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."
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.
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.