Appalachian Trail Journal 1998 : Part 2 – The Mid-Atlantic

Appalachian Trail Journal 1998 : Part 2 – The Mid-Atlantic

 

Mile Post 1014.0 ~ Rocky Rim Shelter

May 17 ~ A warm, humid day was the way things were. Seemed as if gallons of

sweat were pouring off as I hiked the trail. The Weverton Cliffs provided a

welcome pull off point for lunch. The vista of the rivers below make for a

nice postcard type photo. Fool on the Hill was at the shelter tonight, first

time I have seen him in a while. Always good to see someone who I thought

was a bit ahead.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1033.6 ~ Devil's Race Course Shelter

May 18 ~ This portion of the AT should be called the Maryland Suburb Walk.

The trail literally goes between homes and the backyards of "Leave it to

Beaver" type suburbs. Seeing people, not twenty feet away, mowing their

lawns is not something that I expected to see on this trip. The shelters are

also very close to the roads. Even the illusion of wilderness is difficult

to have on this portion of the AT. Can't be helped I guess, being so close

to heavily populated areas. Tomorrow I will be in Pennsylvania, officially

leaving the South behind. So long biscuits and gravy, it was nice knowing

you.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1053.5 ~ Rocky Mountain Shelters

May 19 ~ Celebrated my birthday by crossing over into Pennsylvania. WooHoo!

No birthday cake today, but a long lunch break at the Antietam Shelter

proved to be the highlight of the day. It was a muggy day, but the creek at

the shelter was just right to wade in. The ice cold water seemed to make the

rest of the day go by very easy. Any day where I can do a bit of swimming

and still make it to the shelter before six has to be a good day.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1073.0 ~ Toms Run Shelters

May 20 ~ Another day good for miles and taking it easy. Had an unexpected

mid-morning break at the Quarry Gap Shelter area. This shelter is by far one

of the best on the trail. Even has a bench by the stream. Very relaxing

place to soak up the morning sun. If the first break was relaxing, the

second break was just the thing to make the miles fly by. The Birch Run

Shelter area had a large grassy area with a creek flowing in front of it.

Just did not want to move from this spot. Even played a little Frisbee with

Hawk and Funk. [Packing a Frisbee is one of the cooler items I have seen a

thru-hiker carry.] A two hour lunch stop is definately addicting. The best

part of the whole day was that the group of us were able to take such long

breaks and still be in camp before five. A great day! The bugs are

definately out in full force tonight. Which is why I'm glad I have a tent.

The rest of the hikers are getting munched on by the flying blood suckers,

while I am quite comfy in my tent. Methinks they are a little envious of

what some nylon can do for a good night sleep.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1096.0 ~ Boiling Springs, PA

May 21 ~ Another trail milestone was the event of the day. The half-way

marker was in the woods. A peaceful setting to contemplate what this

milestone means. A part of me was excited that I have reached the half-way

point, but another part is saddened at the fact that this journey will

eventually end. The memories and experiences that are part of the

Appalachian Trail will be hard to leave. This thru-hike has been some of the

most meaningful, exciting and happy times that I have experienced in my

life. Every step brings me closer to Katahdin, but every step brings this

journey that much closer to the end. A prospect that brings both joy and

sadness. Funk, Fool, and myself celebrated this milestone by the requisite

photos, and a mandatory, celebratory Snickers. The town of Boiling Springs

is a relatively new addition to the trail, but it is a nice one. Small and

peaceful. Sitting on the porch swing at the ATC office while looking at the

lake was a fitting end to another great day. Tonight, Funk, Fool and myself

are camped in the backyard at the local bed and breakfast. The night sky is

clear, and it is cool enough that no insects are biting. A perfect night to

sleep under the stars. Gazing up at the canvas that is the night sky, while

lying on the grass lawn is something that I will look back on fondly.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1117.7 ~ Thelma Marks Shelter

May 22 ~ The Cumberland Valley was an extremely pleasant walk. Temperature

in the low 70's with a slight breeze made walking through large grass fields

a great way to spend a morning. I cannot emphasize enough how much I am

enjoying this hike. Seeing the historic Cumberland Valley on a gorgeous

spring day is another memory that will be etched favorably in my mind. My

boots are now officially no good. The soles are gone and my feet ache

horribly after a few miles. Funk is a native of Pennsylvania and his folks

are going to meet him in Duncannon to bring him to the outfitters. Looks

like I'll be tagging along, too. Odd how much I have become attached to my

Crestas. They have a lot of memorable miles on them. From weekend outings in

the Whites to trekking to the Canadian border in Vermont, and now 1100 miles

on the AT. Hopefully the next 1000 miles will put some memorable miles on a

new pair of boots.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1121.9 ~ Duncannon PA

May 23 ~ Ah, the Doyle Hotel. How to describe this trail legend. Hmm,

picture an old 1940s detective movie with jazz background music. Instead of

Humphrey Bogart, throw in some smelly hikers. And instead of John Coltrane,

the jukebox in the bar played some country music. The Doyle definitely has a

certain charm. (And the most charming part is that it is cheap.) Duncannon

may not be the fanciest town, but it serves the purpose. Has an excellent

pizza place, too. Tomorrow I get to test my new boots on the infamous rocks

of Pennsylvania. Should prove to be interesting. Nothing like breaking in

new boots on a field of rocks. Think I will wear anti-leather signs at a

Harley Davidson convention for an encore.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1133.4 ~ Peter's Mountain Shelter

May 24 ~ Lazy, wonderful and relaxing. The way Sundays should be. Knowing I

only had to do eleven miles, there was no rush to reach the shelter. Spent

nearly three hours at an overlook that was a mill before the shelter. There

are now more long distance section hikers on the trail. Nice to see a new

group of faces to add to the mix. I think the people I have been hiking on

and off with have heard all my jokes. A new group of people will take a

while before they realize how awful my jokes are.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1154.0 ~ Bleu Blaze Hostel

May 25 ~ Rocks of Pennsylvania? Seems to be a bit of a myth. Yes there were

rocks, but not as bad as trail rumor has led us to believe. Instead, the

type of day was a pleasant walk in the woods. The kind of day that seemed

more like a stroll in the park than a difficult climb on a mountain. The day

had an ebb and flow that seemed to go well. It seems as if I do not have to

push myself as hard now. Pennsylvania has been benign, hopefully it will

stay that way.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1168.9 ~ 501 Shelter

May 26 ~ Yahoo! Less than 1000 miles to Katahdin. Getting down to triple

digits is an odd feeling. Call it another bittersweet moment. At the

shelter, the caretaker has a phone to call in pizza. Waiting at the parking

lot near the shelter, Relax, Brian and I saw a car pull up. Ah! The pizza is

here. So, being the hungry hikers we are, we had a scary look on our faces.

I know we were scary, because the woman driving the car looked at us with

extreme fear. Of course, not being the pizza delivery person, and seeing

these people hovering her car did not help matters. I thought for sure I was

going to get pepper sprayed. When I asked if she was the pizza delivery

person, she gave a very scared "NO"! For some odd reason, she went on her

jog at what seemed like an extremely fast pace. When the actual pizza

delivery person showed up, I was just a small bit hesitant to approach the

car. I am beginning to believe that my appearance is that of a person that

mothers warn their children about.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1192.2 ~ Port Clinton, PA

May 27 ~ I have found the true faith. Hallelujah! Yes, I now am a firm

believer that the rocks of Pennsylvania deserve every horror story that is

told about them. Big rocks, small rocks, sharp rocks, blunt rocks, black

rocks, white rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks! My dogs aren't just barking – they

are foaming at the mouth in a rabid rage. This thru-hiker is one tired

puppy. I think a big breakfast at the local restaurant will be just the

ticket to face the infamous rocks of PA for another day.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1207.7 ~ Eckville Shelter

May 28 ~ Three-H weather was the main event. Hot, hazy, humid. The kind of

day that people will say "It's not the heat, it's the humidity". In any

case, much water was consumed today. Tepid water, mmmm! I will gladly take

this weather though. It is far better than the snow of a couple of months

back. This shelter has a caretaker that offers all the essentials: ice cream

sandwiches, cold Mountain Dews, and B.B. King playing on the radio.

Definitely what this hiker needed on a sultry May evening.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1226.4 ~ Bake Oven Knob Shelter

May 29 ~ Another hot day in this Bake Oven of rocks that is called

Pennsylvania. The haze was a thick blanket on the horizon, with the sun

beating down, making one feel like they are in a broiler. But there was an

oasis in this field of rocks, a hiker friendly restaurant that is

air-conditioned! Ah, relief! The heat was broken late afternoon when a

thunder shower brought a cooling rain. Now the insects are gone, and the

temperature is now tolerable. New Jersey is not too far away. The miles keep

coming, one step at a time.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1251.0 ~ Leroy A. Smith Shelter/a>

May 30 ~ Water, such a valuable substance, especially when I run out of it

with ten miles left to the hike, and the spring six miles before the shelter

is gone dry. Ack! My daydreaming involved large glasses of ice tea,

lemonade, and pitchers of ice water. Running out of water is not something I

recommend to try on a thru-hike. The ridge overlooking Palmerton was

interesting. The ridge was bare of live trees and was full of rocks. The

only trees standing were groves of dead ones. The whole landscape was

looking like something out of a science fiction novel. The years of zinc

smelting in Palmerton apparently took their toll on this ridge. This was my

longest day on the trail, but I do not feel as tired as expected. Tomorrow

morning might be a different story, though.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1270.9 ~ Delaware Water Gap, PA

May 31 ~ Another state down. New Jersey awaits. The rocks again kicked our

behinds. Think I will take tomorrow off to do some chores I have been

needing to do. The hostel is a great place to kick back and catch up on some

reading. The lights are flickering because of a nasty thunderstorm outside.

Hopefully the rain will cool things down a bit.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1270.9 ~ Delaware Water Gap, PA

June 1 ~ Going into town to do laundry felt odd. Any time I am in town and

off the trail it does not feel natural. Too many people, too much activity,

too much noise. Makes me wonder how I will adjust to the "real world" when

this journey is over. After three months of being on the trail, camping is a

way of life; staying up past nine to read a book is a novelty.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1281.4 ~ Camp Mohican

June 2 ~ Crossing over into New Jersey was a nice way to start the day.

Streams along side the trail, with mountain laurel in full bloom made for a

pleasant walk. A leisurely lunch by Sunfish Pond proved to be the perfect

way to spend the afternoon. Finally, actual swimming in Catfish Pond at Camp

Mohican ended the day on a good note. Days like this feel more like a day

hike than a five month backpacking trip. Not a bad feeling.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1302.4 ~ Gren Anderson Shelter

June 3 ~ New Jersey has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the AT.

Small ponds along side the trail, striking views of the ridges, pine

forests, and tunnels of mountain laurel that seem to be everywhere. I have

even seen a black bear! New Jersey is proving to be one of the more

enjoyable states to hike in. Who would have thought? As with most people,

when I think of New Jersey, I think of toxic waste dumps. No longer. I will

think of the hike along the ridge, seeing mountain laurel that is a pale

shade of pink.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1323.0 ~ Camp Site

June 4 ~ Another great day in New Jersey. Cool temps in the low 60's, a

sunny sky, and awesome vistas. Definately the kind of day made for hiking.

Found a great campsite near a brook. After twenty miles, I think tenting

will be just the ticket. Tomorrow should be an easy day into town and with

that the all important shower. Fresh fruit sounds good, too.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1335.0 ~ Veron, NJ

June 5 ~ Ah, the lap of luxury! Sleeping at the fire station with a hot

shower! Funny how after more than three months out here, a hot shower is the

ultimate luxury. Cleaning away the grime is definately the best. Tomorrow, I

will be in New York. Can't believe how fast the states are going by. Soon I

will be back "home". New England is just around the corner, and with that,

the mountains I know well.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1354.4 ~ Fitzgerald Falls

June 6 ~ The firefighters of Vernon are definitely hiker friendly. Not only

did they allow us to stay at the pavilion and to shower, but they shuttled

us to the laundromat and to the trail this morning. They also have future

plans to add a washer and dryer hook-ups for the hikers to use. Not too

shabby. Had a great lunch on Prospect Rock. The weather continues to be

excellent. From Prospect Rock, I was able to see both the Empire State

Building and the World Trade Center. Not a bad way to enter a new state. The

only mishap today is that I missed the shelter turn-off. The shelter's side

trail was blue blazed, but did not have a sign! I had a sinking feeling I

missed the shelter when the trail started to descend. But everything worked

out for the best. The camping area by the falls is awesome. Plenty of flat

spots to pitch my tent, and the always relaxing sound of waterfalls. Another

one of the many great days I have had on this trail.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1366.8 ~ Fingerboard Shelter

June 7 ~ Felt very lethargic today. The miles seemed very difficult, and

seemed to take a lot out of me. Think I am coming down with something. Plan

on doing a little reading, and going to bed early tonight.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1380.5 ~ Ft Montgomery, NY

June 8 ~ Defintely have a "bug" of some sort. Had a low grade headache all

day, and I had the chills when I climbed into the bed at the hotel. Another

early night it looks like. Think I will also do a very low mileage day

tomorrow.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1387.7 ~ Graymoor Friary

June 9 ~ Had a relaxing day at the camping site near the friary. Was able to

relax on the grass and read for most of the day. Already starting to feel

much better. One more night of an early bedtime should get me back to

par.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1406.4 ~ RPH Shelter

June 10 ~ Ah, definately feeling better. The day again had great weather. I

was no longer tired and was able to arrive at camp at a decent time. A long

day of rest was definately needed. The trail was a tunnel of mountain

laurel, with periodic breaks of pine trees. Funny seeing pines at these

lower elevations. Means I am getting further North, and will soon be back in

the mountains I know well.-Paul

 

Mile Post 1423.5 ~ Campsite North of WestPower Rd

June 11 ~ I woke up this morning with the worse hiker hunger I have had yet.

The lure of a deli less than a half mile off the trail was too strong to

pass up. The deli was a slice of paradise to all of us hungry hikers. Eggs,

sausage, bacon and cheese on a bagel, washed down with a cup of coffee and a

half gallon of milk really hit the spot. Then I bought my lunch to go. Hot

capicola, provolone cheese, marinated red peppers all on a fresh roll.

Yummy! This made a great lunch at Nuclear Lake. Yep, the trail is now newly

relocated to the shores of this lake. The orange streamers marking the relo

are still up and the blazes looked brand spanking new. The lake was great.

Little peninsulas jutting into the lake covered with pink mountain laurel.

Finally, I had a surprise tonight. A ranger from New Jersey was on the trail

today, and he recognizes the group of us. He shuttled our group into Pawling

for dinner. Since, we met up at the shelter just before the road, it worked

out great. The end of this fine day is at the best camp site yet for me on

the trail. It is a grass field surrounded by distant hills, and in this tall

grass are countless fireflies. All I can think of is the ocean back home.

Instead of twinkling lights on a dark ocean, there are twinkling lights on a

sea of grass that seems to extend forever. Impressive sight as I gaze on it

sitting at the base of a lone tree that seems to be an island in a sea of

grass. Relaxing, peaceful, inspiring. All campsites should be this

good.-Paul

 

Go to part three…

 

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