View Full Version : Lehigh Gap, Zinc Wasteland

02-04-2003, 04:44
Hi, all. I was just thinking about how hairy the trail gets as it climbs north out of Lehigh Gap, PA (en route to the Palmerton EPA site).

Anyone know the stretch I'm talking about?

It's starts as a fairly difficult, long-ish scramble up a bare rock face. In numerous places, a misstep would certainly result in... well, shuffling off this mortal coil, if you know what I mean.

There's zero coverage all along the ascent, with little more as you reach the ridge (where the zinc wasteland begins).

Getting caught halfway up there during a storm would be a VERY BAD THING, I remember thinking. Firstly, since the footing is slick enough without also being wet. Secondly, no cover from lightning strikes.

Next time around, I may take the blue-blazes (billed as a safer alternative).

P.S. There's also zero water to be had in that whole section, unless you're fond of post-industrial run-off.

Lone Wolf
02-04-2003, 06:56
Maine and N.H. has some much tougher sections. More exposed too.

02-04-2003, 07:27
....and the West Virginia section as well.

02-04-2003, 16:11
NH: Yeah, my experience in the Whites is somewhat limited. I remember once taking a really gnarly side trail up Mt. Washington; I met a family of day hikers who looked at me as if to say, "What lunatic blazed this one?". The young kids were literally crying from fear.

VA/WV: To be honest, I don't remember anything special about the section from Shenandoah to Harpers Ferry. The "roller coaster" was kind of a grind, but nothing out of the ordinary.

02-05-2003, 14:20
I'm talking about the 2.4 miles that pass through WV, that was a real beast!

02-06-2003, 00:56
The water up on top of Lehigh Gap has been safe to drink for almost a decade now...I wouldn't worry about it. I've drank it right from the source twice and haven't started glowing yet.

Blue Jay
02-06-2003, 08:47
That section is much less of a wasteland than it was the first time I went through in '98'. I read somewhere that they spray it with fertilizer and seeds, that is why they did not recommend drinking the water, not because of Zinc. You get more zinc in a glass of Coke or Pepsi. Just filter. In addition, if you camp out in the sassafrass grove you will hear the infamous cell phone frogs.

02-06-2003, 20:22
I dunno, man. It still looks like the surface of the moon up there... I appreciate the responses, though.

It's not so much the zinc I'd be worried about, but rather the lead and cadmium which are byproducts of the smelting process, apparently. Drinking 2 quarts of the water is probably safe, compared to all the environmental hazards we encounter in our everyday lives, but still... I went thristy last year, and I'll probably do the same in 2003 (or carry more water).

This is a web page detailing the current situation: