Note – The shift keys on my Zagg keyboard are broken – I’ll try to remedy this soon.
I woke early and laid in my tent, listening to birds chirp and the creek rushing by my vestibule. Sleeping without a rainfly was great – I caught a nice breeze all night and really enjoyed it.
I slowly started packing up at 6 – I could hear Black Santa packing in a hurry. He’s been thoroughly enjoying getting an early start and waiting for the rest of us to catch up to him. He left camp at 6-30, the rest of us leaving at 7.
After making a quick stop at the bathrooms, Savage, Champa and I began hiking north. After a steep, but brief, exit of Caledonia, the trail flattens out and eventually hits Quarry Gap Shelter. I cruised in at 8 to find Savage and Champa having breakfast. I sat at the picnic table and joined them.
I munched on granola and noticed how impressive this shelter was – kinda like Frank Lloyd Wright meets the Fontana Lodge. I checked my phone and, seeing I had surprisingly good service, decided to pause and upload yesterday’s post. Savage and Champa left at 9, I stuck around til 9-30 before pressing on.
Trail rumor called for the ‘easiest day I would ever have’. I left Quarry Gap and was totally surprised – trail rumor was right. There wasn’t a single rock in the trail. I hiked strong, making great time on the easy terrain.
It was 10-30 and I had only hiked four miles on the day – I felt like if I stayed focused, I could put up some big miles quickly. The AT midpoint was eight miles away – I hadn’t passed a single hiker all morning. I felt great and decided to push myself as bad as I could.
I put in my headphones, cranked up the music and really started flying. I finally started passing hikers as I sped up the trail. And the terrain did indeed stay flat – man, I was coasting.
I sped by the Birch Run Shelter and popped out on Shippensburg Road at noon – I had just hiked six miles in an hour an a half. I saw a truck parked on the side of the road. Could it be? No way, I thought. But it was – my first trail magic north of the Mason-Dixon line. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I chugged two cans of soda and ate some snacks before pressing on.
I crossed Dead Woman Hollow Road and, knowing I was close to the official midpoint, really cranked it up. I practically ran down the trail. At 12-54, I officially reached the midpoint. There wasn’t anyone around to take my picture, so I snapped a shot of the sign be moved on.
Less than an hour later, I cruised into Tom’s Run Shelter and ran into my hiking buddies. We sat and had a few snacks before making the final push to Pine Grove Furnace SP. Again, I hit exceptionally easy terrain and hiked as fast as I could.
I made it to Pine Grove at 3-30 – that’s 17 miles in six hours, definitely a record for me. I threw my pack down at the camp store and strolled inside. Savage ended up being the only one of us committed to attempting the ‘half gallon challenge’. I sat and watched as she took her first few bites. Good luck.
I knew Get Weird had friends visiting and Black Santa and I decided to make the trek down to their campsite – sure glad I did. Her bosses from REI Columbus brought the entire spread down to provide some surprise trail magic. Black Santa and I set up our tents and joined the festivities a few campsites over. I ate way, way to much before retiring to my tent for the evening.
* * *
I am totally full – and I can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow morning. There’s supposed to be blueberry pancakes.
Savage, McDoubles and Champa decided to press on tonight – they wanted to get closer to Boiling Springs, PA.
I’ll definitely reach Boiling Springs tomorrow – the terrain looks easy. I’m shooting for Duncannon (and The Doyle) by Saturday night – I’m taking a zero on Sunday for sure. The last time I took a day off and did nothing was in Pearisburg, VA. A zero is long overdue.
Breakfast: 20 gram protein bar, granola
Snack: 2 blueberry cereal bars, 2 granola bars
Snack: bag of beef jerky, 20 gram protein bar, apricots
Dinner: 5 hotdogs (only 2 buns), chicken Apple sausage, piece of salmon, 2 Mountain Dews, goldfish, Doritos