Thursday Night – July 30, 2020
We booked a pretty sweet place on an airbnb alternative (Vrbo) for two nights. I’d say we were pretty lucky. It was a place on a mountain, in a gated community with a ski resort that we had access to…well that’s a bit more complicated, but I’ll touch on this later. Ryan thought it would be a good idea to chill the first day before our LASH (Long Ass Section Hike) so we all took off that extra day, which I think was a good call. It gave us time to decompress from work and open up. It was a pleasant change of pace.
The majority of the group all arrived around the same time late Thursday evening. I was initially going to get there the latest, but to avoid driving at night, I left an hour early. Ryan however arrived hours earlier. Ryan being the connector he is, practically already had a small gathering going when we arrived. Ryan coming out of New York City took a train as far as he out and hitched a ride with his friend Jules who I think lives in New Jersey just in the Summer months of the year, who then realized that she had friends, Matt and Mariah in the same community as our place, so they walked up forming that small gathering.
The next day, waking up I had a very bad hang over. Shout out to Conor who cleaned up the place! As soon as I came out of my room,
Conor: I’m surprised to see you up.
Me: What do you mean?
Conor: Do you not remember?
Me: Remember what? -squints eyes-
Conor: You know what, it’s better that you don’t remember.
Conor isn’t the type to mess around, so at this point, I’m really starting to worry. I tried to recount going to bed, but I couldn’t remember. Did I do something irreversible possibly? Did I irreversibly scare Conor?
Me: What did we drink last night? I’ve never blacked out before.
Conor: Tequila and claws
Me: Oh I’ve actually never had Tequila before. Sounds like I’ll be avoiding Tequila from here on out.
Conor: With all the pain you’ve experienced you’re likely going to avoid drinking all together or at least for while.
After the trip, the night before leaving for our Utah trip, Dan mentioned that there is no way anyone would be functioning normally, the way you were in the morning if you knew what you had done the earlier that morning. I lol’d. I was wrote most of this on the flight to Utah by the way.
In efforts to progress our recovery, I drove seemingly endlessly (Ryan’s idea) until we reached what looked like a farm with an outdoor brewery/restaurant. I clearly remember being in an uncomfortable amount of low energy most of this morning. When Conor left the table, Dan decided to shed some light on the mystery of last night. Dan, in my experience, has had almost perfect phonographic memory. He can can recount pretty much anything word for word. He also is a bottomless pit of content, which aside from is remarkable grit is what makes him a gem. All this said, I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t imagine any of that. It’s not something I would do. Dan in response said, “well if you don’t believe me, you can ask Conor when he gets back. He was the first to arrive at the scene. I’m sure even the neighbors could tell you. I’m 100% sure they were awake.” Conor arrived back at the table and Dan seemingly impatient popped the question. Immediately, Conor shut down Dan, saying that it was off the table, that nothing had happened. I could tell Conor was protecting me, and assured him that I was comfortable enough around this group of people for him to share. The story lined up for the most part, expect for the one detail that made Dan’s recount unbelievable. Dan said he was pretty sure, but Conor said he did not remember me screaming out his name. For obvious reasons, the story will remain just between us five. In attempts to put my mind at ease, Ryan and Dan shared one of their stories. I appreciated the story, but I vocalized that my main concern was if my relationship with Conor was negatively effected. Conor being the good friend that he is explained that in the state I was in, that my actions were completely natural.
Shortly after getting back for reasons I will not explain in the blog, the pain from the hang over for the most part vanished.
Next Andrew, Conor, and I made moves to put Andrew’s car where we had planned to finish our hike by the New Jersey and New York State line, while Dan and Ryan figured out the pool access.
On the drive over to the trailhead with Conor, I made a note of how polite Andrew is. His nature was a breathe of fresh air, reminding me the importance of being nice. As in how your actions and attitude vastly effect the world around you. In response Conor said, “I’m lucky to have Andrew as a friend.” His polite nature got me to start thinking about how I need to make more of an initiative in my day to day to start being nicer, especially at work. When I’m working, I get so caught up in the work that I can come off as unappreciative or impatient. I dove a bit deeper into this with Conor and he gave me some sage feedback. 👌🏻
The pool access was a little complicated. We had guest passes, but due to Covid, the resort was only letting in owners, so Ryan called the owner and he gave Ryan three options:
- There is a water park close by.
- There are several lakes nearby.
- I could tell you how you can sneak in.
Ryan then proceeded with sneaking in, which he eventually relayed to Andrew for us.
I’m blanking on what we did after the pool, but I’m pretty sure Conor and I went to go pick up Thai. That pool side experience though was pure bliss. Again, thankful we took a chill day. 😁🔥 Dan and I were reminiscing about this during our Utah trip.
That night we spent the remainder of the day chilling on the porch, sharing music and talking. Content is the only word coming to my mind.
The Boring Conversation
Later that night, Ryan sparked the question: “Are boring people boring or is their environment that makes them boring?” I was thinking obviously it’s their environment, disabilities aside, though Ryan seemed serious so we entertained the thought. I was generally confused why Ryan for a second would think that boring people are born and not raised boring but, Conor and Ryan were talking in such depth I felt like there was more to this conversation than just the surface that was beyond me. For the first 30 minutes Conor and Ryan were for the most part talking past each other, and we realized that we needed to define first what a boring person was, since a boring person would be subjective. Ryan’s definition of boring more so had to do with the amount of hunger that person has for the world. I think the conversation initiated with his possible frustration that there were people out there who did not completely take advantage of their opportunities. This being the “boring” conversation it was, I checked out early and went to bed while Andrew, Conor, and Ryan kept talking about this for I guess another hour or two.
Day 1: 20.1 Miles
Upon starting our LASH, I helped Andrew with his food and gear. This was actually Andrew’s 2nd backpacking trip. Hell of a 2nd backpacking trip for anyone, though he certainly was in good hands. 🙂 To my surprised, Andrew kept up and showed a tremendous amount of grit. I would also like to note the amount of morale Dan and Ryan generated from being themselves on this trip. They really kept all of us in positive spirits. Also, Conor 😉…well for the most part.
I think we started the trail at 11:30sih after our stop at a local diner.
Elaboration on the Title
Ryan asked me a question prior to the trip if I watched alone and in response, I said, “watch what alone?” So this misunderstanding became a repeated jab or a rather pleasant tease throughout the trip sprinkled anywhere he could fit it into our many conversations.
Where We Voted
The beaching is a reference to not only the reminder of the show Ryan watches alone, “Alone,” but also in reference to this beach on a lake just right off the trail we as a group passed up. I believe the vote was 3 to 2, in favor of continuing the trail, Ryan being part of the minority. In attempts to be jokingly salty, about our missed out beach adventure, Ryan similar to his reminder of our miscommunication about that TV show, “Alone” (That he undoubtedly watches alone) playfully reminded us of our missed beach endeavor into our pleasant seemingly endless open dialog. Though, I’m sure the salt was for real.
Shortly after, we gathered probably the best tasting water on the entire trip. Nice and cold too!
We were flying the first day, which is ideal for any long backpacking trip, taking advantage of our initial energy, to make the next couple days easier on us.
Towards the end of the day, I realized how close we were to Unionville, NY a town on the border of NJ, less than a mile off trail, which had a park to set up tents and a bar with a restaurant. We voted and all agreed a burger would really hit the spot.
Unfortunately, when we got there, after walking 45-minutes in the dark, because of Covid, the restaurant part of the bar had closed earlier. All they had were hotdogs and pulled pork sandwiches, which we might have cleaned them out of.
At the bar, as a result of something I said earlier in relation to “red pill” thinking in regards to hypergamy and masculinity, I began to elaborate on why I came to this sort of thinking, which unfortunately took a while since the topic is so convoluted. Today there is a negative stereotype surrounding those who claim to be red pilled because it is apparently more well known to associate to a community of incels online. Though, generally “refers to (becoming enlightened to) the truth about reality, especially a truth that is difficult to accept or exposes disillusions” (Dictionary.com). Conor was visibly upset, but explained calmly along with the group that was an invalid way of thinking, a mechanic of human behavior, but less than half the reason why decisions are made by men and women. On a different note, I had interpreted masculinity to be taking ownership of yourself or rather taking responsibility of oneself, but the group communicated masculinity was instead associated with those who feel the need to be macho and that taking responsibility of yourself with just being a good person.
To give a little background information, I picked up a book maybe four years ago that I finally read two years ago (lot of books in my queue), that resonated with my experience dating, called “The Rational Male” by Rollo Tomassi. After reading this book, while controversial, it did change my life for the better. Even more so than, “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. The end of 2018, I stopped perusing women and started pursuing myself. In pursuing myself, I noticed a shift and I was overall happier. With such a drastic change, I started to look more into the red pill mind set.
While this may be controversial among my readers, the importance of this conversation is the conversation. Or rather being open to other’s interruptions when called out. In relation to Andrew’s overall polite behavior as mentioned earlier, your actions affect the world around you, negative or positive so if you want to live in a better world, take ownership for your actions and be the change you want to see in the world.
Day 2 – 16.8 Miles
Going into this trip, I had repeated said that the second half of the NJ section we were doing was a walk in the park, that the first day was going to be the hardest based on the map. That was not the case. The first day ended up being the easiest. Fortunately, the group did not give me too much of a hard time. Most salt came from Ryan, but he did come to realize that my perception of hard would have been off coming through as a thru-hiker. The reason I remember the northern New Jersey section to be easy was due to the iconic board walk and bog that stretched for miles.
After the bog section, we found ourselves at a road crossing with a hotdog stand, with a really cool engaging guy running the stand. The experience in my opinion truly felt like it was cut from a movie, from the way he way he acted to the stuff he clearly says to everyone with how practiced the lines were. Oh…Speaking of which, he said in a much more delightful way than I’m going to recall that since the stairway of heaven is up over there, wouldn’t you say my hotdog stand is a part of heaven?
He pretty much walked away after delivering those witty lines, but I very much immediately I realized and said, “Guys, guys…I’m really sorry, but I just remembered that stairway to heaven is actually the hardest climb in New Jersey.
For what ever reason I thought stairway to heaven had been elsewhere. On the approach up I said it was so hard, that I remembered it as a through-hiker with 1,300 miles already on my legs.
A little irritated with me but optimistic, the group really powered through. On the way up we had heard there was a black bear and cub off trail. Upon maybe 3/4 of the way up, there were a group of people surrounding the unfortunately surrounding the bear. I connected the dots and said, “are you guys seriously antagonizing a bear?!?” They looked back for a second, but made no action of moving. Frustrated by the people who clearly didn’t know how to behave around bears and their inability to listen, we kept up the trail.
Obligated, upon arriving at the shelter realizing that the water source would be an additional 0.6 miles of hiking, I grabbed everyone’s bottles and went ahead with a bag to fill them myself.
To my surprise, when I got back with water, there was a thru-hiker at who had been hiking the eastern terminus trail, though undecided on continuing to Canada thinking she might just stop at Katahdin. Her presence was a breathe of fresh air. She had a very similar mentality as I did thru-hiking, who clarified very similar thoughts, some of which the very group I was hiking with had been doubtful of. One similarity, was that we were both purist. Purist being those who hike the entirety of the trail, not skipping any sections. For instance, if you enter a town one way, you return the way you came in. 😇
This particular night was pretty rough. I should have just brought my fleece sleeping bag instead with our 80F+ temps all night. Plus the mosquitoes were unforgiving. They were so bad, Dan had set up tent with Andrew. I being lazy just endured it, which definitely was the wrong call for a good night’s rest. I believe Conor arranged the same thing for himself though without poles, while Ryan to my surprise wrapped himself in his sleeping bag.
Day 3 – 10.1 Miles
Despite our miserable sleep, we toughed out the last 10-miles, which I thought we some of the most beautiful views on our entire trip.
There were some minor ups and downs, but nothing too crazy on the last day.
Conor, leading the pack, did show noticeable struggle, borrowing my trekking poles. Despite, his struggle, I strongly think his struggle was not from his lack of experience, but from his mindset. I don’t have a doubt in my mind, that Conor could crush miles like Dan, Ryan, and I with a different mindset.
With a clear quick group photo (should have said yes to that state trooper who asked if she could take our group photo for us), we headed to the ice cream place, Bellvale Farms Creamery, steps away from where ended, which really hit the spot.
To conclude our trip, we started where we officially decided to end our first section of NJ back in Fall of 2016, at Gyp’s Tavern. If I haven’t mentioned it already, this trip was a second attempt at completing all of New Jersey on the Appalachian Trail.
Volunteering to drive Ryan to the train station was a productive use of my time to clear up a miscommunication we had earlier on trail the previous day. He was making the point that “growth” is good, but taking the time to live in the moment is also important. On trail, I misunderstood what he was conveying, resulting in us taking past each other and deciding to move on. I now understand why he thought had not been living in the moment. As I was taking photos, this action separated me from the group. If I saw a shot, I would disengage, even distract myself from the very people I was on the trip with. On the phone later (after the trip) with another friend, Apache/Katie, after sharing Ryan’s observations, she said yea sometimes you get so caught up in the plan or next thing, that you forget to focus on the present.
I’m happy this trip happened. The re-connection and the motions was a perfect break from the world. Plus, the trip at least in my opinion brought us much closer together. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that we will all be life long friends. 🙂