Day 76. After a surprisingly good night’s sleep at the Doyle, I woke up refreshed today and ready for a Nero Day. I wanted to have a hot breakfast and then do some laundry, but the only other goal was to reach Peters Mountain Shelter 11 miles away before today’s storm hit. Since today’s hike was primarily ridge walking, being exposed on the highest elevation in the area would be dangerous and stupid.
I left the Doyle around 7am and headed across the street to Goodie’s Restaurant. A small town breakfast joint with the basics. Nice people and good food were plenty, and I soon had my fill (for $8). Next, I headed down the street to the laundromat. I ran into a couple new faces there, Domatello and Joe Kool, who did a crazy 45 mile hike into town over night. They were waiting for the Doyle to open and killing time where they wouldn’t bother others. I could not believe their long day and told them a day of rest was well deserved.
Doing laundry took about an hour, and I killed time reading magazines and planning out the day. I looked goofy wearing just my rain gear while everything else washed and dried, but that’s pretty common on the trail. I call this the Backpacker Tuxedo, as it’s about as classy as one can get. I couldn’t resist a photo to capture my silly moment (above).
With everything clean, I packed up and headed out of town. The next 2 miles is spent walking through Duncannon residential neighborhoods and crossing the two giant rivers that meet here (the Susquehanna and the Juniata). Although both rivers were brown and mucky, it was still a beautiful sight to take in.
Then the climb went up. Getting back in the mountains meant a climb up 1000 feet over the next couple miles. Following that, it was ridge walking along a mix of soft trails and rocky precipices. All in all, not too bad a hike, though I was very sluggish from the morning breakfast I ate far too much of. I also was caring extra water (3.5 liters total), as the guidebook warmed of no stream access throughout today’s entire journey. It was a blistering hot day, so the extra water was heavy, albeit necessary.
I reached my shelter destination very early in the day, around 3pm, which was perfectly timed. Within an hour the sunny blue skies turned to grey and thunder was heard menacingly in the not too distant distance. By 4pm, it hit … hard. Rain, wind, hail, lightning and thunder barreled across the mountain range in menacing force. This shelter is very well built though, as if for just this storm protection purpose. It has a lofted sleeping area away from the exposed side, and has a giant tarp to roll down as a wind/rain block for most of the exposed area below. The picnic table is in the shelter as well, which sleeps 12 comfortably. You could tell it was fairly recently built, so I was happy to be in its safety to wait out the carnage.
I ate an early dinner and crawled into bed until the storm passed. After an hour or so, you’d barely know it rained at all. Some other hikers cane and went, and now 5 of us remain for the night. I believe Scutch and Apollo were planning to make it here today as well, but the storm may have deterred them earlier. It’s still early as a type this (6pm), so they or others may wander in before the night is through.
This section of the AT has very spread out shelters, which makes planning both easy and difficult. From here, it is 18 miles to the next one, then 13 more, then 20 after that. So tomorrow’s destination is no problem, but then it gets tricky. I’d like to do somewhere between 13 and 33 the day after tomorrow, which means I’ll be camping at whatever tentsite I can find along the way. But it’s also supposed to rain all week, meaning I’ll be camped out in the wet. Not my ideal situation, but I’ll make do. Port Clinton is the next town stop, 60 miles from here. So I’ll likely come in cold and wet, but that warm bed is always good motivation to push through the rain.
When people ask me why I chose to hike the AT instead of the PCT (closer to our home in Los Angeles), this is the reason I tell them. The community and support along this trail is a great aide to completing it. Knowing I can get to a town or hostel every few days is a huge help, and can get you through the toughest of dilemmas. More than once, I’ve been at low spirits from weather and been able to find a bed or ride to a bed within hours. That can go a very long way in helping heal the mind and spirit while traversing the wilderness for 5 months. So because of that, I’m not too worried about the rain to come. It will be miserable during (especially on the ridge rocks), but it will end quickly and provide me a place to reboot and keep moving North.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 1148.3
- Start Time: 09:45
- End Mile: 1159.3
- End Time: 15:00
- Miles Hiked: 11.0
- Miles to Go: 1031.6
- Lodging: Peters Mountain Shelter