Thursday, June 6, 2013

Of Rain, Blisters, Allergies and the Three H's

It was time for another hike. The Memorial Day weekend was over and we had a plan for one more hike. 

I was up around 0530. We got on the road around 07. It was raining most of the way to Pine Grove Furnace.  We parked a vehicle there and headed to Boiling Springs. The terrain wasn't too bad, except more rocks than Lisa liked and two rock mazes kinda sucked. After that we made good time and got to the James Fry  shelter in six hours and twenty minutes. Just a little under 2 mph. On the way a Pileated Woodpecker flew right in front of me.

Lots of hikers here.  Two other tents and we found good trees to hang.We brought along some extra rope for the hammocks.  This increases the possibilities of trees to use as the rope can be used in different configurations to extend the usual straps, which are only good for small girthed trees. Now we have more options. We set up camp, ate dinner, got water and went to our hammocks early to write, read and rest.  The next day's plan is 7 miles to pine grove, drive to Duncannon and hike 4 more.
First Night's Camp
The next morning was dry and we got packed up and on the trail at 0717.  We made good time to Pine Grove, but Lisa wasn't having fun anymore. She decided to bail out at Duncannon. I would go on alone. This was easy to do with two vehicles. 
Fuller Lake - Pine Grove Furnace
We drove to Duncannon and had lunch at the Doyle, a hiker tradition. 

The Doyle

Lunch and Refreshment
I headed down the road and Lisa headed home. The way was very rocky as I headed up the ridge. 
An example of the rocky trail
Looking down to Duncannon
I passed Lady Grey again and said hello. One of her hiking partners, Tommy Hawk asked right away where my wife was. I got to Cove Mountain Shelter in two hours the same amount of time it took for Lisa to drive home.

The shelter was nice, the water wasn't too far down hill and I was alone for now. I was thinking of moving on to shorten tomorrow's hike, but I was dehydrated and still sweating so I decided to stay and relax. I ate dinner and was resting in the shelter when I heard a chewing sound.  I looked up and there was Mr. porcupine, chewing on the cooking bench.
Around 2040 I heard someone coming in. It was three hikers. I said hello and they went about their chores. I got my earplugs and went back to sleep.  I stayed in the shelter to get an early start. I planned on finishing the hike the next day if I could do 21 plus miles and it was supposed to be hot.
Mr Porcupine

I got up just before 5 and was on the trail at 0533. I had two ridges to get over and then the hot, open Cumberland Valley after that. 

I moved pretty good as the day brightened and heated up. I started seeing the hikers that had stayed at the shelter the other night.  I would get water at every opportunity and was carrying an extra liter because of the heat.

After descending the first ridge I crossed some fields of hay. It was waist high and growing right up to the trail. I pushed through carrying my trekking poles. After I left the fields and headed back up the next ridge, my eye started feeling funny like it was swelling up. I got to Darlington shelter and sneezed about 20 times. I took an allergy pill and moved on. 
Hello HayFever
I finished the ridges and started the valley. I felt some hot spots and checked my feet. I was getting blisters on the front of the balls of my feet. I applied duct tape and kept moving. The heat of the day had arrived. 

I stopped for lunch about halfway through. I sat under a tree next to Conodoguinet Creek and rested, ate, drank water and checked my feet. I had about 10 or so miles to go. It was time to get going.
Lunch Stop
From here on I would be hiking in pain. I would go a mile or two and then stop to rest my feet. I startled a groundhog next to a corn field along the way and had a rabbit run right in front of me as I moved along.  After a few hours, I had about two miles to go.  Each step hurt, but I tried to keep as best a pace as I could. After what felt like forever I came to the road that was Boiling Springs. I walked to the truck, put my pack in, took my sweaty wet shirt off and changed into my mock crocks. My hike was done.
Bird on a Post
I drove back to Maryland where my bride and a nice shower awaited me.  
Even though these hikes were about 100 miles less than our planned 175 mile hike, we still managed to see some pretty cool parts of the Appalachian Trail. As usual I learned a lot about myself and hiking. 
Hiking isn't easy, but I sure like doing it.

My total AT miles are now just over 200 (200.9).  Still not even 10% done, but I'm carving up a little each time I go out to new trail.  
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