10:20. Hahn’s Lookout Near Wind Gap
It’s not that I stayed up too late writing the blog….. at least I don’t think it was. Soma, Peaceful Turtle and a new hiker Landslide were all tenting in the same area as me. Mule and Frozo were on the other side of the trail closer to the shelter. The moment I hit the ground I was asleep. I awoke at 6 am and began breakfast. Soma was up but I couldn’t see the others. When I finished breakfast I decided to close my eyes just for a second. I woke up at 08 and was the only one in camp. I put the rush on. Well not really a rush. That kinda doesn’t exist out here. I don’t know why but even though I rallied and got out of camp at 08:30 Ricky Nelson was on my mind. I quickly pushed my way down the trail and across a power line. I was, because this is still Pennsylvania, looking at my feet and singing “It’s Late” with my best Ricky Nelson imitation. It was loud and for those of you who know me you know that when I sing perfectly healthy birds fall dead from the sky.
“🎼It’s late, it’s late
We gotta get on home
It’s late, it’s late
We’ve been gone too long🎼”
I didn’t see them until it was ‘too late’. My best Ricky Nelson ever as loud as I could as I walked right into two hammocks set up right along the side of the trail. Dang hammock sleepers …… they can set up anywhere they can find two trees. They were both looking at the cause of the disturbance from the comfort of their bed. They didn’t like. I pretended that I never saw them and continued on…
“🎼It’s late, it’s late
I hate to face your dad
Too bad, too bad
I know he’s gonna be mad🎼”
11:05. The Introduction of Landslide
I had heard of Landslide but hadn’t run into him. I didn’t realize that he was the new guy in camp last night. By 4.6 miles I had passed Peaceful Turtle thanks to him getting lost and came upon Landslide standing at the trailhead on US 33. He had walked into the post office at Wind Gap a mile away and walked back. I had dreamed of getting a real lunch at Wind Gap even with the extra two miles of hiking. When I checked “restaurants near me” they were all closed. All three of them. It was Monday! Of all the luck. I fumed and then I pondered and then I fumed some more. The springs were all dry and I needed water to cook with. I walked the mile to town.
12:31. The Trail Ahead
The walk into Wind Gap rewarded me when I found a Turkey Hill Convenience Store. I was there for water so the first time in I bought a hot dog and and slushy Dr Pepper. My second time in I bought a bag of potato chips and a chocolate milk. In order to fulfill my initial intent I went in a third time and bought two bottles of water…….. and a large calorie honeybun. You never know when you might want a honeybun. I walked back up the mile to the trailhead. Oh I did ask a guy if he’d drive me the mile for $5 in the back of his pickup. He just looked at me knowing that I was homeless and said, “no”. Maybe he thought I said “please give me a ride and $5.
15:37. Kristos of Maine
From that point on I was in the hiking zone. A young lady came roaring down the hill so fast I quickly moved to the side. I told her with that kind of energy I’d yield the trail. She smiled and said she had dumped her pack and couldn’t believe how fast she could go. She was slack packing. That is: dumping your pack, getting a ride to a point ahead and hiking without your pack back to it. It’s a way to hike lighter or avoid a mountain by coming down it instead of up it.
In my trance a male voice from nowhere said “Hello”. After I put my skin back on I stopped to talk. He asked if I knew how these stick things work. “They keep collapsing on me when I put any pressure on them. They were exactly the same as I bought from Adam Shick at Twenty Eight West in Walhalla so I lent him my expertise. He was enthralled! He asked about the trail and trail names and sleeping outside. His name was Kristos and he most recently was from Maine. He old me that he had seen an old guy (Landslide) and the most beautiful girl that he had ever seen in his life. (Soma). He was amazed that I knew them. I think that it was more amazement about how the hikers become interlinked. We parted friends with him convinced that he too would hike the AT.
17:01. Hopefully Not an Omen
The trail became quiet again and I soon found myself working my way across yet another rock face with ups and downs and all arounds. As I came out from behind a rock I suddenly found myself next to a Turkey Buzzard just settin there waiting for something to die. I spoke to him but his response was pretty much the same as that pickup driver who refused to give me a 1 mile ride. Ugly cuss for a buzzard. After some one way conversation he too decided that I was homeless, didn’t smell too good and not quite ready to die. He flew off leaving me abandoned.
17:19 Could this be the End of the Rocks?
Alas….. it was only a dream. I straightened my pace, held my head high and picked up speed for about 400 feet before crashing into the next rock garden.
I was getting close to my goal of the day and I had my honeybun secured in my pack. As I approached the paved road I could see a car. A male was standing outside it pacing. As I approached I could see that he had something in his hand. It was an arrow and a sling. He put the arrow in the sling and aimed it at me. “Are you one of those dickheads who made my wife and me leave our campsite? It’s supposed to be free to camp here.”
“It may have been one of those sites that they have taped off for reforestation.” I offered. He lowered the arrow. He said he would like to walk to South Carolina. His wife looked at me from the passenger seat of their car, “I ain’t going hiking no where!!!!”
I told him that I needed to get to the shelter but that it was great to meet him. He raised the arrow again and placed it in the sling. He turned it away from me and aimed it at a stump about 30 feet away. He let it fly. The arrow made it about 10 feet and fell like a dying quail to the ground.
I began walking. “Come back and eat supper with the Missus and I. I’ll honk the horn three times when it’s ready!”
“If I hear the horn I’ll try to come back. Have a great day.” I crossed the road with visions of an arrow heading my way. There was no better time to “hike on”.