcat Shelter to Wawayanda Mt, SOBO AT mm 832
2848 gain, 2687 loss
Mother nature was determined to keep the streams flowing and the mosquitoes biting. It rained hard starting around 1 am, the kind of rain that floods my tent floor. I had to get everything situated for the rain, letting in more mosquitoes while I deployed my rain flaps. Then I kept waking to check the status of water coming in. In spite of the deluge, my tent held up pretty well. What’s with this weather? It wasn’t even supposed to rain after midnight, according to the forecast.
I wonder that I got better sleep the night before during the rave. At least I was able to pack a dry tent that morning. This morning I was in a grumpy mood, everything being wet, including all my hiking clothes from my waterfall shower the day before. I guess I just needed to accept the fact of being wet and damp for 3 months on this trail. The mosquitoes were also terrible.
Good news was that I was going to meet up with a friend for the day. I hiked with Kuba on the PCT. He was from Maine but living in NY at the moment, so he’d reached out, offering a shower or whatever we might need. Unfortunately his schedule hadn’t quite matched when we hiked through close to his area, so he was having to drive an hour to see us on the border of NY and NJ.
First we walked about 12 miles to our rendezvous. On the app, the miles didn’t look very challenging. But I shortly found that a lot of the trail went over slab rock along the ridgeline. This can be very fun on a dry, sunny day. However, after the hard rain earlier in the morning, the rock was slicker than snot. I had to slow way down to avoid falling and my muscles got tired quickly from all the tensing, constantly trying to maintain my footing on ice. It wasn’t fun.
We crossed the NY/NJ border, which was marked with some unremarkable white paint. I didn’t feel too bad about leaving NY behind, especially after the last few days of crowds, noise, and mosquitos, but I also wasn’t feeling all that excited about NJ. I got to the road an hour early from our planned meetup, so I had time to dry my stuff. We looked like we were having a yard sale and a few people stopped to ask what we were doing. One guy pulled over to try to sell us on a shuttle ride. He warned us that a boardwalk area 6 miles ahead was underwater and that we should shuttle around it. It’s not a good idea to walk through standing water, he said. I’d been walking through standing water for weeks. Sure it had given me foot pain and a toe infection, but I never felt the need to shuttle around it… I’d be missing most of the trail if that were the goal. Standing water is just one of many challenges on this trail, and certainly not the worst.
Kuba was running late so we hitched in to a shopping center to get food. He later arrived in his van, bearing goodies to drink and eat.
We originally planned to stay the night at Kuba’s place, but since it was over an hour away, we decided it was best to just hang out and rest in the area for the day. We went to a beer garden and cidery, which was packed, so we retreated to a local park that was pleasantly empty. I didn’t get any chores done besides grabbing a resupply from the grocery. Since it was a holiday and also very hot, it was nice to just relax. I took a 5 minute nap and felt refreshed. We came up with an alternative for getting laundry and showers done at a hostel the following night. The last time I’d washed my clothes in a machine was in Vermont and the last time I’d taken a hot shower was Connecticut. Things were getting ripe!
Kuba drove us back to the trail, where I rescued a snapping turtle from certain death. It was in the middle of the road and had already been passed over by several cars, rolling around with each blast but luckily not having been struck. I didn’t know it was a snapper until I picked it up but perhaps it sensed that I was saving it, since it obliged to not bite me. I delivered it to a nice pond down the trail, where it came very alive as soon as it felt the water. My good deed for the day.
We said our thanks and goodbyes to Kuba, getting back on trail just before 5 pm to walk another few miles and set up camp. The mosquitoes were once again horrendous. Even the locals have been complaining about them, saying they’ve never seen them this bad. Apparently they weren’t even this plentiful earlier in the summer. The shuttle driver was right: standing water is bad, not because we have to walk through it but because it breeds clouds of mosquitoes.