Fulfill Your Hiking Dream! Here to help fellow hikers by offering wisdom, ideas, and lessons learned from a two-time AT North and South, Long Trail, Foothills Trail, Allegheny Trail, Colorado Trail, Florida Trail, Shenandoah Nat'l Park 500 miler completions. Former AT Ridgerunner for six years, Author, Speaker on Hiking and Backpacking
Running Jersey Ridges - Guest Blog on the Life of an AT Ridgerunner Part 2
Second half of the blog post from Jerry "Grasshopper" Adams on the day in the life of New Jersey ridgerunner.
shift at the Backpacker campsite was ending but I was staying in the woods, working my way
north to hike the 73 miles of AT in Jersey from the Delaware River in
Pennsylvania to the New York border.
move north, hoping to see a bear.The
other Jersey ridgerunners have seen 40 bears between them and I am miffed at
not having seen a single one this summer – or on my hike through here last
year. My dismay was fueled by the glee of other hikers who delighted in sharing
their daily sightings – “I saw a Mama Bear and three cubs this morning.
Trail crosses the state line at the Delaware River and gently climbs 1200 feet
and then follows the Kittatinnies, a panorama of lakes and farmlands unfolding across
Pennsylvania to the west and Jersey to the east. Crossing Raccoon Ridge and
Rattlesnake Mountain, the trail is rocky, but it gradually smooths and then
flattens as it moves north.
old man with a face filled with bushy white whiskers was standing in the middle
of the trail watching me approach from the south. “Howdy, Pilgrim,” I shout!
“With that beard, I am guessing you are a thru-hiker.”
Birdman. Who are you,” came the reply in a drawl so slow I thought I was back
home in South Carolina instead of headed north across New Jersey.
Grasshopper. I am a ridgerunner.”
is from Tennessee, retired from a lifetime of quarry work and is thru-hiking to
Maine. At 65, he’s four years older than me. We stop for lunch at Mohican
Outdoor Center and I explain myself, making a new friend and gaining a hiking
partner for the week.We walk on
together and then I keep going when he takes a mid-afternoon break; I figure
we’ll see each other up the trail.
rolls in late, joining me at a primitive campsite just north of a pond near
Millbrook-Blairstown Road, and the next day we cover 12 miles and stay the
night at Brink Road Shelter with three camp groups, six northbound thru-hikers
and four hikers headed to Georgia.
make my rounds, checking in with the counselors and scanning the wide-eyed
stares of youngsters who are unplugged and facing woodlands isolation and
solitude, perhaps for the first time.
the trail ambassador, I prepare hikers for the perils ahead, including Joe to
Go in Branchville, where the trail crosses Highway 206 at Culver Gap.This is both a prime spot for breakfast and a
source of great angst to outdoor types who slip from the solitude of the woods
unprepared for the urban crankiness of a man who earned his reputation for
being unfriendly to hikers.
a nice guy, but he does things his way.Just
order your food and keep in simple,” I advise. “It’s cash only and don’t even
think about asking to charge your phone or to use the bathroom.”
camper who passed by Gren Anderson Shelter is telling others to leave their
trash in the bear box, a weird twist on Leave No Trace, and I only grouse a
little before packing out someone’s leftovers. A northbound thru-hiker is
carrying a six-pack of beer and he finishes two at the shelter, smashing his
empties and then packing them away. I caution him about alcohol on the trail;
he smiles, shrugs, and hikes on, opening a can as he goes.
woman in sandals struggles up Sunrise Mountain with a large pack.With a thick Eastern European accent, Mary
says she is on the second day of a hike across New Jersey. She complains that
her feet hurt after 24 miles the day before. “Why so far?” I ask. “I only have
four days,” she replies.
luck with that.
pulled up lame the next day at High Point State Park and needed a ride to the
train in Port Jervis. My truck was nearby and I considered taking her to the
train, but thought that idea promised trouble so I helped her call a cab and
then headed north with a clear conscience.
Monument at High Point State Park
1700-feet, High Point is the highest spot in New Jersey and the trail then drops
to the valley and cuts southeast along the New York border, across farms and
through fields and forests, board walks, pasturelands and along country roads.I cover seven miles in a steady rain, take a
late morning break to dry off at the Jim Murray shelter and then stop for lunch
in Unionville at Horler’s Store.
trail passes near ridgerunner summer housing at the wildlife refuge, so I stop
for a hot shower and a night’s respite from the rain. Up and over Pochuck
Mountain the next morning, I take a mandatory ice cream break at the Heaven
Hill Farms store and then climb the Stairway to Heaven and cross Wawayanda and
stay the night near the shelter as my hike across Jersey winds down.
New York line is four miles north and I plan to flip at the border and hike
back to Wawayanda for a shuttle ride back to my truck, but then I meet Fred
Schneider, a volunteer trail maintainer, and decide to hike down the State Line
Trail with him. Lost in my reverie and feeling sassy about finishing my walk
across Jersey, I stumble and land hard, snapping a trekking pole, bruising my
bottom, blackening an eye, and spraining my hand.
pain and indignity fade as we make it down the mountain and reach Fred’s car at
the Greenwood Lake trailhead. He ferries me toward Warwick for something cold
at The Creamery, an oasis where the AT crosses US 17A.The chocolate shake is a taste of heaven.
but refreshed, I catch a ride to a hiker hostel in Vernon where a park worker
from Wawayanda shuttles me back to High Point and my truck.I meet Birdman and three other northbounders
for breakfast the next morning, picking up the tab as Trail Magic and then shuttle
the four of them back to the trail and the hike up Wawayanda Mountain that will
start their day.
melted into September, and Labor Day ended my ridgerunner summer. I camped near
the High Point Shelter my last night out and then hiked 12 miles back to the
house at the wildlife refuge to pack up for the long drive south.I was barely a half mile down the trail when
I saw a bear cub scamper ahead and disappear into the trees.My ridgerunning ended with my summer’s only
and I are planning to hike together to Trail Days in Damascus, VA in the spring
and then he’s going to New Hampshire to finish his hike to Katahdin.Me? I’m hoping for a return to Jersey and
for more ridges to run.