Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 90: Lehigh Gap and watch out for wasps!

June 5: There's not much water available on this section of trail, and much of the water that is available we are warned not to drink because the area ahead is part of a Superfund site and therefore unsafe to drink. To make sure I stayed well-hydrated and didn't have to drink from suspect water sources, I loaded up with enough water to last me for the whole day.

When I started the Appalachian Trail, I had intended to stop in Palmerton. I had fond memories of the town from my first thru-hike, including a stay in the "jail"--also known as the basement of the city hall. It was a sad day when news had reached me a couple of weeks earlier that after decades of use by thru-hikers, the jail had been closed. I never learned the reasons for it--if thru-hikers were causing problems or the just the sheer numbers of them in recent years was enough to close the facility, but it made the town a lot less interesting and I decided to skip it this time around. If the supermarket still gives away a free apple to every thru-hiker, I don't know. I wouldn't find out either!

The morning started with a heavy overcast, and stayed overcast for pretty much the whole day.

Early in the morning, the trail climbed up Lehigh Gap--which is among one of my favorite climbs of the entire A.T. I'd been looking forward to it all week while other hikers who'd heard about it approached with dread. The trail climbs steeply up an exposed slope and I found it absolutely exhilarating! I used the word exhilarating so often to describe this section of trail, Heavyweight even teased me about it. "You'll see!" I warned him. (He'd later agree, it was exhilarating. *nodding*)

So that's how I started the morning, and I loved it! =)

The rest of the day was largely non-eventful. The trail had been rerouted since my 2003 hike to go around the Superfund site, and the miles of dead trees I remembered were no longer there. (Or at least not along the reroute.) The reroute did provide some excellent views overlooking Palmerton, however.

I'm usually among the first to leave the shelter each morning, and this morning was no exception. Heavyweight and Superman usually aren't far behind me, though, and they passed me relatively early in the morning. Blueberry tends to sleep in late, though, and I didn't see him again until near the end of the day.

The big news he shared when he did finally catch up: his balls had been stung by a wasp! We all got a great laugh out of that. Blueberry had cut up his pants to turn them into shorts, and he might have gotten a little carried away cutting them a bit too short. If he was sitting, and you were unlucky enough to be sitting in just the right place across from him, you'd get more of a view than you probably wanted. Apparently, that applied to wasps as well, one of which managed to fly into his shorts and sting him on the balls.

He assured us, it hurts to be stung in the gonads by a wasp. I'll take his word for it.

Crossing the Lehigh River.

I'd almost forgotten how much I had miss Blueberry and his antics. Another of one of his traits that he'd continue to develop since we had hiked together in Virginia: going ultra-light. So light, in fact, that he no longer carried a toothbrush. (Don't need it! Hope he doesn't need his teeth a few years down the road either!) I also heard about him ditching his sleeping bag and tent. And the party mix container he picked up yesterday he now turned into his "bear canister." I'm pretty sure he knew that the canister wouldn't really repel a bear but rather conformed remarkably well to the shape of a real bear canister. But he'd go around and tell people that it was his bear canister. Apparently I had inspired him in additional ways, such as no longer treating water along the trail.

Oh, Blueberry.... *shaking head* If it was anyone else, I'd think they'd be in imminent danger of killing themselves, but for Blueberry, everything always seems to work out well for him. Oh, sure, he might be uncomfortable for a bit (wasps stinging your jewels, for instance!), but never anything life-threatening.

At the end of the day, we all camped near the Hahns Overlook, well away from the shelters of the trail. The shelters were spaced out inconveniently, and I told the others that I suspected that there would likely be a campsite somewhere near the overlook so we pushed on towards it hoping for the best. It seems like there are always campsites available near water sources, overlooks and other prominent landmarks, and this was no exception.

Ginger T seemed to have joined the group as an honorary horseman, but he was a relatively new face for me and I'm not sure I've formally introduced him in my blog as of yet. He was born in New Jersey but grew up in the United Kingdom so spoke with a British accent. I'd guess he's in his 20s, and as it turns out, he actually built a soda can stove based on directions from my soda can stove website! He's the first person I know of who looked at my website before he even knew me. =)

Since Bostrich was so far ahead on the trail and it seemed unlikely any of us would ever catch up with him again, I started joking with the other three horsemen if that meant they'd start taking applications for a new horsemen to get the number back up to four. Heavyweight said absolutely! And that Ginger T and I were the front runners to fill Bostrich's place. Yes! I'm a front-runner!

Life was pretty darned good right about now. =)

The one downside for the day was all of the caterpillar poop raining down from the trees. The gypsy moths were going crazy and if you sit still in the forest, you can hear what sounds like a light sprinkle. And it is a light sprinkle--of caterpillar poop! Although it was not expected to rain for the night, I set up my tarp anyhow to protect myself from the poop falling from the trees all night long. I'd much rather cowboy camp under normal conditions, but these were not normal conditions....

Looking back down at Lehigh Gap. The A.T. crossed that bridge below over the Lehigh River. And it's an exhilarating climb!

An exhilarating climb, however, does not mean it's an easy one!

View looking down towards Lehigh Gap.

Overlooking the town of Palmerton.

Superman passes me on the trail. (That's his guitar sticking out of his pack.)

The Three Horsemen... and my competition for the fourth slot! From left to right: Ginger T (with the red hair), Superman (with the Superman logo on his chest), Heavyweight (who's not heavy at all) and Blueberry (and the short shorts that allowed a wasp to sting his balls).


Anonymous said...

I do believe I see a turtle sitting on a log playing a guitar! Look at the picture with the AT symbol in the foreground, and check out the log.

Don't Panic!

Mary said...

You're right! It looks like a celebrity frog to me. It looks like Kermit waving to Ryan and Ryan didn't even mention it!

Anonymous said...

TMI on the wasp sting details. I now have that image seared into my brain and am thankful there was no photo included.


Unknown said...

OMG! I see Kermit too!

Unknown said...

I see the turtle too! Cool! Some awesome views there..

And you were right.. it looks like someone definitely got carried away when making pants into shorts...

-Only Dreaming

Karolina said...

I hate wasps!