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
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.
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
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,
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!!
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