Maryland border to Delaware River

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The journal of Andy Linger ... thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 1997

Back to July 8

July 9—Deer Lick Shelter (Day 88 ~ milepoint 1039.8)
Today marks the third and last day of hiking in Maryland. After almost a month and a half in Virginia, my head spun as I crossed another state line. Less than half a mile before the Mason-Dixon line, several of us stopped at the Pen-Mar County Park. Although we could hear an occasional faint boom of thunder miles away, we all found it difficult to leave. After chowing down some food I finally was able to leave the place two hours after arriving, eager to leave with the skies darkening. About half way to the shelter, I could start to hear the thunder again. As I crossed a road, I could feel a cold breeze striking my face, which felt very refreshing on my body that was blanketed with sweat. About 20 minutes before I arrived at the shelter, the rain started. It got consistently heavier and the angry skies became louder. Several storm cells, alive with thunder, seemed to pass to the side of me. I arrived at the shelter to meet up with Screaming Knees, who I haven't seen in a while. The lightening and thunder let off some very loud roars really close to the shelter (we would poke our heads out of the shelter to see if any nearby trees were on fire) for a while. As the storm subsided, Stoutheart showed up, soaking wet. He told me Bones sprained her ankle a while back and set up her tent with Kadiddle. He also told me he wished he left the park when or before I did, so he could have avoided the rain. We cooked dinner and after thinking about it for a while, Stoutheart left to head to the next shelter so he could stay on schedule. Screaming Knees left shortly thereafter, so he wouldn't feel guilty about only going 10 miles. I seriously considered it, but my stomach was full (same effect as swimming on a full stomach), and my stuff was strewn all over the shelter already. I'm expecting the other four to show up shortly, unless they're back with Bones.—Andy

July 10—Birch Run Shelters (Day 89 ~ milepoint 1062.9)
What a great day. I had the shelters all to myself, allowing me to get to bed early and get a good night's sleep. I left at 6 am (my earliest yet) and was greeted with relatively flat terrain and rocks that were easy to maneuver around. The weather was also delightful. Clear skies and cool temperatures were present throughout the day, although the light breezes this morning actually made it a bit cold - which was a nice change from the last several days. I stopped at Caledonia State Park for lunch and met up with Screaming Knee and Redwood. I scarfed down a ton of food to lighten my pack and give me some energy to do some miles. Today I had my best day yet, 23.7 miles. I arrived at the shelter around 6:00. Redwood was here, but tented to avoid the bugs. The shelters here were similar to the ones I stayed at last night. Instead of one shelter, there are two smaller ones, that can fit three people each. It's getting dark, the skies are still clear, and tomorrow looks like another good day.—Andy

July 11—Sunday Farm Campsite (Day 90 ~ milepoint 1091.1)
Last night I froze my @#! off. The temperatures were probably in the 40's, making my lightweight fleece sleeping bag very ineffective. When the sun started coming up, I told myself I could continue to freeze, or I could get up. I got up and hit the trail at 5:50. I almost had to run for the first mile to get my teeth to stop chattering, and then warmed up and enjoyed the sunrise. The first big event of the day was joining the 1/2 gallon club. There is only one requirement for membership - you need to eat an entire half gallon of ice cream. After finishing this great (f)eat, I relaxed on the bench for awhile along with Redwood and enjoyed the weather. Jim, the caretaker for Quarry Gap Shelters, came by and chatted with us for a while. Whoa, the hike today was much more than I expected. I was planning on hiking 17 miles today to the 1080.1 mark, which is the halfway point on the trail. Redwood was planning a big day, and I figured why not do a big day again? I have an ice cream buzz, the weather isn't too hot, and the terrain isn't too bad. I arrived at Tagg Run Shelters (the halfway point on the trail), and Redwood decided to stay there. At this point, I had a crazy idea running through my mind - why not do 25 miles? I had a five hour break at Pine Grove Furnace State Park and the ice cream, I felt great, I haven't night hiked yet, and I wanted to keep going. So I did. Climbing to the top of one of the ridges today, I saw a great sunset. The clouds on the western horizon were dressed in a brilliant pink color. I saw it from the first place in Pennsylvania that actually had a view. A little while later, I turned the flashlight on and hiked through the eerie darkness. Occasionally I would stop and turn the light off to hear the sounds of owls and crickets, or a deer darting away from the trail. I'd look towards the heavens to see a sky glittering with stars and the Milky Way. A couple hours later, I reached Center Point Knob, the original site of the midpoint of the
trail. I turned my light off and stared towards the city lights of Boiling Springs and Carlisle. I stood there for awhile reflecting on the fact that this is the last summit of the Blue Ridge Mountains (which I have been following since day one). I headed down the ridge until it flatted out into level farmlands. With the city lights nearby, I turned off the flashlight and headed on. A couple miles later, I arrived at the Sunday Farm Campsite, a small mowed area hikers are able to stay at. I arrived at 12:15 am, a little tired and ready for some rest after hiking just under 30 miles today.—Andy

July 12—Darlington Shelter (Day 91 ~ milepoint 1106.8)
I awoke this morning to more chilly temperatures, and freight trains roaring by adjacent to the campsite. Hiking Viking, Bones, and Firebird were there for the night, eagerly awaiting the arrival into town. I folded up the tarp and headed into Boiling Springs. The meeting place was the ATC Regional Office here in town. A local trail maintainer, Ishmael, offered to take us into Carlisle for some breakfast. Of course we all said yes. We all loaded up on gigantic plates of pancakes, eggs, and sausage and headed back to Boiling Springs. The trail followed mostly open fields adjacent to farms for the first several miles. The warm temperatures and hiking in direct sunlight made it ungodly hot. I met up with Mountain Laurel, Qtip, Numb, Mayflower, and Sunflower Cat on the trail near a truck stop with everyone loading up on sodas and food. We all made out way to the next shelter by 7 pm. The small shelter was full, but the skies were clear, and the temperatures were warm, so I slept under the stars again.—Andy

July 13—Doyle Hotel (Day 92 ~ milepoint 1118.3)
This morning I found it difficult to leave the shelter. Everyone got up at 8:30 and sat around the picnic table. Eventually one hiker left, then another ... and then I finally got the will to leave. I arrived in Duncannon and checked out the Bates Motel - oops, I mean the Doyle Hotel. As I climbed the stairs, the whole staircase rocked back and forth, causing me to grab the handrail for dear life. The rooms had beds that sank and hit the floor when I sat on them, and a chair that had blocks of wood under one end as a leg. The other chair had a hole in the middle of it. Each floor had only one bathroom in it with vintage toilets and only a bath tub. One look at all of this (all for $8) and I said "yeah, why not!". I shared the room with two other hikers to sleep cheap. I walked around the town for awhile with Peaches and Snoop. We headed over to the town park where some bands were playing. After hearing them start to play religious music to a rap beat, we headed back to the Doyle. I headed across the street to Sorrento's Lounge later that day to meet up with Numb, Mountain Laurel, Mayflower, Sunflower Cat, and Qtip for a big sub sandwich, and some liquid refreshment. After spending several hours there, we all stumbled back to the Doyle to get some sleep.—Andy

July 14—Peters Mountain Shelter (Day 93 ~ milepoint 1130.0)
My goal this morning was to get out of town early and climb to the top of the ridge before the temperatures climbed into the 90's. Nope. By the time I was done getting groceries, making phone calls, etc., it was close to noon. As I reached the end of town, the trail crossed the Susquehanna River, the longest and one of the widest the trail crosses. Once I reached the ridgeline the hiking was fairly rocky - typical of almost all of the ridges I have been on since Virginia. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania will host the worst, meanest, and largest rocks. On the good side, I haven't hit them yet. I stayed at the Peters Mountain Shelter, which has a loft, and can easily accommodate 20 people. The only problem with this place was the water source, which was down a steep, long side trail. Like me, when the other five hikers returned with water, they were sweating like faucets and panting like dogs. Tonight was the warmest night yet. A couple hikers had thermometers reading in the low 80's at 9 pm. I had quite a bit of trouble getting to sleep, and found it necessary to get up and go behind the shelter where there was a small breeze. If the ground were a little flatter, I probably would have slept out there.—Andy

July 15—Blue Blaze Hostel (Day 94 ~ milepoint 1150.6)
Last night, Bootless heard the forecast that was calling for a high of 96 tomorrow and a heat index of 105 degrees (and of course they told people to stay inside and avoid any rigorous activity). Because of this, everyone was out of the shelter by 6 am to do some miles before the midday heat hit. Around 2 pm is when the heat and humidity hit me like a ton of bricks. No matter what I did, I still felt like I was on fire. Resting didn't accomplish anything, nor did drinking a 1/2 gallon of water when I reached a spring. Finally, at 4 pm, I reached the Blue Blaze Hostel, operated by Dick and Ann Tobias in their garage. The first thing I did when I arrived was to take a nice, ice cold shower. It helped for about half an hour, then it was bakc to being hot again. It's 8:30 now, still very warm, but tolerable. Dick and Ann left a message on a table staring they would be back around 11 pm. I'm hoping I can meet them before I take off tomorrow. —Andy

July 16—Hertlein Campsite (Day 95 ~ milepoint 1169.7)
I took off this morning around 7 am, so I never got to meet Dick and Ann. Tonight I'm staying at the Hertlein Campsite. I was originally planning on staying at the 501 Shelter (named after the highway nearby), which is an enclosed building with a skylight, table, chairs, and bunks. I used the solar shower (which was ice cold, but felt great) and took several hours off. Redwood left, and Raintree said he was going to leave, so I figured why not hike another four miles? Redwood was already there when I arrived, cooking up a storm in his tent. I threw my sleeping pad on the ground and slept under the stars.—Andy

July 17—Port Clinton Town Pavilion (Day 96 ~ milepoint 1188.6)
Not much to report about today's hike but hot, hot, hot! Water sources are getting more difficult to find, obviously. It's been very dry this summer, and finding water means a looong walk down the ridge. I arrived at the Community Pavilion to meet Lej and Grasshopper, the first southbound thru-hikers I've seen. They told me about the horrors of the weather they encountered from Maine. Katahdin was buried in several feet of snow, along with most of the White Mountains in New Hampshire which they had to skip. A woman came by to introduce me to the little town and of course tell me about the weather. She said in town, the temperature was 101 degrees in the shade, and 120 in the sun. Doesn't surprise me. After throwing my stuff in the pavilion, I ran towards the river to get my body temperature from 150 degrees back down to 98.6 degrees. It felt great. It felt like bath water, but at least it wasn't 100 degrees. For dinner, we headed over to the Port Clinton Hotel, another "Doyle" that has been visited by hikers since the early days of thru-hiking. Helen, in her 80's and the owner and operator of the place, is well known for the "world's largest cheeseburger" and all the other stuff she serves you. If you don't finish all of it, she yells at you (goodnaturedly) and doesn't give you the donut or apple. After dinner it was back to the pavilion to sort out maildrops and go to bed.—Andy

July 18—Eckville Hiker's Center (Day 97 ~ milepoint 1204.1)
Before leaving the pavilion this morning, we were busy watching a bird teaching its chicks to fly. It would flap its wings wildly, and then nudge the chicks towards the edge of the nest. By the time I left town this morning, it was already in the 90's. I had to go to the post office to mail some food ahead. Therefore, I wasn't on the trail until 9:30. The two views I had this afternoon made today's hiking a little less monotonous. The first one was Pulpit Rock, which overlooks Blue Rocks - a mile long & a block wide river of boulders. The second overlook, called the Pinnacle, is considered by most hikers to be the best view in the state. From the summit, one can see farmlands for miles, along with hawks soaring above (I swear I could have reached out and touched one). As I checked out the cave, a large gaggle of a dozen hawks passed over the rock outcropping. It was a great place to hang out for a couple hours and let the feet recover from the trail of brutality (this section had a lot of rocks). I had another great view on the descent off the ridge. As I made my way down the trail, 2 bear cubs scurried across the trail, followed by their mother. I stopped and watched the sow stare right into my eyes as she made sure her cubs made it into the woods. As she scurried off, I went on my way once more until I passed by them and saw the 2 cubs dart up the tree. I stopped again, and momma bear had her eyes nervously glued to me once again. Only a few feet from me, I quietly moved on to prevent startling her and was back on my way. At the base of the ridge, and a little ways down the paved road, I arrived at Eckville Hiker's Center. That evening, me, along with Raintree and Redwood looked up into the skies and noticed these large puffy white things getting closer to us. We started freaking out, trying to figure out what they were. "Wait a minute, those are clouds!" "Oh, yeah!" The last time it rained was 18 days ago (and 2 months ago it was so cloudy we had forgotten what the sun looked like). I heard some beeping coming from in the house, and wondered if it was the t.v. warning of severe thunderstorms. He told us there were tonadoes reported in a nearby county. The enclosed shelter we were in behind the caretaker's house was perfect. It was great to be totally dry, looking outside at the pounding rain (the rain would blow into most of the 3-sided shelters). Fortunately, we didn't get any severe weather, but unfortunately, we didn't get much rain either. Well, at least tomorrow should be cooler and less humid than the last several days. Good night.—Andy

July 19—The Cliffs (Day 98 ~ milepoint 1219.4)
Another beautiful, sunny day. It was great having temperatures below 90 degrees, and the cool breeze helped even more. The hiking was more of the same - ridgewalking with few views. I was planning on spending the night at Bake Oven Knob Shelter (yes, the shelters have felt like ovens the last several nights), but this would have me in town on a Sunday - and I'd miss my maildrop. Instead, I looked at a data book to see if we pass anything interesting. Around 7 pm, I arrived at The Cliffs. It was an awesome sight. The rocks piled high above the ridge, offering a sweeping panorama to the east and west, with the Pinnacle in clear view. This is exactly what I wanted. There was no level ground, so I threw my sleeping pad on a large rock. The only thing I was worried about was getting cold, since I had only a fleece sleeping bag. As sunset passed, I could see the full moon rising above the eastern horizon and the lights from the countryside come to life. Being accustomed to sleeping under tree cover in shelters during full moon, I haven't been able to notice how bright the moon actually illuminates the ground. I could clearly see everything around me, and the valley below lit up. Now it's time to try and get some sleep.—Andy

July 20—The Jailhouse (Day 99 ~ milepoint 1231.6)
Yup, it was cold last night. I had to use a garbage bag and my tarp as blankets. It may have been cold and breezy, but it was worth it. I watched the sun poke above the horizon, giving the valley below a deep orange hue. I figured it was time to get going before the midday heat turned on. That afternoon, I arrived and hitched a ride into Palmerton. The city allows hikers to use the basement of the police station. Because of my lack of energy during the latter part of today's hike (or was it lack of enthusiasm from the rocks?), I went to the grocery store and, along with getting some groceries, pounded down a half gallon of ice cream (2400 calories). This should give me an extra kick for tomorrow.—Andy

July 21—Leroy A. Smith Shelter (Day 100 ~ milepoint 1247.2)
The climb out of Lehigh Gap was an awesome sight (and climb). As I started the scramble up the rock wall, the Lehigh River Valley dropped below me. The views were great from the top, although it was cloudy. Everything was bare of trees for the next 5 miles, victim of a zinc smelting plant that was shut down several years ago. At the shelter that evening were 6 of us.—Andy

July 22—Church of the Mountain Hostel (Day 101 ~ milepoint 1267.0)
Today was supposedly the most difficult stretch on the AT. underfoot. The trail was essentially a river of boulders the entire length I hiked today. My light pack and little food I had left made it fairly easy for me. When I arrived in Delaware Water Gap, my feet felt fine. The really fun part about hiking on the rocks is the concentration it takes to put the feet in the right place while having gnats flying in your eyes. I arrived at the Church of the Mountain Hostel around 3 pm where several hikers were lounging around, resting their sore feet. The infamous Pennsylvania rocks hikers grumble about are for the most part over now. A bunch of us headed over to the local bar and grill for some gigantic cheese steaks, and a little action at the pool table. We were the last ones out, and we headed back to get some sleep.—Andy

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