Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 89: Best Entrance Ever!

June 4: The highlight (or dread) for many hikers was a small section of trail called the Knife Edge--a particularly rocky section that requires a great deal of rock-hopping along an exposed cliff. If the rocks were wet, it could be positively treacherous, but today was a nice day and the rocks were dry. Other hikers complained bitterly about the slow going--and the going was most definitely very slow today! Not just along the Knife Edge which gets all of the glory, but also the multitude of rocks all over the rest of the trail as well. I planned for a short day of hiking and didn't let the slow going get under my skin. If you're not in a rush, it can even be fun! =)

Near the end of the day, I reached a trail junction for the North Trail, a blue-blazed trail that would rejoin the Appalachian Trail a couple of miles up. The sign grabbed my attention, however, since it was labeled as "scenic." As if they needed to convince people that they should take it.

My guidebook showed 1.4 miles up the A.T. until the North Trail rejoined it, while the North Trail was labeled as being 2 miles long. So the blue-blazed trail was 0.6 miles longer than the AT, but that's not really much in the grand scheme of things. And if that's the scenic route, well... I'd happily hike an extra 0.6 miles for a better experience!

So I detoured off the A.T. and blue-blazed the North Trail that, as promised, provided some absolutely wonderful views! I'll let the photos speak for themselves. The trail was a bit overgrown--not severely, but it definitely didn't seem to be maintained as well as the main A.T. On the other hand, there weren't many rocks to scramble over which, according to the hikers I asked, was still a big problem on the main A.T. Overall, the A.T. was shorter, but more difficult and without the great views. I think I got the better bargain with my North Trail detour. =)

I set up camp for the night at the George W. Outerbridge Shelter. Heavyweight, Superman, Ginger T and pretty much everyone else was already there and working to build a campfire. I set up camp in the shelter, cooking up dinner and generally had a good time chatting with everyone.

Neon Mountain admires the view.

Then we heard it: "Cawww! Cawww!"

The horsemen and I looked around at each other. We recognized the call. It was the standard Horseman call. As one of the Four Horsemen would approach the shelter, they'd make a bird call that sounded like a raven. "Cawww! Caww!" Then the other horsemen in the shelter would reply in kind. It was one of those weird rituals that form over time with people you hang out with a lot. =)

So we heard the "Cawww! Cawww!" Bostrich was long gone--probably weeks ahead of us on the trail by this point, so we knew it wasn't him. Blueberry, we thought, was about a half-day or a day behind us. In theory, he might have caught up with us, but it seemed unlikely at this point. And anyhow, the bird calls sounded like they were coming up the mountain from the wrong direction. It couldn't be Blueberry! But then... who was left? We were scratching our heads trying to figure it out, but went ahead and replied with the standard return call.

A minute or so later, Blueberry arrived! And what an entrance! First, he came in from the wrong direction! He'd been behind us--how did he get ahead of us, and why was he walking the trail in the wrong direction? Second, he carried in a large box of Dunkin' Donuts--a dozen of them that he planned to share with everyone in the shelter. Third, he also hoofed in a large, 2-pound container of "party mix" for everyone as well. And finally, he looked like he just arrived from Hawaii wearing two leis. It was a most remarkable entrance!

We were all dumbfounded, not even sure where to begin. What the heck?!

The Knife Edge is just a ridge of boulder hopping. It's very slow going!

The story that came out was one of a woman he met at a road crossing that offered to give him a ride into Palmerton. Even though he hadn't been looking for a ride into town, he accepted anyhow because you don't just say no to those sorts of things. (Apparently.) So he had her drop him off at the Dunkin' Donuts, where he acquired the donuts. He spent some more time in town, picking up the party mix. I'm still not clear where the leis came from. Then he headed back to the trail.

First, he started hiking northbound, but turned around and started hiking southbound after reaching some cliffs that were difficult to navigate while carrying a large box of donuts. Blueberry had also assumed we (Heavyweight, Superman and I) were at this shelter anyhow since he'd been following us in the registers. He had a pretty good sense of where we were on the trail.

And presto! His surprising appearance!

Everyone at the shelter had at least one donut, and most got a second one because of the extras. There was so much party mix, we couldn't finish it all, but that's okay because Blueberry would use the left overs for snacks the next day.

Superman pulled out his guitar again and provided the live entertainment while the rest of us munched on the donuts and party mix. It was a good night! =)

The Knife Edge also has some pretty steep cliffs that you don't want to fall down!

This section hiker is now coming down from off the Knife Edge.

Much of the trail were just these jumbles of rocks. Slow glowing!

A box of trail magic! I grabbed a blueberry Pop Tart in honor of Blueberry. (Later, when he caught up with us at the end of the day, I shared it with him!)

This campsite looked so nice, I almost wanted to stop right here! But it was much too early in the day for me to stop!

Hikers never "throw in the towel." No, they just "throw in the shoe"! =)

This is an ant's-eye view of an ant hill. =)

The area along this section had clearly burned somewhat recently. I'm not sure if it was a wildfire or a prescribed burn, though.


Snake on the trail!

How can I say no to a scenic route?!

Scenic views! Weee! I could see all of the way to Palmerton!

Settling into the shelter for the night. Heavyweight is working on the fire. (Superman is the knee sticking out from behind the bush, and he's playing his guitar.)

Blueberry knows how to make an entrance!


Mary said...

Szyszka????? Pinecone is spelled PINECONE. What am I missing? I googled Szyszka and it's a "settlement" (So it's not even a village? It's smaller?) in Northern Poland.

Ryan said...

Szyszka is Polish for pinecone.

Remember, Google.COM doesn't know is where to go for Polish words!

Unknown said...

Donuts! Never say no to donuts =)
That is quite the entrance for sure!

-Only Dreaming

Karolina said...

'Throw in towel'? I don't know this expression...

Ryan said...

Throw in the towel--a euphemism for quitting! That's a good solid expression! =)