Woke up to a VERY brisk morning and it was difficult to get out of my warm sleeping bag. I was the first person to take the plunge into the cold air. I put on my freezing shoes to grab my food bag out of the bear box (I love you, bear box), and sat on the edge of the shelter porch to heat up water for my muesli. Because of the low temps, I offered to heat water for the girl who didn’t have a stove. We all shivered and griped about the idea of putting on wet shoes. I don’t know how the NOBOS dealt with the snow back in march. I can barely handle two days of cold rain.
I finished packing up before everyone and there was no way to stand around waiting, so I left first again. My feet felt like cinderblocks. I don’t know that they ever warmed up from the night before. When I went to sleep, I dug around in my clothes bag and put on a second pair of socks. I finally so got desperate that I pulled my long johns down so that they covered my feet (I was still wearing my spandex).
Anyway, I plodded up the hill back to the trail with my clumsy feet. The first hour is a cold fog. I pulled my rain coat hood on to collect more warmth around my neck because my gaiter was buried in my bag. Note to self. Eventually, I saw a steep downhill path that lad to hawk rock and this view:
I took a video and some pictures and loitered long enough for Jimmy to catch up to me. We appreciated the view together and then I decided to move on. I turned and went back up the steep bank and followed the blaze to the left. The blazes left me back down the hill to the exact spot that I started. I laughed as I realized what was happening because the trail actually heads past the rock and takes a sharp down hill turn. Oops.
Jimmy, zach and I made our way down the hill and into the rocks. Here’s a little taste:
Thankfully it was not like that the entire way down and there were a lot of stone steps, but I’m a little frightened for what’s to come.
After picking my way down the hill, I took a left onto the road leading into Duncannon, PA, home of the infamous Doyle Hotel. We had plans to eat lunch and get a beer there, but it didn’t open until noon. Once everyone arrived, we walked down the road to Sorrentos for our pizza backup plan. After two slices I felt sufficiently sick to my stomach. No take out dinner sandwich for me.
Then we all headed back to the Doyle to say we did it. I’m happy to have had company at this point because I would not have gone to the Doyle alone. We had a whiskey and played two games of pool. Halfway and me against Jimmy and zach. It felt strange to make such a frivolous stop in the middle of the day, but we had a fun time. A gentleman came and talked to us about hiking the section from boiling springs to duncannon with his kid. His excitement was great to witness. As we were winding down, a gentleman with a walking stick came in and started spouting off about his train hopping and I don’t even know what. He creeped me out, so I left. No tolerance for putting up with antagonistic people in a bar in rural PA. zach and I went to the overpriced quickmart to pick up a few supplies to stretch our food for 4 days. Then we wandered through the north end of town following the trail markers through the neighborhood. We commiserated over the lack of gay people thus far. He told me about how it’s been enjoyable yet exhausting to hang around with straight men and he was happy to run into a group with women and non straight people.
Chrissy and halfway caught up to us at the edge of town, and we all crossed the susquennah bridge together. We saw a bald eagle fishing in the river that connects to the Susquehanna (can’t remember the name right now). Their white tail feathers are so distinct and they are graceful fliers. Walking over the bridge was beautiful albeit loud because of
The road noise. There was rain in the distance which you can sort of see in this picture.
After the bridge, there was a long and sometimes steep climb up to a ridge walk that involved a lot of boulder navigating. We abandoned our plan to walk all the way to the second shelter and stopped at clarks ferry for the night. It’s a cute little shelter that also happens to be home to a GIGANTIC WOLF SPIDER. Jimmy was kind enough to relocate the current tenant while Chrissy and I cowered in the corner, both insistent on watching so we could verify the spiders location. Too bad there are probably like 3 more in the shelter.
I wasn’t the last person to get to the shelter today! My legs felt pretty good once we got out of Duncannon. Road walking is no good for my feet and my shins. Jimmy built a fire, we all had a hodgepodge of dinner because of the large pizza lunch, and now I’m standing here typing this over the glowing embers of the fire while I wait for a rock to warm. I’m going to put it in a sock and put it in my sleeping bag. I feel happy to be a part of this little group while it lasts even though it’s definitely a different and less contemplative experience. I’m laughing daily and they look out for me as I do for them. As zach said, there’s a lot of time for solitudes yet to come and it’s nice to make mistakes and figure things out with the help of other people for now. My rock is toasted and I’m heading to bed in the spider den.
Mile 1143.2 to mile 1151.5 (8.3)
Total miles: 148.3
creature feature: a masked warbler of some sort hopped around a downed tree in duncannon, the bald eagle i already mentioned, and we heard a great horned owl at the shelter. and THE SPIDER
Spider den has me thinking of the Lord of the Rings …. yikes.
Glad you found some companions for this part of your journey.