AT – PA Windsor Furnace Shelter to Eckville Shelter 9.1 miles

Day 2: June 21, 2015

When we turned in the night before, everyone camping around the shelter had instructed us to yell if Scott Jurek ended up coming through.  The buzz was up and down the trail, all of us wanting to cheer him on when he passed us!

Bag Lady dutifully checked in late … just to see if he was really still in Port Clinton. She had a look of concern on her face…he is on the move! WHAT!!! It is raining, storming, lightning, thunder!! But the tracker was erratic…and by the time we figured out his location he was nearing Eckville Shelter. 😦  So much for technology!  He passed us while we were hiding out in the shelter!! Records wait for no storm apparently.

All those who were looking forward to seeing Scott on the trail were just a little bummed out. We had been soooooooo close!  Well, we had that I suppose.

Bag Lady was only hiking with us for the first two days and decided she was going to take a blue blazed trail to bypass Pulpit and Pinnacle.  We tried to convince her otherwise, but she was ready high tail it out of these wet, wet woods and rocks.  So we said our goodbyes, and she headed to the right on Hamburg Road and we headed up the AT to the left.

I never get tired of being in the woods after a good rain.

I never get tired of being in the woods after a good rain.

Headed up!

Headed up!

As we began to climb a rock pile near the Pulpit, we all agreed that Bag Lady would not have approved of this trail! It was not a bad climb, just a lot of rocks.  I thought it was fun, but of course, you know…this is only the second day and the excitement of climbing over rock jumbles is still fresh. 🙂

Climbing the Jumble!

Climbing the Jumble!

This is where we heard the voice from beyond...

This is where we heard the voice from beyond…

As we neared the top of the jumble, we heard a voice from beyond, ” Deeeebbbbbiiiee?”.  That is Google’s name, and we looked at each other and busted out laughing…Bag Lady?!!!  Bag Lady had gotten turned around and had ended up climbing an even steeper hill only to end up back with us! Oh, the humility!  Welcome back, Bag Lady!

We all came together at the view from Pulpit Rock.  The rain was gone, but the heat and humidity was back in full force.  The sweat was dripping down my back and when I took my pack off, the straps were soaked.  But the breeze felt so good as it cooled me off considerably!

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View from the Pulpit

View from the Pulpit

View from the Pulpit

View from the Pulpit

Leaving Pulpit Rock we hiked on together and in a few miles we found a nice break spot at the Pinnacle and a found a few of our reptile friends as well!

Rock Pile at the Pinnacle

Rock Pile at the Pinnacle

Climbing over the rocks to get to the Pinnacle Ledge

Climbing over the rocks to get to the Pinnacle Ledge

View from the Pinnacle

View from the Pinnacle

Look! Bag Lady is waving!

Look! Bag Lady is waving!

My Reptile Friend is quite handsome!

My Reptile Friend is quite handsome!

Then it was a long descent to the Eckville Shelter.  The last part of the hike was a flat fire road which was pleasant but hard on the feet after a while.  We had been hiking it for about a half hour when Google stopped and whispered “listen!”  Bullfrogs!  I found two frogs talking to each other on a log…so cool!

Then we kept walking, dodging puddles, as we made our way down the fire road until Bag Lady left us to get her car in the Gamelands Parking lot near Eckville.  She was going to drive around to Eckville Shelter and meet up with us before heading back home.

A long, flat road...not as easy on the feet as you might think!

A long, flat road…not as easy on the feet as you might think!

Arriving at Hawk Mountain Road, we turned right and walked the last o.2 miles to the Eckville Shelter.  OH!!! What a lovely place!  Hummingbirds, flowers, a barefoot quality lawn! And, and, and … a shower! That’s not all…the caretaker, Mic, gave us popsicles!!!!

When you ask a question Mic will ask, "Did you read the map?"

When you ask a question Mic will ask, “Did you read the map?”

Love the Hummingbirds!

Love the Hummingbirds!

Hikers gather-A bubble of thru hikers came in.

Hikers gather-A bubble of thru hikers came in.

The shelter

The shelter

Sitting and Chatting with Mic

Sitting and Chatting with Mic

After Shower and Rinsing out clothes!

After Shower and Rinsing out clothes (thanks CanDo for the photo)!

And the final sweet spot…Bag Lady and CanDo went to get us Gatorade, cold Gatorade!!

Delaware Water Gap or Bust…Hike on!

AT-PA Port Clinton to Windsor Furnace Shelter 6.1 miles

Day 1: June 20, 2015

Google, Bag Lady, CanDo and I met up at our hotel on Friday, June 19.  We cruised by Cabela’s in Port Clinton since CanDo had a last minute gear issue, then had a great dinner before returning to our hotel for the night.

In the morning, it was raining.  Pouring actually.  Oh, to start a section hike in the pouring rain would be demoralizing, not to mention just plain crappy.  We got in our cars and headed up to Lehigh Gap.  We were leaving two cars at the east parking lot in the Gap.  After getting each car parked and our gear into Google’s car, we headed back down to Port Clinton.

Then, glorious divine intervention! The rain stopped!

Google parked in the lot just south of town on Rt. 61.  CanDo decided to hike the Blue Blaze to the AT, while Google, Bag Lady and I took the longer route through town.  The barbershop already had a few thru hikers hanging out in front and they called out a friendly hello as we passed by.  The barber tried to distract us with cookies, but we were focused, determined, and ready to hike!

Continuing down the street, a cute beagle let us know we were on his territory as we walked by his fenced yard!  Turning the corner we were now on the AT and soon saw CanDo waiting for us at the gate.

Google & Bag Lady

Google & Bag Lady

We were now officially on our way!  The walk along the Schuylkill River is very pleasant, although there were a few muddy spots this morning.  We chatted about Scott Jurek.  He was currently about 35 miles behind us…Bag Lady had been tracking him all week.  We had all been discussing the possibility of seeing him during our trek, and now it looked like he might pass us somewhere on the trail today!!

When we started climbing Blue Mountain out of Port Clinton conversation all but stopped as the terrain became steeper.  Google and CanDo pulled ahead, while Bag Lady and I kept a more casual pace (translation: slow as molasses but not as sweet).

Climbing Blue Mountain

Climbing Blue Mountain

Bag Lady & I found Google & CanDo waiting for us at the top!

Bag Lady & I found Google & CanDo waiting for us at the top!

 

It was a long climb with a full pack, but eventually the endorphins kicked in leaving me giddy! Suddenly, everything was great…the weather, the view, the trail, being outdoors, life, oh…I thought someone was going to slap me I felt so good! 🙂

The trail from the top of Blue Mountain to the shelter was surprisingly decent.  There were some small rocky spots, but plenty of smooth trail too.

Descending around the rocks

Descending around the rocks

Pocahontas Spring sign

Pocahontas Spring sign

Consulting the Map

Consulting the Map

Not a bad trail!

Not a bad trail!

A little more rocky, but still decent!

A little more rocky, but still decent!

Back to sweet trail

Back to sweet trail

Hamburg Road

Hamburg Road

Windsor Furnace Area

Windsor Furnace Area

Our packs were covered in case of rain, but we arrived at the shelter high and dry!  We set up, ate dinner, and checked in to see where Scott was on the trail.  He was approaching Port Clinton!  Then the tracker showed he had stopped for a while.

Waiting for Scott

Waiting for Scott

We checked in a while later, Scott was still in Port Clinton…and it had begun to rain.  Then it started storming…Scott was still in Port Clinton at 8:30 pm…guess he was spending the night.

One more check in…yep, still in Port Clinton!

Headed to bed, but by all means feel free to hike on!

Getting Ready for PA: Pack Weight & Water

Woohoo!!! Headed to Pennsylvania tomorrow for a section hike on the AT! We will be out 8 days, with a hotel stop in Lehigh Gap.  I have been working on my pack all week, you know, so it wasn’t completely overwhelming here on the day before I leave. I have a Dana Designs Mazama pack. Not the newest or the lightest, but it is my backpack and I love it.  It has a lot of pockets and helps me organize my stuff! image As you can see I actually have it fully packed this morning.  It’s a good idea to check the total weight before slinging the pack on for that first big climb out of Port Clinton, PA! Here is what is in the pack:

In the mushroom cap:
First Aid
Headlamp &Extra batteries
Pocket knife
Map
License/$$$

In the Main Cavity: Sleeping Bag
Pad
Cooking Stuff including Esbit stove/fuel tabs
Food for 4 days
Extra Clothes-Exofficio lightweight bug pants, long sleeved lightweight pullover, extra socks, and a windbreaker pullover.
Water bladder & water bottle

In the Outside Middle Pockets
Sunscreen
Bug spray
Water Filter
Toilet Paper/Hand sanitizer
Gatorade bottle

In the Bottom Pockets Poncho Pack
Cover Hat

In the Back Net
Tent
Camp shoes

Total weight = 31 lbs

I always come in at about 30. I am okay with this weight.

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During the summer water sources start to dry up. This is the case with the section we are hiking. Most of the time we are on a ridge with little opportunity to access a water source. Since the temps are going to soar into the upper 80s and 90s each day we need to be sure we can stay hydrated. I have space to carry 4 liters plus 20 Oz of Gatorade…but that may not be enough over a full two day period. We have the advantage of having 3 cars with us. We are planning on buying a few jugs of water and placing a car with the jugs in the most critical areas. This should solve the problem…and, honestly, if nothing else, just make us feel better!

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So now I am ready. At this point I need to stop thinking and start hiking! Up to the rocks we go! Hike on!

AT – PA Rt. 501 to Rt. 183 5/28/2015

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…

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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.

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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? 🙂
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Here I am showing off those skillz! Thanks Cindy for the pic!

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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.

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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!

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A cute little red spotted newt was hiking the trail today…that I stepped right over without noticing…thanks Cindy for pointing it out!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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We will return to do Rt.183 to Port Clinton next weekend. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Ankles beware!
Hike on!!!

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