Friday, June 22, 2012

Into Jersey, Like a Boss (err The Boss)

Well almost...I need to walk a quarter mile over the Delaware River to officially be in New Jersey, but I'm close enough. This has been a tough week mentally and physically. Mentally I have been struggling with motivation. This hit me hard coming out of Hamburg. Physically, the heat has really been turned up and water sources have been a lot more spread out. Also, the PA rocks that i have hear so much about finally showed up and put my feet through all sorts of pain. I have been suffering from some dehydration, not just from the lack of water, but from the food poisoning I had too. But there is nothing like hitting a big goal- like making it to Delaware Water Gap, that can really turn things around. I am about to enter a new state and with that a new state of mind. Wow, 7 states down, 7 to go!

Here is the breakdown of this super hard week.

Day 97 (6/16) - Pine Grove, PA to 501 Shelter (12.8 mi)
Good news! I was able to keep my breakfast down this morning, so back on the trail I went. It was tough saying goodbye to Stefan. On this journey, many people come in and out of your life on a daily basis. Stefan was one of the special ones. He was my hiking partner for the first 3 weeks of this hike and pushed and encouraged me every step of the way. I may not have made it this far if not for hiking with him. It was a bit emotional for both of us to part ways, but we are hoping he will
come back to the States and finish the trail in a few years. Right after he left, I was greeted with some trail magic- ice cold Cokes and snacks. I was also greeted by a few familiar faces- Steps, Pancake, Domino, and his friend. With the exception of Steps, I haven't seen the others since the Smokies. After a short reunion, I took off. I started hiking around 1:45 and had to shoot for 13 miles today. I knew this was going to be a challenge, not just because of the late start, but also because I only had a little food in my system. Luckily, I kept a good pace and made it to where I was camping by 8pm. I thought about pressing on another half mile but it wasn't worth it. I am camping with a bunch of weekend section hikers and one guy kept telling everyone that they had to hang all their food and anything with smell so the bears wouldn't get to it. I didn't have the heart to tell him my food was staying in my tent...oh bad habits. On a real happy note, I am now in the triple digit countdown- less than 1000 miles to go!!!

Day 98 (6/17) - 501 Shelter to Hamburg, PA (24.4 mi)
So somehow we need to educate section hikers on the rules of quiet hours and common courtesy. Just because the sun comes up at 5:15 doesn't mean you should begin talking as loud as you can. So I woke up on a grumpy note. I was also still having some stomach issues. I knew I had to hike at least 15 miles, and if I really wanted to push myself, I could try to get to town, which would be just about 25 miles. It was a head down and hike kind of day. The weather was perfect and I just pushed. I texted Dirty Girl to see where he was and he got a room in Hamburg so I asked him if he wanted someone to go in half. Now the challenge was getting there and hitching a ride and trying to do it all before dark. I pressed on and sure enough made it! It has been my biggest mileage day yet! I feel good, but exhausted. Happy to get a shower and some Wendy's.

Day 99 (6/18) - Hamburg, PA to Windsor Furnace Shelter (5.4 mi)
Today was a day I wish I didn't have to hike. I had a great night sleep and a great continental breakfast, but even they couldn't get me motivated today. I had to go to Walmart to resupply and that seemed to suck even more out of me. I ended up getting on the trail and just went into autopilot to get me to the shelter. After a quick setup, it was nap time, dinner, and back to bed. I think the combination of big miles yesterday plus my feet killing me plus just needing a mental break from hiking caught up to me. Tomorrow is a new day...and a day I will need to make up some miles.

Day 100 (6/19) - Windsor Furnace Shelter to Allentown Hiking Club Shelter (16.5 mi)
I felt a lot better today! I actually thought about getting up when the sun was out at 5:30. I thought about it, but then went back to sleep. Then it decided to rain. Crap. That just delayed my start. There is nothing worse than packing up in the rain. Luckily it didn't last too long and I was on the trail by 8. The trail stayed more consistently rocky today. With the exception of a 2 mile stretch of forest road, it was rocks. There was also a lot more boulder hopping today as well. It was a little scary because they were wet. I slipped twice, but luckily caught myself both times. With 3 days left of hiking in PA, I am expecting nothing less than rocks and boulders until early Jersey. So, it turns out that this is day 100 for me. What a huge milestone I guess. Glad I have survived this long and will keep on trucking until I am looking down from Baxter Peak on top of Katahdin.

Day 101 (6/20) - Allentown Hiking Club Shelter to Palmerton, PA (17.9 mi)
This morning started out rough. At 3 I woke up to pee just to see the biggest spider I have ever seen sitting on my air mattress. It was all I could do to not scream like a little girl and wake everyone up. I took my sleeping bag liner and tried to fling it out of the tent, but it caught on to the tent and crawled around the outside wall. After peeing, I grabbed my camera to take a picture then sent it to spider heaven. Actually, I believe spiders, especially huge fuzzy ones go back to the depths of Hell from where they originate. So after not being able to sleep after that, I waited till about 6:30 and took off. It was a gorgeous day. The trail stayed rocky and got real bad up on Knife Edge where you had to balance and watch your step on these huge sharp rocks. One bad step and you were probably breaking a bone. It took me a while to get down from there. Eventually the trail smoothed out a bit and eventually descended to Leigh Gap, where I had my choice of 3 towns I could hitch to. I chose Palmerton, home of the hostel in the jail basement. After hitching a ride in the back of a pickup (my first attempt at solo hitchhiking), i found myself in this very cute little town and then to the jail hostel. It was everything you would expect it to be. The bonus for me was that it was in a basement and it was cool temp-wise. Did some laundry and enjoyed some Subway before turning in for the night. The joys of town food. It is enough to make you walk extras miles sometimes.

Day 102 (6/21) - Palmerton, PA to Leroy A. Smith Shelter (15.6 mi)
After a great night's sleep (with no giant spiders), I hitched a ride back to the trail and mentally prepped myself for what was going to be a huge climb. The trail ascends Lehigh Gap pretty much straight up for 1000 feet. I actually collapsed my hiking poles and put them in my pack and did some good old fashioned rock climbing. It was a great upper body workout. I climbed up and over the front of the mountain and then balanced on loose rocks as the trail gently ascended to the very top. Once up to the top, the trail was flat and, for the most part, rockless. It was also shadeless, as I found myself piling on the sunscreen for the first time since Georgia. The trail actually followed the town of Palmerton all the way down. The rocks picked up again and then, after another rocky climb, I followed the ridge line some more. I decided to take a break because I noticed how bad I was sweating and how dark the color of my pee was getting (TMI I know) and didn't want to pass out on the trail. Water was very sparse today. I was kicking myself for not drinking a liter or two at the hostel before I left. I finally got to a side trail that led to a spring. The problem was that it would add 1.2 miles of hiking on. But knowing I didn't have enough water to make it to the shelter, I didn't have a choice. Making that side trip reminded me of why I am hiking in the first place. I shouldn't complain about a 1.2 mile round trip for water when women and children in Zambia are walking 10 miles sometimes just for dirty water. I rehydrated on the spot and made it to the shelter. From here I had to decide if I wanted to stay or hike around 5 miles more to get to Wind Gap. I would have to stealth camp, but it would mean I would only have to hike 15 miles tomorrow. I just didn't have anything left in me and set up camp for the night. So I need to do 20 tomorrow. Maybe I can wake up extra early and beat the heat.

Day 103 (6/22) - Leroy A. Smith Shelter to Delaware Water Gap, PA (20.3 mi)
I attempted to wake up early this morning. That didn't happen. But I did get on the trail by 6:45. I was a man on a mission today. I needed to get to DWG and to the hostel, simply because I want to hit Jersey on Saturday. I checked my guide to see where my water would be today. Luckily, I had a source a little closer than yesterday. I put in a little over half my miles by lunch and still had some water left. I should have drank more. I am still dehydrated. I finally refilled and made myself drink a liter before finishing the last 7 miles. I almost made it into town before a little thunderstorm popped up. At least it cooled the temperature down, but I will probably be feeling the humidity tomorrow. I am staying at a church hostel with several of my new friends- Meat, Dakota Dan, and Steamer. You have to make new friends at this point because all your old ones have either fallen behind or dropped off. We got a ride to Walmart and then walked down to a nice little ice cream shop and treated myself to a chocolate milk shake. I don't feel guilty about this at all because when I stepped on the scale, I weighed in at 200 pounds. This fat boy has lost 65 pounds out on the trail. Now I need to come up with a plan to keep it all off when I get home.


Post a Comment