PA 501 to Port Clinton, PA

It felt odd starting a hike solo today. It also felt strange hiking with a full pack again after a week of slack packing. Nevertheless, that’s what I did. After breakfast at the motel, I used my first shuttle in several days to return to the trailhead at PA 501. During my meal I overheard a member of a tour group use a phrase I haven’t heard in some time (Well, I’ll be dog!), which prompted me to ask where they were from. When a member of the group said Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I told Bob that I was from Georgia. I also gave him my web site before heading out the front door.

After being dropped off at the trail, I began walking at 6:40. Early in the hike I passed Fis and later was passed by Wrangler. I would see no other people all day until the last mile going into Port Clinton. The trail was lonely today, my friend. As the morning progressed I took a break at Round Head to just enjoy the view. Then I hiked steadily until just past noon when I reached a campsite where Wrangler had built a fire and was cooking some lunch. He explained that the fire was to keep the bugs away. That sounded like a good idea, so I joined him.

After lunch I continued at a quick pace until I reached the Eagles Nest Shelter. I had actually intended to stay the night there; however, since it was only 1:20, I just couldn’t force myself to stop with only 15.1 hiked and seven hours of daylight remaining. So I pushed on. In fact, I covered the two miles from the shelter to Shartlesville-Cross Mountain Road in 38 minutes. While the terrain allowed, I kept up the pace. Then when the rocks appeared, I slowed. Even with some lengthy stretches of rocks, usually small in size, I arrived at the small town of Port Clinton, PA before 5:00, having hiked 24.1 miles with a full pack.

One noteworthy occurrence on today’s hike was that I ran out of water, which is something that should never happen. As the day got hotter I found myself drinking more and not finding any sources from which to refill my bottles. I tried to conserve when I realized that I had little left and about three miles remaining until town. Then the magic occurred. Within a couple of minutes after I had taken my last sip, I turned a corner to find eight 32 ounce gatorades under a tree. It could have been 32 ounces of gold and I don’t think I would have been any happier. I took one and immediately downed half of it. That drink gave me the lift I needed to carefully negotiate a very steep descent to the road. I thought to myself, “I’m glad it’s not raining.”

When I did reach the road by the train tracks, I took a break at a picnic table before crossing the short bridge into Port Clinton. Arriving at PA 61 going into Hamburg, I thought I’d give Microtel a call to check on rates. As I was talking a truck stopped. The lady in the passenger seat asked if I needed a ride. Fred and his trail angel wife drove me right to the front door of the motel. Also in the truck was Fables, a young lady who started at Springer the week before I did. Like so many others, I had not seen her until today. From South Carolina, she was staying with the trail angel couple.

Even though I hiked a ten hour day alone, the miles went quickly. At one point I thought about creating an imaginary hiker friend that I could share the trail with when no one else is around. I gave him a name, a place of origin, and a rather bizarre personality. Perhaps in future days, when there’s nothing else to write about, I’ll include a more in-depth description of the fictional hiker. For now, however, I think I’ll stay with reality. And the reality of the moment is that I need some rest before tackling more big mileage days on the Appalachian Trail.

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Categories: AT Hike | 1 Comment

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One thought on “PA 501 to Port Clinton, PA

  1. Linell

    Still keeping up with you, praying for you and enjoying your daily journal entries. Linda was right…996 is way better than 1000. Hike on!

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