Molar Man suggested that I begin today’s entry with, “We hiked through a thunderstorm and nobody got killed.” I prefer, My phone rang at 5:45; Molar Man asked, “You ready to hike?” With severe weather in the forecast, I had set my alarm for 6:00, expecting to sleep late for a change. My friend, however, had a different idea. “The bad weather isn’t coming until 4:00,” he informed me. Famous last words is all I have to say. Because when we reached the trailhead a little before 7:00, the skies were rumbling. We looked at each other, told our wives goodbye, and proceeded to hike into a thunderstorm.
Actually, the thunder, lightning, and rain didn’t begin until we had hiked almost a mile. When it did start, it poured, but only for about an hour. Thunder boomed occasionally, but the lightning really never seemed close. As the rain subsided, we both agreed that we were glad to be hiking the trail today even if it was a shallow stream for a few miles. After all, after the feet are drenched, it really doesn’t matter whether or not you walk through the puddles. Molar Man would later change socks at the break. I just hiked in wet ones all day.
When the rain did cease, the humidity kept us sweating. Still we made good time, reaching Duncannon before 11:00. A warning that the trail was very rocky the last six miles into town didn’t seem exactly accurate. Sure there were rocks aplenty but not nearly as severe as what we would face on the last leg of today’s hike. When the trail reached Duncannon, famous among AT hikers for the Doyle Hotel, we were greeted with a road walk (or I should say town walk) for over two miles. A short block before the Doyle the trail goes west to High Street, following the street that runs parallel to Market Street until the edge of town.
Before walking up to High we took a couple of pics of the majestic old hotel. We then meandered through a peaceful neighborhood until the trail turned east to head over the Clark’s Ferry Bridge and the Susquehanna River. After crossing over the river we met Sweet Tooth and Linda at a parking lot under the bridge. Also parked there was Spirit, Steady’s wife. She had been acquainting herself with our ladies in her RV. I also went inside to relax and eat a sandwich that Linda had brought me. With a longer lunch break allotted by Molar Man, it felt good to rest my feet.
When we did start hiking again, we were faced with a climb of about 1000 feet which culminated with a spectacular view of the town of Duncannon and the Susquehanna. It was after the ascent, however, that the hike got dicey. A very rocky stretch of trail, often requiring us to use our hands, slowed our progress over the last few miles. At one point I had to sit on a rock and carefully lower myself down about an eight foot drop. The change of terrain was fun initially, but then it got tedious. When we finally appeared past the last of the big slabs, we quickly picked up the pace to PA 225 where the ladies were waiting.
Just before arriving at our destination, Molar Man and I were passed by Blazer, a thru hiker that neither of us had previously met. I’m 1149 miles into my hike and meet another hiker who started six days before me for the first time. Seems odd, but it continues to happen. Blazer hiked with us to the road where he was offered some trail magic by Sweet Tooth. Also visiting at the Volvo was Steady. I had hiked almost a full day with him out of Waynesboro, VA over two weeks ago and had not seen him since then. Before we left the area, Tugboat, Life Raft, and Finder also showed up to partake of some snacks.
When we did finally head for town, I followed Molar Man in our rental car. Within a couple of minutes I felt more like I was following George Costanza on his way to the Bubble Boy’s house. I barely had a glimpse of the blur of a Volvo as MM exited onto US 233. Telling Linda to hang on, I somehow maintained contact until we thankfully reached a traffic light. From there we made our way to a motel. In the parking lot stood OB, another thru hiker from GA that I had not met, but who had heard of me. His wife Mona had driven up to visit and slack pack her hubby for a few days.
After a hot shower, Linda and I drove back to Duncannon because I wanted her to see the Doyle. While inside we met Paco, a section hiker who has been reading my journal. Having just finished his trek from Harper’s Ferry, he was relaxing at the old hotel. We took some pics, and then Linda and I drove back to our room. All in all it’s been a good day. Tomorrow Molar Man wants to do another 25 plus so I best get some rest. We aren’t sure just what the trail will have to offer, but with clear skies predicted, it ought to be a great day to continue north on the Appalachian Trail.
Here come the rocks my friend. Be safe.