Friday, May 03, 2019

Lessons of an Appalachian Trail Section Hike – Duncannon to Port Clinton in PA

This was the first multi night hike I have done since being in a car wreck early last year after just
finishing the Florida Trail. I had gone out for two overnights since then but nothing like this. I am of
a determined mind that I can do what I set myself up to do – which for this hike was to hopefully finish much of PA (working right now on my third hike of the AT). But hikes don’t always go as planned.

Day One – Duncannon to Peter’s Mtn Shelter – 12 miles  
Thought it would rain but only after I hit the ridge when I encountered a major thunderstorm for about fifteen minutes. All my gear stayed dry with a nice new compactor trash bag and a cuben fiber bag for my pack items. Terrain not bad and nice views looking back at the Susquehanna River. Arrived at the shelter to be greeted by several men in residence and the very long descent for water down 300 rock steps (!) Like my new Sea to Summit Ether Light XT insulated sleeping pad but found out it runs cold, even though it is listed as insulated. Had to use my thin ensolite pad over it for more insulation. Did like the blow up method for it using a bag, worked quickly.    
Day Two – Peter’s Mtn Shelter to one mile south of Rausch Gap – 17 miles
Was not intending to go so far, but the lack of campsites made it tough. The campsites that were listed in the Guthook trail app already had campers in them. That’s what you get for trying to find space on Saturday in nice weather. Some rocky terrain and muddy, wet areas also. Am liking the replacement shoes I selected for the trip – Brooks Cascadias, after the Brooks Adrenaline ASR shoes were phased out. . Found a place to set up under the boughs of a pine tree after moving once due to rocks, holey areas and dotted with deer pellets (!).
Day Three - Rausch Gap to William Penn Shelter – 14.6
Took a bypass today around a big beaver dam area with knee deep water from a hiker’s report. Did tag team today with a hiker I had met at Peter’s Mtn, Slo-go-in. Some rain, temps to plummet into the high twenties (!). Crossed some wild water necessitating me to put on crocs for the slog through. Passed over the Swatara bridge, saw an old lock, then under Interstate 81 which I travel frequently on to NY. Nice to see it, this time by foot. Bundling up in every piece of clothing I have tonight for a cold one.

Day Four – William Penn shelter to Black Swatara River campsite – 15

Did ok and survived a cold night with frost on my tent. Layering is the key. But now I am experiencing back issues from the accident. Pain and bring nerve pain. Having to stop frequently. Deciding now to cut my trip short and only hike to Port Clinton rather than risk further issues by going on. Met the caretaker of 501 shelter. Ran into a biologist on the trail who told me about different plants. Also mentioned camping at Black Swatara, which when I arrived had been wiped out from floods. And the trail down to the water source was steam. NOT a good place to camp, but no other choice as it was getting late. Had rain during the night, and the zipper on the tent fly is not working right. :(

Day Five –Black Swatara to Port Clinton – 13.8
Arranged for a pick up that afternoon at Port Clinton with my back giving my trouble. Up and over more rocky terrain and muddy areas. I have realized after this trip that I will need to redo how I hike trails and my plans and goals. That is, take more rest breaks. Watch mileage. Try to watch the weight in my backpack.  Go with the flow and don’t get overzealous with plans.   

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