6/6 Zero Day in Hamburg
Took a very lazy zero in Hamburg with Stitch after resupplying at Walmart. We mostly relaxed and watched tv.
I have converted to cold dinners of the “hiker pizza”. It’s a soft shell taco with two mozzarella string cheese sticks, pepperoni, tomato paste from a squeeze bottle, and half a packet of ranch . I usually have two of them for dinner but still working on the ratios. Stay tuned!
6/7 Port Clinton PA to Allentown Hiking Club Shelter (21.9 miles)
I really liked today’s hike. It was one of the more enjoyable days that I have had in recent memory. There were great views, great conversation, and pretty good weather, aside from a very short thunderstorm.
The morning had a few really great views looking down into the nearby valley, they were surprisingly good for how little we had to climb (only 1000 feet). The trail conditions were pretty good and we walked along a dirt road for several miles. It felt like a super highway since it wasn’t very rocky and was all down hill. We also came across a pretty serious set of buildings owned by a local amateur astronomy club that housed telescopes and such, they were closed but looked like the could be very cool at night.
The afternoon got quite rocky and was made harder by the rain which made the rocks very slippery. Both Stitch and I had a few close calls but managed to recover and stay on on our feet . I had expected all of PA to be like this, and have been pleasantly surprised how infrequent these types of sections have been given PAs reputation.
6/8 Allentown Hiking Club Shelter to Leigh Furnace Gap (12.4 miles)
We woke up this morning and checked the weather to see that there were some pretty severe thunderstorms predicted for mid morning. Stitch has a friend planning on meeting her today at a gap 9 miles in so we set a goal to reach it there before the storms.
Much to our bad luck the storms started much earlier than expected and we got drenched. Thankfully we had made it over some of the rockiest sections prior to the rain which makes the rocks very slippery.
At around 11am we reached the parking lot where Stitch’s friend was waiting. It was great to have a warm car to sit out some of the rain in. Since the day was so miserable and her friend was here, we decided that we would cut our 18 mile day short and make the next two days longer. We slackpacked another 3 miles to the next parking lot where he was waiting to take us into town.
We stayed at a restaurant which has a detached garage for the night. It was very rudimentary, but I can’t complain at $5/person. We did laundry (primarily to dry our socks) and then headed to a restaurant for dinner. Her friend has been traveling extensively for the last several years so it was cool to hear all of his stories.
6/9 Leigh Furnace Gap to tentsite (24.5 miles)
Stitch’s friend was able to slackpack us for the first 10 miles today. This was awesome because there was a very rocky steep climb which was made much easier because we didn’t have any packs on. The climb was about 1,000 feet over one mile and I decided that I wanted to get up it in under 30 minutes. I raced off ahead of Stitch and was able to get up there in just under 24 minutes which I was pretty excited about. I am not sure I could have done it in under 30 with a pack on, but I had a good time doing it nonetheless. We have some great views on the climb up which I stopped to enjoy as well. I miss doing climbs to views, and looking forward to more of them as we move north.
The rest of the afternoon was very rocky, mostly little small ones that you can’t really avoid, but can definitely feel on your feet and ankles. This was what I had expected all of PA to be like given its reputation, so I can’t complain too much. Considering there can only be at most 17 more miles of this, I think that PAs flatness is more noteworthy than its rockiness. I have really enjoyed it here, almost as much as NC/TN. It is a great place for people without much backpacking or hiking experience to try it out (although the lack of water in some sections is annoying).
We had another day of great weather, which coupled with the slackpack and pretty easy terrain allowed us to put in a pretty big day without getting in too late. It was another fun day in paradise.
6/10 Tent site to Delaware Water Gap, PA (16.5 miles)
Stitch and I got off to an early start today so we could get into town on the earlier side. The walk into town was very rocky and tough on the feet. This is what I had been expecting from the whole state so I glad it was only really the last 30 miles. Several other thru hikers we met had very different opinions and thought that the rocks in PA were terrible and couldn’t wait to get out of the state.
We got into town and met up with Guy, one of my mom’s good friends, who was kind enough to drive down from NJ to see us. We stopped in at the church hostel where we would stay the night ($3 suggested donation). It was the nicest donation based placed that we have stayed yet. We did our laundry, ate two meals within a 4 hour period, and resupplied. Stitch’s mom sent us some baked goodies which were absolutely amazing. Thank you Stitch’s mom!! It is always nice to see someone you know from off trail in town. They can provide transportation and keep you in a little more touch with the “real world”. Thanks Guy!
6/11 Delaware Water Gap to tentsite (16.6 miles)
We got off to a late start this morning since we have a short day. We stopped by a local bakery and had some breakfast sandwiches. We also packed out sandwiches for lunch.
There was a lot of road walking this morning to get over the Delaware River and I-80. It was not very enjoyable, but included the end of PA and start of NJ.
We came across a beautiful lake around lunch time that was such a good spot that we decided to stop and have lunch. It was one of the “7 wonders of New Jersey”. The state so far today has been very pretty, much more so than I expected. We sat at an overlook for about an hour talking and enjoying what Stitch accurately coined “nature’s big screen tv”.
6/12 Tentsite to Tentsite (19 miles)
I continued to be impressed by NJ’s beautiful water sources. We came across Crater Lake in the morning and it was spectacular. I wished that it was later in the day so I could have enjoyed a long swim. Stitch and I did a slight detour around the lake because we accidentally got on a side trail/ fire road. It was very handy to have the Guthooks app with GPS to help us figure out how to get back to the AT because it was not well marked. The good news was we got to see even more of the lake.
We came to a road crossing with a bar just 1/4 mile away from the trail. We decided to go have lunch there and it was a great choice. It was a biker bar that also catered to thruhikers. It was nothing fancy, but they had pretty good food, a place to charge phones, and a beautiful patio overlooking the lake. It was a great place to stop and have lunch and relax.
We had a short climb up to a radio tower after lunch and there were some former thruhikers there doing trail magic. They had awesome bagels and drinks. We hung out there for a bit and then headed on our way.
NJ, similar to northern PA has very little water along the trail (sometimes up to 15 miles). This means that we have often been packing in up to 2 extra liters of water into camp because there isn’t any where we plan to stop for the day. This makes our packs quite a bit heavier, and me thankful that there hasn’t been too many stretches like this so far on the trail.
6/11 Tentsite to Murray Cabin (14.3 Miles)
It was pretty cold this morning and we had a short day so Stitch and I got off to a late start. The morning was pretty uneventful , and we got to the state park headquarters where we signed in and got a free soda which was a nice treat. We hung out there for a little bit talking to a ridgerunner and relaxing. We had been planning to go to a nearby lake with a snack bar for lunch, but discovered that it was closed on Mondays which was a disappointment.
We decided to go check out the lake anyway, which was about 1 mile north on the AT. We saw a beach and building on the other side. We started walking around to it, but the trail quickly turned very rocky. We decided that there was no need to go all the way there and stopped and ate lunch on some rocks. I had planned to go for a swim, but it was just slightly to cold to make it worth it.
After lunch we headed up another side trial to the High Point monument, which was built at the highest point in NJ to commemorate soldiers. It was cool to walk up, but sadly the views were not as good from the as they were from the bottom (although still very cool).
We walked at a pretty leisurely pace for the rest of the afternoon and finished at the Murray Cabin, which is private land that the owner lets thru hikers stay at. It was very peaceful, and was a nice place to spend a relaxing afternoon, particularly with the whole place to ourselves. Sadly there was no water, but thankfully Stitch and I had brought in enough.
We ate dinner early , played charades and played “Ticket to Ride” a board game that she had as an app on her phone. I recalled playing the game once she pulled it up, but it was fun to learn it again. Her friends will be coming next week with the game, and I suspect we will be playing it. Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself to badly.
6/14 Murray Cabin to Vernon, NJ (14.5 miles)
We woke up today to great weather, although a little chilly for the morning. There were a couple of steep climbs, but nothing too notable. Near the end of the day we came across some cool fields and walked through some very pretty marsh areas. There was about 1.5 miles of boardwalk at the end of the day that was very cool to walk on. It seemed to be primarily made for day hikers, but it was a very nice change of scenery.
We got the the end of the trial and met a young woman who was halfway through her run who asked us if we needed directions. We asked her which way Vernon was and she pointed us in the right direction and mentioned that there was a small store nearby with fruit and food. She was heading there to get water, and on the way I mentioned that we were looking for a ride into town. She said that her car was where she started running, but she offered to come back and pick us after she was done. We took her up on her offer and hung out at the store eating (I ate most of a massive danish and half a cantaloupe). She came back and gave us a ride (along with 2 other thru hikers who showed up after she left). It was super nice of her to give us the ride, we really appreciated it.
We arrived at the church hostel here, which was mostly just a living room in the basement that they let thruhikers use. They had showers and free laundry, and only asked for a $10 donation and for hikers to do a chore in the morning. Like the last church hostel, it was very clean and in good shape for not having a full time caretaker.
After showering Stitch and I headed over to the grocery store to resupply. We decided to pack in sandwiches for lunch tomorrow and have a rotisserie chicken with pasta salad for dinner instead of going out to a restaurant. There are a bunch of new people at this hostel that we had fun meeting (including the 3rd thruhiker I have met named Tumbleweed).
Another thruhiker (Veggie Stew) gave me a pony tail (I hope it gets way better by the time I finish), so I channeled my inner samurai.