Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 96: The Lemon Squeezer!

June 11: The humidity and heat must have rolled in during the night, because even early in the morning, it was miserably hot. The trail wasn't a cake walk either, with lots of tough climbs, drops and scrambling.

The scrambling, as bad as it was, peaked when we reached the dreaded Lemon Squeezer. I always added the word "dreaded" because it made it sound so horrible and I liked the idea of freaking out the other thru-hikers--aren't I sweet? =) But the truth was--the Lemon Squeezer is actually quite fun. It's a large boulder that cracked eons ago and the trail runs right up through the narrow crack. The crack is narrow, but still a couple of feet wide in most places which would hardly make anyone claustrophobic.

No, it's not the narrowness of the crack that makes it difficult--it's the fact that the crack is tilted slightly off from vertical so you can't stand up straight in it. Imagine a crack barely wide enough for you to fit through comfortably, then knock it over about 10 degrees and try to get through. You scrape the sides of the crack, not really able to stand and walk at the same time, and you end of slithering through the crack more like a snake moving sideways.

It's a short section, probably not more than about 20 feet long, and entirely possible to just walk around the whole thing if fitting through the Lemon Squeezer doesn't appeal to you. But I loved it--it was something different than the normal.

When I arrived, there was no one else around. I took a few photos of the Lemon Squeezer, but without someone in it, the pictures just looked like normal rocks and not particularly interesting. I really wanted a photo of someone in the Lemon Squeezer, so I took off my pack, sat down on a rock, and waited. I knew McGuyer wasn't far behind me and I figured he'd be along within minutes.

And sure enough, he arrived about 10 minutes later. Actually longer than I expected it to take, but he arrived. I took a couple of quick photos just as he was entering the Lemon Squeezer, pouncing like a member of the paparazzi. Then I started taking a video because I wasn't really sure that simple photos could capture how tricky it was to get through the Lemon Squeezer. It looks deceptively easy, but turns out to be a lot more difficult than first impressions would suggest.

And sure enough, McGuyer struggled to get through the crack, taking about a minute and a half to get through. I did have to warn him to watch his cussing, though, since I was taking a video. ;o)

After he got through, we continued down the trail together, but we hadn't even walked for a minute or two before the white blazes led up a steep cliff. There was a bypass around it available, but both McGuyer and I wanted to stay true to the trail and go up the cliff. It would be a fun little challenge.

We examined the cliff and each of us had our own ideas about the best way to scramble up it. I was thinking about how to get up if I had been by myself but McGuyer was smart--since we were together, he was figuring out how to get up without his pack--then have me heft it up to him once he was already up--which is what we did.

Then I handed up my own pack before scaling the small cliff myself. McGuyer put out his hand for me to help me up, but I deferred preferring the steadiness of the solid rock.

We made it up and continued hiking together for the rest of the afternoon. The Lemon Squeezer is located in Harriman State Park, and much of the terrain included a thick carpet of grass around the trees. It was kind of strange to see, but nice. Most of the time, the vegetation below the trees is a bunch of brambles and visibility is limited, but here it was just grass and we could see a surprisingly long distance despite being in the trees.  I liked it. =)

My day's hike ended at Arden Valley Road where Amanda had parked the rental car and was waiting for my arrival. We gave McGuyer a ride a short ways down the road to a beach with some vending machines and other facilities, then Amanda and I drove off to find a hotel near Bear Mountain. Hotels in Bear Mountain were quite a bit out of our budget, but we found something acceptable in nearby Highland Falls.

Today, sadly, would be the last time I'd see any of the Four Horsemen. I suspected that might be the case since I'd be meeting up with Amanda and taking some days off the trail. I couldn't imagine a scenario where I might be able to catch up with them again, although it certainly wasn't impossible. Heavyweight passed me late in the morning. Blueberry never did catch up before I got off the trail for the day--I last saw him at the shelter before I left in the morning. Superman had taken a day off the trail to visit his girlfriend that had driven out from Maine (or at least that's the story he told us!) Bostrich, of course, was still a solid week or two ahead of the rest of the us and we'd long written him off as someone we'd likely never see again. (Not on the trail, at least!) For me, it would be the end of the Four Horsemen--which was sad. They'd been my best friends along the trail, and although I had all of their contact information and knew we'd keep in touch, I would miss their presence on the trail.

I might have been miserable with the heat and humidity, but the snakes sure seemed to like it!

I was rather amused to find this "I ♥ Bob Peoples" pin so far out of Bob People's territory (near the TN/VA border).

Trail magic! Awesome! I don't really need any first aid, but I'll take some trail magic!

What?! There's only first aid stuff? *shaking head* It does appear to be pretty well stocked, though!

I loved the lush, green grass in the forests in Harriman SP!

Yep, the trail goes through the rocks!

The dreaded Lemon Squeezer!

McGuyer checks out the Lemon Squeezer.

I climb up the cliff--but passed my pack to McGuyer ahead to make the climb more easy!

1 comment:

Karolina said...

I'll miss the presence of the Four Horsemen in your blog posts!