I had gone home for nearly a week to re-access my devotion to the Appalachian Trail. Did I really want to complete this journey? I was so close to finishing half of it, I might as well go back and do a week of hiking to Harper's Ferry and see how I feel, right? The more days I had been at home the more convinced I wanted to go back out. Not just for myself, but also for all the people that had heard me gush endlessly about how awesome the Trail is.
I made some changes to my gear, I plotted low mile days, and I had my car to walk back to - I had an easy out if I was still in a bad mental spot.
I brought a hammock and began sleeping in that, and would continue sleeping in a hammock comfortably and happily the rest of the trip. I slept more deeply off the ground, I didn't wake up nearly as much, I felt safer and more relaxed - possibly this was psychological, but whatever the case, it was a great boon to get good night sleep.
During this experimental week the temperatures sky-rocketed. There were some 105 heat index days. I would hike slowly and drink a ton of water, I went so far as to try to breathe only though my nose to conserve as much moisture as possible.
With the terrible memories of Shenandoah behind me I felt like I was entering a new chapter, a happier chapter - some kind of corner had been turned. There was still rain, humidity, heat, and bugs but I felt better armed. The hike to the Roller Coaster was easy, and the Roller Coaster was fun even in the extreme heat. I had hiked portions of this and it was fun to be walking down memory lane remembering that root and that rock.
I took my car back home that weekend and had Cara drop me back off on Sunday. I had a lot of things to look forward to in the next few weeks. Cara was coming back out to see me in a couple weeks, my brother was meeting me on July 2nd to hike with me, my friend Jon was looking to meet up with me, and my birthday was rapidly approaching!
I could of pushed big miles and sailed through the state, but I was meeting my brother in Duncannon and so I was forced to do small days, sleep in start late and finish early! It was great. I could stop for long lunches, soak in the beauty, and talk with other hikers. I stopped at Pine Grove Furnace for several hours just shooting the breeze with some hikers. I made a friend with Animal, a great guy that carried a 5 Gallon bucket full of food in one hand all the way from Georgia! I would see him off and on all the way through CT.
Boiling Springs was achieved by crossing through a series of fields, and following a road into downtown. I talked to a guy there that was interested in sharing a room at the Allenberry Resort just up the road. Rooms were $40, split I could turn that down. The place turned out to be fantastic! All you can eat buffet, a playhouse, a pool, situated on a gorgeous river. This place really looks out for hikers and I will definitely be going back.
After the nice stay at the Allenberry I did a short hike to Carlisle and met with Cara, the heat had gone way up again, so the 9 miles in 100+ degree heat was draining, but the AC at the hotel room fantastic! The next day Cara and I did an out-and-back section hike. The bugs were miserable, flying in our eyes and ears and it wasn't fun dealing with them. I'd wished I could have taken her on a better hike, but there wasn't much around, the views were poor, and very hot. Mostly, though, when she came and visited I didn't want to hike! I wanted a day of rest!
I walked in the Doyle, famous for its good food and terrible accommodations and cheap booze. I picked up my drop box that was there and bought a round for the guys there... I wanted to get a round of Jonnie Walker, but alas, Jim Beam had to do! The town of Duncannon, so close to Harrisburg, had a desperate feel. The houses leaned on each other for support, decaying under the summer, the people hidden in the dilapidated homes. The Trail goes right through the town for almost a mile before crossing the Susquehanna, on the other side of town I came to a rough looking cement building, the place claimed to sell ice cream, and be a nude bar, just as seemingly desperate as the rest of the town.
|Chloe really knew how to be a hiker. If we took a break, she took a nap!|
Jon and I had a good relaxing weekend. He brought me a bottle of whiskey, he took us to Yuengling for a brewery tour, we had good food at nice restaurants, he dropped me off for a 6 mile slack pack, and went to Cabelas for provisions. He even carried my pack for me up to the Trail when he was dropping me off!
Back on the Trail on my own, very well rested, well fed and with a week of PA left; I was still waiting for the 'Rocks of Pennsylvania' to begin. I had heard so many horror stories, and past hikers crying how terrible it was that maybe I was expecting worse. Maybe since I had so many mental diversions I failed to become annoyed, but 3/4 of the state behind me I was still waiting for the rocks to begin! I was looking for them so hard, I did a blue blaze loop to a views and finally found the rocks! They aren't on the AT!!
|Sometimes PA had a hint of New England|