Day: May 8, 2016

Day 7 – Sun at last!

After the crappiest day of the trip yesterday we probably had the best day of the trip today.  The cold rain of yesterday had us really bummed and if not for the nice big shelter our spirits today probably would have started of sour.  The morning was misty but not raining and pretty chilly.  We made good time to get ten miles to Pine Grove Furnace Stage Park for lunch at 1 PM.

This park is special to me because it is where my 2010 section ended and Karen’s cousin in PA picked me up.  It is also where I started in 2011 and my 1989 hiking partner, Donald, dropped me off and hiked with me for a day and a half.  It was weird because even though we had spoken a few times, we had not seen each other in over two decades yet it felt as if we were picking up a conversation from just a few weeks ago.  Since we are near where he lives outside of Harrisburg, we are planning to see him in Boiling Springs tomorrow.

Once we got to the state park, we dropped our packs and headed straight for the park grill.  It’s only open on weekends so we timed it perfectly.  Karen had a cheeseburger and I had a hiker burger which is a cheeseburger with a fried egg and bacon.  We shared a large order of fries and could not finish them all.

We were so stuffed that we did not even eat dinner tonight.  We just had two cookies and some cheese and cracker crumbs.

The park is also home to the official Appalachian Trail museum.  They have interesting artifacts from key figures from the trail.  One of the artifacts they have is a pair of Keds sneakers that Grandma Gatewood wore in the 1950’s.  They were huge!  They looked like a men’s size 12.

We are now camped beside a creek after about 17 miles today.  Tomorrow will be a shorter 11 miles to meet up with Don.  We have our hammocks set up facing each other again and we are in our cocoons texting and e-mailing home as a gentle rain is beginning to fall.

Cell service in a valley in southern PA in a dry hammock with a full belly.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

The weather forecast for the next two days is mostly sunny with very little chance of rain.  I am looking forward to tomorrow and seeing Don and Karen is looking forward to the day after where we walk 14 miles across the Cumberland valley through farmland.

Day 6 – The day of rain

Today was a very challenging day.  We knew it was supposed to rain all day but I don’t think we were mentally prepared for the cold.  It rained a few times in the evening but we were snug in our shelter with four other hikers and slept pretty well.  We set out early while it was not yet raining and three young hikers that starter in Georgia in March passed us like we were standing still.

We made the quarry gap shelters by 10 am just as the rain began.  These two shelters have a semi permanent caretaker that calls himself the innkeeper.

The innkeeper has flowers planted around the shelter and hanging baskets and really makes it seem not like an AT shelter at all.

We ate peanut butter and jelly and decided maybe we should cook a double batch of noodles since we would not want to stop in the rain.  That turned out to be a very wise decision.  It was another 7.5 miles to the next shelter and the rain was constant all day long.  We managed to keep our feet dry for about thirty minutes but that was all.  After they get pretty soaked you don’t really care where you step and be basically went straight through all the puddles just to keep going.  Luckily there is a cabin about five miles away where we could sit on the porch and have a quick snack before heading on.

We did finally make it to the birch run shelter at about 4:30 and we were both chilled to the bone.  I’m not sure what the temperature was but I am guessing about 50.  The shelter is quite new, quite large, and quite nice.  And it’s dry.  The picnic table is covered so as soon as we changed into dry clothes we immediately began cooking.  Mashed potatoes with tuna and chocolate pudding for dessert.  Another hiker gave us a cliff bar so that was second dessert.

We will likely have to have one big day either tomorrow or the day after in order to be able to hike across the Cumberland valley which is a 14 mile stretch with no water and no camping.  We also need to resupply in Boiling Springs.  We will see how the weather goes tomorrow and make our decisions then.  But for now it’s off to bed at 7:30, not quite yet hiker midnight.