Let’s Talk Rocks.

In other words, let’s talk Pennsylvania.

So how many of you were picturing a nice, graded, dirt trail? It’s okay; I once thought that way too.

But oh, honey, no…

rocks

This is a bit more like it. And this started in southern New Jersey. The word is that the rocks won’t leave us until we get into the southern 100 miles of Pennsylvania’s 250 miles of AT. PA is the most bitched about state on the Appalachian Trail because of the crazy, ankle-twisting, foot-rubbing, sharply stabbing, pile of rocks that make up the trail.

Which is why I do my feet like this:
feet
The tape is mostly a preventative measure. I put it on the areas that are most likely to be rubbed in my boots and blister. It doesn’t always work.

Let’s take for example, LeHigh Gap, the single most yellow-blazed section of the AT because of the steep rocky decent into the valley and then the equally steep climb up and out.
“Yellow blazing” is a terrible sin where hikers get in large, metal boxes with wheels and ride on black trails with yellow markers in the middle around difficult areas of forest. As purists, Treasure Hunter and I do not believe in this method of cheating and believe that hikers who do it are not real thru-hikers.

Anyway, this is LeHigh Gap.

This is us looking back at the big pile of rocks we just climbed down.

This is us looking back at the big pile of rocks we just climbed down.

I was not a happy camper.

I was not a happy camper.

Oh, silly me, I forgot my rock climbing gear at home. There were points where we would have to squat down and slide down on our butts to get down sharp drops. But, like most things, it’s all in how you look at it and the hike was an adventure even if I did think it was a very dangerous one.

photo 3

The views were beautiful. Then, as we got off the mountain and into the valley, we found this wonderful trail magic tucked away by the roadside:
photo 5

My opinion of the gap improved greatly after fresh fruit, pudding snacks, and a cold Coke.

Another distinguishing feature of Pennsylvania is that it is dry. I know you’re thinking we went through this in New York (with a brief reprieve in New Jersey), but this is a whole different ball game. There are no streams or lakes or other bodies of water. Whatever naturally occurring water there is comes out of springs, which have an inconvenient tendency of drying up in the summer months.

So, when we want to get water, we usually have to add an additional mile to our day because that’s how far off trail it is. Often, it isn’t even a spring, but a nearby house or restaurant that allows hikers to use their spigots. Between these places and trail angels, we have been able to get by without too many problems. We just have to carry a lot more water on our backs.

Another highlight of PA includes “The Pinnacle”:
zach pinnachle

meg pinnacle

(Oh, waddaya know, its a big rock!)

rock piole

We’ve seen incredible views of the farmland in PA. There are these beautiful, multi-colored, rolling hills. I can’t wait to walk through them after we hit Duncannon and the rock barrage lets up.

Until then–

Happy trails,

Artemis

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