The PA trail magic continued for the next few days. After leaving Aaron’s house, the weather greatly improved. I managed to spend the next few nights in comfort. Below I’ll explain how I was able to have a shower, dinner and bed every night until nearly the end of PA. I was definitely spoiled in this section!
Day 76 (17.5 miles)
Woke up at 5:45 am and packed up all my dry gear. Had a delicious cup of coffee before heading out. Aaron treated me to another meal, this time a breakfast sandwich and hash browns from Hardee’s. Then back to the “banging” parking lot. I had an E-shit about a mile into the day, must have been really good coffee. Then got stung by a hornet, followed by a sting from a yellow jacket.
I hiked rather fast this morning. I must have been excited about the good weather and getting into Duncannon. I saw two fawns, but no mother. Hopefully they are able to survive without her.
Some miles later I crossed the Susquehanna River. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the few mile road walk through town.
I took a long break at a gas station and got a cold drink. A coworker, Jim, from the company that I use to work for offered to take me in that afternoon. I happily accepted his offer and we setup a place to meet along the trail. After town I went up to Hawk Rock lookout. It wasn’t a bad climb to the top.
A few mile ridge run led to some fields before the road where Jim was. I waited there for a little bit and ate some snacks. I was happy to be finished for the day and have another place to stay.
Jim picked me up and took me back to his house. I got a beer and a hot shower… I told you I was spoiled. I met his wife, son and two dogs. A bit later I went on a 4-wheeler ride around his property. Then a delicious supper of beef brisket sandwiches and french fries. We finished the night with a beer tasting courtesy of one of Jim’s friends! This was definitely a highlight of PA.
Day 77 (16.7 miles)
I got up around 5:30 am for coffee and an amazing breakfast sandwich. Jim crafted a ham, egg and cheese on an English muffin. Couldn’t have asked for a better start to the morning. I got some venison sticks for the road and then got dropped off back at the trail. The morning fog had not yet lifted, it was pretty walking through the fields.
The terrain this day was incredibly flat. I just had one hill to go over in the morning. At the top was Darlington shelter, a nice place for when nature calls.
On the back side was more familiar terrain for me. The Cumberland valley overlook is a place that I have hiked to a few times before. It’s relatively easy to get to from a few nearby roads and offers a great view of the farmland below. This morning there was still fog laying in the valley.
The next 14 miles were mostly pastures and roads. There were some pretty plants and views along the way!
Just after crossing I-81, there was a small roadside farm stand. I was able to get homemade ice cream, a peach and some applesauce. A nice second breakfast. The next few miles went by quickly and the trail was in great shape. There were very few rocks and it was almost completely flat. I made it to boiling springs around lunch. My dad met me there and we immediately started driving to our cabin in Northern PA. It’s a long story… but I had an “emergency” need to visit my cabin for a meeting at a club that I am a part of. This meant a 3.5 hour drive there Friday night, followed by the same drive back on Saturday morning.
One benefit of this trip was getting to spend time with my dad, brother and uncle. My dad treated me to a beer at New Trail Brewery. We then had dinner and a fire at the cabin after attending the meeting.
Day 78 (19.0 miles)
Stavi (one of my dads many nicknames) and I got up at 3:30 am and packed up. We were out the door before 4 am and back on the road. I was thankful that he drove; I managed to get another hour or so of sleep in. I began hiking again around 7:30 am. The first mile was through fields, but I was soon back to the hills of PA.
There were some awesome rock formations along the way. The trail wove its way up, down, and around many of them. Not all of the rocks in PA are bad.
A coworker of mine, Splash, dropped of some trail magic for me, which I got halfway through my day. He is a fellow hiker and knew exactly what to get!
I was fueled for the rest of the day. After I ate a ton of the snacks… I realized that I had the half gallon challenge to do. 9 more miles led me to Pine Grove Furnace State Park. There is a beautiful lake there and a nice AT museum and store. I had been there a few times before for a high school cross country camp that I attended each summer. I nearly stepped on a snake just before entering the park!
I proceeded to purchase and consume my half gallon of ice cream. I got a triopolitan for the first 3/8 and a vanilla pint to finish it off. I downed it all in 25 minutes on the nose. A satisfying way to finish a day of hiking.
Jim offered me another nights stay at his home.. how could I turn that down. He picked me up at the park and then I soon got another beer and shower once we returned to his house. My fiancé, Kara, also met us at his house. We had steaks, potatoes, and veggies for dinner… followed by a cast iron cookie for dessert. Remember that I did the half gallon challenge just a couple hours before! That is called “hiker hunger”, a seemingly bottomless stomach. I was exhausted from the early morning, but we had a great night talking and relaxing.
Day 79 (22.9 miles)
We slept in until 7 am. Kara and I got up and were treated with coffee and another great breakfast. This time we had steak and eggs with a side of potatoes from the previous night. Jim took me back to Pine Grove and I got a picture in front of the AT museum.
My parents met me there a few minutes later. They wanted to hike a bit of the trail with me. In classic AT style, it was raining.
They hiked with me for a few miles and then we parted ways. I was happy to give them a small taste of what I have been doing for the last couple months. A few more miles into the day I hit the halfway mark of my journey! An exciting sign to see on a dreary day.
The day went by rather quick, probably because I had to make up some time for a later start. I had a quick lunch on the porch of an ATC cabin that I passed.
The end of my day was through Caledonia State Park. I had hiked a portion of this section with a friend a few winters ago. I knew there were some nice shelters on either side of the valley. Rocky Mountain Shelter consisted of two smaller shelters next to one another. They were well kept and a great place to dry out. I met a family of 5 there who were also thru-hiking. Very cool that they are able to make that dynamic work. Stretch and Lotus also stopped at the shelter this night. Good to see them again and have some company for dinner.
Rocky Mountain Shelter: T1, S3, P3, W2, B2
Total Score: 36
Thanks for reading about this section of my journey! I’m sure you understand why this was titled “spoiled”. It was great to have a few extra nights of a full belly and a comfy bed. Until my next post, remember to keep wandering in your own direction!
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It is easy now, but get ready for Va.
Thx for the post.