This last week I faced two significant challenges: Knife Edge and Lehigh Gap. Climbing the extremely steep sides of Knife Edge, even though very intimidating, was relatively short-lived. The Lehigh Gap section of the Trail, however, was a totally different story.
Due to decades of zinc smelting, Lehigh Gap is completely deforested. It was the most demanding and dangerous experience I have had on the Trail. To be honest, it was incredibly frustrating to cross the bridge and see what was in store for me. At one point it was obvious to me that my trekking poles were a hindrance, so I strapped them to my backpack, allowing me to hug rocks and climb hand over hand. It was a thousand-foot ascent in less than a mile and a half, with nothing but huge boulders. At times it took me over 15 minutes to progress 100 yards.
I am happy that this view is in my rear view mirror.
The following two days I hiked through dead forest because of this zinc problem. Supposedly, there is a Federal Superfund along with ongoing re-vegetation research to help solve this environmental disaster.
A couple of nights ago, I spent the night in John Stempa’s garage. John is a big supporter of hikers, and offers pick up and drop off at the trailhead, lodging and use of his bathroom, shower and towels. John has numerous pictures of folks on the Who’s Who list of the AT, and is a very knowledgeable person regarding the Trail.
Another benefit of staying here is that John will bring you into Kunkletown for a “sit down” meal. Kunkletown is very small and economically depressed, but surprisingly the food at “The Pub” was very good. I had a salad, a bacon cheeseburger and an ice cream sandwich, washed down by four Cokes and two waters.
The Pub does not have a license to sell alcohol, but they do provide beer, wine and mixed drinks free of charge. Depending on the night, they cap the amount of free drinks per person to either two, three or four (this night, it was two). I have never seen this anywhere. Small town USA: you’ve gotta love it!
After conquering all those rocks, I’m happy to end my Pennsylvania journey on a positive note. This is one of several beautiful views I enjoyed in PA.
This picture was taken in the middle of a walkway on a huge toll road bridge that crosses over the Delaware River entering New Jersey.