Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The "Rocksylvania" Blues

I am currently in Palmerton, PA, mile ~1250.  I love this town.  It's clean, friendly, and has a very Western feel.  We weren't planning to stop here, but an unfortunate event yesterday forced a stop in Palmerton.  But before I talk about the heavy stuff, here are some recent trip details:

I found the rocks in Pennsylvania.  There are definitely in the northern part of the state, and they are sharp and gigantic.  I figured that anything labeled on a maps as "Knife's Edge" is probably sharp, and it indeed was. But no stretch is continuously rocky for more than a few miles, so alternating boulder-hopping with smooth terrain has made it tolerable.  There isn't too much elevation change here, so that makes it easier as well.  My feet are doing great in "Rocksylvania".

Day Tripper and I saw our third bear this morning!  And I have seen two rattlesnakes in the past week.  Don't worry, they are very scared of people so I'm not worried about getting bitten.  I was worried about both a thru-hiker named Grolar Bear and Day Tripper getting bitten because they like to harass snakes.  Day Tripper even caught one and PICKED IT UP.  I was hysterical because I was so scared of it.  We got some pictures but they are not great because my hands were shaking as I took the pictures.

I also had the pleasure of seeing my very best friend since middle school, Erica.  She came to visit in Port Clinton and took us out to eat and to the grocery store.  It was amazing to see her and I was reminded that one of the benefits of hiking the AT is seeing old friends along the way. We also went to the Cabela's store in Harrisburg, which is the most ridiculous outdoor gear store I have ever been to.  In addition to being gigantic, they have taxidermy version of ever animal anyone would ever want to kill- bears, mountain lions, elephants, birds, etc etc.  There were even some animals I hadn't heard of- hundreds of them.  It was a bizarre experience to say the least.  I just needed bug spray...

And then we left Port Clinton and planned to hike to Delaware Water Gap, which is on the border between PA and New Jersey, before resupplying.  Yesterday afternoon as we crossed a road by a mountain restaurant Day Tripper suggested that we charge our cell phone in an outlet outside the closed restaurant.  It was random for him to suggest that, but he had a hunch that we needed to check the messages.  So it was there that Day Tripper found out that his beloved grandfather had a stroke earlier that morning.  He passed away last night and Day Tripper made the decision to end his hike and go back to Georgia to help out his family.

So now I'm hiking alone again.  After ~1000 miles with someone so closely, this is definitely the most difficult day of my trip thus far. I realized that somewhere along the way "my hike" turned into "our hike" even though I stubbornly refused to admit that for two months.  There is no doubt that I will be incredibly lonely in the coming weeks, even though I still have plenty of friends around me.  Don't worry, I'll be ok. Now I'm hiking north for both of us.  Even though it will be harder than before, my determination is greater than ever. 

Take home point?  It can all be over in an instant, so appreciate every day.  Also, never get a haircut that would be inappropriate to wear to a funeral.



  1. Oh...Day Tripper, I'm so sorry.

    Erin, be careful and call if you need a pick-me-up. Love you.


  3. So sorry to hear about Day Tripper's loss, and yours as well. Thinking of you and praying for your remaining trip! Let us know if you need anything - we're close enough :)

  4. Sorry to hear about the bad news. I'm always fascinated that folks get that feeling the need to do something (check phone messages) and such. Love the Take home points. THAT is great advise to pass along to anybody. It's finally getting warm here. I know you will be able to finish your journey. My thoughts are with you and your friend.