Week 3: If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans
Over two hundred miles in now, and I can feel my trail legs kicking in! My third week on the trail has been good. Currently I am staying at a hostel on this very rainy Saturday. I am warm and dry and my belly is full of non-trail food (pancakes, omelet, veggies, juice). The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is on the TV and I have time (and unlimited power supply) to blog about the last week.
Day 15: Cooperative and uncooperative critters
After a very relaxing zero day at Allen and Gay’s house, I am back on the trail–in the rain, of course. The climb out of Duncannon was a beast, although the climb down into the town was worse. Call me crazy, but I would rather hike uphill than down. Once I got up on the ridge, I had to do battle with a porcupine for the right of way. He came waddling up onto the ridge line right where I needed to go, so I talked him into going back the way he came. He was very cooperative and we both went on our merry way.
I stayed at Peter’s Mountain Shelter that evening. Four NOBOs spent the night there as well, but they stayed on the second floor. I was alone on the first floor and didn’t sleep well. A mouse (or mice) started running around the minute I settled into my sleeping bag. First he was content to frequent the corners of the shelter, but pretty soon I could hear him scampering across the top of my sleeping pad. After the second time he did this, I moved my pad and sleeping bag up onto a large wooden box that was in the shelter. The mouse was relentless; he still sought out my sleeping pad. Needless to say, I did not sleep well.
Day 16: Reunion
I start out early and hike 17.5 miles to the next shelter, Rausch Gap Shelter. It is raining again and the trail is a pond for most of the day. My feet hurt but I make it through my biggest mile day. I am still trying to figure out the mental side of hiking: I get bored and it is hard to not concentrate on the miles in front of me. Saying my daily prayers definitely helps, and singing helps, but if anyone has tips for getting through the miles mentally, please comment!
At the shelter I run into Cujoe and JD, and meet Tai Chi and Buzzcut. It is great to catch up with Cujoe and JD again. They tell me that they have made reservations at the Rock’n Sole Hostel for Tuesday night, which I decide to try out as well. It is a cold night but I stay warm!
Day 17: First time for everything
The next day is a 13-miler to William Penn Shelter.
I finish the 13 and run into two NOBOs who convince me to go another four miles and stay at a church with them that night. Wonder of wonders, I am able to keep up with two seasoned NOBOs! We think we are heading to a Mennonite church, but after some communication issues we realize it is a gentleman’s house. We arrange to be picked up at the local library and decide to hitchhike into town.
I have never hitchhiked.
The two NOBOs can’t believe it.
“You haven’t hitchhiked yet?!”
“Guys, I’ve only been on the trail less than three weeks!”
So they explain the details of hitchhiking: smile, wave, make sure they can see your trekking poles so they know you’re a hiker and not a homeless person (same thing…?).
After about five minutes and a few unsuccessful tries, a woman stops and we pile into her Subaru. We hang out at the local library, where they are very hiker-friendly! They set us up with computers and wifi, let us throw trash away, use the restrooms, and they even feed us snacks!
The night’s stay at Breathe Easy’s house is great! Showers, laundry, plenty of real food, a warm house and bed, and plenty of moral support. He is a great guy! If you are a thruhiker, I definitely recommend staying there (in Bethel, PA): you can’t beat the price either.
Day 18: Rock’n Sole
The next day is pretty simple, just ten miles to where I am getting picked up by the Rock’n Sole Hostel. The hike goes pretty well, although there is a tricky section that is not well marked where it’s almost like there are two trails and you’re not sure which you’re supposed to be on. I made it without getting lost, but it wasn’t enjoyable.
Speaking of enjoyable, look no further than Rock’n Sole Hostel! Awesome place! I definitely recommend this one. They will pick you up and drop you off, the food is homecooked and amazing, the facilities are nice and clean, and they have a dog! I miss my dogs a ton, so Sugar provided some needed hiker therapy for this hiker! Sugar seemed to attach herself to me and hung out with me while I relaxed. It’s always neat to witness how animals can tell whether you are an animal person or not.
The hostel also has an outdoor shower with warm water. The best part was that after showering, the sunshine had warmed the clothes I put on afterward. Cotton clothes! (A no-no for hikers, except in town!)
It’s the little things.
Day 19: Trail town
The climb down into Port Clinton, PA, is just as bad as the climb into Duncannon, if not worse. Sometimes there are steps, but sometimes there are not. That being said, Port Clinton is a very hiker friendly town. I stop down at the barber shop and am welcomed in by the owner. He offers me coffee, donuts, cookies, water, and charging for my electronics. Great guy!
I head down to the pavilion where I will spend the night. I tent in the field across the street, which is a nice grassy lawn. A bubble of flip-flippers is also here and I meet Grapevine and Snow White for the first time. A couple of locals stop by to see if we need anything. Sunshine lets us know she can shuttle us if we need to go to the store or anything. Then a guy named Eddie and his 8 year old daughter Alexandria stop by to drop off bags of food! They are planning to thruhike in ten years. Eddie even came back later and took a hiker to Cabellas to get new boots. The locals are very generous.
Day 20: Rocksylvania
I am ready to get out of Pennsylvania.
Have I mentioned I am ready to get out of Pennsylvania?
Golf put it plain and simple, and it has become my motto for now:
“Every mile we hike in Pennsylvania is one less mile we have to hike in Pennsylvania.”
The day includes a couple of climbs, more rocks, and 15 miles to Eckville Shelter. The shelter boasts an enclosed bunkhouse, a solar shower, and a flushing toilet. You know you have been in the woods too long when the sound of a toilet flushing is bizarre. Neither me nor my fellow hikers are brave enough to try the solar shower because it is only like fifty degrees. The bunkhouse is decent and we stay pretty comfortable, if a little short of toasty warm.
Day 21: If you want to make God laugh…
More rocks! Today I walked the Knife’s Edge (the rocks everyone tells you about) and over Bake Oven Knob (the rocks no one tells you about). Luckily, the rain holds off until nighttime.
Everyone knows you make plans and then often the Trail changes them. They also say if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
Today I had planned to go 17.5 miles, stay at Bake Oven Knob Shelter and then hike 9-ish miles into Palmerton Saturday morning.
Today God planned that I would hike 17.5 miles to the Bake Oven Knob Shelter, which was full. A group had taken it over for the night. Then God decided that I should hike 7 more miles to the George Outerbridge Shelter.I had failed to drink enough water so I was already bordering on dehydrated, but I got water at the shelter and chugged some electrolytes before moving on. Then I booked it to the next shelter, covering the 7 miles in two and a half hours. God was with me the whole way and even made sure I didn’t have to spend the night by myself. I met Furby and Cowboy, fellow flip-floppers. It was a beautiful seven miles, too, with minimal rocks!
So there you have it: 24 miles in one day, which is a new record for me. I took ibuprofen before bed, only the second or third time I’ve done so, because my feet and legs were pretty sore!
In hindsight, the 24 mile day yesterday meant I only had to hike about 3 miles in the rain to get into town, which was a great plan, thank you God! Just helps me remember Who is really in control of this trek.
Note: I apologize for the lack of picture; my phone keeps turning them sideways and i am still working out the issue!
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