Day 64 – Rock ‘n Sole Hostel – Campsite – 17.6 miles
Rock n’ Sole Hostel was one of the best places I’ve stayed at on the A.T. and I had a great sleep last night. I woke up around 6:30 from everyone else getting up from the bunks and headed to the front porch for breakfast. I sat with Used Croc, Truck, and Mission and drank coffee as we waited for the food to come out. The breakfast was incredible, probably because it was homemade. We had cinnamon rolls, fruit, egg casserole, and bacon. I ate my first plate, then got seconds before the food ran out. After breakfast I paid Used Croc $5 and got a foot massage. They have been so sore from the rocks and there is still 100 more miles of this rough terrain. People were beginning to get shuttles back to the trail at around 9, but I asked if I could hang out for a bit to catch up on some writing and to give my body some time to chill. It was a sunny and warm morning which was supposed to turn into rain in the afternoon, but the sun stayed out for the whole day. I got a ride back to the trail at 1pm and at the trailhead someone was in their car giving out trail magic. I decided not to take anything because I had been eating all morning and not hiking. The trail started out pretty smooth, but before I knew it the rocks started to pick up. The day consisted of harsh, rocky terrain for about a mile, be smooth for 500 ft, then proceed to be rocky again. My feet were really hurting me and I took my time on the trail the rest of the day. At around 7:30pm I walked through a town called Port Clinton. Supposedly they had a pavilion that hikers could spend the night at, but I didn’t find that out until after I had passed it. I ended up looking in my trail guide and seeing there was a campsite 2.5 miles after the town, so I shifted into another gear and tried to get there as fast as I could before it got dark. After an hour it started to get pretty dark in the woods so I stopped to pull out my headlamp. I pressed the on button and there was a quick flash and then nothing. I tried turning it on again and it wouldn’t work. My guess is that I did not put it on the lock setting and it had been on all day in my bag. Luckily I had a lot of battery on my phone, so for the next half mile I used my phone light to get me to the campsite. Eventually I arrived and setting up my tent was a little difficult, but I got it done and it feels nice to be settled for the night. Ready to crush another day of rocks tomorrow!
Day 65 – Campsite – Allentown Hiking Club Shelter – 19.4 miles
I played the odds again last night and didn’t put up my rain fly. It didn’t rain, but the breeze through the tent got me chilly and I woke up cold. I laid in my sleeping bag for a little bit and finally decided to start making moves for the day around 7:30. It was supposed to start raining at 12, so I wanted to get a good chunk of miles in while it was dry. I ate a pop tart as I packed up and I was on the trail by 8. It was a sunny morning and the cool breeze made it pretty ideal to be hiking. The trail brought me through a couple open pastures, and then about 7 miles in was a good climb up to Pulpit Rock. Pennsylvania doesn’t have any high elevation spots, and at 1582 ft, Pulpit Rock is one of the highest points in the State. The view was really nice with green trees and haze very present. I hiked 14 miles to Eckville Shelter and posted up inside as the rain started to come down. I checked the weather and it was supposed to clear up for a little bit around 4 so I decided to stick around for a few hours and wait out the rain. I had a couple packets of Ramen and a bag of Sour Patch Kids for lunch and met a bunch of hikers. Their names were Rainbow, Washington, Three Leaf, Giggles, Romaine, and Jiggy. The rain slowed down as 4 o’clock came and then it completely stopped and the clouds came out. I took advantage of this and hiked another 5 miles to the Allentown Hiking Club Shelter. I got there around 7:30 and there were already a bunch of hikers there. I walked .4 miles down to the water and right as I got back to the shelter the rain came again. About ten of us all ate in the shelter and as the rain slowed down people started going to their tents. I ended up staying in the shelter with two people who came in late, Rosie and Uncle Yaa. This shelter is only about a year old and the newness makes it a little bit more comfortable. Hopefully the rain holds off tomorrow!
Day 66 – Allentown Hiking Club Shelter – Stealth Camp – 24 miles
I haven’t slept in the shelter with other people in a while and I forgot that the mornings are tough because I have to be quiet while I get ready. I woke up early, before 6am and had a hard time falling back asleep. I finally made moves around 6:40 and got my pack and started to get my things together. I ate breakfast which was a bag of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with a chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast to mix with it. Before I got back on trail, I filled my water bottles down at the spring, which was a little bit of a walk, but it was nice to get my body warmed up. I was on the trail by 7:30 and felt pretty good. I took an ibuprofen for my feet and didn’t feel any pain all morning. The rocks have really put a beating on my feet and I’ll be glad to be out of a Pennsylvania in a day or two. There wasn’t much elevation change, but the terrain was tough and I had to watch every step I took. About 6 miles in I got to the “Knife Edge”, which was a ridge of rock I had to go across and if I fell to my left or right I would go tumbling hundreds of feet down the mountains. I didn’t see anybody in the morning besides two thru hikers I passed, Zippy and Kanye and a grandfather with his grandson. I stopped for lunch around 1:30 and when I looked at my guidebook I was surprised I had already hit 17 miles. I took my shoes off and let my feet air out as I had a bag of beef jerky and a peanut butter and honey wrap. I ate and talked with a local old guy who was telling me stories of his past mountaineering treks on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Rainier. After lunch I had to ascend up from Lehigh Gap and it was a technical climb. The rock face was steep and I had to make sure I always had my fingertips on something so I wouldn’t fall backwards. It was a great view at the top and I met a couple local kids who thought I was crazy for thru hiking. I had water with me, but not enough to camp out, so I planned on getting to the next water source and then finding a spot to tent. I passed an older thru hiking couple and they took out their app and said there wasn’t any water for the next 12 miles. Pennsylvania is known for having dried up water sources in the summer months. Luckily, I was going to get to a road crossing just a mile and a half up the trail and it was a .7 mile walk to Slopeside Pub and Grill. I decided to walk there, get some food, fill up my water bottles, then get back on trail and find a place to camp. I got a Caesar salad, buffalo shrimp, and a black bean burger with Parmesan fries. The waitress was impressed that I put it all down haha. It was a little hard to leave the restaurant and get back on trail. It had a good vibe and felt like a place I’d go out to eat at when I’m home. I walked for about a half an hour and found a spot off the trail to set up my tent. I still have about 30 miles to get out of Pennsylvania, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it tomorrow, but hopefully so I can be done with these rocks!
Day 67 – Stealth Camp – Delaware Water Gap – 29.7 miles
I woke up this morning feeling good both mentally and physically. I slept well and I stayed warm and comfortable for a little bit after waking up. It was early, and around 7 I told myself to get up and start moving. Delaware Water Gap is where the Pennsylvania/New Jersey state line is and it was about 30 miles away. I knew it was in reach, but wasn’t sure if the rocks would make it a painful day. After I packed everything up and before I hit the trail I said to myself, “all you have to do is give it your absolute all today, hike as hard as you can, and you’ll make it to where I want to be.” I fired myself up and got going. I made it 9 miles in 2.5 hours stopped to get water at a shelter. I started hiking again and made sure I was careful with each step. I’ve had many close calls either rolling an ankle or stepping on a rock the wrong way so I wanted to be extra focused on my foot placement as well. I passed a couple hikers, Bear Box and Professor, but other than that I didn’t see anyone for most of the day. The rocky terrain was pretty consistent and it definitely was frustrating at times. I felt good though and knocked off miles in solid time. I made it to the shelter 6 miles before Delaware Water Gap at 4:30 and stopped to eat lunch. (I had been eating snacks throughout the day) I met Stealth and Train while getting water and Bear Box and Professor showed up as I was eating. It was a good feeling getting fueled up for the last push and knowing that I had the day in the bag. The rest of the way was easy hiking and I talked with a bunch of day hikers on the way down. I got to Delaware Water Gap around 6:45 and went to the church hostel where I was staying for the night. I ran into FWord who I hadn’t seen since I went home for the 4th and also saw Charlie who I last saw at in Virginia almost 500 miles ago. We caught up and then I claimed my spot for the night which was underneath the gazebo. I went down to the pizza place and got 3 slices, stuffed shells, garlic bread, salad, and some chips. I ate all of it and then went back to the hostel to hang out with some of the hikers. I met about 15 new people. It feels good to be done with Pennsylvania and into New Jersey! New State. New Mindset. Same goal to make it to Maine.