Stealthing [mile 1926.4; SOBO 908]
Room 222. Remember that show? Actually… I don’t much, either.
Latest gear woes: My beloved homemade water holsters; one of them is, alas, deceased. They were both held together with duct tape at this point anyway. It’s not critical, but it means I probably have to carry a liter of water inside my pack, which doesn’t thrill and delight me. (Have I also mentioned that one of the fliplocks on one of my poles is now failing repeatedly, multiple times per day? I think that’s a quick tightening job with a screwdriver, but I seem to have left my ultralight screwdriver at home. Anyway, just another symptom of the marathon hike. Things breaking down.)
Water’s supposed to be scarce to nil for at least the next hundred miles. I’m nervous. Also, I’m carrying three liters now. That’s seven extra pounds of water weight. That’s like carrying an elephant.
Enough of the unpleasant stuff. Let’s get to Pennsylvania!
I woke up pretty early in my sleezy motel and went to the local diner for breakfast. What a bunch of characters were in there! The owner, the waitress, and some regulars bantering about everything from big band music to local hauntings. They love hikers in there. The owner gave me a bottle of water (which I was happy to add to my growing bottle collection).
I sat in the diner until 7:00 or so, when the sky was just turning pale, then I hit the trail.
You know, people have been giving me dire warnings about the climb up out of the Water Gap (including as recently as yesterday, when a 1999 thru-hiker told me he didn’t envy me going southbound out of there). And you know what? It simply never materialized. I’m starting to wonder if they’re talking about the Superfund trailhead, which I don’t hit for a day or two. Or if the videos I’ve seen were actually another trail in the Water Gap Area. I don’t know. But the trail today meandered upward, mostly gently.
There were rhododendrons; those felt like long-lost friends. The sky was wan blue and a breeze was blowing, but the day was warmer than it has been.
Which is probably why at around 10:00 AM, after crossing under a powerline in a field of shoulder-high grass, I found a couple of deer ticks climbing up my pants. At least, I think they were deer ticks. They were small. Not tiny, so not the nymphs; but smaller than regular wood ticks. It seems late and cold for baby wood ticks; so I chalked them up to adult deer ticks.
I’m not panicking. I wish I could have permethrined my clothes one last time, but hikers survived for years before there was permethrin just bu using common sense and checking for ticks all day long. I check for ticks a LOT. If I bump up against a blade of grass, I check my legs. That’s how I found the two today; tick check. So I’ll keep on checking and crossing my fingers. Three more weeks or so!
After Tickville… hiker superhighway! For a couple of hours the trail was flat and wide—an old roadbed, I think. I was actually thinking I’d get as far as Wind Gap and have yet another night indoors. But then the trail smacked me upside the head for that silly thought, as it is wont to do: the famous Pennsylvania rocks started.
I waxed on about the Pennsylvania rocks early in this journal and posted four or five pictures of the various types. Today I had a boulder scramble over Wolf Rocks, which was surprisingly more fun than I remembered for that kind of rockiness. Slowish, but fun.
But then the misery rocks started. Those are the ones that range in size from softballs to basketballs. Take all those balls, sharpen them up, add spikes, fill the trail with them, half bury them in the dirt, then cover them with leaves. Your feet get chewed to hell from stepping on sharp edges, and you roll your ankles about fifty times a day.
Yeah. I remember those.
The quickest way through the rocky parts is to keep moving! One step at a time. Eventually I’ll have covered the hundred miles of Rocksylvania and I’ll be in the smooth last stretch of PA.
About an hour ago a family of deer crossed the trail right in front of me. A herd? They seemed insufficiently numerous to be a herd; maybe seven or eight. A pod? I’ll call them a pod, just like whales! Anyway, they were slower than usual and not overly panicked to see me. They just watched me a while then went on their way.
And that’s the day. I’m stealthed not far from the trail; in PA, I’d rather be seen by a ridgerunner (if we have them) than NOT seen by a hunter.
Tomorrow: Breakfast in Wind Gap and a quick errand or two, then rocks. And, oh… some walking.