July 16th 2018
Brink Road Shelter – Observation tower (mile 1338.6)
19.1 miles
Total miles: 1358.1


Last night was the first night I couldn’t finish writing. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I ended up falling asleep with my phone in my hand. 

Shred put his alarm on which went off at 6am. I’m not used to waking up to an alarm, I’ve let my body wake up naturally this whole trip. It wasn’t hard to get up though because there was only 3.5 miles to hike this morning and we would get to Culvers Gap, which is a road crossing, and where there is a road crossing there is food. We had spotted Jumboland Diner and it opened at 4am. 

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I hiked with Peaches and as we chatted the whole way, it went by so quickly. We were at the road in just over an hour. And I stopped to take some photos of the sun’s rays shining through the morning mist. The heat was something else today. 7am and I was already sweating buckets. 

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We got to the road and started to hitch. Jumboland was only 1 mile away but it was 1 mile on a busy road in the heat that we didn’t need to walk if we could get a ride. Some wonderful people stopped who couldn’t fit all of us in their car so they took me and Peaches, went back to get Bryce and Jukebox, and then went back to wait for Shred who had taken a wrong turn somewhere and was a little behind. What awesome people. 

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The people in Jumboland were so friendly too. The menu was crazy big. The biggest menu I’ve ever seen. I learnt from my past mistakes and I did not order breakfast and I went for a grilled chicken, roasted pepper, mozzarella and basil panini, served with fries. The others had all sorts of American breakfast items. When Shred’s two plates arrived he made a comment about the plates being so big and the girl replied “er this is Jumboland”. She was so nice and we found out she was studying something impressive like foreign policy and something else intellectual and is fluent in Italian and has knowledge of Russian. 

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She recommended some ice cream flavours. Not phased at all that we were wanting ice cream at 9am. We all got small ice creams and we were surprised at the non Jumboland sized portions, they were actually quite small. It was for the best. I was already so full I didn’t need the ice cream at all. They filled our water bottles and then we went out to try and hitch a ride back. Jukebox was already trying to hitch and she got this motor home to pull over. She got in the front and we thought she was going back alone but he bundled the rest of us in the back. He was on his way to spend some time up at the Great Lakes. I stood in the back and I was glad it was only a mile because I was feeling really nauseous. 

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We got back on the trail and had an uphill straight away. Of course we did. Down to a gap. Up from the gap. The level of my food felt as though it was up at the top of my throat and I definitely tasted my ice cream a couple more times. The humidity was so intense too. I feel like it hasn’t been this humid for a while and I didn’t cope well with it. I was pouring sweat out of my face and I had a sheen on my arms. The trail was also super rocky so I was super slow. 

I leapfrogged a bit with Peaches. Well, she stopped to sort out her shoes. I caught up, then she would pull ahead! I was so thirsty that I felt like I could drink all of my water, but I was too full to drink all of my water. There were distant rumbles of thunder for a lot of the day but the rain never appeared and the storms went away. It ended up being hot and sunny. 

There were lots of view points today and it was nice to get above the trees, but it was nice to get back in the trees and out of the sun. So far New Jersey has had the most views. 

I was hiking along and a couple of day hikers passed me coming the other way. Only about 100 yards after they had gone by, I was staring down at the trail, trying not to trip on the rocks and I heard the loud distinctive noise of a rattlesnake. I jumped backwards and yelled in shock. There, right in front of me, right in the middle of the trail was an enormous rattler. It was a pretty looking thing, with its pattern turning completely black towards its tail. It warned me it was there and then slid at a medium pace into the forest. I appreciated the rattle. If it had been a copperhead I may have stepped on it. 

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My heart was pounding hard and Peaches came up and she managed to see the snake too and confirmed it was a big snake. It wasn’t just long but the girth was huge. It almost looked like it had just eaten something. So from now on every stick would look like a snake! 

I caught up to this guy I hadn’t seen before. I was gaining on him steadily, and when he sensed I was behind him he picked up the pace and tried to stay ahead of me. It was kind of frustrating because he kept looking behind him and then tried to almost run. Eventually I caught him and he let me by. At the top of a hill I relaxed for a millisecond and then went over on my ankle. The worst roll to date. I was worried for a few seconds, before I put it on the ground to test out. It was ok. I would be ok. 

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I didn’t stop feeling sick until about 3pm. I certainly didn’t feel hungry. The only food I had eaten from my pack today was a cliff bar this morning. I stopped to wee about three times and I noticed that my legs were a lot sweatier than they usually are. It was difficult to slide my shorts back up my legs, although the shorts themselves didn’t feel that wet. But I had some really really sore areas on my outer thighs. It was almost like I was getting chafe. I’m still not 100% convinced it is chafe but I’m not sure what else it could be. The thing is that my shorts don’t really rub, although I guess they do move a bit when I walk. 

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Just as I was feeling tired and sore and like I really needed a break, but there was till 1.5 miles to go to the lake, I heard Peaches shout my name. Everyone was at High Point State Park HQ. They give you a free Pepsi there. A thing they do for thru hikers which is so nice. 

We were just filling our water bottles and preparing to move on to the lake when a car pulls up and a lady opens the door and shouts Trail Magic!! A wonderful lady called Alice and her husband had brought us treats. She had the best accent and I was totally captured by it. Later on I would remember who she reminded me of – Mrs Potato Head from Toy Story. 

She brought yoghurts, cinnamon buns, iced tea, none of which I like, but there were cheese strings which I had one of and there was a big bag of cherries which I ate at least half of. She had some wonderful stories and offered to do so much for us. Drive us places, take us to see the monument, take us home with her and she even offered to take all of our shirts home, wash them and bring them back. She was so sweet but what we didn’t expect was for her to leave and leave us with everything, including all the trash. There were a bunch of us there, about 10 I reckon. We made a good dent in it, but after everyone had filled their water bottles, we left the leftover iced tea near the door of the HQ, plus the bag of trash, because by now they had packed up and gone home, and we packed out all the leftover food to take with us to the lake. I put the cherries in my bag. 

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We then hiked the mile and a half to the lake, got to the observation tower which we commented would be a nice place to camp, eventually found the little side trail after asking a lady in a car and went down to hang out at the beach. Jukebox was feeling really sick. I don’t think she is supposed to eat dairy so the three yoghurts, 4 cheese strings and the ice cream from earlier today weren’t doing her any favours. We found some other hikers there and gave them some of the trail magic we had. 

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These jokers are at it again!

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I debated about whether to get in the lake of not. Would it help this thing on the side of my legs? In the end I decided to go for it. I got in up to my waist, because it was now 5:45pm and I didn’t want to have to deal with having a wet sports bra overnight. It felt good. In the showers there was no soap so I just rinsed my legs, applied some pawpaw ointment and put some dry knickers on. 

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chafe?

We were hoping there was going to be a trash can there but it was a pack it in pack it out kinda place and they provided yellow bags to put all your trash in. We managed to get rid of some of the leftover yoghurts onto some kids. It was a busy little place. The lady who gave us directions came over and chatted with us. We explained that we had been left with all this trash and we all waited for her to say she would take it away for us. It was like we were collectively holding our breath and when she said “I could take your trash for you” we all cheered inside. Mission accomplished without having to ask!

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We hung out for a while at the lake and Shred contacted one of his friends who was at the shelter a half mile down the trail. Apparently there was only space for about 5 tents and considering there were 9 of us at the lake that really wasn’t going to work. Jukebox had a friend come to meet her who is going to hike with her for a couple of day and we had the idea that she could bring pizza. In the end Shreds friend Ballflap came back from the shelter to hang out with us and Jukebox and her friend went to get pizza. I though I was never going to be hungry again but at the thought of pizza my stomach rumbled. There were a couple of other hikers in the park and they had set up their tent behind a picnic table. 

No camping allowed in this park but we thought we would get away with stealth camping, although with 9 of us it probably would be that stealthy. We ate the pizza and drank the Gatorade kindly provided by Shred, and around 9pm the mosquitoes came out in packs. There were so many of them. 

Just as we were about to pitch our tents a ranger came by and said he had just called an officer as we weren’t supposed to be here. The park closed at 8 apparently. He said the officer would give each one of us a ticket. I apologised and said we weren’t aware that the park closed and we would move on. We packed up really quickly and got out of there. It was obviously dark now and we weren’t keen on hiking to the shelter, especially now being full of pizza.

I remembered the observation tower. Let’s camp there! Yes everyone agreed. It wasn’t far but once again we found ourselves climbing up a hill, full of food, this time on the run from the police! There was a lot of unnecessary panicking from some people. I wasn’t convinced it would be the actual cops, just a park ranger or something. But apparently the park rangers have the same authority as a police officer and carry guns…

Well we were all out of there before the arrival of the cops. I guess technically camping outside of shelters is ‘illegal’ in New Jersey. But the likelihood of anyone finding us up here on this tower is slim. The only problem with being up here is that it is forecast to rain, starting around 5am. Some people chose to cowboy, some people have to because they have tents that have to be staked out. Every time I think about getting a different tent a situation like this changes my mind. 4 of us have our tents set up, but we are all going topless. So if it starts raining we will all have to pack up and start moving! 

The view up here is great. We can see the monument which is all lit up? And we can look up at the few stars in the sky, at the moment the sky is completely clear. I’m here with Peaches, Bryce, Shred, Jukebox, Professor, Ballflap and Pony Boy. 

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I’ve put more cream on my legs and I have managed to stay awake until 11pm to write this. I hope it doesn’t rain. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 69

 

 


 

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