Week 3 (April 15-April 21, 2023): Perseverance, Courage, Bravery, and Strength

Music for the trail “I went from zero, to my own hero…” Katy Perry, “Roar.” PRISM.

Boiling Springs, PA 1124.3 to Rausch Gap Shelter, PA 1178.9 Total Miles=54.6


  • Two cappuccinos in one week: Caffe 101 in Boiling Springs, PA and Wilderlove Coffee Co. in Duncannon, PA. Both had a blanket of thick frothy cream over a shot of rich espresso.
  • A rainy hike through the Cumberland pastoral lands. We are being chased by spring and discovering how some plants are further ahead or behind based on the elevation. Mr. Rook and I were hiking next to the Carlisle Fish and Game Association when I spotted a Jack-in-the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum for my scientific friends). Yes, I was the one who let out an excited shout of “Woo Wee” to silence the guns for a moment before taking a picture of this wildflower.
  • Our shuttle driver from Lisa’s hostel (Boiling Springs) who had looked at the weather. He suggested slack-packing to keep our backpacks dry. There are some people who just know the weather where they live. He was right. It poured, sprinkled, spitted, poured and misted. He left a note at the Quality Inn (Carlisle) who were holding our backpacks stating we should stay overnight, because it was going to rain all night. We did and again he was right. It poured.
  • I have begun using these three phrases to get me through the next AT challenge: 1) If I can climb down off the boulders from Hawkview carrying a backpack weighing under 25 lbs. into Duncannon I can…(fill in the blank); 2) If I can climb up out of Duncannon to the Susquehanna trail carrying a backpack weighing under 25 lbs. I can… (fill in the blank). 3) If Grandma Gatewood, Peace Pilgrim, Mushroom, Kathy, and other females did this… I can too.
  • I’ve been pondering about how the circular pattern of lichen and the bottom of pinecones are similar.
  • The hike to Rausch Gap Shelter was quite a lovely forest walk. If Mr. Rook and I were going to take beginner backpackers on an overnight hike. We would recommend this section.
  • To my spring birder friends, I would definitely check out the AT trail along the Conodoguinet Creek (Native American: A long way with many bends). You can park at the ATC managed Scott’s farmhouse. Mr. Rook and I saw many birders out with their binoculars on this trail.
  • Meeting Stealthy Betty. If she completes her flip flop this year, Betty will be the oldest female hiker. She is a small but mighty, retired teacher from Michigan and you’ll not hear her coming up the trail. Betty told us she can’t wait to get to Vermont, because several of her former students planned on hiking the 150 miles with her.

malchus stafa, b. Cappuccino at Caffe 101, Boiling Springs. April 2023. Author’s personal collection

malchus stafa, b. Jack-in-the-Pulpit that silenced the guns. April 2023. Author’s personal collection

malchus stafa, b. Bos Taurus (American Cow) letting us know about the fanta bottle litter. April 2023. Author’s personal collection


  • Mr. Rook and I walked by the old office building for The ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office in Boiling Spring and read the condemned sign. We found out online that the offices moved to Carlisle to the Craighead authors family home (Brothers naturalists and Sister Jean (1919-2012) author of Julie of the Wolves, My Side of the Mountain, How to Talk to Your Cat). It would have been helpful if someone posted a map showing the new location. Mr. Rook and I hoped for another stamp in our passbook, however we weren’t going out of our way to get one. Gossip on the trail is this historic building is doomed to the wrecking ball. Out loud thinking… How much would it cost to save a piece of AT history? What if we were to crowdsource it or maybe each hiker donated say… $5.00? Would that help to save this piece of history? Since the AT is managed by the National Park Service could they help out? Could the ATC work with the fly fishing community to save the building and maybe repurpose it?
  • Our first stealth campsite. Farout indicated that there was a campsite, but we couldn’t find it. Mr. Rook and I slung off our backpacks and tramped around the woods looking for this “great” unfound spot. So we pitched our tent on the flattest spot off the trail, had supper, and went to bed. Needless to say I didn’t sleep well. 1) There were voices going up and down the trail during the wee hours of the night. 2) The traffic was loud from nearby PA225; 3) I slept like young parents do, “listening doze.” Only I was waiting for the park ranger to shake our tent and tell us to leave, because this wasn’t a campsite. It makes me think of the homeless campsites hidden in the woods off our city bike path. Do the homeless have these kinds of thoughts in their tents? Mr. Rook on the other hand thought that the site was great and slept like a rock amongst the leaves.
  • Competitive thoughts. I know one of the trail motto is: hike your own hike, but when other hikers pass you by and you’re huffing and puffing up the hill, and your heart is pounding and you’re sweating up a storm… It’s very hard not to compare yourself to other hikers who move with ease. I know this is a terrible thing to do on an adventure hike. And at the end of the day, I wonder how to move away from this learned thought process that pits me against another? And these types of thoughts make me feel like I’m a failure.

malchus stafa, b Valley view after a climb. April 2023. Author’s personal collection.

malchus stafa, b. Turkey Tails (trametes versicolor)? April 2023. Author’s personal collection.

malchus stafa, b. Interesting object left in the woods. April 2023. Author’s personal collection

Opportunities and Other Thoughts:

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” Bob Marley

Something I’ve been pondering since Wednesday. I think it was Father Tony, a flip flopper priest from Indiana, who asked me and other hikers at Outdoorsy (Duncannon, PA) “What keeps me hiking forward on my AT hike?” If he asked me three days later: perseverance, courage, bravery and strength. These are elements that I didn’t see in myself working in cubicle land. But I feel they are necessary factors a hiker needs on the trail. I rediscovered that I had these elements after my first fall.

We were hiking in the area that had been closed the previous week due to a wildfire (Clarks Ferry Bridge Parking to PA 225). It’s a section made up of boulder hops and well etched dirt paths. The smell of smoke was still present; and it seemed eerily quiet to the point of being reverent. It was during a boulder hop, unknowing to me, my shoe became caught in a crack. I walked forward and my shoe stayed put, throwing me backwards, to turtle onto my backpack. I laid there looking up at the blue skies between the tree branches assessing if I hit my head. Not even three seconds had passed before a group Turkey vultures began circling me. Then in my best Monty Python and The Holy Grail voice shouted, “Not dead yet.” I shook my hiking stick at the birds before unfastening my backpack. I quickly un-wedged my shoe and allowed Mr. Rook to help me up. I slung on my backpack and headed forward down the path.

In a moment like this, a hiker hero has choices. They can go forward or they can call it a day or they can climb down the mountain and regroup. All are right choices depending on the day. All choices take perseverance, courage, bravery and strength. That day, I chose to go forward down the trail.

malchus stafa, b. Well worn dirt path. April 2023. Author’s personal collection.



Perry, Katy. (1, Jan. 2013). “Roar.” PRISM. Capitol Records.
Jones, T., & Gilliam, T. (1975). Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Cinema 5 Distributing.

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Comments 2

  • Jeff Greene : Nov 24th

    “I think I’ll go for a walk…” Love the Monty Python reference! And I have a row of stuffed animal vultures and condors sitting on a shelf above my desk over my shoulder waiting for my imminent death. Great pictures as well!

    • Beth Malchus Stafa : Nov 25th

      You just need to do the fist gesture telling them you aren’t dead yet.


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