Location: Church of the Mountain Hostel, Delaware Water Gap, PA
I completed NJ today, my seventh state. Half of the states are completed. Bonefish, Druid, Not Bad and I hiked 25 miles into Delaware Water Gap, PA, just across the Delaware River. The day was pretty uneventful since I was moving so fast. I did startle several deer though. Some I didn’t startle. Some deer didn’t even leave the trial when I approached. If the trial was wide enough, like the size of a dirt road, I’d walk on one side of the trial and the deer on the other. The deer have been tamed from so much frequent and harmless interaction with humans. I’ve clapped my poles together and tried to scare deer with hoots and hollers but often they just stare at me and wait for me to pass.
We started our hike later than we had planned today. The shelter faced west and was tucked in a patch of rhododendrons so it stayed dark until 9:00am. We left the shelter around 10:00. When we left, I decided that I would make Delaware Water Gap, PA by dark. I succeeded, completing 25 miles by 6:15pm. The others showed up around 8:00pm. They hiked at the same rate that I hiked, but they just took longer breaks at vistas and for lunch. To get one thing you have to give up another out here. Speeding usually means less fun, but I had fun today on the pleasant terrain. It’s much easier to hike long days when a town is waiting at the end of that day, especially a town in another state.
When I reached the DWG hostel, Church of the Mountain, I found Aaron and Moses reading on the couch. They will have to take a zero tomorrow to wait on a mail drop from their parents. Although the brothers have participated in some mischief on the trail, I’ve come to like them as I’ve come to know them. Cold Feet and Bears had also signed into the hostel, but they had taken a cab to Stroudsburg for dinner and a movie. I decided not to go and joined the brothers for pizza at a restaurant at the bottom of the hill. I can’t remember if I said so before, but the youngest of the three brothers has left the trail. The two who are left have opposite personalities and constantly bicker. The main source of their friction is money, as their parents provide them with only 40 dollars per week to pay for hostels, town food, and supplies. The parents ship all of their trail food from home, and often in towns the brothers still eat ramen and tuna because their budget is so small.
Bears has returned to the trial after five days break. His spirit appears livelier. His face looks healthier and he has added an inch and a half to his waist with sweet tea by the gallon and cornbread by the plateful. He hasn’t cut much weight from his pack, which will probably hurt him in the long run. Hopefully he’ll learn quickly that all of the things he carries aren’t necessary, like two rocks from the top of Katahdin. I’m just glad that he has returned. He plans to reach Harper’s Ferry the same day that I plan to, September 28th.
The hostel is crowded tonight. I’m in the middle of a bubble of southbounders: Druid, Not Bad, Bonefish, Cold Feet, Plays with Bears, Aaron, Moses, and a new addition, Fool. Tomorrow everyone plans to pay their share in a fifteen mile slack-pack provided by the Pack Shack. I still don’t know if I’ll do the slack. The costs are kind of expensive and I don’t want to wake up at 6:00am. I’d rather sleep in and leave late, enjoying my morning in town. We’ll see how I feel when I get the wakeup call. I doubt I’ll sleep well.
I found out tonight that Katie is coming to meet me in Port Clinton, PA. The thought of seeing her puts a smile on my face. The excitement will keep me turning and smiling all night and make the next 80 miles to Port Clinton much easier. I haven’t yet seen anyone from my life before the trail. Soon, I’ll get to see everyone.