Getting Used to PA: Days 12 – 18

Miles 101-194.4, Lisburn Rd., PA to Hamburg, PA

Note: Apparently I’m really bad at getting these blog posts out on a regular schedule! If you want more frequent updates, make sure to follow me on Instagram.

Day 12: 11.2 miles

Lisburn Rd. to Darlington ShelterOn my zero day with my parents, it rained pretty much all day. I was hoping that it would stop, but come the morning, it was still going. When they dropped me off at the trailhead around 10, it was rainy and cold.It was hard to say good-bye to my parents, but felt good to be back on trail. I was still heading through the Cumberland Valley, so the trail was flat but super muddy. The wet pastures we’re the worst; trudging through wet grasses and soupy mud.

Met on other hiker on trail, Beanpole, who started in Harpers Ferry and going as far north as he can before he has to get back for school or something.Because of all the rain, there was a section of trail flooded out that I had to bypass. I suppose I could have just gone for it, but I really wasn’t feeling it that day. I was already cold and wet enough.

Because of the rain and a lack of places to stop, I didn’t have lunch until I got to the shelter, around 2:45. That was probably part of the reason I felt so crappy today, along with leaving my parents, the rain, and the cold.The shelter ended up being a full house, with Beanpole, another flip-flopped named One Step, a section hiker Sharpshin, a couple college kids, Rambler, and a NOBO named Flickertail. Crowding together in a shelter in the rain is never fun, but we had some good conversations.

Day 13: 22.3 miles

Darlington Shelter to Peters Mountain Shelter

Headed out moderately early. There was still some clouds in the sky, but no more rain. I actually enjoyed the pasture walks today!

The trail today went right into the town of Duncannon, and as I was coming down into town, I found trail magic! I had first heard of Fresh Grounds and his Leap Frog Cafe from Shiner and J3, who had been with him for a while in the south. Fresh Grounds has a van that he drives up and down trail, his “cafe”. He joins up with a group of hikers, making them breakfast in the morning, then taking their packs and meeting them at road crossings for lunch and dinner. After dinner, they’ll take their packs and head somewhere and meet him in the morning and start the whole process over again. And of course, any other hikers who happen upon the cafe get food too!

I got some great hot dogs, french fries, and coffee. I got to meet all the NOBOs he’s helping at the moment, though I promptly forgot most of their names. Fresh Ground told me I should try and meet him for dinner too, but I had planned to stop 5 miles out of town for a 16ish mile day, and they all were heading 11 miles out of town.After lunch, I headed into town but didn’t really stick around since I didn’t need to eat lunch. I walked for a ways with Fresh Grounds’ NOBOs, but as soon as we got to the hill out of town they sped off.

I got to my intended shelter, Clarks Ferry, pretty quickly. I had decided that I want to tent more, since I sleep a lot better in my tent than in shelters. There wasn’t really any good tenting spots though, so that combined with my desire for non-hiking food encouraged me to go the extra 3 miles to the parking lot where I met Fresh Ground again. Had a great dinner, then walked with the NOBOs to Peters Mtn Shelter, another 3 miles. All in all, came out to my longest day yet, 22.3 miles.

Day 14: 18 miles

Peters Mountain Shelter to Rausch Gap Shelter

It was a chilly morning, so got out of bed late (I consider around 6:15 late now) and didn’t get on trail until a little after 8. Because of this, Fresh Ground was long gone by the time I got to the parking lot he was doing breakfast. Kinda bummed me out, but I got over it.Other than that, it was just a long walk to the shelter. The last 5 or so miles felt really long. 18 miles after a 22 mile day is still probably a bit much for me.

Day 15: 17.5 miles

Rausch Gap Shelter to 501 Shelter

Even though it was still chilly last night, I was able to get out of bed around 5:40. I’ve been setting my alarm for 5:30, with a goal of getting out of camp around 7.It was good hiking to start, but pretty soon after the shelter there was an area of trail where a beaver had created a dam and flooded it all over. There was a detour you could take, but my socks and shoes were already wet so I just went for it.There was a tough climb coming up from under the I-80 (I think) underpass, but then it went up onto a ridge. The rocks of “Rocksylvania” supposedly started north of Duncannon, and I definitely noticed them today.

At a water source about 4 miles before the shelter, I met Jupiter, another flip-flopper, and saw Devin again, who I last saw on day 6. Both of them were heading to the same shelter as me.

The 501 shelter is really cool! It’s fully enclosed, with a bunch of bunks. It’s real close to a road so it has a caretaker, who came in to make sure we were all hikers, and you can order pizza to it! Jupiter, Devin, and I had a feast.

Day 16: 15.1 miles

501 Shelter to Eagles Nest Shelter

In my journal, this is what I had written for today:

“Nothing really happened. 15 miles, passed some views but mostly just boring rocks and mud. I’m kind of sick of Pennsylvania, tbh.”

I did see a snake, which was cool. A lot of Pennsylvania has felt pretty dull though. There are really pretty parts, like when there are so many ferns it feels like the trees are sprouting from a green ocean, but for the most part it’s just the same old forest without any highlights.

Day 17: 9.3 miles

Eagles Nest Shelter to Hamburg, PA

It was a nice flat walk for most of the morning.

The only hard part of the day was the downhill into Port Clinton, which was pretty steep. Once I got there, I hung around the post office waiting for Devin and Jupiter to come in. Once we were all there, we decided how to get into Hamburg, where we were planning on staying the night. In Hamburg there’s a huge Cabela’s, the flagship store, which has shuttles for hikers to take them to store. Just as we were about to call them, a shuttle pulled up and dropped off another hiker. So that was perfect timing.

We hit up the Cabela’s, where I bought some food and met Smokey, then headed to a Pizza Hut and had big lunches.

Then we checked into out hotel and did laundry and took showers.

Day 18: 0 miles

Devin and I originally planned on slackpacking 15 miles today, but we both woke up with painful feet and decided to just zero instead. In the evening, a huge thunderstorm came through that knocked power out for the hotel for awhile. Made me glad I wasn’t camping.

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