After the previous night of marveling at the bright lights of the big city, we awoke, descended the ridge, climbed the many stone steps up Bear Mountain, then descended the many steps down the other side. As we emerged in the park at its base, the kids’ call rang clear and loud: PLAYGROUND! They dropped their packs and took off running. Cartwheel managed two full-speed steps on the pavement before a stuttered step sent her sprawling across the gravelly macadam; Cartwheel’s been learning to get up again a lot lately.
But the tears were short lived, the abrasions were bandaged, and fudgesickles were purchased from the vending machines (although at prices that reminded this country bumpkin of the first time he bought a beer at a bar in NYC). We met a photographer who was working on a project documenting thru-hiker and took a short trip to his studio, where he snapped some great shots. Then he kindly let All In and the kids hang out in the air-conditioning while he drove Mama Bear to the grocery store to resupply.
We’ve been unable to find the isobutane canisters for our stove at many of the trail towns as we move farther north (availability was never an issue down south). So this led to some forced flexibility: All In and RobinHood constructed an alcohol stove out of a Pepsi can, and we picked up some ethanol at the pharmacy. The process let us avoid the heat of the afternoon, but led to a short mileage day.
We cruised the Bear Mountain Zoo, and (afoot and lighthearted) took some photos with the statue of Walt Whitman. Then we crossed the Hudson on the Bear Mountain Bridge (also the lowest elevation of the AT).
Around dinner time, we found ourselves at the trail side minimart where we had intended to have lunch. The food there was remarkably good (a perk of being near the city). We sat at a picnic table out back and the place was hopping with people. The kids devoured some pizza while the adults enjoyed grilled eggplant sandwiches and discretely sipped some Long Trail Ale out of their trail mugs. As the sun was setting, an employee came by to remove the shade umbrellas and the adults were forced to shush RobinHood’s loud questions about why they were first pouring the beer into their trail mugs.
A hushed explanation that we weren’t really allowed to drink beer at these picnic tables quieted the questions, but RobinHood’s eyes grew large as he tried to process the incongruity of his rule-making parents breaking the rules themselves. Then, once the employee had moved on, RobinHood whispered to his parents that there were video cameras inside the minimart with a sign that said that rule-breakers would be prosecuted. After a pause he asked, “does prosecuted mean killed?” We suppressed our amusement out of respect for his genuine concern and explained the difference between prosecution and execution. We also rationalized our behavior with a brief explanation of the minimart’s need for a different license from the state to have the beer they sell consumed on the premises.
Robin Hood and his sister were soon distracted by more important matters when they discovered the mart’s palatial bathroom even had a television. Then we all finished eating and made our way into the woods to find a place to sleep.