From rocks to bears – the journey

Today 84

Hobble-It and I slept fairly, packed our bags, and had breakfast at the viewing point. We got to the road later than usual; Come and catch cricket fast.

At midday we stopped at Thunderhead Lodge, an off the beaten path restaurant. It had a tap, the only water within 18 miles of easy access. It also had dining and an outdoor patio with shaded tables. I sat down with Hobble-It and Cricket while several hikers joined Come Along at his table. We drank glasses of ice water. I ordered sweet potato fries which I paired with the food from my package. It was a nice break.

Shortly after lunch, I stumbled upon the “knife,” a massive outcrop of steep rock. I chose my way to cross carefully. The view was excellent as it was at Baked Oven Knob, a few miles away. Before and after the handle, I encountered long sections of rocky ground that required attention to navigate.

Towards the end of the day we were all tired and eager to reach our destination. For about a mile, the trail was meandering along the edge of the hills with a view of the valley containing a meandering river, a small town, and a forest. Usually AT’s stingy with the views so I was impressed with the length of this photo. A Canadian hiker pointed out small blueberries growing in low bushes by the side of the trail. I had at least ten snacks and they were delicious.

The trail descended steeply to the George Outerbridge shelter. We camped on a sloping spot in the woods, slightly sloping from the spring of the clear refuge. It was already dark by the time we finished dinner. Some fireflies appeared and the sounds of fireworks were heard from afar.

Today 85

I’ve carried my bag with 3 liters of water since we carried 16.8 miles. The pass crossed a bridge over the Lehigh River and quickly ascended. And soon I was using my hands and feet to climb my rocky face. I found it fun because I’m used to rock climbing and there were big hand and foot hurdles. One time, a water bottle slipped out of a cricket pack and collapsed in front of me. I got it back and handed it to her.

There was a cache of water in the next gap and a fallen bottle cricket topped it. We took the next hill climb path over rocks mixed with dried pine needles. In the middle of a section of gentle woodland, Cricket and Hobble-It and I stopped at a log fallen for lunch. We talked about cricket’s eagerness to leave Pennsylvania behind; How I woke up afraid of the trail. Not me, I woke up happy to see the trees above our heads. Every day is unique and I love it about the trail.

It was Independence Day and we were all hoping for the magic of the trail. We got to it on Smith Gap Road, the last road crossing of the day. Two friends, David and Nancy, offered boiled eggs. I eagerly answered yes and sat down. A hiker from last year, second shift, put a water bunker on the trail and came to join us. Bring potato chips and peas. We asked him questions about sections of the upcoming track.

Our plan was to camp at the next shelter, but Come Along continued three miles later. We decided to join him because it would make the next day shorter. Hobble-It continued while Cricket and I were filtering water from the shelter spring. It was dusk when we arrived at the camp. I’ve heard a lot of fireworks, but I haven’t seen them. I prefer fireflies anyway.

Today 86

A mile through the woods brought me to a highway. I was about to head to a hotel with a spigot, but I spied in a water bunker where the trail went back into the woods. Two liters filled. A 55-year-old hiker named All The Way climbed the steps behind me. We walked together most mornings and all afternoon, stopping briefly for lunch at the next shelter.

All the way is a neat guy. I pinpointed the things he said like how hard it would be to fall asleep in bed again after so many nights of waking up in the woods. As well as how he hopes to carve out a new way forward after moving away from the lifestyle that others expect of him. We talked about the jobs we had and those we could fit into in the summer.

He was spraying and I saw a vibrant red-spotted newt on the road, which at the time was an old road. I haven’t seen one since Virginia and was excited because they are among the best creatures I’ve come across. All The Way discovered one that was a faint orange and then saw a small one, no longer longer than the top of my pinkie. They were everywhere. We kept looking for it and keep counting. Far away down the road, we spotted fires and headed for a generally upward path. We met a couple who asked why we were headed south. I was confused as I was apparently looking for Newton we lost a fire and we skipped part of the driveway. Well worth it to see 36 newtons! We turned around and followed the couple to the Delaware Water Gap.

On my last night in Pennsylvania, I pitched my tent in the yard of a Presbyterian church. Come and sleep in the bunk bedroom in the church. It is a donation based on pigeons, outlets and roving boxes. I searched chests for treasures and got a can of fuel with about 5-6 burns left and some first aid items. Hobble-It and I got sandwiches and sweet potato fries at a cute bakery. She and Cricket were in a hostel room and used their bathroom before heading back to my tent. Precipitation forecast did not come overnight.

Today 87

I had breakfast, packed my package, and waited for the post office to open. The postal lady was nice and helped me find the least expensive way to mail a batch of items home. Then I took the road out of town. I crossed the Delaware River on a footpath beside I-80. Draw on cement line New Jersey. Hey, it’s my first time in the state!

The trail used a lower lane under I-80 and entered a recreation area, gradually climbing upward alongside a stream. I took a picture at a point 1,300 miles away. In Sunfish Pond, I saw a frog and a garter snake. A little later, I encountered a colorful snake that wagged its tail towards me and quickly slid off the track. It didn’t have a rattle and from research I believe it was an oriental Milksnake type. I felt my audiobook fit because I hiked and so did Fellowship of the Ring.

Just before 2 p.m., I walked down the path to the Mohican Outdoor Center. The cricket set out for miles and met the hummingbird tomorrow night. I took off my shoes and rubbed a tendon in my right leg that was bothering me on the slopes. Hobble-It and I talked Come Along, then set out to go miles and catch up with his friend Jill. The center had a deli and she ordered a sandwich from her teenage manager. As I was in school, she came with potato chips, a fruit cup, and a fruit roll. Hobble-It hung with me while I was eating lunch and then we continued together.

The Catfish Fire Tower, painted red, is perched on top of the following hills. We climbed the 60-foot tower and the attendant, Bob, talked about his job looking for fires. It was a great view and pointed our way for the next couple of days. In a lily covered pond that smelled a bit of sulfur, we got into the water and I saw many frogs. My right leg felt much better in the afternoon, perhaps the smoothest track?

Shortly before camp I saw a bear. She smothered something but eventually looked up, spotted us, and punched. We were preparing our dinner when All The Way arrived on site. He set up his tent nearby and showed us great pictures of salamanders and beavers he had seen in Lilly Pad.

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