When you’ve just bounded over a series of kitchen table size boulders called Wolf Rocks, you don’t expect to suffer your first fall in over a week while having lunch. That’s just what happened on another beautiful afternoon in Pennsylvania. With a 15.7 mile day on the agenda, Speck and I first set foot on the trail today at 9:15. After a short climb out of Wind Gap, we meandered our way through the woods on a trail carpeted with more pointed rocks of various sizes. A warm sun made its appearance early in the day to remind us that we needed to stay hydrated.
Nothing of any great significance caught my attention until we reached Wolf Rocks about seven miles into today’s hike. Speck smiled, anticipating another opportunity to do some rock hopping. Considering the mundane landscape we had been traversing, I smiled as well. I’m beginning to enjoy the challenge of some more difficult sections of trail. Even though these rocks did not pose as big an obstacle as the Knife Edge or the hike out of Lehigh Gap, they still demanded concentration. I commented to Speck that they reminded me a little of New Hampshire where you have to plan your next step.
Right after Wolf Rocks the excitement for the day occurred. I had packed in a ham and cheese sandwich, fries, and a Mountain Dew for lunch. Not being able to open the Dew, I asked for Speck’s help. When she proceeded to remove the cap in about two seconds, we both began laughing. In my exuberance I tripped over a baseball size rock and fell backwards hard into a larger rock. The fall changed Speck’s countenance from laughter to concern as I sat motionless for a few seconds, unsure of just how badly I might be hurt. After I ascertained that I was OK except for a scrape on my back and a sore lower back, I got myself to my feet to eat my lunch. When I figured out that I wasn’t hurt badly, I turned my attention to the Mountain Dew. At least three-fourths had spilled. But even though I lost most of my beverage, it was comforting to know that I could finish today’s hike.
As the afternoon progressed, we hiked at somewhat of a leisurely pace. At a power line we met John and Brandon who had set up a ham radio tower. When I asked John how far away he had transmitted, he said Russia. Speck and I took some pics, enjoyed the view for awhile and then moved on up the trail.
A little later we reached Totts Gap where a cooler of bottled water and mints had been left. Dolores, the mother of AT hiker Olive Oil, had also left her phone number for hikers needing assistance. I made a note of the number before signing the card she had placed by the cooler. Speck and I agreed that Dolores would be a good person to call for a ride once we reached the Delaware Water Gap. When I did reach her by phone, Dolores said that she would be happy to offer a ride into Stroudsburg in order for me to slack pack tomorrow.
When I reached the Water Gap, I stopped for ice cream at Zoe’s before calling Delores. Leaving just as I arrived was Colin (formerly Scarecrow). He was headed back to the trail. Before I left, however, I saw Medicine Man and Kudo arrive. Pilgrim was also walking up the street. He filled me in on who was at the Church of the Mountain Hostel. It was good to know who was in the vicinity. Hopefully, Speck and I will see several of the hikers on the trail tomorrow. It still seems, however, that the trail has really thinned out over the past couple of weeks.
Today was another enjoyable day to hike. I reached the Delaware Water Gap, the last stop in Pennsylvania. Time is suddenly moving more quickly. I have now completed 7 states and have 7 more to finish. Today also put me at fewer than 900 miles to the end. Tomorrow I will walk across the Delaware River into New Jersey, the state with a very high bear population. I would like nothing better than seeing one as I head toward Maine on the Appalachian Trail.