Trail Journal

Date: September 18 2000
Trail Day: 110
Miles Today: 24
Location: Stony Mountain
Section Mile: AT 977
ECT Mile: 1672

Got up quite early today. Took a photo of all. Turns out Firebreather, Fallgirl and Sweet Cicily were responsible for the birch beer I found at Kirkbridge shelter a few days ago.

Trail Angels

Hiked to an AT shelter,
With absolutely no water.
Saw a little sparkling spring,
A sigh of relief, it did bring.

What do I find floating there ?
A can of cold birch beer.
Sat down, drank with relish,
Best drink I must admit.
Fire breather, Fall girl, Sweet Cicily,
Thanks to you, all the three.

Made good progress today. Saw George at PA 443 waiting for Cicily. Got some water from him. The trail passed through some old town which existed in the 1850's - quite amazing. The area is also a popular destination and as expected, camping sites looked more like pig sties. Tarping again and hoping there is no rain. Tomorrow Duncannon and a O. I am somewhat burnt out now.

A view

Date: September 19 2000
Trail Day: 111
Miles Today: 22
Location: Hotel Doyle, Duncannon
Section Mile: AT 999
ECT Mile: 1694

The place where I tarped was good - under a big, dense pine tree. When I got up in the morning it had just started to rain but I did not get a single drop. Packed up and started off. It rained all day. The day was also very foggy. It was a fairly easy hike. Came to an old shelter and stopped for a break. I could not find the register. I rested for a while and continued on. A few hundred feet down there was a beautiful shelter - Peters Mountain shelter. There were 5 brothers there who had stopped due to rain. I made a register entry and continued.

The last section to Duncannon was quite rugged. The trail designers have tried to run the trail along the ridge top. But this is highly broken here. So the trail goes down some 100 ft, turns around, goes back up, runs the ridge for 300 ft, back down ... Some places I had to check for blazes to make sure I was indeed on the trail. I could also hear the road and train traffic but it took a long time to actually get to it.

Got a room at the Doyle hotel. Its quite run down but they are working on it. Did laundry, shower and dinner. Met T1 and T2 - they are doing the AT in sections. They started this one in Delaware Water Gap. T2 has some foot problem also. Met Springer and Still Searchin. Had a long conversation with Still Searchin about life, trail etc - very interesting.

Date: September 20 2000
Trail Day: 112
Miles Today: 0
Location: Hotel Doyle, Duncannon
Section Mile: AT 999
ECT Mile: 1694

O day today. Bought groceries, new tarp etc. The old tarp had big beer can sized holes in it. I had placed my alcohol stove on it while cooking food and it made a bunch of holes in the tarp. Also got a novel to read - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Why its a best seller is beyond me. Also stopped by at a computer store and the owner allowed me to use his computer to check for e-mail. Looks like Michelle sent me something in Kent where I did not stop. Wish I had known about this earlier. Called Kumar. Left a message at Churi's.

Met Torn, Cinderella and Razmataz. Very interesting group of people. They are north bounders but will be stopping in 10 days or so. Torn has a very appropriate name. Stayed up very late talking and partying with them.

Date: September 21 2000
Trail Day: 113
Miles Today: 0
Location: Hotel Doyle, Duncannon
Section Mile: AT 999
ECT Mile: 1694

Another O day. Read the book, ate pizza and drank beer.

Date: September 22 2000
Trail Day: 114
Miles Today: 14
Location: Near PA 944
Section Mile: AT 1013
ECT Mile: 1708

Got up and did all my morning chores. Had breakfast across the street and hit the trail. The climb up lasted quite a while although it wasn't steep. The rocks are starting to decrease. I believe the Pennsylvania rocks are just very overblown. My take is - we are on the Appalachian trail. Its not Appalachian lakes, rivers or sea shores. Its Appalachian mountains and mountains are made of rocks. So in a trail as long as this one, you should expect sections with a lot of rocks.

Met a 19 year old guy. He had run away from home when he was 17 and has been homeless ever since. He has been hitch hiking all over the place and has lived in Arizona, California and the Carolinas. All he had was a very small day pack and a sleeping bag tied with a string. He was wearing slippers. He is trying to hike to Massachusetts where his parents live and take care of some court cases pending against him. Everything he had with him (which was very little) was stolen. He had been abusing drugs several months back but was now clean. He had small red berries with him that he got from some tree. He had eaten several of them without even knowing what they were. He said the Bible says all fruits growing in the open with seeds can be eaten. I ate one of them and found several along the way. I intend to find out what they are. I was also very surprised to find out that he had an email address. We exchanged our addresses. He also gave me a prayer feather. I gave him one of the maps that I am now done with. I hope he gets all his problems resolved. I personally think he has all his inner problems resolved. It is now just a matter of time. We'll see.

A short day today. Cooked some horrible tasting rice. Almost had to force myself to eat it. I was then lying down for a while when I heard a lot of snorts and crackling of twigs. I thought I had a human visitor. Got up and saw about 7 deer that bolted. I did not move. They hung around there for about half an hour checking me out. Deer are very curious animals. Every once in a while one of them would come a little closer and stomp.

Sleeping in the open tonight. There is civilization near by and there is a constant hum and drone.

A field view

Date: September 23 2000
Trail Day: 115
Miles Today: 14
Location: Near Center Point Knob
Section Mile: AT 1027
ECT Mile: 1722

Carly, Stevie and Joey listened wide-eyed as their Dad, Mr. Jones recounted the horrible incident. "The giant was after me, so I ran up this tree".

What did the giant look like Daddy" - piped little Stevie.

"Oh he was dark, huge and ugly. When he walked large twigs and branches broke really, really bad. He was also breathing fire", said Mr. Jones embellishing some.

Carly, Stevie and Joey along with Mr. and Mrs. Jones were a chipmunk family that lived on a tree near the AT. "But the tree I ran up on, was dead and short" - continued Mr. Jones to his audience. I ran all the way up, saw it was too short and tried to run back down but the giant realizing I was trapped had already come too close to the tree, so I stopped half way down".

"What did you do ?", squeaked Carly. Even Mrs. Jones was quite frightened now. "Well, I saw another dead branch lying on the ground a full 10 feet away. I aimed, held my breath and jumped with all of my strength. I landed on the branch and I think the giant was still running after me. So I ran full speed till I lost him".

Well, that's what Mr. Jones would like his children to believe but here's what happened - I was hiking along and a chipmunk ran up a small, dead tree. It ran up, realized it was too short, tried running down. Realizing it was stuck, I decided to get a closer look at it and moved in. It was funny to watch him upside down, chest and head thrust well away from the tree looking for a place to jump to. Then he took this massive jump. In the air he kept flailing his little arms and legs as though trying to fly. He landed on his target and scurried away. I bet his story becomes more and more hair raising with time.

Most of today's hike was flat. We are in a large, fertile valley that has been built. So it was road crossings all the way. Other than the crossings its quite beautiful. The soil has now become even richer and deeper. Walking is now a pleasure. Met two very friendly gentlemen. One was a hunter and dog breeder. He has won many dog show awards. He was quite interested in my equipment.

The second gentleman was a trek leader for a local organization. He has knee problem, so just drives and meets the group at road crossings. I met him 4 times, thus.

Stopped by at the cafe in Boiling Springs. I did not see much of the town, but what I saw truly impressed me. The people are very friendly and polite. It is very clean. There is a little creek that has crystal clear water. They have expanded that to a little lake. People are feeding the ducks. I could see several 8" fish feeding off the bottom. There was then a bridge over the creek with at least 50 or so similar sized fish swimming in the flow. This area has a catch and release policy. The setting is quite serene. Teenagers at the cafe and outside were very well behaved. The people also seemed happy and content - this I find is quite rare nowadays. I have seen similar very clean, nice but fake places but they are only for the rich and are called "gated communities". This is the first nice place I have seen made with the not rich crowd.

Decided to tarp tonight also.

Date: September 24 2000
Trail Day: 116
Miles Today: 13
Location: Near Limekiln Road
Section Mile: AT 1040
ECT Mile: 1735

Very overcast day. As soon as I got up it started raining. Normally, I would have packed up and started hiking. Not so today. Waited for the rain to let up which took quite a while. The whole day was overcast so I had no idea what the time was. I left the valley today - so a lot more ups and downs. Its not steep so I am thinking of dropping my poles - haven't decided yet.

Met another section hiker. He was quite demoralized because of the rain. Had great subs at a store quite close to the AT. Talked to Suriyan and Karen.

Another short day today. I may speed up tomorrow.

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