I hiked for 10 hours today and covered 13.6 miles. I am feeling it, but happy to report the new insoles were well worth the money. Feet are tired and sore, but not feeling bruised.
The day started early, by design. By 7:30 am, I was already walking out of Palmerton. My knee was wrapped, but still a bit twingy, so for the first time, I took a blue-blaze alternate route to get out of Lehigh Gap; the “Winter Trail”, for when the extra-steep white-blazed trail is too icy. It’s a less difficult way up the mountain, but less-difficult does not mean easy. Still, I enjoyed the climb, even though I don’t like getting off trail. In this case, it was necessary.
The saddest part of the hike so far came next – traversing hillsides destroyed by zinc mining. Piles of splintered rock. Dead trees, still standing. Dead trees, lying all over the ground. Low, scrubby blueberry bushes, but not much else in the way of vegetation. It was a relief when I left that behind, and the trail dipped once again, to descend at Little Gap.
And then go back up again. Two hundred feet of rock scrambling upwards. Kinda enjoyed this section. Sometimes just hands, sometimes using poles, depending. But when I hit Little Gap, I had gone roughly six miles, and seven still lay ahead. I took a half hour break to rest my feet, then moved on.
Rocks, rocks, rocks. The path was never free of rocks. Sometimes small, sometimes big, but no big boulderfields, at least. Still, they took their toll. My hike was over when I hit Smith Gap Road… I’ll be staying tonight in another garage hostel. I know, I know, but I was too dead tired to make it to the next shelter, plus I’d run out of time. Plus, it’s cheap, and at least I don’t have to worry about where to hang the blasted bear bag!
Oh! I almost forgot to mention! I had my first dose of trail magic in PA! A walker going the other way with her dog stopped to ask if I was a thru-hiker, we got to chatting, and she offered me half an apple, which I gratefully accepted. It was a hot day and an unexpected kindness to buoy my spirits late in the day. The apple did not last long.
Tomorrow it is supposed to rain. That should make the rock hikes extra thrilling… again. Ah, Pennsylvania. Only a few days more!
I hike on.