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Word Count: 1,193
I remember exactly what I felt as I stepped out of the truck and into the afternoon sunlight I was at Lehigh Gap a drop-off point where the Appalachian Trail meets highway 873 near Lehighton A group of friends and I were being dropped off to begin our three day journey to Eckville another drop-off point southwest of thereI turned to face the trail and was surprised to see quite possibly the steepest hill I had ever seen As a matter of pure coincidence this was the summer of 1999 the year of a terrible draught Reservoirs were low and water-boiling advisories were in place all across the state It was also one of the hottest summers on record By the time we started hiking at nine oclock the temperature was already eighty-five degrees and still climbingAt first the going was easy The first few hundred yards of trail were shaded and a relatively cool breeze was blowing All of a sudden the trees ended and all that lay ahead was a sun-baked rocky slope We all decided that it would be best to take a break for rest and a drink of water while we still had shadeIt was very comfortable sitting there in the shade I remember thinking that the area looked like something out of a painting The way the light fell across the trees and scattered of the ground was magnificent I wanted to stay there for the rest of the day thinking of the trail ahead but we all decided it was best to leave The quicker we got to camp the more RR time we had until sundownThat was when the hike turned hellish The sun beat down relentlessly Sweat drenched my clothes and my legs burned We made jokes and complained a lot to break the silence I started singing The Ants Go Marching to myself to help me keep my pace The hill seemed to last forever
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