Welcome to our new friends and followers, especially those we have met while hiking in Pennsylvania. We also want to thank Mark Caudill of the Mansfield News Journal for a recent article about our Appalachian Trail hike. Views on this website reached over 1,000 on the day the article was printed!
To bring you up-to-date, Chief and I returned to the Appalachian Trail in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on July 5. That marked Day 84 of our adventure and we were well rested after four zero days. Let’s pause for some hiker lingo…
Zero day – no miles hiked;
Nero – nearly no miles hiked (typically less than 10 miles);
Zeek – a zero week.
As we were hiking out of Harpers Ferry, we met a hiker named Splitter. He said he got his name after five days of splitting wood at Neels Gap, Georgia. Splitter was a middle-aged comic and jokingly said he had rolled a lot of joints while on the trail–mostly his ankles. We can relate to that. The A.T. in West Virginia only encompasses six miles so we were in Maryland within a couple hours. About midday, we hiked into Gathland State Park where Trail Angel Vickie greeted us with cold soda and fresh fruit. Trail magic is always a welcomed treat even though it was our first day back on the trail. We spent some time talking with Vickie and met another hiker, Maestro, a middle school and high school orchestra teacher from Charlotte, North Carolina. This is Maestro’s fifth year of section hiking the A.T. during the summer. The three of us would spend the next nine days hiking together, completing 41 miles of incredibly rocky trail in Maryland and on into the middle of Pennsylvania. Although Maestro is a much stronger hiker, he stayed at our pace and led the way most of the time.
During the past few days, we had several opportunities for stops near the A.T. that sold ICE CREAM. If hikers are known for one thing it is a voracious appetite, and ice cream is one of the best things to eat! Pine Grove Furnace State Park in PA has a small general store that promotes a half-gallon Hershey’s ice cream club. To join the club, a NOBO (northbound) hiker eats an entire half-gallon of ice cream to mark the halfway point on the trail to Maine. This challenge is well publicized in hiker circles. When we arrived at the park, a thru-hiker named T.M.I. was slowly working to finish a container of ice cream. A petite gal about age 30, T.M.I. looked a bit sick as she just gazed vacantly at the melted chocolate liquid in the bottom of her container. “Are you feeling alright, T.M.I.,” I asked. She said nothing but the look of nausea in her eyes spoke volumes. Maestro, Chief and I ordered sandwiches for lunch and then we chose to split a half-gallon of butter pecan ice cream to celebrate our hike. Chief gladly took the brunt of this dairy challenge but it never slowed him down a bit! Just down the road stood the Appalachian Trail Museum, which we toured before we resumed hiking that afternoon. As we were leaving, T.M.I. had successfully joined the ice cream half-gallon club but she wasn’t hitting the trail very quickly.
The next day Maestro, Chief and I crossed a road that led to Green Mountain Store and Deli. Not willing to pass up an opportunity to eat, we walked the short distance and ordered deli sandwiches for lunch. Chief purchased an entire bag of ice for his Coke but I stole some of the ice to sooth my swollen feet. The store also sold Hershey’s ice cream so I chose a milkshake made with raspberry ice cream. It was amazing! Maestro looked on his phone and saw thunderstorm warnings so we sat on the store’s front porch for a while. Not long after, terrible wind and rain ripped through the area. The lights at the store flickered and we were so thankful for a dry spot instead of being out on the trail. As we were preparing to leave after the storm passed, we saw T.M.I. walking up the road. She was soaking wet from getting caught in the storm and we again felt bad for her.
On Day 89, we found several large trees had blown down across the trail from the previous day’s storm. At times it made the hike difficult as we climbed through limbs and briars. At other times, the trail through Pennsylvania paralleled corn and soybean fields and passed several farms. I felt a pang of homesickness as this terrain reminded me of Ohio. Our trio hiked into Boiling Springs, a tiny town in central Pennsylvania and had a wonderful lunch at Caffe 101. As with our previous stops, the meal was completed with homemade 4-berry pie and vanilla ice cream. Our stay that night was at the infamous Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA. Now I have to clarify that the Doyle Hotel was built in 1905 and is one of the original Anheuser-Busch hotels. It has amazing woodwork and architectural features; however, it has primarily served A.T. hikers for the past several years. Having said that, the rooms are a bit rough and the decor looks as though it was last updated during the Nixon administration. It happened to be Chief’s and my 35th wedding anniversary so he asked for their best room. The “honeymoon suite” differed from other rooms in that it had a ceiling fan and a recliner that appeared to last belong to Archie Bunker. I will say the bed was semi-comfortable and the sheets were clean. At $35 per night, it was appropriately priced. A real positive was that the food at the hotel was tasty and substantial. Maestro, T.M.I., Chief and I walked to 3Bs for dessert — you guessed it — ice cream with homemade blueberry topping!
It was a hot July week of hiking 124 miles and we have no regrets for consuming a gazillion calories of ice cream. There is no such thing as too much ice cream!
Enjoying God’s Good Gifts, Chief and Toad