Up with the dogs at 5:30 am, then out the door at 6:30 am. I thought I was leaving early, but didn’t anticipate rush hour in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania! I mean come on, why is the traffic stopped? It’s a burg for God’s sake. 🙂
Rounding Harrisburg on I-83, my accelerator foot got jittery from the seemingly endless riding of the brakes. My heart soared when I finally zipped down the ramp headed east on I-81… ecstatic to demonstrate some of my NASCAR talent!
On to meet hiker pal, Cindy, at Rt. 183. I pulled into the parking lot right at 9 am … on time! We left my car and drove back to 501 in Cindy’s. The clouds were many shades of gray and hung low obscuring the ridges. We discussed the possibility of rain…
Pulling up to the 501 lot I noticed two dejected looking backpackers sitting on the ground. I wondered what they were up to. “Good Morning! How’s it going?” Their response was indicative of a rough night. Gesturing to the foggy mountainside, I continued, “Did it rain this morning, or is this just coming in?” Now they let loose…they described a hellish night in a wicked thunderstorm. They had been hiking a few days and were now ready to take a day off to dry out in town! We left them waiting for their shuttle to arrive.
The trail rides the ridge of Blue Mountain which made for pretty nice walking, although a few rocky sections kept me humble. I quickly learned to teeter-totter on the loose stones! Ahhh, new skills…or is that skillz? 🙂
Here I am showing off those skillz! Thanks Cindy for the pic!
There were quite a few campsites along the trail. Sweet campsites! Small, but plenty of space for a couple of backpacking tents. We stopped for a long lunch (30 minutes!) at one such site.
It was great to stretch out…I rarely stop for long when I am hiking alone. I don’t know why…I just don’t! Cindy told me she is the same way. How about that? 🙂
There were also a few excellent views. This was taken by Cindy at Shikellamy overlook. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I still cannot pronounce Shikellamy correctly despite Cindy repeating it several times for me!
A cute little red spotted newt was hiking the trail today…that I stepped right over without noticing…thanks Cindy for pointing it out!
We came to Hertlein Campsite soon after the newt sighting. Wow! A beautiful place to camp! The stream was flowing freely. Afterwards, Cindy and I both wished we had filtered some of that fresh, clear, cold water to drink!
This section between 501 and 183 is interesting as it switches from rock jumbles to mountain laurel groves to blue berry patches…and then there are the FERNS! As far as the eye can see in all directions, ferns!
At one point we met up with another section hiker who had started at Delaware Water Gap and was coming south. She was ready to finish her section after getting caught in the aforementioned hellacious thunderstorm and almost stepping on a rattlesnake the day before! I don’t blame her! I kept an eye out for snakes the rest of the way to our car!
Our traverse crossed an old pipeline, then entered the woods again for a few more rocks. The trail looks to be in some stage of slight rerouting. It is easy to follow, however, so we were soon at the historical stone marking the location of an old fort.
This historical stone also meant we were nearing the end of our hike…and the crossing of Rt. 183. Whew! Had to take that crossing at a jog!! Blind curve…fast cars!
Despite a bit of humid weather and occasional distant thunder which kept reminding me that we might encounter our own little scary thunderstorm, this hike was a blast! And we stayed dry!
We exited the AT about a half mile after Rt. 183 to walk down the service road to the Gameland parking lot and my car.
We will return to do Rt.183 to Port Clinton next weekend. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Great narrative. Not lovin’ those rocks though.
Thank you, I am just taking the rocks one stone at a time. 🙂 Looking forward to finishing the PA section!
Thanks for the report and the photos. I did “The Pinnacle” on 5/29. It was clear and cool when I left the Game Lands parking lot at 7:00 AM but warmed up by the afternoon. Only passed 2 NOBO thru hikers. The rest are coming though. The UPS are tough but the DOWNS are brutal on old knees!
Yes, the thrus are on the way! Last year, May 2014, we sectioned from Pine Grove Furnace to Swatara Gap and saw several thru hikers. Always fun to hear their stories! I totally agree about the ups and downs…much prefer up! 🙂
I’m following a thru that is in NH approaching ME. He started in late Feb. He intends to thru the Continental Divide trail this summer also. Ahh, to be young again!
This is a fantastic account of that section. Hartlein Campground is one of our favorite places. The gushing water lulls you to sleep. By chance did you follow the blue trail to the waterfalls below? With the thunder rolling, I’m sure you were on task to get to the parking lot. 😀
Just as a friendly heads up, be sure to bring enough water for an entire day and a half when climbing out of Palmerton (Lehigh Gap). There isn’t water for a while. A bunch of us got heat stroke with all that extreme exposure to the sun. No shade for miles. ❤
Have fun finishing PA! You're going to feel so accomplished when you climb down into DWG. Visit that pie shop in town to celebrate. 🙂
This is GREAT info! thank you, thank you, thank you!! Looking forward to doing between 183 and Port Clinton this weekend. Any info? 🙂
Oh girl, you are most welcome. Hikers stick together. It’s code. 😉 Yeah, with that section you are gonna have so much fun. 🙂 To me, that was a beautiful and easy. There’s a pretty steep part (for Pennsylvania that is) walking NOBO into Port Clinton but it ends with a cool photo opportunity at a railroad station. There is a bridge that crosses into town over greenish waters. Entrancing, really. A couple years ago I walked into Port Clinton (SOBO) where there was a forest fire. I don’t know if you’ll lay eyes on that section (depending on where you parked) but I wonder if time has healed nature by now.
I look forward to your next AT hiking blog. 🙂
Oh, and we did not follow the blue blaze! Something to come back and do! 🙂
I do appreciate you sharing the Pa portion. I have done the Ga portion, since i live here, and want to do a thru hike in 4 years. All the books I’ve read leave me wondering about PA. I remember doing a short day hike about 25 yrs ago there, but I can’t remember where it was. My sister drove so I wasn’t paying attention. I do remember the rocks!
The rocks aren’t so bad until you get past Eckville Shelter…then holy moly!