Much improved weather today. We were able to grab a hot breakfast at the diner next to the hotel (cheese steak omelette and pancakes) before getting a shuttle ride back out to the bridge to catch the trail again. We left at a leisurely 9 am.
We had spent the morning repacking things and making one more adjustment to Karen’s pack. We put one more layer of foam in the hip belt and it looks like it is finally riding at the correct height on her back. She may look homeless (no offense to the homeless out there) but it seems to be working well as she did not complain of any shoulder pain all day today. Foot pain is a different story.
We loaded up on blister packs at the Walmart in Carlisle and good thing. She has had a blister on one of her small goes that we had surgical tape on but finally put a blister bandage on at the hotel. We also put on a fresh heel bandage on her left heel which worked for a while until her heel started getting sore further up. We stopped and put a regular bandage on it and tied her shoe into a heel lock lace which seemed to help for a while. We ended up stopping again in an hour to put a blister bandage on it and that did not seem to do the trick. It is inflamed so we stopped early and she is going to take ibuprofen tonight to take down the swelling. The heel lock lace also did not seem to do much.
My feet have been a little sore and I used a blister bandage on my left heel after our day of rain and the right one got sore but not bad enough to put a bandage on it. The bandage actually wore through and stuck to my sock when i removed it last night. Today they are slightly sore but no blisters and no bandages all day. I may be over the blister hump now if our feet can stay dry for a few more days.
And speaking of dry, today was finally dry. It was barely chilly in the morning crossing the bridge but the climb up the mountain out of the valley warmed us very quickly. It was overcast all day and hazy with perhaps ten mile visibility again but otherwise the weather was perfect for hiking. Tomorrow is supposed to be a mirror copy with rain coming at midnight.
The climb out of town was a little steep and quite rocky at the top. The first shelter was only three miles from town but it took a full two hours to get there. It was also off trail a short ways and it was only 11am so we just walked right past it. There were lots of rocky vantage points and the view was good but marred by the haziness. The trail all day was a mix of easy roads and difficult rocks.
We passed a group of about thirty school kids that I would guess to be about 8th grade. They were at one of the rocky points about two miles from the next road and they were eating their lunch. We did not stop to talk as they were preoccupied with their lunches.
Once we got to the road where they had started, we saw their school bus and stopped for lunch. We also noticed that they had left a cooler full of drinks and food right beside the trail. We supplemented our bran muffins lunch from the diner with Gatorade, apples, and a honeybun. About two miles after that road we met another bunch of school kids but these seemed to be 5th graders. We had been sitting at one of the overlooks when they stumbled upon us.
We felt like fish in an aquarium. “Are you real hikers?”, “What are your trail names?”, “Where did you start?” The questions came fast and furious. And when another kid asked the same question all the others answered in unison for us. One of the kids even had a trail name – Buffalo.
After the interaction with the kids, we got to thinking about our trail names again. We never really liked Blitzo and Gomez. We were hoping we would have fellow hikers rename us and even asked for names. The problem is that we really don’t get to see the same people more than a few times. We are faster than the other flip floppers and slower than the northbounders so we are essentially hiking alone. The person we have seen the most we just refer to as “The Austrian”. He is probably close to our age and has a very thick German accent and is hiking with a Siberian husky. The dog is super mellow and seems to be a perfect companion but hurt his paw a few days back so they have been hiking slower than the other NOBOs and just about keeping pace with us. We camped with him the night before last and saw him several times yesterday. We think he is about ten miles ahead of us now but we might catch up with him in a few days if he is not able to speed up.
So Karen decided to give us new names today. She started out with The Professor and Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island. We liked it but the Professor really doesn’t suit me so I thought maybe Gilligan and Mary Ann would be better, as I am more of a Gilligan. After dinner I thought of Thurston and Lovie. Karen likes that one, too so that one might stick. We shall try them both out over the next few days and see which ones we like better.
The second shelter we came to today was one I remember well – Peters mountain shelter. I remember it because it sleeps 20 hikers and has a 300 rock step trail down to water. The school kids were there an hour before us and had filled three gallon jugs for the hikers. I will really never forget it now, because just yesterday someone tried to burn it down. They set fire to the wood chips in the privy, a plastic barrier fence that was protecting a revegetation area and a tarp that was protecting one side of the shelter. The shelter was not too seriously damaged but soot was all over the first floor. Another hiker who was there said that earlier hikers had come upon the shelter and saw the guy actually setting the fires. He ran away as the hikers put out the fire.
I know shelters burn down every once in a while, but I had always assumed it had been someone being careless and let something get out of hand and not blatant arson.
With Karen’s sore foot we only hiked another mile past the shelter and are camped at the side of the ridge. We cooked early and are in bed at 7 PM. We saw some non hiker walk past us about a half an hour ago and then walk back a few minutes later. He did not have a can of gas in his hand, luckily. Wish us pleasant dreams.