The rocks of Pennsylvania

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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 🙁

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.
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Beth

I'm a professional vagabond. I quit my cubical job in January 2014. Since then, I've hiked the Appalachian Trail, The Camino, and taught English in Vietnam, Turkey, Russia, Spain, Mexico and Peru. I'm exploring the world and you can come too!

8 thoughts on “The rocks of Pennsylvania”

  1. My dad’s hunting camp (also in PA) had a two-seater outhouse. Nooooooooo thank you! I love the PA countryside, and your photos really make me homesick as well. (Or in my case, “second-home homesick)

  2. Absolutely gorgeous views. You are having a once in a lifetime experience. Take care and enjoy the journey!

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