Day 78: 501 Shelter

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

6 thoughts on “Day 78: 501 Shelter

  1. Thanks for the post. Congrats on the under 1.000 mile mark. Sorry for the weather. Guess who had the week off for family graduation? (I’m typing from my home office. Looks like a good week to NOT be hiking.) Keep up the posts, I’m relying on you to help me navigate (and avoid bad things and not to its good things) as I follow you north.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks and congrats on your daughter’s graduation! The weather has ended up being slightly better than forecasted, so not terrible, all things considered. Just got to Port Clinton, there are some stories in this town for sure! Stay tuned 🙂


  2. 14 miles is a nero day??? Talk about progress!
    BTW, I had a dream last night that your wife came to visit my wife. Dana was eating muffins, and talking about how much she missed you. However, the whole time she had food all over her face; crumbs everywhere. Not sure what that means, but maybe you should call your wife, or send her a muffin! LOL 😉


    • Haha, love that. I think that scenario could easily be a reality. It’s our anniversary tomorrow, we’re you subconsciously reminding yourself to remind me to call her? 😂


  3. All things AT. While I understand your immersion in all things AT I don’t quite get mine. I have read you entries with great interest, checked books out of the library, watched a movie and then there is this. I received my monthly U of Iowa alumni news that includes a great article on a young man and his journey on the AT. It has a link to a video he did. It was fun but not nearly as good as yours. You can check it out at Title is ” Life out of a backpack”
    Everywhere I turn AT seems to pip up. Happy trails


  4. Updates from tropical Minnesota:

    I Went to REI and got a wicking/polyester t-shirt (it’s orange of course :), and found some new freeze dried meals called “Good to Go” which are fairly low in sodium (about 1/3 to 1/4 the usual Mountain House varieties. I also found an Alpine Aire dinner that was fairly low too. These are all vegetarian meals, but then I have my freeze-dried chicken that I can always add. Went for my check-up today, and then I meet Monday with my physician. So far, so good. I’ll be hiking tomorrow with Rich and adding a few more pounds to the pack.
    I set up my tent today. It should work out well. It did end up being a little heavier than it was listed, but it is doable (a little under 4 lbs.). I’ve also resolved that I would rather hike in my Tevas if the weather/trail continue to be under water. I really hate hiking all day in wet shoes & stockings.
    I hope you have better weather after this weekend – it is a drag on the spirits, not to mention wet gear & clothing. Maybe we can buy a couple motorized plastic garbage bags?
    Keep on truckin’
    mom & dad

    Liked by 1 person

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