Week 10: Days 67-71; Harper’s Ferry to Rocksylvania

Day 67

It rained another inch or so last night, which makes it about 3″ this week. We are attempting to push 26 miles from Boiling Springs to Duncannon today. Our first 13 miles were pretty flat and mild roaming through forest and fields. I took my third trail fall in the morning in slow motion after slipping in some mud. I went into the fetal position and rolled into the grass and laid there for awhile. It in no way hurt; it was just a ridiculous affair. Halfway through our day, we passed yet another ATC building but didn’t go inside. We took advantage of the picnic table and the water spigot for a break.

We took our lunch at Darlington Shelter, which has the famous “Taj Mahal” privy. It’s a giant room with self-closing doors. Here I met a ridge-runner named Paige who was going through the bear box. She brought over a few containers of crackers, cookies, and donuts saying we could eat as much as we wanted because she’d have to pack it out and throw it away. We said we’d pack it out for her and enjoyed the free treat.

The rest of our hike was uneventful until I reached Hawk Rock about two miles from town. A group of high school boys showed up as we were descending the mountain. They were throwing rocks off Hawk Rock into the woods where we were hiking, which is a very dangerous situation. Thankfully we were far away from them quickly.

Once we got to Duncannon we stopped for snacks at the gas station and then walked through town in search of the Assembly of God church, which provides a donation-based hiker hostel in the basement of the parsonage. They recently remodeled, so it’s a large, clean room with a free shower in a very nice bathroom.

Our group has grown and now consists of me, Rampage, Minisaurous, Tortoise, Captain Ahab, Tiger Lilly, Zebra, and (sometimes) now Kodak. As everyone got cleaned up, I took orders and walked downtown to get everyone food from the pizza place. I ran into Zebra and Kodak at the pizza place. Zebra was staying at the Doyl, which is a hostel in town with a reputation as a dump. He regretted staying there, as he had to pay as well. I told Kodak to join us after he finished his pizza. I made a massive order and waited with him. I then walked Kodak back to the church, and everyone was incredibly excited to see me…well the food in my hands anyway.

We met our goal of 26 miles, now totaling 940.1/2199.7

Day 68

We had a mild day planned for today, so we slept in until 6:30 a.m. We did a three-day resupply at the local gas stations and walked back through town over the bridges that span the Juniata and Susquehanna Rivers. The climb up from town to the ridge line is never fun, but it’s only a little over 1,000′ so isn’t all that bad. There are a few viewpoints, but most of them in this area are limited swaths cut for power lines and don’t give a full wide angle view.

Water is pretty scarce in this area as well, but thankfully this week it was pretty cool, so I didn’t go through as much as I normally would. Unfortunately, the rocks were still hitting my feet, ankles, and knees hard. The heavy impacts wear on your joints, making our (relatively) short 17-mile days feel like 26.

Rampage saw a timber rattler and a copper head at the same viewpoint. Having never seen either in the wild, I went (carefully) to check it out, but both were gone when I was there. I had good cell service and a few miles to trek, so I called home and spoke to my parents for awhile to catch up on what’s happening back in their worlds.

I feel as though I’ve been hiking for a year, but it’s only been two months. It’s also weird to think that even if I do 15 per day to the end, I’ll still be finished in early August! I’ll surely miss the trail when I’m done but am excited to be home and comfy once again.

Day 69

There was a massive spider on my tent last night. It looked like the one I saw in the privy a few days ago. I tried to get a picture, but it was incredibly fast. I thankfully never saw it again. I didn’t have any real views today. Most of Pennsylvania is spent looking a few feet ahead at the trail trying not to trip. I did, however, have a great day on trail and enjoyed my walk very much.

I noticed some larger flooded areas near Stoney Creek about a mile past Rausch Gap Shelter.

A few yards farther and I noticed this was actually the trail.

I pulled off my shoes and swapped to sandals, as the rocks were still ever present under the market surface. The water was ice cold, but I only had to walk about 100 yards in it. It took awhile, as my shoes sunk deep and would get stuck in the mud. I crossed the new pipeline going into the area. I could hear them blasting with explosives in the distance to make room for it. My view on pipelines is in no way positive, and I cringe at the insane amount of consumerism built and bred into our culture. The AT is the only swath of land for miles standing in the way of the pipeline, and I take pleasure in the issues the company faces trying to break through.

I walked a few more miles over and under the roads and finally realized I’d walked about 1.5 miles passed the site we planned to stop at. I walked back down the mountain and decided when I hit the road I’d walk into town for Burger King since it was only about 3 p.m. and I had plenty of time. The small town of Lickdale was about 2.5 miles away. I walked the highway as dozens of cars sped past at alarming rates. I texted my group as I was eating my meal telling them I’d overshot and went to Burger King. I then offered to bring some back for everyone if they’d like. I’ve never spent more money at a fast food place in my life!

With a large bag of Whoppers in hand, I started walking back through town when a black truck pulled over and offered me a ride back to the trail. The driver was Piñata and his wife (I assume) Scout. Minisaurous sent me a map location of where they were and it was exactly where I had decided to turn around because I’d overshot. I headed back up the mountain when it started to downpour. I ran, hoping I’d catch a glimpse of tents soon, but it never came.

I checked the map again and saw I’d overshot the location she sent. I was sure I hadn’t walked passed them, so I finally called them to see where they were. Our descriptions of locations matched, but they ended up being two miles back. I turned around again and headed back. I finally found them about 30 minutes later. They again were all happy to see my food.

Day 70

Today was the first time I’ve slept until my alarm woke me in over a month. Despite sleeping in, I still hit trail early as I haven’t cooked breakfast the last few days. I’ve taken a risk and bought a bag of powdered donuts, and they are going well.

Admittedly, this first section isn’t as interesting the 5th time around. There was a long stretch of mountain road today that the trail followed, making the hike quick and not very strenuous. These pockets of reprieve from the rocks are incredible. We stopped at the 501 shelter for lunch, which is a large homestead in the woods. The caretaker lives in the home on site and has a large outbuilding as a shelter for hikers. The shelter is complete with a huge skylight and four enclosed walls, making it a place many hikers aim for.

There was a hiker box with little care packages from St. Peter’s UCC Church in town that had ramen, drink mix, a granola bar, and oatmeal. They had a little paper saying who they were from so I looked them up on Facebook and sent them a thank you message. These things are incredibly appreciated, and I know some hikers take them for granted, so I want to be sure they know the hiking community appreciates the help.

Our short afternoon section was pretty rocky, and a mile before reaching camp, my shin issues started to come back. It’s frightening because I’ve only been back a few weeks, but based on the terrain here I can’t believe it took this long. I managed to limp into camp and set up my tent. I immediately went to the stream and soaked my leg. Despite the heat, the streams are still around 40 degrees and basically are a flowing ice bath. I iced it on and off for the next two hours. I passed mile 1200 on the way today.

I’m personally a little shy of 1,000. We are setup to do a quick four-mile stroll to the highway to Nero into the Rock and Sole hostel tomorrow. I spend most of my evening stretching and worrying about my shin. If it’s bad again in the morning, it could be curtains for my thru-hike ambitions this year.

Today we walked 18.4 miles, totaling 992.2/2199.7.

Day 71

The pain in my shin lessened overnight but is still present. I skipped breakfast, as the walk was short and I wanted to have a little more time in case I limped the whole thing. I purposely pulled my normal 3-3.5 mph speed back to about 2, which allowed me to hike pain-free. I’m happy that worked, but it was a very short day as well. We met up at the road and called the shuttle, but they said they would be awhile. I set up my stove to make breakfast. They arrived just as my water was about to boil. I dumped it out and packed up quickly and tossed it in the truck. I later realized I left my spork on the rock in my haste and am frustrated with myself as there is no outfitter around to get a new one.

Rock & Sole is run by Craig and Jody, and they have a lovely establishment. The hostel is on their personal property, and the bunkhouse is in a converted garage. They also have a retro camper remodeled as well as overflow sleeping bunks in their basement. It’s clear Jody plays a big part in designing and decorating, as everything here is adorable. The hostel is essentially a Pinterest haven–only it’s all actually well done. I made friends with their dog Sugar immediately.

My group overtook the bunkhouse, grabbed some town clothes from a supply dresser, and rotated our way through the outdoor shower. Their son took us to town to do our four-day resupply at Dollar General. I got 10 pounds of food and two more to eat at the hostel and still came in under $50. Dollar General is an amazing place, and I’ll probably utilize it more when I return home.

We spent the afternoon resting, talking with Craig and Jody, hosing out our packs, and doing laundry. Jody made a huge supper of pulled pork sandwiches, loaded potatoes, fresh green beans, and coleslaw. She then topped it off with a hot brownie and ice cream for dessert.

I was so uncomfortably full because I didn’t want to stop eating. I had to walk up and down the road for an hour because I was sure I’d throw up and couldn’t bare the thought of doing so to all that wonderful food! When I was finally able to function, I sorted and packed up my resupply and settled into my bunk. It was a wonderful day of rest and fun with my fellow hikers.

I like this new group of folks I’ve started to walk with and hope we are able to stay together for some time to come. We have a few days of higher miles planned to get up to Delaware Water Gap to meet Rampage’s uncle Boo who is renting a condo for us to crash in. It has a pool and hot tub and everything nice a grungy hiker doesn’t deserve, and we are so excited to get there! My shin no longer hurts, but I packed an extra day of food to be safe. This way if need be, I can pull my miles back and do an extra day and still arrive at the condo with a day or two to rest with the group.

Today was short, and we walked 3.7 miles, making my new total 995.9/2199.7. Only 986.8 miles to Katahdin!

One thought on “Week 10: Days 67-71; Harper’s Ferry to Rocksylvania”

  1. Sorry I missed you when you were back. I hope your leg problem goes away. I love reading your blogs!! Being one with nature is one of the greatest things to encounter. Good luck!! Paula

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