Day 90 – Tuesday, June 7- Table Rock to PA 72, 23.6 miles, 1,180.3 total AT miles.

Note – I’m still having problems with my keyboard. Apparently, charging it didn’t permanently fix my problems with the Shift Keys. I’m using the Caps Lock to capitalize words and no longer can use the colon. This stinks. 

I woke up at 6 to the sound of light rain hitting my rainfly – I’m really glad Black Santa checked the weather report before we decided to sleep under the stars.

I laid in my tent uploading my blog until 6-30 – I called out to Black Santa from within my tent. He was awake and just starting to pack. I quickly packed up, pulling out my breakfast and snacks for the day, before emerging from my tent.

It was damp, but the sun was starting to warm the rock overlook at Table Rock – Black Santa and I spread our damp rainflies out to start drying. We met two early morning section hikers as we snacked on breakfast on the rock ledge – they were just enough of a distraction to allow Savage, McDoubles and Champa time to catch up. Black Santa and I were surprised to see them this early – they left camp just before 6, hoping to catch up.

Black Santa wanted to get an early start and took off down the trail – I stayed behind with the rest of the group and enjoyed the rest of my breakfast. By 8, the four of us set off in pursuit of Black Santa.

My goal today was to get as close to Lickdale, PA as possible – Lickdale lies halfway between Duncannon and Port Clinton, reaching Lickdale would put me in a good position to pick up my bounce box in Port Clinton by early Thursday afternoon. I left camp and started hiking north, enjoying the relatively easy terrain Get Weird told me about yesterday.

McDoubles and Champa stopped at Peter’s Mtn Shelter a mile in to use the privy – Savage and I continued hiking. We were making good time, stopping at Kinter View at 10-30 to take in the vista – our only view of the day.

Champa caught up to us five minutes later and the three of us enjoyed a quick snack before pressing on. I hiked on in relative ease for the next two or three miles before starting to make a quick descent towards PA 325 and Clark’s Creek – our first water source of the day. I found Savage, McDoubles and Champa relaxing by the stream, enjoying a hot lunch. I opted to eat a cold one, thoroughly enjoying the variety of dried fruits sent to me in a  mail drop.

As I ate, Champa filled me in on all the snakes he saw near Clark’s Creek when he first approached. Lots of snakes. I finished up and walked over to a concrete embankment where he saw the snakes and, sure enough, there they were, sunning themselves on the rocks.

The entire embankment was hollow – Champa had discovered some sort of snake den. They occasionally popped their heads out of any number of holes and cracks in the concrete – it was very disconcerting and I got hiking quickly after snapping a few photos.

We left Clark’s Creek and made a short ascent back up to the ridge. I fell behind – the rocks were starting to get to me again. At first, it was simply annoying, but as I hiked on, it started to get genuinely painful.

I stopped to put on my pack cover – it was 3-30, I had already hiked 15 miles on the day and could hear thunder in the distance. I hiked on, quickly catching up with the group at Yellow Springs for a quick snack. We checked the trail register and were surprised to find that Black Santa was over two hours ahead of us – he was flying today.

We set off again – I hiked towards the back with Champa for most of the afternoon. We started hearing lots of planes overhead – Being an ex-marine, Champa was able to identify them as A10 Warthogs. There must be an air force bed nearby – we could hear them dropping ordinance regularly as they made runs overhead. It was pretty cool, hiking while the birds sang overhead, only to have the serenity broken by the occasional distant explosion.

I fell quickly behind – my feet were really starting to ache. The small baseball-sized rocks were relentless today. At times, I was moving slower than two miles per hour. At 6, I passed the Rausch Gap Shelter and numerous adjacent campsites. I stopped at Stony Creek, an old coal mining settlement, before moving on.

The sun was starting to set as I began my final ascent of the day, a quick up and over Second Mountain. I stopped twice on the rocky terrain – I was looking forward to getting to camp.

I passed through a beautiful meadow at dusk – I knew the plan was to camp near PA 72. I was personally hoping to camp under the overpass – it just makes packing up in the morning so much easier.

For once, that last mile was actually the easiest – I really picked up the pace on the flat, level terrain. Good thing, too – I was beginning to wonder if all the big miles had permanently hurt my feet. As soon as the rocks disappeared, so did my foot pain. What a relief.

I passed several campsites as I approached PA 72 – I was very pleased to find the group making camp on the concrete ledge under the overpass. I quickly made my bed and started cooking dinner. After a delicious meal, I curled up. In my sleeping bag and started writing.

– – –

Today may have been rough on my feet, but everyone felt it. McDoubles has it the worst – he had to lance and bandage two huge blisters on his right foot.

I apparently hiked right by Black Santa’s tent before ascending Second Mountain – I wasn’t paying attention. McDoubles chatted with him for a few minutes – the rough terrain was getting to him too.

Tomorrow I hope to hike as close to Port Clinton as possible. The elevation profile looks easy, but who knows how rocky the trail will be.

I decided that, if there’s a Verizon store in Port Clinton, I’ll need to finally upgrade my iPhone – I don’t have enough memory to hold all these photos I’ve taken.

Breakfast – two 20 gram protein bars, one almond chocolate bar, coffee

Snack – two LD Oatmeal Creme Pies, dried cranberries, dried mango, buffalo jerky bar

Lunch – three Sandwich Thins with chicken jerky, almond chocolate bar, dried apples

Snack – two small granola bars, raisins

Dinner – This has been one of the best yet. I cooked one of the lamb bars with a can of chicken and added shrimp ramen. It was awesome.

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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