AT-PA Rt. 501 to Swatara Gap Rt. 72

The last section of Pennsylvania!!! Woot!

It wasn’t clear whether I was going to be able to get this state done before the end of the year.  I was determined, however, and put an all out call to any of my Facebook friends who might want to do this last 12 miles with me…and one of them said YES!!!!

My friend, Lola, and I opted outside on Black Friday!  I had to leave pretty early from Frederick, Maryland to get to Swatara Gap by 8:15 am.  I pulled up beside the iron bridge with time to spare…only to notice that there are new signs declaring cars will be towed.  Well, this is new to me.  The last time I was here it was okay to park on the side of Rt. 72…NO MORE!  So when Lola cruised in behind me a few minutes later we backtracked, going around to the back of the creek, on the old State Road, in order to park in the “real” parking lot.  Just an fyi folks…no parking on Rt. 72 anymore! (maybe it was always illegal…but lots of people did it, including me, and never got a ticket or anything)


Ready to go! Last section of PA underway!

With one car properly parked, we headed to 501 to begin the last section of PA for me!!! This day was meant to be.  Warm temps, blue skies, …Black Friday?  Felt like an early spring day!


We were greeted with a fantastic view just south of 501.  After that it was pretty decent hiking (with the understanding that it is Pennsylvania and there are the regular amount of rocks along the way).

A nice sunny spot was waiting for me at the William Penn Shelter.  I took the opportunity to soak up the sun while chomping on a crisp apple…oh the delights of fall.  “What the heck?…Oh, my phone.”  It was in my right pocket and digging into my hip in a way that was none too comfortable, so I rolled to my left hip and yanked it out.  Apparently, my chapstick felt the need to also exit my pocket in a leap for freedom and promptly fell through a crack in the floor of the shelter to the ground below.   The one item I hated to lose.  *sniff*  “Bye-bye chapstick…so sad you are gone.” 😦


Moving on, the trail resumed the regular rocky until after the old powerline view.   For about a quarter mile there are some bigger rocks which required a bit of rock hopping.  “Come on rocks, dance with me!” I muttered under my breath as I tipped forward, then backwards, on one of the looser specimens.  At this point, I looked to my left and right.  I stopped, calling back to Lola, who was doing a bit of dancing of her own.  “Look at that” I exclaimed, pointing to the woods beside the trail.  “Do you see ANY rocks over there???”  It was a rhetorical question, as there were NO rocks to be seen anywhere EXCEPT where we were walking…teetering…whatever. Oh, Pennsylvania, you amuse me…


1000 miles going southbound!

It seems my feet have gotten soft since my backpack in PA this summer.  As we approached the steep downhill into Swatara Gap, they were quite vocal in their disapproval of this 12 miles!  When I stepped onto the road, after following the trail underneath I-81, it felt so good! Level ground, no rocks!

Whelp! PA section is complete!



It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, and there are some sections I would love to do again!  I loved this state most for the people who hiked it with me.  Dirigo, Python, Google, CanDo, Queen V, Lola and many other women I met through Trail Dames.  Also, my brother, Albie, who hiked a portion of the trail between Pine Grove Furnace and Caledonia SP with me. He showed me that I could do a 15 mile day! Brothers are awesome!! 🙂 🙂

On to Virginia and softer trails! Hike On! 🙂




Caledonia State Park, PA…Put it on the short list!

Caledonia State Park is quite possibly one of the prettiest state parks near Frederick, Maryland.  The air is scented with pine, the creek bubbles and gurgles as it curls its way through the park, and the towering pine trees leave me with the most serene, peaceful feeling every time I visit.

Labor Day Weekend I was invited up by Queen V.  She was spending the weekend at the park and decided to come out of her tent to hike with me!  I haven’t seen her since the backpack in June and was looking forward to hearing about her hike in Sweden.  One of these days I will go on a hike somewhere in Europe…but until then I depend on my international hiker friends, like Queen V!!

Stopped at the visitor center to pick her up, then headed to the Hosack Run area to pick up the Greenwood Road Trail.  We walked through the woods catching up on the summer and on Queen V’s adventure on the Fjallraven Classic.

BoobOnARock and Queen V take to the trail...oh it's on!

BoobOnARock and Queen V take to the trail…oh it’s on!

We were hiking to the Long Pine Run Reservoir in Michaux State Forest.  September was here and the start of the day had been crisp!  I could feel a hint of autumn in the air!

Queen V is a great person to hike with because it is so easy to carry on a conversation with her as we hike.  I am not much of a talker, but it seemed as if the miles flew by as we gossiped, caught up on each other’s adventures, and generally, just rambled about whatever. 🙂

Lunch by the lake. :)

Lunch by the lake. 🙂

The terrain was perfect for my recovering knee (injured last weekend dodging a bee…).  There were no big step downs, which are still giving me a bit a pain.  But more than that, there are so many pine trees that the trail is pretty soft in spots…love it!  We stopped for lunch in one such spot.  Sinking into the ground we started pulling out our goodies…oh, what’s that? Queen V brought Sidekick Pauli’s favorite…summer sausage!  Lucky, lucky dog!

Oh, it's summer sausage time by the lake! :) :)

Oh, it’s summer sausage time by the lake! 🙂 🙂

Thanks Queen V for the photo! Me & Sidekick Pauli in the Pines

Thanks Queen V for the photo! Me & Sidekick Pauli in the Pines

Rounding the reservoir, we found many places for Sidekick Pauli to get her feet wet. 🙂  My dog is getting older now, 8 years old last May, and while she is not much of a swimmer, she does love to splash!  We rounded back around the lake and took another siesta on the rocks.  Sidekick Pauli made a friend with a very little yorkshire terrier who was just smitten with her. 🙂



Sidekick Pauli makes a very tiny friend, Rocko

Sidekick Pauli makes a very tiny friend, Rocko

Thank you to Queen V for including me in her Labor Day weekend getaway!  This was awesome!

Grab a good friend and 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

In the Main Cavity: Sleeping Bag
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
Bug spray
Water Filter
Toilet Paper/Hand sanitizer
Gatorade bottle

In the Bottom Pockets Poncho Pack
Cover Hat

In the Back Net
Camp shoes

Total weight = 31 lbs

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


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!


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 Peter’s Mtn Shelter to Duncannon 9.3 miles 5/27/14

This gallery contains 11 photos.

May 27, 2014 Last Day Peter’s Mountain Shelter to Duncannon Rain was in the forecast, with possible thunderstorms so we got moving early hoping we could get to Duncannon before the rain!  I ate a quick breakfast of Clif bars and hot tea before heading out.  We made good time and decided to make a […]

AT-PA Yellow Springs Village to Peter’s Mountain Shelter 5/26/14

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May 26, 2014 Yellow Springs Campsite to Peter’s Mountain Shelter 13.5 miles,  Staying at shelter   Something like sciatic nerve pain, but down the front of my leg, kept me tossing all night.  Add that to continuously sliding off my mat and you have all the makings for an early rise! I had fallen asleep […]

AT-PA Darlington Shelter to Duncannon 10.9 miles 5/24/2014

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Day 2 Saturday May 24, 2014 Darlington Shelter to Duncannon, PA (Staying at the Stardust Motel) I fell today.  Yes, a sacrifice to the trail gods was necessary before the descent into Duncannon.  As usual for me it was on the least rocky section of trail…I loosen my focus for 2 seconds…skinned my right knee […]

AT-PA Trindle Road to Darlington Shelter 10.2 Miles 5/23/2014

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Day 1 Friday May 23, 2014 Trindle Road to Darlington Shelter  (Staying in shelter) This day! Wow! Easiest hiking I have ever done on the AT if you exclude the part just before Darlington Shelter. Google and I left Trindle Road at about 10 am this morning and got to Darlington about 4:30 pm.  The […]

Planning out Loud…Five months to go!

Officially planning for a backpack in May!  As I sort through my books…and I got a new one (insert happy squeaky voice)…I am sort of talking through the backpack.  The dogs are giving me the “oh god, again?” look and the cats are quite distracted as they have found the corner of my books are quite fun to rip apart.  Oh well, shoo cats, I have work to do. 🙂

So I think I will try to do 70 miles in 6 days…hahahahahaaaa….chortle, guffaw and all that nonsense. What am I thinking?  I prefer 8 mile days…But I am sticking to this plan for the moment.  I mean I have 5 whole months to prepare…

The elevation profiles are from my new book (yes, squeaky happy voice again 🙂  )  The ALDHA AT Thru-Hiker’s Companion.  Still love AWOL’s book, but the elevation profiles are a bit more detailed in the ALDHA book. Either book is a super resource to have when planning.   I take the official AT maps on the backpack.

Anyway, here’s the plan:

During the Trail Dame Camp Out: Section between PA94 Mt. Holly Springs and Pine Grove Furnace SP ~10.5 miles

Section A

The following week I will return to the area to backpack ~70 mile section.

Day 1: PA94 Mt Holly Springs, PA (1104.3) to Backpackers campsite (1112.5) 8.2 miles

Section 1

Day 2: Backpackers campsite to Darlington Shelter (1127.2)  14.7 miles No camping allowed in between!!

Section 2

Day 3: Darlington Shelter to Duncannon, PA.  (1138.5)  11.3 miles Stay in hotel.   Resupply as needed.

Section 3

Day 4: Duncannon, PA to Peters Mountain Shelter (1149.8) 11.3 miles

Section 4

Day 5: Peters Mountain Shelter to Yellow Springs Trail (Clearing with trail register, camping) (1163.3) 13.5 miles

Section 5

Day 6: Yellow Springs campsite to Swatara Gap, PA 72 Lickdale, PA (1174)  10.7 miles

Section 6So here’s to planning on a frigid winter day! Now I am going to sit back, have another cup of Peppermint tea and figure out how I am going to day hike all of Shenandoah National Park during 2014! Hike on! 😀

The Cure for Winter Doldrums

Cold is everywhere.  It was 1 degree Fahrenheit in Dallas, Texas today!  Overnight and into tomorrow, here on the eastern seaboard, we are under a wind chill warning…negative 15 degrees…ugh.  This is the time of year when it is easy for me to become a total slug.  I fall into the lull of winter.  I don’t want to work; I don’t want to hike.  Heck, I am in some kind of winter funk!

So today I made a conscious decision to do something that would energize me.  Little Caesar and I looked at our schedule a few days ago and decided that between the spring and summer semesters there were a few days in which I could go backpacking!!!  This is an unexpected and absolutely phenomenal turn of events!  I was pretty sure with everything we have going on right now that leaving Little Caesar with the dogs and cats in order to escape to the woods for a couple of days was out of the question.  Well, okay now, … I immediately pulled out my AT maps and books.  Where to hike? Where to hike…hmmm?  Pennsylvania! Yes, that would be good…close to home and yet I can get new AT miles.  🙂 🙂

Trail Planning!

Trail Planning!

In May I am spending a weekend with Trail Dames of Maryland.  We rented a PATC cabin in Pennsylvania and plan to stay two nights and hike our butts off! I will get a few new AT miles in just by being there.  But the following week, I plan on backpacking a little further north to Swatara Gap.  I contacted Google, the woman I hiked with in Georgia and Maryland, and she is game! Yes!

My winter doldrums are being held at bay for a while!  Planning for a spring backpack gives me a goal to work towards. It gives me a reason to get out and walk in town or on a trail regardless of the weather!  Although tomorrow when the wind chill is NEGATIVE 15 I will be inside planning! 😉