Day 11: Sunday, August 24

In the Church of the Mountain hostel in Delaware Water Gap, PA (AT SOBO mi 895.7), walked 24.8 miles today

Woke up around 6:15 to my Sufjan alarm and, with all that quasi-holy piano music ringing around in my ears, couldn't bring myself to be remorselessly loud and dickish to the two guys who had showed up late to the shelter last night and were still passed out. Was out by 7:15, along with Princess. Just downhill from the shelter was the first nice spring I've seen so far in the section this year--ice cold water gurgling right up from the rocks--so I made sure to fill up there and drink untreated, with gusto, all morning. The right ankle felt mighty stiff at first, but after about an hour all pain and problems had utterly dissipated and I felt pretty strong for the remainder of the day.

Old Princess was not doing as well; she always has issues with foot tenderness and arch pain and all that hit peak intensity at about midday and she literally couldn't walk anymore, so we ended up stopping for a bit and going slower. I was going to make it to the DWG regardless of her progress today, and even with the delays we were still in good position to do that after breaking at a place called the Mohican Outdoor Center (Run by the AMC. 20oz Cokes for $2.75 each. Gag me.) and leaving around 3, with ten miles to go. Her feet got their act together after that break, aided by a large dose of ibuprofen, and we absolutely flew down the last 7 miles to town. We walk the exact same pace assuming normal health and it's the main reason I've ended up around her so much the past three days. Walked next to I-80 for the final two miles, including the crossing of the Delaware into Pennsylvania, and she waved at all the traffic with a regal wafting of the hand for almost the entire way. 

Got to the hostel to find the usual odd mix of characters who claim some association with trail. A possibly intoxicated local floated in to use the restroom, play me a tune on the guitar, then float out again; I later saw him walking down the street carrying only a cheese grater. Got showered up then ate a gargantuan eggplant parm plate for dinner from an Italian joint down the street. On the way there, stopped and watched Louie Setzer and the Appalachian Mountain Boys, a great bluegrass outfit of old men, playing a free show for the town in the park--it was a very Appalachian experience, hearing that high and lonesome music on a muggy night in a small-town park, something I couldn't have imagined happening just across the river in the New Jersey section of trail. But everything about it and the town just seemed to fit right; it's hard to describe, but the DWG already feels like much more of a real AT town than anything from the NJ-NY-CT sections ever did. It, or more properly the people at the hostel, also has a shady feel to it, enough that I'm not sure I'm interested in taking a zero tomorrow, which had been on the table as an option earlier.

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