2 days later, we have parked one car at the NY/NJ state line, and the other car 19 miles down the road, because Mike's a good husband and lets me make my own mistakes - plus I think he really enjoys saying I told you so. The beginning section of the hike was great. Not too hilly, passing in and out of some small parks. One of the big things I noticed were all the downed trees caused by the hurricanes over the past two years. They have really kept the trail volunteers busy.
Yes, it is every bit as ridiculously large as it looks.
Once we finally cut back into the woods, we approached Rockland Cemetery. This part of the trail is kind of confusing and we ended up going in a big circle and found ourselves back at the damn elephant and had to do the whole part again. I also discovered the I dropped one of the maps at this point. Double frick. Finally back on track, the walk through the cemetery was actually kind of cool. Lots of big monuments and such.
Monument for Henry Honychurch Gorringe, brought Cleopatra's Needle from Egypt
After this point, we passed through two more parks and saw some really amazing views of the Tappan Zee Bridge. After a fair amount of ups and downs, we walk back into town and cross a freeway overpass over 287 - marking the halfway point. I started thinking "Wow...we still have 9 miles left..." but I was still at this point (naively) optimistic.
Fast forward an hour, and we are in a road walk spot and Mike tells me his achilles really hurts. Mike doesn't normally *ever* complain about being tired or in pain during a hike. And I think he REALLY wanted my to be the first to crack since it was my asshat idea to do this long of a hike. So now I feel awful because if he is mentioning it, it really hurts. The trail through Hook Mountain Park was 6 miles but it felt like eleventy jillion. I didn't take many pictures by this time because the sheer thought of pulling out my phone and having google maps show that freaking blue dot so far from the car made me want to die. So much so that I took a picture of the random creepy cemetery because at one point I thought I might die of exhaustion or thigh cramps.
By the time we have a mile or two left, I am literally stumbling down the trail. I probably would have been mistaken for some really really misdirected drunk by anyone watching. My knees caps felt like they were attempting to detach from my legs and go on strike. It was heinous. How the hell do thru hikers do this every freaking day?? When I finally spotted Mike's car through the trees, I stumbled towards it cheering like it was some sort of Mecca, and possibly hugged it at one point.
Moral of the story - I am a freaking wuss. 324.05 miles left.
It actually was a really pretty hike, and I probably would have enjoyed it more had I not thought I was some sort of hiking superhero when I planned it.