THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN PENNSYLVANIA

Wednesday, July 13, 1994 (Milesburn Cabin) – Laid Back Sue and I left Pen-Mar with plans to hitch in to Wayensboro for food and money, but an old retired guy named Stanley picked us up and gave us a tour of his hometown. He also took us to the bank and grocery then dropped us off at Caledonia State Park around 11am. Groovy Dude and Highlander were hitchhiking when we arrived at the park, so Stanley dropped us off and they jumped in his sedan. Groovy Dude was sick and looking pretty pathetic, so he was lucky to run in to such a nice guy.

Laid Back Sue and I spent the afternoon waiting out the heat, and swam for a few hours at the Caledonia State Park pool. In the late afternoon we hiked eight miles to the Milesburn Cabin and camped in the area for the night. The bugs were pretty aggressive so we had a rare summer campfire this evening with a overnight hiker named Tim.

Sunny AM/PM Clear Night Upper 80’s 70’s

During the hitch with Stanley, we missed about 14 miles of trail between PA 16 and Caledonia State Park. I returned to this area in the Summer of 1996 to finish these miles.

 

Thursday, July 14, 1994 (IronMaster’s Mansion) – Left Milesburn Cabin for a 12.4 mile hike to Pine Grove Furnace State Park today. Walked with Laid Back Sue for most of the day and we took a long break at the Tom’s Run Shelter to wait out an afternoon thunderstorm early in the afternoon.

Made it to the park by 3:30pm and planned to swim in the lake, but a second thunderstorm pelted us – and hard. Waited it out under the eve of a concession stand and had a late lunch while we were there. The IronMaster’s hotel was near the park, so we walked over and stayed for the night. Hit the jacuzzi for 30 minutes and enjoyed the reading room which had a plenty of Backpacker magazines and other outdoor books. There were only three other thru-hikers in the hostel this evening, but there were lots of Girl Scouts (and a few other random park guests). The place reminded me of Elmer’s in some ways and was $10 for the night.

Partly Sunny AM Cloudy PM Thunderstorms PM Cloudy Night Mid 80’s 70

 

Friday, July 15, 1994 (Moyer’s Mountain Retreat) – Sue and I hiked 8.6 miles today and most of the time were with Daredevil David who also stayed in the hostel last night. Got a late start out of the Ironmaster’s Mansion since my pack frame snapped and many of the hostel patrons were busy trying to assist. Tom, the hostel manager, was the most helpful of the bunch and did his best to make it trail worthy. I talked Daredevil David in to a game of life-size chess before we left the hostel, then Laid Back Sue joined us for the short walk back to Pine Grove Furnance State Park. We hit the lake at 12:15pm and swam in the former quarry for an hour. A piece of heavy machinery hit an underground spring many years ago which caused the the lake to flood and the land is now a State Park.

Just north of the park is the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail. It is marked by a large sign that was planted smack in the middle of the forest. Took some photos, then spent the next hour contemplating all the experiences that I’d had over the last three months and the many to come. By late afternoon, Laid Back Sue and I reached a road where we met a 1992 thru-hiker that was just finishing a mountain bike ride. He offered to take us to Moyer Mountain Retreat where we pitched tents at the somewhat run-down and dumpy campground. A major thunderstorm hit us at 5:30pm this evening, so Sue and I sat it out on a cluttered stage near our campsite. It had a black and white TV on it – but we were unable to get it to work. Daredevil David never showed tonight, but it was kind of cool sitting out the rain undercover.

Hazy, Partly Sunny AM Cloudy PM Thunderstorms PM Upper 80’s 70

 

Saturday, July 16, 1994 (Boiling Springs B&B) – Laid Back Sue and I left Moyer’s at 6:15am to hike 11.4 miles and arrive in Boiling Springs before the Post Office closed at noon. We made it by 10:30am which gave us plenty of time to repackage our bounce boxes and mail some things ahead.

Went to lunch with Alpo and Quilter who are a middle-aged couple that are getting off the trail this weekend. They are nice people, but they have had enough of thru-hiking. Bid them farewell, then hung around the ATC headquarters for most of the afternoon. Saw Chet Shaspri’s journal entry from last year. He is a WFU Sigma Chi that hiked southbound in 1993.

In the evening, Sue and I walked over to a local Bed & Breakfast and pitched our tents in their back lawn for $1/night. It’s a really nice place – especially at this rate – and it is much more convenient to town than the designated area just south on the A.T. Went to the Tavern for some beers this evening and had a great time. This is a very quaint town that has a New England feel to it. The Mojo is back – I’m really enjoying the trail these days.

Humid, Sunny AM/PM Clear Night 8872 (in Harrisburg)

 

Sunday, July 17, 1994 (Conodogvinet Creek NPS House) – Spoke with Mom from a pay phone this morning, but missed Dad who was on his way to Canada. Lounged around the ATC Headquarters building with Laid Back Sue, Markum and Squeeze Box and was offered a ride to the Harrisburg mall by a local ATC rep who worked in the building. Squeeze Box needed a new pair of boots, so we searched the mall for them and I got a new $48 hiking stick in the process.

Had lunch with the ATC rep and his wife then hit the trail with Laid Back Sue in the early afternoon to hike 11.4 miles. We arrived at the National Park Service building by 7pm and made a side trip to a nearby grocery. Normally the NPS building is off-limits to hikers, but the caretaker gave us the blessing to stay for the night and by 8pm we were joined by Squeeze Box and Mad Markum – about when the the rain came down. Met Lighting Rod from 1991 this evening who was in the How To Hike The Appalachian Trail video that I watched this winter in preparation for the hike.

Hazy, Partly Sunny AM Cloudy PM Thunderstorms PM Low 80’s 70’s

 

Monday, July 18, 1994 (Duncannon Truck Stop) – Hiked 15.5 miles with Laid Back Sue, Markum, and Squeeze Box today and arrived in Duncannon by 3:30pm. Had time to visit the Post Office before they closed and to pick-up a new pack frame courtesy of Jansport. The Weight and Black Sunshine also mailed back some cassette tapes that I loaned them for their drive to Vermont.

Hit the ice cream place in town then visited the infamous Doyle Hotel. A southbounder tipped us off that it was a dump and after a closer inspection – we agreed. Laid Back Sue seemed somewhat jazzed to stay, but the rest of us talked her in to a clean and fairly nice motel room at the Duncannon Truck Stop. In defense of the Doyle, many hikers reported the owners were very cool and that they had good times at their bar which is located on the main level of the “Hotel”.

Spent most of the evening detaching and reattaching the frame on my pack. Dropped $8 on dinner with Squeeze Box and Laid Back Sue at the truck stop, then hung out in the room for the rest of the night.

Humid, Sunny AM/PM Clear Night Upper 80’s Low 70’s

 

Tuesday, July 19, 1994 (Peter’s Mountain Shelter) – Had breakfast with Laid Back Sue at the truck stop, then walked in to town to get holes drilled for my new pack frame. Spent an hour reattaching the frame to my pack and loading it for the Trail. As a result, we got a late start out of Duncannon and I hit the A.T. with Laid Back Sue around 2pm. Picked up some groceries on the way out of town, then hiked 11.8 miles to Peter Mountain Shelter by 7:30pm. Squeeze Box and Mad Markum were also at the Peter Mountain tonight and there was a nice breeze and view from the shelter. So it was an enjoyable evening. I opted to pitch my tent again, although there weren’t too many bugs out tonight.

Humid, Sunny AM/PM Clear Night Breezey 90’s Mid 60’s

 

Wednesday, July 20, 1994 (Blue Blaze Hostel) – This was my first 20+ mileage day on the A.T. since the Shenandoah, and Laid Back Sue and I knocked out 21.6 miles between 8am and 7pm. Had the Walkman on in the early afternoon and didn’t hear a rattlesnake in the middle of the trail until I almost stepped on it. I didn’t see it either and it’s amazing how well these rattlesnakes blend in with the ground. So I continued to crank the tunes for a while, but made Sue hike in front of me whenever I listened to music. Finished the day with a walk through an old strip mine area which was really cool.

I was very tired when we finally arrived at the Blue Blaze Hostel tonight. I was also sweating profusely. The shower at the hostel was HUGE and there was some quality reading material on site – Backpacker, Outside Magazines, etc. The place kind of reminds me of our cabin in Canada for some reason. So this is a great stop. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity made it a bit stuffy inside, so I opted to pitch the tent tonight. I think it was 90 degrees in my tent – hotter and stuffier than the hostel – so keeping the rainfly on was clearly a mistake. I ended up stripping all my clothes off so I could sleep. At least there was a bright and beautiful moon tonight.

Humid, Sunny AM/PM Clear Night Upper 80’s 70’s

 

Thursday, July 21, 1994 (501 Shelter/Hostel) – Hiked 14 miles today from the Blue Blaze to the 501 Hostel. We are living the good life again with running water and a solar shower. Laid Back Sue, Markum, and Squeeze Box are also here tonight and we lucked out by making it under cover before the rain hit around 5pm. It continued for most of the night and cooled things off in the process. Had a relaxing evening in the shelter with ice cream and sodas provided from the caretaker in the house next door. This place also has a sunroof which makes it unique.

Partly Sunny AM Cloudy PM Thunderstorms PM 80’s 60’s

 

Friday, July 22, 1994 (Eagle’s Nest Shelter) – Hiked with Laid Back Sue most of the day and knocked out 14.8 miles by the late afternoon. Took it slow and decided to sleep in the shelter tonight. This turned out to be a good call because the rain hit in the evening and continued on/off in to Saturday morning. Markum and Squeeze Box were also here tonight and we all sacked out by 10pm since we plan on getting up really early tomorrow to hike in to Port Clinton before the Post Office closes at noon.

 

Partly Sunny AM Cloudy PM Thunderstorms PM Mid 80’s 60’s

 

Saturday, July 23, 1994 (Port Clinton Pavilion) – We were up at 5:30am this morning to hike 8.8 miles in to Port Clinton before the Post Office closed at 11am. I barely beat the heavy rain in to town but still managed to get wet in the process. Bob Bean, a very nice local man, walked in to the Post Office as we were getting our bounce boxes at noon and offered us a ride to town. So Laid Back Sue, Squeeze Box, Markum and I accepted the ride in to nearby Hamburg, PA. Did laundry, bought groceries, and had lunch – then Bob returned to pick us up at 3pm.

Back at the pavilion, I realized that my shoulder straps were still drying in the Hamburg laundromat. I took them off my pack to wash out the three months of sweat that had accumulated in the padding, and they were still hanging on the open washer door. So I went to Bob’s house (only a few blocks away) and caught another ride in to town. On the walk through Port Clinton, a heavy rain soaked my pants and Bob insisted that his wife use their dryer to air out my hiking clothes. So he suited me up in his vintage 70’s wear, and it was classic to say the least. Bob also gave me a tour of the nearby Port Clinton museum and I’m very grateful for his kindness and generosity.

In the evening, Laid Back Sue, Squeeze Box, Markum and I had brews at the Clinton Hotel Bar from 6-9pm. Helen runs the place and is very sharp for her 80 years. Wingfoot said that she was a bit “gruff” in the Thru-Hiker’s Handbook, but we found her to be very nice. On the walk home, I found a pay phone and spoke with Mo tonight. It looks like it’s the end of the line for us. So I wrapped up the call then sacked out in the pavilion tonight.

 

Cloudy AM/PM Rain AM/PM Thunderstorms PM Cloudy Night Mid 70’s 60’s

 

Sunday, July 24, 1994 (Eckville Shelter/Hostel) – Laid Back Sue and I had an excellent breakfast this morning at the local B&B. Then we walked over to the pay phone to wish my Mom a Happy Birthday. Lisa Price (a 1990 thru-hiker) drove up after the call and was looking to serve us some trail magic: We were promised pizza and beers at the Eckville Shelter later this evening. So I hiked 15.9 miles with pizza on the brain and enjoyed the views (but not the crowds) at Pinnacle Mountain on the way.

We reached Hawk Mountain Road and the Eckville Shelter/Hostel in the late afternoon and Lisa arrived as planned. Enjoyed her pizza and some beers provided by Mick, the caretaker. Had a big crowd here tonight which included Laid Back Sue, Squeeze Box, Markum, Harmony of Spheres, Brr, Feather, Molassas Nancy, Flapper, and FES. Major lightening and thunderstorms pounded us this evening, and with a full hostel I ended up tenting in the rain.

Partly Sunny AM/PM Thunderstorms PM Cloudy Night Mid 80’s Low 70’s

 

Monday, July 25, 1994 (Bake Oven Knob Shelter) – Left the Eckville Shelter at 9am today with Laid Back Sue and hiked ten miles on a blue blazed trail/road then another nine miles on the A.T. for a total of 18.7 miles today. Enjoyed the views from Bear Rocks in the afternoon, and reached Bake Oven Knob Road at 6:30pm to meet Lisa. She had a case of cold beer and more pizzas for us again tonight.

Laid Back Sue, Squeeze Box, Markum, Harmony of Spheres, Brr, Feather, Flapper, and FES were also at the shelter again this evening. So we had plenty of help carrying in the supplies. Unfortunately, the shelter was occupied by a youth group, and we had to pitch tents and use a nearby campsite for the night. Tried to get Lisa to camp with us this evening, but she has to work tomorrow and left at dark.

Cloudy AM Partly Sunny PM Thunderstorms PM mid-80’s Low 70’s

 

Tuesday, July 26, 1994 (Palmerton “Jailhouse Hostel”) – Laid Back Sue and I left the shelter at 9:30am this morning and hiked 8.4 miles to Lehigh Gap. Saw a rattlesnake on the trail, then reached the gap where Sue’s aunt meet us. She gave me a ride in to Palmerton and dropped me off at the city jail where I stayed in the “Jailhouse Hostel” tonight. Flapper, Sleeper and J.R. were also staying here this evening. Spent the afternoon washing my clothes, sleeping bag, and tent, then played Flapper a few games of basketball from 9-10pm in the gym. For a jailhouse, it was a nice indoor facility and was a lot of fun (although Flapper has a wicked outside shot).

Partly Sunny AM/PM Thunderstorms PM Humid, Cloudy Night Mid 80’s Low 70’s

 

Wednesday, July 27, 1994 (Anchor Inn Bed & Breakfast) – Laid Back Sue’s aunt picked me up at 8am this morning and ran us up the trail 20.6 miles to slackpack back to Palmerton. Passed a ton of northbound thru-hikers today, but it was a long day hiking from 8:30am to 6:30pm. Sue’s aunt dropped me off at the Anchor Inn in Walnutport, PA after the hike and I had a nice private room tonight with a T.V. Cleaned up, hit a nearby K-Mart and Burger King then watched way too much television the rest of the night.

 

 

Partly Sunny AM Cloudy PM Rain PM Cloudy Night Mid 80’s 70’s

 

Thursday, July 28, 1994 (Church Of The Mountain Hostel) – Sue’s aunt took us back to Wind Gap today but this time we slackpacked northbound to Delaware Water Gap and the Church Of The Mountain hostel. Hiked 15.3 miles by 3:30pm today and enjoyed the trail more today than yesterday. Arrived at the church to find the hostel full with thru-hikers in anticipation for a big hiker feed tonight provided by the church congregation. So I pitched my tent on the front lawn, then enjoyed the free feast at 6pm. It was outstanding by all accounts, and I enjoyed speaking with some of the church members.

After dinner, walked to a nearby bar with Squeeze Box, Laid Back Sue, Mad Markum, Flapper and the Motor City Ramblers. Had a fun evening and plan to stick around tomorrow until Kara rolls in to town.

Cloudy AM Partly Sunny PMLow 80’s Mid 60’s

 

(To continue, follow this link to read about BirdShooter’s thru-hike in New Jersey and New York.)

 

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