Just S of Ft Franklin Rd(1237.4)-Delps Trail Campsite(1263.4) Pennsylvania
Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook’s AT Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT and CDT.
I had many titles in mind for today’s post. To give you an idea of how the day went, here are some of the ones that didn’t make the cut…
Worst Day So Far
The Perfect Storm
Ingredients For A Rough Day
At Least Nothing Is Broken
The day started innocent enough with Yeti and Smurfun’. We all left camp pretty early at 6:30am. There was nice trail and the morning light through the haze and the trees was enchanting.
My goal was to get a good start so I could possibly set myself up to make it to town tomorrow night when thunderstorms are predicted. We hiked an hour or two together on fairly smooth trail. Then the bigger rocks hit and Yeti understandably takes her time. She also fell yesterday. I went on ahead on my own and it wasn’t long when I turned a corner to see this…
It’s called Knife Edge and I was NOT a fan. I ended up putting my trekking poles away on this stretch and using my hands to help maneuver on the slanted rocks. I don’t like heights or rocks so this was nerve wrecking.
It lasted a couple hundred yards and wasn’t too bad, but I was not sure footed with my legs feeling weak and shaky. As I continued going in and out of stretches with the big boulders, I was still shaky and had a stomach ache. I was mad at myself for giving myself a stomach ache stressing over the rocks and tried to mentally chill out. Then I noticed it wasn’t a regular stomach ache. It was worse…it was the beginning of menstrual cramps…shit! That also explained why I was feeling so weak and wobbly. Horrible timing since today and tomorrow has the rockier hiking.
I got through the bigger rocks and felt kinda wiped out. It had rained last night, but the rocks were dry. What wasn’t dry was the grass I’d step in from time to time, which made the bottom of my shoes wet. Without noticing this, I unexpectedly slipped on a small insignificant dry rock and before I knew it, my pack took over and I was down having landed hard on my uninjured arm, leg, and hand. There was little blood involved, but more pain and swelling. I somehow pulled or hit the palm of my hand where the thumb joint is and it was sensitive and swollen all day turning bruised by the end of the day. The leg and forearm will have good bruises, but were ok. Pictures at the end of this post.
I had lunch at a spring knowing that it would be another 17mi to the next water. So I needed to carry 3.5L (7lbs) of water to get me through an exposed climb, dinner tonight, and a few hours of hiking in the morning. Just before this climb was an option to go into a town. Even though we were just in town yesterday morning, everyone’s strategy was going to be to do the ~16mi hike to town and then spend the night to do the climb in the cooler morning. I was the only one hard headed enough to go on through. My main motivator is the wet weather forecasted for the following two days. I want to get through as much of the rocks as I can while they are dry. So I headed up the 1.2mi, 1,000ft climb. I could see it from below as I crossed a bridge and the guide warns that it is steep, rocky, and exposed.
I used my umbrella, but was surprised by the intensity of the heat there. My thermometer read over 90 degrees and with the humidity it had to be over 100. With how I was feeling, this wasn’t a great idea. Even for someone feeling fresh and energized, it was a bad idea! I tried to capture this practical rock scramble. It was really steep and I was soaked in sweat and dripping buckets worth. You can see the arrows and blazes going straight up. Then the view looking back down on the bridge.
I was spent and feeling quite drained and dizzy, so I stopped frequently to make sure I wasn’t pushing too hard. I think it took me an hour to do that one mile with all the breaks I took to make sure I didn’t faint from heat exhaustion. I do think the umbrella was a huge help. I was completely exhausted when I got to the top and took a picture to remind myself of this stupid decision to hike up at the height of the heat of the day.
Once up there I had already drank a liter of my water I was supposed to be rationing. I lost all will power on that climb and needed the pink lemonade. A couple was camping up top, they actually did that climb for fun!? They had extra water and gave me almost a liter, score! I then hit a section that stayed on top fairly level and was a thin trail cutting through tall grass.
Anyone who knows me knows that the enclosed and overgrown trail is like my Kryptonite, especially in heat. Well, to add to it today, I had the sweat dripping down causing my cuts to burn and then the blades of grass scraping them further along with giving me new small scratches. That put me over the edge and was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back. My mind when to the dark side and all I could think about was how tired I was, how I could be in town with air conditioning, and how I wish I was anywhere, but in that tall grass.
After a few miles, it went into woods and downhill which was a relief. I put the umbrella away and was really worn out just on auto pilot. The rocks were more basketball sized and imbedded in the ground. At one point, my pole got caught or stuck on a rock and somehow I tripped myself. Fortunately, it wasn’t the hard fall I had earlier, but the heavy pack of water had my momentum going forward and the uninjured knee slowly grinded down a rock. It was not enjoyable and blood mixed with dripping sweat to require many tissues. Ugh! I was so frustrated, exhausted, and tired. My body was not up for this today!
I made it four more miles to camp on thankfully nice trail in shaded woods. I assessed and cleaned all the wounds and even got to use my first Mac & Cheese bandaid which my dad got me. I’ve noticed that every main joint is hurt to lean on except for one elbow, but that the one with with swollen and bruised palm. It makes for very strategic turning in the tent. Here are pictures of the new scrapes and bruises. Just pathetic and I can’t wait for these rocks to end before I break something.
I have a friend meeting me at a gap 10mi into the day tomorrow to hike a bit and eat lunch. Then I hope to hike 15mi more to get into town at Delaware Water Gap. With how I’m feeling and the poor weather forecast I may just give in and get off after 10mi tomorrow. We’ll see. The wind has picked up with a chance of rain overnight and even a thunderstorm from 5-7am affecting my early leave time. It then says the evening storms could have downpours, hail, and strong winds. I know I feel crummy now, but when I’m in that hotel tomorrow night as a storm rolls through, I think it will be worth it. I may even take a zero as the rain is expected to continue into the next day and I’m just wiped out!