We wanted to hydrate well this morning, so before we hiked on, we filtered and steripenned 6 liters of water from the creek. We each carry 2 liters.
The first challenge was crossing the creek itself. A large oak had fallen over the creek, unearthing the roots. The trail folks had simply turned the tree into the foot bridge to get across. I found it rather tricky to cross, going slowly, and balancing with my trekking poles, but Keith just walked quickly across it, like it was no big deal.
Once across, we headed north once again, and immediately began a big 1000 foot climb through some really jungle-like forest. We came to a really cool old metal bridge over a historic canal. The bridge was built in 1890. I admired the fancy iron work over the top of it. The guys stood at the edge and looked for fish. This is the standard MO at every bridge we come to - look for fish. I don't mind, because it means I have time to take photos, and/or rest a bit.
We climbed quite a while, and it was painfully obvious that today there would be no breeze like we had yesterday. This slowed me way down. The guys didn't seem to be as bothered by the heat and humidity. At one point, the gnats drove me nuts. I guess in insect land, I have some delicious smelling eyeballs, because those little bugs were doing their best to kamikaze into my eyes. When I could not take it anymore, I put on my head net. As you can imagine, this makes it hotter. This of course, added to the enjoyment I was already getting from the heat, humidity, and large uphill. Then came the mosquitoes - oh, wait - did I mention the briars that were growing over the trail? Well, by now, the guys were kidding about calling me a whaaaaambulance. I must say my misery meter was at Defcon 10.
We finally stopped for lunch at a picnic table near a shelter and spring. The guys went down to the piped spring to fill water bottles. When they got back, I inquired about if it was a spring or stream. They told me it was a piped spring. I told them I was going to get into the water. They told me there was no way. I said, ' If there's water, I'm getting in it.' Sure enough, the piped spring was about 3 inches off of the ground, but I had no problem getting totally soaked by it. When you are hot enough, you can make it happen! Four other hikers showed up just as we were leaving.
We headed out, with our destination the 501 Shelter. This shelter is supposed to have a solar shower! After such a hot day, this sounded perfect. We finally reached it, and sure enough, there was a shower in the woods. I wasn't sure what to expect - or shall I say, I didn't care how the shower worked, as long as water passed over me somehow, and soap and shampoo were involved!
I went inside to investigate, and coming through a hole was a water hose with a spray nozzle attached - just like you wash your car with. There was a sign that read, "Keep showers short so that others can enjoy a shower too." I knew of at least 4 other hikers who would be arriving soon. I certainly didn't want to start a hiker riot by using up all of the water, so first I sprayed down, turned off the water, then lathered up, then rinsed off. The water was cold, but not a shock at all. I thought it was very refreshing. I'm pretty sure I was radiant when I emerged. The caretaker from next door came over and gave us all freeze pops, declaring it was just too hot to hike. I don't think I've been that excited to see a Freeze Pop since I was five years old.
After we all cleaned up, other hikers arrived who had called for a shuttle into McDonalds nearby. We decided to include our clean selves into that van load, and headed instead to an all you can eat buffet (well, here the Pennsylvania Dutch call it a smorgasbord). We ate well, but I must say that my favorite part was the Pepsi (darn Pepsi products- what is it with this part of the country and Pepsi????) on ice. Of course, after this day, I think I would have enjoyed prune juice on ice!!! It was the best! Okay, not the best, but not bad either.
Our shuttle driver came back just as we were ordering dessert, so we invited him to join us for homemade pie and coffee. I think he was happy to be invited to join us. We enjoyed visiting. He gave us a tour of where the town had flooded badly last year when they had a 100-year flood. He took us back to the trail, and we only hiked another half-mile before pitching tents. When we left his van, it was 99 degrees. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. There is another cool front headed this way. Hopefully it gets here fast!
Camped at mile 1188.1
- Steady and F100