Recently I had my nice leather sun hat mailed to me from my parents. This hat has quite a lot of sentimental value to me. It protected me from the burning sun in the treeless terrain of the Camino de Santiago trek in Spain. I thought it could be put to good use in New England where the trail is supposed to often go above the tree line. Well, not being used to having new gear, I promptly lost it. Last I saw, it was strapped to the back of my pack, but perhaps not well enough. So at the next shelter I asked a southbound hiker that if she saw it, could she please mail it to the Dalton, MA post office for me (where I figured I would be in a couple weeks). She took my info, I thanked her for keeping an eye out, and I moved onward, completely convinced I would never see this hat again.
Well exactly 4 days later, I’m sitting on a nice rock outcropping, enjoying the view of a lake below. Through the trees below I hear someone coming up the trail. A jovial looking thru-hiker with a head and beard full of thick red hair stumbles up and exclaims “Are you Bojangles?” (Bojangles is my trail name). I’ve never met this person, so I give a very surprised response, “yes that’s me.” He responds, “Alright dude! I’ve been trying to catch up with you for three days – I have your hat!”
Awesome. His trail name is Jeremiah Johnson, very cool guy, and we walked together for the next couple days. He apparently discovered it and the southbound hiker I had talked to relayed to him that I was only a few miles ahead. The people on the trail never cease to amaze me!
So after I left the Mayor’s house in Unionville, I finished the rest of New Jersey and quickly entered New York. There have been heaps of low-land marsh walking, not what you would expect on the Appalachian Trail, but I enjoyed the change of scenery. The local clubs here have built some amazing boardwalks – especially on the last miles of New Jersey – that zig-zag through marshes.
Other highlights have been the Dover Oak, the largest tree on the trail, views of the Manhattan skyline (the trail gets to within 36 miles of the city), my first encounter with a timber rattlesnake, and finally after weeks of rain, some sunshine! I reached Connecticut today and after 50 short miles in this state, I’ll be in Massachusetts.