Alright gang, things are starting to get really fast here. I started Connecticut on Friday and I'll be in Massachusetts by the time you read this. I haven't even had a chance to talk about New York yet and that's already almost three states ago.
Two things about New York State which I really enjoyed: the food and the terrain. It seemed as though every day I was crossing a road with a deli, or walking through some public recreation area with a concession stand. I ate a lot of pizza and thick meaty sandwiches during those days. I crossed into the state carrying two days worth of supplies, and still had most of it six days later.
A few days into New York the rocks finally started to ease up (yes, I am still complaining about rocks; I will hate them forever) and we started to see some actual uphill and downhill. Granted, these are small hills in the 200 to 300 foot range, but I am finally starting to use my leg muscles again for the first time since early in Virginia. The water sources are more abundant, and the temperature is starting to become cool. Especially at night.
Upon entering Connecticut, things definitely begin to seem more "mountainous." It's basically the same as New York but on a larger scale. More water, higher climbs, and more importantly, less road noise. The dirt is blacker, the climbs are steeper, and the views from each summit are starting to look a bit more like wilderness again, as opposed to some small ridge between two cities. So far, the only drawback to Connecticut has been their rule against camping and fires. This is no terrible inconvenience however, because the state is only just over 50 miles from end to end.
I mentioned earlier that we have been running into more and more southbounders. In addition to preparing us for what's just up the trail, they have been providing us with a steady reminder that we are nearing the other end of the trail. Our conversations are often very brief, "Going all the way?" "Yes!" On occasion we camp together, and hear about how all of these small ups and downs are nothing compared to Vermont and New Hampshire. And, it's getting colder. Fast. Nighttime lows have been in the 40s, and I still have six or seven weeks left, and I am still headed 600 miles further north, AND my average elevation will be 3,000 feet higher than where I am now. There will be snow on this hike. Unless you move at a world record pace, you get snow at the beginning or at the end.
And finally one last interesting bit about the social aspect of the hike. For a while there I was a bit dejected having been separated from my "main crew." Sure, we text and communicate through Facebook, but it's not the same as actually hiking and camping together. It turns out I am not alone. Very few groups have remained intact this far into the hike. For the most part, we are all now a herd of individuals, forming pairs and triplets which disintegrate after two or three days and then reform with new members. I've heard news of multiple injuries as well as multiple cases of Lyme disease, but so far, knock on wood, all of my friends are still out there somewhere.
Here are some sample pages from the AWOL Guide, a book which almost every through hiker uses to plan their days. The squiggly lines represent elevation profiles of the local mountains. Above we see Connecticut, where I am now. Below, we see New Hampshire, where I will be in approximately two weeks. These are to scale.