DWG, PA to Brink Road Shelter – 24.8 miles – Disappointing Day or Not?
I can’t decide if today is disappointing [mileage-wise] or not. Not very much mileage, but I do have seven(!) days of food, hike over rocks all day, eat at the diner this morning, stay in a hostel in town, and get a late start: none of which leads to high mileage. I wake at 5:45 AM, pack my gear, and walk to Water Gap Diner.
A diner is definitely a place I try to get to whenever I can. I’m hungry for breakfast (anytime, as usual). I have three pancakes, eggs, sausage, coffee, root beer, and a milkshake (two actually; the waitress made double by accident.) Then I go to the Post Office at 8 AM. Although the PO is not open for service yet, the kind lady retrieves my box, but I’ll have to wait to mail some items home.
Once again, I have so much food and my pack is huge and heavy. I repack it differently than when it is lighter so it balances differently and carries better.
I don’t get on the trail until 8:50 AM. I am excited to enter New Jersey, but it’s just more rocks. I think for the first time I notice spring, maybe it’s the beautiful day. New Jersey is beautiful. But hiking wise, it just isn’t happening for me. All day, my pack just never feels right and I’m not moving well due to the rocks.
As I take a break, as I do often today, an older man day hiking offers me an apple, which I kindly accept. He notices my Baltimore marathon shirt and mentioned he had taught years ago at Johns Hopkins. We chat briefly. I pass him about a mile later as he is getting into his Jeep and he gives me two figs, organic white Turkish figs to be exact. I’ve never had figs, but any free food is good. He also offers me two ‘ripe’ bananas. Yes, they are ripe all right. Very ripe, like they were already quite ripe and then were in his hot vehicle all day and are now totally dark brown and very soft. He said I can have both of them or one of them or none of them. He won’t be offended (He knows they are gross). I take one.
A few cars away there is an older couple leaving as well. The lady recognizes me as a thru-hiker and asks if people are nice to me and if people give me food. Yes and yes. She gives me her baggy of trail mix. Her middle aged adult daughter then said it is her dream to do what I am doing and to “enjoy it for all of [them].” They are amazed I’ve been out here for 51 days and I have hiked 1,300+ miles.
I continue walking while eating my newly acquired food. I’ve never eaten figs like this before, but they are pretty good. I suck down the nasty, brown banana from its peel and then eat the half bag of trail mix.
Later, there is a beautiful view from a ridge at 7 PM as the sun is lowering. Many folks are tenting on the grassy ridge. It’s not too much further to a new shelter, where I’m heading. After a tough, full day, its 7:45 PM by the time I arrive at the old, crappy shelter. I thought this is supposed to be a new shelter. Whatever. I drop my pack and start heating water for dinner. As I’m sitting, eating, I notice the new shelter, up the slope, less than 100 yards away. After eating, I go over to the other shelter. I am later joined by a couple from Brooklyn who are out here for the weekend.
It was a long day to travel only 24 miles. I wanted more miles, but I knew it was going to be hard to do so with a late start and seven days of food. I guess it is a solid day. It’ll get better. Today was a ‘rest’ day.