Walken’

Powder River’s Appalachian Trail Journey from Georgia to Maine 2008

The Mayor’s House

Day 116

Location: Unionville, NY

Miles hiked today: 20.1

Miles fro Springer: 1,333.1

Miles to Katahdin: 843.1

Elevation: 590′

Today was yet another really wonderful day on the A.T. It is really amazing to me how many of these a hiker gets!

I am still astounded by the beauty of this New Jersey section. It really is one of the best kept secrets on the trail, and it only gets better every day. There may not be any tall mountains, but the terrain is really beautiful, and there is often a view from the top of the climbs. For example, within two and a half miles of breaking camp, there was a mountain called Sunrise Mountain, which has a pavillion built on top of it, and a really great view in two directions.

By lunch time, we reached High Point State Park headquarters, and were looking forward to hitting the lake, which has a beach and concession stand. It may sound silly, but the highest point in New Jersey is a towering 1,803 feet above sea level. They have even built a parking lot, road, and a 200 foot oblelisk at the summit, and then built a state park around it. The name? Well, High Point. They sure don’t mess around naming some of these things!

As silly as all of that may sound, it was a really beautiful area, one of my favorites in this section. Even better than that, we got hooked up with some amazing trail magic.

We had reached the headquarters building and were about to walk up to the beach when a car pulled up next to us and the window rolled down. “You guys thru-hiking?” the man inside asks. “Yup.” “You like BBQ?” was his next question. I can’t remember if we responded so much as jumped in the air. This was going to be one of those trail magic moments that you only read about in the registers. We followed the car back to the headquarters building, where the guy brought out a cooler, portable grill and several grocery bags. His trail name was the Grey Ghost, and he had thru-hiked in 1993. He comes out here every year since then in the third week in July (because that’s when he came through High Point on his hike) to cook food for hikers. He does this because he had run across lots of trail magic himself on his hike. Today he had brought his daughter Liz along, and they proceded to throw us a full-on BBQ with burgers, dogs, potato salad, beans, and the whole works. What more can a hiker really ask for? Myself, Y2K, Geoff, 2-Mile and Weatherman were the only ones who showed up, and we ate like kings. Thank you Grey Ghost and Liz!

After a little siesta to recover, we hiked out to make for Unionville. The High Point monument was not actually on the A.T., but on a side trail that made you climb to the top of that massive mountain. Y2K and Geoff did not want to go up, so I went up by myself. I was rewarded with a really great view atop a beautiful mountain, with views of the Delaware River in one direction and mountains in all other directions. There was a nice breeze, and I have to say, it was well worth the climb. I can also add New Jersey’s highest point to the state summit list for this trip, which before the end will include Tennessee, Virginia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire and possibly more.

Unionville, New York is an unbelievable place. While the trail itself is near the NJ-NY border in this section, the town of Unionville is just a half mile walk. We stayed at none other than the Mayor’s house. Yes, the actual Mayor of Unionville. I ate dinner at his table, used his shower and bathroom, and even checked my email on the Mayor’s laptop while other hikers watched UFC on the Mayor’s TV.

The mayor is an incredible guy. This is bar none the most impressive display of hospitality I have ever seen in my life! There are 22 hikers here toight, all of us dirty, smelly, and in need of food, shower, laundry, etc. The mayor takes care of all of us, opening his modest home to every hiker that comes through every day. There were about 10 people sleeping inside on the floor, and at least a dozen tents in the back yard. This is one of the largest waves to come through, but there have been even more at one time, and every night there is almost always at least a few people.

He does all of this in honor of his wife, who was wheelchair bound for 15 years and once had the idea of putting up hikers to meet their needs. Once she passed away, he decided to make it a reality. He has the help of Butch – one of his city employees, and Bill, a really wonderful elderly man whom the mayor has taken into his home.

This is the true spirit of the trail at its finest, and it is so great to be here to witness it. Thank you Mayor Ludwick and Grey Ghost for turning a beautiful day of hiking into one of the most exceptional and memorble days on the A.T. for me!

 Map

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2 Comments

  trail angel wrote @

i enjoyed reading some of your journal and was happy to hear you loved new jersey. i am a jersey girl who met three hikers recently, and brought them to my house to refresh and feed them. they were long distant hikers and hiking the entire trail. they named me trail angel, but in reality my trail name would be trail snail, being that i’m more sluggish than spunky. after they spent two nights here i dropped them off in unionville. i never met three people who were so appreciative in my life. i will now dedicate a part of my summer to the hikers on the at offering good food to them. meeting the three hikers i met was a wonderful experience. i feel like i’ve met three freinds for life. it was a pretty awesoem experience.

  Lesa wrote @

I just found your site by mistake. I live in Unionville,NY. Mayor Ludwick is definitely one of the nicest,giving people anyone could meet. He has made Unionville a better place for hikers to stop because of his great heart! Before he had hikers actually come to his house, he had put 2 gazebos in the park in town. He has definitely made Unionville a nicer place to be. Take care!


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