I actually got the early start I wanted this morning, probably because I had no water and was thirsty enough to quickly get to the next stream. Hiking was relatively easy today and I made good time. I got to see the NYC skyline from the top of Black Mountain, then met up with Stretch and Little Bear again for lunch.
We realized we needed to move it if we wanted to get through the zoo before it closed at 4:30 so we practically ran up Bear Mountain. We could see the skyline again from there, although not quite as well. We got down the mountain and into the Trailside Museum and Zoo just in time. The AT goes right through it but there’s a bypass trail if it’s closed. The zoo also contains the lowest point on the AT, right at the black bear cage. This is the one place on the trail you are practically guaranteed a bear sighting but of course the bear was inside when I went by. Dogs aren’t allowed in the zoo so Little Bear tied Riner up outside so he could run through quickly before going back out and taking the bypass.
We met on the other side and saw a bunch of other hikers there as well, including Rainbow Bright. Little Bear had been wanting to meet her since he helped lift the car off of her at the Trail Days accident. Stretch and I had last seen her at the beginning of PA, where she had just gotten back on trail. We hung out for a bit then walked over the Hudson River. It was a busy bridge and we made a little parade out of it, waving to all the cars. They loved it, most waved back or honked.
Today was a day of stairs. We had a ton of them going both up and down Bear Mountain, and we had a ton again going uphill from the road. Just after we passed the Hemlock Springs campsite, I started feeling some rain drops. It had been cloudy and gray all day but these were the first actual sprinkles. We checked the radar and it looked good and said 0% chance of rain so we kept going, although it certainly didn’t feel like 0%. Then it started pouring. Luckily it didn’t last for long and then just lightly rained off and on. We were headed to a 24 hour deli / market right at a road crossing for dinner and resupply. It turned out to be a gas station so that explained the hours. I had a great cheeseburger and grilled cheese and bacon sandwich.
We got back on the trail in the dark for the last little bit of mileage to the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center, a Franciscan friary that lets hikers camp in the picnic pavilion and also has free showers. We had planned on camping in the pavilion to avoid carrying wet tents tomorrow since it’s supposed to rain overnight but it was already packed when we got there so I am in my tent any way. 20 miles today.