Tuesday, August 1, 2017 (Day 90)
I rose with a brief moment of not knowing where I was. That does not happen often, but is always an interesting feeling when it does.
I heard what sounded like a lawn mower in the distance. It grew closer. I twisted my upper half so as to glance behind me, and saw a man with a bug net and weed wacker, wacking away at the trail. He stopped, walked over, and we spoke. He was kind. He was with the Allentown Trail Club. He was not a fan of how popular the trail had gotten. “…they want money.” he said, and wandered down the trail. I wondered who “they” was. The trail club? the ATC? The nearby communities? I did not know.
I cannot believe it is August already.
I could not keep my eyes open. Only two miles after starting I stopped for coffee, set an alarm for twenty minutes, reclined and shut my eyes.
The nap seemed to work. I pressed on, as did the many rocks…upward against my boots, causing tears and large holes in the seams.
Rocks, rocks… rocks.
I made the climb over Knifes Edge and stopped at Bake Oven Knob Shelter for water. There was a man there with beer and donuts and an axe. He had come to remove a hanging limb, or something or other. He was a local who liked to help take care of the area. He was kind. I went to make a lunch of noodles. For some reason the threading of my stove was stripped; it would not attach to the canister. Well, that’s a bother. I sighed. Oh, well. I let the noodles soak in a tupperware in a side pocket of my pack, and continued on.
Shortly thereafter, the rain came. Word on the trail was that it was to rain through the night. I reached the George W. Outerbridge Shelter. It was around 7pm. It seemed as though the sky was clearing. I had only travelled 16 miles and wanted to move on. There was a rock scramble coming up, Blue Mountain Ridge, which could be risky in the rain at night. If the night stayed clear, I would do it.
I stopped to collect water from a spring just down the trail from the shelter. It was the last water source for about 11 miles. A group of locals on a section hike headed up the trail towards me. “Hello!”, they said. They were full of positive, inquisitive energy. They asked questions about thru-hiking. They wanted to know things like my scariest moment, and “one-liners” about what I have learned. One lady, Denise, was especially kind and generous. She offered me $10, some energy bars, and hand sanitizer. I don’t think she understood just how helpful her donations were. My spirits soared! They warned me that the coming climb was where Pennsylvania got the nick-name “Rocksylvannia”, and that it may be better to attempt it in the morning.
The sky was clear. I was $10, and two energy bars richer. I was motivated and felt supported. I was ready to climb the ridge!
I came to PA 873 and crossed Lehigh River on a bridge.
Then, I crossed PA 238.
Then, I began the climb up Blue Mountain Ridge.
I glanced down at the river I had just crossed, the miniature cars, the illumination of headlights and street lamps.
I watched the sun set over Lehigh River, from above.
There was a certain excitement to scrambling over the rocks and large boulders in the darkness. The slow, skirting descent up the mountain became slightly more challenging, as I searched for the blazes that still faintly glowed under moonlight.
I stopped to eat dinner at a pine covered spot just beside the trail. The trail had flattened and re-entered the trees, so I could break for a moment comfortably. I pulled the tupperware from my pack and examined its contents. The spiral shaped lentil flour noodles had lost their form completely. Now they were but a pink glob stuck to one side of the tupperware, surrounded by pink water. Well, at least the color was pleasant. I added potatos, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, and mixed. The result was…interesting. It was not too bad; slightly doughy.
I continued on.
I realized that I had given no thought to what the trail did after the ascent. Luckily, the trail flattened, and then weaved through low growing brush, then trees, then fields…all under open sky!
I spotted a rattlesnake curled up on trail. There was no space to pass comfortably. I backed up and tossed a stone in its direction. No movement. I called out “go away!”, in my firmest of tones. A moment later, he slowly slithered off trail.
The hike was so very pleasant, the sky so clear. I stopped to look out at the beautiful, twinkling, artificial illumination of the city below. Those lights stole the thunder from the star light, I thought to myself. They were a sight to behold, nonetheless. I watched the tiny cars roll down the tiny streets. I felt like a strange secret observer from a mountain top. I liked the feeling.
I continued across a dirt road and another field and passed power lines. I stopped at the powerlines. I marveled at the gigantic triangular structure from which they sprang. It’s metal framing formed numerous geometric shapes. The shapes, the sheer vastness in size, the faint illumination of metal in the moonlight…it was both powerful and beautiful.
I continued on to an adequate sized flat space just off trail. I was happy, I was satisfied, I slept.