We ended up with eight people tucked into the shelter last night because of the impending rain, which started sometime around 10 and continued throughout the night. Thankfully it didn’t impede my ability to sleep. I think it may have been the coldest night I’ve been out on the trail thus far. I slept in my wool mid layer and my fleece hat. Woke up to the sound of rain and someone letting the air out of their sleeping pad. Inturned to my right and made a face at Chrissy to communicate my dissatisfaction with the weather. After some internal grumbling, I switched into my spandex and slowly crawled out of my warm sleeping bag. I’m going commando on the trail so my sleeping bag is my changing room. So far this has worked out just fine. After stuffing my sleeping bag and rolling up my pad, I stood under the eaves of the shelter and ate breakfast while other people packed up and housed various bars.
After turning onto the main trail from the shelter, I made my way up a soggy, gradual climb which would be one of very few inclines today. The rain drummed against the hood of my coat, and I felt so happy to be sloshing and scrambling up the hillside listening to the rain instead of sitting in the car on the highway staring a break lights. I ran into Jimmy a little up the way, and he questioned our sanity and the point of wearing clothes at all. We both laughed at our tendency to step around the deeper puddles even though our feet were thoroughly soaked.
After about an hour, we came to this muddy field.
Jimmy made a remark about going through it, and I thought for sure he was wrong. Nope. We went through the middle of the open field, which led to a series of other fields where we got pelted with wind and cold rain for the next 40 minutes.
Chrissy and halfway caught up to us in the second set of fields, which led Jimmy to whoop and holler. I took my position at the back of the group and stopped to watch them angle through the field while a passing freight train announced itself.
We finally made it back to the cover of woods and were quickly dumped onto a road that led to the town of Boiling Springs, PA. The trail takes you right to the door of an Appalachian Trail conservancy office where we dumped our soggy gear and went inside to warm up. Sadly I didn’t get a picture of the place, but it had a great little porch with a picnic table and a huge swap box that happened to have a bag full of all kinds of bars. If only I needed food. But it will make other people very happy. I left the group to collect my mail from the post office directly across the street. 3 packages! One from my mom and stepdad with necessities (shorter spandex, another phone charging butt, breakfasts). One from my dad and stepmom with snacks/treats, and one from my steady who sent me some much needed shea butter to put on my sad ear.
I took my mail back across the street and left it to sort out after we hit the cafe and the outfitter. Thankfully these were all within a block of the ATC. Road walking is really hard on my feet and it aggravates my persnickety shins at the moment. We went to the cafe first where I had only intended to buy tea to warm up, but it’s so hard to pass on real food. I ended up with a quiche and a side salad, which was the best little salad I’ve had so far. Actual greens instead of iceberg special. Halfway got the backpacker special and somehow managed to eat all of it (less the 3 bites of his French toast that he shared with me). When we stood up to leave for the outfitters all of our chairs had wet butt stains in them. Sorry Cafe 101 customers.
I’ve been toying with the idea of buying insoles to prepare for the rocks that are to come. The store employees were really nice and let us try on the insoles even though our shoes and socks were like saturated sponges. Tried on a few models of superfeet at TCO outfitters, but they all felt funny on my arches so I passed. Instead, I bought the stove fuel I needed and went back to the ATC to organize my goodies. The rain stopped during our brunch, which made the prospect of walking 8 more miles slightly more bearable.
After shouldering my behemoth pack, I left ahead of the group because they’re all varying degrees of faster than me on a good day, and I’ve been trying to moderate my pace to make my shins happier. They did pretty well today. Every time I felt a twinge, I checked my posture and slowed down.
The walk out of boiling springs took me down a beautiful path that smelled of blooming flowers and was filled with chattering birds. (I need to find the name of the tree that was abundant and smelled so good.) I was dictating notes from the day on my phone when I happened to look up and see a glowing field of yellow flowers that we eventually got to walk through.
The rest of the afternoon involved a series of these fields and beautiful little groves of trees while clumps of mud ricocheted off my calves. Pretty sure I was carrying an extra pound in red mud.
The rain considered starting again around 2, but it never really came back. My feet were slightly drier than the ocean when we had to cut through a field with high grass that saturated my shoes all over again. I didn’t get any blisters, but the tape in my hot spots came undone and I had to stop to pull it off. Somewhere in the last mile, I came around the corner to see Chrissy hunched over a bit. I thought she was fussing with her socks because she has some sad toenail issues (she performed surgery on one last night. gnarly results). As it turns out, she was peeing with her handy dandy pee cup. She looked up as I came around the bend and said “oh hey don’t mind me, I’m just peeing.” Then we proceeded to crack up laughing while she continued to pee. Have to say I’m a little jealous of the device, but I will stick with the traditional method for now.
We hit our goal of route 11 and took a slide down a steep muddy bank from the pedestrian bridge to the busy road below. A half mile walk down the shoulder led us to a decrepit, but adequate hotel. I went about unloading my bag and stuffing my face with snacks. Today I regret not bringing the camp shoes I bought because it meant that if I wanted to go anywhere I would have to put on my wet shoes. Not happening. The rest of the group went to the diner next door and I ate my “kettle chili” (with a few Fritos for crunch) in the hotel room. The guys kindly put on laundry so I now have clean socks and fleece hand warmers. I also put together my lunch and dried out my bag, which got wet inside for whatever reason. Maybe I didn’t have it zipped well? Or maybe the rain was just too much for even fancy dyneema fabric.
Now it’s late and I need to get to sleep because we have about 14 miles across the valley between Carlisle and Duncannon tomorrow. Today was long and difficult at times because of the rain, but it was the perfect terrain to get some miles in without putting a lot of strain on my legs.
Mile 1117.7 to mile 1129.5 (11.8)
Total miles: 126.3
Creature feature: lots of cardinals today and other birds that I cou