I love the area of the Lehigh Gap AT. You park at a little out of the way lot that never has enough space, you are just above the Lehigh River (hello dog swimming opportunity!), the rocks are obnoxious but fascinating and the wasted scenery courtesy of "Superfund" (a zinc smelting operation with poor environmental management) is equal parts sad and an interesting difference from the normal trees and greenery.
So I parked at the crowded lot. I walked North across the Lehigh River bridge. I crossed the traffic via the AT. And I started my hike.
Well well well, what does this trail have in store for today?
It became obvious very very quickly that this was really not a dog friendly hike. At all. And my dogs have toughed it out over a lot of difficult rocks and elevations. There were many spots that the dogs absolutely could not get up on their own, since it was vertical rock with no footholds for them. With possibly an unexpected drop off on the other side. Most of the climb up I stowed my SLR into my pack and concentrated on lifting them over the difficult parts, and also climbing carefully and not falling to my own tragic death. Dramatic? Go ahead, pass that "Turn Back Now" rock and climb it for yourself!
A cozy little flat spot to rest our muscles on.
Up up up we climbed. This is the bridge that we had walked across and if you see that little dirt path coming off the right of the far end of the bridge, that was where we left the car.
A prime example of an area where I had to lift the dogs up.
The bridge is getting farther and farther away...
We finally reached the top. Molly was absolutely exhausted. She was dragging behind and her normal swagger seemed abnormal. (She was lame for a week after this - her first episode of lameness.)
A carpet! (a carpet full of ticks, but we didn't know that at the time.)
Those cell phone towers way off in the distance? We've been there, too. :)
Here we were back off the grassy path and turned around, because of the ticks. Because it was hot, because Molly was dragging. I was so beyond grateful for the alternative trail back down, the Winter Trail. And the Winter Trail was nice. It was still elevation, it was still work. But it was a much nicer way up that mountain (or down) with a lot of great views and experiences - without the literal danger of the rocks. The rocky AT was very interesting but it is absolutely something I would never do with dogs again.
We scrambled down the mountain, crossed the bridge and I took the girls for a much needed cool-off swim in the river. They appreciated!
I am a bit of a completist. It has nagged at me for a long time that I didn't finish the section that I set out to finish. (This is part of why I think that dog sports and the working towards titles appeals to me.) 2 miles left untraveled because of those ticks. I returned last Wednesday and finally finished this little section!
We entered at Little Gap - our planned turnaround point last year. We still had to climb the customary rock elevation to get back up to the top of the mountain. Hey, this is the AT after all.
What a difference a year makes in hairstyle for Perri! (I actually love it so much when I look through old photos to see Perri's hair changing all the time.)
Ask me how much I love open ridge tops, powerline towers and views as far as the eye can see? A whole whole lot.
It wasn't long before we met up with that same grassy pass that was full of ticks last year. Maybe I should have kept going last year, we didn't have much further to go to get away from the ticks. But the thought of picking all those ticks off, only to have to retrace my steps back through there again? Yuck.