I woke up all alone and bug free in the Eckland shelter this morning after one of the best night’s sleeps I have experienced on the trail. It was like being in a room by yourself in a bed. Tandem came in as I was packing and told me it had thunder stormed overnight.
We had breakfast and watched Mosey and Jungle Jim leave for the trail around 7:00. Ginger and Gilligan left next, and Mio left with us at 8:00. Like usual in Pennsylvania lately, there was a 1000 foot climb from the road. There were many rocks of different sizes to traverse today. In addition, it started raining, making the rocks slippery. The best rocks are those large enough to walk across but not too deep or steep between them.
We also saw thousands of caterpillars on trees along and off the trail.
We took a lunch break at the Allentown Hiking Club shelter with Ginger and Gilligan who told me Mio had found a Geocache without me. It was raining harder when we finished lunch, so we hung out hoping for a lull in the downpour. Once that came, all five of us headed out together, with Ginger leading.
There were more rocks and some old gravel roads. We reached PA 309 and headed over to a restaurant for Coke and coffee. I had a slice of blueberry pie a la mode. It reminded me of summers in New Hampshire eating Yum Yum Shop pies with ice cream at the summer house on Lake Winnepesaukee. I am looking forward to picking blueberries along the AT.
After dessert, Top Chef came in solo and greeted us. We paid our bills and headed to our packs. Mio and I went to look for a Geocache near the parking lot on the way back to the trail. Gilligan, who used to cache with his father, joined us.
The cache was under a sign that had fallen over, but we got lucky, and I found it. I signed the log for us and returned the cache to its place. Our hunting apparently scared a baby bunny out from under the sign, so we tried coaxing him back underneath. We left him and headed back to the trail for the final six mile hike to the Bake Oven shelter.
These six miles were some if the worst we have hiked due to rock climbing, small pointy rocks on trails, and long periods of walking over hard-to-manage rock formations. After a few hours, we finally arrived at the shelter all worn out.
I scratched my left shin again on a rocky fall. The bleeding stopped with a little coaxing and later I was able to clean the wound by the spring. We chose to tent above the shelter on the sunny ridge and hung up drying lines for wet items. We watched the sun set during dinner.
Today was a rocky 17 miles. Tandem and I discussed our hiking plans are for the next few days, planning for a nero day to rest and watch the USA in the World Cup on Sunday night.
Tomorrow is more rocks for 24 miles to the Leroy A Smith shelter. It will take us through three miles of ridge deforested due to an 80 year zinc smelting operation. It is referred to as the Palmerton Superfund site. Oh boy!