Unstealthing [mile 1096.6; SOBO 978.2]
Well, the trail put the smackdown on me. Not really! But I didn’t get to 2000 today, for a bunch of reasons—first and foremost, an ungodly late start. I’ll get there tomorrow. But if I blow this thing because of time, I’ll freaking beat myself to death.
Everything has consequences. Yesterday I was moving from an hour before dawn until 7:00 PM. Errand this, errand that, on top of a full day of hiking. And you know what? The consequences were a short day today. I only have ao many spoons, if you know what I mean. Tomorrow I’ll set an alarm and do better. It’s all I can do!
One lesson learned: Drought be damned, I cannot carry both this much food and this much water. My pack today may have been heavier than it’s ever been. I’ll eat the food weight down, but I have to lose some of the extra water weight I’ve been hauling. I’ll just have to be smart about it.
Anyhoo. I couldn’t sleep last night. Tossing, turning, hot, cold. I finally got up at 5:30 and packed up—sluggishly. I had breakfast at the hotel and got out the door at 9:00 AM. Gasp! I was aiming for the Schuylkil River Trail, which would have connected me to the AT in three miles and allowed me to avoid that expressway walk. Blackbird kindly sent me a map, but, map moron that I am, I still couldn’t find the trailhead. So I ended up doing the roadwalk anyway. Bonus: It was about a half-mile shorter. And no truck pancaked me, so WIN.
But… all that looking around wasted an hour. Then I came to railroad tracks and had to wait for a looooong freight train to pass. That wasted more time. At every encounter today the trail seemed to want to delay me.
Finally the train passed, and I crossed the tracks, and ohsweetgods, the worst climb ever! Up out of Port Clinton? It was practically vertical in spots and long enough to have false summits. At that angle and with a pack that heavy, I started to struggle with something new: lower back pain.
I rested a lot. Eventually I got to the top, but it was close to noon. The day was bright but cold, with a sky that wasn’t quite blue but wasn’t quite cloudy. At least there were no flying piranha.
Lowlight: I think I crapped on a hunter! I had to take care of business at one point, so I moved off trail, dug my hole, did the necessary, stood up, cleaned up, then pulled my pants up. I went back up to the trail, manhandled my pack on, said ‘Ohmygod’ at the weight, and fifty feet in the underbrush something pale moved and rustled. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a deer. I think it had a face. The guy’s probably scarred for life. But couldn’t he have coughed or something? Congratulations, hidden hunter pervert dude! Your top secret hunting blind is completely camoflaged! Or I wouldn’t have pooped on you!
The ridgewalk was unspectacular: just leaves and toybox rocks. With the pack weight, the rocks really did a number on my feet and ankles. I finally packed it in at about 3:00 PM. I don’t know where I am exactly, but I think it’s roughly three miles short of the 2000 mark.
Let’s see. 189.3 miles to go, in 15 working days. That’s 12.62 miles per day. Hrm. Tight. This is going to be interesting. I need to walk like my hair’s on fire—which would be considerably warmer.
Oh! I almost forgot! I passed two section hikers today. They’re doing day hikes, 10 to 12 miles here and there. They’re hoping to finish Pennsylvania this year. (Me, too!) Their trail names are Louis Armstrong and Clark Kent, but they go by Louis and Clark. Nice talking to you, gentlemen!
That’s the third Clark Kent I met this year—although one of them should have been Dick Tracy.