Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
Previous          Journal Topics by Date            Next
Start: Wind Gap/PA 33                                       
End:  Delaware Water Gap
Today's Miles:                      15.5
Cumulative Miles:          1,290.1
"In ultra running, the pain is inevitable but the suffering is optional."
- Al Bogenhuber

Remaining members of the OFC (Over Forty Club), from top: "Gumby," his wife, "Pokey," and "Red Wolf."

First view of the Delaware River from Mt. Minsi    7-23-05

What a perfect-weather day on the Appalachian Trail! While much of the South, West, and Midwest were setting record-high temperatures, this section of Pennsylvania finally enjoyed low humidity, a pleasant breeze, and temps in the 80s, not triple digits. It was even cooler on the shady Kittatinny Ridge where I was hiking all day.

Too bad I was hurting too much to thoroughly enjoy either the weather or the pretty woods and views!

My right hip and leg are seriously weird. I'm almost positive the sciatic nerve is the culprit. I need a chiropractic adjustment and a deep-tissue massage very badly.

How do you find competent medical practitioners when you're traveling and don't know anybody whose opinion you trust? Will one or two adjustments make this problem go away, or do I need two or three weeks off to heal the piriformis/sciatic/knee problem? Is it better to just go home for a while and try to get the problem resolved, or should we try to fix it "on the road?"

Those are some of the questions Jim and I are wrestling with. I felt so crappy at the end of yesterday's hike (can't even run this week) that I was wishing I'd tried to find a chiropractor before the weekend. Then last night I couldn't sleep well. There is no position that is comfortable when I'm lying down and the pain just magnifies itself when there aren't any distractions like during the daytime.

Even awake, I have to constantly change positions (standing, walking, sitting) so my leg doesn't drive me nuts. Neither Naproxen nor Celebrex makes me comfortable.


I refuse to give up and I'm not wild about going home for two or three weeks, so I decided to do a short segment today (only long enough to get me out of Pennsylvania!!) and asked Jim to find names and numbers of some local chiropractors so I could call them on Monday. I also planned to call my sister near Philadelphia to see if she knows a chiropractor I could visit early in the week.

About two hours into my hike Jim called me with the news that he found a chiropractor not far from our campground in East Stroudsburg that could see me this morning before noon. Today's Saturday. I had no idea anyone would be available on the weekend or I wouldn't have gotten on the Trail today. There was no way I could get to the next road crossing, or even back to where I'd started, in time to make an 11:30 appointment. Rats!!

So Jim made the appointment for Monday morning with a chiropractor who doesn't require I go through the whole "new patient" rigmarole with X-rays and everything (a second one he contacted requires that). I've read thru-hikers' journals enough to know that hikers often seek chiropractic and other medical treatment while on the Trail. Practitioners who are located near the AT are used to "transient" patients like this. I know my insurance will cover treatment away from home so I'm happy Jim was able to find someone pretty easily that will see me on little notice.

Just hope he's competent and can give me some relief from this pain.

I was already in pain after two hours on the Trail. It was hard to control my right leg, maneuvering it over today's pointy rocks (I think these are the ones the local club comes out to sharpen every spring!). Oddly, though, the smoother jeep road section near the end of the Kittatinny ridge above the Delaware Water Gap was more painful. Having to pick up the leg seems to make the knee and hip feel better, although it slows my progress (30-minute pace today, with stops - really pathetic!).

Jim's calls (he also found a well-respected massage therapist I can see on Monday) really perked me up and made the remaining miles a little easier. This is so frustrating to me. I want to be putting in 25-mile days, running where I can, and it's all I can do to slowly walk 15 miles. I had hoped to make it to the PA-NJ state line at the west end of the Delaware River Bridge but stopped where Jim parked in a hikers' lot 3/10ths of a mile short of the bridge. I didn't have the where-with-all to go any farther.

I'm doing the best I can. Probably TOO much. I don't want to cause permanent damage to my body and there's only so much pain and lack of sleep I can endure. But I feel like such a wimp compared to Horton, out on the PCT cranking out 50-mile days under adverse conditions as he tries to set a new speed record. I admire his durability, stamina, and mental fortitude!


I'm also gaining more and more respect for the thru-hikers who are still out here, like "The Over Forty Club," pictured above. I first met these folks in the Shenandoahs the day I was doing a short south-bound run with Cody. We all recognized each other immediately, after only that one brief meeting. One of their group had to quit but these three are still out here battling the odds of making it to Katahdin.

I came up on Pokey, Gumby, and Red Wolf a little while after talking to Jim and walked with them about an hour to Wolf Rocks, our first huge rock scramble today. It was like The Knife Edge, only the rocks weren't angled so badly. For you geology buffs, Wolf Rocks is the approximate southern edge of glaciation along the AT route during the last Ice Age.

The group stopped there to eat and I continued on. Red Wolf and three young thru-hikers later caught up to me at the Kirkridge shelter as I was leaving. The OFC is taking two days off. Maybe I'll catch them again next week.

Pokey and I talked as we walked. She and Gumby are from Minnesota, so one topic was the Superior Trail. We talked about various places along the AT we've really liked (and not), how fast boots and shoes wear out on the rocks, the various hostels and other places where the group has stayed, interesting people we've met, the weather, the bear a hiker saw a couple days ago, and how close Red Wolf came to getting bitten by a rattler yesterday as he read a note another hiker left on the trail warning others about that very same rattler! (One reason Jim and Horton feel it's appropriate to kill poisonous snakes - so the next guys hiking by don't die from them.)

I was glad to find out I wasn't the only hiker surprised by the difficulty of the climb out of Lehigh Gap yesterday. Pokey said she couldn't have done it by herself, not so much out of fear but because her legs are short and she couldn't pull herself up the verticals. Her husband had to assist from above.

I'm glad I have long legs, even though my knees don't bend well. My arms are pretty strong from years of using weight machines. I am concerned about my hand strength, though; I have arthritis pretty badly in my hands. Necessity got me up those verticals yesterday.

Apparently we're in for more of the same in the Whites, so Lehigh Gap was good practice, I guess.

Pokey said even after all the miles she's hiked, she has balance problems on rocks because of her pack. I mentioned I have increasing admiration and respect for the thru-hikers. This is one reason. They also have to put up with so many deprivations on the Trail: lack of variety of food, scrounging for water, being dirty for days at a time, sleeping on hard floors or the ground, having to deal with all the vagaries of the weather, joint problems from carrying heavy packs (although most have seriously down-sized by now).

Yes, my way is easier. But I'm living proof even being crewed and carrying a light pack isn't easy. (Neal, eventually I'll do my promised rant about how "easy" this is.)


Today's section of Trail was attractive, almost all in woods. Because of the rocks, my eyes were mostly glued to the ground but I occasionally stopped so I could look around and enjoy more than the myopic peripheral view I have with my glasses. I was disappointed to see no bears or deer, since they are supposed to be prolific here. I can recommend this section for hiking, although running is difficult on much of it.

The Trail improved immensely from Totts Gap to Table Rock, where it followed a gravel jeep road for a couple miles. I met the proprietor of the hiker hostel in Delaware Water Gap, walking with her black Lab. She was disappointed I wouldn't be spending the night in the hostel but perked up when I told her at least three of the six hikers behind me would be there.

The two-mile drop to Delaware Water Gap was gradual and just beautiful. Down I went past Lookout Rock and Council Rock, which afforded pretty views of the river. Since it was a pleasant summer weekend day there were numerous day hikers on this section and lots of rafts and canoes in the river far below (an 1,100-foot drop to the river).

The Trail here was lined with rhododendrons, laurels, hemlocks, and ferns - shaded, cool, just lovely. It transported me back to North Carolina. It would be absolutely gorgeous when the rhododendrons are blooming (which wasn't too long ago, as there are still browned flowers on the branches).

The Trail follows a dirt road for about a quarter mile before entering the edge of the town of Delaware Water Gap. I passed the pretty Lake Lenape (named for the Native Americans who lived in this area), enjoying the numerous water lilies in bloom and the frog serenade.

Jim was waiting at the parking area a short distance away. I was very happy to be done for the day and to be able to sit down longer than a few minutes; I had to rest more frequently than usual today during the hike so the sciatic nerve would "calm down" and not hurt so much.

Only 3/10ths of a mile to New Jersey  . . .

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and  Jim O'Neil