We woke up at 3:30 this morning to a hellacious storm! I heard lots of zippers flying and hikers telling trying to get their rain flies on their tents before their gear got too wet. The thunderstorms were insane and hit twice before chilling out around 7 am. We all dried out our gear best we could and got a little later start. We had a short 9 miles into Port Clinton. We walked and walked and noticed a lot of mistakes in our guidebooks. A lot of the milestones and elevation profiles were incorrect, making the humid and hot morning seem a lot longer than usual. We climbed a steep hill and were sweating pretty heavy. We took several breaks before finally coming to the 1100-foot straight down hill walk into Port Clinton. Nokey was moving fast and kept on going straight down. I tried to bypass a few rock steps due to knee pain and ended up falling down all of them! We got to the gravel road that was about 9/10 the way down the hill and we hear yelling from the other side of the river “NOKEY!” it was so weird to hear, so we ran down rest of the hill to find Dances with Flies, Feathers, Wild Turky, Q-tip, and Rainman! Flies was shocked he yelled to us and we were up the hill. He was just yelling because he had heard we were close by! We all walked into Port Clinton together and went to eat lunch at the Port Clinton Hotel. Nokey and I had planned on taking a long break and hiking out, but the heat warning hit and the day got hotter and hotter. It was a heat index of 105 degrees and the sun was relentless. We decided to just stay in town at the hiker pavilion with everyone, as well as Otto, DK and Big E. it was Q-tip’s last night on the trail, so we all had a bit of a hiker party and called it a later night. We are hoping for some rain and a cooler day tomorrow.
This morning Huey dropped us back off at The Doyle at 7 am, so we had some time to kill before the doctor opened. Nokey’s parents were coming in town today to say hi to him since they were on their way to NC for a vacation, but weren’t coming until about 2 pm. we went across the street to Goodies and ordered a cheap breakfast and ate. The food was great, but it was still pretty early. We decided to walk to the other end of town and hang out in a park until I could get into a doctors appointment. Nokey went down to The gas station for some Gatorades and came back with a big surprise: Wall-e! I hadn’t seen him since before the Shennandoahs! He was with Juan Solo and they were coming in town for a short resupply and hike out. We hung out for a while and then I went to my appointment. The diagnosis: acute and chronic bursitis lateral to the Achilles. I was given some localized pain patches and told to rest a few days. There isn’t much that can be done due to it being an overuse injury. I went back to The Doyle where Wall-e and Nokey were shooting pool and told them the news.
Nokey’s parents showed up close to 3 pm and we decided to jump in the car and go on vacation too. It gives me a chance to rest my foot and get us away from the trail. We are in a weird bubble of hikers at this point and the fun is kind of disappearing. We’re weary and exhausted from the constant beating on our bodies and a break is desparately needed. No thinking about the trail for 8 more days!
Days 77 & 78
We zeroed at the hotel today as our bodies were exhausted and we felt tired. It’s amazing how much your body can put up with until you rest! You’d think after walking over 1100 miles that your body would get used to the abuse, but it doesn’t! Nokey and I got ready for our 17-mile hike into Duncannon on a sunny and cool day. The first 7 miles or so were farmland and flat and went quickly, followed by a climb up to a view near the Darlington Shelter. We then had a gentle descent back down into private farmland, down to a creek, and then back uphill to the Cove Mountain Shelter. On the way up, our guidebook warned of rocky terrain, but honestly I’d seen worse rocks throughout most of Virginia! We took a short break at the junction of the Cove Mountain Shelter Trail as my Achilles tendon was screaming at me yet again. We had a great break and then came down onto Hawk Rocks and then quickly descended into Duncannon! There’s a hotel in town, The Doyle, which is a hiker staple. After getting downtown and taking a look, we decided we definitely were not staying there. I had a box to pick up there and the owners tried to convince us to stay as we got there so early, but we just got dinner and hung out with Nacho at the bar. We then met a local guy, Huey, who is an Irishman and has great stories. We all three went down to The Pub and had a few drinks. Huey then invited us to stay at his house just outside of town for the night. We happily agreed at the thought of a free night in a real bed and went with him. Tomorrow, I’m off to the doctor to see how my foot is holding up as I’m worried about the constant and nagging pain, as well as the lump on my ankle.
As sad as we were to leave Snow’s house in the rain, the hike had to continue! Snow told us he’s drop us off at the Mid Atlantic’s ATC office downtown so we didn’t have to start walking in the rain quite so early! After thanking him profusely for his generosity, we were on our way! Our first 14 miles today were going to be through private farmland meaning one big thing in the rain - long, wet grass! Our feet were soaked nearly immediately and the tree cover was sparse, so we were soaked to the bone in less than 20 minutes. However, we were happy that it was raining rather than sunny so we wouldn’t burn up in the sun! Our first four miles went by in less than an hour and 10 minutes. We walked past a gorgeous old stone farm house with an overgrown, neglected family cemetery on the property and came to the I-67 overpass and then the route 11 overpass. It was 11:30 now and we were not only soaked (the rain came down harder and steadier now), but we were getting cold since it was only about 65 degrees and the wind was blowing. We checked our book and remembered Snow telling us there was a great 24-hour cheap diner just past route 11. We saw a note on the overpass from HB saying that the diner wasn’t far and that the food was good, so we decided to go get some coffee and a cheap lunch. When we got to the diner we texted Flash and he said he was going to hike on, so it was just Nokey and me. We checked the weather and it called for severe afternoon storms with hail. We decided to head next door to the Days Inn and get a room. I didn’t feel so bad about this decision given that we were freezing and soaked. We took hot showers and watched TV, made phone calls, and got some rest for hiking the next day. I don’t have photos today since it was pouring rain the whole time and it was too chilly to stop :)