Day 78. After a good night’s sleep and a hearty continental breakfast, Hokie Pokie and I headed back to the trail. We tried looking extra sad and pathetic, in hopes of a hotel patron offering us a ride to the trailhead 3 miles away, but no dice. So we dinner our rain gear and walked back up the Swatara Rail Trail that connects Lickdale to the AT, wasting an hour of hiking and kicking off our official mile counting at 10am.
The weather did end up being better today, with rain only during the morning’s walk. But when I reached the William Penn Shelter 8 miles in, I was still not feeling like hiking a long day. The usual combination of rocks and trail rivers were weighing heavily on my mind (and feet), and the grey gloom surrounding the hilltops didn’t add much either. Ehen I reached the next shelter a few miles later … I knew I was done. Not a horrible day, but not as much distance as I had initially hoped.
Like yesterday, the weather kept me from seeing much around me and enjoying any good views. There would have been a couple neat lookouts, if not covered in fog/cloud, including one that is popular for locals to hang glide from. Now that would have been neat to see! Ironically, the only other time I saw hang gliders was in Waynesboro years ago. Maybe it’s a Pennsylvania thing? I’d like to try that someday…
The shelter I stopped at also had a hand in convincing me to stay. It’s actually more of a cabin, fully enclosed with bunk beds, a table, games, and a giant 10 foot
hexagonal octagonal skylight. This is the 501 Shelter, named for its proximity to Highway 501 a couple hundred yards away. It is maintained all season by a caretaker who lives next door and is only made available to backpackers. The caretaker kicks out any other riff-raff that try to take advantage of it for car camping, partying, etc. He introduced himself and gave us the run-down at dinner time, then went back to his house. It’s nice to know some people are here specifically to look out for us thruhikers.
Since today sort of ended up being a Nero Day, I spent my extra time researching and planning out the next couple weeks. Not so much where to go and end, but more on what to expect and what to do if I don’t reach Bear Mountain in time to meet my dad who is flying in. I have bus routes mapped out from all the major trail town between there and here, so I can quickly jump up to meet and continue on with him as planned. Not to worry Pops, I got you!
With these contingency plans in place, I feel better about taking it easy in this torrential rainfall. Tomorrow is supposed to rain all day (of course), but I’m going to try to push for the town of Port Clinton 24 miles from here anyways. I can’t avoid walking in the rain forever, and this would end at a possible hostel. After a nice restful afternoon today, I’m hoping my feet are up for the challenge.
Ending on a positive note, my friend Kari pointed out yesterday that I’d be able to note less than 1000 miles left after today’s trek. She was right, look at those beautiful stats below! I can’t believe how far I’ve come and yet how much is left, haha.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 1183.4
- Start Time: 09:00
- End Mile: 1194.8
- End Time: 14:10
- Miles Hiked: 11.4 (+3.0)
- Miles to Go: 996.1
- Lodging: 501 Shelter