I Think It May Be Spring!

Thank goodness, right? If your winter was anything like my winter…ugh.

Father Winter was a big tease with lots of potential, but no big exciting events. In Maryland, we would get icy mix, a little snow, then it would melt and we were left with a few damp, chilly days in the mid-40s. Brrr…rrr

Thank you Goddess of Spring for finally taking control!

Last weekend, I led a “newbie backpacker” trip. We had 4 new and 5 experienced backpackers. The newbies had completed two shakedown hikes prior and felt somewhat prepared.

We began our adventure at Shippensburg Road trailhead on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. Saturday started as winter…very cold and windy! We got moving!

As we hiked the seasons turned. A lovely day indeed!

In general, we took this stretch slower, and with more breaks than I would take if I were going alone. Which makes perfect sense for new backpackers. They had plenty of time for adjusting the pack, stretching, resting, and enjoying the woods!

We rolled into Tom’s Run Shelter mid-afternoon, plenty of time for the newbies to set up.

It was a cold night and one newbie had not brought the recommended 20 degree bag. She learned and will pack accordingly next time. Sometimes, we have to learn the hard way. ūüôā

Spring rebounded on Sunday! The trail was a slight disaster with tons of water flowing down it and many blowdowns that had to be climbed over, under, or around! Our newbie, who hadn’t slept much due to being cold the night before, just about petered out on the last hill of the day. We got some extra food in her and took it slow…she was determined to finish! She dug deep and conquered the last hill!

Everyone finished sucessfully at Pine Grove Furnace State Park with smiles (and a few emotional tears). I am so proud of these women! We stick together, push through our fears, learn from our miscalculations, and always Hike On!

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. ūüė¶ ¬†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. ūüôā

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!

DSC00065

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! ūüôā

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!