So, when I left off writing two weeks ago, I was in Palmerton, PA, June 1st. I woke up in the Jail House Hostel fairly early, and immediately crossed the street for the laundromat to put a load in. Then, I got into the diner with a line of other hikers (Rolling R and the Aussies were there) to get breakfast. Although, I planned to be in town most of the day, I was still hungry early and all slept out.
I woke up in Rausch Gap before the other two hammockers. I walked down to the (recently-restored) shelter and said hello to the one hiker who stayed there, and admired the spring, which came right out of the retaining wall and landed in a large metal tray inches from the shelter. I greeted the bees who had taken over the shelter and used the privy. I drank my breakfast and returned to camp, packing up and leaving before the other hammockers had even gotten up.
Rausch Gap, it turns out, was once a thriving coal mining and railroad parts repair community in the late nineteenth century. The mining was poor and the railroad moved operations elsewhere, so it wasn’t long before the community disappeared. The road still running through where it stood and an old cemetery is just about all that remains.
Things go very fast for me for the next few days. This morning, I was down to the road in just a few hours. I had to go through a meadow, over a road, beside a creek (where I stopped to collect water), under a road, over a pedestrian bridge, and under the highway (which towered above me on stilts). By the time I climbed halfway up the hill, it was sweltering out and time for my afternoon nap. I hung in my hammock for four hours or so, checking messages and getting forty winks. I weather a short afternoon storm, and then when it felt like it was starting to cool off, I packed up and headed on, hoping to get to 501 Shelter that night.
I woke up in Boiling Springs fairly near first light, or at least well before Packman and friend woke up. The other fellow in the campground was up about the same time. He finished packing up before me, but then, he didn’t have a dog to feed. Copper finally got an opportunity to see Boiling Springs, and since I was in no rush to get to beer this time, I took advantage of the morning light to get some good pictures of the Children’s Lake and its surroundings.
Derecho’s effects were meant to be felt most strongly in the following afternoon, so I decided I would try to get a taxi to the post office and back to the trailhead the following morning, which meant I needed to get some resupply that night. There was a Save-A-Lot down the street from Gus and Ted’s, but it was quite a trek by the time I delivered the hot wings back to the room and fed Copper. In fact, after I walked the mile back there, it had closed, and so had the adjacent laundromat, so there was no possibility of washing clothes that night with real detergent. I took a different street back to the hotel, and managed to pass a Turkey Hill, a convenience store owned by Kroger and stocked with a small selection of Kroger brand foods. So I added some dinners and snacks and grabbed a gallon of green tea to eat with my hot wings and went home to wash my clothes with Softsoap in the bathtub. I never felt like eating dinner; the hot wings went untouched.
The next morning, I walked to the breakfast nook in a brooding cloud, and by the time I got my waffle and bagel and cereal made, it had started thundering. I took the food back to the room to give Copper some comfort from the thunder, but he seemed fine. After breakfast, I called the post office. They said they hadn’t gotten my package from Steph yet. I cursed a bit and went down to the lobby to drop another 80 bucks. The storm stopped within an hour and no more of Derecho’s cells came through that day, so the US Postal Service was entirely responsible for my taking a zero.
April Johanssen, a 35-year-old single mom, is turning her life around by getting back to nature. After years of rarely leaving her house in Chicago, she became obsessed with Harper’s Ferry and drew on the support of local and online communities to fund a break-out camping and hiking trip. It’s almost a week into that trip now, and her funds, those she didn’t spend on food and gear, are running low. So, she starts volunteering in exchange for her site at the hostel, and, because she’s got to work four hours a day, she’s not getting to much of the hiking she came to do. The debilitating migraines don’t help either. And when she does have time to hike, after all that work is done, for one reason or another, she just doesn’t feel like it. She’s not getting done the thing she came to do. She wants to try a longer trip with the backpack, but her tent is too big to carry, and she’s never even done a day hike with the pack on. She needs some practice, and a push.
So she had to climb up Weverton Cliffs with me. It’s only a couple of miles, after all, and I need someone to take my picture in front of that gorgeous view anyway.