Day 67...Belts, Bears, and Blessings

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We woke up and packed quickly this morning.  We needed to do big miles to try to get closer to the plan we had made a few days prior and which we were slowly falling behind. As we started our day, I needed to stop to type up the blog from the day before.  While I was writing, Plant kept on hiking. After I was done, I caught up to him a lot faster than I was expecting.  Plant was standing very still when I came up to him. He turned to me and said that there was a huge bear 15 feet up the trail.  When the bear saw him, it looked at him for a second and then sprinted off into the woods.

We hiked through a place called the Wallkill Wildlife Refuge. The trail ran to the outer edge of it forming a perfect rectangle. We walked from the road, it's western boundary to the eastern boundary, then we headed north for a quarter mile and then we headed west again, and half way back to the road the trail left the Wallkill and was the AT trail again. If we had just hiked north on the road a little bit further, and then turned east; we could have cut 2 miles off.

When we stopped for lunch and to fill up water from a stream, I took off my pack and realized my hip belt was hanging on by only two small pieces of fabric. I knew that it was tearing, but I had no idea that it was that bad. When you backpack, nearly all of the weight of pack rests on the hip belt.  Fortunately for me, I had ordered a new belt to be delivered to David Diesing’s home.  David is one of my relatives who we were going to spend a zero day with, along with my Aunt Gayle who is visiting. I thought that the hip belt was going to last until we hiked there, but after seeing it at lunch time, I realized it most likely wasn't. Luckily David had offered to pick us up earlier on the trail tomorrow.

After lunch, we hiked a part of the trail known as The Stairway to Heaven.  It was a very hot and a very tough climb, but we were rewarded with an amazing view from the top.  In my opinion, well worth the effort. When I stopped to enjoy the view, I took off my pack and when I looked at my hip belt again, it was now holding on by only 1 thread.

During another break, I checked to see if I had received any messages, and I had received a call from David.  He asked if he could pick us up today instead of tomorrow, since it was going to rain that evening and into the next day.  Also the road leading up to the Bear Mountain bridge (the easiest way to pick us up) was going to be closed for cleaning tomorrow. Looking at my pack, I thought it was a great idea. So we picked a road crossing where he could find us easily, and headed there.

We hiked to the crossing about 30 minutes before David and my Aunt Gayle arrived. We sure were glad that they were picking us up today because as we waited, we heard thunder rolling in the distance. They picked us up and we headed to his house. It was about an hour drive, the longest time I have been in a car since Kate and I were dropped at Springer Mountain in Georgia.

When we got to his house, we showered and had a late dinner (9pm). We got pizza – New York Pizza, it was very good, the best pizza we have had yet.  Turned out the hip belt that I had ordered was delivered to the post office, but it had been returned to sender earlier that day. But that was a problem for tomorrow, this evening we were looking forward to a nice night of sleep.

Miles: 20.9

Stealth Site to David Deising’s House 

Location: Latitude: 41.25402, Longitude: -73.95419

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