It turns out it didn't end up raining all night. Unfortunately, it DID start thunderstorming at 7 a.m. though. We were already awake and getting our stuff put away when a wicked thunderstorm hit - lightening and thunder, the whole thing! Thankfully, it did stop at 9 a.m., enough time for us to get moving. Unfortunately for me, I woke up feeling not so great. I'd been developing a bit of a scratchy throat since Saturday morning (our first zero) and now, on Tuesday, I woke up with a double earache and a wheeze. We started walking and my cough got worse and the rain started again. It rained for about 45 minutes, enough time for us to get wet on the downhill and then the crazy steep uphill that followed Babcock Hollow Road. This part of the trail is so steep that FLTC crews installed ropes to help pull you up the hill. Thankfully, we've hiked this section before and didn't need the ropes, even though it was raining.
By the time we reached the top of the short and steep hill, the rain had stopped and mosquitoes came back out. If you stopped walking, they would swarm. We kept our heads down and we kept moving, although I was moving at a much slower pace than NoKey was. We reached a seasonal road and we could take two trails - either the main FLT or a branch trail known as the Swedish Loop. We opted for this trail instead of the main FLT since we had already done this part of the FLT. The Swedish Loop was very beautiful and well-maintained - a mix of hardwood and spruce with a nice soft ground for walking. The loop trail met back up with the FLT in only 1.5 miles and we were back on track to hit Daisy Hill Road. We road walked a bit before heading back uphill and then down to the Jim Schug Rail Trail.
When we reached the rail trail we were making great miles, pretty quick too. There was a bench at the end where the FLT meets the road walk and we sat down for a bit. By now I'm coughing and gasping, my throat hurts, and I just feel like crap. The first lean-to of the day was only 6 miles out and I figured we could just stay there. NoKey convinced me that I really needed to get out of the woods and rest. We finished the road walk up to NY 38 and pulled out our "Hikers to Town" sign to hitch into Dryden. We got picked up really fast with the new sign and got dropped off at a gas station/McDonald's at noon.
We were trying to figure out what to do next - I didn't want to spend money on a B&B when home was only an hour away, but we had no way to get home. No buses ran from this area to Syracuse until the following day and we still needed to hitch 10 miles down the road for that. All this changed when a nice man named Dave came over to us. He noticed the AT logo on NoKey's hat and started telling us about his daughter who thru hiked in 2007. We got to chatting and discovered we had all lived in Maine before. One thing lead to another and he said he could give us a ride to Cortland because he was on his way back to work there anyway. He had a Chinese Intern with him, Aman, who was headed back to Syracuse at 3:30. Aman generously offered to drop us off at home if we could wait for him to get off work. We agreed to wait and they dropped us off at a shopping plaza where I went to the drug store for medicine and NoKey went to Big Lots for junk food!
So now we're back at home...again. We are so grateful to all the trail angels we met today who helped us get here and I'm feeling incredibly sad to be off trail. I feel like I'm throwing off our whole hike. I know that hiking when you're sick is hard, but I still just want to be on trail.