Celebrating my 100th day on trail with one of my favourite days yet, including star gazing and my first copperhead snake.
I had breakfast and checked out of the Hamburg Microtel at 8am and was soon collected by shuttle driver William who drove me back to near where I had left the trail before to save me the 2.4 mile walk now that I was carrying a full pack. William has tried to thru-hike the AT twice so far without success and the first year’s injury was interesting. He was hiking with a buddy who was out of shape and needed to rest frequently on uphills. William would stop as well and would always lean back on his right leg, thus causing Achilles tendonitis. I remarked that this was the first case I had heard of a Repetitive Rest Injury! He has hiked the whole of the Pennsylvania section of the AT and warned me to cut down the miles and treat the rocks with respect. I intend to. He also warned me that the worst of them start at Palmerton and go on for about 25 miles. I reach there in a couple of days. It’s also whee there’s a distinct lack of water so it ought be a challenging few days ahead, with the forecast back to 31c (90f).
I walked up to the cycle trail and back the 0.1 mile to where I had turned right to Hamburg, then turned around and started the day for real. First up was a quick walk through Port Clinton, a small town whose main industry, on this particular Saturday anyway, appeared to be yard sales. I could see up to the misty hills to be climbed later.
The next 7 miles contained 1500′ of ascent but fresh from a zero day I seemed to have no problem and easily made it to the high point where I found Pulpit Rock Astronomical Park, a grassy area with low light pollution where three computer controlled telescope pods are located. The guy who looks after the maintenance and electrical engineering, Ron, let me into one which was currently fixed on our sun with telescopes with different filters set. There were no hotspots to see but the telescope showing the solar prominences (matter flaring off and falling back) was fascinating and beautiful, like a scene from Star Trek. All this plus a big sandwich made for the best lunch yet!
As well as passing the 500 mile mark on this trip I also passed a lot of day hikers this afternoon, maybe 60, as many people I have seen in several days before. There’s some good views here and easy road access so people only have to hike about a 5 mile round trip to see them. The best view is The Pinnacle which I reached after 9 miles. Several people were also there taking in the view and watching the vultures float around us.
A guy called Andrew pointed them out to me and then offered me ice cream and Minute Maid lemonade. He didn’t have to ask twice! He had actually hauled up a large cooler with these things to offer out to all and sundry. What a star! We had a nice chat and I would have liked to have more time to relax and chill out. But miles don’t make themselves.
The afternoon featured relatively ok trail and the miles passed. My feet have recovered well which is a relief. I had been hoping to nab a campsite around the 15.5 mile mark but the two campsites around there were occupied by campers – the problem with Friday and Saturday nights. So I had to climb a final 900′ hill to find a spot, actually tucked down a side trail (Hawk Mountain) that I first passed and then got a nagging sense I should check down it a few yards. It was a bit rocky but I had myself a definite private campsite as it’s not even on the AT. A perfect end to a great day.