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Hiking with my Daughter

This post is a story. It is fairly long one for a post – about 5,800 words. It is about a hike my daughter and I took in early July, 2018. But it also contains back stories about events leading up to that hike. All the stories in this post have a common theme. I’ll let the reader figure out what they are. Comments are welcome.


The Beginning

March 20, 2018, 9:08 am

July 2, 2018 12:45 pm, West Rim Trail – mile 0.0 – Southern Terminus

So, where’s the trailhead?” Johanna just looked at me, equally flummoxed.  I felt stupid. I had been here before, just last year with Adam. I should know where the trailhead was.

I tried to recall what the driver of the van said when he dropped us off at the South Terminus. He was nice to point out that my tent was tied too low on my backpack so that it could cause back pain, which is something I was especially sensitive to. But I didn’t recall the part where he told us where the trailhead was.


Johanna answered,  “I don’t see it. Maybe we should look at the map?”

“Not a good start if we can’t even find the trailhead.” I replied, looking around while pulling the map out of my pants pocket.


Hike This!

March 25, 2018, 11:28 am

July 2, 2018, 2:56 pm, West Rim Trail – 1.4 miles

We had been on the trail for about an two hours, and it was all uphill.  The elevation gain was just over 1000 feet.  The temperature was around 90 degrees and the humidity was 100%. Our packs weighed about 35 pounds each.  Due to disruptions in our preparation plans, neither of us had train well at all.

I did a spoof video of how hard it was hiking. However, you  may be able to tell that we were already tried, soaked in sweat and worn out.

First Rain

April 2, 2018 10:17 pm

July 2, 2018, 4:00pm – West Rim Trail – 2.2 miles

After cresting the elevation gain, the trail leveled out and was I happy for that.  My heart rate stayed normal and I was able to hike without stopping to catch my breath every few minutes. I was somewhat surprised that it was not easier with my new aortic valve. My original valve was replaced two years ago due to stenosis, which caused shortness of breath, especially hiking.  However, I was pleased that my back had virtually no pain at all.  That was surprising since I had been plagued with fairly serious disk issues from April to just a few weeks ago.

Wet Johanna

About the time I was feeling good about hiking, it started to rain.  It was a mild rain and looked like it was going to continue for awhile.

We stopped to cover our packs.  I had a pack cover that was part of my backpack, but Johanna didn’t have a built-in cover. I had packed a lightweight clear plastic poncho that I figured could work for her.

It didn’t rain too long, but it was enough to get us totally wet and uncomfortable.  When we took a break to remove the covers,  I snapped this picture of Johanna.


A Warning

June 9, 218, 4:41 pm


July 3, 2018, 4:15 pm – West Rim Trail – mile 2.5:

We were hiking in a moderate section of the trail, along the side of a hill  in a valley.

We had not seen anybody since we left the Southern Terminus. It was quite. It still felt like rain was possible. We experienced a small rain shower earlier, but it was now just humid, hot and damp.

I had my head down, concentrating on getting one foot in front of the other and not tripping over tree roots or rocks. The trail was cut into a hill so one side was above me, the other below me. The trail sloped enough and was slipper enough that if I tripped, I would probably tumble downhill some before I stopped myself.

Johanna was leading, setting the pace.

‘Somebody’s coming’, she announced.

I looked up and in front of us was a guy, in his 30’s riding a mountain bike dressed in some kind of colorful spadix riding suite and a yellow helmet.  I think he had a well trimmed beard and looked like a engineer by profession and was was fairly intelligent.  

He slowed down as he approached. The father part of me made an instant assessment that he was not a dangerous person to my daughter.

I climbed uphill, off the trail  to give him plenty of room to ride by. However, as he approached Johanna, he dismounted his bike and walked it up to her.

“By the way, you might want to know”, he panted, “there is a rattlesnake up ahead. He is just sitting in the middle of the trail.”,

“How far?” one of us asked

“Oh, not too far. You can’t miss it.”

Then he was gone.

The Rattlesnake

Jun 10, 2018, 5:18 pm

After he passed me, he got back on his bike and pedaled down the trail the way we had come.  I thought this guy is crazy riding a mountain bike on this trail or maybe he was not as intelligent as my first impression led me to believe.

“Maybe I should take the lead.”, I suggested to Johanna.

Johanna, who had already declared her fear of rattlesnakes agreed.

With me leading we both continued hiking. I was very aware where I  put my trekking poles and watched out for a coiled bundle or snake.  Every root, leaf pile, or twig was eyed suspiciously.  We must have hike for 5 minutes when I offered the thought that the snake may have crawled away.

“Dad, ‘not to far’ to a bicyclist may not be the same as to a hiker”, Johanna  announced in her teacher voice.

“Good point.  I’ll keep an eye out.”, I replied.

It felt like another 5 minutes when I had decided that I didn’t need to worry or watch out any more . I was about to announce this to Johanna when I  saw this lump in the trail about 30 feet in front of me.  It was not a pile of leaves.  As I approached it, my heart rate increased.  It looked like a coil of some sorts. I slowed my approached and said: “Think I see him.”

I walked up to about 6 feet from the coil, stopped, pulled the bandanna that was hanging on my pack strap to dry out, whipped some sweat from my forehead and found a dry part of the bandanna to clean the fog off my glasses. 

“Yep!, that certainty looks like a rattlesnake, to me.” I declared as I put my glasses back on. “What do you think?”

“Yea, it’s a rattlesnake all right”, she sounded much calmer than I expected.

“And it ain’t moving.  But, I’m not about to poke it with my trekking pole.”

“Maybe we should go around.”

I looked to the left and saw a fairly steep hill; to the right it went downhill just as steep.  “If we go uphill and fall, we could fall into the snake. I’m not doing that!  Downhill looks precarious as well.  If we fall with these packs on, we can roll quit a ways before we stop.”

“What do you suggest? Wait until it wakes up and ask it kindly to get off the trail?”, my daughter whose wit, I believe, is genetic. 

“It is either dead, or sound asleep.” I replied trying to sound logical. “I think we can just walk by on the trail.”

“I need to get a video of this.”

As Johanna prepared her iPhone to take a video, I thought what the hell am I doing? What if that rattlesnake decides I’m a threat and bites me?  What if I wake it up and it waits until Johanna tries to pass and it bits her?  What kind of Dad does that?  

“OK, I’m ready.” she declared.

‘Well, its now or never. ” I think as I place my trekking poles between me and the sleeping rattlesnake.

When I got to the other side, I felt a sign of relief that I was not bitten.  I tried to sound calm when I asked Johanna: “Can you do that?”

She didn’t sound very positive, but she did it.

 The snake never moved.




June 11, 2018, 10:43 am: 

July 3, 2018, 4:15 pm – West Rim Trail – mile 2.5:

Before we left home, wanting some backup plan to avoid getting lost, I downloaded and tested a GPS hiking app to my smart phone.  It  did not require a cell pone single, but tracked your location using GPS to maps that could be pre-loaded.  It allowed me to log our location and to track of our hiking path. 

The blue locator icon is where I recorded our location. – called a waypoint. The red line is the route of the West Rim Trail and the blue line is where I recorded our actual hiking.  I would record us hiking for 10 minutes, then see how far we traveled. If I multiplied that by 6, I could get our hiking speed. 

You can see while climbing the elevation gain part of the trail, the blue line was short.  When we were on a more level area, the blue line was longer.  Our speed varied from .5 mph on the uphill to 1.8 mph on the level part.

This app worked great and even helped us when we took a bad turn and got off trail.

First Vista

June 22, 218 11:10 pm


July 2, 2018, 5:15 pm –  West Rim Trail – 3.0 miles

Because I stopped to take lots of breaks, our pace did slow down. Around 5 pm, I started looking forward to stopping for the day.  We had only hiked around three miles.

We reached the first vista where I captured this picture of Johanna . She appeared to be handling the hiking much better than I.

We were tired, but agreed to hike to the next campsite and water source which would be another mile. I felt that I may be slowing us down, but we were still OK. Based on our plan, we had not planned on hiking a lot of miles on this first day.


Campsite – Day 1

June 22, 2018, 11:30 pm – from Adam’s PCT hike blog 

July 2, 2018, 7:17 pm – West Rim Trail – 4.0 miles

It took us just over an hour to go another mile to the campsite.  It was near a creek which provided a good source for water, but it was not the most level and had plenty of rocks and tree roots.

We gave some thought to getting water and going on to look for a better camp site, but we were tired and hungry.

We made due and pitched our tents with little difficulty.  We filtered water.  We both carried just over three liters of water.  With the heat, we had to drink a lot to keep hydrated.  We filled our Smart bottles and pack bladders.  

I fired up my portable cook stove to boil water for dinner. We had freeze dried Biscuits and Gravy, by Mountain House.  Johanna didn’t seam to have much appetite, but I was starved and ate maybe 3/4 of the re-hydrated dinner for two.  Later, I believe that the flavor of what you eat is directly proportional to your hunger level. If you are starving, many things tastes great. If you are full, the same food can taste awful.

It felt good to change into dry cloths.  My sleeping pad was inflated and my sleeping bag dry, so I laid down to rest.

I didn’t hear anything from Johanna’s tent. I wondered if I should craw under the sleeping bag and say goodnight to Johanna.  I never answered that question for I went sound to sleep.


Early Morning

June 23, 2018, 3:30 am –  Adam’s PCT blog entry:

You can view the full post at


July 3, 2018 – 5:30 am – West Rim Trail – 4.0 miles

Around 5:30 am, I woke up needing to pee.  Again.   This is not unusual for me or many men my age. I had gotten up earlier, around 3 am, and stumbled in the wet, dark to get far enough away from the creek and our tents to pee.  I think I may have peed on the trail, but was not sure.  I did hear some critters and a deer snorting at me, but was too sleepy to worry about it.

At 5:30 am, it was just getting daylight.  I took my Duce-of-spades, some toilet paper and put on my crocks. I figured if I had to hike to pee, I might as well take a dump as well.

Few hikers write about the logistics of taking a dump in the wilds. Like everything else, you can Google how to take a dump in the woods, and get results, but they don’t provide much practical information.

The first challenge is finding a place. In the forest there are many places that offer some privacy, but they are not necessarily easy to get to. They don’t maintain trails to places to take a dump, nor do they put up signs with arrows that say: “Dump here”. And you have to find a place where you can dig a cat hole. Tree roots, rocks, and clay make that task somewhat difficult.

I did find some privacy far enough away from the trail, the creek and our campsite to be considerate and safe.  I won’t go into all the details, but will point out that the logistics of finding a place to put your toilet paper to keep it dry enough to use in the morning dew is not easy.  You also want to find an area that is somewhat clear of bugs and plants. You don’t want to be trying to swat spiders or a weed brushing up against your bare buttocks while you are in the act. Then there is the logistics of just how to pull down your pants such that you don’t dump or pee on them. Knowing how to squat in the woods is something many of us humans have evolved enough to forget how to do it effectively. Then there is the issue of legs cramps happening at the worst time.  I can only squat so long before leg cramps set in.  The only way I can stop the cramps is to stand up. This is not something one wants to in the middle of extracting waist material. 

Surprising I got the job done without leg cramps and was proud of myself that I didn’t pee on my pants or poop in my shoes.  I even hit the cat hole. I left no trace and returned to my tent, thinking of the famous George W. Bush quote: “Mission Accomplished”.1

Notes:  1. According to Wikipedia, George Bush never actually said those words. He just gave a speech in front of a banner that said: “Mission Accomplished”.   Interesting enough, that was in 2003.  Today, over 15 years later. Iraq still has war issues and we have troops in middle east.


Day 2 Plans

June 24. 2018, Stephanie’s (Jack’s sister) Facebook Post

July 3, 2018 – 6:30 am – West Rim Trail – 4.0 miles

Around 6:30 am, Johanna crawled out of her tent, while she went to find a private place, I fired up my PocketRocket  camp stove to heat water for breakfast.   The trick is to find a level space so when you boil the water, it does not fall over and scald the local insects that happen to be crawling around the stove. Also, I will point out that screwing on the propane fuel canister to the PocketRocket burner head will often cause a instant burst of propane to leak out of the screw fitting.  The first time this happened to me, I felt I was wasting propane and was going to have nothing left the next time I needed it.  I believe this is normal and after a few times, I stopped worrying about it. 

I selected Mountain House Scrambled Eggs with Bacon. I expected it to be the best tasting breakfast we had packed.  I didn’t miss coffee as much as I thought I would and looked forward to eating a good tasking breakfast.  I constantly learn that expectations are a set up for disappointment.

It was the worst scrambled eggs I have ever had.  The bacon tasked like bits of old shoe leather and the eggs were watery, flavorless, and gooey.   I think flavored sponges or Styrofoam could have tasted better.  

After pouring out most of the eggs to feed the local animals, we started packing up.  We looked at the map to find our next water source and campsite. We planned on hiking 10 – 12 miles today.  It looked like it may rain and the air was heavy and humid. 


Damper on Plans


June 24, 2018 – McGaffigan Funeral Home:

July 3, 2018, 9:23 am, West Rim Trail – 6.0 miles

We packed up and were on trail around 8 am.  We planned on hiking 10 miles today, 10 miles tomorrow, and 4 miles to the car on Thursday.  Today’s plan was to reach a campsite that had a vista overlooking Pine Creek.  I was somewhat worried that the weather could impact these plans.

Our shoes were wet, but we both had dry cloths on. However, sweating, morning dew on the trail and the humidity quickly dampened us.  We saw many strange mushrooms and captured some with our cameras for Rita to help identify. 

I still kept an eye out for rattlesnakes. I imagined them lying in wait on the high side of the mountain side. My imagination makes up these scenarios like a rattlesnake lies in wait until we walked by, then it would strike and bit one of us in the neck.  As I made up these stories,  I also kept an eye on the clouds and ear for thunder. 



June 25, 2018, 10:10 pm

July 3, 2018, 12:50 pm – 7.5 miles:

We settled into a routine of hiking, taking a break, hiking, taking a break.  We discussed how thru hikers have this manta of 10 miles by 10 am.  Neither of us could understand how they do it.  Of course some of them get up at 3 am and start hiking. 

Our hiking pace was much slower than any thru hiker.

I still worried about the weather.  Without a cell phone single, we had no way to get recent weather information. We knew that the weather report had changed before we got on trail. When we left home early Monday morning, it called for a 40% chance of rain on Tuesday, (today), and Wednesday and Thursday were forecast to be 0%.  Our last check before we arrived at Pine Valley Outfitters to catch the shuttle to the South Terminus, the forecast changed to 80% Tuesday and 100% on Wednesday and Thursday. 

We knew were going to get wet, but what we didn’t know was just how wet.


Pushing it

June 29, 2018 11:30 am – voice message:

Hi Johanna, this is your dad.  Give me a call when you can so we can discuss you riding back with us to Western PA. I understand why you didn’t want to discuss it at Jack’s funeral, but if you still want to try to get the hike in, we need to decide soon so we can plan travel, packing and supplies. As it stands now, we are planning leaving Nashua area tomorrow morning and we’ll stop by your place in the morning. If Drew and Sam are still coming out to visit later next week, you can ride down with us and back with them next weekend. You and I can do a hike Monday to Thursday, maybe the West Rim Trail, it’s only 30 miles. However, we need to decide soon. So give me a call. 

July 3, 2018, 04:13 pm – 11.5 miles:

This hike was not turning out the way I had hoped.  It was really uncomfortable. The oppressive humidity and heat, the need to stay hydrated, worrying about rain, watching for rattlesnakes was becoming tiring. I worried how Johanna was doing. She didn’t appear to be drinking enough water. When we stopped for a rest or snack, I would often suggest she drink more.  The father part of me couldn’t help but be protective.  Even though she was an adult, the father part of me could not help but  feel responsible for her safety.

I was drinking a fair amount of water.  I couldn’t tell how much I had in my water bladder, but I drank from it frequently while hiking.  I used my water bottles when I stopped. One was empty, the other about 1/2 full.  We had passed some of the seasonal water sources that were dry.  There was a dependable  water source just a mile and a half  before our targeted campsite, just another 2.5 miles.  I felt we could make that but worried that Johanna may be rationing her water too much.


Ah, Water

June 29, 2018, 4:19 pm

July 3, 2018, 04:13 pm – 13.0 miles:

We got to the West Rim Road and the trail followed it for about a mile.  Of course it was uphill. The map said the trail turned right off the road and that was were our dependable water supply was – a cistern. 

We both were glad when the trail turned and we found the water source. When I took off my pack, I felt that I had lost 30 pounds. I felt  like if I took a big step, I could launch myself like superman and fly across the forest floor. 

We extracted our water bladders and I started filtering water.  I drank about a liter of water while filtering for our containers.  We left with a total of 6 liters of water. We had only just over a mile to the planned campsite. 


Campsite- Day 2

June 29, 2018, 7:06PM

July 3, 2018, 6:53, West Rim Trail – mile 14.5

We passed the Bradly Wales Picnic area, which was nothing more than a building with a men’s an woman’s restroom and two picnic tables.  We had toyed with the idea of camping there, but gave it up and preferred to camp in the woods. We decided to hike there and if it was not good, we could hike back to Bradly Wales.

The campsite was wonderful. There were actually three vista’s and plenty of room to camp.  It was level, under pine trees. We were exhausted. We took off our packs and just sat for a while, enjoying the views and resting.




June 29, 10:10 pm


July 3, 2018, 7:00 pm, West Rim Trail – mile 14.5

We rested too long.

We discussed if we should continue the hike or not and looked at the map for short cuts we use to cut off miles.  Then we heard thunder. We decided we better set up our tents.

We no sooner laid out Johanna’s tent when it let loose.  It didn’t start with a sprinkle, it started torrential and poured on us.   We had no choice but to continue to set up the tents.

 It rained the hardest just as we rushed to get the tent flys on them. 

We got soaked. We had covered our packs, but the rain was heavy enough that even parts of them got wet. 

After the tents were up and the tent flys were on, since we are already soaked,we stood around, not wanting to craw into the tents and get them wet and muddy.  After 10 minutes or so, the rain let up and within 30 minutes, it had stopped. The trees dripped water like it was raining.

We took off the backpack covers and put the backpacks in the tents in case it rain again, which it looked like. This was done as carefully as we could for as soon as we opened the tent door, water from dripping trees would fall into them. 

We both were in the same situation, we had one set of dry cloths in our backpacks stored in garbage bags so they were still dry.  We also had a garbage bag  that contained our wet cloths from yesterday in our packs.  We both were soaked through, including our underwear. Our shoes were wet and muddy, our socks full of water.  

I hung a cloths line with my para-cord and asked Johanna to turn around for I was going to change into dry cloths outside my tent. If I tried to change cloths in the tent, I would soak everything that was dry. As I took off pants, shirt, socks and underwear, I would wring them out and hang them on the line. I felt much better after getting dry cloths on.

Johanna also changed into dry clothes. I’m not sure how she did this, for I deliberately didn’t watch.

We somehow got dinner, but I don’t remember what it was or how we ate it.

After we ate, we walked to the vista overlook and  turned on our cell phones. We were able to get Internet access. The weather report was not good. It was calling for 100% rain tonight, tomorrow and the next two days. Radar showed more thundershowers within an hour of us. We were 14 miles from where we started and 16 miles from our car at the North Terminus. We discussed the possibility of hiking 16 miles the next day. Neither of us felt we could do that.  That met we were looking at being totally wet for two more days.

We discussed short cuts again, but we could only cut less than three miles off the 16 miles and that included a riskier trail and/or getting lost. 

Just a quarter mile away, back the way we came, there was Bradley Wales Picnic area, which had sheltered restrooms next to a dirt road. If were going to terminate the hike, it was best to do it now.  We had cell phone coverage and a dirt road nearby with a shelter to stay in until we could arrange a pickup.

Since it was too late to call anybody at this hour – around 8:30 pm, we agreed to make a  final decision in the am. We both retired to our tents before we got poured on again, thinking we would abort the hike in the morning.

I crawled into my tent, leaving my muddy, soaked shoes in the vestibule outside. As I started to set up my sleeping bag, I noticed I had a puddle of water in my tent. It must have come from when I put my pack in it or gotten something out of my backpack. I found my wash-up towel that worked fine to soak it up. I would soak up a bunch and wring it out outside the then. Then soak up some more. I did that a number of times until I realized I wasn’t making progress. There was water somehow coming in my tent. 

Bugger! I thought, I must have a leak someplace. The water dripping off the trees sounded like a light rain. I checked the corners and seams and found nothing to explain why there were puddles accumulating inside.  I then found that, in my hast, I had put the tent fly on wrong. It was 180 degrees off which may contribute to the leakage inside the tent. It was near dark now. I put on my headlamp and crocks, and went outside to preposition the tent fly.

I got back inside the tent only to find that there was still puddles of water. I sat back and thought: “This is not good.” I’m going to have to sleep in a puddle of water.  

I kept thinking, how is this happening? 

Then I had a thought.

I had set my backpack down on the tube that came from the water bladder.  It had squeezed the mouthpiece such that water leaked out of it.  Duh! I felt stupid and fixed it. Of course the bladder was almost empty by now.  It had leaked about a liter of water out.  I  was then successful in soaking up all the puddles.  

I got my sleeping pad inflated and found my sleeping bag had only gotten wet on one corner. I laid down and within a few minutes was listening to some critter checking out our tent site. 

I said goodnight to Johanna and thought about  the loss of Jack and worried about how Adam. I hurt for Eric, Carol and Stephanie. It is hard enough to loose a family member, but to unexpectedly loose a child or sibling who just entered adulthood is particularly painful.  Jack’s loss also hit Adam hard.  I was pleased he took off to attend Jack’s services. We all needed time together to morn.  Now that he was back on trail, I wondered  how he was doing. I could not imagine hiking 1100 miles he had done already, or the full 2500 of the PCT.  I fell asleep thinking of family.


Morning Decision

July 4, 2018, 7:45 PM


July 4, 2018, 7:00 am – West Rim Trail – mile 14

I woke up around 5:30 again.  Did my morning business and went to the stand by the vista to capture a picture and check the weather again.

Neither the sky or the Internet looked good.  Thundershowers, 100% chance of rain and heat were in the forecast.  Johanna got up and joined me.

We discussed options. I tried to not influence her decision. If she really wanted to continue hiking, I would agree, but I felt we both would be at risk if we did. We were both exhausted, we would have no dry cloths or any dry camping gear after today. We would be hiking next to the canyon on a trail with mud and tree roots.  Rain and water would make that very treacherous.  I didn’t see any value in suffering or putting our lives in danger.

<Ask Johanna to provide a more accurate dialog of our conversation – what follows is not a good recall of memory.>

“What do you think?” I asked.

“If we could get to the car tomorrow, I may consider it, but there is no way we can make 16 miles in one day.  I’m OK if we bag it.”

“I’m worn out and agree.  Let’s see if we can get a ride.” 

After a short discussion on who to call for a ride, we decided to call Pine Creek Outfitters.  They were the same people who shuttled us to the South Terminals and said we could call them in case we needed them. 

I really didn’t expect them to answer the phone at 7:00 am, but hoped a message machine would tell me if they would be opened today, since it was July 4th, an holiday.

Again, expectations only set you up for disappointment. 

The message machine said their normal hours are 9 to 6, but said nothing about being open July 4th.  I left a message and planned to call back after 9 am.

We decided to hike back to the Bradley Wales picnic area to wait until 9 am when we would call them again.  



July 5, 2018, 12:32 pm


July 4, 2018, 9:45 am – West Rim Trail – Bradley Wales Picnic Area

The Bradley Wales Picnic area was boring. The restrooms were nice, but we opted to sit at an old picnic table to wait, even in light rain.  There was an well that had an old fashion hand pump. I started pumping the handle which took most of my strength to do so. After a few minutes of nothing happening, I read the sign that told me that the well was 300 feet deep and that one may have to pump for 10 minutes before getting water.  I gave that up as a bad idea and was pleased I was not in dire need of water.

Johanna and I sat and chatted, passing time. We did discuss contingency plans if we couldn’t get a ride from Pine Creek Outfitters. But none of the plans sounded reasonable.  At 9:05, I called them again. This time I expected and hoped a human would answer the phone. 

A machine answered. I left another message, hung up, and worried. We then started a more serious discussion of contingency plans.  We were not coming up with much when my phone rang.  I was relieved to see the caller ID was Pine Creek Outfitters.  They were open and agreed to pick us up. They would be here in about 40 minutes.

We both were relieved. We now allowed ourselves to look back at the past few days and even though the hike did not turn out as we expected, we both enjoyed it and the experiences we had.  From the mysterious bicyclist warning us of the rattlesnake, to the heat,  the rainstorms and bad bacon and eggs breakfast, we would remember the time we spent together fondly.

Both Johanna and I are generally optimistic and realize that life does not have to turn out as expected to be enjoyed. 

The 40 minutes passed quickly and we were soon headed back to our car.  The van driver was kind enough to point out vistas and give us some information of the area. 




July 4, 12:30 PM – Rt 6 heading Home

After getting back to the car, we drove to Pine Creek Outfitters to pay for the pickup. We also passed three young wet looking hikers waiting in a shelter. We later found out that they, also, called for a pickup from the Pine Creek Outfitters.  It looked like everybody was getting off trail.

We then headed home.  It was about five minutes later when it started to rain very heavy. With the windshield wipers going full speed,  I had to slow down to see the road. 

We were on Rt 6 heading west when we entered Galeton, a very small borough next to Pine Creek with just over 1100 people living in it.   It was still pouring.  I saw a sign for a deli and  on a whim, I pulled into the parking lot.  “Let’s take a break, get something to eat, and let this storm pass.” I suggested.

“Sure”, Johanna replied.

We made a mad dash from the car to the porch, getting the last of our dry cloths fairly wet.

There was only one customer in the old building and a woman who greeted us, apologizing and warning us about water on her floor near the coffee machine and the front door.

“It has never done this before. We have water coming down the walls everywhere. I called my husband. He’s coming with a shop vac.  I have never seen such rain.  You are welcome to sit. Will you be having lunch?”, She rambled.

It was a wonderful experience. The food was good, and considering we had camp food for the past few days, that would elevate it to the great category.  

The other customer strange. He was a nice, professional looking young man, alone with a expensive brief case and cloths. We chatted some.  He was traveling Rt 6 just to see the sights.  Later, Johanna and I would joke about him being a serial killer, looking for his next victim. 

The rain let up, the husband showed up with shop vacs, the wife, who told us the Reader’s Digest version of their life closed the deli but let us finish our lunch and even offered us fresh baked pie.

We left feeling much better.  We continued on Rt 6 West and within a half mile, had to deal with water gushing across the road from a hill side. As I passed through the flooded roadway, I could feel the Fit being pushed by the water flowing across the road. There was a moment that I thought the Fit would float and be pushed across the road into the river on the other side.  That would be a stupid disaster, I thought. But we made it through the flooded roadway and continued home.

If there is a moral of this story it is about expectations and optimism.  Expectations can often set one up for failure.  However, with a dose of optimism, one can turn failed expectations into a wonderful experience.  Of course, it is also OK to leave expectations at home and encounter wonderful experiences as they happen.

I consider this hike with Johanna to be one of the best times we have had together.