Days 79-82

Day 79, 7/16/23

501 Shelter to Stealth Campsite

22.2 miles, mile 1,218.6

I got stung by another bee today and Tadpole got stung twice. We said a permanent goodbye to them because they were doing a 30-mile day and we needed to go into town to resupply at some point. The rocks of Pennsylvania really are as bad as people say they are, I’m very over it. Last week I noticed my toes are kind of numb, especially on my left foot. I’m hoping the nerves in my feet are okay after walking over 1,200 miles. It started to rain a bit in the afternoon, which made for slippery rocks and slow hiking. Thankfully the rain didn’t stick around for long. Kev and I decided to get as close to Port Clinton as we could and stealth camped on a gas line because it was flat and open. Other than that, today was unfortunately extremely uneventful.

Day 80, 7/17/23

Stealth Campsite to Allentown Hiking Club Shelter

23.9 miles, mile 1,242.5

We woke up around 6:15 a.m. this morning and got into Port Clinton right at 8 a.m. Everyone talks about how bad the descent is into Port Clinton, but I didn’t think it was any worse than descents we have had before. Coming down South Hancock in the Whites is worse than what we did this morning, so my NH friends have a reference.

My hopes for hitchhiking were not high, it was a very busy road and I had a feeling everyone would be going into work. I was proven wrong when a kind woman stopped almost instantly and gave us a ride to the Walmart. We plugged our phones in and got to shopping. When we were putting all the food in our packs, a man asked us if we needed a ride back to the trail! I couldn’t believe it. Today was our first time hitchhiking ever, and it went more smoothly than I could have imagined. We hiked out of town at 9:30 a.m. and saw rocks, rocks, and more rocks today. I did dunk myself in a creek today because I feel gross. It has been so hot and humid. I can’t wait for Mom and Ethan to get here Friday so I can shower. This shelter is popping with thru-hikers, and we met the first southbounders from Maine! Cruiser and Zip are their names, we ate dinner with them and talked about the trail ahead. They let us know the rocks subside for a few miles past this shelter, which I’m looking forward to.

Day 81, 7/18/23

Allentown Hiking Club Shelter to Tentsite

22.9 miles, mile 1,265.4

The first couple miles of today were on an old logging road, but then the rocks came back, relentless as ever. People talk about “Rocksylvannia” all the time, but oh my goodness, it is another level. The big ones where you can rock hop are fun and I don’t mind, but when it’s the smaller ones that are like arrowheads stabbing your feet for 20 miles straight, I am not a fan of. We met a nice older lady named Iron Mama who is section hiking three days every single week going north until she finishes. She carries a plastic sunflower in her pack to “boost spirits,” which I have needed lately.

The water carries have been very long during this stretch of PA. A lot of the springs are either dry, or 0.8 miles one way off trail. Instead of walking that far out of the way, we have been carrying more water than usual. I realized that where I planned to tent tonight had no water until 11 miles after, and nothing immediately before. We descended into Lehigh Gap where I thought we would be able to get to the river to get water before the huge climb out of the gap, but the river was totally inaccessible. I had a moment of panic because there was absolutely no water and we were both down to half a liter. We hear some water flowing and find a culvert with highway runoff water! We filtered two liters and then filled our CNOC two-liter bag. This is the most amount of water we have carried at once, but it was almost a 20-mile stretch with no water, and we were camping up there so needed enough for dinner and breakfast too.

After we filled up on water, we looked up at what we had to climb. PA is notorious for being flat (the rocks make it a not easy flat) and then shooting straight down 700-1,000 feet, and then straight back up 700-1,000 feet, and then being flat again until the cycle repeats. However, this climb out of Lehigh Gap is notorious on trail because it’s the first real rock scrambles so far. It was a lot of fun, but I think I would have had more fun without four liters of water and four days of food on my back. It reminded me of the rock scrambles in NH, which I always love to do.

After the climb, it was still another four miles to our tentsite I picked out. I know you all get the point about the rocks, but it was a brutal last four miles. My sock liner is wearing down and is kind of scratchy, and rubbed the bottom of my foot raw. I will be getting a new pair soon but in the meantime, I’ll put some tape on it. I also got a new pair of Topo Athletic shoes ordered so I can have a shoe with a wider toe box again. I love the Saucony’s but they are just a bit too narrow and that might be contributing to my numb toes. Some other hikers are experiencing the same thing, and apparently it’s called “Christmas toes” because your nerves heal by Christmas time and you can feel your toes again.

Day 82, 7/19/23

Tentsite to Tentsite

25.3 miles, mile 1,290.7

Today was our last full day in PA!!! I am so excited to be out of here. We made it through the 230-mile section in ten days. It is deceptive because a 25-mile day will only have 2,600 feet of gain, so I think it will be easy, but then the damn rocks slow you down. We didn’t see many thru-hikers today, or many people in general. My spirits were pretty low, and I know I keep talking about the rocks, but it is all PA is. There are no views, no people, no variety in scenery other than rocks, rocks, and more rocks.

We made it to a field and decided it would be a good spot to tent. After getting all set up, I was washing out my pot when all of a sudden out of the woods emerges our friend Honeybun, who we haven’t seen in a couple hundred miles! And then it got even better because he said our other friend Lucky was right behind him at the shelter 0.2 miles back! We haven’t seen Lucky since Damascus, which is about 900 miles back! Honeybun texted him that we were up here, so Lucky packed up his stuff and headed to the field too. He was with a girl named Goldi and a guy named Build-a-bear. They carry a frisbee and call themselves the “Shenandoah National Park International Frisbee Team” or the SNPIFT as they say. This team was formed in Shenandoah National Park, obviously. Then the night somehow got better because a day hiker showed up with his dog, who was very excited to play frisbee. The frisbee unfortunately got destroyed by said dog, but it was fun to watch him zooming around with it. Tomorrow we leave PA and hit mile 1,300! YAY!

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