9-29-12

AT miles hiked today: 15.8
Total miles hiked today: 17.3
Total AT miles hiked: 1519.3
Miles to complete my thruhike: 665.6

I'm spending the night in a jail somewhere in Pennsylvania! Oh, how did it come to this?

Actually it's a hostel in Palmerton, that is in the basement of a police burrough building. I've heard that the jail was never used as a jail, and there are no bars or cells. There is a group shower adjacent to the gym, though, which is a special experience. I checked in with my drivers license and social security number at the police station and then picked a lower bunk. It had a blanket on it that had an open pocket knife on it. I moved the knife and then worried I had left fingerprints on it. What if it had been used in a crime? There are signs upstairs stating that the gym is always under camera surveillance. It is strange to wander a dark, empty, police building after hours, but I am grateful to be here. The clouds looked black and menacing as I walked into town this evening. I took pictures of a neat church with the clouds around the steeple.

The little rocks of Pennsylvania are not so bad. I had expected it to be much worse. There are bigger rocks, too, and I like those the least, especially when they are wet. The Superfund site north of Leigh Gap is actually pretty in some ways with tall yellow grass and the leaves changing colors. Then you enter the dead zone where the dead tree trunks are bleached white like skeletal bones. From the ridge you can see the factories down below are still busy. Those are probably the ones that killed this hill in the first place, but now it is being slowly restored.

We debated whether to take the blue blazed old AT trail down into Palmerton. AWOL said to do it, even for nobos who should climb down into the valley and then up the rocks to get out of the valley and then take this trail back down into Palmerton. So we took it down. Well, that was a mistake. It was a very steep mile down and I am dreading the climb back up it tomorrow, but the view was very pretty with the clouds. AWOL was no help once we got to the bottom path either. We needed to turn right, but there was no indication anywhere on the trail or in the guide. Luckily, Dr. Spice was coming back from town and saw us strung out in indecision. We had split up and were following both paths to search for a blue blaze to follow towards town. Dr. Spice offered to show us the way to town, which is much more complicated after business hours because you end up locked in a parking lot. So you have to climb a barrier and bushwack over to the highway and follow it in front of the locked gate and then follow the side road to town. It's quite a walk and I got stung twice in the back of my thigh by bees when I bushwacked. I pulled them both out of my leg, and it was burning and swelling. Dr. Spice got stung, too, but the others didn't. I took Benedryl tonight.

At dinner tonight Eagle Eye's tooth broke and she didn't know what to do. We did laundry at the laundromat and got into Family Dollar for a quick resupply after dinner while we brainstormed ideas. Eagle Eye may have to leave the trail for her tooth!

Palmerton is an interesting town. I like the old brick buildings. They have the look of old time factories and mining towns. Toe Knee goes home tomorrow and I am sad. I will miss her. I intend to finish for all those I hiked with who did not (yet) finish hiking the AT. My hike hasn't been pretty or broken any speed records, but it's just what I needed and I have hiked my own hike, even with a group. I'm not the slowest thruhiker on the trail, though I am slow, and I don't really want it to end, though I am exhausted and winter is coming soon.