New Jersey Is So Close I Can Smell It…

…and it smells wonderful! Surprising I know, but first thing tomorrow morning we’ll be crossing over the mighty Delaware into northern New Jersey and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, really. Of course if the trail went through Elizabeth, the smell factor would be a whole ‘nother story…

It is nearly indescribable the feeling I got today when hiking downhill into Delaware Water Gap, PA and I caught my first glimpse of I-80 over the river. Finally, after 3 months and 12 days on the trail, after 1285.3 miles on my feet with a heavy pack strapped to my back and a big camera on my front, up big mountains and down them, through rain, mud, snow, sweltering heat and loads of sweat, did I feel like I’d really gotten somewhere. Who would think that after all this time spent living outdoors, I would find the sounds of interstate highway traffic so soothing?!

I know for a fact that it’s because I’m so close to home now. The northeast! The blue states! It feels good, it feels right. Pennsylvania may be north of the Mason-Dixon line, but off the trail and out of hiker related circles, I didn’t feel like I quite fit in. And it didn’t really hit me until last weekend, when I got to spend a brief day or so with my man, just how homesick I was. Or maybe it was when he dropped us back off on the trail after the wedding last Sunday, that I really took notice. I was so bummed out and so physically and mentally tired from the rock and boulder filled hiking that the AT in PA is chock full of, that two days in a row I actually contemplated quitting this thing.

But now, now that New York is in my sights and a trip home to Brooklyn is in the works, I feel rejuvenated. Biscuits and gravy for breakfast and all-you-can-eat buffets for dinners were a nice novelty and a must-do for fun and caloric intake while hiking in the South. But now, to be back in the land of egg sangwiches, good pizza and caw-fee…my spirits have soared! That and the fact that in a mere 107 miles I’ll be able to see the New York City skyline from the top of Bear Mountain…I’m seriously giddy.

So I’m breathing a sigh of relief (and yeah, some more car exhaust) to know that I’m close to most of my friends and family. And to look back at how we’ve actually walked here all the way from Georgia — it just makes me want to keep going. Lobsters of Maine, lookout! Thru-hikers are comin’ and they’re hungry!

Thanks to all for the awesome comments we got this week! We do eventually comment back, so be sure to take a look back under the old posts to look for our replies. And Hatchet, we miss you out here on the trail too! Hope your back is doing better. As for photo updates, I know I’m behind – there just haven’t been any libraries lately to upload from. Soon, I promise.

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17 Responses to New Jersey Is So Close I Can Smell It…

  1. Michael says:

    Wow…I believe that may be the nicest thing I’ve heard anyone say about my home state. 🙂 Seems like yesterday that Gloria and I met you in VA. You guys are making some serious progress. You’re gonna make it. 🙂

    Mike and Gloria

    • Mel says:

      Thanks Mike! Yeah, these northern states are small. It’s great for the morale to be able to check them off the list faster than VA. Keep reminding me I’ll make it – some days are tough!

  2. Andrea says:

    Congratulations!!!! I am in awe of you! Keep on movin on– almost there!!!

  3. Pete Keener says:

    Hang in there. You both have come too far to quit. We will keep you both in our thoughts and prayers.

    Pete and Terri

    • Deborah Farmar says:

      Congrats to you both for your continuing dedication to your goal. Mel/Click, I love your postings. You are such a good writer. It flows, you know, and that’s a real sign. Mig/LT – same goes for you. I haven’t been writing back lately – but I think of you both all the time. Love, your black and white striped horse.

    • Mel says:

      Pete and Terri! Thanks for the continued support! Some days are tough but meeting all the great folks out here is worth it!

  4. Ah yes I know it must be so refreshing to see familiar territory, after rubbing shoulders with the Appy wild life these many months, and steps taken to accomplish your mission.
    This latest post of your seems so upbeat, I feel I should share this Bible verse with the both of you.
    Proverbs 17:22, A merry heart is good medicine, however a broken spirit dries the bones.
    In plainer english it is so much better to be happy, as depression is a killer.
    Keep on keeping on, and please be safe as well.

  5. Kathy says:

    Mel, so happy you’re at the other border of PA without another ankle event! Congratulations! I’m sure you must be happy to see some “short states” to get through and mentally check off faster progress :*)
    Yesterday I was on the trail for the 4 miles south of Old Forge, not far from Pen Mar, with my friend Jo (who shuttled you guys back to the trail). We were counting American chestnuts for the annual census, and doing some trimming. One of the through hikers we met, Daniel “Molasses” from Nashville, stopped and chatted awhile…. he, too, like you, shared the mental crush of the mid-point mind weight. I told him about your similar thoughts, and that he no doubt will feel better once he gets July 4 weekend “off trail” visit w/ his family to renew and return :*) He is determined to make Katahdin but it seems so distant right now…. maybe you’ll meet up w/ him in the following weeks! I told him of your blog so maybe he’ll also check it.
    Keep on keeping on! Love your pics and travel notes!

    • Mel says:

      Kathy! Thank you sooo much for your support on this trek and the blog. I really wish I could write posts more often but the days get long so fast and I get tired. Hope you’re havin an excellent summer so far!

  6. Joan says:

    Thirty years ago after living in California for a few years, Tim and I drove east across the country to move to Vermont. As we drove, I was struck by the awesome beauty of the western states like Utah — stunning bare mountains and wide open spaces –, but it was the leafy green shade of a huge tree next to a gas station in Western Pennsylvania that made me nearly cry as I realized how welcoming and familiar it felt to a New York girl like me. Your post about seeing New Jersey reminded me of that feeling. Welcome back! –Joan

    • Mike says:

      It’s great to be back, and to be able to spend a few days off-trail in Brooklyn! Putting miles behind us on the trail is what it’s all about, but a few days to recharge is absolutely necessary to be able to ENJOY those miles on the trail (and hearing from folks like you nd all the other commenters helps a great deal, too!

    • Mike says:

      We’ll be in VT soon; come and see us! (and bring massive quantities of nutritional substances)

  7. Hey guys! We have been keeping track in the shelter logs of you guys. Sorry to hear about the bear incident. We are truck’n in New Jersey.

  8. Stardust says:

    Hi Long Time!
    I will be starting the 100 miles of wilderness Sept. 3 or 4th.
    I am glad to hear that you are almost at the end of the journey, but don’t be sad when it is all OVER. Done.
    I’m glad you are prepared for Irene (peace in Greek)
    Good luck!

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