Francis and Lisa at Kathadin July 2, 2001

Francis' Mom, Lucia, writes:
I heard from Francis this morning (6 AM!) calling from Monson, Maine. They walked 120 miles of the most difficult part of the trail. (the Maine part of the trail is 281 miles) They are in good spirits. He plans to call us from Caratunk, Maine in about fifteen days.

July 4, 2001 8 PM - From Kathadin To Caratunk

[Editor's note: Obviously, getting to Caratunk wasn't going to take 15 days... must've been a typo. Now for the carnage...]

Happy Independence Day! I've realized how DEPENDENT I am on my tendons in my ankle!

Here's what happened in the in the first 150 miles.

We arrive Monday June 25 in the afternoon, but the rangers wouldn't let us summit Kathadin because it was getting late. Although we considered doing it anyway in order to stay on schedule, we were both tired thought it would be wiser to rest and do it the next day.

So we got up in darkness at 3 AM, and using flashlights got our stuff together, eventually setting off to climb the tallest mountain in Maine.

Mt Katahdin

Now we know why Kathadin means "Greatest Mountain." Although the climb was only 4000 ft, it was almost a technical climb, not a hike! We had to pull ourselves up from rock to rock, sometimes using small hand holds.  The round-trip of only 10 miles took us 10 hours!

Somehow we had enough energy to hike another 16 miles to Abol Bridge, so our total was 26 miles for our first day, including the hike up Kathadin. A great start

The next day we got up at 4 AM (as we continued to do everyday in the wilderness) and consistently did 20-25 miles a day, even in the grueling up and down portion that involves more climbing than hiking!

Indeed, we were grabbing onto roots of trees to pull ourselves up (and climb down) the mountains. The terrain is extraordinarily difficult.

We found that going up was fine, but that coming down was punishing on our joints. Nevertheless, we fared well, that is, until the last 2 miles of the 120 miles.

Just before reaching Monson, our first place in civilization and resupply point, Francis twisted his ankle and pulled a tendon. Although he barely felt it at first, it steadily got worse, to the point where he was limping into Monson.

By dinner time, his ankle had swelled substantially.

In some ways he was very fortunate: after all, this could have happened in the middle of the wilderness and we would have run out of food. Instead, we were at an all-you-can eat hostel called Shaw's.   :-)

The SonicTrek took off at a blistering pace. The guides advise taking 10 days for the 100 mile wilderness and 2-3 days to do Kathadin to Abol Bridge. In short, the common advice is to take 12-13 days to do what we did in only 6 days.

In fact, we met one fellow who took 16 days to do the same section we did in 6 days.

Needless to say, many people are amazed at our pace, but we don't hesitate to credit our sponsors.   :-)

Update on ankle

Francis arrived just in time for dinner at Shaw's, and despite his bad ankle, set off the very next morning at 8 AM to continue. He realized he probably wouldn't get far, but he thought it would be worth a shot.

We did only 6 miles that day. By noon, Francis collapsed in a lean-to shelter and decided to rest the 18 hours.

The next day, we set off again. Feeling better, the SonicTrek team did 12 miles (which is what most people do in a day). Although 12 miles is considered by many hikers a good day, it has half what we normally do, so we were a bit disappointed.

Fortunately, the ankle was somehow healing even with hiking on it for 10 hours. So today we did 15 miles and got to Caratunk. We're two days behind schedule, but feeling good overall. The slower pace has helped Lisa heal her minor injuries too.

Francis' ankle continues to improve despite not taking a day off. Even he is astounded that it's repairing itself as he walks on it with a backpack up and down peaks.

The true test will come tomorrow when the team sets off to southern Maine in some of the most treacherous and difficult hiking of the entire journey.

Even if the SonicTrekkers were at 100%, this would test them tremendously. With Francis' weak ankle, it will be an important test, especially since he will now have to carry 8 man-days of food on his pack.

Will they make it over the great Whites of New Hampshire? Tune in again!

July 5, 2001 @ 8 PM - gettin' outta Caratunk, Maine

We woke up this morning at the hiker's B&B. The SonicTrekkers got a double bed in a hostel for $17/night in a town of 100 people.

We had an amazing breakfast. Francis ate potatoes, 8 pieces of fruit, a scone, and 12 (yes, 12) French toasts. Everyone around was amazed. As the cook said, "It's always some skinny small guy who eats more than anyone...."

Although Francis was full, he didn't feel sick. "I'm satisfied," he said.

Lisa, sadly, was trying to be lady-like and not completely gorge herself. Let's hope she doesn't do that again!

Although we intended to get back on the trail without a day off, we changed our minds. We decided to take it easy.

However, our idea of relaxation is somewhat unconventional: we went white water rafting on the famous Kennebeck River in Maine!

Normally, we wouldn't do this, but we got a special offer for only $50/person, including an all you can eat lunch. Normally, this would cost 2 to 3 times this.

Moreover, since Francis was still nursing his ankle (which still looks like a bulging golf ball), and Lisa is always happy to take a day off, we decided to go for it.

So for several hours today we paddled like crazy, and worked out our arms instead of our legs. We hit some major waves. Francis went
overboard, but survived. Overall, it was a relaxing break from the trail. ;-)

Although Francis' ankle is still not 100% healed, we will hit the trail tomorrow morning, as we are about 3 days behind schedule. It will be very difficult to catch up to our schedule, since we planned to do 25 miles a day, even in the diabolical trails on Maine and New Hampshire.
When Lisa and I were in Maine on the AT, it rained 4-days non-stop. She had rain gear and I had an umbrella. After 4 days, we (and our gear) were both pretty wet.

These trails are unlike anything we've encountered in California. The best simulation to experience what we're going through is to do this:

1) Pick your favorite steep hike (must gain at least 2,000 ft in elevation).

2) Get off the trail (which has switchbacks).

3) Hike straight up to peak and down to the valley.

4) Repeat this 4 times in one day.

5) Oh, and while you're doing that, make sure you have a backpack on you with enough gear and food to survive four days.

That's what we're going through in the next 200 miles.

July 11 - Andover, Maine - comments on the trail

The trails are unlike anything in California. They are incredibly steep and there are always roots and rocks everywhere on the trail, making it an obstacle course. Thus, every step you take offers a wonderful opportunity to twist an ankle as you try to step between the roots and rocks. Most of the time there is no flat ground to step on, so you step in a thicket of hard roots (or rocks) hoping that your ankle holds you up no matter how much it bends.

If you don't snap your ankle, the constant pounding your knees take from descending 5 to 10 thousand feet a day will wear you down eventually. How does it feel?


1) Taking an escalator to the top of the Empire State Building.

2) Take the stairs ALL the way down.

3) You are not allowed to take the stairs one by one, you must take them two at a time to emphasize the impact.

4) When you get the bottom, take the elevator all the way back up, and then go down again. Do this for EIGHT hours.

5) For the sadistic, imagine the stairs are covered with roots and rocks, and you're carrying 20-30 pounds on your back....

The main reason the roots and rocks are a hassle is not the physical challenge they pose, but rather that they take away from our opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Indeed, we have to spend all our time looking at the ground, not at the beautiful scenery around us. If we take our eyes off the trail, even for a second, we risk tripping or twisting an ankle.

Walking more slowly doesn't help much either (we tried that when Francis hurt his ankle). Taking breaks every five minutes is a luxury a thru-hiker can't afford because otherwise the journey would take too long and we'd be hiking through snow.
Our hiking pace

Lisa and Francis get up at 4 AM everyday and hike until 8:30 PM. We break for lunch and a few quick breaks throughout the day. But basically we're hiking for almost 16 hours everyday. 7 days a week.

As much as we hike, it's so hard to hike more than 20 miles in a day because we must take the descents so gingerly.

Moreover, we've had lots of thunderstorms lately, which makes the rocks on the steep descents slippery, and the ground on the flat parts extremely muddy.

We cannot afford to rush downhill because:

a) We risk hurting ourselves.

b) We will definitely ruin our knees.

Unfortunately, all this (and Francis' two-day layover due to an ankle injury) has translated to us falling a week behind schedule.

On the other hand, we're not being slouches. Indeed, NO ONE HAS PASSED US on the trail! We've passed dozens of southbound hikers, but no one has managed to catch up to us and keep up with our pace. They may manage to stay at our pace for a day or two, and many may pass us during the day (especially on the downhills). However, within 24 hours we leave them behind.

The main reason we pass everyone is not that we're walking fast. On the contrary, we walk relatively slowly (especially going downhill). People pass us all day long. However, when they pull aside to camp around  dinner time, we just keep going until 9 PM. Also, when they wake up at 6-7 PM, we've already been hiking for two hours. As a result, we're miles ahead of them by the time they get back on the trail.

The one person who we can't seem to pull away from is a very fast walker called LightWeight Freight. Curiously, he also sports a GoLite backpack, the Gust model. He's a nice man from Pennsylvania who walks briskly by us every morning; at night when he's camped, we pass him. We do the same thing the next day. We expect once the terrain levels, we will start to pull away as we will be able to walk more than 25 miles a day.
Starting at the face of lightning

One of the most awesome experiences we've had is being caught in the middle of thunderstorms in Maine. Three memorable experiences happened last week:

1) Walking up and over the Saddleback Mountain:

This mountain is over the treeline for about 2 miles. As we climbed the mountain, we heard thunder everywhere, but we continued to climb.

Once we got above the trees we could see that there was a storm just west of us. There was little wind, so we took a chance and pressed hard to the summit. For at least an hour we knew we would be exposed.

Once we hit the summit and could see the other side of the mountain, we realized that there was a storm right in front of us (that we couldn't see before).

We hurried down the backside of the mountain to avoid getting sandwiched between the two storms. With lots of hustle, we made it safely and just missed the storms.

2) Barren Mountain.

We just came off the mountain and we saw a storm heading our way. When the lightning struck, it felt like it was right next to our heads. The sound was incredible and overwhelming.

Although it poured buckets, Francis stayed dry using his GoLite umbrella and Lisa was dry in her GoLite rain suit! We quickly made camp.

3) Piazza Lean-to Thunder and Light Show

We were walking in darkness, looking for a place to camp for the night, while thunder and lightning rang over our heads (no rain, yet).

We finally found a place, and as Francis thrust the last stake into the ground, the rain started to fall. And fall HARD. With wind whipping it around. It was an exciting experience.

Fortunately, we pitched our GoLite tarp low, so we stayed dry. In the morning, after packing, we noticed a perfectly dry rectangle patch surrounded by wet ground.

We smiled and hit the trail again....

Francis a.k.a. Mr. Magoo makes a call - Monday 7/16

Francis called me to say they've crossed the Maine border and entered into "the Whites," a national park in New Hampshire. They've made it to Pinkham Notch.  Lisa has blisters on toes, which has slowed them down for a half day or so.

Soon they'll tackle Mount Washington, highest mountain in ... well I'll assume this is also in New Hampshire, because Francis' message cut off. Hopefully he'll call back soon.

July 23 @ 4PM in Hanover, NH (Dartmouth College)

We made it! We're in Hanover! Besides Springer Mountain (the end of the AT), Hanover is probably the most significant milestone for a Southbounder.


It's a common saying that when a Northbounder gets to Hanover, "he has done 80% of the miles, but only 50% of the work."

For a Southbounder, this is good news, because while we may have only done 400 miles, they represent almost 50% of the effort required to complete the AT. Maine and New Hampshire are the toughest two states on the AT. If you can get through them, you can get through the whole AT. There are no more physical hurdles, only mental ones.

Indeed, the key challenge from this point on is psychological.

Can our minds stay engaged and positive as the trail meanders up and down the mountains between here and Georgia?

Will we let the relentless heat and humidity get to us?

How long can we last until we get to the next pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream?

Speaking of which, we stopped at the B&J here in Hanover and asked if we could have "the white blazed special" (AT hikers follow white blazes all day long).  The woman behind the counter smiled and gave us each a White Russian ice cream shake (with a bunch of goodies thrown in) - FOR FREE.  Indeed, B&J gives this to all thru-hikers. We love them. In Glencliff, Lisa ate a whole pint of Concession Obsession (caramel, vanilla, peanuts, etc). What astounded her was that she wasn't even full. She felt good. Really good. So good, that she ate a little bit of my Cherry Garcia pint.

We plan to see the movie "A.I." tonight, but first, we need to get our second helping of B&J.

Francis has been eating so much food, it's absurd. In fact, when we took that one day off in the Whites to help heal Lisa's blisters, we ate at an all-you-can-eat restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But since we weren't doing any exercise, this proved a bit too much for Francis' digestive system. So for the first time in his life, he threw up because he ate too much food. [Ed. Note - Oh my god! This is a first!]

After a short break, he was packing it in again and eating everything in sight. He spreads butter on everything, desperately trying to consume as many calories as possible.

What's crazy is that he has still managed to lose TWO pounds. He now weighs only 143 pounds. Since he was 16, the least he's ever weighed was 145.

In fact, CBS is running a program called, "Unsolved Mysteries: Where does all the food that Francis eat go?"

The Whites of New Hampshire were spectacular. We once again found ourselves above the treeline, exposed, while a lightning storm rocked nearby. Although we were rained on, we fared well and the lightning didn't fire over our heads this time. My GoLite umbrella helped keep me dry from the waist up, but my legs were wet (which is OK since they're always moving and  generating heat).

The winds of Mt. Washington are infamous. Indeed, the highest recorded winds in the world have been on this very peak (231 MPH!).

The winds broke apart the storm, so that by the time we hit the tallest peak in New England, the skies had cleared completely and we sat on top of the world at 8PM with a glorious sunset, 50 MPH winds, and visibility for hundreds of miles.

We hiked down, and just got to a warm hut called Lake in Clouds. There we agreed to help prepare breakfast for the guests and clean up, in exchange for shelter and left overs. Considering the weather outside (windy and cold), it was a good deal!

Our sponsors have been terrific. Hundreds of miles ago, way back before Saddleback Mountain in Maine, our Canon camcorder  malfunctioned. Fortunately, Canon has generously shipped us a new one and so we will be able to record the experiences south of Hanover. We also were grateful that GoLite shipped Lisa an umbrella, which will be useful in the hot South, where raingear only makes you sweat more.

We will enter Vermont tomorrow. Therefore, we have finished 2 of the 14 states on the AT. But as we said, they are the two hardest, and we expect that we will "fly" through the next dozen.

Our packs are now lighter than ever (seven pounds without food and water). We have traded our 20 degree bag, for the lighter 40 degree bag. Sent back the parka and rain gear (in exchange for lighter umbrella). We also sent back gloves and a few other clothes. In short, we sport the lightest packs on the trail. Fellow hikers are amazed and extremely curious about how we pulled it off. We plug our sponsors everytime!

Our next major stop is Manhattan! Yes, NYC! Lisa has never been there, and we plan to tour around for 3 days (and have B&J everyday).

But that's a few hundred miles from here, so until then, you can all join us in breathing a sigh of relief for getting to Hanover.

It feels good.

3PM July 24 - Dartmouth, c'ya!

We've spent most of the day in Hanover today (and yesterday). We know this is one of the best places along the trail. Also, it's incredibly hot outside (85 degrees with 90% humidity), so it's hard to motivate oneself to climb mountains in this weather.

Instead we ate burgers at Mollie's, had lots of B&J, saw AI the movie (8 out of 10), ate all you can eat Thai, ate lots of Indian food, and got almost no sleep.

We were staying at Tabard, a frat house in Dartmouth.  They generously let thru-hikers stay there for free in the basement.

Although we love their generosity, their sense of hospitality needs some work.  Lisa and I came in extremely tired at 9PM after watching part of "Animal House" being projected on a building. Normally we are asleep at that hour on the trail, so it was hard staying awake. All the lights were on in the basement and it didn't take the Dartmouth sophomore long to start playing beer pong.

Beer Pong is a game like ping pong, but it involves consuming lots of beer, making lots of noise, and banging your wood racket on the table, on your partner's racket, and on the ceiling. The more noise you make, the more points you win (or at least so it seemed).

Needless to say, these Dartmouth students (who had class the next day), continued playing until 2AM, even though several hikers were a few feet away trying to sleep.

Occasionally, they would tell each other to hush, but then promptly forget that as they bashed the ceiling with their rackets.

Of course, we felt out of place to ask them to be quiet because, after all, they were letting us stay there, giving us free showers and laundry too.  Finally, they decided to go hit the book (or the sack) at 2AM. Then we were promptly woken up at 6AM when the garbage truck came by, simulating the sound of a 10 story building crashing next to our house. The sound was absolutely deafening.

The peaceful woods seem more inviting than ever.....

Vermont & Massachusetts - Aug 1, 2001 @ 1PM

Last night we camped on the border, so half of our bodies were in Vermont, the other half in Massachusetts!  Indeed, we've made it through Vermont. It's a new month, and a new state!

Summary of Vermont

Vermont was a welcome relief from NH and Maine. Although we had to climb up and down mountains as usual, the grading was gentle and the footpath was mostly clear of rocks and roots. This allowed us to achieve our natural gait and to enjoy the scenery, which was lovely. The weather was fantastic throughout the state: dry and sunny.

Eating laundry detergent for a week

Lesson #1 from the SonicTrek experience: Don't pack laundry detergent into your resupply boxes.

Even though we sealed the detergent in a ziplock, the strong smell permeated throughout the food in there. As a result, everything we ate (pasta, snacks, GORP, cereal, etc.) tasted like laundry detergent. The bag didn't break, it just infected everything around it.

But when you're starving in the middle of nowhere, you're going to eat anything.

The woes of eating milk

Francis and Lisa are both lactose intolerant, and they're also stubborn. As a result, they ate the dried milk with granola in the mornings after Hanover, NH, even though they knew this would produce discomfort.

In the past, it wasn't so bad, but this time they felt awful. For the first 3 days after setting off from Hanover, the first half of each day was terrible.  It was frustrating because mentally we could see that this was the easiest terrain we've ever encountered and the weather was perfect, yet we could barely make it up a measly hill.

By the afternoon, things would get better.

Lactaid tablets didn't help either. In the end, we threw the milk away.

Sonictrekkers do their first 30 mile day

With milk tossed away, Francis awoke one morning in Vermont and suggested they walk 30 miles, ending at the top of a certain mountain with a firetower.

Lisa wasn't inspired.

Then Francis said if they did that, they could go into Bennington, VT the next morning (a 10-mile hike) and eat breakfast at the Blue Benn, the favorite local diner. She could have anything on breakfast menu.

Lisa was inspired.

So they set off later than usual (6AM), and took a long lunch (90 mins), but by 8:30PM, and right at sunset, they reached their goal, exhausted to say the least!

To celebrate, they climbed up the firetower and camped in it! It didn't have a roof so they could easily see the stars and feel the breeze. What a day!

The next morning, they took off at 4:45AM to make make it into town. Hiking 10 miles on an empty stomach produces quite an appetite. We ate four meals including french toast, pancakes, an omlette, a veggie burger, and fries! Oh, and then we went across the street and split a pint of soy ice cream. Yummy!

Energized, we got back on the trail and walked another 15 miles, making it a 25 mile day (even with a 3 hour break). We couldn't believe how easy it was! It helps to be in shape, but it also helps to have easier terrain than Maine and NH. Supposedly, the terrain gets even easier after Vermont (until Virginia).

Francis visits his rival

Stepping into Williamstown, home of Williams College, rival of Amherst College, was eerie for Francis. He spit on the ground and immediately felt better.

For breakfast they had chocolate pancakes, banana pancakes, a mexican omlette, and a side order of fries. It was 1PM and they hadn't done anything (except laundered and showered, in Williams' gym), but they were already hungry.

Supposedly, Pizza Hut has an all you can eat lunch, but they missed it because it's 2PM already.

As you can see, the more you hike, the more your thoughts become obsessed with food. Francis is doing fairly well, but Lisa finds it difficult to cope without a major food fix often.

What's next

We're going to the Clark Art Museum after we eat ,and then we'll hit the trail by 4PM.

We have the whole state of Massachusetts in front of us. However, aside from Mt. Greylock (we're at the base), the state is pretty flat. Connecticut is also fairly flat.

So we have about 140 miles to get to Pauling, NY, which is where we plan to take a bus to Manhattan!

If we're moving efficiently, we will be there in less than a week. However, the weather is becoming very hot and humid (in the 90s), so it will be challenging.

It would be nice to get back on schedule, so we'll probably go for our first 35-mile day in either MA or CT.


Quick Update from Connecticut - Monday, August 6th

Francis and Lisa called today around 3pm PST.  They are now passing through Salisbury, on their way to Kent, CT, which is another 30 miles or so.  They were just finishing off another food orgy with a pint of Ben&Jerry's and some Tofutti.  Temperatures are in the 90s with 90% humidity, and the forecast is the same for next week.  The terrain is easy, but the weather saps their energy.  Francis says a 1000 foot climb feels like a 3000 foot climb!

Lisa says she's never experienced weather like this, and I don't think she likes it. But they're pushing along. They plan to be in New York in 2 days, hitting Manhattan on Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

Manhattan - Monday, August 14th

We're a third of the way done! It's hard to believe, but we've done over 700 miles, or about one third of the trail! We just went through Massachusetts and Connecticut!

For 6 weeks we have been traveling in the wilderness. Now, we emerge in the epitome of civilization: Manhattan!

Indeed, we're in New York City, the city furthest removed from nature. We're overwhelmed! Our senses, now heightened, are overloaded. For weeks we've grown hyper-sensitive to the most subtle crack of a twig, the gentle song of a bird, the refreshing smell of rain, and the soft colors of sunrise.

Now, we're assaulted by the cries of sirens, the screeching of subways, the flashing neon lights of Times Square, and the din of millions of people.

However, we're not looking at it negatively, rather we're appreciating all the positive things NYC offers. We've seen Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, a play, and an off-Broadway performance called De La Guarda. Today we may see Riverdance or Contact, the musical.

We've eaten at all sorts of places. We've dined at the famous Union Square Cafe, had Tibetan food, Gelato, bagels, and of course, pretzels from NYC street vendors. We've enjoyed being able to get B&J (Ben and Jerry's) at 2AM and to sleep in a bed.

We've appreciated seeing museums and observing the classic monuments of NYC. Of course, hanging out with friends has been fantastic too, especially Dave Asch who has graciously hosted us.

Perhaps one major reason we've appreciated NYC so much is that the last few days on the AT had become a sauna. The weather around New England last week was absolutely steamy and muggy. We would sweat just sleeping, let alone trying to hike up a mountain. The news advised citizens to "avoid strenuous activity." We pondered this as we climbed up yet another mountain....

Therefore, although NYC was hot, at least it's flat, we don't have to have a backpack on our backs, and most places are air conditioned! What a relief!

The weather was really sapping our energy. For example, the terrain in MA and CT was easy compared to NH and Maine, but the weather was so humid that walking 20 miles on flat ground felt like walking 20 miles in Maine!

Our worst moment was in CT. We hung out in the quaint (and expensive) town of Salisbury for four hours to avoid the mid-day heat. We had the best meal on the trail and we met a fellow HBSer (Michael Roy '95). I'm sure Francis and Michael are the only HBSers on the trail, and it's crazy that we met outside the supermarket while Lisa and Francis were eating B&J.

But I digress. We got back on the trail after our long break in Salisbury. Given the heat, we decided to try night hiking, hoping the cooler temps would let us travel more efficiently.

Bad move.

By 10PM Lisa's Photon light was fading. With no place to camp, we slept right on the trail.

After two hours of starring at the stars and being terrorized by mosquitoes, Francis asked Lisa, "Have you slept at all?"

"No," she replied.

"How about we hike some more?" Francis suggested.

So from midnight to 5AM we hiked, taking occasional breaks to sleep. Within a few minutes the mosquitoes would find us and wake us up with their bites. The humidity and heat was still atrocious at 2AM.

At 5AM we cooked up a meal. We kept hiking until 8AM, where we collapsed on the side of the trail. We slept without any pads, on the hard rock. By 10AM, we woke up and kept going.

The sad thing is that we had hardly done 5 miles during the night because we had only one Photon flashlight which doesn't emit much light. Francis was hiking using the moonlight that filtered through the trees. Lisa doesn't have great night vision. In short, our hope to hike more efficiently in the cooler temps was foiled for many reasons.

We were miserable by the time we got to Kent, CT. We desperately needed sleep, but we knew that getting back on the trail meant getting surrounded by mosquitoes again.

Since we don't have the tent (or the GoLite Nest), our mosquito protection is our clothes and some head nets. But when it's 85 degrees at night with high humidity, you'll sweat in the shell garments that we wear (which are extremely light and breathable). We would sweat if we were naked. Wearing clothes simply makes us even more uncomfortable. In short, our protection only works well in cooler temps, when sleeping in clothes is comfortable. (And no, we didn't even bother bringing out the sleeping bag in these temps!)

So in Kent we decided to sleep like a pair of bums in the city park. The hotels were too expensive and the trail would have had more mosquitoes than the park. Although it took a couple of hours, we finally got a decent night's sleep, just enough to get us to NYC. Nobody in this affluent town bothered us in the park.

As a result of all this, it's understandable that we've been relishing NYC and somewhat reluctant to jump back on the trail, knowing that the temps haven't cooled down that much.

Nevertheless, we can't wait forever, and we knew that August was going to be a hot and challenging month. No one ever said it would be easy weather the whole way.

Thank you NYC for a well-deserved pit stop. We laughed. We cried. It was much better than Cats.

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