Location: Pocahontas Stream Campground
Katie arrived in Palmerton, PA around 11:00pm last night. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her waving to me from the parking lot. I have come so far and finally received a visit from someone from my life before the trail. Katie looked the same, but certainly I look different. Katie rubbed my patchy beard and laughed when we hugged. It felt wonderful to be called Mark again.
Katie and I had a couple beers at the bar by the post office and then left in the car to find a hotel room. We stayed at the Hampton Inn near Palmerton. The room was expensive, and the money Katie spent had been reserved for a massage for me in DC. Sleeping in a bed felt great.
Katie and I woke lazily this morning and barely made the continental breakfast which closed at 10:00am. I surprised Katie with how much I ate. Cereal, fruit, bagels, toast, biscuits. We left the hotel around 12 o’clock and drove to Port Clinton. Yes, yes, I skipped 27 miles of trail. Port Clinton is a tiny town. The local outfitter has closed because of a Cabela’s in the next town. The one restaurant is at the Port Clinton Hotel, which is hardly a hotel. There are only a few rooms on the second floor of the building that are rented, mainly rented by hikers. Katie and I ate lunch at the smoky restaurant. The food was good and the portions large. I hardly displayed a hiker’s appetite, leaving a pile of fries on my plate. The plate of fries seemed never to shrink as I ate fry after fry.
After lunch, Katie and I decided to leave for the woods. I had promised her a night camping if she came to visit. I loved having her on the trail. For so long I have wanted to share my experience with the people that I love and it means a lot to me that Katie joined me even for a short section.
We parked her car at the trailhead and I sorted through her daypack to get rid of anything she didn’t need. We had a hard climb to start and then a rocky section of trail to Pocahontas Spring where we planned to camp. Katie moved quickly and easily on the trail. I was impressed for she skipped over the rocky terrain quickly, a little too quickly. I slowed her pace so that we didn’t get to the campsite with hours of daylight to bore us. We took the time to pose for some goofy pictures. We staged a couple action shots.
We reached the campsite an hour before dark. Katie helped me set up my tent and then I cooked a Mountain House meal. Beef stroganoff, I think. Katie didn’t seem to like the meal so I ate most of it. I’ll admit that it isn’t the best Mountain House meal. The night turned chilly quickly after the sun had set and Katie and I went to the tent for warmth. We couldn’t both fit on my sleeping pad so I bundled up to sleep on the ground. The ground was cold and the sleeping bag could hardly cover both of us. After changing positions several times in the small tent we realized that we could not be comfortable trying to sleep on the air mattress. We deflated the pad and decided to sleep on the sleeping bag to help cushion the hard ground. We spend a few minutes playing Hangman in the back of my journal and then tried to fall asleep. Staying warm and comfortable proved difficult. We wrapped our bodies tightly together, but we were cold most of the night. When bones press against the hard cold ground the heat is lost quickly. Strange noises sounded around the tent all night. Thumps, bumps, cracklings and rustlings. Many times I talked aloud to the noises to discourage a possible bear from eating our food bag. All night I felt certain that an animal patrolled our campsite. I’m sure I worried Katie to the edge of fright. Neither of us slept well.