Pensylvania Rocks (in a good way) – 28 June

We had a great day today.

I was quite nervous as were told by others how difficult today was going to be, especially as we had Knife’s Edge and Lehigh Gap Climb to do on the same day.

Within 10mins of setting off we saw somebody coming towards us in bright orange gear. We read that hunters wear orange so was expecting somebody with a gun, but it turned out to be a member of a hiking club with a weed-eater on his way to do trail maintenance.

We asked him about Knife’s Edge (he said oh it’s just a short stretch) and we asked him about Lehigh and he said “you have come this far you will manage”.

I realised that his response was similar to Iceman’s typical response (about Lehigh Gap and all the other times I asked him about something I felt nervous about). He always gives the same response – “you will be fine’.

I now get it. The trail is what it is. Some parts are tougher than others, but all you have to do is to keep walking (Or sometimes scrambling). No point going into a panic, it’s just a walk (Or climb). You are not being shuttled into space or something unknown and scary! Just walking.

After that chat I felt much more ready for the day. We normally take a rest and have a snack every 6km. We were close to our first 6km break when we crossed a road, and 20m into the woods we got a nice surprise:

The (un-manned) cooler box was filled with cold drinks, chocolate bars and honey buns (a preservative filled donut-like texture snack that I won’t touch in normal life but devour on the trail). We did as told, sat down and had a little 7h30 picnic (we have already walked for 90mins). This added, I calculated, a good 700 calories to our breakfast bar, enough to see us through to lunch time.

The sugar high helped when we got to Knife’s Edge, and we didn’t take too long to get through that (but it is tougher than the photo shows):

After Knife’s Edge we made up some time with easy walking. Our 12km break was going to be due just before the trail intersects with a parking lot so we planned to take our break a few hundred meters later at the parking lot. It was a good plan as we found Mega Trail Magic where we planned to rest:

The Allentown Hiking Club hosted 2 days of trail magic, yesterday and today. We had a brilliant break, must have been there for an hour. There were about 10 hosts to chat to, so much to eat and drink (even coffee!!!) you could feed a family of 6 for a month, and a list of names of everybody who stopped yesterday so we could find some known names in the list! Mountain Goat, No Eyes, Lost Larry, and Nav (apparently Aero is doing well, I have no idea how that little dog copes with the rock scrambles).

One of the ladies asked us if we hike in the Drakensberg! She worked with the peace corps in Kenia and has visited South Africa and did a day hike in the Drakensberg. Another of the host ladies took my e-mail address, she may be visiting South Africa at some point and promised to let me know if she does!

We could have stayed an hour longer but sitting around wouldn’t get us to Maine so eventually we saddled up and moved on.

We had another good (but less severe than Knife’s Edge) scramble and 90mins later we were ready for our 18km break. We crossed a service road and right where the trail dips back into the forest we found trail magic no 3. Powerade and water – we were still full from trail magic at 12km but the rehydration drinks (on ice in the black bag) was soooo welcome. Thanks to the unknown stranger who left it there.

Now we had a unpleasant downhill to do before we got to the Lehigh Gap Climb. We had stretches without shade and it was HOT. We got to our 24km break and….. Nope 😀: no trail magic. But we stopped at a stream (our last trail water source for 20miles), drank as much water as we could and filled out bottles.

We then had maybe 2km walking on roads and on a bridge before the trail went off into the trees which would take us to our climb. And there, just where the trees started, 30m from the road, we found trail magic again! This was the repeat of the previous one: definitely the same guy, Powerade and water in a black bag with ice. We had our final rehydrate for the day and luckily at that point clouds came up and temper the hot sun a bit.

As we set off I saw my first rattle (don’t freak out mom, Magda used to work with lion and elephant!) – apparently no decent thru-hiker goes without seeing a rattle so I can tick that box.

And then the feared climb.

It was tough enough – quite a few times it was hands helping feet to get up the bigger boulders. I loved it!!! I always say I love scrambling and this was a worthy challenge. I wouldn’t want to go DOWN it but going UP it wasn’t what Steady Eddie said it would be: it was fun!

At the top it started raining a bit and we had a 5km plod to get to camping site. This was the only non-fun part of the day, but maybe by then I was just like an over-tired child after a day as an amusement park.

I have changed my mind about Pensylvania – it rocks! And I am going to sleep like a rock tonight!


6 thoughts on “Pensylvania Rocks (in a good way) – 28 June

  1. We will need to think how to turn the conceot of Trail Magic into something workable in SA. Some people apparently do pavement vegetable gardens? Well done – the rock climbing looks very intimidating!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Couldn’t help smiling Ria to see “10 hosts to chat to” in your list of the good things offered at the Allentown Hiking Club’s trail magic list of assets. That must have made your day. The girl whose uncle (or was it aunt?) once upon a time offered her 20 cents to keep quiet for 20 minutes and who just couldn’t because a train derailed in front of her!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah I remembered that incident, it was an aunt! It is not the chatting you know (😀), it is the fact that there are all those people who CARE about each hiker and their hike. It must be the romanticism of the AT, that the hikers of the AT become recipients of all this support and attention and care.


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