The finish

Strolled in to the finish line at about noon yesterday.

Chilly in the morning with Tweety leading the way 

Lined up a few blazes

Visited Sunfish Pond

Got to sport my trail magic necklace from Beatnik – he advised me to wear it proudly as I strutted in to Delaware Water Gap

Approaching the pedestrian bridge that took us over the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania 

On the bridge – at the border

Arrived in Delaware Water Gap, PA

Closing it out before driving to Tweety’s house

I’ve got to offer some final thanks to  those who actively participated in the blog conversations – Harry, Linda, Sally, Marti, Pat, Puffy Pete, Jenny. 

A particular thank you to my daughter Becca who set up the blog, taught me how to do the entries and to incorporate photos and videos, and helped me to overcome several technical challenges. She’s a talented artist. Might want to check out her work. If you’re interested in products or illustrations by Becca, sign up for her email list for shop updates – the signup is at beccarand.com.

And finally I wanted to throw out a huge thank you to my wife Paula, who tolerated my absence,helped me prepare for the trip, kept me going with regular food supply boxes, bought me emergency items when I was in critical need, joined me for a week in Virginia, and was my biggest supporter. She made it happen for me!

With gratitude for everything I’ve been able to do with all your help,

Junco

Last night out

Camping with Tweety tonight six miles from Delaware Water Gap – should finish by noon on Sunday. 

Had a glorious day today and the weather looks great for tomorrow, too!

This part of New Jersey is remarkably undeveloped with large areas of forest and beautiful lakes. The trees in the valleys still have leaves and show a lot of color.

Our camp site last night had a tremendous view





We stumbled upon the Mohican Outdoor Center and got treated to some trail magic by the staff there.

Free French toast casserole and a big bag of brownies and cornbread.


Many hikers have been so nice to us as we approach our destination.

Got some great trail magic from “beatnik” today


We’ve been treated to some fine views




Saw a plane pulling a glider


Saw some hawk watchers on Racoon Ridge. They set up an owl decoy to attract hawks. That’s the Delaware River on the left, flowing toward the Delaware Water Gap


And saw these cute forest friends


Getting ready for the big day tomorrow,

Junco and Tweety

Junco and Tweety

My brother, Jim, henceforth to be referred to as “Tweety”, has shown tremendous progress in morphing into a thru hiker, after only two days on the trail


He does, however, occasionally show signs that he’s new to the game


We hiked 12 miles today in some light rain


He bagged a big peak (High Point) – tallest point in NJ.


The rain brought out our best friends



We had some nice views from up high


And some nice forest scenery


Enjoying the company of Tweety,

Junco

The long list of Thank You’s as I approach the finish line

During these last few days, I want to thank all of those folks who helped me along the way.

Today, I’d like to recognize those who hiked with me for day hikes and sections and those who took me on excursions that rejuvenated me.

The hikers:

Harry Brown, my colleague and friend, who got me started in Georgia.

My wife Paula

My brother Jim

My Brother Tim

My cousin Linda’s husband Dave and their daughter Sage

My friends Pat and Marty

My friend Johanna

My med school classmates Brian and Trueman

My Australian hiking buddy Lou (Book ‘n Boot)

My friend Jim (J2B)

The excursion leaders:

My cousin Linda for taking me to visit my childhood home in Connecticut 

The Kennebec River guide team – my friends Laura, Pat and Zach 

My sister Janice’s family (Dave, Gus, and Sadie) who took me to the farm in Vermont and Little Gott Island in Maine

My brother Tim for shuttling me long distance in Virginia/North Carolina and New England.

I’m so appreciative and thankful for the great support and company. Could never have made it without you all!!

Feeling the magic brought by friends and family,

Junco

A warm day in NJ

Had a perfect day to start the hike with my brother, Jim.


He’s been training and testing out his equipment in anticipation of this trip. We banged out over 8 miles in a half day of hiking (started at noon) – great start!!


Bet you didn’t know that duct tape came in leopard skin – see the back of my shorts


Amazing to see this garter snake in November



Beautiful NJ farm

Recently deceased vole:


The beech trees are beautiful


Thanks to my sister in law Vicky for preparing the food for Jim and me for this stretch!!!

We’re working on a trail name for Jim – and we welcome suggestions!!

Rolling on,

Junco

Delaware Water Gap

Just rolled in to the Delaware Water Gap today. The Delaware River passes through the gap


This is the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The AT hiking ridges on each side of the gap are made of quartzite, and you can see how bent and irregular the rock layers are


That makes it look like this on the trail


Ran into more rhododendron tunnels “on the rocks”


Two forest friends from today

A little hippo

And a vampire bat (complete with fang)


So now on to the final section. 

The Big News is that my brother Jim is driving up from his home in Landenberg PA to join me for the last 50 miles.

I’ll be seeing him in a couple hours.

We’re going to get shuttled to Unionville NY and hike back south bound (and finish here in Delaware Water Gap). My last flip flop!!!

Some shots from yesterday

Some stretches have no leaves in the trees

The beech trees have kept their leaves

And the red maples

Two blazes lining up



Starting the final stretch,

Junco

Dazzled by blazes

As the fall progresses, I’ve noticed two trends. First, as I hike northeast the sun is behind me and casts long shadows ahead of me from about 230 to 530 pm. The second trend is that all the leaves have fallen and the sun penetrates through.


That means in the afternoon/evening the white blazes light up like beacons in front of me


So that’s why I’ve been paying more attention to them this past few days (noticing how they line up).

Or when they are horizontally striped


Or diagonally striped

Caught the sun coming through one of the openings in this cool tree.


A few from today

Enjoying more of the sun,

Junco

Palmerton, PA

The ridge I’ve been hiking on is called Blue Mountain. Other than the challenge of negotiating the rocky terrain, it is quite beautiful.

I dropped into Lehigh Gap and crossed the Lehigh River

On the other side of town is the Palmerton anthracite coal mine. Zinc was also processed in Palmerton.

It is a Superfund site and the ridge is a hodgepodge of rocks with few living things due to toxins produced in the mining process.


There is a process going on now to “remediate” the mess and grow plants and trees on the barren ridge. It was disheartening to hike through such a disturbed place.

Earlier in the day, some nice things came my way.

Wintergreen

This stalked mushroom was growing 3 feet up the side of this tree

Red maple

I came upon this scene. Anyone want to speculate on what happened here?

Glad I’m not that junco,

Junco

Games people play

I’ve recently taken to lining up the white blazes to catch more than one in a photo.

In this next photo the two blazed trees are 50 feet apart

Today, I had the good fortune to capture 3 blazes on two separate occasions (zoom in on the first blaze to see the other two that follow)@


Sometimes things get slow on the trail…

These PA rocks continue to torture me

The Knife’s Edge was particularly treacherous

Other parts of the day were more routine

A healthy beech tree arching over the trail

The photo below reminds me that if the trail maintainers blaze an unhealthy tree, they can still salvage the critical portion of bark

Trying to love rocky trails,

Junco