Smoke and Side-Quests on the Appalachian Trail
Bama➡️Baxter Day 105&106
Day 105: 26.7 miles
This morning we planned on waking up really early but wound up sleeping in. Gasket was already up and getting after it. He’s been doing a lot of 40+ mile days recently so he starts bright and early.
The guys and I wound up sleeping in until 7am and then packing up to head out. A few other hikers had arrived late last night to the shelter. There was a group of about 4 or 5 hikers that we had met before; Radish, Pirate, and a few others.
We set out around 8:30am and planned to go 7.5 miles out to the next shelter and break there. The morning was nice and cruisy. There was a short climb or two but otherwise it was generally flat. About 5 miles in we went by a cabin and stopped off to take a look.
While we were there a guy going south informed us that there was trail magic a few miles ahead! So we decided that rather than breaking at the shelter we would just push all the way to the trail magic.
At the Shippensburg Road up ahead there was a massive trail magic set up going. The people running it had us wash our hands, sign their log book, and a then a sweet lady took photos of us. She likes to have photos and names of the hikers to remember them. One of the guys running the magic poured me the most delicious iced latte, with actual ice! That was one of the most luxurious things that I’ve ever received at trail magic.
There were a few different people all working together at the trail magic. One guy made me a burger and a hot dog and they had all of the fixings that you could imagine. I devoured those and then drank some soda and ate a couple snacks. More hikers arrived who we have been seeing recently which was cool. We wound up hanging out there for a while before continuing along.
From there we only had 8.5 miles to go until we would arrive at Pine Grove Furnace. Which is a pretty major mile marker on the AT because that’s where hikers participate in the “half gallon challenge”, where they attempt to eat a whole half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. That means eating one of those big ass containers of ice cream plus an extra pint container as well.
I was excited to go to Pine Grove Furnace because I had actually been there before. When I was traveling the US back in 2020 in my small RV I stopped off at the state park to see the furnace. I remember being there and seeing the AT museum and realizing that I was right along the AT. At the time I had no plan of when I might do the AT myself. I just knew that I wanted to do it at some point. But finishing the PCT was still a much higher priority in my mind at that point. The PCT and I definitely had unfinished business to take care of.
We wound up hiking the 8.5 miles to Pine Grove Furnace all in one push. When we arrived a bunch of other hikers were hanging out and devouring ice cream. I decided that rather than wasting money and ice cream I would just get a pint and see how I felt after eating that. I’m glad that I did too, because there was no way in hell that I would have been able to eat a whole half gallon. But Sweet Pea attempted the challenge! And he completed it in just about 36 minutes. I was damn proud. That is quite a feat.
All of us wound up hanging out there for a while before hiking on. There was no way that Sweet Pea could get right back to walking after that. He needed some time to digest. From there we had about 8 miles to go to a road. And right down that road was a general store that we planned to stop off at for dinner. The trail leaving Pine Grove Furnace was super nice. It was definitely a popular tourist area which usually results in some well graded and well maintained trails. We enjoyed a leisurely first couple of miles before we began a brief climb.
After a few miles it began to rain lightly so we stopped quickly to put on rain gear. It only wound up raining for a couple miles which was great. We were all just happy not to be completely soaked. At one point the rain let up so we stopped for a quick break. And from there it was almost entirely downhill for the next 3-4 miles to the road that we could walk to a get to a general store.
We wound up getting to the store at 7:20pm, just before they stopped serving hot food. I got a Reuben sandwich and a few drinks. Then we all sat out on the porch to eat. I can’t believe how much real food we got to eat today along the trail. It was truly incredible. When we finally headed out we planned to get back on trail and walk to the nearest camp site. The first spot we passed was full of day hiker/weekenders, so we had to go a bit further. We wound up walking about a half mile further and making our own sites. We wound a pretty decent flat spot and all of us just made the most of it. It definitely worked in a pinch, especially sense we were all quite ready to be done for the day.
All of us got set up and then hung out got a while. I didn’t bother making dinner because I had eaten so much at the general store. Then eventually I got settled into my incredible slanted tent for the night. The spot I found was pretty flat but definitely on a rough slant. My pad kept shifting to the back side of my tent which was not ideal. But I was exhausted enough not to care and I slept just fine.
Day 106: 25 miles
This morning we all woke up much later than we had planned. Recently we’ve been hiking with such an unpredictable schedule that we really haven’t been getting great sleep. I truly haven’t felt fully rested since before trail days. The past few days we’ve wound up sleeping in pretty late because all of us are pretty damn exhausted.
By 8:30am we were all up and walking and only had 10 miles to go to get into Boiling Springs. The trail goes right through town so we plan to stop off there for lunch and a quick resupply.
The morning was incredibly cruisy with only a short climb or to. About 6 miles in we took a nice long break. A day hiker walked by us and wound up talking to us for a while. The lady had so many questions about our hike and went into an in depth conversation about her fear of pythons. She was really nice and it was an incredibly entertaining conversation.
After that we continued on to do the final 4 miles into Boiling Springs. Those miles were somehow even easier than the previous so we were in town in no time. We walked right to a Mexican restaurant to stop off for lunch. The place served cafe style coffee drinks and also Mexican food which was a great combination. All of us stuffed our faces and then sat around deciding what to do next. Boosted needed dog food for Roxy and the rest of us needed a few odds and ends. So we wound up ubering one town over to the town of Carlilse which had a Walmart.
Everything worked out perfectly and we got what we needed. And almost immediately after we walked out of the Walmart a truck pulled over and asked if we needed a ride. We didn’t even have to try to hitch which was amazing. The couple who picked us up drove us back to where we needed to get on trail and we resumed hiking from there.
The next stretch of trail was some of the flattest that I’ve ever encountered on the AT. I even put my trekking poles away for the first time ever on this trail. You truly didn’t needed them. The trail was pretty much entirely flat for about 13 miles. Because it was so easy and cruisy I just put my music on and zoned in. We wound up going for about 8 miles before taking any kind of a break.
At one point we passed a trailhead and got waved over to the parking area but a couple. It wound up being the parents of another thru hiker named Cookie. They live fairly close to this section of trail and we’re supporting her here and there. The two of them offered us drinks, snacks, and ice pops. It was a really nice surprise and they were both so incredibly nice.
A couple miles later we passed by a river and decided to sit by it and take a proper break. While we were there a guy named Pick who hiked the AT in 2019 came over and talked to us for a bit. It’s always nice to talk to people who have hiked before. You could tell he was super excited to see some thru hikers.
Then we continued along to do another few miles to the next shelter. We weren’t sure yet whether we wanted to call it a day there or continue on a bit further. But either way the shelter was the last water for a little while so we had to stop off for that. When we arrived there were a bunch of hikers hanging out eating dinner. We got our water and sat around for a bit while we decided what to do. In the end we wound up settling on walking a bit further but looking for the nearest suitable camp site after the shelter.
Fortunately we only had to go another mile or so before we came upon a really nice camp site. There were loads of flat sites and plenty of room for all of us. We arrived just after 9pm and all got set up. I was exhausted and wound up getting into my tent right away. Not long after that I rolled over and called it a night.
Over the past 21 days we’ve walked over 430 miles which I think is pretty wild. We’ve been cruising along for sure. That averages out to about 20.5 miles a day, plus we haven’t zeroed in 3 weeks. It’s been a blast but it’s definitely tiring. I’m looking forward to some rest in Duncannon for sure.
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