About the Author: Hi there! My name is Katelyn Barok, but in the hiking world people call me “Rogue.” I am born and raised in New Jersey. I am a Special Education Teacher by trade with a passion for hiking, which explains the name “teacher gone Rogue.” My current goal is to section hike the entire Appalachian Trail on extended weekends, Winter/ Spring Breaks, and my summer break! Follow my adventures in their entirety on roguehikesthetrail.com. Instagram: @katie_barok.
It began to get light outside around 5AM and I started to stir. I didn’t actually start to pack up until 6AM. I carefully stepped out of the tent and headed to grab the bear bags. I still heard snoring from Claudine and Yuri’s tent.
While I ate breakfast, I heard Claudine and Yuri start to pack up their stuff. Yuri was not a morning person and was turtle like in his efforts to pack up. As I was sitting there, I didn’t even think he knew how to pack up his backpack.
Once their tent was down, Yuri was asking about breakfast. He wanted to use the stove to cook coffee. I, on the other hand, was ready to start hiking. I wanted to get an early start because it was going to be a tough day and to beat the heat. Yuri was very adamant about using the stove and making coffee. I suggested he get a cup from Bear Mountain Inn. It was no longer about the coffee but that he had carried the stove and wanted to see how it worked and it couldn’t wait until dinner (does this remind you of a toddler yet?). There was no reasoning with him. Claudine read the directions, lit the stove, and made coffee. We also had to wait until it cooled down afterwards.
Probably like 2 hours later, we set off. First stop was Anthony’s Nose. Claudine didn’t want to go and we said would meet at the recreation area. Despite crossing water sources, she wanted to get water at the Inn. I was stuck with Yuri.
Once we parted ways, I immediately started to address what happened in the morning, so it wouldn’t happen again. Yuri wanted a set wake up time and duties to be assigned. A wake-up time was fine but usually, everyone takes care of their own duties… Thankfully, Anthony’s Nose was breathtaking and took away all my troubles.
And so began the descent down the mountain. My knee from overdoing it in Shenandoah still gave me pain heading downhill. It was a slow and steady walk. We crossed the Hudson River and met Claudine at the Trailside Museum and Zoo. It was going to open in about 30 minutes (the one good thing about the slow start to the morning) and we decided to wait.
Shortly after the zoo walk, we walked through a heavily crowded recreation area due to the BBQs of Memorial Day. We made a plan to meet at the top of Bear Mountain. Walking up Bear Mountain SOBO is rough. There were so many steps and so many people. Even more people were up at the top and it was hard to appreciate the view.
Next was the downhill walk of Bear Mountain, which was worse than the climb up. Eventually, we came to a stream and filled up our water. Hiking a bit faster than my group I went ahead and we had plans to meet at West Mountain Shelter, which I walked right past because there was no shelter sign. It was supposed to be a plan B camp spot for the night.
Then I received a text that Yuri and Claudine were lost. They had a map, a compass, and a phone but they were still lost. I didn’t know what to do? Stay put? Try and find them when I had no idea where they were? Keep hiking? They were never going to hike with me again. This is WHY I hike solo. They texted me and told me to keep going, so I did.
There was a lot of trail junctions in the area and I missed a turn at on point and found another hiker that got turned around as well. “Did you come from the AT?” I asked a guy.
“I’m on the AT,” he replied. Yup, nope we weren’t on it anymore. The road downhill was too good to be true and I had to walk back up to reconnect to the AT. Every trail mile counted. We found it together and there was no indication the trail direction changed.
I finally reached the Palisades Interstate Parkway, which you have to cross twice with no crosswalk. Imagine playing leapfrog when cars are flying down the interstate at 55+ mph. It was a struggle to put one foot in front of the other the rest of the way. My stomach was bothering me and my knee was hurting way worse but I was so close.
I found another hiker at a stream where we both filtered our water. He was still heading north and I asked him to keep an eye out for my friends. I quickly parted ways as it was beginning to drizzle and thunder. He had told me the shelter was only 20 minutes away. Well, it was not 20 minutes away. I had decided since I thought I was so close I wouldn’t put on rain gear. I thought I was so close I pushed on hoping that it wouldn’t thunder.
With the shelter in sight, I practically almost stepped on a black snack as I hobbled down the mountain. I bolted to the shelter to allow the rain to pass. I was greeted with some other hikers.
Once the rain stopped, I grabbed my stuff and set out to find a space to camp that had little trash and leftover food, which wasn’t easy. At least I knew that if a bear would be around they would find food before they came to my bear bag.
I went to go fill my water at the well where I met Kevin. Another section hiker from New Jersey whose friends bailed on him but he still decided to hike. As we were chatting, Claudine and Yuri came down the mountain. I wasn’t sure I’d see them again but boy was I happy to see them.
We exchanged hugs and set up camp and ate dinner. Without Yuri, I don’t think I would have been able to hang my bear bag by myself. (Another sign I need to look into a bear can?) I sure was happy to head to bed that night.