The Stranger

May 22, 2018

Destination: Allentown Hiking Club Shelter Today's Miles: 16.50

Start Location: Windsor Furnace Shelter Trip Miles: 1241.10

Waterfall in a stream just south of Windsor Furnace Shelter, PA
I woke to the expected rain. It got heavier as we all ate breakfast.

I looked at my options for the day. 9 miles away there was a bunkhouse Shelter with a solar shower, but it was a cold shower so I decided not to get sidetracked and stop there. I decided to hike to the Allentown Hiking Club Shelter and then reevaluate. PA has some strangely spaced shelters. I either had to walk 16.5 miles or 26 miles. That said, by the time I reached the Allentown shelter 16.5 was more than enough!

A quick side note as I have mentioned snoring before. I will not name names here, but last night was the second occasion on hearing a particular individual snore. The first time I was actually afraid this person was having a breathing problem. Having lived through that night, last night I was able to relax and listen to the snoring with incredulity. So far, this person takes the cake. I have never heard anything like this level of complexity or duration before. It lasted all night long, both times! Imagine there is a sport called Olympic breath holding. Imagine then that the athlete who competes in this sport has to train, and to do so he must hold his breath as long as possible, then gasp to breathe again when he cannot possibly hold it another second without passing out. Imagine that deep gasping noise. Hold that thought. Now, try to picture a bored dog. A big old dog. It is lying in the sun. It lifts its head out of boredom and looks for second, sees. I thing because there is nothing, and then exhale-snorts out of its nose as it puts its head back down, licking its drooly jowls twice. Hold that snorty sound too. Lastly, imagine someone being tortured to death and so weak that he can just barely utter a kind of pathetic, long whimpering sound. Or, maybe it is the sound of hopes and dreams being crushed. It’s hard to describe, but it sounds sad and final. Now start with that, do a couple of those, then add the sudden gasp for air. Alternate the gasp for air with the dog snort and that’s basically what I was hearing. It was incredible. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that. 

I hiked out and the rain came. I made the decision to take off my rain jacket because I got hot, and then it really started pouring so I got completely soaked and cold. I was just warm enough if I hiked fast. I passed Cody Coyote and then hit the gnarly rocks. They were tough, slow going. The 16.5 miles seemed to take forever. When I finally got to the shelter, two other hikers were there. I had to get out of wet clothes quickly to get warm. I felt better once I did, and could then focus on eating something. One of the hikers was the guy I’d met at Walmart yesterday, Phariel. He’s an older gentleman who is flip flopping. The other guy had just stopped to get warm and headed on. Later, two brothers showed up, as did another flip flopper. As we were sitting there, a man showed up. He definitely seemed kind of rough and out of place. He was wearing pants and a sweatshirt and carrying a small daypack. I realized I had passed him walking South on the trail. He asked if there were “a lot of these things (shelters)” on the trail. He then asked when the next one was, and also how far it was to walk to Allentown. There was definitely something out of place. He then asked if he could stay in the shelter, so we said sure, of course. He climbed in and sat there with his pack for a while, and after about 20 minutes he quietly got up and left. He really did not seem to know where he was. The young brothers looked relieved that he was not sleeping next to them! He had a pretty large and muscular build. We all wondered - who walks around in the woods getting soaked and doesn’t seem concerned about not knowing where they are? Our stranger friend, apparently. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was running from someone or something.... Probably not, but you never know on the trail!

I was grateful to have a dry place to sleep tonight! The hiking left me tired. I will not miss the PA rocks! Tomorrow is supposed to be quite nice weather, and I am looking forward to that!

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