Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 90- We Have A Love/Hate Relationship

June 30, 2015
Eckville Shelter(1232.3) to Stealth Camp(1251.1) 18.8 Miles

Let me begin by saying how much I love being out here. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and I'm greatful each and every day that I get to experience such amazing things. With that being said, not everyday can be great. The last few days have been very taxing. Pennsylvania is kicking my butt. 

Today started off very normal. I was awake by six and started packing up my things around six thirty. I was able to take my time and enjoy the luxuries of last nights shelter. I used the flush toilet, filled up my water bottles from the tap, and threw away all of my garbage. There was even electricity to charge my phone and external battery. 
Tent site
Caretakers house and Bunkroom

Due to all of the luxuries offered, I didn't hit the trail until almost 8:00. The beginning part of my hike started off with a pretty decent climb, 1,000 feet of elevation over 1.5 miles. The sky was overcast so it wasn't too bad of a climb. The weather forcast called for thunderstorms after 4:00, but since I was only hiking 17 miles I thought I'd be done before they started. Just as I got to the top of the hill I heard thunder. I went to Dan's pulpit overlook and the sky looked angry. 
Dan's Pulpit

I got my phone out and lo and behold, I had service. I published my blog post from last night and checked the weather radar. A severe line of storms was rapidly approaching. There was a shelter 4.4 miles away, so I picked up the pace to make it there before the storm hit. I made it half a mile before I hit a huge field of Pennsylvania flowers. With boulders that large there is no going fast. I slowed way down and the sky began to turn dark. As I climbed up a pile of boulders, I was reminded of Newtons laws of gravity, What goes up, must come down. Climbing up big boulders is much easier and safer than climbing down. At one point I had to sit down and slide to the next rock below me. As I cleared the boulder field, the rain started. It was a light rain that the forest canopy caught most of. I made it to the shelter without incident and five minutes later the rain became heavy. 

Since I wasn't in a hurry today and only had ten miles left, I had a long lunch break. I checked the radar once more before I left and didn't see anything. The next four miles of trail were amazing. It was very flat and hardly any rocks, I banged out 4 miles in one hour. 
Pennsylvania loves me again

That was the last flat, rock free trail I would see all day. The next six miles to, Bake Oven Knob Shelter, were some of the worst miles I've ever done. The rain started back up just as I hit an enormous boulder field. Rocks are hard enough when they aren't slick from rain. I carefully picked my way through without incident, but now I was pretty wet. 
Pennsylvania loves me not

The farther north I walked the harder it rained. Just as I reached an area called, Knife Edge, the wind picked up and the lightning started. It was raining so hard that it actually hurt. I had a moments hesitation about proceeding forward, but I couldn't go back and I couldn't just stand around, it was too cold for that. I took a deep breath and pushed on. What I saw next had me pretty unnerved. The Knife Edge, is a section of trail described by Guthook as, "tricky rock scrambling". I described it as bowel-shaking earthquakes of fear and terror. 
Borrowed from the internet. 

It was raining too much for me to get a picture. The trail is the top ledge. If you look carefully you can see the white blaze on a rock. 

This went on for over .2 miles. I'm not sure how I made it across without slipping, but I did. Probably had something to do with the fact that I sat and crawled for most of it. By the end, I wouldn't have been anymore wet if I jumped in a pool. I wish I could say that the rest of the day was all rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns, but I can't. It was more of the knife edge type of terrain, but not as severe. The sad thing is that I can appreciate how much fun that would have been on a nice sunny day. 

The thunderstorms came and went for the remainder of the day. I made it to the shelter nice and early. I was looking forward to putting on dry clothes and getting warm, but it was going to have to wait. Baked Oven Knob Shelter was a dump. There was graffiti everywhere and it had a weird vibe. I grabbed some water from the water source there and pushed on. Between the rocks and  being constantly wet over the last three days, my feet were really sore. Another campsite was listed at 1.5 miles away and I pressed on the best I could. The thunder and lightning started back up as I left the shelter. The rocks remained constant, but at least they were the small and jagged variety. I can muscle past those. 

Just before the sky opened up again, I found a usable campsite. I set up my tarp and hammock in record time. As soon as that was done I stripped off all of my soaking wet clothes and got into my sleeping bag. I was chilled through and through, but I warmed up quickly in my bag. 

Tomorrow will be a better day. My brother and his family are driving in from Philly to meet me in Palmerton. My nieces, age 5, are very excited to do trail magic. I'm very excited to see them and to help pass out trail magic. We will be setup right before Lehigh Gap, one of the toughest sections of the entire trail. Hopefully we can fuel up a lot of hikers before the fun starts. 

"Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven't half the strength you think they have." -Norman Vincent Peale

Day 89- Pennsylvania Flowers

June 29, 2015
Eagles Nest Shelter(1208.5) to Eckville Shelter(1232.3) 23.8 Miles

I had a pretty rough night last night. I felt something bump into my hammock and immediately I was wide awake. I thought maybe I dreamt it, but then I heard the sniffing sound. I wasn't sure what to do. There was definitely a large animal right outside of my hammock. I laid as still as I possibly could. Just as I was getting ready to call out to scare the bear away, I heard a jingling sound. It took a second for my brain to process the sound, it was the sound a dog collar makes. I immediately relaxed, but my heart was still racing. A family of five with three dogs had arrived at the shelter at 2:30 am. They proceeded to loudly set up camp directly behind my hammock. They weren't even trying to be quiet. After thinking I was going to be eaten by a bear, I couldn't go back to sleep. I tossed and turned until 6:30, when I finally gave up on sleep and got up. 

Everyone in the shelter and tent sites was up pretty early as well. The big bear-dog was barking its head off and no one could sleep through that. I made coffee for the first time in a month. Partly because I needed the caffeine and partly because it was so cold out(low 50's). As I  prepared to pack up camp, I noticed the bear-dog was next to my hammock. As I approached, he went nuts. He started barking and lunged at me. I back pedaled and called out for help. He had me pinned against a tree, snarling and barking at me from less than three feet away. Finally the owner called him off. The guy never apologized or said anything to me. After I changed my shorts, I thought about saying something to him, but I decided that was a bad idea. I quickly packed my things up before Kujo could come back. I was on the trail by 7:30. 

The first section of the day was relatively easy, except for the rocks. They have just become a part of life. I can hardly remember a time when my feet didn't ache from repeatedly being stabbed by the jagged bastards. After a pretty tough climb, I sat down to filter some water. As I was filtering two hikers approached. They, like most hikers these days, were new faces to me, Happy, from New Zealand, and Old Eagle Scout. We talked about the craziness with the bear-dog and about their owners showing up at the shelter so late. We ended up hiking and talking together for the next several miles. Eventually they got ahead of me when I stopped to look at a viewpoint. 
Dan's Viewpoint(not sure who Dan is)

When I got back on the trail, China Rock, was right behind me. We hiked into Port Clinton together. The downhill into town was supposed to be really tough, but I didn't think it was that bad. Port Clinton didn't have much to offer. There was no gas station, convenience store, or restaurant. There was, however, The Peanut Shop. They had all kinds of candy, chocolate, and cold sodas. I bought some chocolate covered bacon, fudge, and a Mt. Dew. The chocolate covered bacon was fantastic! I chilled outside with Happy, Old Eagle Scout, China Rock, Little Free Bird, South Paw, Adios, and Icarus. We all enjoyed our various goodies and basked in the sun. No one was looking forward to the climb out of town. 
The Peanut Shop
Yum Yum

I was the first one to head out. I wanted to get the climb over with before my sugar rush wore off. 
Appalachian trail inspired graffiti under a bridge 
Simplified trail map graffiti 

The climb uphill wasn't that bad. I made short work of it and pushed on. The flat terrain after was the challenge. It was very rocky, with medium sized boulders, that were just waiting to twist your ankle. I made it through the obstacle field with no problems. The flat terrain gave way to another uphill climb, this one didn't look too hard on paper, but it was steep and, you guessed it, filled with large boulders. At the end of it I was huffing and puffing, but excited for the view. Walking Rhythm posted a comment on my blog about Pulpit Rock and The Pinnacle, these were the views I had just worked so hard for. 
Pulpit Rock
The Pinnacle

At Pulpit Rock I met, Moddo. He is a thru-hiker from S. Dakota. He told me about a phrase he had coined to refer to all of the rocks, Pennsylvania Flowers. I loved it and told him I was stealing it. 

By the time I left, The Pinnacle viewpoint, my feet and legs were shot. The PA flowers had worn me out, both physically and mentally. I still had more than five miles left to hike and was not sure I could make it to the shelter. By some kind of miracle most of the next five miles followed a gravel road with very few PA flowers. I began to make up some lost time. 

I had previously planned to meet, China Rock, at a stealth campsite before the shelter. I made it there with plenty of time left in the day. I decided to push farther and make it into the shelter. I left a note for China Rock and pushed on. 
Trail message

The final two miles were both easy and difficult. The force was still with me and the trail remained flat and flower free. It was difficult because of how badly the soles of my feet hurt. 

I made it to the shelter pretty quickly considering it was the end of a long day. The Eckville shelter is different in many ways. First of all, it is located on a road. Second, it has running water, including a flush toilet and a solar shower. Third, it is a bunkhouse behind a guys house. I'll get pictures for you tomorrow. The care taker also has property across the street for tenting and hammocking. I'm camped by, Rusty, Griffin, Old Eagle Scout, Moddo, and two other ladies I can't remember what their trail names are. I'm now in the heaviest section of Pennsylvania flowers and I can't wait until they are over, 35 miles north of New Jersey. 

"Friends are as companions on a journey, who ought to aid each other to persevere in the road to a happier life." -Pythagoras

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 88- Trekking Through A Swamp

June 28, 2015
PA 645(1191.4) to Eagles Nest Shelter(1208.5) 17.1 Miles

After a very good nights rest last night it was tough to get out of bed this morning. I finally dragged myself out of the room at 6:45. My only motivation was the hotels continental breakfast. I made myself a Belgium waffle, cereal, a few pastries, and a large cup of coffee. After scarfing everything down as quickly as possible I headed back to the room to get packed up. By 8:30, South Paw, Griffin, and I were standing by the side of the road with our thumbs out. Numerous cars whizzed by without slowing. We received several confused or dirty looks by the drivers and passengers. After 15 minutes we began discussing paying for a shuttle back to the trailhead. Just as we were about to make the call we heard a man call out to us from across the street. He asked where we were headed and we told him PA 645, he offered to take us halfway since he was heading that way. We hurriedly crossed the street and thanked him profusely. A few minutes later we were once again on the side of the road. We were three miles closer to our final destination though. Just as we were preparing to stick out our thumbs out again, a car pulled over and offered us a ride. I couldn't believe our luck, an unsolicited ride!!! 

The gentleman that picked us up was from Reading, PA, who was going out for a day hike. He had done sections of the AT and was very friendly. He drove us the final three miles to the trailhead. As we got our packs out of the trunk and thanked him, I knew we had a problem. He dropped us off at the wrong place. He had taken us to the PA 501 trailhead. This was good news for Griffin because he had gotten off there, but for South Paw and I, this was bad. We had just skipped two miles of trail. I consider myself a trail purist so I only had two options, walk back to my original starting point, or hitch hike back. As I considered my options a shuttle driver pulled into the parking area. I asked her for a ride back to PA 645. She agreed to take us there, but it would cost $10. In the end, I gladly paid her the money. I have walked over 1,100 miles without missing a single white blaze, I wasn't going to start now. So much for not paying for a shuttle. Oh well, hitch hiking is kind of fun. 

Once I was back on track the fun really began. Have I mentioned how much I love wet rocks and mud? Let's just say that I didn't hike the trail today, I slipped and slid down the trail. I thought I was in for an easy day of ridge walking, but the reality was I hopped, skipped, and jumped over rocks, puddles, and mud. Just when I thought that things couldn't get any worse, they did. 

I came up on two bedraggled looking day hikers. They informed me that I was getting ready to hate life. According to them the next two miles of trail was under ankle deep water. I just smiled and thanked them for the info. I sort of dismissed their advice, thinking that I am such a hiking badass I could avoid whatever was coming. For the first half mile, I bobbed and weaved myself around all obstacles. Then I had a series of missteps and half falls that left my feet soaking wet. Eventually I came to a section of trail that was 100% under water and unavoidable. Since my feet were already wet I decided the day hikers were right and just waded into the water. 
No way around
Ankle deep water. Later it would be just below the knee

This continued on for two miles. By the time I finally returned to solid ground I couldn't feel my feet. The water temperature had to of been in the 50's. I was so consumed by my misery that I almost missed the 1,200 mile mark. Well, truth be told, I did miss it by .2 miles. I found a semi-dry patch of trail and made the marker and quickly hurried on. 
Less than 1,000 to go

I know that from here on out the rocks will only get worse, but I hope the weather will improve. It feels more like fall than summer. The high today was only 62, but with the clouds and wind it felt much colder. The low tonight is in the 50's again. As a Florida girl, I'm shocked by this. I not looking forward to putting on wet shoes and socks in the morning. 

The only highlight of today is who I'm camped with. A lot of my trail friends are here tonight! China Rock, South Paw, Adios, and Rusty made it to the shelter after me. They all came in one at a time and I got a kick out of hearing, "Hey, it's Yoda" four different times. If only Airlock, Outro, Stealth Bomber, and Cyborg were here. 

I'm hoping for a miracle tomorrow, but deep down I know that the trail won't drain over night. I ate a good amount from my very full food bag, so at least my pack will be lighter. Usually, in the summer Pennsylvania has a lot of unreliable water sources. At least I won't go thirsty any time soon. 

"Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet." -Roger Miller

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 87- Nero In Pine Grove, PA

June 27, 2015
William Penn Shelter(1189.3) to PA 645(1191.4) 2.1 Miles

It just dawned on me that I only have 999.9 miles left until I summit Katahdin. I'm more than halfway through Pennsylvania and the rest of the states will come fast and furious. 

Today was a really short hiking day. With bad storms expected to start early, most of the hikers were scrambling to get off of the trail. I had arraigned a ride into town with a friend of China Rock's. I only had to walk two miles to a parking lot to meet them at 9:00. I tried to sleep in, but was still up at six. I listened to the rain from my hammock and finally got up at 7:30. As I was getting ready to pack up, South Paw, called out to me. She had decided to join us in town today. I guess hiking through the freezing rain no longer sounded like fun. 
Not great hiking weather

We made it to the parking lot in thirty minutes, that might be the fastest I've hiked two miles. We waited for ten minutes for China Rock and her friend to pick us up. They were a few miles away picking up another hiker named, Griffin. Once they arrived we were on our way to Pine Grove, which was only four miles away. China Rock and her friend were planning on hiking for a few hours so they dropped us off at the Econo Lodge. Our guidebook had their price listed as $50, which seemed fair considering it wasn't super nice. I had a mail drop waiting for me there and it was next door to a dollar general, which is great for resupply. 

As we tried to check into the Econo Lodge we were informed that the price was $110. We quickly decided that was not acceptable and went back out into the rain. There was a Comfort Inn next door that was listed at $65. As we walked in we were certain we could get a room there, but the front desk clerk took one look at us and said they were booked up. At this point I was pretty sure this town was not friendly to hikers. We went to next door to McDonalds to regroup. The only other hotel in town was a Hampton Inn that cost $200, no way we could afford that on a hiker budget. As we ate breakfast we talked over our situation. South Paw called her dad to see if he had hotel points we could cash in and I checked online for deals. I found one room at the Comfort Inn for $90. South Paw's dad couldn't help us out, so I quickly booked the room. I was looking forward to seeing the look on the front desk ladies face when we walked back in. The only problem was, check in wasn't until three and it was only ten. We hung out at McDonalds until two. To kill time we ate lunch there as well. It was an interesting morning. 

When we walked back over to the Comfort Inn the front desk lady rudely informed us that they still didn't have any rooms, I smugly informed her that I had a reservation. She spat back that the room wasn't ready and we had to wait. We settled into the lobby and waited for forty five minutes. Finally our room was ready and we headed upstairs to get cleaned up. 

We spent the rest of the day relaxing in the room, only leaving for a quick trip to Dollar General. We ordered in dinner from a local Italian restaurant and watched trashy stuff on tv. It was a nice relaxing day. I'm so glad I wasn't hiking in this weather. It has been raining since 4:00 this morning and the current temperature is 53 degrees. What the heck Pennsylvania, don't you know it's summer. Where I come from, when it rains, it's still 80 degrees out. I'm starting to regret sending home my insulated jacket and long sleeve shirt. I might have to reevaluate that decision. The forcast for tomorrow is partly cloudy with a 65% chance of showers. A vast improvement over today. We will enjoy a nice continental breakfast and then continue our trek north. 

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, June 26, 2015

Day 86- Almost Famous

June 26, 2015
Stealth Camp(1167.9) to William Penn Shelter(1189.3) 21.4 Miles

My day started off exactly how it ended yesterday, with light rain. I rolled over and went back to sleep for 30 minutes. When I woke up at 6:30 the rain had stopped and I quickly set about tearing down camp. I ate a quick breakfast and was on the trail by 7:30. All of the rain did not improve trail conditions. I did, however, discover a use for all of the rocks, they allowed me to hop on them to avoid the mud and puddles. 
Typical trail today

Walking through this type of terrain is mentally exhausting. Usually I kind of zone out while I hike, going into autopilot mode. Across this muddy sloppy stuff I have to plan every single step. I was pleased that I was able to keep my feet clean and dry all day, but every mile felt like two. 

A few miles into my morning I came across an old mining village. Not much was left to mark the site, but I still found it interesting. 

Not long after passing through this area the terrain changed drastically. I entered into a pine forest area, which is my favorite type of terrain. I started to pick up my pace a little. I was fiddling with my hip belt pocket when I looked up to see a huge bear standing on the trail about ten feet from me. I actually gasped when I saw her, she was enormous and very close. 
Momma bear and cub(in background on the left)

I calmly asked her to move away and she just stared at me. I made myself big and said, "move along bear". The cub moved away and she moved back about ten yards, but was still on the trail. At this point I took a picture and then slowly backed up. I kept talking to her and banged my poles together, the cub finally ran away and she slowly moved off the trail in my direction but farther away. I took a great video of her moving away. As I went to turn the video off I saw the second bear, an even bigger male had appeared from nowhere. I was a little more concerned so I stopped messing around with pictures and kept banging my poles together until they were out of site. I waited a few minutes and then proceeded down the trail. The whole encounter was really neat. I never felt like I was in any danger, just a really close up encounter. 

As I finished climbing up the mountain I heard more rustling in the woods. Out of the trees in front of me burst two ............
people. The female said, "You're Yoda." To which I replied, "Yes, I am". It turns out that they follow my blog and were out doing a weekend hike in the same area. I told them about the bears. They told me they had been following the bear prints in the mud for awhile. We talked briefly and I continued on. It was pretty cool to be recognized out on the trail. I felt famous, not like Angelina Jolie famous, but maybe reality tv famous, or jumbotron at the ballpark famous. I'm still surprised everyday that people other than my friends and family read this. 
Jessica and Kyle (I hope you guys had a nice hike)

It was cool to see the bear prints. It looked like they had walked on the AT for more than half a mile. I was fairly certain that there were no bears in this area. We are so close to roads all of the time that I didn't think they would be around, boy was I wrong. 
Bear paw prints

These two encounters changed my entire day. I had a pep in my step, and even the rocky terrain couldn't keep me down. I stooped and ate lunch in the pine forest. I'm not sure why that's my favorite terrain, but I just love it. 

A few miles after lunch I came to PA 443, two interesting things happen here. First, I noticed the sign to Ft. Indiantown Gap Reservation. This is where my grandfather was discharged from military service after WW II. My grandmother drove down to pick him up and twelve days later they got married. It was neat to see some of my family history close up. 
Fort Indiantiwn Gap Reservation

The second thing that happened was trail magic. Former thru-hiker, Ernie and his wife, SOS, along with two friends were set up along the side of the road. They had snacks, sodas, and freshly grilled hamburgers. We chatted and I had second lunch. It was very much appreciated. Ernie thru-hiked in 2007 to celebrate his 65th birthday. He is planning on doing it again for his 75th. 

I spent the rest of the day hiking with China Rock. She should change her trail name to China Rocket. I just about killed myself trying to keep up with her on the uphill climb. We chatted back and forth for a few hours, it really made the miles go by fast. 
Boulder field 
Green tunnel with Rhododendron blooming 

I stopped to make camp for the night next to the shelter, while she hiked on another 2 miles. She had a friend meeting her at the road into town. Tomorrow is supposed to be 100% chance of rain, with some severe storms mixed in. I had already planned on taking a nero in Pine Grove, PA so the weather won't affect me. China Rock and her friend agreed to pick me up in the morning and drive me into town. I'm glad I don't have to try and hitch hike in the rain. 

I'm camped tonight next to the shelter. South Paw, Putt- Putt, and Tumble
are here as well. I'm really excited to be missing the bad weather tomorrow. For some reason most of the other hikers in my bubble are staying on the trail, but I don't see why. 

"Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer's day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented." -Gilbert K. Chesterton

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 85- Walking The Line

June 25, 2015
Duncannon, PA(1146.9) to Stealth Camp(1167.9) 21 Miles

In the last week I've hiked 145.1 miles. That averages out to almost 21 miles per day. I really felt it today. I had zero energy and really struggled through the day. The rocks have started to increase and my poor feet felt every single rock. 

I was up late last night, mainly because The Doyle has a bar, but also to finish my blog. I decided to sleep in until seven, but I was up at six anyway. I did lay in bed until seven though. Since I didn't have to break camp I was out of the hotel by 7:30. I decided not to eat breakfast in a restaurant and just made a meal out of camp food. I was back on the trail by 7:45. Usually when I leave town I don't get started until after 9, so I was pretty happy about getting an earlier start. The trail passed through the residential part of Duncannon. I walked through the streets for over 2 miles(asphalt hurts my feet). 
Residential neighborhood

In the next two miles I crossed the Susquehanna River twice. The bridges across were heavily traveled by cars. I didn't care for being that close to traffic. Eventually, I reentered the woods and had a very steep climb. I enjoyed getting away from the sounds of civilization. The higher I climbed, the less road noise I could hear. I was excited to get to the Peter's mountain overlook, one of my blog followers, Walking Rhythm, told me it had a great view. He was spot on and my picture doesn't do it justice. 
View from Peters Mountain

Unfortunately, for everyone reading this, the rest of the day was very boring. I walked a ridgeline all day long. Every once in a while the trail would drop down into a parking lot, then I'd climb back up to the ridgeline. One section had a sketchy boulder lined area that I had to traverse. I put my poles away and carefully made my way around. Every time I would get into a rhythm, the rocks would break my stride. It really slowed me down today. I must have rolled my ankle 20 times today on the rocks. I forced myself to slow up before I got hurt. 

Around noon I came across the ATC ridgerunner for this section of trail. I actually met him yesterday at Darlington Shelter. When he thru-hiked the AT last year he got the trail name, Flat. He was checking to see if there were any blow downs from the storm two days ago. As he jogged by me he said he left trail magic at the next parking area. That was all of the motivation I needed to pick up the pace a little. When I got to the parking lot I saw a bag of nectarines(my favorite) and a cooler of soda. 
Thanks Flat

The rest of the day was a blur. I kept my head down and focused on every step. Around two it began to rain, nothing major and the forest canopy caught most of it before it hit me. Nonetheless, I once again picked up the pace. I skipped stopping for lunch and just ate extra snacks while I hiked. I was three miles short of camp when the rain intensified, not quite a downpour, but more than a drizzle. The last two miles I hiked as hard as I could. The trail became very steep and I was very tired. Eventually I made it to my campsite and I was still relatively dry. I quickly set up my tarp and hunkered down underneath it to wait out the rain. Since I had cell phone reception I checked the weather. It was going to rain all night, ugh. I decided I couldn't wait out the weather, so i set up everything from underneath my tarp. I haven't had to do this very often, so it took a little longer than normal to set up. I decided I didn't feel like cooking dinner so I ate snacks instead. Several other hikers came past my camp, but pushed on in the rain. I thought I was going to be here by myself, but I convinced China Rock to stay. To be fair, it didn't take much convincing. 

I'm nice and dry tonight and the rain should stop in the early morning. Hopefully tomorrow will be more interesting for my sake and yours. 

"Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!" -Bob Marley

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Day 84- The Fruits Of My Labor

June 24, 2015
Stealth campsite(1125.0) to Duncannon, PA(1146.9) 21.9 Miles

Today was a great day. Even with a wet sleeping bag and unseasonably cold weather(59 degrees), I stayed warm last night. I was up at 6:00 and on the trail by 7:00. Since I camped in a no camping area, I was the first person on that section of trail, which meant that I got the privlage of breaking through all of the spider webs. Eww. 

Today was also the easiest section of trail that I've hiked. I enjoyed fourteen miles of flat terrain. I walked through fields, meadows, interstate overpasses, and even a tunnel. Along the way I collected and ate blueberries, mulberries, black raspberries, and cherries. It was awesome. I probably collected over a pound of fruit. 
Looking at this picture I probably should have rinsed them off

Open field
Dairy Farm
Corn Field

I breezed through the miles early on. I hiked 12 miles in under four hours. 

After I went through the tunnel I reentered the woods. I was greeted by a strenuous uphill climb, but I didn't mind. After walking 14 miles of flat terrain, through civilization, I was ready for a change. Midway through the uphill I came across a rusted out car frame. It was very surreal. 
Car in the middle of nowhere

Immediately after seeing the car I hit the summit of my climb. I was had a great view if the valley and where I had come from. 
I walked from the distant mountains and across the valley 

It was a beautiful day, unseasonably cool with low humidity. I couldn't help but marvel at my change of circumstances. Yesterday's weather was so miserable and today was a wonderful spring afternoon. 
Fantastic weather

As I turned the corner I came to another road crossing. A van was parked there with the windows down. I said hello to the driver and she beckoned me over. Her van had all kind of AT stickers on it, so I stopped by. She introduced herself as, Trail angel Mary. I was excited to meet her because she is mentioned in my trail guide. Mary was waiting for, Jester to come by so I told her he was a few hours behind me. She gave me some cantaloupe and asked if she could help me with anything. I thanked her for the fruit and told her I was good. Trail Angel Mary is a wonderful lady that goes out of her way to help hikers. It was a privlage to meet her. 

As I hiked on, I couldn't help but marvel at the change of fortune I had experienced. The AT is truely full of ups and downs, physically and mentally. Around the next corner I found an ice chest loaded with ice cold soda. The note read, "From Captain Panda 2016, help yourself," 
Such a nice treat. I hope Captain Panda has a great thru-hike next year

The next six miles of my day was no picnic, but nothing could put a damper on my spirits. AWOL described the next 6 miles as, "very rocky". I've encountered tons of rocky sections, but AWOL has never warned me beforehand, so I was very weary. I'm not sure if it was my great mood, or because I was so close to town, but it didn't seem that bad. 

Six miles of this

I had a brief break from the rocks as I hit, Hawk Rock viewpoint. I had a great view down into Duncannon. 
Susquehanna River

Duncannon is another great town that the trail goes directly through. As I walked into town I hadn't made up my mind if I would stay in a hotel or just pass through. By the time I reached the famous Doyle hotel, I had decided to stay. 

Originally a three-story, wooden hotel built in the 1770s, it was a stopping point along the main route going north along the Susquehanna River and has a rich and storied history. It caught fire and burned to the ground in 1803, replaced by the current brick building. In 1880, it was purchased by Adolphus Busch of Anheuser-Busch fame, and it opened again as the Johnson Hotel in 1905. Busch died in 1913, and the building reverted to the Budweiser Company, but was quickly sold off, with many other places, when Prohibition hit in 1920. The hotel then went through several private owners, finally becoming The Doyle in 1944 after Jim “Doc” Doyle won $444,444.44 in the Irish lottery. Doyle owned and operated the hotel into the 1990s. It again passed through two different owners until 2001, when current owners Pat and Vickey Kelly bought it.

Through the many years, The Doyle has hosted the famous (including Charles Dickens) and many ordinary folks, but its true calling came with the establishment of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, known more familiarly as the Appalachian Trail.

- See more at: https://theburgnews.com/business/hiker-heaven-break-bed-chunk-history-await-weary-doyle-hotel#sthash.z1eBnJ0I.dpuf

The place definitely needs a little TLC, but I enjoyed staying here. There is a great group of hikers staying as well. Rusty, Little Free Bird, South Paw, Jester, China Rock, Hail Storm, and Boris were all here as well. When I checked in Vicky told me about the Lutheran church down the street. On Wednesdays they have a hiker feed, so I went by to check it out. It was amazing. The wonderful parishioners fed us a spaghetti dinner with salad. They had Gatorade, homemade ice cream and cookies too. On the way out they had ziplock bags, toilet paper, fruit snacks, protein bars, and trail mix for us to take. They refused my offer to help clean up. It was truely amazing. I must have thanked them 50 times. 

After dinner I went back to the Doyle. Everyone was hanging out at the bar downstairs. I had a few beers and really enjoyed hanging out with everyone. After a long hard week of pushing out big mile days this was exactly the kind of day I needed. 

"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it." -Greg Anderson