June 12, 1998

6/12/98 Leroy A Smith Shelter

16.1 miles (1251.0 total)

Some days are good, some are bad, and some are real shitty - like today! Ira Fine dropped me off on the trail outside Slatington after a quick run to the store. He didn’t sleep last night, so our conversation was a little one-sided. It had rained on and off all night and the morning looked like more of the same. The climb out of Lehigh Gap was just that - a long climb over rock and boulders. I’ve said it a hundred times "rocks and water don’t mix". A little scary in spots, especially with a full pack. Sometimes I wonder if trail designers take a 40 lb. pack over a new route - probably not. The higher I got, the more rain fell. Soon I was soaked. Lots of large puddles, I just slogged through - why fight it!

The landscape up on the ridge was dry, rock with some small burned tree trunks. Turns out to be a polluted site of a zinc smelting operation. As the day wore on, the rain never completely stopped and I was afraid of hypothermia. My only thoughts were to get to the shelter 16 miles away. I never took a break, didn’t stop for a snack, drank very little water, just pushed on. My body didn’t hurt but eventually I could feel the energy drain low. Finally showed up near 3pm, only 5 1/2 hours after I started. I was shocked at my speed, both because of the climbs and the rocks. Guess the weather can be a great motivator.

Thought the shelter would be more full judging from previous register entries but only Bulldog and I are crazy enough to hike in weather like this. Cramer, the ridgerunner, is here also. We’re sitting by candle-light, rain still coming down, but we can hear music in the distance at the Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival a couple of miles away.

All day I kept thinking how the goddess looks after crazy hikers like me. The trees blocked out a lot of the wind and for that, I thanked them often. Little white moths would flutter around me like wood sprites sent to look out and protect us. I was focused on the miles but I never lost sight of mother nature who surrounds me.