When he left to go North another hiker left to wait for a pizza delivery. The road, Pa 501, is within walking distance (.1 mile) of the shelter. There was a stack of empty pizza boxes behind the door to be recycled by the trail club caretaker living next to the shelter.
When the hiker came back with several large pizzas for everyone who paid he said the hiker with the thick glasses went back to the road looking for the trail North. The North direction is well marked from the shelter which is already .1 mile North of the road. When he said it, it was like the other hiker was wandering around like a silly clown looking for the way North.
Right away the middle age executive hiker from California says hikers have a camaraderie among themselves, and seem to support and up build one another. The young hiker who got the pizza was munching on a slice of pepperoni pizza, and he said with his mouth full, we’re all human.
Many hikers on the trail go out for the weekend or a few days. Others do a piece of the trail North bound and another piece of the trail South bound over many years. To some people like me the allure of the trail is the romantic notion of walking in the woods, in one direction, 2200 miles from Georgia to Maine. Most section hikers go about 100 miles at a time. It’s uncommon that a section hiker like myself go 600 miles per year always in one direction. If I do it again I’ll go South from Maine to Georgia. Fewer people do it that way. I expect there to be less interaction with people, more solitude, and because of that the natural beauty will be more pronounced. I still have to go 650 miles from North Adams Massachusetts to Mt. Katahdin in Maine where the trail ends. I’ll see what happens. In the mean time writing about my hike isn’t going to be as linear and mono directional as doing the hike.
50 miles south of the 501 shelter the trail goes through Duncannon, Pennsylvania. When I got there I was thinking about finding a place that had pancakes, eggs, bacon, orange juice, and other types of food that were impractical to carry. Everything was closed. Duncannon is one of the few towns on the Appalachian Trail where the trail goes right smack through the middle of town. About half way was a hotel with a sign that said hikers welcome. A room there was $25. A shower with a towel was $7.50 more. I booked a room from a woman who with her husband owned and operated the place. There was no front desk. The transaction took place in a bar/restaurant on the first floor. He was the cook and she took food orders, served food and worked behind the bar.
The four-floor wooden hotel was built 100 years earlier by an out of town company for their employees. It was perfect for hikers years later. It was not expensive and good food came out of the kitchen. The first thing I did after getting situated was get two bottles of cold beer, go upstairs, and sit outside on the second floor veranda by myself. It had several rusty chairs. The one I sat in was comfortable with a little spring action to it, and there was a metal side table. Yellow tape blocked one end of the veranda floor so a person wouldn’t accidentally fall through the floor injuring or killing themselves. The veranda overlooked the street. Across the street were old wood buildings with small town fronts and beyond them were green mountains where the Appalachian Trail was. Altogether it was a nice place to be.
There are 17 miles between Peters Mountain Shelter and Rousch Gap Shelter. I went that distance from 7 in the morning to 6:15 that evening over mixed terrain, and it rained most of the afternoon. Hiking like that is the most physically demanding activity I’ve ever done. I did rigorous sports events but they only lasted two or three hours at most.
When hiking I took a 30 minute lunch break and two 10 minute breaks just like they do in factories. For lunch I would usually sit on a log and have chicken salad or maybe plain old peanut butter served on a spoon and a candy bar, all with lots of water. That year water was plentiful along the trail. In drought years it’s not that way. During my two breaks I would have some protein enriched candy and water, always a lot of water.
On other parts of the trail I moved faster. For example going North from Harpers Ferry I made it 7miles to the first first shelter by noon. The trail to the first shelter goes beside the Potomac River along what was once a railroad bed. In most places I hike about half as fast as fast hikers who in the mid Atlantic states usually get 10 miles before lunch, or an average of 3 miles per hour.
The last 36 miles of trail in Pennsylvania is mostly over large rocks. It begins in Palmerton. The abundance of rock is the result of a glacier pushing all the rock ahead of it into Pennsylvania like a yellow earth mover.
The glacier stopped at the state line and formed the Delaware River. All of this happened millions of years ago. In the last 100 years fumes from a man made zinc refinery in Palmerton caused large rocks to appear in the hills east of town. Everything but the rocks disappeared. The rocks were not effected by the fumes.
The trail goes a short distance down a narrow road. An abandon wire farm fence is hidden in weeds along the right side of the road. The trail turns abruptly to the right and goes steeply up 1000-feet through a rock field. The smallest rock is probably 1000- pounds.