Week 16 – Port Clinton to Duncannon, PA
Along our travels, we have come to make some great friends! Soon, we will have to say goodbye to one of them. We will be celebrating with him as we get to watch him complete his thru-hike in Port Clinton. Then, we will meet some new friends and continue our journey towards Georgia!
Day 106 (time – lost forever, 5.8 miles)
Today is both an exciting day and a sad day. It is Centaur’s last day on trail! He officially finishes his thru-hike in Port Clinton, PA, where his mom will pick us all up and we’ll celebrate with him over lunch! But we’ll be really sad to say goodbye to him as well!
As we all got ourselves together, Centaur was the first one out of the shelter. I quickly followed, and Ratatouille and Flicker were not far behind. I caught up to Centaur and we chatted the miles away. After a while, we both needed a break, and a snack, so we stopped for his last snack break as a thru-hiker. We dropped pack and sat down in a nice clearing with several rocks to sit on. I pulled my bags of snacks out of my pack and plopped myself on a rock. You read that right! I have multiple bags filled with delicious treats! Since Centaur had eaten everything he had the previous night, I divided up all my snacks to share with him. He feasted like a king on his last snack break!
Just as I was getting chilly, and decided to pack my gear and hit the trail again, Flicker and Ratatouille emerged. They sat down and joined Centaur at his last meal as I bid them all farewell and continued down the way.
Now alone on the trail, I decided to listen to my music, and plugged in as I trotted down the trail. Occasionally I would stop, take in the views, and wait for my friends to catch up, but no one emerged. So I plugged back in and off I trotted down the trail.
Down the mountain I went, trees flying past me in a blur. With every step closer to Port Clinton I couldn’t help but think what my last day would be like on trail. I just couldn’t fathom what was running through Centaur’s mind today!
Once I got to the road, I dropped my pack and sat on a large boulder, waiting for the others so we could all go into Port Clinton together. Eventually, one by one, they all arrived.
Finally all back together, we only had a few miles left before Centaur ended his journey. I couldn’t help but ponder how he was going to respond to this big end! He lead the way as we took a short break at Peace Rock.
After taking in the beautiful view, on we went, following the river towards Port Clinton. As we walked along the trail, he pointed at the train station across the river, “Look, that’s where you’ll be heading after this!” He was reliving the end of the first half of his adventure as we walked along the path.
In the distance, buildings started to emerge and the path opened up to the end of a road leading to the middle of the small town of Port Clinton. This was it! This was his big ending! I could hardly contain my excitement for him!
We walked towards the town and saw a woman standing on the corner. It was his Mom! He walked up to her and they embraced, chatting like he had only been dropped off a week ago!
“Is that it?” I asked Centaur. “Did you officially cross your ending point?”
“I sure did!” He replied.
I couldn’t believe it! He was done! He officially finished his thru-hike and he wasn’t jumping for joy, or for that matter, showing much emotion at all, except for the Centaur smile we had come to know and recognize, of course. Meanwhile, I was almost bursting at the seems I was so excited for him!
“I can’t believe you’re officially done!” I smiled at him. “Come here I have to at least give you a hug!” I gave him a big friendly hug, the only way I knew how to congratulate him on his big accomplishment. Flicker and Ratatouille walked up and did the same. Now, it was time for food!
After some introductions and chatting, we all got into Centaur’s Mom’s car and were on our way. But before we went for food, we needed to make a quick stop at the pavilion so Centaur could say goodbye to a few more people. Sas, Supertramp, Gap, and Sasquatch were all there waiting for him.
After a half hour or so of chatting, celebrating, and catching up, the four of us piled back into the car and we were on the hunt for food.
But wait! We have to stop at the candy shop! Screeching to a halt in front of the candy shop doors, we jumped out of the car and ran like school children into the candy shop. It was heavenly! There were uncountable numbers of various types of gummies, chocolates, and various other treats. Where to start?
A bit of wisdom: Don’t ever go into a candy shop hungry! Especially as a starving thru-hiker! Let’s just say, I left that delicious shop with MUCH more candy than I needed!
Now satisfying our sweet tooth, we once again piled into the car off for the hunt; for real food this time! We landed at a Cracker Barrel and enjoyed a wonderful meal with Centaur and his mom. What an excellent way to end a long journey, with good friends and a delicious meal!
Sadly, it was finally time to say goodbye to our good friend, Centaur. Something tells me we’ll be hearing from him again, but goodbyes are never easy. The friendships we make on the trail, to those outside, may seem remarkably fast. But the trail has a way of speeding up time. What would normally take months to get to know someone, on the trail, is only a matter of days or weeks before you feel as though you’ve been friends for a life time.
Centaur, you are an amazing person and have become a great friend! Congratulations on completing your adventure of a lifetime! Thank you for choosing us to be the people you celebrated your epic completion with! We will all greatly miss you on the trail, but look forward to continuing our friendships with you in the real world! We wish you the best of luck! Goodbye my friend!
We were dropped off at a local Walmart, where Ratatouille’s Uncle, Craig, would be picking us up soon. We did a little resupply shopping then sat in the glorious sun until Craig arrived in his truck to collect us and bring us home.
Tonight, we spend a nice, warm, dry night with Ratatouille’s Aunt, Sandy and Uncle, Craig. Upon first meeting them, we could already tell; they were going to be amazing people! We laughed and chatted the hours away and hiker midnight came and passed, with real midnight quickly approaching. Their two dogs, Daisey and Piper joined us, loving the scratches and attention they received long into the night.
Eventually, we had to retire for the evening. Each one of us had our own bedrooms, so off we went to bed. I closed my door, being alone for the first time in a long time at night, and crawled into my bed. How nice it felt to lay down by myself and be able to stretch out as far as I wanted, without the constraints of a mummy sleeping bag, or the feeling of someone in their sleeping bag next to me. With that, I drifted off to sleep, peaceful and comfortable.
Day 107 (time-plentiful, 0 miles, comfy degrees)
I woke up this morning, comfortable in my big bed, in my room, all alone. It was FANTASTIC! I could not sleep in since the sun beemed down at me through the window, so I got up early and started to work on my blog. After a while, I heard some movement through the house, so I poked my head out of my room to say good morning to whomever was wandering around.
I spent hours at the computer today, working diligently to record all the fun and exciting events that have been happening along this journey. After being satisfied with what I had written, it was time to take a drive to the mall close by. I, once again, needed another pair of new boots from LL Bean.
Sandy went with us as we traversed the biggest mall I think I have ever been in! We actually got lost! I needed to grab a map to find my way! So I can navigate a 2,184 mile trail through the woods, but navigating a mall alludes me! Amazing!
Eventually, we found our way to LL Bean. Once again, they were amazing. They took my disintegrating boots, that had fallen apart shy of 500 miles once again, and tried to help me find a different pair. Unfortunately, there were no other pairs that were comfortable enough. So they gave me a new pair of the same boots I have been using. At least they feel good!
We ran a few more errands, stopping to get snacks for our resupply and such, then head back home. Later that night, Ratatouille’s Aunt, Jeanne, came over with her boyfriend, Rick. We had a wonderful dinner and chatted the night away! What a wonderful family Ratatouille has! How kind of them to take me and Flicker in as well! It’s been great to get to know her family and spend more time with our trail family as well! We are so greatful!
Day 108 (time- nearing an end, 0 miles, cozy degrees)
We have a BUSY day today! A bunch of Ratatouille’s family members are coming over for a big family Thanksgiving, even though Thanksgiving is actually weeks away. Sandy spent most of the day cooking for the dinner. We offered our assistance and helped to ready the tables as well, but eventually, I returned to my blogging.
As Flicker emerged from her sleeping quarters, we decided to do a pack shakedown for me. What’s a pack shakedown you ask? It’s when you remove EVERYTHING from your pack and look at what you have. Then yourself, and possibly with the help of others as well, you decide what you absolutely need to have, and what you don’t. Whatever is not necessary, gets mailed home. So Flicker helped me, as Ratatouille looked on, curious to know what was weighing my pack down. We were able to make a small pile of things to send home, a couple pounds worth of gear. But unfortunately, the gear I have is simply heavy. And it has to be with the colder temperatures we are going to encounter in the months to come. Oh well, every ounce counts so sending home a few pounds worth of gear is helpful! It’s ok, I’ve carried 55 pounds this whole way, I can continue with that weight!
As the hours ticked by, it came time for the family Thanksgiving. The family members started to pour in and the house was filled with laughter and chatting. Children ran and played, screaming and giggling, as adults caught up and shared stories. The three of us hikers, ate around our own table, feeling blessed to be a part of Ratatouille’s family Thanskgiving!
The night grew later and everyone had their fill of the delicious food Sandy had prepared for everyone. Knowing tomorrow morning would be an early start for us, we took a picture with everyone before retiring for the evening.
Thank you SO much to Sandy and Craig for taking us in and sharing such a wonderful home, meals, and family gathering with us! We have had a blast with you both and I truly have loved our conversations and time together. Thank you for accepting us into your home as if we, too, were part of your family! You are fantastic trail angels!
Day 109 (12:30 – 5pm, 10.2 miles, 37 degrees)
We all rose early this morning, ready to hit the trail once again. We said our farewells to Sandy and Craig, our trail angels that took us in as their own, and piled into Craig’s car. Off we drove for Port Clinton, where we were planning on hitting the post office as they opened, then continue along on our journey.
There was only one problem. As we arrived at the post office, the doors remained locked with a sign that read CLOSED! Ugh! We would have to wait until 12:30 to go to the post office, something we all needed to do! Craig had to leave for work. So he kindly dropped us off at a diner down the road. At least we had somewhere warm to stay for the next several hours!
Without boring you with the details, let’s abbreviate the next several hours! We ate and hung out at this lovely diner for three hours until we could finally make the long walk towards the now open post office! Thank you to the wonderful staff at the 3C’s diner for allowing us to stay there!
With the post office finally open, I shipped the packages I needed. Phew! Now I don’t have to carry those anymore. Flicker was eagerly awaiting a package.
“Sorry miss,” the postman said. “We don’t have that package.”
Our hearts sank for Flicker. We knew how much she needed this package that had been chasing her from post office to post office for weeks due to a mishap when it was sent to the wrong location. It seems this package was not meant to arrive! It has traveled more distance than we have this whole journey! There was nothing we could do!
Time was quickly ticking by, so I opted to start my trek for the day, not wanting to get stuck hiking in the dark and knowing I would be slower than the other two. So off I went as they went for a nice cookie and something to drink at the Barber shop.
Just as Centaur had pointed out when we hiked with him several days ago, our trail started with a steep climb after crossing some railroad tracks. Nothing like starting the day off with a nice big climb! But at least the surrounding scenery was gorgeous! And the signs have gotten much fancier around here!
On and on I hiked, solo for now. Eventually, I needed a small snack break, so I found a nice log to sit on and pulled out my snacks. Shortly a woman approached. What! I wasn’t expecting to see anyone else on the trail today! She was a flipflopper named Skooch. We chatted briefly as I finished my snack, then off we went. I took the lead but was quickly out of range as she was taking her time today. Maybe I’ll see her again soon?
Eventually, I found my way to the Eagles Nest Shelter, just as the sun was dipping below the tree line. What perfect timing! I decided to stay in the shelter instead of tenting, but as I approached, two other hikers were already asleep in the shelter! But it’s not even 6pm! I accidentally woke them, not expecting to see anyone there. One was a SOBO named Jacob and the other was a NOBO section hiker named Poindexter. We chatted for a while, as Ratatouille and Flicker arrived and we all settled in for the evening, filling the shelter. Tomorrow we may be hiking with Jacob but we’ll see. He’s been talking about possibly pushing 33 miles. We’ll see!
Day 110 (8:05am – 4:05pm, 45 degrees, 15.5 miles)
We woke with the sun today, ready to tackle our day. Me, Ratatouille, and Flicker all plan on heading to the 501 Shelter today. In a few days, we’ll be getting picked up by my old college friend, Brenda, and her significant other, Matt. I can’t wait! Later today, two of Ratatouille’s cousins will be picking us up and taking us out to dinner. But first, we gotta make the miles!
Jacob made it out first. Not sure we’ll see him again. He’s planning on hiking some BIG miles today. So we’ll see.
Ratatouille and I were out of the gates right after him. The weather today is beautiful, a little chilly, but beautiful none the less. We had some gorgeous views along the way and passed by a historic marker as well.
One of those views, as I stopped to take the picture, I felt a sharp prick on the inside of my right arm. I looked down to find a hornet in my arm, his stinger still fully inserted in my arm! That little bugger! This time, I didn’t step in a nest or anything! I flicked it off my arm and watched it slowly tumble to the ground. Since the temperatures have been colder, this apparently makes them a little slower. I was tempted to squash him for stinging me. It would have been easy enough. But I did not. Why? You might ask. Because I am a guest in his home. For whatever reason, he felt the need to sting me. That does not make it right to kill him. So, instead, I grabbed my gear as quickly as possible and took off down the trail, itching as I went.
As the sun was getting close to setting, we arrived at the 501 shelter. It was completely closed in! It even had a huge skylight at the top! How fantastic!
We arrived a bit earlier than we expected, so we unpacked our gear, choosing a bunk for ourselves, and rested for a bit. Shortly after we arrived, the caretaker, Borderline, showed up and chatted with us for a while. But no Flicker.
I shot her a quick text, and then we waited. And waited. And waited. My phone went off.
Hey, I don’t think I’m going to make it. I left my phone back where I had lunch and had to go back for it. You two just go without me.
What! Where is she? Now worried, I dug deeper to see where she was and if she was going to be ok. Luckily, she had encountered a day hiker that offered to walk with her to get her phone, and gave her a place to stay for the night! How awesome! So she’ll be just fine, but she’ll be playing catch up tomorrow to try to meet back up with us before my friend, Brenda, comes to get us.
That night, Joey and Colleen came and took us out for dinner and drinks. We chatted, shared stories, and laughed the night away. What wonderful people! Joey was incredibly interested to hear about our adventures since he, too, wanted to hike the AT.
After a long night of fun and great company, it was past hiker midnight and time for us to return to our home for the night. They drove us back, came to check out where we were staying for the night and hugged us goodbye. Before he left, Joey gave us jugs of water and snacks to help us along our journey. Thank you, Joey and Colleen, for becoming a couple of trail angels for us! It was wonderful to get to know you both and it was a blast!
Day 111 (8:23am – 4:50pm, 18.1 miles)
It is supposed to rain all day today. Yikes! We have a lot of miles to make, and we can’t afford to take a zero mile day. We’re just going to have to push through this and wish for the best!
The good news is, for the majority of the day, we’ll be walking along a ridge line. So if the rain gives us a break here and there, we may get some good views. At least the terrain won’t be too bad.
We packed our gear in the warmth and comfort of the 501 shelter, dressed ourselves in warm, dry, clothes, then braved the rain. Since the weather was going to be so miserable today, we planned on stopping for a snack at the next shelter.
After a few hours of hiking, we arrived at our snack location. It was a little ways off trail, but worth it! Not only did it provide us with shelter, but it also marked the 1,000 mile mark! We have officially walked 1,000 miles of the AT! Only 1,189 more miles to go!
On we trudged through the light rain, crossing over bridges, through the woods, and across fields. Rain drops lightly kissed my checks as I traversed the ridge. Finally, we started to near our ending location for the evening; Rausch Gap. What a neat little area! And quite historic as well!
We sloshed on up the mountain until we finally reached the junction we needed to take to get to our shelter. As we arrived, we were briefly alone. Shortly after, several hikers arrived! The Natural, Skooch, and Jacob came walking up! Happy to see them, and surprised to see Jacob, we all chatted and caught up as we set up our sleeping arrangements for the night.
Apparently, Skooch and The Natural had managed to convince Jacob to stay with them, and forgo his 33 miles adventure. That being said, Skooch, had dubbed him “33” for his trail name! With that, we all slipped into our sleeping bags and called it a night! Hopefully tomorrow’s weather will be much better!
Day 112 (7:30am – 4:15pm, 40 degrees, 18.3 miles)
One lesson – don’t mess with someone that’s sleeping! That being said. . .
At some odd hour of the night, last night, I woke with an odd sensation in my armpit. I had been experiencing some ithing there due to an old bee sting, but this felt different. I woke to find a foot in my armpit! Someone had squirmed their way diagonally across the floor of the shelter, and managed to end up in my armpit! I tried to wake the individual, with no success. I tried to move their foot. Again, with no success! Ugh! This was a lost cause! So, muttering under my breath, I shimmied myself up high so their foot was in my side, instead of in my armpit that was already itchy from the bee sting. Let’s just say, I was rather grumpy that night and into the morning! I came to find out later, my muttering was not as quiet as I thought. So, I provided 33 with some entertainment that night!
We broke camp relatively quickly and hit the trail. We have another big day ahead of us, so we wanted to get a jump start on our day. At least the weather is a little better today!
We had another nice ridge walk this morning, all the way up until lunch where we dipped down into a valley. It was lovely! We passed some historic landmarks as well!
While the scenery was lovely, the path was rocky, and my feet were hurting more and more with each step. I could feel blisters forming on my heels and toes. I decided once down in the valley, I would remove my shoes to fix my feet.
Just as my spirit was at its lowest, and I was coming down into the valley, Ratatouille emerged. “You’ll never guess who’s here!” She explained.
I had glanced at the parking lot and seen a camper. After seeing Ratatouille’s expression and recognizing the camper, I was able to put two and two together. It was Onesimus! We had met him back near Bennington, VT! My spirits instantly lifted and I walked right over to the camper.
This time, Trixy, his significant other, was there as well. We greated our old friend, unloaded our packs, and sat down for lunch with the couple, chatting and catching up for a long time. They made us a delicious lunch, fed us all the soda and other refreshments we could enjoy, and trixy supplied me with anti-itch cream for my bee sting on my arm. What wonderful people! I really needed that pick up!
After a while, The Natural and Skooch showed up. We had already been there for nearly one hour, so we thanked our fantastic hosts for their kindness, I quickly fixed my feet and we went on our way. We still had more miles to go and the daylight was getting short.
Off we went, back up the mountain, then did some more ridge walking until we arrived at the Peter Mountain Shelter. And who was there? 33! We set up our sleeping arrangements and chatted with 33 for a while, telling him about the fantastic trail magic he had missed. We also learned he would be hiking with us for a little longer, so we invited him to join us when my friend, Brenda, picked us up in a few days. He loved the idea, and we were really starting to enjoy his company. We all enjoyed the beautiful sunset and watched the moon appear that night, then retired for the evening. Only a few more days and we’ll be with Brenda and Matt! I can’t wait!
We finally got to watch a good friend complete their thru-hike and we have made some new friends. We’re making some good miles, with schedules to keep, as we race to see Brenda and Matt. Before we know it, we’ll be getting close to our half way mark! Until then . . .
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