Day 14: Wednesday, August 27

In the Allentown Hiking Club Shelter (AT SOBO mi 949.4), walked 20.7 miles today

Woke up around 6:30 and was walking by 7:10, waiting for Princess because we both knew I needed her for the hitch to Walnutport in a few miles. Whatever horrible environmental things they did to the Superfund hill to get it mostly devoid of trees, I'm not complaining (kind of like how wildfires out West, even though they suck, make for dramatically and eerily lit photos sometimes), because the views down into the fog bowl of the Lehigh Valley were prime. We got to watch the fog burn off over an hour or so, then it was time for the fun stuff--the ridiculous boulder scramble at the top of the Lehigh Gap climb that is somewhat legendary on the AT. Got some more vertical vistas and a couple of great photos, then made it down by 9am or so to the road for Palmerton/Walnutport. We chose the latter because it met our needs (breakfast and light resupply) better and seemed like an easier hitch. All goals were indeed accomplished, although we spent wayyy too much time in the McDonald's, where we got several not-so-subtle side glances walking in with our packs, and it was past 11 before leaving town in the back of some dude's pickup. 

By then it was oppressively hot and windless, and would remain so the rest of the day. Less than a mile up from the road was the best water source of my whole CT-PA section, a veritable fire hose of a piped spring with ice cold water shooting out, so we stopped and luxuriated there along with Shinbone, a young whippersnapper of a SOBO whom Princess already knew. Then it was noon and time to do sixteen more miles. It happened, but there's not much more to add than that. Most of the time it was easy, sometimes it was hard, the whole time it was really really hot and still. The last four miles started in the gloaming and ended in more or less total darkness (I forget what the stages of twilight are; it was the last one, whatever that's called). Around 8 we rolled in to this shelter--I personally would've stopped earlier except for ominous rolls of thunder above--and found it gloriously unoccupied, meaning we didn't have to disturb and apologize to people, which I was all geared up to do. Rain hasn't started yet but it seems only a matter of time. Feeling a bit exhausted after making a production out of what ought to have been a comfortable day, but the fact that I'm taking two or three zero days starting Friday, in transit up to Maine, means it's less important to be steady and sustainable right now. 22 miles to Port Clinton tomorrow and then I'm finished with the southernmost 2063 miles of the trail.

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