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Pennsylvania pays at the end: AT Flip Flop Days 27-31

Day 27

I slept quite well at the hostel. For breakfast there were pancakes, which seems to be standard in most hostels that offer breakfast. What really made me happy was the hot coffee. I think the coffee gave me energy for my hike that day.

The first leg of the day was really easy, but gradually got a little harder. Then I reached a section in Pennsylvania that I was really looking forward to: Knife's Edge. I had a blast traversing the rocks up there. (You can see a POV timelapse on my Instagram.) The rocks going up and down Bake Oven Knob right after were a little dangerous, but I made it down just fine.

A little later, I slipped and hit my ankle on a rock. It hurt, but wasn't too bad. The McGees caught up with me as I sat down to make sure my ankle was OK. They said someone heading south had mentioned that Trail Magic was up ahead, so I jumped up and kept going. We got to Trail Magic, but there was only one Mountain Dew left, so Jingle and I shared it.

We reached the bothy and found that it wasn't particularly well suited for camping. Perch and the McGees had set up in the bothy, but Hot for Teacher, Bug, and I needed to find hammock spots. I gave Teach and Bug the spot I wanted to use, as it was good for two people and in a nicer location. I found a more difficult spot on a hill to use for the night, hoping I would get some good hiking karma.

Day 28

I didn't sleep very well in my hilly hammock, but we only had a mile of hiking to the road to Palmerton, PA. We still had 2 miles to walk into town to the post office and a little further to the diner for breakfast. It was fun to see all the hikers separated, with the newbies at one table, the section hikers at another, and us flip-flop hikers at the next table.

After breakfast, we walked up the road to the grocery store for a quick supply of supplies, then took an Uber back to the trail. Right after leaving Palmerton, we came to another section I was looking forward to: Lehigh Gap. It's a rock face climb that requires hands and feet. I enjoyed it, but most others would have preferred to take the detour.

The McGees, Perch, Teach, Bug and I decided to stay together for the next few days until we get to the Delaware Water Gap at the end of Pennsylvania. We only hiked 6.5 AT miles today, but it felt like a longer day. We had all packed plenty of water for the dry stretch, but the climb was so hot that we were almost empty.

We found a nice campsite and set about preparing dinner for the whole family. The McGees had freeze dried steaks for everyone, so we started rehydrating them with the rest of our water. Jingle built a fire to cook while Perch, Teach, Subtitles (the other McGee, so called because some people have a hard time understanding him because of his mumbling and Mississippi accent) and I took a side trail down to a ski lodge to get water. Perch, Teach and I stopped by the lodge's bar for a drink before heading back up. We bought a margarita for Jingle and smuggled it out in a Nalgene bottle.

When we returned to camp, the smell of steaks cooking over an open fire was wonderful. It was the best food I have ever had at a backpacking camp and it will be hard to ever top it.

Day 29

We all slept in and had a quiet morning at camp. I did some extra stretches and Perch helped me treat a blister on my heel. I was the last to leave camp and went for a very peaceful walk by myself. The handles on my trekking poles had broken in Palmerton, but I found that one of them was still usable.

Around noon, I reached the road where I planned to stop for lunch and spotted the rest of the group gathered around the magic of the trail. Toenail, who had done a long-distance hike last year, and his family were serving burgers, hot dogs and other treats.

After lunch I took the lead and was the first to arrive at the refuge. My stomach started to hurt and I had a rough afternoon, making a few trips to the rancid toilet. By the evening I was feeling a little better and was able to get some Imodium yogi from my flip-flop mates Crash and Boom Boom.

Day 30

I couldn't believe how bright it was when I woke up and slept in until 7am. My stomach was feeling much better. Teach, Bug and I quickly packed up and headed down to the shelter to meet up with the others and go over our plan for the day.

I was again the last one out of camp, but I caught up quickly with everyone else. Since I had been dehydrated for the last few days, I took a short walk to a motel with a water tap to get some water on an otherwise dry stretch of trail. I think it made a big difference in helping me rehydrate.

After crossing Wind Gap, the descent was steep and the horrible rocks appeared again at the top. It was also a really hot day. At the next creek I carried out a heavy 4 liters of water as I thought the shelter we were staying in would be dry. Thankfully the last few miles there were easy.

When I got to the shelter, I discovered that there was a water tap there, so I had taken the 4 liters for nothing. Many people came to the camp, but only one was brave enough to sleep in the shelter after a large black snake curled up between the rafters.

Day 31

I was so ready to hit Delaware Water Gap and leave the Pennsylvania woods for the last time. We only had six miles to go to town. It felt longer, but it was great to finally reach the house where the McGees and I would be staying.

I settled into the house and took a shower. We met the rest of the Tramily for lunch at the bakery. After that we went to the post office to pick up a few packages and then went back to the house to start the laundry.

After a nice nap, we had Teach and Perch pick us up to get beers to the next town. Then we all went to dinner for the last time as Tramil. Teach and Bug were at the end of their leg and were heading to NYC the next day, and Perch was going to hike in the morning. The McGees and I had a few more drinks on the porch before bed. It was great to sleep in a private room for the first time since my first night in PA.

Thoughts on the lack of showers

This stretch was still challenging, but it was a lot of fun as a group. The climbs over Knife's Edge and Lehigh Gap were a nice break from the monotonous, painful rock hikes. The steak dinner in the woods at a beautiful campground was a magical experience. I was ready and happy to leave Pennsylvania behind, but I am grateful for the last few days. This stretch felt like atonement for all the challenges I had overcome in Pennsylvania, especially the week before.

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Anna Harden

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