I first heard about deli blazing from Pop Rocks way back in Hiawassee and it sounded so far off and exotic. Well, here we are and it is everything that it was cracked up to be. We woke to a cool 35 degree morning and a beautiful sunrise. After an easy seven mile hike, we popped out of the woods in front of the Sunrise Appalachian Trail Deli. The owner John was so excited to see us. He loves thru hikers and goes out of his way to make us feel welcome. He has a charging station, hiker box and hiker logbook. He asked what we wanted and then stopped himself and said that we wanted the best cheesesteak sandwich in the world with all the fixings.
John was right. His cheesesteak was amazing and he served delicious strong coffee and jelly cookies with them. It was one of those moments that I won’t forget. A sweet group of friends enjoying great food on a beautiful morning on the Trail. It takes a lot to get here but when everything falls into place you know it. It’s that feeling that you are having the time of your life. I was truly in the moment and captured that moment in my mind (and my tastebuds).
Our 20 mile hike today was beautiful and the terrain was so easy. We are all so pleasantly surprised by the New Jersey section. It is so well maintained and dotted with interesting features and places to enjoy the views. We are so close to New York City but it feels a million miles away. I am day dreaming a lot about NYC lately and look forward to the day when I can go back and soak up her energy.
The mental challenges were a little steeper today. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) issued another letter yesterday and that was followed by a New York Times article about the Trail. The ATC letter was hard to read. The tone is harsh and attacks the moral judgments of thru hikers still on Trail. The NYT article was balanced but the combination of the two really brought back the struggles that I had come to peace with. I spent most of the day in imaginary arguments – mostly with myself. And then I stopped. I am the only one that can decide if what I am doing is right. These moral judgments are coming from a misunderstanding of how we are behaving. Masks, social distancing, excellent hygiene and a careful approach to every interaction in town and on the Trail is how we are conducting ourselves. It’s not easy to do the hike this way but we care deeply about the health of everyone we meet. I’m going to put this down for good now and continue hiking. Safely.