Steve dropped me off where he'd picked me up, and gave a ride to a hiker who needed to go to town -- "Chucky the Fish." Maybe I'll meet up with him and find out how he came by that trail name.
My hike started with a long, rocky climb, true bouldering. At least I was going up, not down. Up is much easier. That first mile took an hour.
Easy walking over deforested ridges after that (barren from zinc smelting, under restoration.) But I started feeling sick. I took a Pepcid which didn't help at all. All morning I kept up with my water but couldn't eat, except for the occasional ripe blueberry (already?)
|Ripening rarely and randomly, one at a time|
|Pretty, but "tick city"|
Then I started running low on water with 12 miles to go, and got dehydrated trying to ration it. I was looking for pools of water from last night's rain, but, nothing. I can filter water out of a puddle, if needed, with my Platypus Gravity Works filter. I prayed for water. It started raining. So, am I supposed to lick it off the leaves, or what? I actually did lick some off my umbrella.
|No water here....|
I was leapfrogging with a fellow named John. We came to the bottom of a descent and yay, there was a good-sized mud puddle! I can use that! I got out my filtering stuff and John walked on across the road, then yelled back, "Someone left water over here, in jugs!" Hallelujah!! Trail Magic! I ran for the jugs singing the Doxology.
Between feeling sick, having gotten behind on hydrating, the long climb at the outset, a shorter but no less taxing one after the water jugs, and a horrendously hot day, I was done in by 10 miles. There were 6 left to the next shelter but there was no way. I stopped at a sign directing to a spring, and there was John sitting on a log in a nice campsite. "You don't want to go down to the spring," he said. "It took me 45 minutes to go down and back." OK.... guess I'll keep rationing. Then John's friend Clark came along. Neither of the guys were sure they were staying, but Clark needed to top off his water, and offered me what he had left before he went to refill. More Trail Magic! It gave me plenty for the rest of the afternoon and the next morning.
The more I sat, the less I wanted to hike on. I found a place to hang my hammock and called it a day. John said, "Good call. You don't look good. That's why I didn't think you should go down to the spring." I made some chicken-rice soup and sipped it. It was actually good and made me feel better.
John and Clark both set up tents, just about in time to get out of a thunderstorm. I was high and dry in my hammock with its rainfly (a light tarp pitched over it.) It rained on and off during the night. I stayed dry but my gear was all damp.
THANK YOU, JOHN AND CLARK!!!
|Morning sun on the fire ring in our campsite -- John, you'll remember when I took this one. Clark was still in tent behind leaves on right.|
Another scorcher, hotter than yesterday. But I woke up feeling shaky but better and ate breakfast. I'd used most of the water Clark had given me but knew there was a spring a couple miles farther on. When I got there, John was waiting for me and we debated whether to go to the spring, which was supposed to be 0.3 miles down the mountainside, but someone had written on the sign, "0.6mi downhill." I decided to be the brave one today. Well. I should have taken my hiking poles down there. Rock scrambles. Scrapes. Bruises. A good spring, though, gushing. Climbed back up with water for myself and John. 45-minute round trip.
It was really hot and I drank a lot of water. The next source was at the next shelter, 4 miles. I was low again when I got there. John was there, along with Matt, a Ridge Runner, an employee of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who just hikes from point to point and back again all the time checking trail conditions, shelters, picking up trash, talking with hikers, etc. A patrol person. The next chance for water was the next shelter, 14 miles. Gadzooks. I could get water here but I couldn't carry enough to last 14 miles. I called Steve. Turned out he was about 5 miles away, had hiked in from the road looking for me, not found me, figured I must be past there, and was ready to go home after several hours of hiking in the heat. I told him I was low on water but it would take me probably 3 hours to get to him. Of course he couldn't wait that long in the truck. He left me a gallon of water hidden behind a tree at the road. I was so grateful for that but really disappointed to miss him!! I drank about half of it when I got there. I'd gotten 2 liters at the shelter but had already gone through most of it. I was feeling sick again.
Then my phone blinked down to its own last drop of juice. Steve texted me let him know when I'd be at Delaware Water Gap (NJ at last!!) but I couldn't if I had no phone. So I walked into the little town of Wind Gap, about a mile from the Trail, looking for a place to charge my phone, and probably spend the night, since by the time I got my phone charged it would be too late to keep hiking.
Amazing things happen on the Trail. The right thing or person comes along at just the right time. If it's something you need, like water or a tent stake or a piece of rope or whatever, it's called Trail Magic. If it's a person, that's a Trail Angel. Steve is a Trail Angel who left me Trail Magic with the water! So, as I was walking into town, a man on a bike stopped and asked if I needed a place to spend the night. I told him about my phone. He told me about a bar, "The Beer Stein," where I could charge my phone and camp in the grassy, fenced backyard for no fee. Talk about running into the right person!!
So I did that. I plugged in my phone, sat at the bar and ordered a Sprite and fries, which I was able to nibble but my stomach was still off. I put a horrendous amount of salt on them but couldn't even taste it, a sign I'm low on sodium. I had sweated so much. My heart rate had soared into the 140's on the last climb and was still in the 120's. I was overheated and overtired. Another only-10-miles day. Eleven, counting the trip to the spring. Well, 12, counting the walk into town. I felt sick and weak. But I talked to some great people at the bar. A woman about my age asked how far I was hiking, and when I said "to Maine," she said, "Are you kidding? Why don't you just go out to the street and stand in the traffic? That would be quicker!" She and the others had a lot of questions. It was 6:30pm and 87* outside but in the air conditioning I was getting chilled, and I still felt shivery and sick. I figured out how to hang my hammock kitty-corner from the chain-link fence. I should send a picture to the hammock company.
I got Gatorade at the carry-out across the street and downed a quart in nothing flat. Felt better then and ate the rest of my fries. The night was warm, noisy because of the street, but comfortable, no storms.
THANK YOU, MATT, GINA, AND ALL STAFF AT THE BEER STEIN BAR!