09:32. Dan’s Pulpit
The morning after the night at Eckville was covered in dew. My equipment was soaked so I shook it out as well I could and packed it wet. I was on the trail by 07:26. It would prove to be another day of brutal Pennsylvania rocks. When they say that this is the state where hiking boots come to die they are not wrong. The nickname Rocksylvania has been earned honestly.
09:48. Too Brain Rattling to Describe
To give you an idea of my frame of mind at this point in time my comment in notes for this just says, “this sucks”. The ability to rock hop is just massively compromised by rocks that stick up with sharp points or at such a diagonal slant it’s not wise to step on them. The different heights make each step brain jarring on one step because of the distance down and then massively difficult on the next because of the distance up. Moving right and left is constant.
10:51. Balance Rock: Home of Rattlesnakes
I came upon a young family here: mom, dad, two sons and a daughter. They were scrambling off of the rock in a hurry. “We just came upon a rattlesnake “, the dad said. On this day I had three occurrences of hearing rattlesnakes sounding off under the rocks below me because they were unhappy about my intrusion.
17:20. The Approach to Knife’s Edge
I had been a little tentative about tackling this one but I knew it had to be done and the time had come. About the length of 3 football fields it provided an opportunity to test your balancing as well as rock hopping skills while progressing along the top of the ridge.
18:01. The Knife’s Edge
This absolutely tested my legs and my balance. I realize that you can’t really make out the difficulty in the pictures without a human in the pictures so next time I’m going to bring Jan and let her walk it while I snap pictures.
18:18. Near Bear Rocks
By this time I had passed Peaceful Turtle. This was the final impediment before reaching my ultimate goal of the day which was Bake Oven Knob Shelter.
1904. Just Before the Bake Oven Pulpit Climb
The springs are drying up so it is essential that trail angels like Mun and Cricket continue their act of kindness providing water for the hikers.
I staggered into a tent site above the shelter at dusk. A hiker named Soma was there as well as three others including Lost Bells who had been at the campsite before. Peaceful turtle didn’t make it. There was no conversation…… everyone was too exhausted.
Pennsylvania was not in any way fun. To assign that description would be a mistake. The humorous aspect of interaction with others was gone. Everyone had become dead serious about the effort being extended to get through this section. Instead it had become a test of one’s stamina and determination to some how put it behind you. It wasn’t that you couldn’t do it…..it was that you could or would allow the constant abuse that your body was taking. As the days passed the greatest consolation was that in conversing with the other hikers everyone agreed that “hiking on” pretty much “sucked”