HAE Return to
New England


Footsteps from a 2000 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail.

by Tim A Novak, your cybah-spaced mountain correspondent

     Our stay at Graymoor Monastary was enjoyable and quiet. Almost too quiet... After Father Bosco showed us our rooms and we had dinner, Mark and I dipped out to Bill's Deli for a six pack. We sucked it down on a golf course then staggered back to Graymoor. The monks let hikers stay at the monastary free, including meals. Well, actually, the price is having to listen to a pitch for new "members". This we could stand; so we ate, slept, ate again and headed back to the Trail.

     At Canopus Lake, Mark and I decided to camp on a small island. It was a great spot. We set up the tarp, cooked up a fine meal and kicked back. Then the storm arrived. It came fast and furious and we were caught off guard. The lightning struck repeatedly within sight of our camp, as if the gods were hurling the bolts at us, just missing their target. We quickly removed all the metal gear and fuel bottles to the far side of the island and waited for lightning find us. The wind driven rain soaked everything inside the tarp within minutes. The high energy light show blasted for nearly an hour then suddenly stopped leaving behind an eerie silence. Mark and I felt lucky to be alive!

     Beautiful weather was on tap the following day as we ambled through the New York woods. We crossed the Taconic Parkway, noticed a gas station in the distance and remembered we needed gas for our stove. We got to the station and I gave our 1 quart fuel bottle to the dishevelled attendant. "Fill er up" I said in my best motorist impersonation. Mark looked on from the snack area, chewing contentedly on a candy bar. The attendant stuck the nozzle in the bottle and pulled the trigger. An iridescent spurt of gasoline showered him as if he held the nozzle on himself. I stepped back, trying hard not to crack up and in the corner of my eye, I noticed Mark doubled over with laughter. The gasoline soaked attendant calmly replaced the cap on our fuel bottle, wiped it clean, handed it to me and flatly stated, "Thirty nine cents , please." Mark and I waited until we were a quarter mile away and I let the laughter bring me to the ground. We chuckled all day replaying the scene over and over.

look at the lip

     We were relating the story to some other hikers we met at a spring a couple miles later. I reached into the stone spring box with my water bottle at the same time a huge wasp flew out. It landed on my lip and I reached to smack it. Mark watched as the wasp stung me just under the nose then crawled out from between my fingers and flew off. It was a most painful place to be stung that resulted in a humorously swollen lip. Mark was having the laugh of his life at my expense as my lip grew larger. A few hours later the swelling went down but Mark just kept on laughing.

Mark drawn to the light

     Hot and dry weather prevailed as we finished off the last miles of New York. We met our first southbound thru-hiker, Brett the Fireman, and we stopped to swap tales and watch a stunt plane perform in the skies above us. I hitched into Pawling, NY for a beer run and when I came back we enjoyed a quick roadside feed before Mark and I headed north. Soon it was over the mountain and into a Connecticut town in the morning for a maildrop. Mark and I have entered New England, our tenth state and our fifth month of care-free Appalachian Trail living.

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Copyright 1999 Tim Novak and Half Ass Expeditions