I was walking in the clouds today… and it was chilly!
No, let me first start by reporting that porcupines are real. They exist. Two of the five of us staying at the shelter last night saw one. It was not a party porcupine though, and did not try to join us in the shelter, mercifully.
It did rain all last night, but let up by the time I got up, around 6:30. I was feeling antsy, and wanted to get into Duncannon early, so I ate a dry breakfast, packed up, and set off while Morning Song was still heating water. Only 4 miles, right? It was interestingly eerie, hiking through the fog, and a mile in it began raining again, but the rain gear was equal to the task.
The guidebook warned of extreme rockiness. Not joking! The first two miles were level, running the ridgeline, and not too bad, I made good time. There was an overlook about halfway along… All you could see was white. Nothing else.
I had to renew my credentials as ‘wrong way Ziptie’, so at the overlook, I looked around for white blazes, spotted one a ways up the hill and set out in that direction. It was only when I passed a very familiar looking, just-cut tree did it sink in I was hiking back southbound. I ended up turning around and relooping the downward loop again, then found the right trail, and began heading downward.
And that’s where they began. The rock steps. Literally a mile of rock steps. The slope of the path was so steep, they had to put in hundreds of uneven rock steps, now slick with rain and wet leaves. I had to concentrate so hard on footing, it barely registered that I was walking next to a very steep drop-off. Another hiker I know fell twice navigating the steps and bruised at least one rib. Somewhere near the bottom, Morning Song passed me – he always hiked faster on the downhills, and I go faster on the uphill.
THEN, just add I could hear traffic from the road leading into Duncannon, the blasted trail went back up again! Steeply up! For no reason! Meaning… It had to come back down again! More rock stairs… And finally, a road. I followed the White-blazed road to the Doyle, a hiker bar of notable renown, good drinks and hamburgers, and rooms that saw their better days decades ago. Only $25 a night.
I joined Morning Song for a beer and a burger, and I decided to stay overnight. All my clothes were wet, my rain gear was wet, I needed to charge the phone, pick up stuff at the post office, etc. Not a zero day. A nearo day. It was a tough hike, but a good challenge!
Tomorrow, Morning Song will physically push me over the Susquehanna River bridge, then there’s a mountain to climb. Please, Lord, give me switchbacks and not more rock steps! Though I would prefer to be climbing those steps, rather than descending. Going down is a lot harder on the knees.
Tonight’s dinner was steak salad. Craving those fresh greens yet. For some reason, I have a blister on my little toe. Annoying, more than anything.
Sad news at the Doyle bar tonight – legendary thru-hiker Baltimore Jack died today, cause unknown. He hiked the AT at least 7 times… It was his career. Toasted him at the bar… Then went up to finish organizing for tomorrow, need to bounce some stuff up to Port Clinton. Fortunately the AT passes right past the post office on the way out of town.
The thru-hiker with the really annoying laugh just passed by outside. His group hikes faster than I do, so they will pull ahead of me tomorrow. I am grateful for that.
Tomorrow is another day.
I hike on.