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Week Fifteen: Early risers, rattlesnake dinner, and the end of Pennsylvania!

Sunday July 17th, 1983
Mark and I got up even earlier today - at 4:30am. We did this for a good reason too - the day was to be hot and muggy. My right foot had a blister on the heel which hurt much of the day. By now I would have thought that blisters should have stopped plaguing me, but this was not the case. I credit Rocksylvania for the aforementioned blister problem. The constant shifting of my feet to either avoid or balance on rocks caused chafing which led to a hot spot and later a blister. On this day in particular, to complicate matters even more, the trail had not been maintained and so we walked through brambles a good part of the day. As we hiked through the bramble, the thorns would scratch our legs and the salt from our sweat would burn upon entering the wounds.

Tonight we are camping at Hertlein Campsite where we anxiously await the threatening rain. We can hear the very loud thunder that precedes storms of this kind. There is a swimming hole .01 mile from here which we bathed in when we arrived. Hertlien Spring felt damn cold - especially since it was so hot today. I had been hot for days so it very pleasant to be comfortable for a short time upon immersion. A welcome respite from the heat.

Monday July 18th, 1983
Got up at 4:30am and out for 5:30am. Even thouh the trail more or less went through the town of Port Clinton today, I had no need to stop because I still had plenty of food and no P.O. drop. It was just hike, hike, hike. We did 21 miles to Windsor Furnace Shelter to find Jim, Tim Platts (at last), Pete and Alan Strackeljahn (Gonzo). I had not seen Tim for a very long time. They had only done a 5 miler today because of the heat, and then suddenly Fuzzy Jim came strolling in packing a case of Rolling Rock beer. A Good time ensued.

Pennsylvania was turning out to be a vacation within a vacation. Happenstance provided me with several hiking buddies and a bit of alcohol. By now I was progressing Northwards at a decent rate and becoming more confident that I was going to attain my goal. These mid-states were unremarkable, and I wanted to get back to New England which was just a stones throw away. Well, at least in my mind it was. I knew that soon I would be banging out several states in short succession and this would add to my mental disposition.

Tuesday July 19th, 1983
Hiked 17 miles today at a leisurely pace to the Allentown Hiking Club Shelter. Mark has gone ahead, and I decided to hike with those I had met and/or caught up with yesterday. I had been told about the party that the group had set up with a local school teacher named Mike a few days ago, and yeah, I was influenced to hold back a little in mileage as long as the party didn't slow me down to a snail's pace (which it didn't) I was up for it. Ed Garvey, author of the book I read about hiking the A.T. before I set out, hiked an average of fifteen miles per day, and he did just fine so that was my reference gauge. At the shelter, I met Mike, the great local, who also bought a case of beer for all of us. He appologized for not bringing more, but promised to meet us again tomorrow at Outerbridge shelter for a "real" picnic.

I think that Mark had been slowing his pace in an effort to seek companionship. he had confided in me some of his plans and other information that may not have been common knowledge. He told me that he wanted to run the New York marathon on October tenth, and for that reason had a schedule to keep. At one point he even told me that he had carried a pistol for protection. His story from the Smoky Mountains National Park was that it was taken by park rangers who told him they would give it back to him once he had reached the northern boundary and exited the park. He assured me that he had a license to carry, and had a holster on his pack, but I can't remember if the gun was in the holster or if it was empty while I hiked with him.

After I arrived, Terri Zimmerman came strolling in after having taken a few days off. Terry had just gotten back on the trail after having taken a few days off, and was speaking with a fellow thru-hiker when Mark told me that he was going to nap for a while and then added, " If she decides to give it up, wake me up so I can get in line". (2016 Note: He had told me previous to this date that he frequented a New York club called "The Adonis". This meant nothing to me at the time, but many years later I had found out that it was a notorious sex club)

Al (Gonzo) had killed a rattlesnake near Elkville that had eleven rattles. He had skinned it, and with the help of my squeeze parkay, he fried it. We all ate a piece of it for supper (not bad).

Tomorrow we will be doing 18 miles, and Mike is promising to bring ice cream to the shelter there! This is much more fun than mega-mileing.

(Elkville rattler) (View from Dan's Pulpit) (Marcel along the trail)

Wednesday July 20th, 1983
This morning not far beyond the shelter, I passed the Gambrinus restaurant and a mega-beer bottle. I thought that it would be a great rest and munch stop, but unfortunately it was too early and it was closed. The parking lot was made of old cracked asphalt, and as I strode over it I noticed just outside the entrance there was a full six pack of bottled beer just sitting there. Man, I was tempted, but didn't take them, nor did I partake of even one brew. A person's honesty is most tested when alone and left with choices.

Hiked 18 miles to George W. Outerbridge Shelter. There were many rocks, but still an easy hike. Easy enough that I stopped to pick a few blueberries for breakfast tomorrow morning. I caught up with Paul Nichols and talked him into staying at Outerbridge and "The Party". Yes ,"The Party" is the third day in a row for a beer opportunity. This time Mike brought hamburgers, beer as well as his promised ice cream. What a Great Guy!! The burgers were quite delectable, but we had to rush to eat them before the ice cream melted in the extreme heat! At the shelter tonight is the same crew as yesterday plus Paul Nichols. I now have the whole crew getting up at 4:30am due to the intense heat in the afternoon.

(Gambrinus restaurant on PA 309) (Some of the trail conditions today)

Thursday July 21st, 1983
The crew woke up at 4:30am. It was never my intention for the whole crew to get up at the crack of dawn to start hiking, but it had morphed into that routine for a time. It sucked getting up that early, but when the apex of the day came I knew that I would be almost to my destination. The dog days of summer took their toll on me. Some days I felt like I was sleep walking from one shelter to the other.

We proceeded to the rock climb up out of Lehigh Gap. The views were great, and the climb was easy. There were no trees at the top and I had to take a piss. Since I was the first one at the summit and the others were far below, I just whipped it out and let'er flow over the edge of the precipice.

(Summit of Blue Mountain after climb out of Lehigh Gap) (View from summit)

(Tim Platts and Pete Headon near the summit) (Fuzzy Jim near summit) (Fuzzy Jim and Terri Zimmerman near summit)

The rest of the day was hot, but easy enough to be able to put in a 21 mile day even though we napped two hours in the middle of the day at one of the shelters.

(view from Tott's Gap)

At the end of the day a storm seemed to be brewing, so when we arrived at the Gateway Motel, situated on one of the road crossings, Gonzo!, Pete Headden and I decided to call it a day - moments before the rain hit. Besides, we had already covered over twenty miles, and going farther would only make tomorrow easier but not get us farther along the trail than we would be if we stayed and enjoyed a little comfort today. Safe and dry, we split the bill three ways which came to $7.00 each and included the use of a not very fancy portable T.V.

(The Gateway Motel)

My feet are still sore from these damn rocks!

Friday July 22nd, 1983
Did a 15 mile slackpack into Delaware Water Gap. Funny how now that we are much farther along on our journey that we consider 15 miles to be a "short" day. We got in to Delaware Water Gap at about 2:30pm; in time to hit the post office and check on the bus schedule to Stroudsburg, PA for dinner. Me, Al and Terri boarded the bus and found "The Blue Note" in Stroudsburg to eat dinner. Gonzo! looked over the menu and asked me what Manicotti Parmesan was. Apparently he had never eaten any kind of Parmesan dish. I just chalked it up to his Midwestern upbringing.

Tonight I will crash at the hostel here in Delaware Water Gap.

Saturday July 23rd, 1983
Not much happened today - mostly just a day of rest.

Julie, of Eric and Julie, quit the trail upon arriving in Delaware Water Gap. I thought another victim of the PA rock monster. (2016 note: That may had been just conjecture because the rocks were getting to me, but later I found out that she and Eric were arguing a lot. Not surprising, many couples and hiking partners had split. I remember her as pretty, with blue eyes, brown hair, great features, and a beautiful smile. In spite of that I wouldn't want to have had her for a girlfriend for any great length of time - too much drama!). So Eric is now hiking with Bruce Berlin. They all just came in this afternoon, but we are all heading out tomorrow morning.

There was a piece of paper hanging on the bulletin board at the hostel where I am staying where I could sign up for a spot at Roger's Appalachia Cottage some days up the trail. Since I had been sending him post cards occasionally along the trail already, I signed up by sending another post card to him to let him know I was coming.


Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983