“He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'” – Adam, Genesis 3:10
“If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today.” – Lou Holtz
I was excited about the morning hike because I was headed to Duncannon, a trail town with a reputation of being hiker friendly. Unfortunately, timing is everything and Monday morning is not the time for a hiker to stroll into town. First stop was a popular breakfast place…closed on Mondays. Across the street was the famously run-down Doyle Hotel, a cross between a hiker hostel and a slum. I didn’t need lodging and their famously good restaurant doesn’t serve breakfast. Ice cream place…closed. Laundromat…doesn’t exist. About the only thing open was a little mini-mart where I grabbed a banana and coffee and did some basic resupply. I asked the manager if there was a place in Duncannon that serves breakfast on a Monday morning. He looked at me as if I had asked for the secret password to unlock all bank vaults worldwide. I’m pretty sure he’s the same guy who answers the phone when you call computer tech support.
The AT then took me down the main drag, a residential street with no hiker services. At the far edge of town I found a campground…with no vending machines and no manager (was out on a shuttle run). I did find a bathroom and got water from the sink. Needless to say, Duncannon was a huge disappointment, although most of that was due to my Monday morning arrival. At least there were no sharp pointy rocks on the sidewalks.
As I left town and crossed over a river, I saw a gas station that had a Subway. Yeah! I went there for a foot-long Spicy Italian and five cups of lemonade. Hiking on, I arrived at Clarks Ferry Shelter and cameled up because the guide showed limited water options for the next several miles. At the shelter I met a hiker named Deuces Wild. He told me he got that name because he poops 5-6 times per day. Lovely.
At mile 1157.6, after 15 miles, I called it a day at the Peters Mountain Shelter. I met and talked to Fresh Breath and two lady hikers, Eggplant and Parmesan. As I laid there in the shelter that night, I remembered that tomorrow was the Summer Solstice, the first day of summer and longest day of the year. That also meant it would be Hike Naked Day, another AT tradition! Leave it to Fob to end up on Peters Mountain in the Peters Mountain Shelter on the eve of Hike Naked Day! Realistically, I had no plans to hike naked. I couldn’t afford to have my swinging vine get poison ivy or get caught in my hip belt. Besides, hiking naked would be major eye pollution to my fellow hikers, including Eggplant and Parmesan who were tenting nearby. As an alternative, I decided to sleep naked, and so I did…on Peters Mountain…in the Peters Mountain Shelter.
I awoke and got dressed, a little curious as to how Hike Naked Day would play out. In short, it was a bust…no pun intended. I didn’t see a single hiker that day, northbound or southbound, who was hiking in the buff. I learned later of one boyfriend-girlfriend team who night-hiked naked for a few hours in the dark.
Today was a long, hot, rocky day. Rocksylvania opened up a small seam on the bottom of my trail shoes and I made a mental note that I would need a replacement pair soon. Near Rattling Run, mile 1168.3, I got some video of a deer as I walked by her, just a few feet away. My presence didn’t bother her a bit.
Throughout the day I heard the occasional sounds of distant explosions. I assumed I must be near some sort of military training base, and that would turn out to be true (Fort Indiantown Gap, an Army post). At mile 1171, near Yellow Springs Village Site, an old coal mining settlement, I saw my friend Tree laying in his hammock between two trees by the side of the trail. On a trail where it seems far too many hikers are focused on obtaining big mile days and finishing the AT quickly, I love to see a young guy chilling in his hammock and reading a book in the shade in the middle of the afternoon. He’s enjoying the journey and hasn’t gotten caught up in the competitive mindset of who hiked the most miles that day or finished the trail the quickest.
After an 18.5 mile, Hike Clothed Day, I stealth camped near Rausch Creek at mile 1176.1. Rausch Gap was a coal mining town that began, flourished, and died between 1830 and 1910. Today, all that remains are some building foundations and a small cemetery near where I camped. With the exception of the occasional sound of mortar fire, it was a peaceful night in the Pennsylvania mountains.
I decided to take a Near-0 day, hiking just 5.6 miles on the AT (to the sound of mortars) and then another 2.5 miles on a side trail to spend the night in Lickdale. On the way in, I got three different hotels in a bidding war for the cheapest military or hiker rate, which drove the price down considerably. Best Western won the bidding war, and was right next to a Subway, Wendy’s, and Burger King. This was going to be a high calorie stay! I ate at Burger King, showered and did laundry at the hotel, and then did second dinner at Wendy’s. It was good to feel full and clean again.
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