Day 60 – Stealth Camp – Darlington Shelter – 22.1 miles
It was chilly outside when I woke up today. My sleeping bag kept me comfortable and I waited until about 7:45 to get up and start the day. Putting on my sweaty shirt got me cold, but I started warming up as I was packing everything into my bag. I ate a pop tart for breakfast and hit the trail by 8:30. The trail was pretty smooth for the first mile, but the next few were pretty rocky and there were a few climbs too. On the top of one of the climbs I met a section hiker named Walden. We hiked together for the next few miles, getting lost in the “rock mazes”, and talking about some great things. I ended up hiking on and the trail came out of the mountains and crossed a bunch of farmland. For the next 15 miles the trail weaved through the farms. I got some great trail magic right as I started walking through the first field. As I was passing by two other hikers, one of them asked me if I wanted a Snickers and the guy put them in the freezer before he passed them out. Incredible. I got to the town of Boiling Springs around 11:30 and went straight to the cafe to get an iced coffee and buffalo chicken wrap. I ate it quick with another hiker named Cool Rock and then I met a couple people I met in the Shenandoah National Park, Eric and Felicia. We stayed in touch and Eric said that when I got to Pennsylvania he’d meet up with some trail magic. After that I went to one of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy offices and chilled with a bunch of hikers I just met. Ham, Cajun Fire, Thesius, Panini, and Mushroom. I ended up staying in town and relaxing until 4 and decided to hike a little bit more. The evening is my favorite time of the day to hike because it’s a little bit cooler and the sun makes everything look cool. About 5 miles I stopped for some water at a stream and met a section hiker named Heidi who was in her hammock nearby. She’s a teacher and chose to hike the PA section of the A.T. We talked for about 15 minutes and then I was back on my way. I enjoyed the walk through all the farms. There was mostly corn, but some wheat and cattle as well. Around 7:30 I got to a road crossing and there was a diner just .5 west off trail. I thought about it for a second and went for it. I got a chocolate milk, fried mushrooms, rolls, and a chicken parm sub with fries. The food fueled me for the rest of the night and I ended up night hiking until 11:15ish to the shelter. No one was in the shelter so I set up my tent inside it to keep the bugs out and I’m ready for a good nights sleep!
Day 61 – Darlington Shelter – Clarks Ferry Stealth Camp – 16 miles
I woke up from the hikers that camped out by the shelter last night as they were eating breakfast at the picnic table. It was ok, as I wanted to get an early start anyways, and it was Kiwi, Granite, and their crew. I got my pack ready, ate an orange, and headed out on the trail by 7:45. I loaded my hip pouch with snacks and I knew I was going to hit Duncannon in just 10 miles. The trail was nice in the morning and the weather was perfect. About 3 miles in I stopped at a stream to get some water and met a thru hiker named Buckles. We talked for a bit and I headed off. There was one really nice view on Hawk Mountain before I got into town, but other than that there was nothing too crazy. I got into Duncannon at about 12:30 and stopped at the outfitter called Kind of Outdoorsy. The owner was young and very hiker friendly, with a shower and lounge for us to hang out in. I went to eat first at Sorrentos and got a bruschetta, bag of chips, and a steak and cheese. I went back to the outfitter, chilled for another hour, then went to a church down the street because they let hikers sleep and shower in the basement. I met some new thru hikers Spitfire, Jams, and Baby Bird who all stayed there the night before. The shower was great and I got to eat ice cream from the freezer as I waited for my phone to charge up. Eventually I made my way out of the A.C. And back to the heat around 5:30. The trail went on a pretty busy bridge and at the end of it was where the trail went back into the woods. I packed half of my steak and cheese out with me, so just a few miles in I couldn’t help, but stop and eat it. As I was eating I met a ridge runner named Paige and we talked for a bit. I asked her when the rocks starting getting worse and she told me in about 30-40 miles after the 501 Shelter. After I ate I went to the shelter because that’s where the water was and a huge group of people were sitting by a fire. I’ve never met any of the other people besides the hikers I met at the church. The others were Fire Breather, Hummingbird, Snorts, and Bubbles. Bubbles gave me a hot dog and I roasted it on a stick, Fire Breather gave me a handful of skittles, and Spitfire gave me a whole bag of Swedish fish. I hung out with everyone for a little over an hour, then hit the trail again before it got dark. I only walked about .4 miles and I saw a sweet spot just off the trail with a nice view. I decided to stop and set up my tent and eat dinner looking out into the valley. It’s now completely dark and you can see fireworks going off in the valley. Excited to crush more miles tomorrow.
Day 62 – Clarks Ferry Stealth Camp – Rausch Gap Shelter – 24.3 miles
It was cool waking up to the view of the valley in the morning. It was a little hazy, but the sun was out and I knew it was going to be a good day. I got moving around 7:45, packed up my stuff while I ate breakfast, then hit the trail by 8:30. I passed a few hikers within the first couple miles and my first mission was to get to the next shelter 6 miles away so I could get some water. The trail down the water from the shelter was .3 miles away and had 300 rock steps. Walking down the steps reminded me of climbing the stairs at Amicalola my first day on the trail. The trek down was worth it because the spring at the bottom had some of the best water I’ve had on trail. The terrain back on the trail was nice, and I made good time for the first 14 miles. I got close to a road crossing and there was a group called “Billville” doing trail magic. They had a ton of food and drinks. I definitely had my fair share of pulled pork, cookies, and Gatorade. There were a lot of people there, both hikers and Billville people, and I ended up hanging out there from 1 to 4. It was another 10 miles to the shelter I wanted to stay at for the night so I was hoping to get there before it got dark. I made good time and got to a campsite 3 miles out from the shelter around 7. I stopped to eat some dinner which was a couple Pepperoni wraps and I talked with Baby Bird who was setting up his hammock. The evening time is one of my favorite times to hike because the weather starts to get cooler and the lighting from the sun is pretty cool. I bumped into Cool Rock at a stream and we ended up hiking to the shelter together. The shelter was full so I found a nice spot to set up my tent by a creek. It’s nice laying next to the sound of water. It’s not supposed to rain until 9am tomorrow morning, so I’m playing the odds and sleeping without my rain fly on so I can have some airflow and see the stars. Gonna be a good day tomorrow!
Day 63 – Rausch Gap Shelter – Rock ‘n Sole Hostel – 26.8 miles
I woke up around 7 and could hear thunder from pretty far away. I knew there was going to be rain, but wasn’t sure when exactly it was going to come. I got moving pretty quick so I didn’t have to pack my stuff up in the rain. By 8, I was on the trail. The terrain started out really nice, pretty smooth and flat. I could still hear the thunder in the background and as the morning went on it got louder and louder. By 9:30 I had walked about 2 miles and the rain came pretty hard. It rained for the next few hours and I was completely soaked. About 10 miles in the trail brought me under a bridge and I saw Baker there waiting for the rain to stop so he could hitch into town. We talked for a little bit and I ate some lunch, then I was on my way. Around 1 in the afternoon the rain stopped and the sky cleared up. By 2 the clouds were gone and the sun was out for the rest of the day. I hiked until I got to the 501 Shelter and stopped to get some water and rest for a little bit. I remembered the ridge runner the other day told me the rocks get bad after the 501 Shelter and she was right! I still had about 10 miles to get to the hostel and right when I got back on trail, it was just scattered rocks making up the whole thing. I had to watch where I put my feet every step because if I stepped on a rock wrong I’d feel a sharp pain in my foot. The rest of the hike to the hostel was a grind. The rain also flooded the trail, so at times I was walking through water up to my ankles. I finally got to the road crossing and called to get picked up and go to the hostel. The woman on the phone sounded nice and she told me someone would be there to pick me up in a few minutes. I didn’t expect a Jeep to come speeding in, bumping rap, and a teenage kid pulling over and telling me to hop in. I went with it and we drove a couple miles to a beautiful house and he told me to leave my pack in the Jeep and go get a plate of food. I sat down on the back deck, there were four other hikers here, Used Croc, Truck, Mission, and Salamander. The woman from the phone came out with a huge plate of food with Mac and cheese, a chicken sandwich, and green beans. I crushed it then washed it down with a brownie and ice cream. We took a tour of the room I was staying in afterwards, and I took an outdoor shower. The Dollar General was the closest resupply, so I got a ride there and when I got back I went straight to bed. Ready for another day tomorrow!