PA

Day 97 
With a Camelbak full of metallic water, we headed down the mountain to Delaware Water Gap!  It rained a bit last night, so we got a later start of 8 am.  We left camp to a downhill, but thankfully the rocks aren’t as brutal this morning!  We had quicker walking and got to Totts Gap and an abandoned road in less than 1.5 hours.  We made the easy climb to Mt Minsi and Nokey and I took a break at an abandoned firetower site.  From here, we had a rocky downhill stumble into DWG!  There were lots of dayhikers out for the holiday and we passed nearly 20 people.  Halfway down, the landscape changed from dry and rocky to wet and rhododendron!  It was a beautiful last mile into town, passing a pond with lots of lillypads!  We walked down in to town and straight to the Village Market to get something to eat and drink.  We then went to pick up our resupply boxes and to the hostel for a shower. It was blistering hot.  We couldn’t take the heat any longer and no place we went had AC.  We say in a pizza shop for a while and met Pocahantas, Leggs, and Houdini.  We found out the Pocono Inn had AC, so we broke down our tent and headed there for some relaxation!  Tomorrow we head in to New Jersey, state #8!

Day 97
With a Camelbak full of metallic water, we headed down the mountain to Delaware Water Gap! It rained a bit last night, so we got a later start of 8 am. We left camp to a downhill, but thankfully the rocks aren’t as brutal this morning! We had quicker walking and got to Totts Gap and an abandoned road in less than 1.5 hours. We made the easy climb to Mt Minsi and Nokey and I took a break at an abandoned firetower site. From here, we had a rocky downhill stumble into DWG! There were lots of dayhikers out for the holiday and we passed nearly 20 people. Halfway down, the landscape changed from dry and rocky to wet and rhododendron! It was a beautiful last mile into town, passing a pond with lots of lillypads! We walked down in to town and straight to the Village Market to get something to eat and drink. We then went to pick up our resupply boxes and to the hostel for a shower. It was blistering hot. We couldn’t take the heat any longer and no place we went had AC. We say in a pizza shop for a while and met Pocahantas, Leggs, and Houdini. We found out the Pocono Inn had AC, so we broke down our tent and headed there for some relaxation! Tomorrow we head in to New Jersey, state #8!

Day 96 
We slept in until 7:30 this morning with the intention of getting the short 4 miles to Wind Gap for a long lunch.  We wanted to get out of the heat and get water in town.  We got down to Wind Gap where Boots was doing trail magic while he was off for the holiday. MM, FM, Nokey, and I all got a ride down to town to find everything was closed.  We got lunch and cold drinks at the gas station before heading back up to Wind Gap for a hike to the shelter.  The hill up Wind Gap was steep and rocky with no switchbacks.  We climbed to the top and took a break as our feet were killing us and we were super overheated.  We had slow hiking from here and we saw The Honeymoon Hikers a few times, leapfrogging them during our breaks.  We climbed up Wolf Rocks and then steeply down them to a roadbed.  We were able to make up some time with this level waking and it was so hot!  We got to PA-131 and then only had 0.6 miles to the shelter for water.  Our guidebook showed it as a downhill walk, but it was all uphill and our feet were sore.  I’d run out of water and just wanted to get to the shelter.  We got there and got our water, which tasted metallic and warm, and sat for a while before heading to our campsite at the Kirkland Overlook.  From our site. We could see in to New Jersey from here and even got to see some fireworks!  We took a lot of goofy photos and had a great hiker party before calling it a night.  Tomorrow - Delaware Water Gap! The photo is FM, MM, Bubblefoot, and Nokey on the overlook.

Day 96
We slept in until 7:30 this morning with the intention of getting the short 4 miles to Wind Gap for a long lunch. We wanted to get out of the heat and get water in town. We got down to Wind Gap where Boots was doing trail magic while he was off for the holiday. MM, FM, Nokey, and I all got a ride down to town to find everything was closed. We got lunch and cold drinks at the gas station before heading back up to Wind Gap for a hike to the shelter. The hill up Wind Gap was steep and rocky with no switchbacks. We climbed to the top and took a break as our feet were killing us and we were super overheated. We had slow hiking from here and we saw The Honeymoon Hikers a few times, leapfrogging them during our breaks. We climbed up Wolf Rocks and then steeply down them to a roadbed. We were able to make up some time with this level waking and it was so hot! We got to PA-131 and then only had 0.6 miles to the shelter for water. Our guidebook showed it as a downhill walk, but it was all uphill and our feet were sore. I’d run out of water and just wanted to get to the shelter. We got there and got our water, which tasted metallic and warm, and sat for a while before heading to our campsite at the Kirkland Overlook. From our site. We could see in to New Jersey from here and even got to see some fireworks! We took a lot of goofy photos and had a great hiker party before calling it a night. Tomorrow - Delaware Water Gap! The photo is FM, MM, Bubblefoot, and Nokey on the overlook.

Day 95 
We got up at 5 am this morning to have an early start without the heat and bugs.  We were still sore from the walk yesterday and our feet were torn up from the rocks, but we wanted to get a long break in for the hot part of the day.  We were off and hiking before 6:30.  The rocks this morning were brutal on our already sore feet and the trail was poorly blazed.  It took us only until 9:45 to get to Lehigh Gap and the river.  We were planning to hitch into Palmerton to get a snack and stay in some AC.  We got a hitch immediately from a nice woman who was from Maine.  We got to Palmerton and it was like stepping back in time!  It was a cute little town straight out of the 1950s.  People stopped on the street to ask us how we were.  We had a man pull over his car and get out to talk to us.  He told me I reminded him of his daughter and gave me 20 dollars to get something to eat.  MedicineMan and FatherMan were in town and we went to the Diner with them for breakfast.  While we were there, we met a local names Tyler who offered us a ride back to the trail.  We did a mini resupply and the four of us got in his truck to go back up to the trail.  We had only 11 miles to the shelter and were ready to go.  The first 5 miles went quickly, but the next six were rocky and slow-going.  Our feet were killing us.  I was starving and out of energy.  Nokey and I pushed on and made it to the camping area at Leroy Smith shelter at around 8 pm.  Since we’d gotten up at 5, it was a long day and we were beat.  We cooked a quick dinner of couscous and took care of my big toe, which is now infected and sore.  We met the ridgerunner and ran into Spirit and Y’s Guy, who we haven’t seen since Damascus and my third day, respectively.  We got into the tent just before dark and decided to sleep in late tomorrow!  The photo is of the Lehigh River.

Day 95
We got up at 5 am this morning to have an early start without the heat and bugs. We were still sore from the walk yesterday and our feet were torn up from the rocks, but we wanted to get a long break in for the hot part of the day. We were off and hiking before 6:30. The rocks this morning were brutal on our already sore feet and the trail was poorly blazed. It took us only until 9:45 to get to Lehigh Gap and the river. We were planning to hitch into Palmerton to get a snack and stay in some AC. We got a hitch immediately from a nice woman who was from Maine. We got to Palmerton and it was like stepping back in time! It was a cute little town straight out of the 1950s. People stopped on the street to ask us how we were. We had a man pull over his car and get out to talk to us. He told me I reminded him of his daughter and gave me 20 dollars to get something to eat. MedicineMan and FatherMan were in town and we went to the Diner with them for breakfast. While we were there, we met a local names Tyler who offered us a ride back to the trail. We did a mini resupply and the four of us got in his truck to go back up to the trail. We had only 11 miles to the shelter and were ready to go. The first 5 miles went quickly, but the next six were rocky and slow-going. Our feet were killing us. I was starving and out of energy. Nokey and I pushed on and made it to the camping area at Leroy Smith shelter at around 8 pm. Since we’d gotten up at 5, it was a long day and we were beat. We cooked a quick dinner of couscous and took care of my big toe, which is now infected and sore. We met the ridgerunner and ran into Spirit and Y’s Guy, who we haven’t seen since Damascus and my third day, respectively. We got into the tent just before dark and decided to sleep in late tomorrow! The photo is of the Lehigh River.

Day 94 
Today we were going to have a long day, not just with distance but because of the heat and water situation.  From our campsite, we had a climb up to Hawk Mountain.  We met Tree Hugger and Tripping Yeti up at Dans Pulpit and hung out.  Risky Business came up behind us and said he saw a huge rattlesnake in the trail.  We didn’t see it, but he was right behind us!  The ridgeline was rocky this morning and it took us longer than usual to go the miles.  We got to Allentown Shelter and Duck Soup was there.  He was overheated and decided to not go any further.  Nokey and I took an hour and a half for lunch.  I drank some Gatorade and I was exhausted.  My sweat smelled like ammonia so I  was worried about going on for the night.  We felt better after the break, so headed on.  We were planning to stop at Blue Mountain Summit Restaurant for a cold drink and some AC action.  Turns out they were closed today according to the sign.  We pouted for a bit, but headed onward toward Bake Oven Knob, the place in PA rumored to be the worst for rocks.  We climbed up over the Knife Edge and Bear Rocks and our feet were killing us because of the rocks.  We had a short walk on an old road before coming to the climb at Bake Oven Knob.  We climbed and sweat and bled a little from our bug bites.  We finally came to Bake Oven Knob shelter and it was a total dump - an original CCC shelter covered in graffiti and filled 
With trash.  We laughed at our bad luck and then had to walk over a mile for water for the night.  I found us a good campsite up the hill from the shelter/dump and Turtle was there as well.   It had been a long, hot day.  We decided to go straight to bed and get up very early to avoid the hot sun in the morning.  The photo is Nokey climbing the Knife Edge.

Day 94
Today we were going to have a long day, not just with distance but because of the heat and water situation. From our campsite, we had a climb up to Hawk Mountain. We met Tree Hugger and Tripping Yeti up at Dans Pulpit and hung out. Risky Business came up behind us and said he saw a huge rattlesnake in the trail. We didn’t see it, but he was right behind us! The ridgeline was rocky this morning and it took us longer than usual to go the miles. We got to Allentown Shelter and Duck Soup was there. He was overheated and decided to not go any further. Nokey and I took an hour and a half for lunch. I drank some Gatorade and I was exhausted. My sweat smelled like ammonia so I was worried about going on for the night. We felt better after the break, so headed on. We were planning to stop at Blue Mountain Summit Restaurant for a cold drink and some AC action. Turns out they were closed today according to the sign. We pouted for a bit, but headed onward toward Bake Oven Knob, the place in PA rumored to be the worst for rocks. We climbed up over the Knife Edge and Bear Rocks and our feet were killing us because of the rocks. We had a short walk on an old road before coming to the climb at Bake Oven Knob. We climbed and sweat and bled a little from our bug bites. We finally came to Bake Oven Knob shelter and it was a total dump - an original CCC shelter covered in graffiti and filled
With trash. We laughed at our bad luck and then had to walk over a mile for water for the night. I found us a good campsite up the hill from the shelter/dump and Turtle was there as well. It had been a long, hot day. We decided to go straight to bed and get up very early to avoid the hot sun in the morning. The photo is Nokey climbing the Knife Edge.

Day 93 
We had a little bit of rain last night, but just a sprinkle. We woke up to trail magic from Q-tip’s parents who had come to pick him up and take him back to NC.  We sat around and snacked and said goodbye.  Bag of Tricks and Jester showed up to slackpack us all 16 miles out to Eckville Shelter. We were pretty excited considering the hill out of Port Clinton was pretty steep.  We emptied out our gear except for water and food and headed on up the hill.  Testament was with us and we moved up the hill quick.  We found some great springs flowing pretty well.  We took a lot of breaks as it was hot and humid.  We had a lot of undulation, but then a big downhill to Windsor Furnace and the shelter for lunch.  We met Tripping Yeti there and hung out for a bit before heading up to The Pulpit and an astronomical park.  We met a few ladies up there and talked to them about the trail.  We then headed to The Pinnacle and had another break.  Thankfully, there was finally some cloud cover.  From here, we had nice easy walking on an old roadbed.  We found Wild Turky, Flies, Feathers, and Rainman on the way down to the shelter and the eight of us walked together for a while before Testament and Nokey took off on a run for the first spot in the shower.  When I arrived at the shelter, everyone asked where Nokey was.  He ran right past the shelter with Tripping Yeti and was a half mile away!  He finally came back to pick up all his gear from the slackpack and then the two of us headed on to a campsite half a mile down the hill.  We camped next to a creek and started a fire to keep the bugs away.  We got into the tent and got ready to go to sleep.  At 9:30, Risky Business showed up for the night.  We talked to him for a bit before getting some sleep.  The photo is Testament, me, and Nokey on Pulpit Rock.

Day 93
We had a little bit of rain last night, but just a sprinkle. We woke up to trail magic from Q-tip’s parents who had come to pick him up and take him back to NC. We sat around and snacked and said goodbye. Bag of Tricks and Jester showed up to slackpack us all 16 miles out to Eckville Shelter. We were pretty excited considering the hill out of Port Clinton was pretty steep. We emptied out our gear except for water and food and headed on up the hill. Testament was with us and we moved up the hill quick. We found some great springs flowing pretty well. We took a lot of breaks as it was hot and humid. We had a lot of undulation, but then a big downhill to Windsor Furnace and the shelter for lunch. We met Tripping Yeti there and hung out for a bit before heading up to The Pulpit and an astronomical park. We met a few ladies up there and talked to them about the trail. We then headed to The Pinnacle and had another break. Thankfully, there was finally some cloud cover. From here, we had nice easy walking on an old roadbed. We found Wild Turky, Flies, Feathers, and Rainman on the way down to the shelter and the eight of us walked together for a while before Testament and Nokey took off on a run for the first spot in the shower. When I arrived at the shelter, everyone asked where Nokey was. He ran right past the shelter with Tripping Yeti and was a half mile away! He finally came back to pick up all his gear from the slackpack and then the two of us headed on to a campsite half a mile down the hill. We camped next to a creek and started a fire to keep the bugs away. We got into the tent and got ready to go to sleep. At 9:30, Risky Business showed up for the night. We talked to him for a bit before getting some sleep. The photo is Testament, me, and Nokey on Pulpit Rock.

Day 92
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.

Day 91 
Today we had a 15.1-mile day planned, but we were going to leave early and take our time due to the heat and lack of water.  We left the shelter early and Nokey went down to fill up a water bottle.  Turns out the spring he walked to was dry, so he had to wait a few miles for extra water.  Thankfully, he had enough to get there!  We had a bit of undulation at first, then a big down hill to a campsite with picnic tables and a swimming hole!  It was still early, so we stocked up on water and headed uphill to the Fort Dietrich Snyder Monument for lunch.  DK and Big E were there and we had lunch with them and Otto.  Just before we left, Medicine Man showed up as well.  We headed on as it was really getting hot and we wanted to take some more breaks to avoid the heat.  We got to Eagle’s Nest Shelter trail at about 4:30 and it was hot and we were out of water.  There was a 0.3-mile walk to get water from a slow-moving creek filled with Mosquitos.  By that point, we were beat and dehydrated, so we decided to stay at the campsite at Eagle’s Nest.  Otto, Turtle, Bubblefoot, MedicineMan, FatherMan, Pelican, and Clify were all showing up as well.  We all took an hour nap in our tents due to the heat before starting a smoke fire (to keep mosquitos down) and cook dinner.  We all hung out before calling it a night around 9 pm. The photo is of me sitting on a pine tree that was growing in a crazy shape.

Day 91
Today we had a 15.1-mile day planned, but we were going to leave early and take our time due to the heat and lack of water. We left the shelter early and Nokey went down to fill up a water bottle. Turns out the spring he walked to was dry, so he had to wait a few miles for extra water. Thankfully, he had enough to get there! We had a bit of undulation at first, then a big down hill to a campsite with picnic tables and a swimming hole! It was still early, so we stocked up on water and headed uphill to the Fort Dietrich Snyder Monument for lunch. DK and Big E were there and we had lunch with them and Otto. Just before we left, Medicine Man showed up as well. We headed on as it was really getting hot and we wanted to take some more breaks to avoid the heat. We got to Eagle’s Nest Shelter trail at about 4:30 and it was hot and we were out of water. There was a 0.3-mile walk to get water from a slow-moving creek filled with Mosquitos. By that point, we were beat and dehydrated, so we decided to stay at the campsite at Eagle’s Nest. Otto, Turtle, Bubblefoot, MedicineMan, FatherMan, Pelican, and Clify were all showing up as well. We all took an hour nap in our tents due to the heat before starting a smoke fire (to keep mosquitos down) and cook dinner. We all hung out before calling it a night around 9 pm. The photo is of me sitting on a pine tree that was growing in a crazy shape.

Day 90! 
We woke up this morning to awesome trail magic from Testament’s friends- Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and a dozen donuts!  We were eating when several hikers came by - Bonk, All Balls (who I knew as Ryan and hadn’t seen since day 10!), and FatherMan!  We gave them all coffee and got a late start, about 9 am.  We walked to the historic iron bridge and then started a climb up under I-81 and then up a steep hill to our PA staple - green ridgeline.  It was a little rockier today, but it still wasn’t too bad.  Nokey was about 0.1 miles in front of me on the climb and he saw a bear on the way up!  I was pretty jealous that he was gone by the time I caught up.  We headed on the ridge to the William Penn shelter and had lunch at a picnic table, which is a luxury out here as we usually have to eat lunch on a rock!  From the shelter, we had a nice level walk on an old roadbed and our hike was quick.  We walked through a gap and then crossed a road, but the trail quickly turned rocky and we got a little slower. We passed a few lookouts and a hang gliding meadow before coming to PA-501. We planned to go to the 501 shelter for showers.  The 501 shelter is on private land and has a caretaker and showers!  We got there right around 3 pm as a car was pulling up.  Turns out, it was trail magic from a 2011 hiker named Amish!  We helped her carry in all the food, got showers, and then ate so much!  Burritos, donuts, fruit, homemade cheesecake!  There was a huge group there by the time Amish headed out.  We weren’t planning on staying as we only did 13 miles, but it was a no-brainier since so many awesome people showed up!  We set up tents and slept great under the stars for a cool night.  The photo is from the 501 shelter- Amish had a pet bunny named Buttercup we all got to hold.

Day 90!
We woke up this morning to awesome trail magic from Testament’s friends- Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and a dozen donuts! We were eating when several hikers came by - Bonk, All Balls (who I knew as Ryan and hadn’t seen since day 10!), and FatherMan! We gave them all coffee and got a late start, about 9 am. We walked to the historic iron bridge and then started a climb up under I-81 and then up a steep hill to our PA staple - green ridgeline. It was a little rockier today, but it still wasn’t too bad. Nokey was about 0.1 miles in front of me on the climb and he saw a bear on the way up! I was pretty jealous that he was gone by the time I caught up. We headed on the ridge to the William Penn shelter and had lunch at a picnic table, which is a luxury out here as we usually have to eat lunch on a rock! From the shelter, we had a nice level walk on an old roadbed and our hike was quick. We walked through a gap and then crossed a road, but the trail quickly turned rocky and we got a little slower. We passed a few lookouts and a hang gliding meadow before coming to PA-501. We planned to go to the 501 shelter for showers. The 501 shelter is on private land and has a caretaker and showers! We got there right around 3 pm as a car was pulling up. Turns out, it was trail magic from a 2011 hiker named Amish! We helped her carry in all the food, got showers, and then ate so much! Burritos, donuts, fruit, homemade cheesecake! There was a huge group there by the time Amish headed out. We weren’t planning on staying as we only did 13 miles, but it was a no-brainier since so many awesome people showed up! We set up tents and slept great under the stars for a cool night. The photo is from the 501 shelter- Amish had a pet bunny named Buttercup we all got to hold.

Day 89 
We were stepping up our mileage again today and started out by climbing up a hill to an old firetower site.  We left camp around 8 am with Otto and Testament was a short distance behind us.  We were walking on an old railroad bed up the hill, so the rocks werent too hard on us.  When we got to the top of the hill, we saw the terminus of the Horseshoe Trail, a 121-mile trail running from here to Valley Forge.  We took a break up top before heading downhill a ways to a creek.  Otto went on a few minutes ahead and we shortly caught up to him, stopped dead in his tracks.  There was a very large rattlesnake in the trail, unwilling to move and angry as can be!  We finally gave up on him leaving and gave a wide berth to get around, walking off trail by about 20 feet and looking around for more snakes.  Most importantly, we left a sign warning the next hikers of the snake.  For the rest of the day, we walked through defunct coal communities, first Yellow Springs and then Rausch Gap.  Unlike the Smokies, there are no visible remnants of buildings.  The only real signs of former habitation are the roads we walk on.  When we took a break in Rausch Gap, Clifty and Pelican showed up and we ran into DK and Big E, who Nokey knew but I hadn’t met yet.  They’re done for the day, but we still need to climb Second Mountain and head into camp.  Clifty and Pelican were going to our campsite as well, so we said goodbye and that we’d see them soon.  We climbed Second Mountain and were feeling tired, but pushed on through a field and down past a creek to the campsite.  We were close to the road into Lickdale, so we decided to hitch in and get dinner, as well as clean water as there is a serious lack of that on the trails here.  Testament, Nokey, and I got into Lickdale and got burgers and fries and headed back to camp to take some to Otto.  Testament had some friends come up to visit as well, so we all hung out around the fire with Clifty before crashing and calling it a night.  The photo is of the giant snake!

Day 89
We were stepping up our mileage again today and started out by climbing up a hill to an old firetower site. We left camp around 8 am with Otto and Testament was a short distance behind us. We were walking on an old railroad bed up the hill, so the rocks werent too hard on us. When we got to the top of the hill, we saw the terminus of the Horseshoe Trail, a 121-mile trail running from here to Valley Forge. We took a break up top before heading downhill a ways to a creek. Otto went on a few minutes ahead and we shortly caught up to him, stopped dead in his tracks. There was a very large rattlesnake in the trail, unwilling to move and angry as can be! We finally gave up on him leaving and gave a wide berth to get around, walking off trail by about 20 feet and looking around for more snakes. Most importantly, we left a sign warning the next hikers of the snake. For the rest of the day, we walked through defunct coal communities, first Yellow Springs and then Rausch Gap. Unlike the Smokies, there are no visible remnants of buildings. The only real signs of former habitation are the roads we walk on. When we took a break in Rausch Gap, Clifty and Pelican showed up and we ran into DK and Big E, who Nokey knew but I hadn’t met yet. They’re done for the day, but we still need to climb Second Mountain and head into camp. Clifty and Pelican were going to our campsite as well, so we said goodbye and that we’d see them soon. We climbed Second Mountain and were feeling tired, but pushed on through a field and down past a creek to the campsite. We were close to the road into Lickdale, so we decided to hitch in and get dinner, as well as clean water as there is a serious lack of that on the trails here. Testament, Nokey, and I got into Lickdale and got burgers and fries and headed back to camp to take some to Otto. Testament had some friends come up to visit as well, so we all hung out around the fire with Clifty before crashing and calling it a night. The photo is of the giant snake!

Day 87  
After a great week off, Nokey’s mom and dad dropped us off in Duncannon on their way back to Syracuse.  We decided during our vacation we were seriously slowing down.  Just because we are capable of 20+ miles a day doesn’t mean we have to do it!  We are starting off slow and since it’s close to 1:30 already, we are just heading up to the first shelter about 5 miles out of town.  We stopped and got milkshakes on the way out of town too for one last treat. Unfortunately for me, milkshakes and hot days do not mix and I got a little sick :(  We climbed uphill to a beautiful view of the Susquehanna River (pictured) and then wandered to the shelter. When we got there, we were greeted with “LOOK WHO IT IS, HOLY SHIT!”  it was Otto, who we hadn’t seen since Damascus (mile 468)!  We spent most of the night catching up with him and meeting a bunch of new hikers we hadn’t met yet, B-1, Comanche, Testament, Pelican, Clifty, and I ran back into Tyvek for the first time since Hot Springs (mile 275).  It was a great night catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

Day 87 
After a great week off, Nokey’s mom and dad dropped us off in Duncannon on their way back to Syracuse. We decided during our vacation we were seriously slowing down. Just because we are capable of 20+ miles a day doesn’t mean we have to do it! We are starting off slow and since it’s close to 1:30 already, we are just heading up to the first shelter about 5 miles out of town. We stopped and got milkshakes on the way out of town too for one last treat. Unfortunately for me, milkshakes and hot days do not mix and I got a little sick :( We climbed uphill to a beautiful view of the Susquehanna River (pictured) and then wandered to the shelter. When we got there, we were greeted with “LOOK WHO IT IS, HOLY SHIT!” it was Otto, who we hadn’t seen since Damascus (mile 468)! We spent most of the night catching up with him and meeting a bunch of new hikers we hadn’t met yet, B-1, Comanche, Testament, Pelican, Clifty, and I ran back into Tyvek for the first time since Hot Springs (mile 275). It was a great night catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

Day 88 
We planned to get and early start this am and go about 12-15 miles.  We were woken up early in the morning by rain and it had continued raining into the later parts of the morning, so we stayed in our tents until about 8:30 to wait for it to let up.  Turns out, everyone else camping near our site (Pelican, Clifty, and Tyvek) all had the same idea.  We didn’t get out of camp until 10:40, but we weren’t in a big hurry since it was only our second day back out on trail.  We met a new thru hiker, Yoda, on our way out.  He was super caffeinated and talked quickly.  He said he had to be done by August 8th and he started in mid April.  He has to average 23 miles a day for the rest of the trip to make it on time.  I thought it was really sad he was making such a mad dash to finish.  He mentioned he didn’t have any friends on the trail also and it just broke my heart.  Then, he quickly took off and said he hoped to see us again.  We know we wont see him as we arent doing big days anymore.  From Clarks Ferry, we had a mostly level ridgeline walk to the Peter’s Mountain Shelter where we stopped for lunch.  We met some trail maintainers there and talked with them while we ate.  They told us of the trail conditions coming up and warned us to watch for all the poison ivy.  The rocks weren’t too bad, but we were feeling tired after all our days off.  We slowly made our way down the hill to Clark’s Creek.  We had dinner there and decided to head up to a pipeline as the maintainers told us there was a nice campsite there.  We showed up and Otto and Testament were set up, so we camped with them.  It was a great site with wonderful company.  The photo is me underneath a pink blazed trail marker.  On the AT, pink blazing is when a guy is chasing a girl down the trail ;)

Day 88
We planned to get and early start this am and go about 12-15 miles. We were woken up early in the morning by rain and it had continued raining into the later parts of the morning, so we stayed in our tents until about 8:30 to wait for it to let up. Turns out, everyone else camping near our site (Pelican, Clifty, and Tyvek) all had the same idea. We didn’t get out of camp until 10:40, but we weren’t in a big hurry since it was only our second day back out on trail. We met a new thru hiker, Yoda, on our way out. He was super caffeinated and talked quickly. He said he had to be done by August 8th and he started in mid April. He has to average 23 miles a day for the rest of the trip to make it on time. I thought it was really sad he was making such a mad dash to finish. He mentioned he didn’t have any friends on the trail also and it just broke my heart. Then, he quickly took off and said he hoped to see us again. We know we wont see him as we arent doing big days anymore. From Clarks Ferry, we had a mostly level ridgeline walk to the Peter’s Mountain Shelter where we stopped for lunch. We met some trail maintainers there and talked with them while we ate. They told us of the trail conditions coming up and warned us to watch for all the poison ivy. The rocks weren’t too bad, but we were feeling tired after all our days off. We slowly made our way down the hill to Clark’s Creek. We had dinner there and decided to head up to a pipeline as the maintainers told us there was a nice campsite there. We showed up and Otto and Testament were set up, so we camped with them. It was a great site with wonderful company. The photo is me underneath a pink blazed trail marker. On the AT, pink blazing is when a guy is chasing a girl down the trail ;)

Days 79-86
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.

Day 76

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 :)

Day 75 
After taking a short day, we had to get up today and make good miles to get in to Boiling Springs.  Due to us walking through a lot of private land, there are strict camping regulations and there is an 18-mile stretch with no camping allowed.  We started our day with easy terrain, walking past the lake and uphill on an old roadbed.  The first 7 miles went very quickly and we took a break next to a creek with Flash.  There was supposed to be a store about 0.4 miles down the road, but we decided to push on so we’d get to Boiling Springs early so we could get a small resupply.  The next 13 miles went by quickly as well, with a ton of road crossings and some climbing that I called the Pennsylvania Rollercoaster, as we had four short and quick hills.  We came to about 2 miles from town and began walking through farms!  The sun was high in the sky and the tree cover was nonexistent.  The grass was high and ticks were on my mind constantly, as we’d been told about the ticks being bad here.  Thankfully, no ticks were on us an we got to the backpackers campsite trail just before 5 pm.  We sent Flash a text to tell him we were going to go in to town and resupply before we set up at the campsite since it was farther off trail than we’d been lead to believe by our guidebook. We walked in to Boiling Springs to find that the food mart in our book was a gas station with 2-dollar granola bars (you know, the ones you can get in a five-pack for 2.50!)  We each bought pop and a snack and decided to sit at the picnic table out front to figure out our next move.  I said hello to a man heading in to the gas station and Nokey decided to ask the guy how far a real store was.  He said he’d give us a ride if we wanted as it was a half mile from where we were.  When we hopped in the truck, we noticed hiker stickers and a custom plate reading 2181, the length of the trail last year.  When we got to the store, he introduced himself as Snow, a thru hiker from 2011.  He offered not only to give us a ride back to the campsite, but something better - a free stay at his house (since it was going to rain all night) with showers and laundry!  We told him we couldn’t since Flash was in and set up camp.  He told us to call Flash and come meet us at the road, which he gladly did!  Turns out the campsite was right next to the train tracks, was loud next to a port-a-potty, and smelled like cow poo!  We hung out with Snow the rest of the night and exchanged trail stories. His sister, who lives next door, came by with homemade challa bread and cookies - she’s in school to become a pastry chef and had leftover from class! It was an amazing night and we were happy to be out of the rain.  The photo is of the wheat field we walked through in to town.

Day 75
After taking a short day, we had to get up today and make good miles to get in to Boiling Springs. Due to us walking through a lot of private land, there are strict camping regulations and there is an 18-mile stretch with no camping allowed. We started our day with easy terrain, walking past the lake and uphill on an old roadbed. The first 7 miles went very quickly and we took a break next to a creek with Flash. There was supposed to be a store about 0.4 miles down the road, but we decided to push on so we’d get to Boiling Springs early so we could get a small resupply. The next 13 miles went by quickly as well, with a ton of road crossings and some climbing that I called the Pennsylvania Rollercoaster, as we had four short and quick hills. We came to about 2 miles from town and began walking through farms! The sun was high in the sky and the tree cover was nonexistent. The grass was high and ticks were on my mind constantly, as we’d been told about the ticks being bad here. Thankfully, no ticks were on us an we got to the backpackers campsite trail just before 5 pm. We sent Flash a text to tell him we were going to go in to town and resupply before we set up at the campsite since it was farther off trail than we’d been lead to believe by our guidebook. We walked in to Boiling Springs to find that the food mart in our book was a gas station with 2-dollar granola bars (you know, the ones you can get in a five-pack for 2.50!) We each bought pop and a snack and decided to sit at the picnic table out front to figure out our next move. I said hello to a man heading in to the gas station and Nokey decided to ask the guy how far a real store was. He said he’d give us a ride if we wanted as it was a half mile from where we were. When we hopped in the truck, we noticed hiker stickers and a custom plate reading 2181, the length of the trail last year. When we got to the store, he introduced himself as Snow, a thru hiker from 2011. He offered not only to give us a ride back to the campsite, but something better - a free stay at his house (since it was going to rain all night) with showers and laundry! We told him we couldn’t since Flash was in and set up camp. He told us to call Flash and come meet us at the road, which he gladly did! Turns out the campsite was right next to the train tracks, was loud next to a port-a-potty, and smelled like cow poo! We hung out with Snow the rest of the night and exchanged trail stories. His sister, who lives next door, came by with homemade challa bread and cookies - she’s in school to become a pastry chef and had leftover from class! It was an amazing night and we were happy to be out of the rain. The photo is of the wheat field we walked through in to town.

Day 74 
This morning we woke up feeling great for many reasons: Nokey’s 3 month mark on the trail, good terrain in the morning, the halfway point of the trail, and the half gallon challenge!  We started walking and immediately my left Achilles tendon was hurting.  I checked it out and it appeared I was stung or bitten by something with a ton of swelling.  Every step I took the back of my shoe rubbed the bump!  It was sore, but we pressed on.  About 6 miles and 2 hours in, we passed the official halfway mark at Toms Run Shelter, 1092.2!  After we took photos, we walked about a quarter mile and found a sign put in last year at the 2011 halfway point!  The sign was really exciting and we took goofy photos there, then pushing on to Pine Grove Furnace State Park for the half gallon challenge!  We got there just before noon and went in to the store and got ready for the challenge.  Turns out, it was six bucks, not free if you finish like we were told.  They also were out of all the favors except chocolate.  I decided to skip the challenge and get a pint of mint chocolate chip and a hamburger.  Nokey, Byline, and Flash did the challenge.  Nokey finished in 18 minutes, Flash in 31, and Byline in 35.  We had to hang out there until 5 pm, when the hostel opened, so Flash could get his drop box.  Nokey and I decided this would be a good time to go to the beach!  There’s a lake at the park that used to be an ore pit in the steel days of the area, now filled in by neighboring streams.  We hopped in the lake for a while to cool off and then took a nap on the beach.  We went up to talk to Flash and he had decided to stay at the hostel, located in an old mansion on the property.  We decided to stay as well considering we could both use a shower and laundry.  Turns out they didn’t have laundry, but they did have showers and meals included!  Tube Socks came in as well, so we all hung out on the porch of the beautiful mansion before heading in to sleep in a real bed!  Tomorrow we do 19 in to Boiling Springs!  The photo is of me at “halfway” point.

Day 74
This morning we woke up feeling great for many reasons: Nokey’s 3 month mark on the trail, good terrain in the morning, the halfway point of the trail, and the half gallon challenge! We started walking and immediately my left Achilles tendon was hurting. I checked it out and it appeared I was stung or bitten by something with a ton of swelling. Every step I took the back of my shoe rubbed the bump! It was sore, but we pressed on. About 6 miles and 2 hours in, we passed the official halfway mark at Toms Run Shelter, 1092.2! After we took photos, we walked about a quarter mile and found a sign put in last year at the 2011 halfway point! The sign was really exciting and we took goofy photos there, then pushing on to Pine Grove Furnace State Park for the half gallon challenge! We got there just before noon and went in to the store and got ready for the challenge. Turns out, it was six bucks, not free if you finish like we were told. They also were out of all the favors except chocolate. I decided to skip the challenge and get a pint of mint chocolate chip and a hamburger. Nokey, Byline, and Flash did the challenge. Nokey finished in 18 minutes, Flash in 31, and Byline in 35. We had to hang out there until 5 pm, when the hostel opened, so Flash could get his drop box. Nokey and I decided this would be a good time to go to the beach! There’s a lake at the park that used to be an ore pit in the steel days of the area, now filled in by neighboring streams. We hopped in the lake for a while to cool off and then took a nap on the beach. We went up to talk to Flash and he had decided to stay at the hostel, located in an old mansion on the property. We decided to stay as well considering we could both use a shower and laundry. Turns out they didn’t have laundry, but they did have showers and meals included! Tube Socks came in as well, so we all hung out on the porch of the beautiful mansion before heading in to sleep in a real bed! Tomorrow we do 19 in to Boiling Springs! The photo is of me at “halfway” point.

Day 73 
Our day today was easily split into two parts.  Our first half was up a 1000-foot climb to Chimney Rocks followed by an undulation through three different boulder fields.  This was challenging, but never hard.  The rocks were actually kind of fun and didnt really slow us down too much.  We then went downhill and into Caledonia State Park, where a pool, creek, and snack bar awaited!  We took a 2-hour lunch break in the shade and were joined by Flash, Byline, and two other hikers as well.  As tempting as it was to stay put. We had to keep moving to get to our final stop.  We climbed a steep hill up South Mountain to the Quarry Gap Shelters, which welcomed us with a picket fence, fresh flowers, and a water feature!  We were sad we weren’t staying there, but we had an easy 7.5 miles to go to our shelter.  We did the miles quickly and came to Tom’s Run early.  The shelter was gorgeous and in great shape.  We had a good time hanging out with Big Sky, Jaws, and Tube Socks.  It was an awesome end to an easy day.  The photo is of the quarry gap shelters.

Day 73
Our day today was easily split into two parts. Our first half was up a 1000-foot climb to Chimney Rocks followed by an undulation through three different boulder fields. This was challenging, but never hard. The rocks were actually kind of fun and didnt really slow us down too much. We then went downhill and into Caledonia State Park, where a pool, creek, and snack bar awaited! We took a 2-hour lunch break in the shade and were joined by Flash, Byline, and two other hikers as well. As tempting as it was to stay put. We had to keep moving to get to our final stop. We climbed a steep hill up South Mountain to the Quarry Gap Shelters, which welcomed us with a picket fence, fresh flowers, and a water feature! We were sad we weren’t staying there, but we had an easy 7.5 miles to go to our shelter. We did the miles quickly and came to Tom’s Run early. The shelter was gorgeous and in great shape. We had a good time hanging out with Big Sky, Jaws, and Tube Socks. It was an awesome end to an easy day. The photo is of the quarry gap shelters.

Day 72 
After a short day yesterday, we wanted to make up some miles with an early start.  Flash was out at around 7:15 while Nokey and I got our usual late start!  We immediately climbed a small hill up to a pretty meadow are, followed by another ascent to Raven Rocks, which was a really cool cliff area with rock climbing and a spring.  We took a short break and headed on to Big Rocks, getting lost shortly in the scramble, before heading down to Penmar Park for lunch.  I’m digging Maryland for all the parks, good job guys!  We ate lunch and caught up to Flash while sitting at a picnic table and taking in our first view of PA!  After lunch, it was only 1/4 mile to the state line, which is also the Mason-Dixon line!  We crossed into our seventh state and celebrated!  We then had an easy day with a few small climb before coming down into Valley Forge Park (I love all these parks!)  We sat here for a while and I took a bath in a hose to get all the mud of me.  We then had an easy and flat 1.1 miles to the shelter for the night.  We also got to talk to the PA ridge runner while we ate dinner.  Tomorrow we inch closer to the halfway point and have a 1000-foot climb first thing! I’m so sad to have left Maryland, but I’m excited to finally be “up north”!  The photo is me at the state line.

Day 72
After a short day yesterday, we wanted to make up some miles with an early start. Flash was out at around 7:15 while Nokey and I got our usual late start! We immediately climbed a small hill up to a pretty meadow are, followed by another ascent to Raven Rocks, which was a really cool cliff area with rock climbing and a spring. We took a short break and headed on to Big Rocks, getting lost shortly in the scramble, before heading down to Penmar Park for lunch. I’m digging Maryland for all the parks, good job guys! We ate lunch and caught up to Flash while sitting at a picnic table and taking in our first view of PA! After lunch, it was only 1/4 mile to the state line, which is also the Mason-Dixon line! We crossed into our seventh state and celebrated! We then had an easy day with a few small climb before coming down into Valley Forge Park (I love all these parks!) We sat here for a while and I took a bath in a hose to get all the mud of me. We then had an easy and flat 1.1 miles to the shelter for the night. We also got to talk to the PA ridge runner while we ate dinner. Tomorrow we inch closer to the halfway point and have a 1000-foot climb first thing! I’m so sad to have left Maryland, but I’m excited to finally be “up north”! The photo is me at the state line.