Barnabus, porcupines, and the fire tower (5/30, 5/31, 6/1)
Day 94, 5/30: Zero at Delaware Water Gap
We woke up to wonderful baked oatmeal, egg and sausage casserole, and fruit. Pam was treating us like royalty. Before Rash got up, Piñata and I discussed mileage, looked over my itinerary for finishing, and talked about the possibility of zeroing today. My feet were killing me and I knew Rash was hurting last night. We ran it by Rash when he got up, who enthusiastically agreed, and we asked Pam if she wouldn’t mind us staying another day. Since our gracious hosts had originally planned for us to zero there before our impromptu zero in Port Clinton, they were happy to have us.
Pam and Dale live off a secluded road with lots of land surrounding. Outside they have a large, wood burning heater, chicken coops, and a huge garden. Dale told us about the occasional black bear they see in their back yard, and had pictures of one that was a mere ~30 feet from their back door.
We spent the day lounging, napping, and snuggling Barnabus (their Pug-Jack Russel mix called a Jug). Pam brought us to the grocery store for resupply and the post office so Rash could pick up his fancy new American flag shorts. Pam and Dale treated us to pizza for lunch and made another amazing dinner of crispy brussel sprouts with butternut squash, chicken and stuffing casserole, and salad.
Day 95, 5/31: Delaware Water Gap -> Campsite (16.9 miles)
This morning we were treated again to another wonderful meal from Pam and Dale. There were homemade breakfast sandwiches warming on a cookie sheet under foil, along with fruit and orange juice. After breakfast, we gathered our things and packed up. We said goodbye to Dale and Barnabus, and Pam drove us to the trailhead.
We hiked through the town of Delaware Water Gap, but it was early so nothing was open. We crossed the very long bridge over the river, and crossed into New Jersey. We took pictures at the state line, which was on the bridge, but the tractor trailers were barreling by a little close for comfort, even with the waist high concrete wall, so we moved on quickly. We passed a parking and bathroom area with a well dressed man giving out snacks. I had a small bag of cool ranch Doritos and a bag of Annie’s gummies which were surprisingly delicious. Complete strangers doing trail magic is my favorite thing about the trail. We threw our food trash in the dumpster, used the bathrooms, and continued on.
The climb out of Delaware Water Gap is beautiful and gradual. The path is wide, and the trail follows a stream part of the way. The early morning rain had cleared and the sun was peering out behind the clouds. By the time we were halfway up, the sun was shining in full force. We stopped for lunch at Sunfish pond, which had a log bench on the very wet and muddy ground. We watched frogs hop around and ribbit to each other, and enjoyed the view. Towelie and Potato came up briefly and moved on.
We hiked on, the trail following the large pond, and we saw 3 snakes. Rash thinks they were brown water snakes. We also saw a massive bull frog hanging out in the shallows. We passed one of the carin rock gardens which was cool. We took several breaks since we had a leisurely 17 miles to do.
We came to a fire tower and decided to climb it to get a look at the view. Halfway up, Rash voiced his uncomfortableness with heights. We made it to the top and took some pictures, and then I descended and took some pictures of Rash and Piñata in the tower.
We hiked on, and ate dinner at a campsite 3 miles before the one where we wanted to camp. We watched an episode of the office and then realized it was 6:30 and we still had 3 miles to go. We hurried down the trail, and Rash stopped at a clearing to point out a porcupine in a tree. It was our first porcupine sighting.
We got to the campsite, and a hiker already there pointed out another porcupine in a tree. We hung our food bags (mine tied to a tree), set up our hammocks, and enjoyed the last bits of light and the sunset.
Day 96, 6/1: Campsite -> Mashipacong shelter (20.5 miles)
Overnight, we experienced our first thunderstorm in our hammocks. The lightening lit up the forest, and the thunder seemed to shake the trees. The rain came down in sheets and then slowed. It was beautiful and scary, and made me feel so small in the huge forest.
We woke up to blue skies and perfect weather. I was first up, which is rare, and I wondered if Rash and Piñata actually got up before me and I didn’t hear them. It was hard to see if they were still in their hammocks since everyone had their tarp up. I got my food bag and made breakfast, and they started stirring. We all hung around camp for a while, relaxing and talking, before we got on the trail.
The weather today was gorgeous. It was a little hot in the morning, and I dug my no sleeve shirt from the bottom of my pack and took off my compression shorts. We took an early lunch at a stream to fill up, and a deer casually walked by. The mosquitos were out in full force. I called Louis and wished him a happy 3rd wedding anniversary, and I continued listening to my newest Audible book, The Rosie Project.
We stopped on a log at the crossroads to the shelter for a break. The shelter was 0.2 miles off trail, which is a little long to go there just for lunch. A large sign was written in sticks on the ground with a massive arrow. As we snacked, a large group of highschoolers came by and saw the sign, which was meant for them.
At a road crossing, we saw a gas station right down the road. We walked towards it, but it didn’t have a convenience store. Luckily, there was a tavern next door. We stopped in and had a burger and fries while we charged our phones. I found a tick crawling on my leg, but it moved to my sock after crawling on my Deet soaked leg.
We stopped at the next shelter for water, and found a ridgerunner with dreads we didn’t recognize. She went to pitch her tent, and we filtered water to pack out since there’s no close water at our shelter tonight. I drank as much as I could while sitting there. When we continued on, I had to stop to pee, but then almost immediately had to pee again so I held it until we got to the shelter. We watched the office while we ate and all 3 of us hung our hammocks. There’s no one else here so we have the whole campground to ourselves.
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