May 31. I woke up early because I wanted to put in another big day of hiking and make it to Duncannon by night. I was on the trail a little after 6 AM and by 8 AM I had dropped into the Cumberland Valley, a 16 mile stretch of the trail that passed through a flat valley, walking along corn fields, farms, and country roads. I rolled through Boiling Springs before 9 AM, a nice little town. By early afternoon I hit the other end of the valley and started climbing back into the mountains. I crossed one mountain and back down into another valley. The trail climbed another ridge and ran along the top for several miles towards Duncannon. I came to the last shelter before town and it was down a long steep trail off the side of the mountain. Every step down was another step I’d have to go back up, but I was out of water and needed it for sure. When I got to the shelter there was one day hiker there, and he was talkative. He seemed nice, but also a little odd. I filled my water bottles at the spring and headed back to the shelter. By this time a cat had approached the shelter and the guy was trying to feed it some of his food. When the cat stepped forward the guy flipped out and started talking about feral cats and how some cats are rabid and dangerous. The guy put on his sunglasses for protection and pulled the pin on his bear spray. He also had a flare gun ready, and picked up a stick and a rock. There was going to be a showdown between this guy and a kitty and I didn’t want to stick around to see who would win, I decided this was my time to exit. I said goodbye and walked past the cat as it meowed and I headed back to the trail and left the guy fending for himself against the feline intruder. When I made it to Duncannon I talked to another hiker who had been at the shelter in the afternoon with the same day hiker and he also agreed that he was an interesting person and the hiker decided he didn’t want to be alone in the woods with that guy and pushed on to make it to town before dark. Funny thing is that both of us kept looking behind us as we walked down the trail to make sure the day hiker hadn’t decided to follow us…that is the trail…sometimes it is weird!
On the way down I was dead tired. It had been another long day and my feet had taken a beating. The rocks on the trail were really getting to me and my right ankle was incredibly tender. Every step hurt and I was having a tough time getting down the mountain. I would be looking forward to getting to the hotel for the night!
I made it to Duncannon and went straight to the Doyle Hotel, which is one of the original Anheuser-Busch hotels, over 100 years old. I thought it was interesting that there was a Coors Light banner hanging outside on the wall, but to me, beer is beer! I walked into the lobby to check in, which also happened to be the bar, and pulled up a stool and ordered a burger, a beer, and a room. I sat next to a thru-hiker who I hadn’t seen since Georgia! He and his dad had spent the night in the first shelter with us on Springer Mountain, so in the past few days I had run into two people that we hiked with our first day on the trail, more than 1,000 miles ago! The Doyle Hotel was interesting, not a place that many of you would want to stay, but for a hiker it was perfect! A small room with minimal furniture, one outlet (which happened to be spliced from the light in the ceiling with an extension cord hanging down in the middle of the room), no TV, no bathroom, nothing! Each floor had a bathroom that everyone shared. It is a very old building with a lot of character. After eating I took a shower and headed over to do laundry. I tried to get a root beer from the soda machine but it was sold out, so was coke, vanilla coke, cherry coke, sprite…so I ended up with a ginger ale. I was happy to have a shower and clean clothes…I hadn’t had either since the hostel at the end of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, 180 miles ago! I didn’t do the 4 state challenge, hiking from VA, through West Virginia and Maryland and ending in PA in one day, but someone joked I was doing my own 4 state challenge, hitting 4 states of hiking between showers! I made it back to the hotel and planned to catch up on my blog but I laid down and fell right asleep. It was another 32 mile hike today…back to back 32’s and I was tired!
June 1. I woke up in the hotel and took my time getting ready. I looked at my books and realized in the month of May I had hiked 500 miles! That was pretty good! I left the hotel and crossed the street for breakfast. The good thing about hiking through small towns in America is I get to hear a lot of good country music! Ain’t nothin’ like eating a good breakfast rocking out to Brantley Gilbert’s “Kick It In The Sticks” in a restaurant with camo painted walls and pictures of deer. The food was fantastic and the owner told me that they were calling for bad storms in the afternoon…thunderstorms and possible tornados! That didn’t sound good to me…maybe I would just hike out to the first shelter. I walked a half a mile down the road and picked up 4 days of food at the grocery store. There the locals warned me about the weather again, it didn’t sound good. I walked back to the Doyle, looked at the weather on my phone, pulled up to the bar with some other hikers and ordered a beer and a room. A zero day in Duncannon may not be that bad, besides, my right ankle was really sore and could probably use a day off. In the afternoon it got windy, and rained a bit. The river shower whitecaps, bit by dinner there was really no storm. In the evening the wind and rain moved in and I was glad to be dry and in a hotel.
Another interesting note about the Doyle Hotel…when someone on the 4th floor is taking a shower it leaks through the floor and directly into the 3rd floor shower. Just interesting…
I watched one of my favorite YouTube videos today of a guy hiking the AT and his experiences and it reminded me that I still have half the trail to enjoy! It is amazing to think that in the last 3 months and 1,100 miles I have only seen half of the AT!
I had dinner and drinks downstairs in the bar at the Doyle. Good food and a nice break, but as everyone was hanging out enjoying the evening and watching shows on TV I realized I really missed the trail…I was missing the action and progress. I was ready to hike all day and fall asleep dead tired at dusk. It was just one day off but I knew I would be ready to get back on the trail in the morning!