After Featherette gave Mark and myself much needed haircuts, we used Featherback’s car to help them slackpack* a section of Trail. We set them up to the south, then used their car to set ourselves up with a slackpack 18 miles to the north the next day. The hike was easy and fast without the packs. We walked 18 miles in six hours through a forest thick with sassafras trees, blueberry bushes and many huge ant hills. The Trail wound creatively among a maze of stone at Rocky Ridge, then atop White Rocks, a spine of erosion resistant quartzite. We ended the day at Campbell Spring Shelter where our backpacks were stashed.
Mark had made arrangements to meet up with his girlfriend at the road crossing 9 miles from the shelter the next day. But first we had to do the infamous Cumberland roadwalk. The Appalachian Trail cut through the farm land along country roads for over 9 miles. The AT has since been relocated off the roads, not nessesarily a good thing as I feel some road walks add to the Appalachian Trail experience. There was a restaurant where we were to meet Mark’s girl, so waiting wasn’t so bad. Mark left with his girlfriend and I hiked alone until we were to hook up in Duncannon. My girl was supposed to be with Mark’s girlfriend, but we know how that turned out! Needless to say, I was a bit melancholy as I slogged solo through the rain that day.
I spent that evening at Thelma Marks Shelter yukking it up with Red Devil, Ms Adventure, Ridgerunner and Catbird along with a couple of friendly locals. A quick 4 miles into town the next morning and a rendezvous with Mark at The Doyle!
My room at the Doyle was reserved so I took my place at the bar with Wingfoot, Ridgerunner, Marc n’ Debbie, Smokie and St Thomas. Wingy was buying me breakfast which consisted of beer and peanuts followed by more beer. We partied like that for a few hours, dominating the bar with our raucous. By the time Mark and his girlfriend showed up, I needed a nap! When I came to, it was pizza and beer all over again. We thru-hikers pumped up the local economy, spending cash at every pizza joint, package store and food mart in town. Later, we drove toward Harrisburg to view the fireworks. That evening we decided we’d spend our July 4th in Washington, DC, a stoned throw from Duncannon. The next morning it was HAE in DC!
There we were in our Nation’s Capitol on the Fourth of July with the rest of the world! We scanned the obligatory landmarks and monuments. What I thought was the line for beer turned out to be the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The place was crawling with tourists just like us and we didn’t last long amongst the seething masses. The claustrophobia was too much so we bailed and headed back towards Duncannon and the return to the Trail. After one more night in town, we setup a slackpack for the day’s hike by shuttling our packs ahead, then we said goodbye to Mark’s girl and climbed out of the Susquehanna River valley and back into the Pennsylvania woods.
* Slackpacking is simply hiking without a backpack. Usually the walker has their gear shuttled ahead and they walk to the packs. Some thru-hikers feel this is “cheating”. Obviously much easier and faster than hiking with the pack.
…continue the expedition, read: Party At Port Clinton [link]