Monday, September 22, 2008

Apparently there are A LOT of Rocks in PA

Fox Gap to Lehigh Gap.
30 some miles in 2 days.
BirdCouple's biggest hiking challenge to date!

This is a picture of the trail with very little rocks.
In fact, the rocks in this picture are rather smooth and flat.
We could have laid down and napped on these wimpy little smooth rocks.
We didn't get many pictures of the sharp, jagged, toe busting rocks. Probably because we were too focused on avoiding taking a header on them.

Cute Husband summed up the AT in North East PA.... "I don't mind rocks in the trail. I do mind when rocks are the trail."But, we are doing the WHOLE trail. All 2175 miles of it, with a goal of 100 miles per year. So, there will be no skipping the painful parts.

With Warren's perfect planning, we headed North on Friday evening, crashed in a hotel and met our shuttle driver, Scott, of Ye Olde Backpacker at Lehigh Gap Saturday morning for the drop at Fox Gap.

If you are near Port Clinton and need gear, Scott is the man to see.

We love his motto:

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave in a well preserved body, but to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, wow what a ride.

Cute Husband. Checking gear.
Ready to skid in sideways.

And, we were totally worn out after 13 miles of continuous, unending, uninterrupted rock-ness.
Rocks!
Always rocks!
You would think (and I did) that there is no way that the Earth could possibly have 13 miles of sharp rock.
It does.
It is the AT going South from Fox Gap.

This is a simulation of what happened to my foot about 10 billion times walking to the Leroy Smith Shelter.

Did you know that you can actually walk on rocks long enough to cause a fist size blister on the bottom of your foot?
True.
But once we offloaded our packs at the Shelter life was pretty good... That is until I couldn't find the spring to filter water in total darkness and we contemplated life without coffee in the morning.
Then we contemplated life without water for the next 4 miles of rock.

Cute Husband saved the day the next morning when he discovered the 3rd (and only running) spring a 1/2 mile from the shelter...

We re-hydrated, got pumped with caffeine and packed up the traveling LoveNest.

Day 2 was the real challenge.
16 miles ending with the climb down to Lehigh Gap.
The rocks seemed less abundant and perhaps a little less sharp as we journeyed South.
Our feet were hamburger-like but happier. It was a picture perfect day and the views traveling to Lehigh Gap were worth all those silly little stones that got in the way.
Poke Berry in full ripe. We went through a field of blooming golden rod and had the pleasure of meeting a non-BirdCouple honey bee.

Scott had warned us about the lack of water enroute to Lehigh Gap and we had stashed a gallon at Little Gap.

Good thing. No H2O at Delp Spring.

Cute Husband checks the maps and calculates water supply as I check out the amazing views.

The most random things happen on the AT.

For example, when this guy parasailed right by us at eye level as we were on the top of the mountain. And here we are on top of Blue Mountain.

Happily hiking through the remains of a barren Superfund cleanup site.

Note the setting sun.

And this is where it got a little dicey.

See, we still had to climb down the steep bald face of Blue Mountain.

A 1,000 foot rock scramble down with black toes, blistered feet, exhausted bodies, no water and very little light.

There was the white blaze that pointed to the sky as your next step.

There was the rock scramble where we threw our hiking sticks down the cliff so we could use every appendage to hold on to the mountain.

There was the part where a strap on my bag got wedged between two rocks. The more I pulled the tighter it got. I thought I was going to be Turkey Vulture food or cause a rock avalanche.

As complete darkness fell, we hit the tree-line of SuperFund mountain...

Totally worn out, shouting, WOW what a ride!
I love this guy.

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