The rocks of Pennsylvania

I am currently in Duncannon, PA at The Doyle, a classic AT stop and a bit of a dive.

Children's Lake, Boiling Springs, PA. 7a
Children’s Lake, Boiling Springs, PA. 7a
Mid Atlantic ATC office
Mid Atlantic ATC office

Thursday June 26 Boiling Springs, PA 1117.5 to Darlington Shelter, 1131.8
Hiked out of Boiling Springs, PA this morning. Got a great day of rest yesterday–basically I woke up long enough for meals and blog posts. May have slept a total of 26 hours out of the 38 hours I was there. I’m sure I was a terrible guest, but at least I was quiet! Lisa, thanks again. You are a goddess!

Red mushrooms!
Red mushrooms!

Left Boiling Springs at about 7a. The trail was a mere 3 block from where I was staying. The entire trail was mercilessly flat and without rocks until the last two miles today. Until then, I walked between farm fields, mostly corn but a few sown with soybeans or with cattle grazing. But the trail was usually under tree cover, so felt cooler than walking in open fields.
For the first few miles I was the first person to pass. I know this because of all the spiderwebs, all neatly at eye level. I took to holding my hiking pole at arms length in front of me.
I also disturbed numerous rabbits and chipmunks and they darted across the trail. Last night was heavy rain and the path was damp. Occasionally I felt showers, drops falling from wet leaves as squirrels ran overhead.

This section of the AT is well marked at road crossings!
This section of the AT is well marked at road crossings!

But eventually faster hikers started passing me and the path was clear of critters of all kinds.
The trail crosses many roads today. Just after I cross PA 74 I met 4 delightful retirees on way to breakfast at Cafe 101 in Boiling Springs by way of the AT. They had sectioned hiked the trail and knew what I’ve walked through and what I’ve yet to face. Three of them had also worked for state government and we commiserated about that. I SO wish they were thru hiking now–what a great group to hike with.

Wish this group was still hiking the trail--though they might still out hike me.
Wish this group was still hiking the trail–though they might still out hike me.
Lots of cornfields today.
Lots of cornfields today.
Love these stiles over fences.
Love these stiles over fences.

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I snacked on blackberries and mulberries.
I snacked on blackberries and mulberries.

There were a couple creeks to cool off my feet which really keep the swelling down and reduces the need for an anti inflammatories.
At the Scott Farm ATC center (1127.8)–a large barn with a picnic table and porta potty—several of us stopped for water and a break.
On the next to the last mile, the climb begins and a few rocks enter the trail. As suggested in the guidebook, I stopped for water at the spring a mile before the shelter. It’s a steep climb with the extra weight, but the water source at the shelter is unreliable.
Just before the summit, less than half a mile before the shelter, there’s a stone bench built into the switchback and a spectacular view of the valley you just climbed out of.

Amazing views
Amazing views

imageAt about 6p I finally arrived at my campsite. Just barely got the tent up and despite 0% chance of rain, and blue skies, it starts pouring. Did I mention these mountains make their own weather? I had enough cell reception to get a local weather update that insists this is not rain, but a half inch of partly cloudy.
During a break in the rain, I visited the privy, referred to as the Taj Mahal. While it is large–a two seater!–I expected so much more from a structure so named. And I don’t even want to think why you’d need two seats!

 

The Taj Mahal?. I expected soooooo much more.
The Taj Mahal?. I expected soooooo much more.

Friday, June 27 Darlington Shelter, 1131.8 to Cove Mountain Shelter 1139.1

May be thought to see, but it's a rabbit in the trail.
May be difficult to see, but it’s a rabbit in the trail.

Had a difficult time going to sleep last night. Just as the rain started a couple set up their tent hurriedly about 6 feet from me. Let me stress that there was a huge tenting area and no particular need to set up so close. I would not have minded but she–I’ve dubbed her Chatty Cathy–talked nonstop for 2 solid hours. For awhile I thought she was on the phone–the usual reason people talk too loudly while in a public place. But eventually I could hear a male voice making an occasional grunt. “Hum” or “Uh huh”. Annoying. I’d planned to sleep in, but she started talking the second she woke up too. I gave up and started packing up. As I was taking down my tent, He–who I dubbed Mute Mo–opened the tent flap, stood up and urinated in clear sight of me. To her credit, Chatty Cathy never stopped talking. Though one does expect decorum to lower somewhat in the woods, one does not expect it to stoop this far.

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First there's a stream, then a hill....
First there’s a stream, then a hill….
...an amazing view...
…an amazing view…
Then the rocks start.
Then the rocks start.

The last three miles to the shelter were rocky. This is only the second section so far my AWOL guide has called “rocky” and though it’s no worse than about a third of Virginia, it is continuous, unrelentingly so. It took over two hours to negotiate the last three miles, though flat terrain. I wonder about blind thru hiker Bill Irwin, who, with his service dog, Orient, went by the trail name Orient Express. In his book, Blind Ambition, he estimates he fell 6,000 times. With sections like today, I can completely believe it. Just getting to the privy can require strenuous boulder hopping.

Cove Mountain Shelter....
Cove Mountain Shelter….
Had a porcupine problem. But I didn't ever see one :-(
Had a porcupine problem. But I didn’t ever see one πŸ™

I am still trying to identify trees, but doing badly at it. Today I’ve found a White Pine, but have discarded three others I could not positively identify. I did have a plant pointed out for me yesterday that’s I’ve been wondering about for a couple months–Angelica. The leaves and stem look like a squash plant except it grows straight up to a height of 4-5 feet, not a vine. The man who pointed it out said it was moderately rare and an important medicinal plant.
I also continue to listen to audio books. I’ve finished recently: The Swerve, The Shipping News (I liked the movie better), the Things They Carried (a Vietnam remembrance), The Phantom of Fifth Avenue (life of an heiress who recently died), Raising My Rainbow, Yellow Star (one of a dozen children who survived a Polish Jewish ghetto during WWII), The Lost Worlds of South America (36 hour lecture series on the history of this country, based on recent archeology), and (finished today) Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome.

Saturday June 28 Cove Mountain Shelter to Duncannon, PA 1141.1

Just four miles into Duncannon. Rocky, but mostly downhill

The Susquehanna River and Duncannon, PA below.
The Susquehanna River and Duncannon, PA below.

Boiling Springs, PA

I’ve had a lovely zero day here with the Pohl family. You rock! They took me in, even though they didn’t know me, and let me get some much needed rest. I am so humbled and grateful. Mostly I slept! But I did take a few photos.

My host family's lovely, historic home.
My host family’s lovely, historic home.
The memorial clock tower
The memorial clock tower
Children's Lake. AT hikers pass along side this lake and right to the Mid Atlantic ATC office.
Children’s Lake. AT hikers pass along side this lake and right to the Mid Atlantic ATC office.
About the lake
About the lake
The post office, convenience store and two restaurants are. just steps off the trail. I wish the AT went through the middle of more towns.
The post office, convenience store and two restaurants are just steps off the trail. I wish the AT went through the middle of more towns.

AT Museum

I’m currently staying in Boiling Springs, PA to rest and catch up on the blog. While in Pine Grove State Park, I visited the AT Museum. It’s very well laid out and the staff was helpful. I got a new bandana (lost my favorite flowered one!) and an AT Mid-Point badge.

This is the museum.  The AT goes right past it.
This is the museum. The AT goes right past it.
Earl Shaffer was the first Thru Hiker on the AT. Eventually he hiked it three times. He built this shelter and many more.
Earl Shaffer was the first Thru Hiker on the AT. Eventually he hiked it three times. He built this shelter and many more.
Info on the shelter.
Info on the shelter.
Gene Espy was the second Thru Hiker, and a personal hero of mine. I met him around 2000 and had my photo taken with him. He inspired my hike. I saw Espy and his wife at Trail Days this year. He's recently written a book about his hike, which I plan to read soon.
Gene Espy was the second Thru Hiker, and a personal hero of mine. I met him around 2000 and had my photo taken with him. He inspired my hike. I saw Espy and his wife at Trail Days this year. He’s recently written a book about his hike, which I plan to read soon.
This was the first woman to through hike the trail.  Mother of 11grown children before she started hiking,  she had one bad attempt where she got lost in Maine and had to be rescued. But she went back the next year to try again. She didn't tell her family what she was doing until she'd gone 700 miles!  She used a homemade denim sack over her shoulder and hiked in Ked's sneakers.  She eventually hiked the entire trail three times.
This was the first woman to thru hike the trail. Mother of 11grown children before she started hiking, she had one bad attempt where she got lost in Maine and had to be rescued. But she went back the next year to try again. She didn’t tell her family what she was doing until she’d gone 700 miles! She used a homemade denim sack over her shoulder and hiked in Ked’s sneakers. She eventually hiked the entire trail three times.
In case you wondered.
In case you wondered.
Their mileage sign is a bit off.  Maybe it's an old one?
Their mileage sign is a bit off. Maybe it’s an old one?

Pennsylvania, ice cream and reaching the middle

The last part of Maryland was rocky....
The last part of Maryland was rocky….

I’m currently staying in Boiling Springs, PA. I’ve been bad about keeping a log the last few days, so here is a pictorial view of my hike.

Really, rocky. Yes, that's the trial....er...trail.
Really, rocky. Yes, that’s the trial….er…trail.
But I finally arrived at Pen-Mar Park, the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania
But I finally arrived at Pen-Mar Park, the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The edge of the park is the Mason-Dixon Line! I’m out of the south. The trail stops being the ApaLATCHan and becomes the ApaLAYshun. πŸ˜‰
...and it has a lovely view.
…and it has a lovely view.
Shortly after the park is the official half way point of the trail!
Shortly after the park is the official half way point of the trail!
I skipped a short section of the trail to get to Pine a Grove Furnace State Park. Here at the General Store is the infamous AT Half Gallon ice cream challenge. There were only 3 favors available when I got there, so here's what I bought. I got three spoons into it and the ice cream truck arrived with over a dozen different choices.
I skipped a short section of the trail to get to Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Here at the General Store is the infamous AT Half Gallon ice cream challenge. There were only 3 favors available when I got there, so here’s what I bought. I got three spoons into it and the ice cream truck arrived with over a dozen different choices.
The challenge is to eat it in 30 minutes. I was pretty proud when I finished in 28 minutes. This guy took 16!
The challenge is to eat it in 30 minutes. I was pretty proud when I finished in 28 minutes. This guy did it in 16!
We all finished and had a lot of fun. It will be awhile before I can eat Butter a Pecan again. Cupcake (far right) whimpered near the end of her Moose a Tracks, "the chocolate ribbons aren't even fun anymore."
We all finished and had a lot of fun. It will be awhile before I can eat Butter Pecan again. Cupcake (far right) whimpered near the end of her Moose Tracks, “the chocolate ribbons aren’t even fun anymore.”
And here was our praise!
And here was our prize!Β 

40 miles of Maryland

The sister of a dear friend has taken me in for a couple nights. Her lovely home is in Boiling Springs, PA, just blocks from the Appalachian Trail.

I finished Maryland and it was one of my favorite sections so far. Though a bit rocky, the trail is relatively flat. There are lots of historic markers, state parks and even two museums.

The Harpers Ferry Hostel.
The Harpers Ferry Hostel.

DAILY LOG

Breakfast!
Breakfast!

Saturday, June 21US 340 underpass (overnight in Harpers Ferry Hostel) 1019.6 to Ed Garvey Shelter 1025.9
I had a lovely evening at the hostel, though I was distracted by working on my blog and didn’t get to bed early enough! There was a really fun couple in their early fifties staying and several young men. This hostel is located in Knoxville,MD, despite the name. It attracts few hikers, though I don’t know why. The price is $20.16 and includes food! I had a huge fresh fruit smoothie for dinner and made eggs, pancakes and had more fresh fruit for breakfast. The only thing that’s difficult is that checkout is 10a and you can’t come back inside until 5p. It’s a tough place to take a zero day.
And I seriously considered a zero day since it was clearly going to rain all day.

Indian Pipe
Indian Pipe

It was a 1.1 mile road walk back to the trail where I met three retired section hikers who were the most fun. I’ve forgotten their names (this is what happens when you don’t write things down.) No Tent? Sherpa? Funny, wonderful people, though. I was just going to stop for lunch at the Ed Garvey Shelter, their destination for the night. When I arrived, there was a group of 10 Boy Scouts and they were so nice and I was so wet. And the retired trio was coming….I called it a short day, changed into dry clothes and claimed a spot in the shelter. More Boy Scouts came. Then a large group of twenty-somethings. Then a Korean section hiker from Atlanta. Then a couple and their dog (she was visibly pregnant but still carrying a pack). Then more Scouts. Then a father and adult son…..and everyone was really nice. Lots of talking, working on merit badges, laughter. What a nice evening.
One of the things we joked about was Hike Naked Day, an annual event on the AT, the first day of summer. None if us saw a naked hiker. Fortunately! Think of the bug bites! What about chafing?

The Boy Scout Troop was from Wisconsin and so nice!
The Boy Scout Troop was from Wisconsin and so nice!
The Ed Garvey Shelter is two stories. You get to the second story from the back of the shelter.
The Ed Garvey Shelter is two stories. You get to the second story from the back of the shelter.
I wish I had a better photo of these three! They were such fun. And they even shared a bit of "medicinal"  Whisky with me!
I wish I had a better photo of these three! They were such fun. And they even shared a bit of “medicinal” Whisky with me!
I don't know the story behind this, but I'd like I memorial like this.
I don’t know the story behind this, but I’d like a memorial like this.
A rock along the trail
A rock along the trail

Sunday, June 22 Ed Garvey Shelter 1025.9 to Rocky Run Shelter, 1035.0
There must have been 70 people staying in or around the Ed Garvey Shelter. Garvey was known for organizing a traveling AT party in the 70’s. He would have been proud. That’s the most people I’ve seen staying at an AT shelter and the first time I’ve ever seen a long line at the privy!
The rain had stopped before I went to bed the night before, so the trail wasn’t too wet. I got my usual 7a start. In four miles I hit the Gapland Rd and the Gathland State Park. I had known nothing about this park and ended up staying a few hours here looking at the War Corespondents Memorial, plaques, buildings of the former Gathland estate and visiting the two museums.

Gathland State Park is located on Gapland road on the former estate of George Alfred Townsend, who wrote under the name of GATH. This is the museum about the mans life, but there is also a Civil War museum. This is Crampton's Gap (a gap is a mountain valley) were troops clashed in 1862 during the Battle of South Mountain.
Gathland State Park is located on Gapland road on the former estate of George Alfred Townsend, who wrote under the name of GATH. This is the museum about the ma’s life, but there is also a Civil War museum. This is Crampton’s Gap (a gap is a mountain valley) were troops clashed in 1862 during the Battle of South Mountain.

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Townsend built this monument to war correspondents and later donated it to the state.
Townsend built this monument to war correspondents and later donated it to the state.
The sign isn't in great shape, but tells about the arch.
The sign isn’t in great shape, but tells about the arch.
The remains of the old barn.  Looks like it was nicer than many houses.
The remains of the old barn. Looks like it was nicer than many houses.
Above the door to this tomb are the words "Good Night GATH".  But the tomb is empty. According to the sign beside it: "During the 19th Century few people bought burial lots in public cemeteries as we do today. Instead, a small parcel of their own land was usually set aside as a private cemetery.  If enough money was available a mausoleum (tomb) was often built for certain family members. GATH, concerned with his own burial, built this lonely tomb about 20 years before his death, which came on April 15, 1914 in New York City. By this time his great wealth had dwindled and the near penniless GATH was buried in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania cemetery instead of his own tomb as he had desired."
Above the door to this tomb are the words “Good Night GATH”. But the tomb is empty. According to the sign beside it: “During the 19th Century few people bought burial lots in public cemeteries as we do today. Instead, a small parcel of their own land was usually set aside as a private cemetery. If enough money was available a mausoleum (tomb) was often built for certain family members. GATH, concerned with his own burial, built this lonely tomb about 20 years before his death, which came on April 15, 1914 in New York City. By this time his great wealth had dwindled and the near penniless GATH was buried in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania cemetery instead of his own tomb as he had desired.”

I stayed so long that I didn’t get quite as far as I hoped today, stopping at Rocky Run Shelter. I set up my tent near the water source and the old shelter. Since I had the tent site to myself, I took a bandana bath and rinsed out some clothing in the stream.

Monday June 23 Rocky Run Shelter, 1035.0 to stealth campsite, 1056
Someone came in last last night and set up a tent after dark within half a foot from my tent. Mine was the only one in the entire shelter area. He had to have passed a half dozen empty sites and could have set up 20 yards away in the huge camping area. I don’t understand. And when I found he’d thrown his non-combustable trash into the cold fire pit, I packaged it up and left it at the door of his tent. Pack it out, Idiot!
My shirt had almost dried overnight so I put it back on to hike in. The socks were still too wet, so I wore a fresh pair and attached them to the back of the pack to dry.

This was Fox Gap, one of three locations during the Battle of South Mountain, Civil War.
This was Fox Gap, one of three locations during the Battle of South Mountain, Civil War.

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I walked the 2 miles to the Dahlgren Backpack Campground, my original destination last night. I wish there were more of these along the trail! I took a shower and rinsed out my undies. While combing out my wet hair, I happened to notice Shepard! I met him coming down from McAfee Knob in Virginia, but originally met him last November, shortly after he finished his Thru hike. He told me he was surprised to see I’d gotten this far. Why does no one think I’m a hiker? Must be the short fat legs.
Shepard was there hiking sections and offering trail magic. He offered to slack pack me to the Washington Monument, then give me a “boost” of a few miles. Yeah!

Shepard reminds me of my image of Jesus--if Jesus wore glasses, a hiking kilt and trail runners.
Shepard reminds me of my image of Jesus–if Jesus wore glasses, a hiking kilt and trail runners.
The first Washington Monument.
The first Washington Monument.
The story behind the monument
The story behind the monument
...and the view from the top!
…and the view from the top!

After the monument I got to buy Shepard lunch before he took me a few miles down the trail.

I’d planned to stay at Raven Rock Shelter, but moved on a half mile when I saw a group of 19 Boy Scouts, plus leaders. Though I just had a good experience with Scout groups, I sensed this one wouldn’t end the same way–particularly when all the entrances ask hikers to keep group sizes to 10 or less. After I set up, I hear volley after volley of fireworks going off in the general direction of the shelter. So glad I moved on. Thrilled these young men are getting a wilderness experience, but I need my sleep.