AT Days 5-8 – Finishing 1st Week  

AT Days 5-8 – Finishing 1st Week  

Day 5 – Quarry Gap Shelter to Pine Grove Furnace Hostel (17.3 miles)

Day 6 – Pine Grove Furnace Hostel to Alec Kennedy Shelter (15.3 miles)

Day 7 – Alec Kennedy Shelter to Campsite Milepost 1139.6 (18.9 miles)

Day 8 – Milepost to Duncannon at Susquehanna River (12.3 miles)

Day 9-10 – Downtime at Duncannon, PA (Hagerstown, MD) (0 miles)


Day 5

The overnight rain/mist was light and paused long enough so we were able to pack up and head out. The temperature dropped and the rain was cold. I felt fine walking, but was cold when we stopped.  I had a puffy coat, that worked for my core, but my hands were very cold. For this first week I had not brought my gloves, but I was able to borrow my son’s. They got wet and didn’t hold the heat. I had neck surgery a few years back, and my right hand has such poor circulation that I couldn’t grip anything small including latches on the pack. Not good. Going forward, I will bring lightweight waterproof mittens that I have, as well as a handwarmer. The handwarmer is a bit heavy, but has moved from the luxury category to being a necessity for me.

At the end of the day, we opted to skip the campground at Pine Grove Furnace State Park and pay $25 each to stay in the Iron Master’s House hostel at the same park. The hostel has 32 bunks in 2 rooms. There were 2 hikers in one room and the 2 of us in the other. This gave us a chance to get warm and dry, shower, and dry our clothes. Most important, I warmed up. 


Day 6

After a good $5 breakfast at the hostel, we walked over to the AT Museum in the State Park and walked through for an hour or so. Being that it was still rainy and chilly, we skipped the challenge at the General Store to eat a half gallon of ice cream in a half hour (this being roughly halfway from Georgia to Maine). 




Map at the ATC. This is how much I have done (about 1/20)

We made good time and hoped to get to the shelter early, but the trail went through a huge rock maze at the end of the day. It was fun but took us an extra hour. 

We thought we be OK arriving late at the shelter on a Sunday night, but there is a ban on camping in the Valley near Harrisburg. That leaves 2 shelters nearly 20 miles apart as the only overnight options other than hotels. Consequently, these 2 shelters are usually full. Luckily, we squeezed in as well as 1 more guy, but the surrounding campsites were also full.

Day 7

More dampness. Nothing is dry. I had no foot issues until having soaked feet for several days. We walked into Boiling Springs. Breakfast at Café 101. We then had a walk across the valley without any steep hills. Crossed I-76 and I-81 ending on a long high ridge. Along the way, we passed a farm stand (farm just behind it) that was honor system – log name, purchase, and put you cash in the box. We wanted to go beyond the shelter which was likely full and we still had energy. But the only option was a tent site about a mile further, and the next shelter was another 6 miles. It was too bad, because another mile and we would have had our first 20-mile day. 

Day 8

This being the last day on the trail before being picked up for time-off at our relatives’, I was excited to put on fresh Band-Aids and CLEAN, DRY SOCKS!  It felt SO good!   We started down the trail on another misty morning, and all was good…  Then we hit the fields – Uncut grass about 18 inches high covered in dew. In less than 2 minutes, my shoes were soaked all the way to my feet.

We had a rough climb to another ridge and ran the rocky ridge 5(?) miles to Hawk Rock. The ridge was all nasty rocks which always cut my speed by 2/3. However, the views of Duncannon and Susquehanna River at Hawk Rock were stunning and the sun had come out. We ended the day with a 3-mile walk through the quaint town  of Duncannon and over the Susquehanna River bridges. Great to see my wife and brother in law for a pick-up and some rest.

Our official AT mile count was 126 miles and we hit my 15 mile per day goal. Hooray!!  Sadly, my son who was my savior and tutor, will not be with me for the next section.


Rain is not a big problem.  Unless is lasts days and nothing dries out.  While I heat up quickly when moving, I get cold if I when I stop and get cold if I don’t eat; I need to eat a lot – even if not hungry. Hostels can be great to dry out and get warm.

Everything is slippery when wet – rocks, roots, mud.  I have to slow down.

I can motor along on the flats (as long as I eat), but uphills, downhills, and rocks are incredible time killers for me. I’m improving, but I am not very fast.

Finding and filtering water is not a problem, I just have to be aware of the distances. Water is 2.2 lbs extra per liter to carry, so it’s a balance of how much water is right. The next biggest weight saver is food – more food is good; more weight is bad; stopping to buy food takes time. So again, a balance. I’ll figure out better as I go.

Post Script

I had some issues come up during the break and ended up taking 2 days off instead of 1.

I put this together on a laptop and have not yet mastered doing it on my phone. Time at the end of the day to compile thoughts has also been a challenge to date.   So… Unfortunately, posting will be much more sporadic than I’d hoped going forward.

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