Yes!!!!! Another state complete, now we need to keep our momentum going and trudge onward. Everyone laments how terrible the rocks of Pennsylvania are, and while there are some very rocky sections, we did not find the rocks to be nearly as bad as the lack of trail maintenance and overgrown trail.
Traditionally the Appalachian Trail has been maintained by volunteers in the the local trail clubs along the trail, and that has worked pretty well until now. After talking to several local club members and maintainers it seems that the club members are aging, are no longer physically able to trim the trail and younger people are not joining the clubs. We believe that this is where the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) needs to step in and help. Yes, the clubs have traditionally maintained the trail, but ultimately the ATC is respinsible for ensuring the trail is in working order, so if the clubs are unable to fulfill their responsibilities the ATC needs to step in and fill the gap. The ATC could help recruit younger members into the various clubs along the trail, organize volunteer work crews to go out and maintain the trail or hire work crews to maintain the trail. Having a trail properly trimmed, 4ft wide x 8 ft tall, in no way detracts from the wilderness experience, it allows people to traverse the trail in a safe manner and discourages bushwacking which can lead to increased environmental impact. As you will see below, the trail was so overgrown in places you couldn't even see the walkway and we are covered in scrapes and lacerations from all of the overgrown thorns and limbs. We are disappointed that more attention is not being paid to the maintaining of such an amazing trail, and for now our home.
Sunday 19 July 2015
Bake Oven Knob Shelter to Palmerton, PA, 1554.4 miles
Tracey, the owner of Bert's Steakhouse was an amazing trail angel. She let us shower in her back office shower and then let us camp out in her garage out back overnight, there is nowhere for hikers to stay in town. The food at Bert's is absolutely amazing, so stop by and enjoy some great eats!!!
Monday 20 July-Wednesday 22 July 2015
After severals days of extremely hot and humid weather we were beat and decided to take a zero Monday. As always, the trail provides and a fellow paratrooper and his wife ( Mike and Ann) live nearby in New Tripoli and picked us up in Palmerton and took us home for 3 days. Mike is a 173d Airborne and 82d Airborne Vietnam Veteran and as always it was great to hang out and share stories and experiences. Mom and I enjoyed helping Ann plan their road trip out to South Dakota for Mikes 173d Airborne reunion. Monday we rested, Tuesday we sat out thunderstorms and Wednesday Hendo was sick. We are eternally grateful for Ann and Mike's wonderful hospitality!!
Hendo's Mom, fellow paratrooper Mike and Hendo at the Fort Franklin Rd AT crossing just up the mountain from Mike and Ann's home.
Hendo and Ann feeding their beautiful fish.
Ann and Mikes beautiful and huge fish
The lily bloomed while we were there!!
Thursday 23 July 2015
Palmerton, PA to Smith Gap Rd, 1567.1 miles
The Blue Mountain Drive-In Restaurant in Danielsville, PA let us drop our extra gear off and Ann and Mike were willing to drive our extra gear to the Restaurant, so we were able to slack pack from Palmerton up Lehigh Gap to Danielsville, PA. While we were eating lunch at the restaurant, the gentleman/Mechanical Man whose house we stayed at Thursday night, came in and offered to take our extra gear on to his house. This was the best trail magic ever, we got to slackpack all the way from Palmerton to Smith Gap Rd, 12.7 miles.
Hendo's Mom crossing the Lehigh River enroute to climb Lehigh Gap up ahead.
While rather steep at times we were kind of disappointed with Lehigh Gap, we were expecting it to be much harder than it really was
And the climb up Lehigh Gap begins
Hendo's Mom working her way up.
Hendo climbing her way up.
Even though it wasn't as hard as we were expecting, it wasn't a walk in the park either. Hendo coming up and over the steepest part of the climb.
While we are in to way supporters of tagging, defacing or grafittiing nature, the US Flag painted on the rock at the crest was kind of cool....AMERICA!!!
Hendo posing with the US flag.
Looking down into Palmerton, PA in the Lehigh Valley
Looking back down the trail behind us White blazes painted on the rocks mark the trail.
Hendo continues to work her way up...
Hendo's Mom working her way up the rocks...
Up top we were greated by endless wine berries...yummy!!!!
We also came across some yummy black raspberries.
A close-up of the Mulliens blooms
At Smith Gap Rd we were lucky and thrilled to run into a fellow 2014 AT hiker, Knaffles and her dog Champ. Knaffles lives nearby in New Jersey and came out to the trail to do some trail magic. Like ourselves, Knaffles and Champ flip-flopped last year and braved the AT in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts through cold and snow......dedicated Hiker Trash!!!!
Hendo's Mom, Knaffles holding Champ and Hendo
Thursday we spent the night at the home of Mechanical Man and Crayon, near Smith Gap Rd. They live in an amazing geodesic dome home and allow hikers to stay in their garage and shower for $10.
Hendo, Mechanical Man, Hendo's Mom and dog Guinness
Friday 24 July 2015
Smith Gap Rd to Wind Gap, PA, 1575.2 miles
While today's hike was flat and not too rocky it was the worst maintained and most overgrown section of the trail we have hiked since southern Virginia and Roanoke AT Club. Even though I wear long pants my legs were covered in scratches from thorns. The below pictures are not of the woods, they are of the trail, if you look closely you can barely see the dirt path on the ground.
Some pretty flowers we saw along the way.....
Jewelweed at Leroy Smith Shelter where we had lunch
No we are not bushwacking, we are on the AT making our way through head high overgrowth.
Hendo making her way along the overgrown AT
Hendo "lost" in the overgrowth
Our trail sister Wendy and her son Josh, picked us up Friday evening at the Wind Gap, PA trail crossing and took us home for a day.
Hendo, Wendy, Josh and Hendo's Mom
Saturday 25 July 2015
Zero with Wendy
Today we spent the day with Wendy and Josh, repairing Hendo's pants, playing in the Delaware River and eating pizza!!
Sunday 26 July 2015
Wind Gap, PA to Kirkridge Shelter, 1584.4 miles
Wendy and Josh dropped us back off at Wind Gap and we continued north to finish up Pennsylvania. We had been warned that the section from Wind Gap to Wolf Rocks was the rockiest part of the trail and boy was it. However, today's section of trail was properly trimmed back and maintained thanks to the BATONA Hiking Club, http://www.batona.wildapricot.org. We made it to Kirkridge Shelter and got into our tent just in time for thunderstorms to move in for most of the night. They were some huge storms, but our tent took it all in stride and kept us safe and dry.
Today was all about the rocks
Monday 27 July 2015
Kirkridge Shelter to Pennsylvania/New Jersey Border, 1591.1 miles
Today started out foggy and rainy but eventually cleared up. We finished Pennsylvania today and were met in Delaware Water Gap by my CVMA brother GPaw and his wife Patty. GPaw and Patty amazingly treated us to a night in the local hotel, which allowed us to shower and dry out from the thunderstorms Sunday night.
The Red Efts were out in force today enjoying the damp and rainy conditions
Some repairmen were up on top of a communications tower we hiked by installing a big round antenna. You can see the new antenna being hoisted up approximately 40 ft off the ground when we arrived
Here is a close-up of the repairmen on top of the tower
Here is a close-up of the antenna being hoisted up.
Hendo's Mom and Hendo on Mt Minsi getting ready to hike down into Delaware Water Gap and to the northern border of PA.
Hendo's Mom hiking through some beautiful rhodedendrun tunnels on our way into Delaware Water Gap.
With all the rain we have had in July the creeks were running good with some beautiful water falls.
A white blaze and large arrow point the way north over the brdge over the Delaware River. Below the arrow is a sign for the Crisis Counseling Hotline. We found this amusing..we did not need the number and did not jump off the bridge.
Hendo's Mom hiking across the Delaware River to the Pennsylvania /New Jersey Border.
We made it to New Jersey and as usual celebrated with a shot of Jack Daniels!!