Day 96 – 16.0 miles to unofficial campsite at 1190.5

Hello Pennsylvania, I’ve been expecting you.

The day dawned feeling a little cooler than the past week and this would continue through the day. Just a few degrees cooler but noticeable.

There was a 550′ climb to get started and then a descent to a creek about 5 miles into the day which was the last source before two climbs totalling about 1200′ over 3 miles. To cross the creek someone had rigged up an ingenious combination of planks and tree trunk which required some trust to cross.

As I was finishing up my water pickup a man came from the north and said he had trail magic waiting a couple hundred yards away with bottled water. Ah well. But also ham barbecue and cookies and cold sodas – much better news!

Dirty Ernie (class of 2009) and his wife Judy (right of picture) do two days of this each year to stay connected and give back. I wanted to tackle the big climb before it got hot so I had a couple of sodas including a new one for me – birch beer – and set off at about 10:30am.

I sure was glad it was cooler than usual because this climb was hard – steep, long and rocky all the way. When I reached the top I was almost exactly 10 miles into my day and it was 11:50. I resolved to have a well-deserved long lunch in the shade at the next flat spot and for the first time I lay out my tent as a groundsheet, inflated my sleeping mat and had a proper 90 minute rest during the hottest part of the day. I may need to do that again! This is what the view was like while lying down looking up.

The afternoon session only needed to be 6 miles which I thought would be easier than they were. This was due to the infamous rocks keeping my speed down. I will distill it down to just one photo but suffice to say the last 6 miles took 4 hours (including one slow-moving water pickup) after the first 7 took just 3. Rocky the movie was set in Pennsylvania. Makes sense now.

Camp was at a site not listed in the guide, just the app, and I could see why when I arrived. It is very rocky (natch) but I kicked out a couple and made a flat spot so it was fine in the end. I’m pleased with how the day went, healthy mileage achieved but not overdoing it.

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