September 18th, 2018
Do you want to know one of the best parts of waking up on the Appalachian Trail? A good deal of the time you get to put all of your cold and soaking wet gear back on first thing in the morning because it rains, A LOT! Not to mention the East Coast is prone to very humid air which doesn’t make for great drying conditions. Luckily I was no stranger to such misery. The only other problem is, it usually results in me delaying the inevitable. I start my mornings with as much haste as a sloth.
It dumped rain most of the hike, but stopped just in time for a lunch break. Once we were passing through the Palmerton Zinc Superfund Site near the power lines, we soon realized that we had taken a wrong turn. We had followed a road with questionable white blazes (they were very faded and infrequent) about 2 miles in the wrong direction!
My feet were blistered to hell. Given my bad experience with Darn Tough socks and wet conditions, you would think I’d know better, but I had forgotten to buy new socks prior to leaving on this journey. Our morale was low and we lost a couple of hours of daylight, but at least it wasn’t raining.
We traced our steps all the way back to the trail and eventually made our way towards Lehigh Gap where we’d finally get some views.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states on the AT where water sources are seldom or are located several tenths of a mile off trail. It was a rainy year, so we didn’t generally have this issue, but we were low on fluids in an area where drinking water was not recommended due to the high metallic content. We were both cranky, sore, dehydrated and had a huge pile of boulders to climb down before we had a chance to hitch hike into Palmerton to hydrate and resupply.
Much to our relief, we ran into a local girl named Alana who was returning from a day hike. Not only did she offer us a ride into town once we all got down the mountain, she had Gatorade! This awesome chica was my savior! A common saying on the Appalachian Trail is “the trail provides.” I have on many occasions noticed that when you’re feeling at your worst on the AT, something or someone will bring joy back to your hike. Alana was this person.
She shared with us her love for the outdoors as she took us into town. She was more of a rock climber, however she told us she planned to hike the AT someday. I think I was so stressed and dehydrated that I wasn’t even hungry when we got to town; a rarity. We thanked her for her kindness as she dropped us off near the grocery store, and I went inside to buy a large Gatorade to chug down before I returned to shop for trail food. After finding out we were hiking the AT (I think our body odor is a dead giveaway), the cashier told us we could help ourselves to an apple or an orange on our way out! See that? The trail provides.
I tried doctoring up my feet the best I could before we wandered around town trying to figure out whether we were going to try to hitch back to the trail, or hide somewhere in town for the night. It was getting dark so we had to think fast. Right as we were debating whether or not to hide out on a nearby church’s porch, guess who pulled up next to us? Not once, but twice Alana came to our rescue! She just happened to be passing by and took us back to the AT. Alana, if you’re reading this, thanks again! You’re a true trail angel!
We only had to hike one more mile in order to make it to the closest shelter. Our head lamps were required as we made our way up the muddy, rocky trail. Once we got there, we were happy to be the only ones in the shelter. That is until we looked closer.
There was a large rattlesnake skin that was tucked behind the wall of the shelter (he likely lived there), and a tiny unidentified snake kept slithering around the corner and wouldn’t stop staring at me. On top of that, there were many holes in the shelter for potentially unwanted overnight snake surprises, and about 20 large spiders all over. I have about a 3 large spider shelter limit. Nope. We ended up setting up our tent. I didn’t like the way that snake was looking at me. I think he wanted to cuddle.
Distance Hiked: 16.7 miles (26.9 km) + however many in the wrong direction
Start from the Beginning at Part 1
Jump Ahead to Part 3