Finishing Rocksylvania

Day 87 Swarma Gap To Swarma Creek – AT Daily Miles 21.6; AT Total Miles 1207.1

My decision to stay in the supply room at the hostel turned out to be OK. It rained during the night but I had a nice roof over my head. Plus I woke up with a coffee pot within arm’s reach, which is always a good thing. It made it hard to leave in the morning, but I was able to get on the trail before 8 AM. To date I have spent six days hiking in Pennsylvania and have about that many more to go. If I average 20 miles a day I would have those 6 days to finish the state up and move onto to New Jersey. That’s my goal. My short term goal will be to hike into another town tomorrow and get some supplies and get going quickly, so I get at least 20 miles in. You can see there’s a theme. 

Hiking today seemed to be either really easy or really hard. The really hard was in the form of lots and lots of rocks. Every time I thought the trail was going to get a little bit easier, it wouldn’t
take long for the rocks to come right back. At the end of my day was about 4 miles of pretty good trail followed by half a mile of misery.  I kind of wonder if that will be my next hundred
miles.  Rain is in the forecast for the day after tomorrow and the day after that too. I’m gonna start looking at my progress and see if a hostel stay is possible to miss out on any of that bad


More Rocks

A welcome break from rocks

Day 88 Swarma Creek To Pulpit Stealth Site – AT Daily Miles 20.9; AT Total Miles 1228.0

My campsite last night was very peaceful and I got a great nights sleep. I was the only one in the area and that doesn’t happen very often. The only sounds were a few birds in the morning and I was able to go back to sleep for an extra hour, which was super nice. Once on the trail, it was a lot of rocks. It’s been hard for me to get much more than 20 miles in a day because of the slow going. It seems like every time the trail relaxes a little bit and gives me a break it’s short-lived and then it’s right back to the rock scrambling. My feet are really feeling it.  I’m hoping it’s not this way the rest of Pennsylvania!

I also decided to go into town to get supplies at Walmart, which I think is always a mistake for me because I buy way too much stuff. I think I’m actually better off buying more expensive supplies at the hostels because I am much more careful on what I buy.  Typically, I only carry 2 to 3 days worth of food and I think I bought enough for 4 full days.  Plus, I had a foot-long sub and a pint of ice cream.  While it tasted good I wasn’t very hungry for dinner.  I still ended up eating two jelly filled donuts though.

I have about 14 miles to go to get to the hostel tomorrow night.  I had gone ahead and booked it yesterday since tomorrow afternoon and the following morning are supposed to be heavy rain.
Plus at the time I booked it, I thought I was gonna resupply lol. Still a shower, frozen pizza, and doing laundry is never a bad thing.


A great tent sight

This is a trail?

Beautiful creek

Day 89 Pulpit Stealth Site To Lookout Hostel – AT Daily Miles 18.9; AT Total Miles 1246.9

I slept great last night at my stealth site.  The only issue I had was when a deer practically jumped over my tent.  I had put the tent between two large bushes in a thicket and I think the deer was surprised that someone would actually put a tent there.  I heard two fellow campers yell out they saw a deer, and all I heard was crashing all around me.  The day overall was extremely rocky again. There were very few times where the trail was good.  Two times that I went over particularly bad areas.  I almost stepped on timber rattlesnakes twice.  That was kind of unnerving.  I’ll have to be more careful.  At the end of the day I had trail magic, which was really nice and then about another hour of hiking into the hostel.  It’s very cool here at the Lookout hostel.  I was able to get here before the rain started and enjoy a cup of coffee with a brownie from the trail magic.  After laundry and a shower, I had the frozen pizza and a soda followed by some ice cream.  In the morning, I will check out the weather and have some blueberry pancakes before getting going.  From what I’ve been told the rocks will be even worse over the next few days including going over an area called the Knife’s Edge.  I’m not optimistic about averaging 20 miles a day for 3 days to get into New Jersey as has been my original plan.  I might have to take an extra day.


See a theme?

First timber rattler

Even rocks in trees!

Another timber rattler

Day 90 Lookout Hostel To Pine Tree Stealth Site — AT Daily Miles 18.9; AT Total Miles 1265.8

I timed my stay at the hostel pretty well and avoided a really bad all night and morning thunderstorm.  By about 9 AM the rain had stopped and I was able to get hiking.  The problem was going to be hiking all day on granite that is really wet and really really slippery.  Plus I have some bad climbs coming up.  The first obstacle was going to be the Knife’s Edge that I mentioned yesterday.  I had to go super slow because of the slipperiness and the huge drop offs if I fell.  I only slipped once but it was a bad one.  My ankle jammed between two rocks and I cut my arm pretty good.  Still I survived so it could’ve been worse.  The problem was that the fall was in the first few miles of my day and the rest of the day would be on a very sore and swollen ankle.

There were a couple good views during the day, and I had to be careful again not to step on a timber rattler.  In fact, one was very angry with me and looks like he adjust shed his skin.  The very end of the day was a brutal, steep rock scrambling climb with about 6 pounds of water in my pack.  Water is scarce in this part of the state and the campsite I was aiming for had none.  I’m not sure if it was that weight or my sore ankle but once on top I did trip and break one of my hiking poles.  The problem is my tent uses hiking poles to set up so that will be an issue until I can get new ones.
In the end, this was the hardest day physically I’ve had so far.  And that says a lot I think.  I need to average 21 miles the next two days to get to my resupply and not sure it’s possible with a sore ankle and needing to rock hop the entire time.

Knife’s edge

A fall

Another timber rattler

Day 91 Pine Tree To Rocky Stealth Site — AT Daily Miles 18.5; AT Total Miles 1284.3

Well, when I got up this morning, the ankle was still swollen.  That means it’s going to be really hard to do 21 miles a day the next two days to get to my resupply, especially when the rock hopping is supposed to be even worse.  In the end, I was only able to do 18.5 miles, but I was still kind of happy with that considering all things.  There wasn’t a lot to say about today except that it was tedious and difficult. One definite highlight, though was there trail magic.  A group of former through hikers from the year 2000 put on a wonderful lunch for us.  It was so appreciated and so delicious.  Something like that really makes a day.

Besides the bad rocks, another problem with this part of Pennsylvania is the lack of water. We have to rely on water caches and even some local businesses like a motel that lets us use their
water spigot. In the end, we find a way to make it work.  Tomorrow, I will probably be able to make it into the next town, but that’s not where my new hiking poles and my food supply is. Still, I suspect I’ll be able to eat a hamburger and fries and make the best of it.


Trail magic

Rocky view

Cool vista

Day 92 Rocky Site To Mohican Outdoor Center — AT Daily Miles 23.7; AT Total Miles 1308.0

Maybe it was the trail magic from yesterday but by noon I had already put in 13 miles.  That was both good and bad.  That’s because I then decided that I could do the 24 miles needed to get into the next resupply place where my new hiking polls would be waiting.  It was a really hard day and close to 7:30 PM by the time I got into the outdoor center, but I was glad I did it.  The day was very rocky with very very brief moments of decent trail.  There were a couple highlights, though, including going through the Delaware Water Gap, crossing into New Jersey, and passing the 1300 mile mark.

When I checked into the outdoor center, I decided to do a bunk when I found out that I would be the only person in a 16 person bunkhouse.  That gave me not only privacy, but lots of room to
get my gear re-organized and cleaned.  I was also kind of pleased with the cheap Amazon hiking poles that I got as replacements.  It’ll be nice hiking with two poles again. This blog completes Pennsylvania, which started as one of my favorite states and ended as one of my least favorite just because of the rocks. My hiking boots look like they are a few months old, even though they are only a few weeks old.  Plus my old feet are very sore.  As I type this, I’m still debating whether or not I will take a rest day today or just a short day and hike on.  The next few states should go by fairly quickly, one a week, as they are short on mileage.

Farmland vista

Delaware water got into New Jersey

First New Jersey vista


Thanks again for reading!

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Comments 2

  • Leigh Ann : Jun 18th

    Congrats on making it through PA, Jeff! Looks like it was extremely challenging. Thank goodness for ice-cream!

  • Kate Flynn : Jul 1st

    I am surprised that Amazon doesnt deliver to the trail? They seem to have solved for every other type of delivery! Beautiful pics, even the rocks!


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