Day 105: Palmerton 

Today is our hiker friend’s birthday. We met him on day 1 and have hiked on and off with him ever since. (He was the one starting fires for us every night during week one). We decided to celebrate with him and head into Palmerton. Our other options would have been either hiking for 27 miles or carrying enough water to camp in a 20 mile waterless and exposed stretch, not exactly a tough choice. So here we are in Palmerton, a town with no hotels but a nudist resort. There is a steakhouse here with hiker lodging: a garage full of cots, a few tables, a power strip, and an outdoor shower. No bathroom, we have to go to the laundromat next door for that! Tomorrow morning we will head up the mountain, which is exposed as a result of heavy metal contamination that defoliated the entire mountainside due to 100 years of zinc smelting. The reason there is no water here is that it’s all contaminated as well and not suitable for drinking. This has been a superfund site for over 30 years now, and you can see a lot of new vegetation returning to the mountain. Fortunately we’ll be able to tackle this stretch early in the morning, rather than the afternoon like we would have if we continued hiking today. We hiked 12 miles today, and they were even rockier than yesterday. It felt like an obstacle course at times.