Days 81-92 on The Appalachian Trail-Pennsylvania

The shoe and foot problems continue 

I don’t think of it as Rocksylvania, rather it is more like the rocks of Virginia were compressed into a shorter mileage. When last I posted I was sure my shoe problems were over. As with many things on this thru hike attempt I was wrong.

The shoes purchased in Waynesboro were a shadow of themselves 9 days later as I limped down that horrendous descent into Port Clinton. The midsoles and tread had already seen the end of serviceability. First stop Cabela’s in nearby Hamburg, PA. Earlier in the day I had spoken to the shoe Gurus at Outdoor 76 in Franklin NC to get some advice. A larger shoe might be needed and the reality that the combined weight of me and my pack led to a short lifespan on trail runners. The only shoes available in my size were a regular width HOKA Stinson 7. I wore them for four days before cutting a slit in the side of one shoe to get some pain relief. On to Ready, Set, Run in Stroudburg where the thru hiker/marathon runner proprietor fitted me with Hoka Speedgoat 5s in Size 13 and 2E Width, and Superfeet Hike inserts. I have not felt this good on the trail for over a month. My almost new Stinson 7s have been donated to the homeless. The slit on the side was small and repairable with fabric glue. I started at Springer Mountain in size 11 shoes.

A Thank You To The Great Shuttle Drivers Helping Me Up The Trail

You can find these folks on anf FarOut.

Soggy out of Waynesboro ,PA. Great knowledge, personable, and professional.

PIP out of Pine Grove, PA. An incredible person, great information and trail knowledge. She is simply phenomenal!

Brian out of Port Clinton. He picked me up in his  in his Kia and drove me to Cabela’s, Walmart, and the Microtel Shelter all with a smile and great fare prices. On my final run he picked me up in a 1963 Ford Galaxy convertible taxi. Styling!!! His prices are awesome as is he. I didn’t get a picture of him. 

Avatar out of the Port Clinton area. No pictures, sorry. A wonderful man and hiker. Got me to and from trail and my resupply runs.

John from Blue Dome Home. His place was listed as a hidden gem in an article on this website. You can check out his other services also, and only one mile from the trail.

New Friends 

I was hitchhiking to Pine Grove and having absolutely no luck until Serheii and Vitalina helped me out. These beautiful people hailing from Ukraine gave me water, fellowship, transportation, and kindness. I will keep in contact with them and cherish the thought of their goodness as one of the best highlights of my thru hike. Strangely the remainder of the people who drove by me were pretending not to have seen me.

Kismet, section hiker extraordinaire! Blazing speed on the downhill, winning smile and charm always. It has been great crossing paths the last couple of weeks and I wish her well as she will complete her section in a few days time.

Days 81-92

I think I’ll write this section as a rolling continuum. The days will be individually identifiable and I think a flowing description might work best. I wake up, eat, and sleep every day so those parts aren’t that interesting. 

I left off heading towards to old halfway marker on the trail. There are some interesting historical sites on the way to Pine Grove Furnace and some less than proud moments in our past. Bunker Hill Road and associated period building ruins. A marker regarding interrogation camps is also nearby.

The General Store and AT Museum are a must visit. The store was closed and later that day I participated in the half-half gallon challenge. No sense getting a food coma while trying to negotiate the trail.

I made my way further on and through some beautiful meadows on my way to Boiling Springs which was where I planned to start the next day.

Boiling Springs would be my choice if I were going to take a long overdue zero. A beautiful town and surroundings, rich history, and wonderful people. Cafe 101 is on my greatest breakfasts list. It is also where I ran into Kismet again.

My intended destination would be Cove Mountain Shelter. A long day and long mileage. Five thru hikers passed me. I had not seen that many NOBOs at once. The open fields and smooth trails were luring me into a false sense of ease about the terrain ahead. 

Getting to the shelter would allow me to spend my morning and retrieve my resupply parcel in Duncannon. It is a long awaited milestone.

About that descent into Duncannon, keep your wits about you. A visit to Kind of Outdoorsy is a must visit. Hostel, retailer, and about the best food resupply selection I’ve seen on the trail. The cafe in town has limited hours so hurry if you want breakfast.

The trail meanders through town, across the river and train tracks proceeding upwards to a whole bunch of rock bounding fun. From open fields to pulling the bandaid off, you have arrived in Rocksylvania. 

The tempting Blue Blaze that is the Susquehanna Trail veered to the left. Certain challenge lie to the right. After completing the ridge walks I began to feel dizzy and dehydrated. At Peters Mountain Road I stuck my thumb out and was going to make my way down to the nearest town, Dauphin. A minivan stopped and picked me up and I conveyed my urgent need to get to a store for liquids. One of the occupants inquired whether I knew Jesus. I assured him I did and we found our way to the Dollar General where I proceeded to purchase and consume 120 ounces of electrolyte drinks and other snacks. I was sitting on the side of the store in the shade of the ice machine and each of the customers pulling in looked past me as if I didn’t exist. All except for one man walking in with his daughter. A veteran who has seen hostile fire knows the look in the eyes of a fellow combat vet. He introduced himself and his daughter. Mike is a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and served in Afghanistan. He may have given me a lift when I was over there. His daughter a fierce softball player from my reading. I shared my story with the two of them and Mike returned after a quick errand of delivering pizzas to a birthday party and drove me back up the trail. In the military family we are as one. They provided a much needed ray of happiness and humanity to this weary traveler. You have my love and loyalty! I was trying to make it to the Peters Mountain Shelter before dark and was able to pitch my tent in the last of the light.

In the morning I had the chance to talk to half a dozen veterans who were in the shelter and we shared our stories and enjoyed the comradeship. They were heading south or I would have enjoyed hiking with them. A lizard and some old coal mining village ruins marked the rest if my day until Serhii and Vitalina gave me a ride into Pine Grove.

After a restful night I caught a ride back to the trail from a local and was hoping to get to PA 183, about 22 miles. All in all good trail, a cool historical marker, and nice views. 
At the end of the day my ride could not show and I hitchhiked down the busy highway. Happy accidents. A man stopped and gave me a ride to a crossroad leading back to Pine Grove. I put my thumb out and an 81 year old Vietnam veteran gave me a ride the remaining 10 miles. His story was amazing.


My ride the next morning was with Pip. She is on my highly recommended list and I couldn’t be more pleased with her service! From PA 183 I was going to Port Clinton. There is some nice trail between the two points and I didn’t take many pictures. I was concentrating on hurting feet. A word of caution. The descent into Port Clinton is hazardous and steep. It is my understanding that many a thru hike attempt has ended here due to injury. Thankfully I got down with the indignity of one slide on my backside. A walk across the tracks and over to the post office to be picked up by Brian for my Cabela’s and food runs.

My shuttle driver for the morning and evening was Avatar, and he has great knowledge and information to share. Destination Hawk Mountain. Some nice trail and a lot of history along this stretch. There is a Blue Blaze near Windsor Furnace that leads to a nice reservoir for your rest break.

Brian picked me up in his classic taxi for my Hawk Mountain to Palmerton hike. Spoiler alert, another long and steep descent. The highlights are Knife’s Edge, boulder hopping, spectacular views, and a little bit of smooth trail as an apology for the rocks. I hitchhiked into Palmerton and was picked up by an AT Class of 2023 alumni. Thanks Brother! Pizza in Palmerton is hood and I understand the city allows you to tent in the park.

I chose to slack pack south back into Palmerton from Smith Gap due to foot and balance issues. Up or down, Lehigh Gap will challenge you. I would not do this in the rain. Not many pictures as the whole thing didn’t invite itself to getting out my phone for pictures.

My day from Smith Gap to Wind Gap began with a trip into Delaware Water Gap for a parcel pickup and into Stroudsburg for my 7th pair of shoes for this hike. Again, Ready, Set, Run is the place for me. Strangely my only picture from the day was the shoe box.

This day brings me current. From Wind Gap to Delaware Water Gap, and across the New Jersey State Line. Leaving out at 6:00 a.m. I walked in the rain all day and Pennsylvania bid me farewell in appropriate fashion. After sliding and getting my leg temporarily stuck between rocks at Wolf Rocks, and the endless boulders I was rewarded with a long walk on a fire road down into Delaware Water Gap with accompanying white blazes. Through the town and across the bridge I had finished my seventh state. In the rain you couldn’t see the tears. 

Final Thoughts 

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

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Comments 2

  • Tom : May 8th

    Your posts are always great. I like how you take pics of the people you meet . You seem to be really enjoying yourself after the few rough spots you went through. Great too see the veterans on the trail supporting each other. Let’s all support our veterans any way we can. THEY DESERVE IT !!!

  • jen l : May 20th

    Great insights. I much enjoy reading them and following along. Vermont is finally in bloom and awaiting you all. Hopefully the mud will be minimal (ha). Let me know if you need a place to stay around Manchester. And your lizard is a red eft, a salamander and amphibian. Many of those up here. Happy trailing.


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