I woke to the early morning sunrise – our campsite was in a beautiful grassy clearing with a great view of the valley below. I was out of my tent by 6:30 to use the bathroom and packed to go at 7:00.
I really like my new Big Agnes tent. The Copper Spur UL 2 is a two-person, double vestibule tent. It’s similar to my old Dash 2 in that it has two entrances and can easily be set up in the rain (rainfly first). The primary difference is that it’s a lot bigger than the Dash 2 – I can easily sit up inside.
Note: I accidentally deleted a great picture of my new tent – it’s still up on my Instagram account. I’ll post a new pic of the tent in the coming days.
Black Santa and I started hiking north a few minutes after 7:00. My plan for today was to simply hike as far as I could (or wanted). I decided last night that I’d definitely take a personal day in Branchvillle, NJ tomorrow night. That meant I had two days to hike 35 miles before reaching town.
Today’s hike looked easy on paper. Three miles of level terrain followed by three miles of descent would bring us to Delaware Water Gap, PA and the PA/NJ state border. We made short work of the level section, stopping to have breakfast at Mt. Minsi at 8:30.
At 9:00, we started the gradual descent towards Delaware Water Gap, PA. It was a breeze – the famous PA rocks were all but gone. The trail was well-graded as this is a popular hiking destination for day-hikers.
I started catching glimpses of the Delaware River as I hiked – at 10:30 we finished our descent and walked into Delaware Water Gap.
Black Santa and I walked down Main Street and headed for the post office – he had mail drops and I had my bounce box to pick up. The lady at the post office was perhaps the friendliest postal employee I’ve ever met. After grabbing our boxes and having a pleasant conversation, we spread out on the grass out front and began repacking our food bags.
After packing back up, I walked down to the outfitter to look for a few gifts. As I strolled through town, the owner of a local restaurant came outside to talk to us – if we stopped in for lunch, he promised to give us a ride anywhere in town if we needed. While neither of us needed a ride, we were getting hungry. I checked out the menu – today was $.45 chicken wing day. Sold.
I made a few purchases from the outfitter and walked back to the post office to mail a birthday present to my father in Atlanta. It was noon and I debated skipping the wings and hiking on. But I just couldn’t do it – Black Santa and I grabbed a table and ate.
Other hikers wandered in – we got to see Who Dat. He’s been a day ahead of us since leaving Port Clinton, PA. We chatted briefly before I suited up to head out of town.
Black Santa would be staying behind. He only needed to hike 10 miles by Thursday – he had another package arriving at the Mohican Outdoor Center. Because it was sent to a private address, he couldn’t have it forwarded. He was stuck in town.
Champa, Savage, McDoubles and Get Weird were only a few miles away from town when I left. I decided I’d attempt to hike as close to Branchville as possible in order to take advantage of my pending hotel stay.
I crossed the Delaware River Bridge and officially entered New Jersey at 2:00.
The Delaware River is beautiful – despite being in NJ (and all that comes to mind when one thinks of the Garden State). The AT follows the river and hits a small park before crossing under I-80. As I hiked along the river in the afternoon sun, I really started feeling the heat and humidity. It’s amazing what a few thousand feet in elevation can do to the weather.
I stopped to use the bathroom and saw a nice shady spot in the grass by the river. I walked over and set my pack down. Before I knew it, I was laying on my sleeping pad, dozing in the afternoon heat – too many wings at lunch, I guess.
I woke from my nap at 4:30 and checked my phone. Savage, McDoubles, Champa and Get Weird were all hanging out with Black Santa in town. I really wanted to walk back and hang out with the gang, but knew I needed to make miles if I wanted to have a night to myself tomorrow.
I hiked on and entered the woods at 5:00. The ascent back up to the ridge line was easy – I ran into a few day hikers and some thru-hikers I didn’t know. Most of the hikers were heading to a backcountry campsite just south of Sunfish Pond. I opted to hike on.
And I’m glad I did – Sunfish Pod was georgeous!
I hung out with a few beavers as the sun began to set. I checked the AT Guide – I had just over 20 miles to go before hitting Branchville, NJ. But this was a really nice campsite. I decided to call it a day and make camp – I left the rainfly off my tent as tonight looked nice and clear.
* * *
I’m setting my alarm for 4:00am. I want to make it Branchville, NJ as early as possible to enjoy my evening off.
So I’m officially ahead of everyone I’ve been hiking with. Savage, McDoubles and Champa are about five miles behind – they made it out of Delaware Water Gap and decided to tent at the first available site. Black Santa and Get Weird are staying at DWG.
I’ve been in communication with Push – after taking ten days off, she’s currently less than 100 miles behind and gaining ground fast.
Moon Boots! After taking a week off to nurse an injured ankle, he’s also about 100 miles behind and hiking with Juan and Oriole.
Remember Canuck? Savage just saw online that he passed through Harper’s Ferry about three days ago – glad to see he’s still hiking north.
I wish everyone else was here – while I generally enjoy hiking alone, I like camping with others.
Breakfast: 20 gram protein bar, dried cranberries, half bag of beef jerky
Lunch: 12 garlic/buffalo wings, 1/2 pound of hot peel-n-eat shrimp
Dinner: Chicken Rice Side with can of chicken