Saturday, July 27, 2019

Appalachian Trail: Duncannon, PA To Port Clinton, PA

I am tired of rocks and mud.  That is what I'm struggling with in Pennsylvania.  Despite passing one thousand two hundred miles - i.e. less than one thousand miles to go - the trail is getting harder for me.  I would have sworn that the rocks and mud were slowing me down but in fact I was hiking at my normal speed (roughly two miles per hour).  The days just seem longer and that just confirms that hiking this trail is a mind game.

Welcome to Rocksylvania!
Day 110 - I left the Doyle Hotel at 5:30am to beat the heat. The Appalachian Trail (AT) passes through Duncannon, PA and crosses the Juniata river before crossing the mighty Susquehanna.  The sun started to rise when I was half way across and the river was lit up with color.

Sunrise over the Susquehanna River.
The trail crossed a train track and then climbed up the ridge.  Progress was a bit slow due to all the rocks which force you to be careful with foot placement.

I arrived at the Peters Mountain Shelter before noon when the temperature was approaching the 90℉ (32℃) mark.  This was my stop for the day.  There were four thru-hikers napping here planning to night hike once it got cooler.

I napped a little before going down to get water. The water in Pennsylvania seems to be a long way off trail.  The water at this shelter was two tenths of a mile down three hundred stone steps.  I needed another nap when I got back to the shelter.

When I got back to the shelter we had been joined by a day hiker who seemed friendly enough.  Then things went South.  He was a bit religious.  He was a doomsday prepper.  After smoking weed with some of the other hikers (weed is ubiquitous on the AT) he offered everyone oxycontin and ritalin.   Then he began to get a little hyper, sign of a meth head.  One of the thru-hikers packed up and left after he noticed the man had a service revolver on his hip.  Soon afterwards the guy left.  We were a bit freaked out by this encounter and we all slept with one eye open most of the night.

Day 111 - Having survived the night I headed out early.  A ways down the trail I ran into the hiker that had left last night.   He had been spooked when he saw the gun.  He also had called the police to report him.  The police seem to be taking the call very seriously.  After the machete weilding Sovereign murder earlier this year everyone is on their toes.

I arrived at the Rausch Gap Shelter just ten minutes before it began to pour.  People crowded into the shelter until it slowed enough to put up tents. I would guess we had at least an inch of rain.

A full beaver dam with a lake on one side and mud to hike through on the other.
Day 112 - For some reason I really hiked fast today or at least it felt like it.  I was going into the town of Pine Grove, PA to pick up some resupply.

The first part of the hike took you by a huge beaver dam.  Since it rained so much the night before the water was overflowing the dam.  I waded through mud until I got past the worst of it.  There was a bypass path in case of flooding but the beaver dam was cool and the mud washed off.

I arrived at a pass where I hoped to get a lift.  I checked Uber and Lyft but there were none available.  I checked Google and it said if I left right away I could walk to the post office and get there only five minutes before it closed.  If I tried to hitch, which I've never done before, I would lose the chance to get my package.  So ... I started to walk. Fortunately for me it was cool, overcast, and all downhill.  I also walk faster than Google predicts and got there twenty minutes before the post office closed.

Purple come flowers along the AT.
It was a big box and the hotel was not close so I called the hotel, something I should have done in the first place.  They didn't have a shuttle but they gave me the number of one.  He picked me up and dropped be at my hotel.  I arranged for him to pick me up he next morning.  It would have been a lot easier to call the shuttle from the AT.  Oh well.  My walk to town turned a seventeen mile day into a twenty mile one.

The twelve hundred mile marker ... done in rocks of course.
Day 113 - This day was supposed to be easy but the rocks and mud slowed me down.  Where there were no rocks the trail went through a swampy mess of mud.  My butt was dragging and my feet were throbbing from all the rock walking.

I was really tired when I got to Eagle Nest Shelter.  I napped a bit and sluggishly did my chores.  I decided I would listen to my body and consider taking a zero day in Port Clinton or nearby Hamburg.

Days 114  & 115- The way down to Port Clinton was rocky and steep and sucked.  I got into town, found the Port Clinton Motel and, while waiting for it to open, considered if I wanted to say one night or two.   When it opened I sayed I wanted a room for two nights.  It kind of just came out.  I guess my body had spoken.

There's not much in Port Clinton.  The motel, a candy store, and a motorcycle dealership.  All the services are two miles away in Hamburg.  Fortunately the motel has an awesome restaurant (where the smallest burger is twelve ounces) and I resupplied in Pine Grove.

Today I climb out of Port Clinton, back onto the ridge line, and back into the rock fields.  I have nothing against Pennsylvania but I an done with Rocksylvania.

Pictures can be found in my 2019 Appalachian Trail Google Photos album.

Total Distance: 1,219.6 Miles (1,962.8 km)
Section Distance: 74.8 Miles (120.4 km)
Section Elevation Up: 9,106 ft (2,776 m)
Section Elevation Down: 9,549 ft (2,911 m)


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