June 25-26 2015

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I walked with Just Mike for most of today. He led and I followed his footsteps. I didn’t want to look up or think about where to put my feet because they had swollen so much from walking on the rocks. He had these bright yellow hiking shoes that marked each step. I was walking forward driven by the thought that I would leave Pa today. We were almost out.

I lost Mike just before town and waited at a rocky ledge with a view of New Jersey and the Delaware River. I waited until it started raining and decided I should just get to town. As I walked down into the valley forest, I heard a loud cracking noise. I stopped; there was something big in the woods. I heard it move up the hill so I walked quickly past. After I got a good distance away, I turned around to see the largest black bear that I have ever encountered walking up the hill at the spot where I heard the sounds. Town bears are dangerous because they associate people with food. I made my way to the church hostel as quickly as possible.

When I arrived I found out there was a hiker feed taking place. I dropped my gear and ran to pick over what was left of the food. As I cleaned out the last of the veggies, food stuffed in my face, I looked over to see that widespread grin of …none other than… Chezwick. He was reclined in a chair, as usual, looking very content and quite drunk.

He invited me to jazz down the street, which I eventually wandered over to. I was glad I went because it was jam sessions with some of the finest musicians on the east coast. I didn’t know it at the time, but Delaware Water Gap is a small, well-off community of people who love Jazz. I’ve never heard any better.

The next day Just Mike, Silent Force and I took a zero. Take It Easy and my other hiking buddies took off in their new group. I couldn’t take up with them again as their group was now huge. I couldn’t justify hiking in such a large group, but I was tempted to hike out with Chezwick. I spent the day in town doing laundry, soaking my swollen feet and eating the best pastries in the world from the local bakery. Delaware Water Gap was hiker heaven.

I sent a text to Flask and No-one here to let them know I was taking a few days. I took a lot of zero days in the hopes that they might catch up again. But they responded that they were at least 5 days behind still and didn’t anticipate catching up. Flask and I had been in constant contact because we weren’t telling each other where we were, hoping we’d accidentally bump into one another. Flask told me his friend, who they brought back to trail with them, had a terrible blister so they were going slower rather than faster. I think this bothered me because I hiked 25 mile days consistently after this news.

I was also feeling a little exploited by the male hikers around me. I was getting angry about everything. I just wanted to hike hard and be alone, but hiking hard landed me in the exact spot I was trying to avoid.


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