Trail Notes – May 7-8

This will be a long one! May 7 and 8, cell reception was minimal, but mostly non-existent. The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. So where did I leave off? Ah, yes.

May 7

I started hiking south from Peters Mountain Gap Shelter. Yes, that’s right… South. Terrain that you hike when it is rainy and foggy looks vastly different when that bright light in the sky is present. I hiked somewhere between 1.25 and 1.5 miles in the wrong direction before dayhiker kindly corrected me. So, at the beginning of the day, I’d already hiked about 3 miles and gotten nowhere… And then the bright light disappeared and it downpoured on me again. Pennsylvania getting it’s last licks in? I can only hope!

Moss-covered rocks are pretty. Wet moss-covered rocks are slippery! Fortunately, they are also softer than non-moss-covered rocks, because Ziptie fell sideways on one when her hiking pole slipped off another. Again, no, she did not make a sound. It took me a few minutes to get back up though, with a pack semi-wedged sideways. No harm to anything but pride!

Eventually, God turned the light in the sky back on again, but I still did not have it in me yet to hike 18 miles, plus the 3 extra. I joined hikers Survivor and Morning Song at a campsite 7.3 miles fron starting point, making it a 10.3 mile day.

It was not the most fun day I have had, but I was resolved not to quit. Things were better after I got to camp and made dinner, pitched my tent. I’d forgotten how much I liked the privacy of a tent. I also successfully, and this time properly, hung my bear bag in a tree, since the campsite did not have bear boxes or poles. That was a minor, but telling triumph. At this point, the food bag is getting pretty light, Port Clinton being only a few days away.

And then it rained on us again! I stayed dry in my tent, though. Everything important stayed dry. It was good. The next morning, though, with clotheslines and wet tents and gear hung up all over the place, it looked like a laundromat exploded. Which leads us into …

May 8

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I’m sure you were watching!

Today was an 11 miler, from the campsite we were at, about a third of a mile south of PA 325, to the Rausch Gap Shelter. I had a semi-late start (I wouldn’t leave the tent until it was confirmed the sky was blue, not grey and cloudy), and we had to dry a lot of gear (see above), but the trail was relatively easy, compared to other days, and I went the right way this time. I found myself enjoying the hike quite a bit. At one point, it even followed an old stagecoach route.

At another point, it passed by the ruins of an old town. There was a campfire ring there, and someone had gone to a lot of trouble to arrange flat rocks into rock ‘lounge chairs’ around the fire ring. I took off the pack, pulled out some gorp, and reclined. Ah, bliss! That was living! I stayed there for about 30 minutes, and my feet rested enough to tackle the next 3.5 mile chunk.

4 miles from endpoint, I stopped again, at a clearing where some other hikers were having lunch, and pulled out some lunch of my own : a tuna packet, a tortilla to roll the tuna in, a small round of cheese, and some chocolate. They had accidentally dropped their maps along the way, but I picked them up and returned them, to the couples’ great relief. You never want to lose your maps!

Rausch Gap Shelter stood out for the ease of getting water. No 300 rock steps here! The piped spring was about 15 feet from the shelter, and it spilled into a trough, which in turn spilled out to the ground. The cleanest water was out of the pipe, but the trough-spill was very handy for non-drinking purposes like washing hands and so on. Morning Song, Survivor, a section hiker, and I were the only ones in the shelter; the rest were tenting. I would have tented, but it was late afternoon when I got there, and camp chores needed to be done before the sun went down. We campfired for a while, but it was getting late, for hikers anyway. A chilly night! No bears are our food.

I hiked on.

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