Day 74 on the Appalachian Trail

Today brought far more diversity than yesterday. Mosey started the day by driving us to the High Point State Park Headquarters building at 6:30. Trotter, Chickenfeet, and I headed uphill through oak-hickory forest near the highest point in New Jersey - about 1700 feet. In two miles, the rocks on the trail more or less disappeared except for an occasional outcrop. Past the high point, the Appalachian Trail gradually lost elevation crossing several streams. At mile 8, I left the AT and walked a mile on a paved road to Unionville, NJ to pick up a pair of new shoes at Horler's Market. I ordered them from Running Wearhouse via second day air. Happily, the shoes had arrived. I walked back to the AT on a shortcut road in my gleaming shoes. In 3 miles, the trail ran through the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge appeared to consist mainly of diked ponds whose water levels could be manipulated to attract waterfowl. Out in the open, the sun was relentless. Past the refuge, I got water from an outside tap at a vacant house then headed up Pochuck Mountain for a half mile to a shelter. I ate lunch in the shade of the shelter with Jiminy Cricket. Five miles from the shelter, the AT turned from a dirt trail to a 0.8-mile long boardwalk through a wetland area (see photo). Clouds covered the sun, but portended rain. I shifted into high gear for the mile walk to NJ Highway 94 where I'd hitch into Vernon, NJ. Rain began a quarter mile from the highway, but didn't turn into a deluge. I quickly got a ride with a guy who knew all about the St. Thomas Episcopal Church hostel. He installed the shower. I found Tortoise, Trotter, and Jesus in the church basement. After a shower, I cooked dinner during a drenching thunderstorm. I wondered if Chickenfeet was getting soaked on the trail. Off to the grocery store under blue skies after dinner for chocolate milk and ice cream plus a few dinner items. When Tortoise and I returned, Chickenfeet was drying out his gear. He got soaked on the trail. I felt grateful to have dodged the storm and to be in the dry hostel. Today's miles -20.6. Total miles - 1356.3.

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