Location: City Jail, Palmerton, PA
At 4:30am, I was rudely woken by cold rain leaking through the roof of my tent. The rain had begun at midnight when I finally fell asleep. A puddle of the cold September rain gathered on my tent fly and grew for hours. Eventually the tent fabric gave way to the water and the water flooded my tent. I woke up in the pitch black not to the wetness but to the noise. It sounded as though there were a waterfall inside my tent. Only when I moved did I feel the cold water and realize what was happening. I pushed on the sagging rain fly to disperse the puddle and then spent ten minutes methodically feeling for my headlamp in the dark.
I contemplated packing up and hiking right then, but that thought was short-lived once I realized how hard it was raining, how hard it would be to pack in the dark, and then how hard it would be to hike over the Pennsylvania rocks in the rain and the dark. I managed to stop the puddle from forming on my tent by rearranging the stakes and propping my pack in the center of the tent to help water flow off the fly. Around 6:15am, I satisfactorily secured the tent and I curled my body in the dry half of the tent with the dry half of my sleeping bag and tried to fall asleep. I could tell that morning had come as the inside of my tent became brighter. As I lay quietly with a calming heart, I heard a small animal nuzzle his way between my tent and the fly tarp right by my head. I could see the bulge of his body as he tucked himself between the fabrics. At this point, I didn’t care, and I let the animal remain while I tried to go to sleep.
I woke up again at 10:00am. I gathered my things and left my wet tent for the hopefully dry shelter. The rain still fell consistently. All of the hikers were still in the shelter, putting off leaving until the last possible second. I related my story of the morning and found that they didn’t have it much better in the shelter because of the snoring of Cold Feet and Plays with Bears. I sat in the shelter with Bonefish and Not Bad and ate breakfast. We finally left the shelter at 1:00pm for the 16-mile hike to Palmerton, PA where we could dry our bodies and gear.
We hiked the 16 miles without stopping for a sit down break or meal. We snacked while we walked and it rained the entire afternoon. The trail held water in most places and I dragged sopping boots for many miles. My boots are now truly on their last leg. I don’t think they will make Harper’s Ferry, WV, but perhaps they will. They are cracked, torn, worn, and rotting at every crease and seam. They managed to make it across the worst of the Pennsylvania rocks though. The rocks’ reputation entered conversations as early as Maine. Northbounders that we talked to mentioned the rocks like they might mention a brush with Death. The rocks haven’t been so bad.
Today we hiked through the Palmerton Super Fund site, a destroyed section of forest. The nearby Zinc smelting industry had poisoned the surrounding environment, as far as can be seen are dead trees, often just barren rock remains. The site has been placed on the EPA’s Super Fund list and efforts are being made to restore life to the dead zone.
We arrived in Palmerton, PA around 2:00pm. Luckily we found space in the town hostel in the basement of the police station. We registered at the police station. They told us that we could not get Palmerized and then return to the hostel. They would not hesitate to throw us out if we returned to the hostel after drinking heavily. By registering at the police station, we agreed to submit to a breathalyzer if they suspected us of drinking. Not Bad, Bonefish, and I found Druid, Aaron, and Moses at the basement hostel. I made my bunk, ate Chinese takeout, and fell asleep dry and warm.
Oh yeah, there is a gymnasium in the building and we plated H-O-R-S-E for an hour or so. With our worn knees, we played like a group of old men. No one could make a layup. We passed the ball and walked when we dribbled. No one could jump because of sore legs, so all the shots were flatfooted.