Northern PA through New York

PENNSYLVANIA

After PokéMom left me on the trail, the terrain hit the fan. In the way that God threw a giant boulder into the fan, took the scraps, sprinkled them across the trail, and said “Have Fun!” All the rumors of what was coming came true. Our greatest fears became reality. We hit Rocksylvania. The trail became nothing but rocks, for miles at a time. And the larger boulders aren’t even the worst ones. Those are actually kind of fun. You get to mountain goat hop the whole way through them while the muggles watch on enviously.

The ‘good’ rocks
I’m not kidding when I say most of the trail looked like this

It’s the small, pointy ones that stick up a few inches out the ground, that tear your feet to shreds. Imagine walking barefoot on legos, but for what felt like weeks on end.

The worst

There really weren’t that many great views or overlooks either. I spent the whole time staring at my feet and the rocks. So my views, all day, were rocks.

I climbed this boulder field at 12:30 during the 3 day heat wave of 90-100 degree heat

Pennsylvania sucked. If you want to live a happy life, don’t hike the AT in Pennsylvania, north of Harrisburg.


Yellow Blazing

After Pennsylvania, it seemed like lots of people started Yellow Blazing. On the AT, all the blazes are white; so to stay on trail, you just follow the white blazes. Yellow blazes are the yellow lines in the middle of the road. People yellow blaze when they hop in a car, drive further north, and got dropped off at the trail. Technically speaking, they’re not really hiking the whole AT. But each person comes out here to get from the trail what they want, whether that includes actually seeing and hiking the entire AT or not. Hike your own hike. I think most people who yellow blaze first do it to catch back up with their tramily. So they may get off the trail for a few days, fall several days behind their tramily/friends, and just drive up to them instead of trying to catch up on trail. Either that, or just to avoid an awful section of the trail. I haven’t yellow blazed yet, and don’t plan to.



NEW JERSEY

If I’m being honest, New Jersey was one of my favorite states on trail. Maybe, finally defeating Pennsylvania has something to do with it, maybe not. New Jersey was surprisingly jam packed with incredible views, scenic locations like glacier ponds and murky swamps, historical monuments, fire towers to climb, and just overall great trail.

For the 4th of July, lots of us hikers hitched into town to camp out at a drive-in theater. The people were super nice and let hikers stay overnight and enjoy the movies for free. Being there on the Fourth was fantastic. There were several firework shows going on around us that we could watch while the movies were playing. It was a great place for a show. The theater was playing Boss Baby 2, Fast and Furious 9, and the latest Purge movie. So all very American movies for the Fourth.

The Drive-In
View from High Point State Park looking down at the point where NJ, NY and PA all meet in the river.

Deli Blazing

Once entering the New Jersey and New York area, we began the delightful journey of Deli Blazing. Theoretically, you could pretty much hit a deli on trail every day. So we did (or at least it seemed like every day). This was incredible for several reasons: one, we got to eat real food; two, we could pack out real food (pack out a sandwich for dinner); three, we didn’t have to carry as much backpacker food; four, NJ & NY have divine delis. The delis were almost all off trail, anywhere from a quarter to a full mile away. But, we didn’t care about the distance. We would’ve killed for another hot, egg, sausage and cheese on an everything bagel. Or a nice, warm, pastrami, cheese and coleslaw on rye bread with an icy cold Arizona peach tea. Oh the things I would do for one of those right now. The morning of the 4th of July, we walked into town for the deli to find they closed early for the holiday. Instead, we went to the local bar and ordered beers and food. Only to later walk the next 11 miles to the drive-in theater with a nice 4th of July buzz going. Deli blazing was great and I miss it. Sooo much delicious food.


Saw another bear on trail! This guy jumped out 20 feet in front of me then ran away down the trail until I made this video.

NEW YORK

The Big Apple! In New York, there were several times that we could see the NYC skyline from the trail. It was super cool. Obviously, it’s a bit of an anomaly because why would we want to see one of the largest cities from a National Scenic trail? It was a little strange. But the initial idea for the idea behind the Appalachian Trail was to act as a place where people from the city could escape their work life and return to nature. So it makes sense that the trail would be relatively close to the city.

There was actually a train station on trail we crossed that you could take all the way to NYC. In fact there were many opportunities to get off trail and take a train to the city. And lots of people did. I did not, because it just didn’t work with my schedule.

Believe it or not, lots of people got off trail in New York. The state wasn’t tough, or anything we haven’t seen before. I just think it was another breaking point for people. The blues came around again. Also, I think most people who got off, had already started yellow blazing. So when you start skipping parts of the trail, the trail doesn’t mean as much to you, and there’s much less reasons to keep putting yourself through misery of hiking the trail. That’s the crazy thing about the trail. You’d think that once you get past halfway and closer to the end, most people would finish. But people keep getting off trail. (I’m in Vermont at this moment, and there was someone who just got trail yesterday).

The trail went right through Bear Mountain State Park, along with Harriman State Park. I liked Harriman a lot more. Bear Mountain was cool, just too big of a tourist spot. Visitors could drive up to the top of Bear Mountain, while the AT went up and over it. There was lots of trash on trail. Harriman looked pretty much untouched, with much more beautiful views. I’m pretty sure I saw at least 8 deer in the park too.

We did get to cross the Hudson River, which was sweet.

Even at the end of New York, the trail threw another curveball at us. It was easily the worst maintained part of trail I have ever seen. There were times where it literally didn’t look like a trail and we were walking straight through brush. It was so overgrown. Also, there were little to no water diversions. So the trail was either flooded or muddy for a big portion. Little did I know that this wet trail would continue all the way into Vermont…

Love getting smacked in the face while getting my socks and shoes soaked

Muggles

Awhile back, a new term for day hikers, locals, or anyone not through-hiking the AT has been Muggles. If you are not familiar with Harry Potter, Muggles are all the non-wizarding folk, or just normal people. Therefore, the trail is equivalent to the Wizarding world of Harry Potter and us hikers are the wizards. It’s been a fun and easy way to distinguish the normal world and the trail. Plus, through-hiking the trail has a sort of magic to it that us hikers all understand and appreciate. Muggles are good for food, refreshments, hitches to town, and even maybe a place to stay, if they’re a nice muggle. It’s easy to spot a muggle on trail because they don’t have the magical trail smell or look that comes natural to us hikers. The muggles don’t seem to understand a lot of things we do, whether on trail or in town. Most muggles don’t even know that we’re out here in the woods, and it’s probably best that way.

12 thoughts on “Northern PA through New York

  1. Seany, you are a hiking rock star!! I’m so impressed with your perseverance and strong conviction to tackle this incredible trail. Keep on rolling and watch out for “ lions, tigers and bears, oh my”. Also the snakes!! I can’t wait to see your feet at the end of this. Don’t forget to take a picture of them for your favorite Dermatology nurse. Prayers to St. Michael for you. Love to you, Mrs. Hickey

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  2. Seany – Your pictures, videos and stories are epic on this post. I don’t know how you put it all together for us, your readers. Thank you! I know it has to be a labor to write all that out and marry your story to pix and videos but, together, they tell a riveting story filled with rocks, more rocks, snakes, bears, bridges, skylines and muggles. I am sad to hear the state of the trail at some parts. It must make you feel like you’ve gone too far and are in the forgotten place/land. They need to get that up to speed with the rest of this national treasure you are temporarily calling home. Thankful you made it through the rocks and the disappearing trail. I hope New Hampshire is a treat. Can’t believe Maine is right around the corner, so to speak. Can’t say enough how impressed and proud we are of you and what a blessing it was to be part of your journey for a few minutes when you passed through New Jersey.

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  3. Seany, I’ve so enjoyed tracking your amazing progress on the Appalachian Trail. It sounds like an incredibly arduous, but also an incredibly worthwhile adventure. I applaud your commitment and wish you the very best as you complete your journey. You’ve been in my prayers. With Love, Mrs. Kalata

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  4. Sorry I missed you in CT. Your Aunt Regina told me and Uncle Jody also filled me in that you started flyin up the Trial when we played at Reverie Brewing Co.Your Grandma was there to listen to the tunes. If You’re in VT at this writing you must be getting ready for the White Mtns. Good luck and happy hiking! Peace and Love…Cousin Chris

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  5. What an amazing journey you are on, Seany. The grit it takes to get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other on such arduous trails is not something most people possess, so kudos to you and all your trail mates for hiking on! Thank you for sharing your journey with the stories and pictures. The snakes definitely would have had me yellow lining. Wishing you good luck and good health as you continue and can’t wait to read your next entry! The Nemceks 😊

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  6. Seany you continue to amaze me with your perseverance on this long journey. I love your stories and I just picture all of you tipsy travelers watching movies on July 4th. Maybe when I retire I will pick a spot on the trail just to people watch and hand out goodies! Keep on trucking….you are almost there. Love you so much and I’m so proud of you 👏 😘😘😘

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  7. “The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time. Time to think or not think, read or not read, scribble or not scribble — to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills. I produce nothing but words; I consumer nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being utterly useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.” (Philip Connors)

    Thank you, Seany, for producing this blog and sharing your AT adventure through your amazing stories, pictures and videos. As you enjoy these final few states of this amazing and awe-inspiring journey, I hope you find some delis to lighten your load.

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  8. SEANY!! You beast!!!! No yellow blazing for you. I am not surprised at all. Your integrity is fantastic. Seriously be careful through those crazy white mountains of New Hampshire. Continue to take care of those feet. I will buy you an amazing pedicure and foot massage at the end of all of this. I think some callus maintenance may be in order. I have said it since you announced you were taking on this challenge, “you got this!!”. Not surprised, but consistently inspired. Let the church of the woods guide you onward!
    Much love, Aunt Laura

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  9. Seany: You write of so many interesting facets of your journey. I really enjoyed this detailed and beautiful blog, Thank you! I told your mom that you can live on their new plot of land in NC if you decide to permanently abandon civilization. I am sure you will come out a wiser man after this trek. I can’t wait to learn more. Almost there! Love ya, AG

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  10. Hi Seany,

    What a great update, and the pictures and videos are terrific. The original inspiration/plan for the App trail being an escape for city dwellers–that’s a great vision and I am glad it came into fruition. Where would we be as a nation without the treasures of the national parks and traiIs that our predecessors envisioned? I am enjoying every bit of this journey, from my armchair vantage point.

    My hope for you as you begin the final weeks of your journey, is that this challenge is bringing you joy and satisfaction in accomplishing such a monumental task. The greater good that will be done from your fundraising will give opportunities for healing to so many. Thank you for that!

    Thinking of you with pride and appreciation,
    JZ

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  11. Holy Toledo, Seany!! I am speechless and you KNOW the magnitude of THAT! This is such an amazing adventure for you and I am hoping the self-satisfaction is washing over you every single day. Your pictures are incredible and your writing just gets better and better. You make us feel like we’re right there. I gotta say, however, that all those copperheads would have sent me yellow-lining in one second. Yipes! Good luck on the next leg of the journey. Pedicure is on me when you finally hop off the trail. Be safe and know lots of folks are cheering you on. I’m one of them! Love, Miss Power

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  12. I could not wait to catch up with all posts, now I am back to comment – total enjoy during Labor Day weekend while away from crazy work…
    Funny memory – my baby daughter used to think Pennsylvania was a pencil – now I see it’s pointy part:)

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