Day 5: Monday, August 18

In the Bear Mountain Bridge Motel in Fort Montgomery, NY (AT SOBO mi 785.5), walked 24.7 miles today

Slept surprisingly well for how uneasy I initially was about being utterly alone in the RPH shelter right next to the parkway. Woke up around 6:15, tested the legs out and they were a go. Decided 25 miles to the Bear Mountain Bridge would not be an unreasonable goal, provided I went about it the right way--keeping things consistent, fueling myself properly, not getting caught out too late and being forced to hurry, etc. Ended up pulling it off with plenty of time to spare, getting here at about 6pm.

The morning started off very serene and the trail almost felt wild, since for long stretches I didn't see anyone else and, unusually, couldn't hear any road noise. Took my first substantial break after ten miles by a rural road where there was a potable-water spigot, took the next one eight miles later when the trail intersected a major highway, US 9 by Peekskill, and right at the trailhead was a 24-hour convenience store, the Appalachian Market. Having walked alone all day in my own little zone, I was essentially a helpless old lady inside the store, totally confused by how fast things were happening and how crowded it was. I ended up, when all was said and done, ordering two slices of pizza from an absolute New York goombah, a caricature of a human being, eating quickly at the picnic tables outside the store as all manner of industrial traffic snorted by five yards away on the road, and then heading off to the woods again ASAP. Descended to the Hudson River and the huge Bear Mountain Bridge just before six, did some hotel shopping on the phone, and ended up getting picked up by Doug, the owner of this friendly little joint, in his car and set up with a nice room for myself--complimentary laundry, a few restaurants and c-stores nearby, just what I needed.

Saw very few other hikers today--the southbound traffic seems very spread out, and none happen to be right with me, while there aren't many NOBOs left anymore--but one stands out, the inimitable Mr. Sky Eyes, whom I knew on the PCT last year. Before I even saw him, I heard him screaming (to himself), then when I saw him charging uphill at me in his kilt and screaming some more, apparently because of the Van Halen in his headphones, I knew exactly who it was. I told him what section I was doing and he literally almost fell over laughing: "AHAHAHAHAH thatsliketheshittiestfuckinpartofthewholefuckintrail Ahahahahh!" So it was good to catch up. He and I are both Oregon residents and we agreed that when you tell people in this part of the country you're from Oregon, it's not that far off from saying you're from Mars. He's northbounding and will undoubtedly finish in time, because he is manically fast.

Tomorrow I will see my dad, on his way back to Virginia from a family bereavement in Boston, and then probably take it easy, no more than ten miles or so. Out of New York in three more days.

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