A lot has happened since our last update, which I will recount in order, so this is may be a little lengthy. The synopsis is that we have finished rocky Pennsylvania, as well as swampy, buggy New Jersey and nearly all of heat wave afflicted New York.
First, our current location and condition: all members of our party are in good health and spirits as we escaped some brutally hot weather thanks to Anne’s aunt Penny, who drove from her home in Connecticut to pick us up in New York a few days earlier than we had planned. We are spending the weekend with Penny, her husband and Anne’s parents while the heat breaks and Willett recovers from his first trail related ailment, a limp and heat induced fatigue, the subsequent disappearance of which permitted the local veterinarian to deem him fit for further hiking.
And now we rewind back to central Pennsylvania, where we last left our heroes as they entered a notoriously rocky and strenuous portion of the trail:
This scene was not uncommon. Where the rocks were not as great as these, the trail consisted of miles upon miles of loose cobbles.
There were pleasing looking forests, abundant with ferns and hundreds of scuffling and squeaking chipmunks, but this did little to alleviate our troubles with toe stubbing and ankle twisting rocks.
We ascended a difficult hillside at Lehigh Gap, where the ridge has been deforested due to two hundred years of zinc smelting. Willett had to be lifted up some sections, which were harrowing enough to climb with our heavy backpacks.
We couldn’t fathom why the trail was routed through this area, which is designated a Superfund site by the EPA.
It was a horrifying no-mans-land of rocks and carcasses of trees. Grasses and other hardy vegetation are returning in places, which seemed to only provide habitat for innumerable ticks.
With this view of Delaware Water Gap, PA we knew we had finally been delivered from Pennsylvania. We arrived in town to partake of the special at the Village Farmer Bakery, a hot dog and a slice of pie for $2.49. We then crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey.
Jersey started out quite nicely, with improved terrain and views, such as the glacially formed Sunfish Pond, where some cairns had been built on the shore.
My dad met us near Port Jervis, NY on his way to Nova Scotia. He brought Willett a huge marrow bone, the result of which was a completely satisfied pooch, not even roused by a tempting pizza crust.
We were lucky to get clued into the existence of a sort of secret shelter for long distance hikers. A selfless benefactor built a pair of small cabins, with an outdoor shower, well water and a lovely pastoral location. We shared the space with a garrulous ex-Navy medic and his dog, Elvis. He shared many tragic tales with us and gave us advice on subjects ranging from what to do if coyotes attack your dog to proper response and contingencies following a rattlesnake bite.
It was during this period that I noticed the loss the phone charger, so there are few other pictures of New Jersey, which is probably just fine, as the rest of the trail there passed through mosquito infested swamps and wetlands where we didn’t care to pause to record the surroundings. The water sources in this stretch were equally unappealing, and we were lucky to be provided with occasional faucets at park headquarters and even gallon jugs left near road crossings by local trail angels. We soon passed into New York, where the bogs were left behind in favor of hot and lengthy stretches of exposed rock faces.
Wild blueberries abounded here, and miles of bushes laden with yet under-ripe fruit teased us. We only can hope that there will be some tastier specimens further north this summer.
Mountain laurel is in full bloom as well.
Willett and I are seen here passing through “The Lemon Squeezer.” The next few days got hotter and hotter, until we were obliged to stop walking during the middle hours of the day. Even with the siesta, we were quite belabored by the heat, especially Willett, who developed a limp and then to our dismay began to collapse trail side in protest. We were uplifted by a meeting with a trail angel who went by the name “Paddy-O” at Lake Tiorati who refreshed us with cold beverages, snacks and hot dogs. We intended to hike a few days more before meeting Anne’s family, but Willett’s condition did not improve by the morning, so we arranged for rescue by Anne’s aunt.
And that brings us up to date. We intend to be back to finish the last few days in New York after the weekend, and from there knock out Connecticut and Massachusetts in the coming weeks before entering much more challenging and mountainous terrain, hopefully without the debilitating heat.