Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Schedule to finish Pennsylvania

Here is our expected schedule for the rest of Pennsylvania. If you are along the way and would like to take us in for a night givr us a call and leave a voicemail or text, 404-234-6513.

Sunday  19 July, Danielsville, PA
Thursday 23 July, Delaware Water Gap, PA
Friday 24 July, Mohican Outdoor Center, Blairesville, NJ

Thank you to everyone for your support thus far
Hendo & Hendo's Mom

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Halfway thru and Lovin' Pennsylvania!!!!

While Mother Nature has been a little rough on us as far as weather goes (lots of rain and thunderstorms) the terrain in Pennsylvania has been much more forgiving and enjoyable.  Our trail legs and feet are in good form and we have been able to make more miles for more days in a row without need for rest days.  It was rather obvious when we finally exited Potomac AT Club's trail maintenance area, as we have experienced several overgrown areas of trail and are regularly getting slapped in the face by low hanging limbs and climbing over blowdowns.  So far the trail surface has been pretty nice in Pennsylvania as we have not yet made it to the dreaded "Rocksylvania" portion of Pennsylvania.  Yes, the trail has been rocky in places, but no more so than the rest of the AT south of here.

Friday 19 June 2015
Just south of Alec Kennedy Shelter to Boiling Springs, PA, 1418.7 miles
Today we made it into Boiling Springs and called it a day.  Mom's heel was bothering her so we just did 4 miles and waited for our fellow hiker friend Drag n' Fly to pick us up for a couple of nights at her house. Drag n' Fly was even nice enough to take in our trail sister Fly Away who we have enjoyed hiking with over the last several days.

While walking back from lunch at a local diner I passed a military memorial, part of which is a plaque in honor of SFC Shugart, who was killed in Somalia.  I was positively surprised to see that the time was taken to honor a "Silent Professional" as so many have gone without the public honorifics they most certainly deserve.  

We were most thankful to Drag n' Fly, a fellow hiker and currently oldest AT female thru-hiker, who took in we hiker trash for a few nights respite from life on the trail.  In true hiker trash form we improvised to clothe ourselves while our laundry washed.  Here is Hendo in a tshirt 3 sizes too big and a bed sheet toga!!

Wild Garlic


Common Daylily

Saturday 20 June 2015
Boiling Springs, PA to Sherwood Dr parking area, 1430. miles
Drag 'n Fly slack-packed us today, dropping us off and picking us up at the end of our day of hiking so we only had to carry light daypacks instead of our heavy full-packs.  We enjoyed a nice flat 11.4 miles of hiking.
Hendo and Hendo's Mom enjoying a hike through flat and fast Pennsylvania

Hendo's Mom crossing over a very well built and easy to climb fence stile.

Some fellow thru-hikers decided to take a day and provide some trail magic along the trail today.  We enjoyed cold sodas and hamburgers at mile 4. 
Hendo enjoying a "Share a Coke with an Adventurer" Coke...how fitting.

A cool picture of white blazes marking the way through the meandering trail in PA.

Near the end of the day we crossed over I-81, a little road walking is always a pleasant break from the rigors of the trail.
Hendo's Mom and Hendo hiking over I-81

You don't get much more picturesque America than this...it was nice hiking through the farm fields of America. 
Hendo's Mom hiking amongst the corn and soybean fields of PA.

The farmer was out tending to his soybeans.

Hendo enjoying a nicely built fence stile.

Bristle Thistle

Common Milkweed

Deptford Pink

Sunday 21 June 2015
Sherwood Dr to PA 850, 1435.2 miles
Mom and I slack-packed 5.1 miles today, as mom's heel is still a little tender so we wanted to make miles, but take it easy as well.  Fly Away decided to continue on north, so we bid her Happy Trails and hope to see her on up the trail again.
Fly Away, Hendo and Hendo's Mom

Hendo enjoying the open fields of Pennsylvania

Another picture of the rolling fields of PA.

Monday 22 June 2015
PA 850 to Riverfront Campground Duncannon, PA, 1445.7 miles
Drag 'n Fly dropped us off today and bid us a final farewell.  We are so appreciative of her hospitality and support!!  As usual, hiking down into town is followed by a hiking up out of town, and today was no different.  We enjoyed our time in the valley, but today took us back up onto the ridgeline.  The hike up was moderate with a rather rocky section  greeting us once we made it up onto the ridge.  The guidebook listed a warning that the trail was very rocky, but we really didn't find it any worse than many sections of Virginia.  We took an afternoon nap break at Cove Mountain shelter, before continuing on across the ridge and then down into Duncannon, PA. 

We came across these amusing porcupine warnings posted at the Cove Mountain Shelter.  Most people might not realize it, and we didn't either until we hiked through Maine, but porcupines love to chew/eat wood.  Therefore the wooden shelters and privys along the AT are porcupine "trail magic" in some ways.  Up in Maine the sign posts, privys and shelters in porcupine country are wrapped in metal harware cloth to disuade the porcupines from chowing down.  Here in Pennsylvania they seem to have similar problems of hungry porcupines.  These are two signs posted at Cove Mountain Shelter.  Since porcupines are primarily nocturnal we have not crossed paths with any in person yet.

Hawk Rock overlook looking down on Duncannon, PA

A funny side story...  As mom and I were hiking up to Cove Mountain Shelter today we passed a group of Boy Scouts who were out for a week long Philmont train-up backpacking trip.  They said they were heading to Cove Mtn shelter for the night.  We chatted for a few and then headed on leap frogging with them along the way as they would stop and rest and we slowly trudged on up to the ridge.  Mom and I made it to Cove Mtn shelter and relaxed for a bit, taking an afternoon power nap.  As we were waking up a second group of Boy Scouts, 2 fathers and 2 boys, hiked into the shelter area, they were part of the Boy Scout group we had passed early and asked if we had seen the first group.  We explained we had seen the first group approximately 3 miles south of the shelter, but they had not shown up at the shelter yet.  The second group explained that the first group should have been there already as they were faster than the second group.  I went down and refilled our water in preparation to head on into town while mom stayed and talked to the second group.  Turns out the men did not have each others cell phone numbers, so the men at the shelter were calling back to their wives in Maryland to get the phone number of the man in the first group.  In addtion to not having exchanged phone numbers, the men failed to properly distribute water filters throughout the two groups and the first group had the water filters.  We offered to filter some water for the second group at the shelter, but they said they were good to go.  The scouts at the shelter asked us to keep an eye out for the first group and to let the first group know the second group was at the shelter if we happened upon them.  Mom and I headed on to town.  Upon arriving in town we came upon the first group, they had missed the side trail for the shelter and ended up in town.  Talking to the leader of the first group you could tell the whole group was one soup sandwich, with poor planning and execution all around.  The men finally got each others phone numbers by calling their wives back in Maryland and arranged to meet up in Duncannon on Tuesday.  A perfect example of how not conduct a backpacking expedition:  always have a communications plan with a back-up plan; always ensure vital equipment, like water filters, are equally distributed; know how to read a map and have key features identified to help you find your destination or to know if your have gone too far and need to turn around and go back.

We heard about Montana, a Marine combat veteran who hiked/hitched from Montana to the AT in order to hike some of the AT and find some healing, from some fellow hikers along the trail and were pleasantly surprised to get to meet him at the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA.
Hendo's Mom, Montana and Hendo

Tuesday 23 June 2015
Zero in Duncannon, PA
Mom and I were feeling pretty bedraggled so we decided to take a zero day in Duncannon and spent a night at the Doyle Hotel.  Yes, the Doyle leaves a lot to be desired, but we had a good nights sleep and were ready to set back out on trail on Wednesday.

Wednesday 24 June 2015
Duncannon, PA to Rockville Overlook, 1449.7 miles
We enjoyed our time and zero in Duncannon and were ready to get back to flat and fast Pennsylvania.  But leaving town always seems to mean climbing UP out of town, and leaving Duncannon didn't disappoint...it was quite the rocky hike up.  But once we got up on the ridge we were back to nice relaxing hiking.
Hendo's Mom crossing the Susquehanna River north of Duncannon

Because the trail in Pennsylvania runs up on the ridge, getting water usually entails some hiking dowhill.  The hikes down to water have been harder than the trail itself.  With getting water being more of a challenge Hendo has often turned into a camel or water mule, filling up any and all water containers mom and I are carrying in one trip...and hauling them all back up.  Here is Hendo on one such water refill mission at Clarks Ferry shelter, hauling up 8 litres or 16 lbs of water.

After watering up at Clarks Ferry shelter we hiked north a little further to Rockville Overlook and set up camp for the night.  Within minutes of setting up our tent we were rewarded with a Bald Eagle fly-by.  It was absolutely amazing, but we weren't fast enough with the camera.

Thursday 25 June 2015
Rockville Overlook to Peters Mountain Shelter, 1455.3 miles
Today was another easy day of hiking, we slept in and took it easy to let mom's heel continue to heal.  We enjoyed some trail magic at the PA 225 road crossing, provided by Flat, an AT Ridgerunner and 2014 thru-hiker.  We made our way to Peters Mountain Shelter for an afternoon snack.  While at Peters we read through the shelter log and noticed that Scott Jurek aka. El Venado, had taken the time to stop in and sign the log during his attempt to break the AT supported thru-hike record.

We stopped and set up camp just north of the shelter.  We wanted to make more miles, but rain was moving in and we wanted to be in our tent before it started.  Our timing was perfect, we made it in our tent just minutes before it opened up and started raining.  As we were setting up camp we were surprised by some fans, Sheila Seitz and her husband who are thru-hiking the trail and previously from Fayetteville, NC as well.  Sheila's husband had planned to thru-hike this year and then Sheila decided she wanted to join him.  During her research of hiking the AT Sheila came across our blog, twitter and TV segment.  She and her husband have been following us during our entire extravaganza and were thrilled to finally catch us on the trail.  We are thrilled that we have been an inpiration to at least two people out there...Mission Complete!!  We settled in for the night and got a great nights rest.

Friday 26 June2015
Peters Mountain Shelter to Yellow Springs campsite, 1468.7 miles
We got up bright and early and got on trail early and ended up doing our longest day since Buena Vista, VA, 13.4 miles!!!  We continue to get stronger and improve every day. 
Black Cohosh

Close-up of Black Cohosh


Spotted Wintergreen in Bloomm

Saturday 27 June 2015
Yellow Springs campsite to PA 72 Lickdale,1477.4 miles
Today was insane and another benchmark for us reached.  It rained throughout the night with the last stint starting around 0530 hours and trickling off long enough for us to pack up at 0930 hours.  We got on trail at 1000 hrs and the rain began slowly and increased in intensity as the day went on.  By 1200 hrs we were swimming and decided when we reached PA 72 we would hitch a ride into Lickdale/Jonestown, PA and get a hotel room and pizza for the night.  In the midst of our "swimming" down the trail we crossed the 1/2 through Pennsylvania mark.  We also raised our bar by hiking 8.7 miles straight without a break.  We had gear hung up all over the hotel room drying out, but we were certain not to ruin any of the room's ammenities and cleaned up after ourselves, not leaving a mess for house keeping.  Yes, we are hiker trash, but we are respectable and tidy.  We will probably take a zero tomorrow, Sunday and go get Mom's car in Virginia and park it at a friend's house in PA, so it is closer when we get up to Vermont.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Finally found flat and fast Virginia.....in Pennsylvania!!!!!!!

WHERE ARE THE ROCKS?!?!?!?  We know, they are up ahead, north of Palmerton, but for now we are enjoying actually flat and fast Pennsylvania.

We spent our first night, Wednesday 12 June, in PA at Deer Lick Shelter and got to meet our third Ridgerunner, Patches.  Patches, like Mom and I, is originally from Springfield, IL, just 40 west of Mt. Zion, IL, where we are originally from.  We enjoyed an evening of swapping trail stories around the picnic table.
Thursday 11 June 2015
We slept in this morning, as Mom did not sleep well feeling the aches and pains of her fall yesterday.  We had breakfast with Patches and provided moral support for Patches as she had to remove a swallow's nest, which contained 4 eggs, from one of Deer Lick's shelters.  Patches was also kind enough to take the time and give us a briefing on the shelter and water conditions we will encounter on up the trail.  We had to get a move on as we were being picked up at PA 233 at 1800 hrs, by some trail angels we had met in Sky Meadows State Park, VA.

Potomac AT Club continued its amazing trail and shelter maintenance into Pennsylvania all the way up to Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The pride they take in their work was clearly seen and appreciated at Tumbling Run Shelter.  Some key points gotten right by Potomac AT Club at Tumbling Run: clothes lines in the sun to hang wet gear on to dry, a pavillion over one of the picnic tables, two seperate shelters marked for snorers and non-snorers, reflectors on the sides of the privy so you can find it with your flashlight at night, the inside of the privy painted white, clearly established fire pits, steel plates bolted to the picnic table tops for hikers to use their stoves on so they don't burn up the tables.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Mt Laurel

Whorled Loosetrife

This evening we were picked up and treated to an awesome dinner, shower, laundry and great night's sleep in a/c and a bed by Mike and Bladen.  We met Mike in Sky Meadow State Park when he was out hiking a section of the AT with his hiking partner, Jennifer.  Mike contacted us through our website/Facebook and told us to contact him when we got near Caledonia State Park, as he and his partner Bladen would like to take us in for a night.  We gladly accepted he and Bladen's offer of amazing trail magic and were not disappointed.  Mike picked us up at Hwy 233 at 1800 hours and took us back to his house where we showered, did laundry and enjoyed an amazing dinner of homemade lasagna, salad and homemade blackberry pie with vanilla ice cream.  Mike's friends Jennifer and Sue joined us for dinner and a great time was had by all.
Hendo's Mom, Bladen, Jennifer, Mike, Sue

Friday 12 June 2015
Mike took us to resupply and mail some items at the post office and then dropped us back off on the trail at approximately 1400 hrs.  We were enjoying a nice afternoonof hiking when some huge thunderstorms rolled in and opened up and poured on us, we were soaked to the bone, but cooled off.  We made our way into Caledonia State Park where we enjoyed dinner at the snack bar.  We were skeptical of how we might be treated by the park staff, since our last two experiences at Washington Monument State Park and Pen Mar County Park had not gone well.  We were pleasantly surprised by the helpful and pleasant attitude of the Snack Bar staff.  We set out our shoes and socks to dry while we enjoyed cheeseburgers, fries, sodas and ice cream cones.  With our bellies full we began our trek up to Quarry Gap shelter where we would spend the night.

Jim "Innkeeper" Stauch is the caretaker of the Quarry Gap shelter and boy does he take pride in his work.  Innkeeper's work at the shelter and maintaining trail are absolutely amazing and much appreciated by all, attention to detail goes into everything he does.  Innkeeper's eforts by no means detract from one's wilderness experience, they simply make you feel more at home in the woods.

Innkeeper, standing behind the firepit with his walking stick,in front of Quarry Gap shelter

A German welcome sign hanging in the eave, a yellow duck posted above the low beam, warning tall hikers to DUCK!, a hanging plant to give it a homey feel.

A few garden turtles to decorate the grounds

A beautifully covered bear box, works much better than a bear pole.

Saturday 13 June 2015
It stormed last night, but we were able to set up our tent under the cover of the Quarry Gap shelter so we stayed dry.  We got up today and headed north to Birch Run Shelter.  We were pleasantly surprised to see our hiking buddy, No Regrets walk up to Quarry Gap shelter this morning as we were getting ready to leave.  No Regrets is out finishing the AT which he started last year.

An official AT survey marker along the trail

Mt Laurel was in full bloom and covered the mountainsides we hiked through today.  Hendo's Mom trudging onward.

Sunday 14 June 2015
This morning we were up early and were greeted by another amazing trail angel.  Yesterday morning we had met Dennis and Lois when they day-hiked up to Quarry Gap shelter.  We enjoyed a brief conversation with them and then hiked north to Birch Run Shelter.  This morning, Dennis hiked into Birch Run shelter to deliver fresh grapes and donuts to we weary hikers and asked mom and I if we would like to join he and Lois for lunch.  We graciously accepted and decided upon Michaux Rd as our pick-up point.  Mom and I hiked briskly to Michaux Rd with thoughts of homemade pot roast and mashed potatoes motivating us onward.

Hendo's Mom enjoying flat and fast Pennsylvania

A bunny rabbit out for a morning hike

2015's official halfway point of the AT

The previous and more fancy halfway point sign

As planned, Dennis picked us up at Michaux Rd at 1230 and took us to his home for lunch, showers, laundry and dinner.  We had an amazing lunch of homemade pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad and roasted carrots and asparagus.  We then showered and did laundry and enjoyed an afternoon of relaxing conversation.  Dennis and Lois then graciously treated us to dinner at the local pizza restaurant before dropping us back off at Michaux Rd. We hiked in approximately 1 mile and set up our tent for the night.

Monday 15 June 2015
Today we slept in until 0800 because we were just 2 miles from Pine Grove Furnace State Park, home of the 1/2 Gallon ice cream challenge since it is the "halfway point" of the AT.  We didn't eat breakfast and headed into Pine Grove to enjoy some ice cream.  We were pleasantly surprised when Fly Away hiked around the corner as we were getting ready to get on trail this morning.  We originally met Fly Away last year in Georgia, as she was attempting to thru-hike. She had to abandon her hike last year, but is back out here this year to slay the AT.  We hiked into Pine Grove together and sat down to some 1/2 gallons of ice cream.
Hendo's Mom and Hendo beginninhg the challenge to eat a 1/2 gallon of ice cream, no time limit.

Hendo completed her 1/2 gallon of ice cream in 1 hr 11 min 51 sec

Hendo's Mom completed her 1/2 gallon of Neopolitan ice cream

After ice cream we walked over and checked out the AT museum,  An Earl Schaffer shelter, rescued from the AT and reassembled inside the AT museum, along with Earl Shaffer's hiking gear is located inside the museum.  Earl was a combat veteran of WWII and the first thru-hiker of the AT
AT Museum

Earl Shaffer shelter

We were excited to meet Miss America at Pine Grove Furnace.  Miss America started thru-hukimg last year but didn't finish, she decided to do the whole AT this year.  We enjoyed reading her log book entries last year, so it was nice to meet her in person.
Miss America and Hendo

Michelle is the manager of both the Caledonia State Park and Pine Grove Furnace Snack bars.  Michelle is a great supporter of we crazy thru-hikers and has trained her employees to do so as well!!!
Hendo, Michelle and Hendo's Mom

We were stuffed full of ice cream and storms were on the way in, so me and Mom and Fly Away decided to go into Mt Holly Springs and share a hotel room for the night, it wasn't a zero, but a nero (near zero), we hiked 2 miles into Pine Grove.  We enjoyed dinner at Three Pines Tavern in Mt Holly Springs with some fellow hikers.
Section hiker, Hendo's Mom, Hendo, Fly Away,
Loner Bohner

Tuesday 16 June 2015
Zero at Drag 'n Fly's house
Drag 'n Fly, currently the oldest female AT thru-hiker at 74 yrs old, picked up me, Mom and Fly Away this afternoon and took us home to her place to rest and refit.

Wednesday 17 June 2015
Drag 'n Fly dropped us back off at at Pine Grove this morning and we headed north for a few days.  We spent the night at a campsite near James Fry shelter.

Hendo's Mom and Hendo crossing our 1400 mile mark!!

Thursday 18 June 2015
This morning we got up after the rain stopped, it has been raining every night the last few nights.  We headed north to Little Dogwood Run campsite, where we set up camp to wait for Scott Jurek to come by.
Hendo's Mom making her way through the Rock Maze...it was a pretty section, but we didn't find it overly impressive after having hiked Maine and New Hampshire.

We made it to Little Dogwood Run and set up the screens of our tents, strung up lines to hang out and dry our tent flies and clothes from the rain last night and this morning.  All was drying nicely when we suddenly hear this loud noise barreling towards us, it was rain squall.  We dashed to the tent flys and got them over our tents just in time to keep our gear inside dry, but for us it was too late.  There we stood, sopping wet, waiting for the squall to move through so we could wring out our clothe's and begin drying out again.  Mom was not a happy camper, but it all worked out in the end.  Drag 'n Fly hiked in to meet us, camp the night and hike back out the next morning, so as to train up for an upcoming backpacking trip along 300 miles of the PCT.
Her we are set up waiting for Scott Jurek to come by.

Scott Jurek is an ultradistance running god and nicest guy around, who is trying to break the current AT supported Thru-hike record of 46 days.  Being the slowest thru-hikers in history, Mom and I were excited to meet the possibly soon to be fastest.  Scott seemed genuinely surprised by our trailside support for him and graciously stopped to hear our story and take some pictures.

Friday 19 June 2015
It rained hard all night last night, but our tent kept us dry.  Mom's heel has been bothering her so we called it a day at Boiling Springs, after 4 miles. Hiking into Boiling Springs we came down out of the mountains and entered the Cumberland Valley, what a beautiful change of scenery.  Drag 'n Fly picked up Mom, Fly Away and I at Boiling Springs and took us back to her house for another night.

Center Point Knob, former midpoint of the AT

Entering the Cumberland Valley

Hendo's Mom, Fly Away and Drag 'n Fly hiking amongst the corn, soybean and wheat fields of the Cumberland Valley

Yummy mulberys on a mulberry tree

Rainbow trout swimming in the creek on our way into Boiling Springs

Ducks swimming in the town pond of Boiling Springs

We were going to try and make it through Pennsylvania before getting new shoes, but we didn't make it.  The soles on Hendo's shoes were peeling off and Mom's shoes had worn through the sides.  So after we arrived in Boiling Springs, we headed to Appalachian Running Company in Carlisle, PA and got us some new Brooks Cascadias!!!.  The staff was extremely helpful and nice.
Hendo's soles were peeling off and worn through.

Hendo's Mom's new shoes on the left, old on the right.

Hendo' new Brooks on left, Mom's on right

Misc. Flower pictures