September 27, 2017
Since Labor Day, we have only seen other hikers when the AT coincides with popular day hikes. Interactions with day hikers can be confusing. Many of these people, especially near big cities like New York, have never heard of the AT. They assume we are doing the same hike that they are. Misunderstandings result….
As we approached Fort Montgomery, New York, we stashed our packs behind a tree and took a short side trip (0.6 miles) up to Anthony’s Nose. After a day of solitude, we were surprised to find several day hikers enjoying the spectacular view of the Hudson River Valley.
On our way back down to the AT, we caught up with two ladies who were stopped in the trail. Their clean appearance and small packs indicated that they were day hikers.
One of them asked Sarah “Are you sure this is the way you came?”
Sarah, certain we were returning on the correct path, began enthusiastically pointing out trees and other features that she remembered from our ascent.
The day hikers were not convinced. “I don’t remember any of this!” one exclaimed.
We all continued walking. Sarah, warming to her new game, identified progressively more obscure land marks: “Oh look! There’s that purple flower….and I remember that fallen branch!” but the day hikers were no longer listening.
Their steps became increasingly tentative. I reminded Sarah that the way we had come might not be the way they had come. Upon over-hearing this, the ladies stopped, turned around, and took their first good look at us. Their expressions clouded as they took in our dirty socks, odd-looking bug pants, sweat stained shirts, and disheveled hair. We had no back packs. We were not credible looking.
One hiker asked “We came from our car, at the trail head. Where did you come from?”
I couldn’t resist. “Maine” I quipped.
As I tried to explain that we were hiking the AT, one threw up her arms in exasperation. “I think we’ll try the other way.”
I could only imagine what they were thinking as they made a wide arc around us and hurried back towards the view point.