Yesterday, when I was dropped off at the hotel, I had scheduled an 8 am pickup so I could get back to the trail. (I wanted to do earlier, but that was the earliest the cab company was willing to do.) It should not come as a surprise that I was running late, and did not make it out to the hotel lobby until almost 8.
For some bizarre reason, I eschewed eating my pop tarts in favor of the muffins the hotel indicated they would have for me in the morning. (They had also asked yesterday in the restaurant what kind of coffee I wanted, which I declined. There was no coffee this morning, then, on account of me being the only overnight guest.)
The cab driver had already arrived, but I had missed hearing the lady staffing the front desk saying that he was my cab driver, so in my clearly addled state from not having anything to eat yet, I proceeded to eat all of the muffins that had been set out (I had warned them yesterday that I would eat them all, as a joke, but since I was the only one there, made good on my threat) while having a conversation with my cab driver. (The desk attendant also offered me OJ, which I happily accepted: never turn down liquid calories.)
After I had been slowly and deliberately eating muffins for 15 minutes, I decided the cab driver was awfully late, so I called the dispatcher. At the same time, the dispatcher, the cab driver, and the front desk attendant said that the cab driver was there. It was really kind of embarrassing.
I got dropped off at the trailhead, and noticed that there were two jugs of water there. Helpful trail magic for someone not coming from a hotel.
I hiked the 2.1 miles (plus 0.2 miles of side trail) to the Wildcat Shelter, my original destination yesterday, planning on a quick water break. It was really hot out, and I was sweating pretty badly for as early in the day as it was, so I figured I'd grab a liter or two of water, drink a lot to help hydrate and cool down, and then continue on.
I was, then, really not impressed when I got to the shelter's spring and found that it was barely flowing at all. It would take too much effort to get even a small amount to drink. If I had stayed here last night, I'd have been really unhappy, so having to stay at the hotel last night worked out better than I had initially thought.
I was still super-sweaty, though, and was now regretting wearing clean clothes this morning. (My wet clothes from yesterday almost completely dried in the room last night with the AC cranked up to the max, and I could have worn them today, sparing the set I wore to dinner last night from being soiled by hiking.) I toweled off the best I could, which is to say, I made the towel wetter, and me no drier, since I was sweating just sitting in the shelter in the shade.
I was also feeling pretty lethargic. I considered the heat, lack of substantial breakfast (seven small muffins probably did not have the calorie count of four pop tarts), or not having my usual huge pasta dinner last night, as possible causes.
I made an entry in the shelter log, also noting Beast's resignation from the trail, and continued on. Fortunately, about a mile and a half down the trail, there was a stream, and I stopped there for a bit to (filter and) drink cool water. It helped.
I stopped after a pretty grueling four miles or so, somewhere along the (basically completely dry) Fitzgerald Falls, on a dirt road meant for off-road vehicles (there was a large campsite with a pavilion tent, some people grilling, and two ATVs a short distance away), and had my first snack.
A few miles further on (just short of West Mombasha Rd), I came across a trail maintenance crew working to replace the boardwalk in the area. The section they were working in was completely exposed to the sun, so they were working under pretty lousy conditions. I thanked them for their work on the trail, and joked that they couldn't have picked a worse day to do this maintenance.
Just across the road, though, in the shade, were several gallon jugs of water they brought for hikers. I stopped there and had my second break early.
A few miles further at the next road crossing (East Mombasha Rd), was eight gallons of water bottles provided by the Tuxedo Trail Angels, all empty.
By this point in the day, between the heat and not really having a sufficiently large breakfast, I was pretty beat, and was ready for the day to be over. When it started a light rain right as I walked past a nice campsite on Little Dam Lake, about 9.5 miles and seven hours in, I called it quits and hurriedly set up my tent, doing a passable job of keeping it relatively dry, but getting soaked myself. I hid in my tent until the rain stopped, alternately wringing out my clothes and mopping up the water that did make it in.
The rain stopped shortly after, and didn't start again until after dark. If I had just put my pack cover on, I probably could have kept going, but setting up my tent basically committed me to staying there. (I mean, I could have tore down the tent and continued on for a bit more, having a break and lower temperatures brought on by the rain, but who wants to take down camp just an hour after setting it up?)
Originally, my friends Andrew and Monica were hoping to meet up with me at Bear Mountain (near Fort Montgomery) since Andrew's parents have a second house in Connecticut that is about an hour away from there. But at this point, it's pretty clear I'm not going to reach Fort Montgomery tomorrow. However, Andrew and Monica couldn't make it up this weekend either. But, his parents will be, and his mom, Penny, is still willing to pick me up from the trail. So, I'll see where I can get to by early afternoon tomorrow, and go from there.