View Full Version : 3 day weekend in PA, lehigh gap to hamburg trip report (sort of)

06-01-2005, 10:13
We were barely on the trail when we heard about the
Grandma who was looking for a Catholic Church. Why
would anyone want to go to a Church on Memorial Day
weekend? Receiving news on the trail is funny - you
hear something that sparks your curiosity, then
imagine the story behind it. Is this really a Grandma
thru-hiking with her grandkids? To find the truth you
must climb the mountain.

Almost on top of the ridge, and we see the grandkids
at the shelter. They were very polite but it was a
little strange that they were complaining of always
having to wait for their slow Grandma. It turns out
that they have only been on the trail for a few days
and getting off tonight. Grandma stumbles in. She
has a fresh black eye. It is not a purple black eye,
but a black black eye. She's wearing an Underarmour
shirt and apologizes for smelling bad, though I can
only smell the woods. The kids get mad when she
says Palmerville instead of Palmerton. Grandma says she
has previously completed Georgia to here, but Felipe
has to get her water because the Filter bottles are
useless. She's happy that there's a Catholic Church
in town , the kids again get mad for her misprouncing
it, and Grandma says a friend is meeting her in New
Jersey to hike to Connecticut, but this will be after
she stays in the hiker-friendly former jailcell in
town. She warns us about the horrible rocks ahead and
I silently hope that the Church can do something about
her black eye. I also hope that Grandma has the sense
to follow her kids off the trail.

There were five old men at the Allentown Shelter.
They're mostly from North Carolina and Tennessee and
their voices are so soft and gentle, it makes you
wonder if younger people from there talk like that
too, or if voices get like that as you get old. The
oldest man has just finished eating spicy three bean
chili. Between the five of them, I think they hiked
every trail in America. Something tells me they don't
care about Europe.

Chuck, or 'Sir Woodchuck' meets us at the Eckville
Shelter the following morning. He's black! Chuck
talks about the trail like a preacher. It's a
righteous and spiritual trail. He is shaving his
callous and says his father worked on his feet all his
life and taught him how to take care of his feet. I
think of history and wonder if being on the trail is
like a regression, but, testing your body and mind
makes sense.

At the Pinnacle I meet Felipe's new friends, a
redheaded woman and her husband. They're our age and
have fresh faces. It is funny that they are so
interested in us being out for three days. It's nice
to have an audience for our tales about hiking in the
dark and along knife edges. She is a Methodist
Minister, or some religious figure. I didn't know
women had that opportunity in the church. He is
studying American Literature and seems impressed I
identified his period as Antebellum, but he's not
doing his disseration on known writers like Hawthorne
or Emerson. Must be difficult.

Felipe likes staring at Lady Slipper flowers but I
like people. With all due respect to Thoreau and
Annie Dillard, hiking is not only about being in the
woods but meeting these characters every few hours. I
like being alone for the hours in between, but I can't
imagine enjoying myself in the middle of nowhere in
the Yukon Territory.