Wednesday, May 30, 2012


You can't see it, but the mile marker says "Mile 0" -- the State Line!!!

Last night, after an EIGHTEEN-mile day, I crossed the state line out of Pennsyl-freaking-vania into New Jersey! I don't think the rocks magically disappear at the state line, but they should at least abate. They say New Jersey is really very pleasant.

For two days I had been dreading the climb over Wolf Rocks. It was part of why I stayed in Wind Gap, not wanting to tackle the rocks at the end of a long hot exhausting day with not enough water. I'd been told it was treacherous, especially if they were wet. They were coming up 8 miles out and I was heading for the next shelter, another mile farther, total of only 9. I figured that with the rocks and the heat, it would take me 6 hours to get to the rocks and one more to the shelter. Seven hours was enough to shoot for, the way I'd been feeling.

I bought another quart of Gatorade and stuck it in an outside pocket before leaving town, and filled my water reservoir with 3 liters. So I was carrying 8 pounds of fluids for myself, and I'd bought another gallon jug to leave for other hikers (Trail Magic), who might be desperate in the afternoon when they got to the road crossing. I was pretty much staggering under it, even after leaving off the extra jug at the crossing. There was a mile-long uphill walk out of town and then a steep climb to start off, carrying 8 extra pounds, probably about 35 pounds total.

I started something new: every hour, I took off my pack and rested 5 minutes. I couldn't believe how much this helped. A couple times I even got out my whistle and played a couple tunes. I'd feel tired and sick and start to get an anxiety attack, but when I played "Amazing Grace" I'd feel better. "Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." The day was quite warm but not as hot as yesterday, with a nice breeze on the hilltops.

A little more than 3 hours in, I came to some daunting rocks. What are these? No one told me about these!! I gotta do these before Wolf Rocks??? I need to save my energy! These weren't terrible, just had to be careful and keep strategizing where to step next. I slipped once but only got a sore butt. I started wondering... is it possible these are the Wolf Rocks? Naw, I've got another 2 hours before I hit them. Could it be? Naw. Is it possible? Naw. Wolf Rocks are hard. When I got down off the descent, I looked at my guide. Well, if I come to a road, Fox Gap, within the next hour, I'll know that was Wolf Rocks, but I don't think it was. I don't dare hope. I don't want to get disappointed.

A Southbounder came along and I asked him: "Those rocks I just came over.... do you know if that was Wolf Rocks?" "Sure was," he said. "They're right ahead for me!" Are you serious? That was it? Two hours early? These rest breaks, the Gatorade, and plenty of water do wonders! I assured him the Rocks were actually quite doable, and we both went on our ways.

 I was at the shelter after only 5 hours. I was 8 miles from where I was supposed to meet Steve tomorrow in Delaware Water Gap. I was not quitting at 1p.m. with only 8 miles to go, mostly downhill, to get out of Rocksylvania. I called Steve to meet me in DWG at 6:30.

My feet were hurting and I was tired but the last 3 miles were made more pleasant with a companion. I met up with this hiker, Phil, who, coincidentally, had been given a ride from Wind Gap back to the Trail by Steve when he bought my water. So Phil and I hiked together talking about all kinds of things into DWG. He helped get my mind off my burning, blistering feet.
Phil at a creek

Me crossing the creek

The farthest I've walked before this (on this hike, anyway) is 15 miles. I kept telling myself, I've run 24 marathons and done 2 Ironman's, surely I can hike 18 miles.

We crossed the Delaware River on a freeway bridge with a pedestrian walkway. Semi trucks whizzed past, making the bridge bounce and drowning our words to each other. It was pretty hair-raising and about half a

mile long. 

Delaware River

But we got to the other side and we were in New Jersey!!!! Pennsylvania is over!!! I drained the last of my gallon of fluids just as we reached the end of the bridge. Been rationing for a couple hours again and was feeling pretty dry.

The sky to the west was black. I got a text message from my friend back home that the weather map showed a solid line of red bearing down on the area and that I'd better hunker down. Steve got there just before the rain started pelting. He's got this way of timing things just right.

Today I rested. My feet are blistered, my butt is sore from the fall on the rocks, I pulled yet another tick off myself (total of 3 that were attached, plus several that weren't) and Pennsylvania in general beat me up. On the way to Steve's campground in the truck last night, I kept getting cramps and shooting pains in my feet, ankles and legs. I was shivering. I was hungry but also felt sick. I was a mess. I took Anaprox DS (prescription strength Aleve) and it didn't make a dent. I took a narcotic pain reliever my doc had given me just in case, and it worked. The pain stopped and I slept 10 hours.

I have reached New Jersey!!! I'm going to recuperate for a few days and do some bike riding. It will feel so fast and free, and no 30# backpack. Yum.


Evie in WV said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evie in WV said...

Just awesome! Keep it up.

Ellie Hamilton said...

Thank you, Evie!!!

OK, who deleted their comment? 'Fess up....

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you got trough Wolf Rocks did not want to sare you the other day. How about the 80 bridge? Keep on treaking. John

Ellie Hamilton said...

It was a learning experience :-) The bridge was pretty wild. Kept thinking, if these semi's had a pile-up right here, we'd be goners.