After I returned the rental car, Rebel Yell’s daddy dropped me off at the trail in Port Clinton, PA. I can’t thank his family enough for their hospitality while I was in the area. They are truly selfless in many ways! In fact, Mr. Yell had been waiting to find a random a hiker in need of a ride for a while. He was happy to get to help his son’s friends, but wanted to help as many others as possible. Just because. While returning me to the trail, Mr. Yell told me he had finally been able to give a ride to a hiker by the name of Yahtzee. The name didn’t ring a bell, but I told him I’d keep my eye out for Yahtzee.My feet were hurting pretty badly, and I was exhausted from the drive from Alabama to Pennsylvania. After hiking about 5 miles I stopped at Windsor Furnace Shelter and decided to stay for the night. To try and perk myself up, I planned to be at The Pulpit for sunrise. I woke up the next morning and hiked 1.6 miles to witness the most beautiful sunrise I’ve seen on the trail so far.
As the sun peeked above the horizon, I thought about Sugar and all the ‘what if’s’…I contemplated what the remainder of the trail would have in store…I worried that my foot pain might not allow me to finish. My eyes began to tear up, and I decided I have come too far to give up now. Regardless of how painful each step might be I will put one foot in front of the other until I get there. When the sun finally appeared fully in the sky I reflected on the many blessings life has offered me and how lucky I’ve been to be surrounded by loving people my whole life. Time to climb up out of my slump, count my blessings and hike on! After painfully hiking 9 miles, I was picked up by my Uncle Mark and Aunt Karen who live in Allentown, PA. I ended up zeroing at their house the next day and got to play with their dogs (Bailey and Spaz). Some good ol’ dog therapy was exactly what I needed. During my time with them, I decided (after a good bit of research) that I have Plantar Fasciitis. This would explain the shooting pains, tenderness, and swelling I couldn’t seem to knock. I talked to quite a few people that have experienced it and received a lot of advice–thanks to everyone who helped out! I began icing my feet, rolling them out with a ball or frozen water bottle, massaging and elevating them often, etc. Karen even bought me some new insoles made for plantar fasciitis. Karen showed me around the area during my zero day. My favorite stop was at the covered bridge. That night they cooked an amazing dinner and I got a shoo-fly pie for dessert (which I learned is a Pennsylvania Dutch staple).
I was sad to leave them and get back on the trail the next day, but I knew I had to get going. I had been unsure before if I would be able to catch my group again. But, feeling once again invigorated I was ready to hike. Thank you Uncle Mark and Aunt Karen! You don’t know how much the time at your house renewed my desire to complete this journey.
My second day back on the trail was nice. I met a new “bubble” of people who seemed very friendly. I found out from the shelter log books that I was about 50-60 miles behind Rebel Yell and maybe 45 miles or so behind Perk. That seemed doable. I was about that far back when I went home for DJ’s graduation.
My new insoles really seemed to be helping my foot pain, plus my constant massaging and elevating. I made a point to soak my feet in a cool spring at least once a day. My third day back on trail I knocked out 21 miles so I could stay at a motel in Wind Gap, PA. That day I went over the rockiest section of trail I had ever seen–I literally climbed over Lehigh Gap. In the picture below, I am sitting on the peak of the rock wall I climbed that day. Although the terrain was challenging for most of the day, I went through the Palmerton Superfund Site which offered beautiful views and fairly flat terrain. The area was previously deforested due to zinc smelting which luckily ended in the 80’s. I opted not to drink from the ‘metallic spring’ that day. Heh. Glad to see the site is under remediation, though. When I reached Wind Gap that night, my feet were fairly sore. Rocky terrain is not conducive to healing plantar fasciitis–but, I was so proud of my 21 miles! I had feared I might not ever be able to hike that many miles again. Things were looking up.
The next night I hiked to Delaware Water Gap where I made it just in time to enjoy a nice dinner and jazz show at the Deerhead Inn. Apparently, it’s the oldest jazz bar in the U.S.After dinner, I visited the Church of the Mountain Hostel. Luckily, there were still some open bunks. This hostel is donation based and they have an awesome shower. Hikers are welcome to bunk or camp in the yard. I think it’s awesome that places like that are still in existence.
The following morning I was able to explore the town a little more. I would definitely go back some day–it was a quaint little mountain town with the friendliest of people.
After breakfast, I decided to head out of town because it was time to…cross another state
off the list! I officially reached New Jersey. I must say, I’ve heard nothing but negativity about New Jersey since I’ve been on the trail. But, I decided not long after crossing the border that it’s absolutely beautiful! About 6 miles after the border, I reached another milestone when I crossed mile marker 1300. As if my day hadn’t been exciting enough, I got to hike during a blue moon that night. I kept making the joke, “Once in a blue moon, I night hike in New Jersey..” I’m not sure anyone else thought it was hilarious as I did, but oh well. The next day while hiking, I caught wind of a place called Gyp’s Tavern in Branchville, NJ. I would have to hike 15-16 miles but I could enjoy some dinner by a lake, if I so desired, and it was just off the trail. I don’t typically run while I hike, but this particular day I was motivated to do so by real food and a swarm of mosquitoes that seemingly followed me all day. I seriously began to wonder if a person could become anemic from an overload of bug bites. Every now and again I would stop to take great pleasure in what some of us hikers have began calling a “mosquito massacre.” You just stop, wait for a cloud of them to land on you, and proceed in annihilating as many as possible. Luckily, I made it to Gyp’s Tavern before my blood was sucked dry where I was delighted to eat dinner with Southpole, Yahtzee, and a southbounder by the name of Dejavu. Upon introducing ourselves, Dejavu said “Ohhhh, you’re Dixie, huh? Well, I have a message for you from Mountain Goat and Rebel Yell. They said to HURRY UP.” In that moment Yahtzee’s eyes lit up and he said, “Wait?! You guys know Rebel Yell? His Dad gave me a ride the other day!” And it was then that I recalled the excitement in Mr. Yell’s voice telling me about the random hiker he was able to help who was named…Yahtzee. Funny how things come together out here on the trail sometimes.
Below are some of the other pictures I was able to capture during this section of trail: