Well, the man of the year ran by our campsite while I was dead asleep this morning. He whized by my campsite, probably covering the entire distance of my hike yesterday before the sun even had a chance to throw some shade on the ground. But this wasn’t discovered until much later.
On arriving at a nice paved road, I checked the guide book to find that there was another one of these mountain “beaches” up here, so eh what the hell I’ll go see it.
Turns out vending machines with ice cream and M&M’s are a thing. Snacking up, but the park had strange rules, like no beverages on the beach and we had to wait for the life guards to deploy. A couple other hikers and I enjoyed most of the day just soaking in sun and relaxing. A pair of trail runners caught up with us and filled us in on the story of how Scott Pilgrim was a great guy and how they were able to keep up with him (at least for a little while!).
Wasting a good solid day at the beach, I decided to set my sights on West Mountain Shelter, one of the most famous (and far off trail) campsites on the trail. Cruising up to the top of Black Mountain, I heard this was where a view of the NYC skyline could be achieved. I stopped and looked frantically around, seeing nothing but sky and trees. I kept pausing every 30 feet or so to glance around, and to no avail. Suddenly, it hit me like a brick when I looked East around the edge of a mountain and saw it. Having never set foot or even seen NY, it was quite an impressive sight for this little Southern boy. It didn’t quite stretch the horizon like I imagined it would, but it was still rather impressive seeing just the sheer number of sky scrapers.
Just around the corner, the turn off for the shelter lay ahead, so I ducked a right to cut back to the camp site. It was a might long haul, over half a mile on a side trail just to get to the shelter! But when I got there, I could definitely see why it was worth it. The NYC skyline was in an even more advantageous viewing point from my last place, and the front of the shelter was even aimed out perfectly at the city. In preparation for the fireworks, we got rapidly whipped up our Ramen bombs in preparation for the fireworks. Neon pointed out a blackberry bush, which I hastily made work with my trekking pole to gather a small handful to bring back to our starving party.
As the sun began to set, the city skyscrapers began to outline the horizon in an oddly beautiful way. The dark buildings outlining the orange to pink to dark sky seemed to suck out the sun itself. Dozens of airplanes buzzing over the city like fireflies began to pop out. The darker it got  the more lights came on as the artificial light of humanity swallowed the waning rays of the sun. Then the buildings began to pop and shine as their own lights twinkled and sparked to life. Soon, the night sky was pitch black, with a roaring light erupting over the horizon due East. Truly a phenomenal sight if you ever get a chance to stay at this shelter.