Stealth Site to Kirkridge Shelter
Miles Hiked: 24.5
AT Milage: 1289.0
Nate and Teresa arrived last night at 2am. I stayed up until then because I was so worried about having my food in my tent and I was just going to put it in their car. When they got here I made up a small pack for tomorrow and finally fell asleep. They brought me an actual pillow to use and it was so luxurious. I planned on waking up super early to start my hike and avoid the heat, but I stayed up so late, that I decided I would just sleep until my body woke up. I still woke up at 5:30am without an alarm and hit the trail at 6am. They were slack packing me today so I got to carry a super small pack with only the things I needed. Usually I only carry two liters of water but today I carried three because I was on a long stretch without water and there were heat warnings because it was going to be in the 90s with a heat index above 100. Nate and Teresa were still sleeping when I left, but I was so excited to get done hiking so I could finally see them! I’ve missed them so much, and haven’t seen them since their wedding day that I got off trail for back in May.
It was 91 degrees by 9am. I got ten miles in by 10am but I was getting super tired and it just kept getting hotter. I planed on hiking 3mph the whole time and arriving to my destination at 2pm. That didn’t happen. After 10am things started to go downhill. I started hiking slower when the rocks became impossible. Everywhere I looked the trail was a field of small sharp rocks waiting to stab me. This went on for miles and miles. I couldn’t believe it. I barely saw any other hikers on trail today. I think most took a zero because of the heat or hiked through the middle of the night. At one point I was just screaming at the trail asking why on earth anyone would decide to make it right here in the middle of the rockiest mountains ever. It looked like the entire mountain was a pile of rocks with foliage on top but someone just removed some of the foliage to make a path of misery. Yesterday and today combined have been the worst days of rocks on the whole trail. I expected it to be at the end of PA and I was right. I was so scared about the heat that I always carried the max amount of water from water cache to water cache. A trail angel left gallons of water at every road crossing and I was so thankful. As I was coming down to my last road crossing before I would see Nate and Teresa, I realized I was over heating a ton. I waited until I got to the parking lot to sit down in the shade and take a break. A stranger who was getting ready to leave after he and his wife were done hiking asked me if I wanted the rest of the ice in their cooler since they were just going to dump it out. I gladly said yes. I put all the ice I could in a plastic bag they gave me and dumped the rest of the water all over my head. It was glorious and helped cool my body down a lot. If I didn’t get the ice, I think I would have had to call Nate and Teresa to come and pick me up early because I thought I was getting close to being too dangerously overheated to hike eight more miles. I carried the plastic bag of ice up the next mountain and ate ice cubes the whole time. I also rubbed the ice all over my neck and chest to keep me cool. I eventually made it to Nate and Teresa waiting for me in the parking lot at 4pm. I was two hours later than I wanted to be, but they reassured me not to push my hike too hard in the dangerous heat.
When I got to the parking lot I was so happy to see them! Teresa made us quesadillas on a portable stove, it was so great. We hung out the rest of the night by going to this park with weird rocks, and dropping off beer they got for Flamingo back in Ohio. When we gave him his beer he let us swim in the pool of the hotel he was staying at in Delaware Water Gap. He did end up making it to the post office with a half an hour to spare. The main reason we went to town was so I could get my packages from the post office. I called them earlier today to bounce all my boxes to the next post office because I wouldn’t make it there in time. The lady on the phone was so nice and asked if I really wanted to get my packages even tho they were closed. She hid them in some carts behind the post office for me to find. It was so nice of her! I feel so bad for Flamingo because he basically hiked 50 miles for no reason. I still haven’t told him I got my packages yet. I will let him figure it out later. After we were done hanging out with him at the pool we drove back to the trail and hiked out less than a mile to a shelter. We were going to pitch our tents but couldn’t find a place in the dark. Luckily the shelter was completely empty and we had the whole place to ourselves! It was so fun to just hangout with them in the shelter before falling asleep. They are planning on slackpacking me some tomorrow too and I will wake up early to have more time to hang out with them and avoid the crazy heat again.
The packages I got at the post office today are some compression leg sleeves I ordered to help with my aching shins and one from my best friend since childhood, Michaela. She sent me tons of chocolate, an AT sticker, and an encouraging note that made me miss her a lot. Thanks Michaela 🙂