Day 98 – Can You Smell What Pennsylvania Is Cooking?

It’s rocks. Maybe also meth, but specifically rocks in this instance. Also a general lack of white blazes. That’s right, we’ve hit the infamous ‘suck’ of Pennsylvania, the rocks. And boy do they ever (suck).

We woke up and did all the typical morning ‘chores.’ Get dressed, personal hygiene (optional for some), pack up, make/eat breakfast, poop, plan the days route/water stops/breaks and stopping point for the day. Once all that was done we were ready to hike. We got on the trail around 8:30.

The rocks did not hit us with full force right away but eased their way into the trail. Lightly at first, and then in greater numbers and odd orientations. The most mind boggling of which are the ones that seem to have their sharpest points going straight up (not the most friendly of places to step).

The mind reels at how these rocks even ended up here. An acceptable answer would be literally any historical explanation. “Settlers placed the rocks like this to prevent the red coats from following their Army.” Or “Native Americans arranged the rocks like this to limit the movement of trappers on their land.” Or “The rocks prevent vegetation from overtaking the trail.” The explanation really doesn’t matter, makes something up Pennsylvania.

Anything other than “we have the worst AT Volunteers who could care less about this section of trail” is a fine answer. Today I think we saw more downed trees on the trail than white blazes. We remarked on how glad we were that we didn’t night hike like we discussed. The paucity of white blazes would have made it near impossible to navigate the rocks at night.

With so many downed trees we missed a turn in the trail and headed down a poorly marked blue blaze instead. No double white blazes indicating a turn in the trail. Don’t get me wrong, if I were a volunteer, I wouldn’t want to maintain this section either. We saw a small rattlesnake today too. I’ll stop berating Pennsylvania now (until tomorrow).

I finished Red Rising and immediately started on the second book in the series “Golden Son.” I enjoyed the book immensely and can see why so many have told me it’s a great book for learning about ‘leadership.’ Leading by example and by giving autonomy to the people that work under you to make their best decisions are some of the biggest takeaways.

We eventually made it to our 20 mile destination. A stop for dinner at Thunderhead Lodge was in order. We all nearly ordered the same thing. Ceasar Salad, Ribeye, and Key Lime Cheesecake. It was the best meal I’ve had on trail to date, hands down. We waddled our way another 0.2 miles to The Lookout Hostel. It’s aptly named as it has a firepit with a great lookout over the valley.

A shower, charge and laundry was just what the Witch Doctor ordered. We went to bed late and I’m hoping our feet are up to another day of poor trail conditions. Maybe if every hiker moved one rock a day off the trail, it would be a more enjoyable place.

Stow away in my pack for day 99 of the Appalachian Trail.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 10

  • thetentman : Jul 23rd

    Be careful in the rocks. You could lose your mind or catch a stray lurking earworm.

    Good thing NJ rocks are nice. If you make it that far.

    Enjoy the next couple of days.


  • thetentman : Jul 23rd

    Glaciers left the rocks. They are notoriously messy and do not like hikers.

    Also, the wet, smelly tent story made me cry. I hope it ends well.

  • Kathy : Jul 24th

    It’s so beautiful

  • Chris : Jul 24th

    I’ve heard that after PA, there are no more rocks,… (just trying to give ya some hope)

  • Lulu : Jul 24th

    At this point on the trail, are you guys still hanging bear bags or is it just taking your chances with the food in your shelter or tent?

    • Derek Witteman : Jul 24th

      I have smell proof bags I keep my food in and then a rubber lined waterproof bag I put those in and sleep with. But many people don’t even take those precautions….

  • Smitty : Jul 24th

    Silly baby rattler flattening out like a hognose, doesn’t even realize she’s a RATTLER!!!

  • Hank : Jul 24th

    Thank You. Not retired yet, look forward to your great hikes. Ps.dogs allowed in most of this trails, cause my pup is all Rev up. From my hiking stories..keep on trucking

  • Howard Reid : Jul 28th

    Hi Derek I’m with the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club and we maintain the area that you hiked. Can you please share where you started your day and where you ended ?

    Will look to address the trees ASAP.

    • Derek Witteman : Jul 30th

      Hi Mr Reid. We started at 1226, ended at 1247. Many down trees, not enough white blazes IMO. We were glad we didn’t try to night hike because the lack of blazes would have made it prohibitively difficult. Thanks for reading and your help with maintaining the trail. I know it wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers


What Do You Think?