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AT 2017: Day 92, Campsite at Mile 1206.3 to Port Clinton

The sight of you leaves me weak

Hike with Gravity

This part of Pennsylvania makes me think of the movie The Deer Hunter. It shouldn’t, because the movie is set in western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. Nevertheless, I’m reminded of it as I walk through these woods.

Much of the land the trail traverses here is through state game lands. I realize that the trail needs to go though public lands whenever possible, so it’s not surprising that game lands are used. Still, we have walked through so much land set aside for hunting I can’t help think the citizens of this state are hunting-obsessed.

I don’t really know if they are. I just can’t help think that way.

At any rate, if Pennsylvanians are hunting-obsessed, I’m fine with that. The land they’ve preserved keeps the trail from being encroached by civilization.

Or at least, that’s the intent.

Date
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, with a steep descent into Port Clinton
Today's Miles 11.3 miles
Trip Miles 1,217.6 miles

As we packed up this morning, I began hearing loud equipment arrive nearby. It sounded like huge, diesel-powered vehicles were moving into position to flatten the forest.

This is protected land, right?

I couldn't see what was going on because the equipment was just beyond view. The engine noise sure sounded like it was coming from clear-cutting or road-clearing equipment.

I was counting on, or at the least hoping, if this was a clear-cutting crew the workers knew where the boundary of the protected land stood.

Leaving our campsite, we walked on a smooth pathway. I knew it wouldn’t last long, so I tried to walk as quickly as I could.

We crossed a stream and then entered an area identified with signs as being scheduled for a prescribed burn. The sign said the burn was to happen last May 4.

There were a few places where the base of trees were scorched, but otherwise it was difficult to tell a burn had taken place. The forest was as leafy green as any other.

After only walking less than a mile we hit a rocky section. This one was crazy rocky, a mix of large and small rocks, and the going was slow.

I walked on rocks like this for the better part of three hours before the trail smoothed out. Along the way, I ran into Extra Mile and Leapfrog again. And as before, they came prepared with trail magic for me. They gave me an apple, an orange and a honey bun.

I could get used to these daily meetups.

Just after 2:30 p.m. the trail began a descent toward Port Clinton, our destination for the day. Soon the descent became steep.

Then it became ridiculously steep.

The only good thing to be said about this steep section of trail: I was going down, not up.

At the bottom of the descent was a rail yard for the Blue Mountain, Reading, and Northern Railroad. Freight and passenger excursion trains are operated from here.

As I looked across the tracks I spotted Stick, and even from a distance I could tell he was excited beyond words.

Wait, let me rephrase that. Stick is never beyond words. Let’s just say he was over-the-top excited.

No, that won’t work either. A lot of what Stick does is over the top.

Any way, it’s suffice to say he was excited because he was in the midst of one of his passions. He loves trains.

As I got closer, Stick was in full meltdown. He followed a yard inspection car while trying to talk to the driver.

It was hard to blame him for his excitement. The rail yard was interesting and I thought it was fun that the trail took us through it.

I left Stick to revel in the rail yard as I followed the trail into town. It was tiny and most of the buildings were old. According to the last census, only 326 people live here.

I wanted to get to the post office before it closed at 4:30. I arrived at 3 p.m. so that wasn’t really a problem, but if I hadn’t gotten here in time I would have had to wait until 12:30 tomorrow before it re-opened.

My wife Kim had sent me a package to this post office, which included a trekking pole to replace the one with a tip that broke off on Day 86. She also added a few treats.

As I was outside opening the package and preparing to send back my broken trekking pole, Splat and Dory arrived. Stick had gone ahead to check out the Port Clinton Hotel, and came back to excitedly tell me about it. He was still acting like a four-year-old jacked up on Mountain Dew.

The four of us walked together back to the hotel, passing by one of the few retail businesses in town. It was, of all things, a peanut shop. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much there for hikers, other than the obvious peanut-related products and a few other candy bars.

I found it surprising how a business so close to the trail sold almost nothing for hikers.

The Port Clinton Hotel had an old boarding house feel. The bathroom was down the hall.

Knowing we were hikers, we were given strict instructions to shower before we went downstairs to the dining room for dinner. We were glad to oblige.

We had an enjoyable dinner with Dory and Splat. They weren’t staying in the hotel, but were camping down the road at a park with a pavilion provided for hikers by the town.

After dinner the four of us did our laundry together and hung out while it was in the machines. We discussed possibly trying to get a ride into Hamburg, a much larger town, so that we could resupply. Then we decided against that because it was getting late.

Stick and I gambled that we would be able to resupply tomorrow night. He had made arrangements for tomorrow to meet Bekka, who is the fiancée of Dapper Dan, a hiker he met early in his hike. Bekka lives nearby. She offered to pick us up for dinner and take us to Walmart to resupply, so we decided to count on those plans working out.

There is a long, gripping and controversial scene in The Deer Hunter involving wagering and Russian roulette. As I walk over the rocks, I feel as though I’m playing the same kind of odds. One wrong step on a rock and I could end my hike with a broken ankle.

I hurt my ankle yesterday, but managed to keep going without too much difficulty. It was sore again today, but manageable.

Can I make it through this state without further injury?

Tomorrow I will once again put a bullet in the chamber and spin.

Pardon the way that I stare
There's nothing else to compare
The sight of you leaves me weak
There are no words left to speak
But if you feel like I feel
Please let me know that is real
You're just too good to be true
I can't take my eyes off you

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