The road less traveled…

Just another weblog

1st week of June – Deleware Water Gap: Gateway to New Jersey

Before arriving at Delaware Water Gap, a few noteworthy things happened.

1. I chanced upon a baby albino deer. It was such an awesome sight and was really sad when I had to walk away from it. I really hope that it survives.

2. Only 24 hours after spotting the albino deer, another baby deer is hanging out on the trail making itself completely comfortable with passing hikers and licking the sweaty salt off our legs.

3. I fell. Badly. It was a moment when for a split second I thought “this could end my hike”. But my new pack broke the majority of my fall and I hobbled away with a long gash on the back of my leg. I am so sick of Pennsylvania and its freaking rocks.

4. Came upon “Firehands” doing some Pepsi/PBR/Snickers trail magic. He was whittling a spoon that put mine and Ratbucket’s whittling skills to shame!!

Once at Delaware Water Gap I made myself comfy in the free hostel located in the basement of a church. Saw some familiar faces and headed to the outfitters to get my packages which included my new summer sleeping bag. By saying new, I mean Joe sent me his from home. Thanks Joe!

Another hiker scored a ride to the store so I joined and got some lucky charms and milk to feed my cereal craving. Later that evening a handful of us went to the local pizza place for some good food and beer. The next morning was spent lazying around and lacking the motivation to get going, but I was ready for New Jersey, so I eventually made my way back to the trail.

So far New Jersey has been amazing. Although I think I would be happy with anything that is NOT Pennsylvania. I took a break from the shelters and started camping out on my own a little bit more. I like how it gives me more freedom to stop whenever I choose. I also spotted my first New Jersey bear, who seemed a little more intimidating then the bears of Shenandoah.

For the last few days I’ve been hiking mostly on my own, not seeing too many other people. On one of my longer days I was trying to make it 29 miles when a bunch of darker clouds were off in the distance. I felt it was another sign when a day-hiker passed by me and mentioned an awesome hostel in a nearby town. Instead of hiking up a mountain in a rainstorm, I chose to go to town. Luckily I came to the road right as another day hiker, Russ, was heading back into town. I stuck out my thumb for 2 seconds and he called over and offered me a ride. Not just any ride…a ride in a totally decked out Jeep Rubicon. I had to stop myself from drooling, it was one of the most awesome looking jeeps I’ve ever ridden in.

The awesome hostel was indeed awesome. It was also located in another church basement. TV, Internet, shower, free laundry and use of the church kitchen including all the coffee I could drink. The best part was convincing the other 4 guys staying there to watch Beauty and the Beast with me. To tell you the truth, it really didn’t take all that much convincing. Almost done with New Jersey, then on to New York.

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June 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

5-30-12 The Thunder Rolls…and I get stuck in small town America.

Being stuck on a ridge when a crazy storm rolls through is never a good idea. I could honestly say that this was the first moment that I was truly afraid on the trail. I heard the storm coming and once I got to a clearing and was able to see the clouds, I paused long enough to say “Holy Shit” and started searching for somewhere to make camp. I knew I couldn’t make it off the ridge before the storm hit me so I had to try my luck with my tent. I barely had enough time to get my tent pitched and threw my pack and my muddy self into it before the hurricane winds picked up and rain came pelting down. And of course my phone had zero service so I couldn’t check to see how bad it really was. It was a long night, but I survived.

The next morning when I started to descend from the ridge, I knew I made the right choice in staying up there. It was such a steep descent that in the rain it would have been similar to a water slide. Even without the rain I was slipping all over.

Getting to the town of Port Clinton was very exciting for me as I was expecting my brand new backpack! My old backpack, named Luigi, had broken straps and seams ripping to the point that it was keeping me off-balanced while I was walking and leaving chaffing marks on my arms and hips. When I got to the post office around 8 a.m. the postmaster sadly told me that it was not there and that it was possibly delayed due to the holiday weekend. I decided that I would wait until the next morning, hoping that it would come in by then.

As I was sitting outside the post office, a guy from the Barber shop across the street invited me in for some free coffee. Having no other plans for the day, I happily accepted. It was an awesome barber shop full of all kinds of musical instruments and hunting memorabilia and a handful of guys chatting with the barber. I was enjoying my coffee and a couple of cookies and light conversation with the fellow patrons when another gentleman walked in with 2 suitcases. The others greeted him warmly and I had the look of crazy bewilderment as I watched him open the suitcase, take out an accordion, and begin playing wonderful music. It was one of those “Is this really happening?” moments. My concerns of my backpack were suddenly lost as I was completely enjoying the random situation that I found myself in.

The barber shop, Port Clinton PA, heard some awesome Accordion music.

Saying farewell to the fellas I walked to the Pavilion that is a free shelter in town for thru-hikers. I figured I would find the familiar faces of Avatar, Ratbucket, Kittens and maybe a few others, but the only one there was Pretzel, and he said none of the others had actually stayed there the night before. I assumed that they had continued on the trail already and I decided to hitch over to Hamburg, about 4 miles away, to spend my afternoon. The major factor about Hamburg is it had a Cabella’s, and I could probably spend all day walking around a Cabella’s, yes I know, you can judge me all you want.

When I walked back up to the road by the Post Office to get a hitch, I ran into a couple hikers and chatted with them for a bit and then a guy came out of the Post Office and asked if I needed anything. When I said I was heading to Hamburg, he said that he was too. I love it when rides just tend to happen without the difficulty of hitching.

Once at Cabella’s my phone finally received some cell service and I discovered that the hikers mentioned earlier had actually crashed in another hiker’s hotel room just across the street. After taking care of some errands I met them at the hotel and took advantage of a free shower and hanging out in an air-conditioned room. I told them I was staying in Port Clinton at the Pavilion another day and they were easily convinced at taking a zero with me.

Later on when we were hanging out at the Pavilion, I decided to go for a little walk around the town of Port Clinton. It didn’t have much. There was a small hotel/bar, a Peanut shop that sold mostly sweets and trail mixes, the Barber shop, and the Post Office. I found some awesome Jalapeno jellybeans at the Peanut Shop and a group of us later went to the bar/hotel for dinner. A handful of other hikers showed up that we had recently seen in Duncannon and we all got some 40’s to drink at the Pavilion later that night.

Avatar, Ratbucket, Redman and I at the Pavilion in Port Clinton with our 40’s of Yuengling.

Ratbucket and Avatar: “I can’t tell how much is left”.

I thought this sign in the ladies bathroom was hilarious. I really wanted to test the “Septic Alarm System”…but I didn’t.

It was a great day and I was thankful that my bag didn’t arrive. If it was there when I wanted it to be, I would have switched out my gear and hiked out of town. Instead I was able to truly experience the small town of Port Clinton, from the Barber shop boys to the crazy little peanut shop. It was a good time.

P.S. My pack arrived the next morning. Luigi is officially retired, the new pack is yet to be named. Special thanks to Michele for helping get my pack to me and doing all the hard work! I owe you!

June 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment