Start Milepost: 1256.8 Time: 05:45
End Milepost: 1273.5 Time: 13:15
Miles hiked: 16.7
Miles to go: 916.3
Temps: 70°, High 80’s°
Blue Side trails:
Overnight: tent at Leroy A. Smith Shelter
Map: Click on map pin
A fourth man into the shelter last night was not new to me. I’d seen him several times previously. I had seen him two days ago beside the trail putzing with his lunch. I drew up a seat on a rock nearby and joined him. I finished my lunch and was back on the trail before he could locate his food items. Strange. The last time I saw him was at the shelter yesterday morning. With the sun up – while wearing his head lamp turned on – he was going back and forth between the shelter and where his gear was laid out on the picnic table. Not only was he wasting battery power, he was wasting calories with all the trips he was making between the shelter and his gear. Ah, but it was his hike – not mine!
As I left that camp site yesterday I offered him a Good Morning and stopped briefly to talk. He began the conversation by saying he had gone 25.8 miles the day prior and at the 25.6 mile point (.2-miles before stopping) he had conducted a face-plant. He asked if I would check out the crown of his head where he had gained several lacerations. (He, very obviously, had not become a fan of PA rocks either!) I advised that his crown looked good – nothing to be concerned about. And I went on my way.
In late afternoon I set up my tent in a shade-less open area on the only level area within miles (the shelter was full). I was later joined by two men and the three of us baked in the sun of the afternoon. Just as the sun was beginning to pass behind the ridge-line, I saw the the forth man passing by our tent site. So, four hours after I first selected my place in the sun and knowing the shelter was full, I hollered out: “You are welcome here!” And he did join us and introduced himself; his trail name was Brave Happy, although he said he was neither! As he stood with a ball-cap on his head looking around for a level spot for his tent, I asked how his head was. He looked over at me with puzzled expression. He asked how I knew about that … which reminds me of similar story (a favorite phrase of mine that draws snickers within my family) about which I don’t have time to write.
As he was setting up his campsite, I watched him snag his bear bag line in a dead tree not fifteen feet behind one of the tents. (Earlier in the evening I had mentioned to other hikers nearby the somewhat standard 100″ from tent/shelter guideline.) Brave Happy resorted to tossing softball sized rocks, without great aim, in trying to untangle the mess. He eventually cut the line and used another dead tree five feet closer! Remember, the site had no shade. The other two men hung their bag successfully the first time – ten feet behind another tent in a dead tree! I slept with my food using the 80-20 rule.
Last night, with the foreknowledge of the other three hikers, I set my alarm for 05:00. I was gone from camp before they dropped their tents. But they were indeed beginning to hustle.
Two miles into the day’s hike there was a monster climb. It took me well over an hour to reach the top of what is called the rock pile. Nearby pictures do not do it justice as a pile of rocks. And rock climbers need not carry sticks! The effort might have been relatively easy had I not been wearing a 30-pound pack and carrying sticks.
So, after a relatively short day of 17-miles and no water resupply, I arrived at the Leroy A. Smith shelter at a surprisingly early time: 13:15. As I began looking for a tent site, a younger hiker dude laying in a hammock inquired; What are you looking for (as if I left my pocket knife on the ground on a previous night).
Says I: A tent spot.
Says the dude: It is only 1:15.
Says I: I’ve been hiking since 05:45. How long did you hike today to get here?
Says the dude: I am lazy; I can get where I want with my pace whenever I start.
Says I to myself: Any road will take you somewhere.
When I asked how the water source was he replied he had not been to it. (I went there and it is .5-mile downhill and is a pool spring. I got enough water for supper, evening drinks (!) and for tomorrow. Lugging that uphill was a weary task!)
Let me reiterate one of the aspects the trail: I enjoy many of the people. Like the three men last night. Some others are funny in their own special ways, but not always enjoyable. Like the dude.
Tomorrow is a 20-mile hike to Delaware Water Gap, PA. It will be another day with very limited water sources. While it is level terrain for the most part, it is still in PA. Thus I expect rocks.