Saturday, October 4, 2014

Swatara Gap to Palmerton, PA - Section Hike - Day 1

Ready to start the hike.  EarthTone and Sequoia
Note:  Each day I would write a few notes in my notepad and then make an entry in my Google Keep notes using the following template.  I'm not sure exactly where I got the template, but I seem to remember that Earl Shaffer used something similar.  It is a good way for me to gather my thoughts and events of the day for later publication.  I would write up my 8 items and a short log entry and post it to Facebook each night before going to sleep.  This hike was marked by a lot of good signal at our stops for the day and I was able to post each night as we hiked along.  Below are my five posts along with expanded log entries of the daily happenings and some pictures.  I hope you enjoy coming along with me on my hike.

PA Hike Day 1
1. Highday, Halimath, 30. Hike starts. Goal - 501 Shelter. 12.8 miles.
2. Day 1
3. Morning temp: 60
4. Weather: clouds at first then a perfect hiking day.
5. Time start: 0910
6. Time stop and miles: 1600 - 12.8
7. End point: 501 shelter
8. Events: stung by bee.
Log: Nice chat with boy scouts. Some hikers and day hikers out all along the trail. Sleeping in shelter tonight since it is a nice shelter. Two other hikers here so far.

I left home around 6:30am with my full pack weighing in around 37 lbs.  I had packed it up a couple days early with four days of food and just under 2 liters of water and it came in at 38.6.  The next couple days I would think of what I could eliminate to try and get it lighter.  About a pound was all I could manage, but that is better than nothing.

I arrived at Sequoia's house in Gettysburg just before 8am and we were on our way to Swatara Gap with Smiles A Lot (Sequoia's wife) at the wheel.  We got to the starting point where I had finished my last day hike to even us up on the northbound trail and after a couple of pictures, we were on our way with me in the lead.  The morning was overcast, but the temperature was fine, with some humidity in the air to get the sweat flowing.  After a nice walk through the park we started up our first climb.  

We were hiking good when I came upon a hole in the ground right on the trail.  It looked as though someone/thing had dug it up.  Looking inside I saw a mass of yellow jackets.  I also noticed some comb laying about the area.  As I lollygagged by, I felt a sting on my calf.  I guess I went a little too slow and the bees were still pissed off.  I knocked it off and continued on.  

We continued along for a good three hours up on the ridge.  The trail was mostly good, with a few rocky places here and there.  After about six miles, we came on a group of four.  Two scouts and their leaders.  We had a nice conversation about the trail and all.  

Our first "view".  This is near the 1002 mile marker for Southbounders
Boy Scouts took our picture
We ate lunch by the William Penn Shelter.  I went to get water and it was just a trickle.  I only needed to fill my 24oz Nalgene, so it didn't take too long.

We arrived at the 501 Shelter around 4pm after a 12.8 mile day.  It was a decent mileage for the first day.  There were two other hikers there.  Sobo sectioners from Jim Thorpe, PA.  

At first, I put up my hammock in a small area to the west of the shelter, but after some conversation, I decided to sleep in side.  That would turn out to be what I call a circle night.  I would lay on my back, roll to my side, roll to my stomach, roll to the other side.  All. Night. Long.  Lesson (re)learned.  Sleeping on air is worth the work it takes to break camp if the alternative is sleeping on plywood.  

"Famous" 501 Shelter
Interior of 501 Shelter.  My plywood bunk on right.
The other hikers had a nice fire going, so I did some firewood gathering as my contribution and enjoyed the fire for a while.  But as usual, by the time dusk was settling, I was in my bunk, reading and resting.  Day 1 had come to an end.  

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