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Backpacking the Appalachian Trail in April

Appalachian Trail Georgia to Maine

Date: 01 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 749.5
I was busy reading this morning and got a late start. I forgot that I wanted to make a side trip to Apple Orchard Falls. i left too late though and did not want to have to push hard all day since the miles would be uphill. So I skipped the falls. Fainbow Six tells me they were dissappointing anyway.

Nothing really to report today other than I saw some more deer.
Transcribed on:    03-Aug-2000 16:33:41 EDT

Date: 02 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 761.9
For the first time in a while I did not see anyone on the trail today and I have the shelter to myself tonight. Rainbow Six left early and road walked to a resupply. I think he is ahead five miles or so.

There was a little rain but it stopped around noon.

Great stream in front of this shelter. It even gets deep enough for there to be a bunch of small fish. The water is clear and not too cold.
Transcribed on:    03-Aug-2000 16:41:50 EDT

Date: 03 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 775.6
Given the ample and close water, this morning I got naked and sponged myself off. The water was a little too cold for me to jump in which I shouldn't do in the water source anyway. I managed to do a fairly decent wipe down job though.

It rained last night and through most of the morning so I started down the trail around eleven o'clock. It was overcast and humid. I decided to do today's miles in a tee shirt and underpants. I guess I've lived in the woods too long because it did not even feel weird walking along US 501 over the James River and down the road with my boxer-briefs flapping hello to the passing cars and trucks. It was only about a half mile road walk and I did not encounter anyone on the trail. Come summer heat and humidity I just may hike nekked.

Ahh, the rain has returned. I even saw some lightning. Maybe it will quiet down the tree frogs. The little frogs are LOUD here. Just one more reminder that the seasons are changing. The bushes all have leaves now and the poplars have small leaves growing. Soon, I'll lose the fine views that the bare woods have afforded me.

p.s. I also found a tick crawling up my leg today. I'll have to stay vigilant.
Transcribed on:    03-Aug-2000 16:48:28 EDT

Date: 04 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 790.0
Short journal today because my hands are numb. It's cold and getting colder.
Transcribed on:    03-Aug-2000 17:25:58 EDT

Date: 05 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 807.1
Very cold with light snow last night. I woke with snow landing on my face sometime during the night. By noon the light snow was gone even though temps stayed cold and the wind was blowing hard. It is supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow which is an easy day because I'm heading into Tyro for my maildrop supplies.

I got to do some scrambling on Spy Rock. The view was a little hazy, and it was very cold but I'm glad I took the short side trail. It was worth it and I have a pair of pictures for my trouble.

Nothing else to report except that I saw another two deer today as I approached the shelter.
Transcribed on:    03-Aug-2000 16:53:32 EDT

Date: 06 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 814.9
Wow did I fill my pack up today. I had three maildrops. One was supllies I packed up before I left, one was my tent which I sent ahead to myself from Pearisburg, and one was an awsome package from Steve (one half of the duo that came back out to camp with me). Thanks Steves, both of you.

Down at the P.O. which is inside a store I got to eat some snacks and two pints of ice cream. I found it very convenient. On the way there I also crossed paths with the Artful Dodger who ran out of food a few days ago and road walked onto Tyro to pick up some supplies. I should see him and Rainbow Six at Rusty's Hard time Hollow where I am headed tomorrow.

Two new northbounders that I met at the last shelter are here now. They just started a few days ago from Buena Vista. Shawn and Joanna just graduated college and decided to hit the trail for awhile [sic]. I don't know if they are headed to Rusty's as well. They're fun people so I kinda hope they are.

Time for me to lighten my foodbag.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 13:09:54 EDT

Date: 07 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 821.1
I made it to the rustic hospitality of Rusty's Hardtime Hollow, the only private residence with a driveway on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is a true Appalachian Mountain homestead without phone, electricity, and running water. Rusty is a bit eccentric but loves meeting hikers. He is a great guy and I'm glad I stopped here. The original cabin is over 160 years old and his 19 acres is bordered on three sides by the Parkway on the ridge above.

Dodger and Rainbow Six made it here yesterday and have already gone into town with Rusty in his van. It is ribeye steaks and Hollow potatoes tonight for dinner. The weather is warm and the sky is cloudless.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 13:13:19 EDT

Date: 08 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 821.1
On this my only zero mile day since Damascus, virginia I was awoken early by the roosters which roam the property. I needed to get up anyway though because we were planning another town visit and needed to get to the post office which closes early on Saturday.

My plans were to visit the local outfitter and make some phone calls and buy a roll of film. Well, in town, I forgot about the filme and forgot to bring the phone numbers I needed. I did well at the outfitter though. Both my leaking water containers were replaced under warrentee [sic] and I replaced some other damaged gear. The melting point of my Lexan spoon is under that of smoking grease so I needed another. Mine was misshapen so badly I needed to use my knife's saw blade to make it usable again. I also replaced my liner socks and picked up a pair of lightweight hiking socks for this warmer weather. My current liners and one pair of heavy socks are ready for the trash. Lastly, I bough some seam sealant for my rainfly and groundcloth. In fact I just finished applying the latter. Appropriately enough it began to rain while I was in the barn's loft waterproofing the tent.

Dodger is already gone on ahead so he may be a little wet now. Rainbow and I are leaving tomorrow morning and wa are sort of planning the same milage through to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. So I guess we will be seeing each other for anothe [sic] week and a half at least.

I don't know where I can get more film for my camera but I understand that there is a public phone available just before entering the Shenandoa National Park. I want to call and have my backup boots mailed to me and possible schedule a rendezvous and hiking trip with a fellow backpacker from my previous life, the Dread Pirate Steve.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 13:23:39 EDT

Date: 09 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 836.3
Yesterday's weather turned freezong over night. There was some ice and the trail was a bit crunchy. I got a ride halfway back to the trail with Rainbow Six and a girl from South Africa. On the AT I met a northbound thruhiker named Missing Link that started February 6th-a month after me. He was excited to finally meet me after reading my register entries for so long. He has been making some good time along with my old friend Albatross. Albatross and I are now within a day of each other. I don't know who is ahead. Missing Link said that Albatross was headed to the shelter I am at now but he is not here and did not sign the register so I think he may have stopped into Rusty's. I'm sure that I'll see him soon. Missing Link is taking two weeks of in Waynesboro so he will have to catch back up to me.
Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 13:31:26 EDT

Date: 10 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 848.2
My first place position is in jeopardy. Two speedy February starters are close by-one is staying here with me tonight at Calf Mountain Shelter. Mr. D. needs to do the trail in five months so he is travelling fast. I guess this means I can expect to see the fastest of the March Northbounders in three to five weeks. I'm a little bummed but I never expected to stay in the lead. My pack weight is much heavier than those ultra light backpackers. I enjoy much better comfort at camp though.

I entered the Shenandoah National Park today. I'm only seven miles in right now. The weather is supposed to change for the worse tonight and stay bad. This week may not be very pleasant.

Still no sign of Albatross. Yogi B., a southbounder from Maine originally from England is also here

Time for me to start a fire.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 13:37:36 EDT

Date: 11 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 861.2
No rain today. The sky has been getting cloudier though.

I was wrong about entering the Shenandoah National Park yesterday. Technically I did not cross the southern park boundary until this morning at Jarman Gap where I also crossed Skyline Drive at mile 96.9. elevation is staying between 2,000-3,000 feet which is much lower than I have been.

The trail is fairly easy. It is nicely graded without any big ups or downs. I should do some higher milage days. Today I finished with lots of sunlight.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 13:43:36 EDT

Date: 12 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 874.4
I saw my first bear today. I heard a noise while relieving myself outside the closed Loft Mountain campsite. The bear did not like the company and took off from about 100 feet away.

I managed to use a phone at the campground so my secondary pair of boots will be there at Harpers Ferry.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 13:46:01 EDT

Date: 13 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 895.0
My big news for today is that I got to see Albatross again. I was leaving a deserted picnic area after having a couple packets of oatmeal and he was hoping to stealth camp there. He was happy to see me but sad to hear there was no pavilon and the water was shut off. At first, neither of us recognized on another. We only talked for about 20 minutes as I had more miles to put in but we will likely see each other soon. It turns out that he was only a few days behind me during my transit of the Smokeys. He was postholing along in my snowshoe tracks until a snowstorm wiped them out - maybe that storm that hit while I was holed up at Double Spring Shelter. Then he had to leave the park at Newfound Gap to to into town and get his own pair of snowshoes. We have so much to talk about. I hope we can get together at leisure over some food and drink in some town. The last time I saw him was Muskrat Creek Shelter back at milepoint 78.4

Tonight I'm sharing Bea[?]fence Mountain Hut with thes Pennsylvanian section hikers doing the SNP and Rainbow Six who arrived at dark. Tomorrow's destination is unknown.

P.S. Gill, a section hiker I shared as shelter with last night, just arrived. He's a wreck. The miles have not been kind: about 50 in the last 2 days.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 11:33:00 EDT

Date: 14 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 913.1
I have a surprise visitor for the next day or two. Steve, The Blond Stanger, took some vacation and came out to the park to look for me and do some backpacking. He got lucky and stayed with Mr. D last night and staked out a section of the AT to wait for me. I arrived about five minutes later. I did not expect to see him waiting for me today. Al and Sasha are not here but we have a nice little fire going at our tentsite anyway. This is a welcome surprise.

I'd write more but I want to return to the campfire fun.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:32:51 EDT

Date: 15 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 924.1
Steve and I awoke to a rainy morning so we stayed in his tent longer than we would have but we still started hiking by 10:15. It was foggy and cloudy all day, with drizzle occasionally and some great views of cloud blanketed valleys.

The AT through this park sure is civilized. The trail crosses Skyline drive 28 times and passes by two developed campgrounds and four picnic areas as well as a lodge, various cabins and AT huts. The trail itself is often shored up with a small rock wall on the downhill side too. The deer are very tame around here also. Everyday I have seen lots of deer that often don't run away as I pass close.

Steve and I hiked most of the day together. At Thorton Gap he got onto Skyline drive to try and hitch a ride back to his vehicle. The plan was for him to bring it back near the picnic shelter where I am spending the night. I don't think he got that ride though because it is well past dark and he is not here. I hope he gets a hitch tomorrow as he has far to walk and drive. Anyway thanks for the surprise visit, Steve!

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:39:24 EDT

Date: 16 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 945.3
Good bye Sheandoah. The park chased me out with a big thunderstorm but I managed to hike out of its way. I am staying at Tom Floyd Wayside shelter with Albatross. We reminisced and talked about the intervening miles. Below us shine the lights of Front [?] Royal.

Today's hiking was warm. Early on I shed all but my shorts. I hiked most of the day under a sunny or partly cloudy sky. Down at a scenic overlook I got my picture taken by a tourist who will be emailing it to me. I hope to have it to forward by Harpers Ferry. I should be there Thursday.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:44:33 EDT

Date: 17 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 963.3
Awoke to rain this morning but it stopped before Albatross and I started hiking. He headed into town and to Dick's Dome Shelter. Mr. D. and Rainbow Six are a half day ahead. Rainbow Six must have gotten a ride from Gil.

Before I got halfway the rain started back up and lasted for several hours. I had my pack cover on already. I just continued to walk in shorts and a shirt and used this as an opportunity to get a little cleaner. It was a little chilly with the tempurature [sic] being in the 50s but I stayed warm while I hiked.

Near one road crossing, a trail angel left a cache of sodas for us thirsty hikers, Jackpot! I was not particularily thirsty but did not pass up the sodas. I must have been some sight to the few motorists on the road-some guy dressed for summer in a cold rain exiting the wooks drinking an orange pop and happily walking along with matted hair plastered to my head, soaked clothes clinging to my filthy body and seemingly oblivious to the mucous running into my mustache. Oh yes, you get the unvarnished truth in this journal. Maybe the only people to believe that I really was enjoying myself will be the other hikers but it is true.

Now I'm warm and dry in this small, hexagonal shelter on the stream bank. It is still misty and wet outside with water dripping from the trees. I finished some hot oatmeal a little bit ago and arranged everything for the morning and hung my pack and foodbag to keep the rodents out.

Tomorrow I'm heading to a hostel for laundry, shower, and some snacks. It will be a full day of hiking but the following day will be shorter with a trip to a small roadside restaurant planned.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:56:33 EDT

Date: 18 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 982.2
Like yesterday, today was rainy but also about ten degrees coooler. Also like yesterday I had an extraordinary pace and had nine miles done before noon. That changed after lunch. At lunch I realized just how cold I had become when I had trouble using my hands to work the stove. Once I got that lit I was able to warm my hands over the flame and then on a metal cup of oatmeal. I decided to put on my rain gear for the remaining 9.9 miles to Bears Den Hostel.

On the way I entered a section of trail named the Roller Coaster, and very aptly I'll add. Four and five hundred foot verticle gains and losses with a few smaller ones for good measure. The hike really wiped me out and by the time I made it to the hostel I was very ready to stop.

The Bears Den Hostel is fabulous. It is a 1930s stone home now housing the foot traveller. At the door as I was removing my boots outside, Mr. D greeted me and threatened to have me turned away. Then Rainbow Six poked his head around to see who was there. These two pampered dandies as I called them took a short day because of the rain. I guess they thought they would melt or something. The pair had showered and were presently basking in the firepolaces radiated heat, ensconced in the coziest of synthetic fabrics. In short order, I was welcomed by Melody and Patty, managers of the hostel who pointed me to the hiker room and shower.

Since Mr. D and I arrived on the same day we shared the First Northbounder honors and each received a free pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream. He followed his with a second before my arrival. After a dinner (1/2 pound spaghetti) I did better and finished two and a half pints.

Mr. D is a pretty cool guy even though he seized the lead hiker position from me. I guess I did the same to Albatross back in Georgia this January. He'll beat me to Harpers Ferry but I'll pass him back up when he takes a couple days off there.

My time in Virginia is short, just two more days. West Virginia which I haven't travelled since the border back on Peters Mountain is only a few miles and Maryland will only be a couple days walk. I'll be in Pennsylvania very soon.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:44:42 EDT

Date: 19 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 990.1
It is around one o'clock and I have gone a whole .6 miles on the AT. I don't know how many miles I'll put in today. I am enjoying the food, drink, and celtic music at the Horseshoe Curve Restaurant. This is a welcome surprise only .3 west of the trail at Snickers Gap where the AT passes through the mountains.

I heard about this place first from the Artful Dodger several hundred miles agao and I planned my Bears Den/ Horseshoe visit. The cheesburgers are big and juicy. The beer selection is good to. I'm working on a Sam Addams now but may go with a Guinness next as homage to the music.

Tonight I'll bed down at either the Blackburn Trail Center only 7.9 miles from Bears Den or push on an additional easy-looking 3.2 miles to the David Lesser Memorial Shelter, which is supposed to be an engineering marvel. Either way the miles are short into West Virginia and Harpers Ferry.

Since I don't plan on leaving my stool yet I'll make this a longer journal entry. I don't spend much time in civilization even for a thruhiker. Most thruhikers seem to spend their time planning town/ restaurant stops with the AT as an inconvenient means of getting there. My style is to load up on supplies and stay out for a long time. Oddly this does not neccessarily make for higher mileage since my pack will be heavier and thus my pace slower. Oh well, to each his own.

I have decided on a gear change though. I will be ordering a bivy tent to replace my larger and heavier one. I have only used it perhaps a half dozen times this trip. I've slept out under the stars more often. A small, light emergency and/ or bug shelter is really the way to go. I already have it picked out of the Camp[?] catalog. I just need to figure out where to send it.

Last night I performed a thorough tick check in the shower. I am pleased to report that I did not find any of the little blood suckers attached (or detached for that matter). This mornings shower was the second in as many days, quite a rare luxury for me. My last washing was that nasty bath in Pearisburg. I did not feel clean at all afterwards. Plus that motel did not provide shampoo and the bar soap did not work well. That means this morning's shampoo lathering was the first since Kincara in Tennesee five hundred sixty point two skanky miles ago. Amazing.

Overall the unwashed nastiness has not been as bad as some pre-AT backpacking trips taken during the summer. The overpowering B.O. of the sweating summer hiker has yet to be visited upon me. What I have experienced is a pervasive rank sourness. Given the length of time between showers, I assume this is more the natural smell of human that animals with superior olfactory sense recognize as man. It is not particularly enjoyable. Odor producing bacteria certainly have run rampant on my feet, socks, and boots though. The foot area of my sleeping bag has suffered perhaps irreversible harm. Like most of my clothes, it comes out of the washer clean but still smell. It is much worse than anything else I own with the exception of my boots.

The boots, Merrell Long Trail GTXs, are getting replaced with my backup pair tomorrow. They have served well during a few years of abuse. I have a slightly lighter Merrell M2 Light hikers coming to me. They are in better shape than the Long Trails were so hopefully they will last the rest of the trip.

My pants, a pair of REI nylon (convertible to shorts), have taken a beating but are still very serviceable. There are some holes worn in the legs, but that is not too big a deal. I'll be wearing them as shorts more anyway.

One of my pairs of socks has developed a hole in the heel and will have to be disposed of after my new boots arrive. This is due more to the damaged interior of my right boot than anything else. It has been more of a problem than I realized though. My right heel has sustained some damage that I did not even feel and that sock seems to be a little bloody. I'm also losing two toenails which I had hoped to avoid with calcium supplements started months in advance. I'm keeping the nails trimmed but to no avail. Both small toes have tonenails attached only at the rear which creates a hinge effect. I can't pull them off yet so I've clipped them short.

(If any of this has convinced you to become a long distance hiker, let me know.)

In addition, my feet have been flattening out. My boots still fit okay unlike some unfortunate people. Several of my toes have developed a little bit of an odd shape on the bottom. After the past few days of walking on soggy, wrinkled feet the dead skin has become evident too. I'm experiencing a lot of "pins and needles" numbness on the bottoms of the toes and to a lesser degree on the ball of the foot. This is continuous. The feeling doesn't return or at least has not returned at any time over the last 600-700 miles. It is something I heard happens to some number of L.D. hikers though. I understand that the feet do eventually return to normal after leaving the trail.

The last few days have not been too windy so I have been hiking without my bandana which normally covers my upper forehead. That last sunny day in SNP changed my white upper forehead to pink now. It isn't sunburned too bad fortunately. I've got to tan my head for the warmer weather as I won't always be wearing something on top. The last couple days have not given me much opportunity to work on that however.

To conlcude my physical condition roundup - the scale back at Bears Den tells me that somewhere along the almost one thousand miles I dropped about thirty-eight pounds. That tells me I need more calories. Time for another Sam Adams.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:46:31 EDT

Date: 20 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 1001.9
Over a thousand miles down. I'm in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. This is my fifth state. I have stopped by the Appalachian Trail Conference headquarters to register and get my picture added to the photo album. Sadly, I am the third northbounder to arrive. Mr. D. came in yesterday and left the same day. Mile Slave a.k.a. Youngblood arrived 30 minutes before me. I met him at the blackburn PA hostel last night. He has a time limit of three months for his thruhike so he hikes all day everyday with a mileage average well over 20 per day. Truly, he is a mile slave. He started MArch 9th!

Unfortunately, my maildrop is not at the post office. I'm going to have to play detective and track it down. Looks like I may spend more time here than I planned. I'm staying ath the Historic Hilltop House Hotel overlooking the Potomac River. The hiker rate is only $30 too.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 20:34:35 EDT

Date: 21 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 1001.9
Zero mile day. My maildrop supplies still aren't here. I really don't want to wait around any more. I think I'll leave tomorrow after giving the PO one more check and having my mail forwarded to Boiling Springs, PA. That place is about five days away.

I'll stop by the outfitter too before I leave for a little bit of food and maybe pick up the Kelty Dart 1 bivy-tent. It looks better than what I was planning on ordering.

I met another northbounder today. She is Alex and was headed toward the outfitter as I was leaving. She recognized me from my photo in the ATC register and has been follwing my register entries since Georgia. So she was able to greet me with a loud "Hardcore!" from across the street while I was trying to figure out who she was. She seems pretty cool and is planning on cutting her milage back some so I should catch her once I leave town. Tonight she is planning on staying at the nearby AYH hostel in Sandy Hawk, Maryland across the Potomac.

I've got some festivities planned tonight with Johnny from the outfitters. It should be fun.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 20:35:38 EDT

Date: 22 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 1013
Wow last night at the bar and Johnny's really wiped me out. He and his wife are pretty cool and almost have me convinced to come down to Damascus, Virginia for Trail Days May 19-21.

Still no mail so I'm forwarding it ahead. I sent my tent home and bought the Kelty Dart 1. This outfitter may be small but it's a good one with excellent prices. I even got a 10% discount because I agreed to evaluate the tent and call them back up with my report. It only cost me $90.

Not getting that maildrop messes me up. Not only did it have food and my vitamins and calcium but things like my next set of maps, more film, my 3 season sleeping bag, and 3 season rain jacket. I really need to swap my winter bag and jacket for their lighter counterparts.

My socializing at the outfitters means I got my usual late start. I did not even eat until Cindy Dee's diner a couple miles down the trail. That place serves some good chow including the quintessential American cheesburger and some fine chili.

The hike was very interesting. The trail runs through old Harpers Ferry with exhibits and restored buildings. It's all very touristy and since it is the weekend there were many gawking tourists. A few knew about the AT and thruhiking so they were fun to talk to. I even had to turn down an offer for lunch from a family. The trail crosses the Potomac on a railroad tressle. As I left West Virginia for Maryland a train on a different track came out of the tunnel on the other side. I got a picture but I don't think it is a good one.

In Maryland the trail follows the C&O canal towpath for a short distance. That was a wide, completely flat section of trail with the dark, brackish waters of the defunct canal on my left and the muddy, turgid Potomac on my right.

After a quick visit to the diner, I continued up the trail a bit over nine miles to Gathland State Park. Plenty of old buildings and ruins to photograph. It's also home to a Civil War war correspondant Memorial. The road that I crossed leads 1.2 miles east to Burkittsville, Maryland made famous by the Blair Witch Project.

Now I'm at the Crampton Gap shelter with Albatross, Rainbow Six, and two other backpackers. The last six or so miles were hiked in the rain but it was light and I did not get very wet.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 20:36:32 EDT

Date: 23 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 1033.3
I'm celebrating my last night in Maryland with some Irish Cocoa. This state has only 40 AT miles so it is a quick one. I'll linger in PA a bit longer.

No other thruhikers here tonight. I'm sharing the shelter with "Lonesome Traveller" the new ALDHA newsletter editor and his dog. I sort of expected Albatross, Rainbow Six, and/or Alex to be here tonight but there is no sign of them.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 20:37:06 EDT

Date: 24 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 1047.3
The weather was actually nice today. I stopped for lunch at Pen Mar Park after 9.3 miles. This is a really nice park offering a good view of the flatlands below. While my lunch was rehydrating I had a chance to play in the playground. It was great. I don't even know what the structure is called but it had all sorts of climbing opportunities and four slides. The curvey slide was the best with the corkscrew a close second. While I was on top about to descend, I heard some hearty laughter and someone asking me if I was trying to reclaim my youth. I looked up to see a smiling Mr. D striding in from the parking lot.

He was town-clean, shaved and still smelling of his wife's perfume. I think. I even met his lovely wife. He spent a couple of days cuddling and picked up some lighter gear. Now he is back on the trail where he left off. That leaves Mile Slave and Alex ahead of us and Albatross behind. I don't know where Rainbow Six is but he is not really thruhiking anyway.

We left the park together late and then accidentally left the trail after a couple miles. It was a road crossing with an old, gated forest road across from the A.T. We did not notice that the AT makes a left on the road and then continues north after about 100 feet. So we started up this old road and there was a state forest boundary painted with white blazes on some of the trees. We unconsciously took these for the AT blazes which are also white. Had we not been hiking so fast engaged in conversation I think we would have noticed the blazes were not the nice 2X6 inch AT rectangle but a sloppy white blob. Anyway we probably walked a half mile uphill before noticing something was wrong. We managed to find the real trail soon enough although it was starting to get late and we stooped at a closer shelter.

Oh, two tenths of a mile north of Pen Mar Park we crossed the Mason Dixon line which serves as the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. I'm back in the North again! There are 229.4 total Pennsylvania miles before I enter into New Jersey.

Mr. D and I are bunked down at Deer Lick Shelters which is a pair of smaller shelters instead of one bigger shelter. A couple arrived after us and we talked to them for a little bit. It turns out they are taking six months to do as much of the trail as possible starting in nearby Pine Grove Furnace State Park and hiking south. If they have the time the will jump up to Maine and hike south again after reaching Georgia. They are on day ten and are averaging three miles a day. They have never backpacked before and their physical condition is rather disadvantageous. Spirits are high though and they are bringing their pack wight down in the best manner possible by giving candy and such to Mr. D. and I. He was also the recipient of a water bag and some iodine after they found out he left his gear at home accidentally. Incidentally, we were surprised to find out at Penn Mar that Mr. D.'s smaller pack weighs more than mine.

Just one last thing to write. I can't believe that this site was picked as a good one for these two shelters. The drainage here is terrible. The ground is saturated. Water is actually flowing downhill through the site.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 21:32:16 EDT

Date: 25 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 1070.5
The trail is being kind to me so far in Pennsylvania. It is a really pleasant walk and this is my second highest mileage day at 23.2. After about 13 miles I stopped for lunch at the largely deserted Caledonia State Park picnic ground. I stayed there longer than I planned although I still had enough time to make it here to Birch Run Shelters where Mr. D also is bunking down.

These leantos are actually quite small. We are the only ones here so we each have our own. I started up a small fire in front of mine with the intention of turning it into the Taihiti Hut but my fire never really got big enough.

Mile Slave made it here a couple of days ago. Alex seems to be just ahead from what some section hikers told us. She must have decided to tent a little further north. We may see her tomorrow.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 21:33:05 EDT

Date: 26 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 1087.7
The psychological halfway point on the AT is regarded to be Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. With recent trail relocations the AT has grown about seven miles this year and the geographical halfway point is at mile 1,083.55. This is 13.05 miles further north than where I am this morning. That point is just north of Pine Grove Furnace State Park where I hope to join the Half Gallon Club. Tradition holds that thrukikers celebrate the halfway point by consuming a half gallon of ice cream from the park store. I've been practicing as has Mr. D. but the store may not be open.

It is time to eat breakfast and start hiking so I can find out!

--Later that Day--

The store was closed so no ice cream for me.

Not long after leaving the store it started to drizzle so I only went another six miles to Tagg Run Shelter which is a pretty nice one. It looks like Mr. D. and Alex moved past this one. Maybe I'll see them tomorrow on the trail.

I'm heading into Boiling Springs tomorrow afternoon to see if my Harpers Ferry maildrop has been forwarded.

I'm over halfway done today. I've still got a long way to go but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I think it is from a cubicle. Bummer.

Hardcore GA-->ME

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 21:33:37 EDT

Date: 27 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 1114.2
I made Boiling Springs after summitting the oxygen poor Center Point Knob at a whopping 1,060 ft. My maildrop had not been forwarded but I was able to forget my sorrow at Anile's Ristorante.

The waitress tried twice to get me to change my order of cheese fries and a large calzone to a smaller quantity of food. She even came back to the table with someone else's large stromboli and said, "Sir, this is the size of the large calzone." I sent her away with assurances that I could eat it. Later as she was clearing my table she said she was in "awe". I did not just eat the food, I vanquished it. Now as I think back on the episode, I'm not certain that my ability to eat was what the waitress was in "awe" of. After all, I'm looking pretty sweet.

Fourteen of today's record twenty-six and a half miles were through farmland so I made fantastic time. The AT crossed the flatland and climbed Blue Mountain, not much of a mountain really. Darlington Shelter is just the other side of the ridgeline. I sustained a 3.2-3.5 mph pace coming from Boiling Springs until the ascent where I dropped down to a little over 3 mph. Mr. D. is here at the shelter along with a group. This is the first full shelter for me on the AT. I'm one of three tents nearby. This is good since I have to review mine for the Outfitter at Harpers Ferry to earn my 10% discount.

Alex moved on further than this shelter today. That girl can move. Like Albatross she talks about doing lower miles but never seems to follow through on that.

I discovered from a transplanted Brit this morning that Albatross and Rainbow Six are a day or more behind me.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:05:28 EDT

Date: 28 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: 1125.6
I find myself caught in the town gravity of Duncannon, Pennsylvania. One day, two bars, four meals -- sweet.

I've done some laundry and am staying at the Doyle Hotel with Todd, a long distance section hiker. The Doyle is a run down old hotel it was character and a bar downstairs. Tomorrow will have to be a long day due to tonights weakness but that is okay. The Doyle is a bit of a trail legend anyway. Mr. D. is here too catching up on his journal. His journal is available at Just lookup thruhikers and follow the links. His real-world name is Charlie Daniels.

Two other guys from the shelter last night are here too. Mostly its locals though. The owner just greeted me though to make me feel at home.

Well it's time for me to hit the shower and prepare for the rest of the night. My other tasks, including grocery shopping are done so I can relax.

Oh, to anyone else out there reading this who may be hiking this area, I really recommend Shirley A's. It is a small bar and grill that is not listed in the Companion although I gave the owner the means to contact ALDHA. Anyway it is located about 200 feet from where the trail enters the road north of Hawk Rook. Very good and cheap cheeseburgers.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:15:12 EDT

Date: 29 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: ?
Last nights festivities lasted longer than I expected. I felt a little rough this morning and did not start hiking until almost 10 o'clock. Todd got to sleep in because he is taking a zero day and meeting a friend. Mr. D. headed out early as usual.

The climb up Peters mountain after crossing the Susquehanna River wasn't bad at all. It is a nice warm sunny day too and the trail had some good views. The trees here all have leaves unlike in Maryland. I'm not sure of my mileage today but it is probably around 15. I'm tenting again.

I had an excellent early dinner. I fried up a pound of chicken livers with onion, snowpeas, and mushrooms. That was a good pot of food. I picked up plenty of extravagant food items to take me into Port Clinton.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:20:29 EDT

Date: 30 Apr 2000
AT milepoint: ?
Again I am uncertain of my exact mileage but it was around 20 miles today.

I have a nice but small campsite directly on the ridge tonight. I'm inside the bivy-tent to escape some annoying small flies but I can still see some of the view and I should catch the sunrise okay. In the distance I can hear the sounds of traffic on I-81 which I crossed a couple miles back.

Today I passed the sites of two old mining villages. The first was Yellow Springs Village and about the only remnants were a couple of half filled cellars and a few lines of rocks, maybe old foundations or stone walls. The second was the town of Rausch Gap. nothing of the town remained but some old roads. here there were some old piles of coal partly reclaimed by the woods. Down by Rausch Creek a stone foundation for a railroad bridge was still present. The various trails there were paved with what seemed to be crushed coal too. It was nice walking. Both sites date to the 1800's.

Transcribed on:    ??-May-2000 14:26:56 EDT

generated 03-Aug-2000 18:02:11 EDT

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