Tuesday, August 3, 2021

From Duncannon, Pennsylvania, to . . .

 Wednesday July 21  Nearing Duncannon I met a hiker named Solo.  The trail diverted us uphill then turned downhill--very steep downhill.  Solo says several times, "I don't remember this.  Every re-route put in is harder than the original." 

Showered at Hostel and rinsed out my clothes.  Had lunch at the old hotel with Willy and Scott.  Hamburger and the first beer I've had in months was $10.31.  About half what you'd normally pay. 

Started the 4.6 mile hike to first shelter. Across to the other side of town, then across two bridges.  From there the trail became steep but doable.  I lost the trail at a "Double White Blaze" which indicates a turn.  I tried 2-3 different routes but they played out--very steep and rocky, a bear cat to walk on and not get hurt. I went back to the Double White Blaze.  This time I hit pay dirt--it was a switchback which are few and far between on the Appalachian Trail.  And then the trail moved into the rocks.  We've had plenty of rocks, except this required rock climbing and not hiking or walking.  One 0.2 mile stretch took 40 minutes.  Back home, I can generally do 0.2 mile in 4-6 miles. 

Garrett and I disagree about the rock climbing.  I knew there would be a few sections farther up the trail, but I've already hit 3-4 areas requiring rock climbing--highly inefficient travel. 
Kamikaze gnats There have not been many biting insects, but some insects are annoying--Kamikaze gnats dive-bombing my eyes.  Once I had 3 gnats in my left eye. 

Thursday July 22  Internal Dialogue and Bonus Miles--Most of my mistakes are when my internal dialogue is in overdrive.  I took a breakfast break at a shelter then turned wrong when I got back to the AT, 1.8 bonus miles. Bummer! 17 trail miles plus 1.8 bonus = almost 19 miles. 
Chicago stopped at my camp at Horse-shoe Trail, then moved onto another camp.  Next morning I found a much better campsite less than 0.5 mile away.  17 miles on Thursday. 

Friday July 23 Biggest event today was my first rattlesnake.  Hiking in the shade with my head down because of rocks--this is the norm on the AT.  Just as I was about to take a step with my right foot.  I noticed a "pattern" and froze.  Sure enough, a timber rattler was asleep on the trail.  My next step would have been on the rattlesnake. 

I stayed at William Penn Shelter.  A nice young woman--high school distance runner--slept upstairs while I slept downstairs.  She doesn't know what she missed--my snoring. 

I did about 22 miles today.  A little while after getting to the shelter, I was stiff, sore, and clumsy.  My goal was to make Hamburg early on Sunday.  

Saturday July 24 I hiked with two very nice guys for a while today--Stephen and Jonathan (with black beard). Later when I was hiking alone, a guy with a black beard blew past me like I was standing still.  I thought it I was Jonathan and that Stephen could have been hurt.  Turned out not to be the case, as I came onto the fast walker taking a lunch break.  His shirt was red, trail name Captain. 

Toward the end of the day when I am tired, my pace slows.  I had seen a father-daughter duo earlier, Scott and Grace.  Scott passed me and I must have looked up.  My right foot caught something and WHAM, I was on the ground.  No rocks, thank God, so no harm, no foul. 

I came off the AT to get water at Sand Spring.  Good flow, great water.  Made it to Eagle's Nest Shelter at 4:30.  A few folks were camped beyond the shelter.  None other than Chicago showed up.  I have seen Chicago every day since my first full day on the AT.  Chicago now has done 1200 miles.  Somehow I am keeping up with a thru-hiker. 

I came off the AT to get water at Sand Spring.  Good flow, great water.  Made it to Eagle's Nest Shelter at 4:30.  A few folks were camped beyond the shelter.  None other than Chicago showed up.  I have seen Chicago every day since my first full day on the AT.  Chicago now has done 1200 miles.  Somehow I am keeping up with a thru-hiker. 

Lots of discussion with Scott and Grace.  He asked me if I knew a song named, "Wayfaring Stranger."  I said, "Emmylou Harris, Roses in the Snow album. Happens to be a song I like very much." On his phone he played a version by a father and his two daughters. I thanked Scott as I told him it would be in my head the next day. 

Sunday July 25 Ten miles to get to Hamburg.  Left camp at 5:45 am.  The trail was sometimes flat, smooth, and fast; other places were a jumbled mess of rocks at various angles--slow going.  I kept moving forward, breaking for breakfast, potty break, Nearing Port Clinton there was the descent from hell--EXTREMELY STEEP, toward the end I caught up with two overnight hikers--Mark and Cara.  They were agreeable to take me to Hamburg. 
We loaded and packs and us in his small car.  When we got to Hamburg, Mark pulled into Five Guys parking lot just before 11:00 am, and they don't open until 3:00 pm.  Then to Red Robin which opened at 11:00 am.  We ordered burgers, fries, shakes for them, steamed broccoli for me.  The burger and fries were very good, but the broccoli was incredible.  I picked up the tab for the ride and the good conversation.

They dropped me off at Microtel.  I had to wait until 3:30 to see if I had a room.  At 3:30, the clerk said, "You've got a room, there was a cancellation." 

Laundry, shower, soak in a hot tub of water with shampoo in the water, then a second shower. The motel has a pub--Pappy T's Pub and Lounge.  I carefully looked the menu over and saw that they had sauteed cauliflower and broccoli.  I ordered a salad and asked that carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli be added to the salad.  Then I ordered the medley of vegetables, AND sauteed brussel sprouts.  I ate a lot of veggies today. 

Today was day 11.  From Harper's Ferry, WV, to Hamburg, PA, is 195 miles.  Not bad for an old duffer.  My feet are sore and blistered and my left knee hurts from time to time. 

Tomorrow I enter what Mark called "the trail from hell" --78 miles of rock.  The one thing that would make this better would be a hiking partner--to talk to, to encourage each other, to help motivate each other.  All I can do is look for the opportunity to hike with other hikers.  Even a few miles with someone can make all the difference in the world. 

Kevin, just keep on keeping on. 
Monday July 26 I arranged a ride to the Hamburg Post Office then back to the trail.  His name is Steve.  No envelope in my box, so I am pushing on without mailing anything back to Becky.  Hiked Eckville Shelter--there is a house owned by Mick.  He has a 6-bunk bed house--small, so my snoring would not be welcomed .  To the side is a building with a toilet and solar shower.  Shower was cold and WONDERFUL.  Every shelter should have one.  I camped across the road with others. 

Tuesday July 27  Hiked about 18 miles to Bake Oven Shelter. I stopped at a restaurant--it was closed, but had a spigot, so I filled with water.  Shortly after crashing for the night, I heard some noise.  My food was fine.  At the far side of the shelter a porcupine was working on the first step into the shelter.  Porcupine left.  When I laid back down, a big black ant bit me--it stung for several hours.  Later more noise; this time it was two porcupines. 

Wednesday July 28 I hiked to Palmerton and then I had a decision to make.  Take the official AT and do some rock climbing up a cliff face, or take the "blue alternate" and hike a very steep trail, but you can walk.  I took the blue alternate. 

I caught up with a section hiker named Justin.  He is a co-pilot for Boeing 737 planes.  We had a great conversation. 

I camped at Delps Trail, but Justin went a little farther. 

Thursday July 29  This part of the AT has been dry enough that water is a concern, as many of the springs are dry.  Yesterday I planned to go to Danielsville, PA to get more water, but a water cache made that unnecessary.  Today I needed more food and more water, so I went to Wind Gap, PA.  I stopped at a convenience store as the grocery store was a much longer walk.  I bought a bottle of water, bottle of Gatorade, hamburger, burrito, and Cheetos.  Spent more money at a convenience store than ever. 

I hurried back to the AT.  It was 1:00 pm and supposed to start raining by noon.  Pack was heavy but I made it up the hill anyway.  At the campsite I had circled on my guidebook, there were two hikers with hammock-sleeping systems--John and Oscar (Oscar has the longer beard).  They were okay with me joining them.  First drops of rain put me to setting up my tent.  A little after getting the tent up and everything inside the tent, thunder started in the distance.  Lightning close by, LOUD thunderclap, heavy rain.  By 5:30 the storm was over. 

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