9.3 miles -- 202 total!
Sunny, partly cloudy; cool & breezy
Back to Delaware Water Gap with my lighter pack. In fact, it was so much lighter that after a couple hundred yards I took it off and checked to be sure I'd brought my food. It felt that different.
While I was "home" I got an email from a friend I hadn't met yet, "Knitting Bull," who lives near DWG and offered to day-hike with me and do anything she could to help me. I'm planning 9 days without Steve this trip, so I need a food drop. She agreed gladly, so she met us at DWG and I gave her a bag of 5 days' worth of food, to bring me at a designated road crossing on Wednesday (today is Saturday.) This is great. THANK YOU, KNITTING BULL!!
The hike out of the Gap was long but not nearly as steep as hikes out of gaps in PA. The vicious rocks disappeared almost immediately. A few stones but mostly easy walking, even uphill, even downhill! Astonishing. I met up with a man about my age who was avoiding cleaning his garage by going out for a dayhike. It is always so good to hike with someone, to have someone to talk to, someone to share the time. I keep thinking how different this hike is from my GA-MD trek 3 years ago, at the peak of thru-hiker season, with throngs of hiking partners and easy-to-find friends. I am alone so much now. Most thru-hikers are still in Virginia, and those who have come this far quickly pass me; that's how they got this far already.
We hiked together to Sunfish Pond, a landmark I'd been looking forward to reaching. We ate lunch sitting on rocks; I brushed off yet another tick. A man and boy were fishing on another rock. It was quiet and peaceful.
My feet feel better. I got cheap knee-hi nylons to wear as sock liners, and they feel good. Happy feet.
I met a young couple southbound with a lot of gear. They were headed out just overnight, "My first overnight!" she exclaimed excitedly. "That's great!" I said. "Where are you headed?" They answered, "The shelter." Hmmm.... what shelter? I was a good 6 miles from the Gap and there was no shelter. "Kirkridge," they said. Gadzooks. That's 14 miles away. It's 1:30p.m. They say they started an hour ago. So they've probably come a couple miles. There's no way in the world they're going to get to the Kirkridge Shelter by tonight. The last 7 miles are straight uphill out of Delaware Water Gap. They've got an awakening coming. But I encouraged them, said to look for my entry in the shelter register there, where I said I was leaving to reassess, but guess what, hikers, I'm back! We all went on our ways and I hope they have the sense to spend the night in the Gap rather than try to reach the shelter.
As for my own camping place, I was headed for the Mohican Outdoor Center, which has cabins and tentsites, free to thru-hikers, which I still consider myself. When I got there, the young man at the desk asked if I'm a member. Um.... I'm a member of ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy.) He asked, "Are you a member of AMC?" Egads, the Appalachian Money, er Mountain Club! This is their joint? I didn't know that! They charge an arm and a leg for huts up in the White Mountains of NH, where rich vacationers in clean new outdoorsy clothes can dayhike from hut to hut and enjoy a rustic lodge with a wooden floor and long wooden tables and eat big meals prepared by the hut "croo" (crew) and then retire to wooden bunks with mattresses and drift to sleep happily reminiscing about their lovely wilderness experience. Thru-hikers may stay if they work, although there are usually only places for two or three. They get to eat after the paying dayhikers are finished, and they do not get bunks, they sleep on the floor or the tables.
Anyway, this was an AMC joint, and they did me the favor of exacting only the "members' " price, $9 rather than $11, when I had thought it would be free. I was miffed. They had to "see if they had a site," many were reserved. They found one. Then another man asked me, since I'd mentioned hanging a hammock, to please hang it within the confines of my own campsite, not on just any trees in the area. Excuse me, sir, I've hiked a few miles and I know the ropes. Sheesh.
But, all in all.... it was a nice campsite. I had my own picnic table and my own "bear box," a metal box with a trick latch that bears can't open. There was a nice, clean, airy privy that didn't even smell, and if I wanted a flush toilet and running water, I only had to walk to the lodge (where paying customers were dining politely after their appetite-whetting day in the great outdoors.) I sat in a cushioned chair in front of a fireplace (not burning) and read and charged my phone. Then I went back to my site, got my sleeping bag out of my hammock, and wrapped it around me while I read at the picnic table. It was quite chilly. When I went to bed I was wearing my hiking shirt and skirt, tights, socks, pullover sweater, and wool balaclava (one-piece head and neck wear.) I played hymns on my Irish whistle. Sleep came easily.