Summary: Random Campsite: 1400.5 Graymoor Spiritual Center: 1410.1 Total Miles: 9.6 We woke up deep in a cloud, but luckily it burned off quickly. Some faint wisps still hung over mountains from our mountain perch, but it didn't look much like rain. We ate breakfast and grabbed a few blueberries from outside our tent door just an arm length's away. We didn't get hiking too early since only 2.7 miles away was the Trackside Zoo which wouldn't open until 10, and we wanted to visit. The trail goes right through the zoo, but since it's only open from 10 to 4:30 there is an alternative trail option for those who simply cannot wait. We got rolling at around 8:30 so we could take our time in the morning all the same. The first stop was the Bear Mountain Tower. We could see a nearly 360 panorama which was supposedly included the New York City skyline. The heavy humidity however prevented that view. Perhaps the night before would have been better.
Down from the tower we met Mr. Pumpy (a vigorous water pumper and thru hiker from 2003). He talked to us about the trail and gave us a Powerade which he had specifically carried in case he ran into any nobos. We gladly accepted. We were low on water since we camped only with what we had carried up Bear Mountain the night before. We figured we could fill up at the lake and park down below. The lake at the base of the mountain was slowly springing to life. The concessions weren't open but there were water fountains, but the water tastes like fruity mold and/or just straight lake mud. We have really been spoiled lately by trail angels, water spigots, and concessions. We asked one of the concession workers if we could fill up from their tap but the water tasted the same and we poured it out. We had to buy some bottled water for the time being. Trail angels had also been putting jugs of water at many of the trail crossings throughout New York and New Jersey. We should have documented their names better, but, sadly, we did not and don't remember. But their kindness is not forgotten. We moved on with our bottled water into the zoo. The trailside zoo is populated by animals that were too badly injured (usually by man) to return to the wild after rehabilitation since it would have meant certain and painful death. As such, empty cages can actually be a good sign as they haven't found new animals to populate the cages. It was a neat break from the grind, and we even got to be an exhibit for some parents who wanted to take a picture of us with their young daughter so that she someday might remember some weirdos and want to experience the AT just like those smelly zoo people... or something. We gladly obliged.
We finally moved on after the hour in the zoo. We got a few miles in before running into Wipeout, the father of Anonymous, who had been off trail for a while but was not slackpacking New York with his son and Duck Fart was also nearby. This news made our hearts soar with the hawk. We continued on and, at long last, our luck with the trail Angela had run out and we had to filter some New York water. The stream itself looked orange, but it was just the sediment on the rocks. The sediment, though, flavored the water so it tastes like we were drinking blood. We poured what we had filtered into our remaining Powerade and decided any more water we had to find from another source. At the very least we would be at a deli in three miles. We also started hiking with Anvil, an ex army airborne guy who we first met outside roan mountain. We learned a lot more about him. His first long trail was the CDT which is pretty rare among long trail hikers. He has plans to do a lot more hiking in the future, all over the world, but will certainly aim to finish his triple crown on the PCT the following year. He also told us about thr Graymoor Spiritual center where we would end up spending the night. At the deli, a few miles more, we sat away from everyone on a stone table. Emily, who had kept a strong face all day, broke down and said she thought she would have to go home because her feet were too screwed up. Anvil, seeming to sense some distress (probably because we didn't immediately go inside to get food) gave us a Gatorade to hold us over. We tried to trouble shoot the best we could but finally decided to go grab food. While waiting, at long last Duck Fart arrived. We told him a bit about what we were talking about and he said he would talk it over with us after he ordered. Outside we chatted about the problems over sandwiches and pizza. Duck Fart wisely mentioned that we could always slack pack and test out if its just the pack weight and test out show features. He even tried to contact Miss Janet, trail Angel and Shuttle driver extraordinaire, but she was elsewhere in the trail. We decided, for the night, we would keep it short, and try slackpacking the next day. Before we headed out, Wild Card and Patch arrived. After taking time off, and thinking everyone was so far ahead of us, it seemed in our time of need everyone was appearing at once. Everyone was heading to the Graymoor center so we grabbed some beverages and headed that way. After a trying and emotional day, the night turned into one of the best of the trail. Anvil ran back to the deli and picked up a ton of beers for everyone. A girl scout group that had been there earlier left an incredible amount of sealed food in an otherwise empty trashcan. Tyler made pasta with bell peppers and tomato paste to be shared. We met our first southbounder, Cauldron. We talked with Patch and Duck Fart who had also been feeling down having no trail family recently. A former thru hiker, Kamikazi showed up to hang out with her friend Evac. Two older guys, G-Wag and Chef 6.0 laughed and shared stories as well. In the strange baseball field at the Graymoor center (and extremely clean portopotties) we seemed to find a lot of excitement and joy on the trail all of a sudden. The night, really, truly, was one of trail comradery through, what else, mutual suffering, and some good times too.