Mile 1400


Trail magic comes in many forms. The most common of which is an ice-cold can of soda on a sweltering hot day. Even better is when a made-to-order Turkey sandwich with extra mayo and mustard accompanies that soda. As it just so happens, that is what Misfit’s family greeted her with upon arrival at the Harriman State Park trailhead. New York is a unique state. Sure, it has the city and the mighty Hudson river. Sure, it has a big waterfall… Somewhere. However, these are not what makes this state unique for Misfit. This was her home for many years, but more importantly, the current home to her brother and mother. Both of them, along with her sisters-in-law and niblings, were waiting for her arrival. So not only did she get a spectacular sandwich and much-needed zero day, but she also got to spend time with a large swatch of her family. They were all excited to see each other. Specifically, her brother “Johnny Poughkeepsie” (JP) was preparing to join Misfit on the trail for several days.

JP was quite excited! Inspired by his little sister’s proficiency and competence on the trail, JP wasn’t leaving anything to chance. He dove into hammock camping with the purchase of all-new gear. In the weeks leading up to his adventure, he trained by carrying a backpack loaded with a 10-pound sack of flour. Mowing the lawn? Carrying the pack. Walking the dog? Carrying the pack. The night before the big day, Misfit provided a pack shakedown offering some suggestions. Misfit laughed when she learned he purchased a 2-liter water bottle instead of the prescribed two 1-liter bottles. A miscommunication with a comedic result. Despite her best effort, he insisted on carrying his fishing pole and a small tackle set. She couldn’t help it, his enthusiasm was contagious, and by the night’s end, they were both excited to hike the AT together.

JP took the lead on the warm Friday morning. The two moved at a slower rate than the thru-hikers around them. Misfit appreciated JP’s eagerness to embrace the trip and his fresh eyes on the trail. As they wandered through blueberry patches and climbed over rock scrambles, she was reminded why she was out here in the first place. It was like they were kids again. It was a real treat to have someone she admired interested and excited about this crazy activity. Of course, JP paused at the first lake they happened upon to try out his fishing rod. The side quest so tickled Misfit that she did something she had seldom done on her hike up to this point. She rerouted them a mile off the AT so they could camp alongside a lake and let JP do more fishing. Their efforts were doubly rewarded when they arrived at camp that evening to discover gobs of sweet and fresh blueberries growing on bushes as tall as trees! Misfit considered all the hikers that would just pass right by this place and never know. She was grateful for her brother and his influence on this day.

Misfit had a mental checklist she hoped to work through in their short time together. She insisted that JP got the “full AT experience and that things were shaping up nicely. They got some prime organic berries, scaled some challenging elevation over Bear Mountain the next day, and indulged in town food at an on trail cafe. JP had one of the best sodas of his life that day. Their adventure continued into the second night when JP and Misfit were serenaded by a living legend, Smokey The Bard, a hiker who travels with a lute! They, along with several other hikers, enjoyed their evening concert at their campsite while satiating their hiker hunger. Misfit was impressed with JP’s commitment and success and traveling big miles despite only being on trail for two days. On their 3rd morning, they enjoyed a gentle downgrade before landing at the famous Appalachian Trail Deli before their shuttle driver ferried them back to JPs home and rested for the night in real beds and climate control.

JP’s adventure may have ended then, but Misfit’s visit continued for several more days. She indulged in a banquet to celebrate how far she (and JP) had hiked. Not wanting to say goodbye, the family worked as a team to slackpack her well into Connecticut. Each night Misfit returned to the house to be cozy on the couch with a tummy full of delicious food and sleep off the day’s miles. She was able to visit with her niblings and her mom. She caught up with the sisters-in-law and cuddled the pups. It was indeed a paradise, and Misfit didn’t want it to end, but she walked further and further each day until finally, it was too far to drive each day. It was time to say goodbye to the family and continue on her own again.

Trail magic comes in many forms. The rarest of which is the gift of time with those you love. Misfit was glad to have had the time she did and honored to have her brother join her in an activity she loved. So when she hiked into the woods that final morning, leaving her mom and brother at the trailhead, she knew that in this great big world, she would always have a home waiting in New York.

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