Trish picked me up around 9:30 and took me back to the trailhead. That woman really saved me. I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t picked me up the night before!
Day 28 started with a super fun climb out of the Palmerton Superfund Site. The city of Palmerton used to have a Zinc mine, which stripped the mountain of pretty much all its vegetation. There are vegetation restoration efforts happening now, but the climb up the mountain is basically a climb up a giant rock jungle gym. And, despite (or because of) the environmental detestation, it was the most beautiful climb and hike I’ve had since being out here. Because there is no canopy of trees, the views on the ridge stretch on forever. This, combined with sunny weather, made the first five miles of the day go by very quickly!
There is verrrrryyyy little water on the ridge, so I was happy to find some trail magic water bottles about 5 miles in. I drank two, ate a snack, and carried on.
The next 8 miles were rouggghhhh. My body was tired and the rocks were frustrating. Every step I took had to be calculated so I wouldn’t fall over or roll an ankle, and that got annoying.
I decided to stop for lunch after the rough stretch and was joined by a guy named Goldstar. He was going to a shelter just about 3 miles past where I was eating lunch, but I was hiking into Wind Gap, PA, which was about 8 miles further.
We hiked the three miles together, which was really helpful to get my mind off how tired I was. He is one of the most hilarious people I’ve met out here. He made me promise that if we saw a rattlesnake that I would take a picture of him holding it. Of course, I said yes. Then I asked him how he was going to do it. He had a plan that included a forked stick. I really hoped we wouldn’t see one.
After we hiked to the shelter, I continued on the rest of the way to Wind Gap. I walked into town around 6:30 pm. Across the street as I came in was a sports bar. I saw a guy come out from the bar and run across the street toward me. He introduced himself and explained that he was on the committee that made Wind Gap into an official trail town. He told me that the committee was having a meeting that evening at the bar and asked if I would join them for dinner.
Of course, I said YES! The committee showed up, and it included 1) a woman that I had just seen on a billboard while walking into town, 2) a couple of business owners, 3) a former city mayor (the only female mayor in the town’s history, I might add), and 4) the newspaper owner. We all became fast friends, and I sat through their meeting and ate fish tacos. The main topic of the meeting was their annual holiday fundraising concert.
They paid for my dinner and beer (AMAZING) and the newspaper owner took my picture to put in the paper. HA!! Then, one of the guys gave me a ride to a hotel. Magiccccc!!
Spencer had actually been driving from Kansas while I hiked, and we had planned to meet at the hotel in Wind Gap. He drove the 23 hours in order to surprise his mom who lives in Pennsylvania and to possibly take me home from the trail.
So we are at his mom’s house now resting and having fun. I’m about 95% sure that I am done hiking–my body and mind can’t take much more of it. It’s disappointing to think about quitting and right now, disappointing is really the only word I have to describe the thought.
I’ll try to collect more of my thoughts over the next couple days and will blog again about the decision.
Results of the zinc mine…even after growing back for 35 years
View from the top of the rocks