Skip to main content

AT 2017: Day 91, William Penn Shelter to Campsite at Mile 1206.3

I would be running but my feet's too slow

Hike with Gravity

The word on the street — or trail, if you will — was Pennsylvania rocks didn’t get bad until after Duncannon. While that has proven to be true, I have a couple of observations.

For one, the rocks have not been continuously bad. There have been several stretches of smooth trail or stretches where the rocks didn’t pose much of a hazard.

When I come upon a section of trail that is not littered in rocks, I’ve learned to throw my transmission in high gear and speed onward. These sections are where I can make up a little of the time lost navigating the rocky sections.

The other observation is, when the rocks are bad, they are really bad. They are so bad it’s hard to understand how anyone thinks this is a proper trail.

Each step taken on one of these rocky sections is a joint-twisting, bone-jarring, trekking-pole-grabbing, mind-numbing slow walk of constant peril.

Weather Partly cloudy with a high temperature in the upper 70s
Trail Conditions An assortment of conditions, from smooth and easy to extremely rocky and difficult
Today's Miles 16.7 miles
Trip Miles 1,206.3 miles

When Stick poked his head out of his tent this morning he asked me if a hiker came into camp late last night. “Yes," I whispered, hoping to not wake up Speedy.

As soon as I said his name, though, Stick said in a loud voice, “Speedy?! Great!"

I tried to quiet Stick, reminding him to let Speedy sleep.

Before packing up I went down a side trail to get water from a spring. I noticed off to the side, several yards from the trail, a couple of hammocks were hanging in the trees. Just then, a black dog started barking at me.

It was Maple, but I didn’t recognize her at first. Apparently she didn’t recognize me either. It wasn’t until I saw Jason that I realized he and Boomer had camped near us last night.

Once I was back on the trail, the path was smooth and flat. It followed a former road along the top of a ridge.

After a little more than three miles I arrived at Fisher Overlook, which was a rock overhang that looked over the Swatara Creek Valley.

A battered sign nearby said the spot was named to honor Bob Fisher, a 50-year volunteer of the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club. That's the organization that maintains this 65-mile section of the AT.

Near here the trail became gnarly again. Rocks of all sizes were planted at all angles.

Then the thing that I feared more than a tick bite happened.

I injured myself, twisting my ankle just enough to make me stop for a moment and make sure it wasn’t badly injured.

It was only sprained, but I was disgusted just the same. I have been trying to take extra care on the rocks because I know one bad step could end my hike.

I was soon able to walk without too much discomfort, but now I felt a need to go even more slowly.

Near the 501 Shelter were a couple more ledges with open views, so I stopped to enjoy them. It was only 10 a.m. and too early for lunch, so I decided to skip a stop at the shelter.

Walking past the shelter, the trail was smooth again, so I was able to walk more comfortably.

That lasted less than an hour, though, when the trail became a rocky mess again.

Along this section I met Extra Mile and Leapfrog. As they had done yesterday, they were slackpacking southbound. This time they were even more generous with trail magic. They brought for me fruit, a muffin and Gatorade. They had some for Stick too, but hadn’t seen him yet.

Then as I neared another overlook, Stick appeared. He told me about stopping at 501 Shelter, describing it in great detail. Then he asked, “How did you get ahead of me?"

"I didn't stop at 501 Shelter,” I answered.

We stopped at the rock ledge for lunch, and during the break I decided to put on my knee brace. My ankle wasn’t the only joint feeling effects of the rocks.

Besides ticks and injuries, there is something else I’ve been a little worried about since I started. I have been concerned about the possibility of being bored. Given that this hike is something I’ve wanted to do for years, that might seem a little odd for me to say.

Honestly, though, boredom has not been a problem so far. Each day has been full of interesting sights and people.

Still, this afternoon was a little bit of a drudgery. The trail didn’t have a lot of elevation gain as it alternated between rocks and smoot sections. After the view at lunch time there were no views to stop and enjoy.

Finally at about 5 p.m. there was a point of a little interest, but I didn’t know much about it. A stone marker made note this was the location of a lookout post during the French and Indian War.

Our tent site for tonight not was not where the Guthook app said it would be. It was mis-marked on the map, but we knew that in advance. A comment posted in the app made note of the mistake.

It turned out to be an easy spot to find, with plenty of flat places to pitch our tents.

I have fewer than 90 miles to go to finish with Rocksylvania. I think I can make it, but it’s going to be slow going at times.

I want to holler, baby, don't you know
I would be running but my feet's too slow
Young man rhythm got a hold on me too
I got the rockin' pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu

I want to scream but that ain't all
My baby loves me, Lord, she's carrying on
Young man rhythm got a hold on me too
I got the rockin' pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine." ref.