Andrew and I were dropped of on river road right if of i-80. The weather was quite cold and it seemed overcast though we felt fine once we started moving with our heavy hydration packs filled with all of our food. We walked up to the border on the bridge and started out watches as we crossed into nj from pa at approximately 2:14 am on Saturday January 23, 2021. We ran a brisk mile on the road section before hitting the trail. Once on the trail we established a routine of running what managble terrain we could and always walking on each hour to eat, drink and reconnoiter in general. There were some flurries at times, but very little snow on the trail and we were happy with how dry the trail was in general. Our first walking break was around the surprisingly huge Sunfish pond which looked very cool and striped frozen over. We were able to refill water at a stream at night as we did throughout the trip. A little after 7 am was our 5th dedicated walking break as the sun was rising. We were on the somewhat exposes ridge around blue bird or rattlesnake mountain. I know it was one of those three because I have hiked them before but it is unclear which is which. The sunlight was very welcome but we had been making terrific time in the dark. We had a loose goal of running around 18 hours which woud be 4 miles/hour. In the dark we were managing closer to 4.5 mph over what hoped would be some of the tougher terrain. However, once the sun came up our legs quickly became tired. We mostly walked the next two miles. Around mile 24 Andrew told me to go ahead of him because he thought I was feeling great a d he wasn't. I was feeling decent and through in a couple jog surges but those were quite foolish in hindsight. From mile 24 to 32 I was probably less than a quarter mile ahead of Andrew despite my few surges. Being alone, brought me to a pretty dark place and I was thinking about whether or not I'd even want to finish if Andrew dropped. My watch ran to extremely low battery quicker than expected and I was having trouble charging it which just made me want to quit even more. After passing culver's gap I tried one last ditch effort to charge my watch by warming up my watch and portable charger. I was very comfortable hiking from culver's gap up to sunrise mountain because I had also hiked this section previously. I took my second stop to refill water a stream maybe a mile before the peak and took my time in hopes to catch a glimpse of Andrew. Finally when I got up to the peak i sat down in the shelter, it seemed like my watch was charging, and I gave Andrew a call and he told me he was only .2 miles behind me so I waited there. When we rejoined each other I believe both of our spirits rose greatly. It was at this point I believe we were finally set on finishing. We had both discovered that we could hike relatively quickly without damaging our legs nearly as much as running, so we made a plan to just put our heads down and destroy 16 miles without running and without checking our watches. I hadn't done much math, but it seemed like we could beat Dave's time on mostly walking. Out high spirits kept us going until we entered high point state park. Here the terrain was significantly more rocky, and there was the most hard packed snow and ice of anywhere on the route. Then slippery surfaces really slowed us down on a few more technical down climbs. Once in the heart of the park, I could see someone waving at us from down trail. I had been sharing my location with my family who lives close by, but wasnt sure if theyd be able to time or justify essentially a short wave, but it was amazing to see them. We stopped for a few minutes to chat and parted ways after accepting no aid for the last section of the state park. The down climbs here started to get to that point where my knees were very unhappy, but once we were out of the park things started looking up again. It was noticably warmer, the trails were softer and we could move fairly well. This section had a few miles of open fields, the grade and terrain were easy enough to run at this point, but we were happy to be conservative and continue walking. This was one of the pretty parts of the trail with the rolling hills, low sun and it was probably the warmest i was. We then hit that part that goes into NY a bit prematurely and it was very runnable but we still weren't quite feeling it and the sun was now getting low and it was getting chilly. Around this time I noticed my watch activity got saved somehow and I began a new activity, it appears that I missed about 2.5 miles in between activities. I gave submitted both of my files and linked Andrew's single activity on strava. For my strava post i have merged my two activities. We then made a wrong turn and went maybe a .3 miles out of the way, but jogged to get back on course. Despite the wrong turn we did not skip any parts of the AT or the route, we got back on course where we left. The main climb of Pochuk mountain wasn't bad but from the first peak all the way to the boardwalks was a little rougher and tougher on us, also having headlamps back on was not too welcome. We moved pretty well through the boardwalks jogging on most of them. One scare came from a dog that looked like a mountain lion when we couldn't see the owner yet. Then came stairway to heaven. I knew it wasn't terrible in isolation cuz I ran it in November, but we were tired, it was dark and a bit icy. Still made it pretty quick despite a minor spill. Regrouped after the climb, put on our extra layers, musiced up a got ready for the last miles. Only abiht a mile and half later was the next road crossing and the Matt's were waiting for us to give us directions for our exit, give us a last cheer and take our requests, and again gave us no aid. Knocked out the next two road crossings and the final 2.1 miles were only a little rough at very end with some hand climbing. The boys were waiting for us as we crossed around 11:07 pm. It really helped to have them for getting back to the car.
Full NJ AT (72 miles)
20h 52m 56s