We all woke about the same time, packed, and ate breakfast. The five of us were the only hikers around the Bake Oven Knob shelter. Ginger and Gilligan were slowing their pace to end up at the Delaware Water Gap on Monday, so they hung back to hike out with us.
We all headed out about the same time with me in back. At 2.5 miles, we reached Lehigh Furnace Gap where we were surprised by a cooler full of snacks, pastries, fruit, bread, jams, zip locks, etc. We sat there for about 30 minutes eating and talking then hiked down to PA 873 and crossed the bridge over to PA 248/145 where we left “the island.” We said our goodbyes to Ginger and Gilligan who were going to hitch into Palmerton.
On our way up the road to get back on the AT, I turned around and saw that they had been picked up quickly and were already gone. We climbed away from the road up a steep rock face, which lacked white blazes. At one point we lost the trail and climbed too far to the right side away from the trail. We recovered and continued climbing.
We reached the top and started along the Superfund Detour, where we picked up a lot of ticks. We spent a lot of time stopping to pick them off. After the detour, we crossed power lines and Tandem and I found bushes with ripe blueberries. We picked and ate many, Tandem picked a handful for Mio to have but never caught up with him.
We then dropped to Little Gap Road and were grateful to find water jugs to fill our containers. We also met Scruffy’s wife and daughter who were helping him slackpack. He was due in soon behind us. We went down to their vehicle, and they offered us sodas, cookies, pasta salad, and brownies. We enjoyed our second trail angel meal of the day while waiting for Scruffy to arrive.
Once he got there, we thanked them and wished them a pleasant evening. It was 15:30, and we to cover 11 more miles to the Leroy A. Smith shelter. It was 15:30. We hit a lot of rocks, big and small. There was a Boy Scout Troop headed south, so we gave them tips on the blueberries, tick checks, and to take the blue blazed “winter” trail to avoid the hard rock climb down. They were very appreciative.
The rocky sections continued on and off while we hiked. The sun was setting, and my shadow continued to grow to the east.
It started getting dark at 20:30, about five miles from the shelter and I started using my headlamp at 21:00, before I reached Smith Gap Rd. Mio and Tandem were across the street, so I joined them and worked on a large blister on the back left side of my left foot. Mio had a blister cover and tape to keep it on. I also tried removing the insole from the left shoe.
The Lorax had a bottle of rum that we all took a swig from before heading back up the trail for the last 3.5 miles of night hiking. I got separated again. About 2.5 miles from the shelter, I smelled him before I saw him. A large black bear crossed the trail in front of me, so I continued playing music, kept my headlamp light on him, and tapped my hiking poles on rocks. He eventually moved on into the woods on my left.
I cautiously started hiking again and eventually reached Tandem and Mio sitting about a tenth of a mile from the turn to the shelter. We hiked on together and turned right .15 miles to the shelter, which was empty when we got there. We set up our bedding at 23:30 and fell asleep. We hiked 23.5 miles today and have 20 miles to go to the Delaware Water Gap. Tomorrow is the end of Pennsylvania!