Days 121-126 Yuengsylvania: Part 2
You might remember that I left my CNOC water bag at a shelter in Maryland. While we were home, I ordered a new one and had it sent to the Boiling Springs post office. This was the first time I had something sent to a post office instead of a hostel or to a friend coming to visit. I regret sending it to the post office. Post offices have terrible hours for hikers.
We would get to Boiling Springs either on Saturday after they were closed or on Sunday, when they would never open. So that we didn’t lose a day of hiking, we went past and got a shuttle back once they opened on Monday.
Curtis, our shuttle driver, was delightful. We enjoyed talking with him and enjoyed getting to see Boiling Springs one more time. Curtis dropped us right under the trail overpass, such service!
We started walking around 10am or so. We still had several miles of the Cumberland Valley crossing left to do. Along the way we met Two Step, we’d been leapfrogging each other for the last day or two and finally got to officially meet and talk for a while. We learned all about his job filming reality shows like Wild Tuna! He hiked with us for a good hour or two and we got trail magic together!
The Gentleman was set up at a parking lot just before the climb back up started. At first he mistook Pinky for someone he had hiked with earlier this year! Alas, we had not met him before. But we were glad to meet him now! He had hot dogs and chips! We sat and talked for a while then shouldered our packs again.
The climb back up to the ridge was a good one. Once we got up it was pretty smooth sailing. Our plan for the day was to hike across and down the other side to Duncannon. In Duncannon we planned to eat dinner at the Doyle then camp at the church hostel.
We took a couple long breaks along the way. The best one was with Coy Cat, learning about her PhD research on treatments for ALS, tested on fruit flies! The worst one involved a very long walk down to a shelter and an even longer walk down to the water source. I thought I was going to have to go search for Pinky, he was gone so long.
At the end of the ridge we found ourselves on a rocky outcropping with a beautiful view down to the valley with the Susquehanna running through it.
Some locals were there showing it to their French friends. They took our photos and gave us directional advice- the trail has some re-routes in that area and we were already confused. The climb down was steep and very rocky and had another confusing re-route situation that really frustrated both of us….
In spite of our efforts to get lost, we made it off the mountain. Trips was in the parking lot waiting for his friends with a box of cookies. Of course he shared with us. They were the best cookies we’ve ever had and vastly improved our mood.
We walked through the cute little town of Duncannon as the sun was setting and made our way to the Doyle for dinner.
The Doyle is an iconic place on the AT. It’s a super old hotel, originally built in the 1770’s and rebuilt after a fire in the early 1900’s. Charles Dickens visited it once! It’s long been a stop for AT hikers, and very few others because there isn’t much to do in Duncannon.
A new owner bought it earlier this year and they have been making renovations. We had never been there before so have no point of comparison, but we had an enjoyable stay. The food and beer was great – we even got to try a new Yuengling, Lord Chesterfield, that we liked very much. The room didn’t have AC, but neither does our tent.
In the morning we needed to make our way to a grocery store to resupply. We saw on Google maps that there was a Karns and a Dollar General about 0.7 mi away. We started walking.
At a street crossing a man in a truck honked his horn at us! We thought we’d done something wrong.. he and his wife waved us over. They explained that the road we were attempting to take to the store had no shoulder and was very dangerous for pedestrians. The safer route was to go around through the neighborhood they were coming out of. We thanked them for the advice and took off through the neighborhood. It was actually a really pleasant walk with a fine view from the top.
When we were done shopping Pinky sweet talked a man into giving us a ride back to the Doyle in the bed of his pick up truck. It was a very fun ride. We repacked our food bags, said goodbye to the Doyle and finished walking through Duncannon.
The trail crosses the Susquehanna on a giant bridge. We had a protected footpath but just a few feet from us were semi’s and other cars driving very fast on the highway. It’s always wild to be hiking on highways. We are on this backcountry trail but we criss cross with civilization regularly. We have to, if we want to get food etc, but when the trail goes right through the middle of it I always feel a bit of whiplash.
We crossed the bridge, spying several big fish in the water below us on the way. When we got to the other side we met Mayflower’s family and friends with trail magic! We had another hotdog and beers! It was needed fuel for the climb ahead.
After the climb up, the trail was pretty chill. We passed through probably the last rhododendron blooms we’ll see. And they where white! Beautiful.
We made it to a shelter and Pinky made the long trek to get water while I started making us dinner. It was such a long walk that I had finished cooking and was about to start eating when he returned!
Since we’d gotten a later start that morning and it was almost a full moon we planned to do our first night hike! After dinner we started packing up… but Pinky couldn’t find the cap to his water bottle! We looked and looked until finally, Papaw Boots saved the day by sharing one of his extra bottle caps!!
All of our gear together and bottles capped, we set out with our headlamps on standby. Not gonna lie it was a little sad to be walking away when everyone else was getting cozy in their tents… but the excitement for a night hike won out!
It was a beautiful night. The temperature was comfortable. It was still a little cloudy but breaking up so we could see stars. The moon finally made an appearance when we were almost done. We saw TWO porcupines! Neither of us have ever seen a porcupine in person, they are very fat and they didn’t want anything to do with us. We mostly saw their fat spiky butts waddling away. So cute. The waddle kind of reminded me of my cat, Bernice.
When we finished our 4 miles to a campsite we were very tired. We got everything set up super fast. Right after we hopped in our beds another pair arrived and set up their tent. We weren’t the only night hikers! We fell asleep with a fantastic view of the moon between the trees.
Unsurprisingly, we slept in the next morning. I watched several hikers walk past us, including one that looked very familiar but I couldn’t quite place him…. We finally hit the trail around 10:30 or so. A few miles later we got to a road crossing and a creek. You can hardly imagine how tickled we were to spot our buddy Two MPH standing next to a sign across the creek!!! My suspicions about the familiar hiker were confirmed!!
We last saw Two in Pearisburg! He caught us up on his hike since then, most notably he broke a toe! But he’s a tough old dude and it barely slowed him down. He taped that sucker to its neighbors, bought himself some steel toe boots at Wal Mart and kept on. If I had the stamina of Two we might be at Katahdin already. As it is, we were thrilled to be in the same place again. The day of our meeting will always be known to Pinky and I as “Two’s Day.”
Given our late start and reuniting with Two, we decided to do a shorter day and stop at the same shelter as him that evening. Pinky really wanted a chess rematch.
Alas, when we got to the “sunken living room shelter,” Two was too tired to play. Pinky was crushed. But we got a lovely campsite on the edge of this weird cliff, an early bedtime, and the motivation to get up at a reasonable time the next morning so we could try to catch Two for a lunch time chess game. Plus, Pinky finally patched all the holes in his sleeping pad and had a night in which he didn’t have to blow it up again several times!
We did manage to get out of camp at a reasonable time and caught up with Two at a trail divergence. There’s a marsh caused by beaver’s dams with an alternate route in case of flooding. It hadn’t rained recently and I wanted to take the trail through the marsh in hopes of seeing a beaver. My hopes were dashed, no beavers, and the “flooding” wasn’t even very exciting.
Unfortunately, Two was not around when we broke for lunch on a rocky outcropping later that day.
A few miles before lunch the trail finally turned into Rocksylvania and we were Not Lovin It. By the time we finished our 18 miles at the campsite just past the 501 shelter, our dogs were howling. I had the worst time getting comfortable while we were eating dinner, no matter how I sat my feet and ankles were unhappy.
There’s nothing like a good nights sleep to rejuvenate your sad feet and ankles. Okay also a good mornings sleep. We slept in again and hit the trail closer to 11 than 10….
We stopped for water after about 5 miles. Our water break turned into a lunch break.. which turned into a chess break when Two came around the corner and finally had no excuse to get out of a game!
I wish I could say it went well for Pinky. They played what sounded like a fun game with a good amount of shit talking on both sides. We finally left a good 3+ hours after we arrived. Despite the 9 miles we still wanted to do, and the lateness of the day (it was after 4pm!) we regretted nothing.
Lucky for us the majority of the next 9 miles was really nice smooth trail. Our rest had done us good and we absolutely cruised. We got to the shelter just as it was getting too dark to see the trail. Nobody else was set up in the shelter so we took the whole thing for ourselves.
Just about everyone else staying there got in around the same time as us. They had spent the afternoon in the swimming hole down the stream from where we took our break. We ate dinner in the dark with Shorty, Hobbit and Mayflower.
The next morning we did actually get up early and started walking at a reasonable hour. We were motivated to get to Port Clinton before 2pm- Pinky wanted to try to get a beard trim and the barber closes at 2 on Saturdays!
We got to Port Clinton at 1:45 after an incredibly steep climb down. By the time we found our way to the barber they had already closed. Sad.
Luckily the Port Clinton Hotel bar was very open! We had several Yuenglings, they had *all* the flavors, plus giant sandwiches and amazing fries. While we were there, we strategized a meet up with my mom on Monday and a hotel stay 2 miles away for the night.
The bartender told us it was an easy walk with a wide shoulder over to the hotel. We took his word for it and started walking, all the while hoping for a hitch. We got lucky and got a hitch within 5 mins! Thanks, Tom! Our stay at the Microtel was very comfortable, though the room did have a weird mirror wall…
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