Sunday, June 1, 2008

AT Thru-Hiker NB - June 2008

30 June - mid-afternoon - Hiker is Hiking, Hudson Valley, NY after a delightful evening with Larry and Freda, friends of Ron's friends who picked him up and provided dinner and breakfast this morning. He had a good time playing "GO" with their daughter, Christina, and giving Christina's brother advice about becoming a computer geek. Ron is resupplied and he is in a very jovial mood atop a fire tower with a 360 degree vista that includes NY City. This spot is the lowest on the AT in NY State. He said that the thunderstorm did not develop after all - whew!

Bear Mountain Photos : http://www.nyc-photo-gallery.com/HiRES_Bear-Mountain.htm

29 June - 6:30 PM - Hiker is scrambling down a mountain side near a ranger station about three miles from Bear Mountain with a thunderstorm bearing down on him. There is a phone number to call for a pickup - planning to phone to try to get out of the storm and into a shower.

Early this AM - Mile # 1365 (from Springer Mtn, GA) 793 miles to Katahdin! Hiker is 1.5 miles from the next shelter where Papa Bear and the Preacher's Boys are observing the Sabbath, 13.2 miles to Bear Mountain - next resupply station unless he discovers Paddy O' and his Paddy Wagon on the trail again today. He hiked 5 miles yesterday despite the afternoon's indulgence. It was an interesting conversation - concurrent with the Hiker traversing "lemon squeezer" - a narrow chasm that one slithers through sideways with barely an inch of room - and "big rock" - an 8' high sheer climb with exposure. After all his ingenuity, grunts, groans and huffa's he reached the other side of both rocks and discovered there really was an easier route. And that pleased him thinking of Mrs. Baggins - the 4'7" hiker on the trail some days behind him. He is trying to get in touch with Southside who lives near Bear Mountain and has been off the trail since the end of May.


28 June - Inebriated ... NY - 9:30 PM -the Hilarious Hiker met a Trail Angel named Paddy O', an engineer and former hiker, (shortly after lunch time today) who brings a Paddy Wagon filled with cheeseburgers, etc., to the hikers - along with whiskey and beer. The Hiker explained the drinking thusly: "Drop a straight shot of whiskey into a glass of beer and chug it down so that the shot glass won't hit the bottom of the beer glass before it is all gone." Now do the math: multiply that shot/beer times five or ten and try to throw a rock over a tree branch to hang a bear bag, lose the hammock, find the hammock, set up the hammock, blow up the air mattress, climb into a swaying hammock from the bottom - all in the dark - while giving super-minutiae, not to mention amorous, on a cell phone at the same time.

Paddy O' was duly impressed with the Hiker - saying, "You are really one unique individual." To which the Hiker returned the compliment, "It takes one to know one."

Papa Bear and the Preacher Kids came by - and sang for the group before going on their way. Ron is so impressed with this outstanding family who call him "Grandpa Shakedown."
VERY few miles today! A whole lot of fun!

The hiker is hiking - or jumping - very-over-caffeinated and lively. He is uncertain if he will actually get to Bear Mountain tonight because it is 21 miles; he does not want to stress the knee which continues to improve in the new boots. And so the saga of the boots continues... ! His weight is down to 171 pounds (at Mayor Dick's house) despite eating every two hours. High school top athletic condition weight was 175 (a couple of years ago). He does not sit still, managing to multi-task even while conversing: reading trail journals, hiking, munching and smooching. Therefore, it is a challenge for the smoochee to get names correct. Familiar names in the current location journal: The General was there 6/22. Papa Bear left a Happy Birthday message (to himself - today). And to Papa Bear should you read this: Happy Birthday.

8:00 AM - NY State - (Trail Angel State!!)
Ron hiked about 12-13 miles yesterday - had a fantastic evening with John and Susan - Trail Angels - who provided a shower and sustenance for the evening. Six other hikers present: Frog, General Delivery, Sage, Sailboat are four of the names. The Hiker is helping John fill the Trail Magic Box with more cold water and supplies this morning; John will drop him off at the trailhead to resume hiking.

Hiker reports NY rocks are cumbersome to climb - challenging with his knee issues. But he has learned how to deal with the "hotspot" in the boot: after hiking four or five miles, when the foot starts to swell, remove one of the socks leaving only the thinnest nylon/polyester sock. He will try this measure today and the Pilgrim's Progress will be posted. I have serious doubts folks are really reading this stuff - but he says 'tis so. This is a test: if you read this blog drop a post card to Mayor Dick, Unionville, NY or E-mail: unionville@citlink.net and thank His Honor Dick for taking such good care of AT Hikers - especially the Hiker.

Bear Mountain is tonight's goal for resupply with a loaf of bread. We wondered how he will reach Killington in two and one-half weeks across a rocky NY:75 (miles remain), CT: 54, Mass: 90, and 40 miles into VT! That works out to about 17 days @ 15 miles a day in 19 days. Mebbe so and Mebbe Not! Depends on how much ice cream he finds en route.

27 June - 8:00 AM - 1 Mile from NY State Line. The AT zigs from NJ into NY and zags back to NJ where the Hiker camped last night; he is zigging again into NY State for 88 thru-miles - or five and one-half days - but who knows how his schedule will really play out. He slept good last night - arose at 7:30 AM to a rustling noise and spotted a yearling bear some yards away. Another hiker (very, very thin) walked by, too. "Where are you now? I want to know " - and witty Ron: "100 yards from where I slept last night - moving slow." He is encouraged the new boots are assisting ambulation." He plans to phone Southside and Matthew today.

Later in the afternoon - he saw Mrs. Baggins (sp?) - a delightful, spritely 4'7" 65ish year old woman Ron met at Kincora. I don't know if I have the spelling correct - but it is a play on a Hobbit character. Coming up behind her on the trail one sees only feet and a backpack. She hikes three miles a day - hiking for 45 minutes and resting for 15. Ron hiked with her to the ValVale Creamery for expensive, but delicious, ice cream. He only ate a banana split with two extra scoops of ice cream because it costs $8.00 a quart.

6:00 PM - Ron saw Lil Mak and Popeye "slack" packing (meaning they carry simply food/water); they reported having showers, air-conditioning... etc., and told Ron about a trail magic box ahead which he went on to investigate. Inside the styrofoam cooler were several jugs that had contained water - one left and some miscellaneous items like fingernail clippers. But it also had a business card from John and Susan "Trail Angels" offering the delightful opportunity of sharing the hospitality of their home for a shower and a meal. Of course, the Hiker phoned!

26 June - 9:30 PM - NJ (Ten Miles north of Unionville, NY) - the tired Hiker is in his hammock, ready to drift off to sleep after a ten mile hike; he did not get to sleep until 2: 00 AM (last night) because mosquitoes were buzzing bent on a bite of Ron (thin Ron: little flesh left!). He reports the boots are marvelous "made for walkin" but bothersome standing still. To remedy in-situ he wrapped the hammer toe & balls of his feet and removed a sock (he wears two pairs). He is also happy to mail five pairs of socks back to SC to decrease pack weight by yet another pound. He spotted a bear about forty feet away while setting up camp, but the bear seemed oblivious to his presence. Ron's sitz im leben was enjoyment of a very pleasant day... as evidenced below:

11:00 AM - "Munch Munch, Sip Sip - I am eating raspberry ice cream, smooch smooch, sipping coffee, smooch smooch and wearing new boots that hit my hammer toe when I sit still, smooch smooch, munch munch, sip sip." The Hiker will head North after licking the ice cream bowl clean and drinking the last drop of coffee; and then he will figure out what to do about the boot/toe issue. He thinks eavesdropping hikers are giving him a new trail name: smooch smooch. Later: 2:30 PM - six more hikers showed up at the restaurant offering opportunity for a second pint of ice cream, more socializing and more R&R phone smooches; he is now packed and ready to roll!

And from last night's midnight phone call: The town and the mayor pull out all of the stops for hikers: Ron was invited to Mayor Dick's house for a delicious dinner (night before last). His Honor has lodging for hikers, too. Ron enjoyed a zero day yesterday with a lot of hikers coming into the community of "600 souls." Twenty-five hikers, including Lil Mak and Popeye, spent the night at the mayor's invitation last night - great food: spaghetti and beer. Evidently the marathoners ("in running shorts "- a male observation) did not accept the invitation (R&R).

25 June - Unionville, NY - Hiker Picked Up by Mayor!!!! Ron was eating ice cream in the gazebo of the city park with female marathon runners in their shorts when Mayor Dick arrived on the scene; Ron was taken to the mayor's house!! Read the mayor's letter below: perhaps His Honor thinks Ron is a good prospect for increasing the city's population???

Welcome to Unionville, NY. Thanks for dropping by!

Our village is nestled between NY Route 284 and the Appalachian Trail on the southwestern edge of Orange County, New York. We share a common border with the Town of Wantage in northwestern New Jersey.

Presently we number fewer than 600 souls in about 200 households. Our MOST IMPORTANT PRODUCT is one that is increasingly difficult to find in today's America (especially in the densely populated northeast) -- A GREAT PLACE TO RAISE A FAMILY!

So, if you're a stranger driving on NY Route 284 or back-packing on the Appalachian Trail, we cordially invite you to "stop and sit a spell".

Richard D. Ludwick, Mayor

24 June - Hiking to Unionville, NY -10:00 AM: Ron slept good after a "bottle" shower last night - this AM he hiked 1/2 mile to the next shelter, ate breakfast, lost a boot heel and got some duct tape to hold the heel temporarily. Now he is en route to buy shoo-glue and duct tape from a general store in Unionville, NY known for its friendliness to hikers. He is hopeful that the glue holds until Greg and Donna return from GA next week and mail his other pair of hiking boots. If the glue does not hold - he will have duct tape to work its magic until he gets the boots. If all else fails, he may have to hitchhike to an outfitters store and buy some new boots. (Note: photo of the Hiker's bear hug below).

23 June - High Point State Park, 9:00 PM -10:30 PM: After a 21 mile day the tired Hiker revised this morning's story about the Three Bears (interspersed with smooches) while he set up camp, hung his bear bag, wishing he was at the shelter with a real shower and ate a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. "Just a peanut butter sandwich??? Are you getting enough food to eat?" Ron's response, "I carry 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of daily rations in a food bag attached to the backpack belt such as: dried fruit, trail mix, nuts like almonds, mixed nuts with a low ratio of peanuts, sunflower seeds, chocolate bits, raisins, peanut butter and bread. I eat a lot of wild blueberries and dewberries, too."
If a diner is available he eats a hearty breakfast, pie ala mode, everyone's leftovers, drinks a lot of coffee and is known to consume 1/2 gallon of ice cream at every opportunity. Translation: "bear"ly enough!
Earlier today: 9:00 AM - The Hiker is close to Hwy 206 traveling about 2 miles per hour. (photo from Ron's "Bankston Blog" http://bankstonblog.blogspot.com/)

This is the revised story of the Three Bears:
Last night he made camp in the woods - saw two bears yesterday and one again this morning. The first bear sighting was about 100 yds away; the trail took a turn and the bear turned off the trail into the dewberry bushes; Ron continued on downtrail past the dewberry bushes very ALERT - but did not see the bear until he rounded the corner and the bear was about 30 feet away. The bear had his back to Ron and loped off again. The second bear saw Ron and moved off the trail about 20 feet - turned to look at him but did not seem interested at all and left. Ron spotted the third bear about 100 yards away this morning but the bear took off. Did Ron's reputation for running down a huge bear to retrieve someone's food bag reach New Jersey bears??? The state's bear population is about one per square mile because there is no bear hunting season. When the bear population gets too large, or they get too aggressive, NJ hires professional bear hunters to control the numbers. Ron could send in a resume as a bear chaser?????

22 June - 7:00 AM -After hiking an additional five miles last night and making the usual phone calls, Ron hit the hammock by nine PM, "Somewhere in the Middle of Another Nowhere." He started hiking early this morning - with a 20 mile goal for today, a nice warm breakfast of egg, bacon and cheese biscuits provided by a fellow bringing food up to the ridge runners - and eating lotsa wild blueberries. YUM! 10:00 AM - Cell phone reception is better but it sounds mighty windy and he sounds mighty wet: "My ass is wet!" The short of it: he filled the water bladder from the creek, but he did not get the lid on right and it leaked on the sleeping bag in the backpack as well as the back of his pants when it was being removed to get fixed. Wet butt and all - he is on a ridge line with a 360 degree view of fog... more fog... and more fog.

(A water bladder is a water storage device that fits into the backpack - a tube exposed to reach the hiker's mouth. Ron treats creek water making it safe to drink).


3:30 PM - good phone reception. It rained this AM but it did not continue despite the day's forecast; the fog lifted providing a pleasant, pretty day; Ron is out on a ridge overlooking a lovely valley with a lake or river, not too many signs of human development. He had imagined New Jersey as being more urban. He is moving slow, took a nap, climbed the firetower for a great vista. The photo posted is likely of the Delaware River from the Visit New Jersey Appalachian Trail website: http://members.aol.com/visitnj/index.html

Ron passed a beaver lodge but found no evidence of the beavers (gnawed tree trunks). And he saw two snakes: a dead garter snake that had swallowed something and had some kind of injury - a black snake scurrying away - making Ron wonder if the black snake attacked the garter snake.

Mouth and Chef passed by - two younger hikers who recognized Ron's name from the Trail Journals in the shelters. Ron signs his name adding his faith affirmation.

21 June - Delaware Water Gap - Link to photos: http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/delaware-water-gap.html

8:00 AM. The Hiker arose early - feels great despite lotsa late night socializing. He and Whitefish had breakfast at the diner: Ron ate a western omelet and blueberry pie ala mode; he started back on the shuttle to the hostel to pack but jumped off to return to the diner to eat apricot pie ala mode. 1o:00 AM-back at the hostel: too-much-over- caffeinated-heading to the Pack Shack to catch the shuttle to Wal-Mart for re-supply and to the diner for cherry pie ala mode; he is delighted to see Papa Bear and the Preacher's Kids who sidetrack him with orange ice cream sodas, cake with two scoops of ice cream - thereby being too full for the pie. There is no laundromat in town; he had to wash his socks in the creek last night and it took all day for them to dry. He had hoped to resume hiking about lunch time but at 7 PM he phoned to say he had just finished crossing the Delaware River into "New Joisey" and discovered a beautiful vista he wished I was there to see. He may need to buy new boots after all - had not realized these were more worn than he thought - the rocks were very hard on them, too. (It is challenging to get all of the details exactly correct: the quality of cell phone reception coupled with the Hiker's huffa huffa breathing are challenging indeed. Fortunately he is using his vox recorder regularly - with plans for an AT journal (R&R).

20 June - 5:30 AM
- crossing a highway under an overpass - 15 miles from Delaware Gap. 19 rocky miles yesterday to the motel that had water - now refueled, fed and focused on knee that is causing problems. Perhaps sleeping wrong aggravated it. Later - 11:00 PM - at the Presbyterian Church in the Mountains Hostel (a free hostel for hikers). Ron is having fun, fun, fun socializing with the guys at Delaware Water Gap. Knee is better and the five pound boots are working marvelously. Saw a group of four hikers that included a 75 year old woman wearing a backpack and blue fingernail polish. Way to go!

19 June - Lehigh Gap: a barren wilderness created by zinc mining years ago. Hiked 15 miles yesterday until dark but did not get to the next shelter due to EXCITEMENT. Crossed scary, slippery, sheer boulders with one eye on ominous dark clouds headed right towards the Hiker. Neighboring mountains were beyond visibility; bolts of lightning, bellowing thunder bode ill will - and nary a branch to bind the hammock for shelter. Settled for a space/cleft in the rocks. And after all of that excitement, it didn't even rain; awoke to morning dew on the tarp. Lots of delicious blueberries to eat on the way up to Lehigh Gap - but uncertain if the few blueberries peeking through the rocks - having survived zinc poisoning up here - are safe to eat. Nineteen miles is today's goal - because there is no water between here and the next shelter - he will need water tonight. The breakdown before Katahdin: NJ: 74 , NY:88, CT: 54, Mass: 90, VT: 146, NH:161, Maine:281 = 60 days @ 15 miles per day. Allowing ten days with (R&R) in VT, he should arrive sometime early September.

18 June - Last night, after a short 14 mile day, the Hiker arrived in the Middle of Nowhere about dark - set up the hammock and dozed off in the middle of recounting the exciting events of the day: Left the shelter about noon (because he was obsessing about disorderly housekeeping). He cleaned the shelter, swept the floors, washed the picnic tables, etc. (under the guise of trying to slow down to fifteen miles a day. Its really OCD!!) At this rate it will take 300 days to get through Pennsylvania.The temps are much cooler now: 48 degree lows at night - and very windy. Good thing he bought a down -20 sleeping bag. Unfortunately, he got "the bends" this morning as he arose - but moved slowly and cautiously and is OK - sitting on a ledge overlooking a beautiful vista. Good thinking... if you are dizzy, sit on a ledge high on a mountain????? After this morning's earlier start he is headed to the next shelter 15 miles up trail. Later... 7:00 PM - he has just crossed the Lehigh River and an area filled with large sloping boulders with sheer sides; it is the first time he was really scared (R&R).

Yesterday was boring. Its a good time to brighten the blog by posting "the Hiker's Shorts" story: In the Beginning... the Hiker was delighted to find an extremely light weight, thin pair of off-white polyester shorts; they garnered a lot of attention on the trail from hikers who thought he was wearing skivvies. Not being the modest sort - and one who enjoys attention - he laughed along with everyone ... until one day he caught sight of his reflection in a store window with the sunlight streaming through the shorts. Ohmygawd!!!! The light rendered them transparent!!!!!! (No briefs under shorts on the AT... !) Seems he does have a streak of modesty: the shorts were left in a hiker box for someone else - but their reputation up and down the AT may preclude anyone from using them (R&R).

17 June - 8:30 AM - moving waaaaaaayyy tooo sloowwww. Still at the shelter - everyone else has gone. Shelter has electricity so both cell phone batteries are charged but the Hiker is not. Yesterday's 15 mile day seemed mighty lazy, too. Arrived at the shelter last night about 6 PM just as the 15 minute long torrential rain ended. No hail or electrical lightning, just a lot of noisy thunder. He met a father and four pre-teen sons earlier in the afternoon who were day hiking. The kids wanted to go home and play with their video games. They had no maps and no idea inclement weather was forecast. The Hiker hopes they got to some safe shelter before the rain started creating more frustration for kids, plus wet, cold and mebbe lost????

N PA is rugged, rocky and rough - Ron will move much slower with those heavy boots! He lightened the load in the backpack considerably even reducing a few ounces of items.

16 June - 7:00 AM - the Hiker is headed N with a 16 mile day planned if the forecast of 60% rain, hail does not materialize. At least the socks are clean and the heavier boots feel good for now. Pack is resupplied, Hiker refueled, re-caffeinated and really eager to be on the way. 12:00 Noon - he says he is moving slow - like an old man in the old new heavier boots that are too large from the weight loss. Four pairs of socks???

15 June - 9:30 AM - Leaving Port Clinton tomorrow morning; but this morning enjoyed another delightful breakfast with two families remembered from Daleville who were pleasantly surprised once again to learn their meal was paid for by the Hiker. This was a very lazy day - doing laundry was the biggest accomplishment - socks had not been washed in five days - phew! Spent the bulk of the day re-cycling (rearranging the trash at the shelter).

14 June - Port Clinton - Ron arrived at a local hiker's restaurant for breakfast at ten yesterday morning where they serve breakfast all day long; enjoyed an egg biscuit, stack of pancakes, plus apple pie ala mode - making it a good choice for this morning's breakfast, too, and likely to be the same order for tomorrow morning. Today, the waitress remembered his order; tomorrow he plans to say, "The Usual" to see if she will remember the order again. Of course, all the waitresses remember this outrageous flirt. Popeye and Lil Mak were at the diner. Ron spent the day and long into the evening having fun, fun, fun - socializing with familiar hikers - providing midnight and early morning phone updates. Padre (a RC Priest) is standing beside Ron in the shelter - along with Bag O' Tricks, a most delightful fellow, all waiting for today's BBQ and party for hikers. Nice to talk to Padre on the phone - a very special guy. The boots and vitamins did arrive. He bought duct tape for the newly arrived (really old) boots to keep them "mended" while going over rough, rocky terrain, and plans to toss the (newer old) boots that are beyond repair. Now, he has more L-Glutamine to take with the protein powder - supposedly between meals - but he says it is difficult to find between meal time because he eats constantly: hikers burn 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day. Ron noted that it is challenging to keep his mileage at fifteen or sixteen per day now; but he wants to keep that knee from complaining too much for arduous 900 plus more miles to Katahdin. He reports, "getting old ain't for sissies (R&R).

In the Evening: Ron enjoyed a delightful day with a second breakfast, too! More pancakes, lots of syrup - bacon, etc., cooked by the five brothers and a couple of brothers-in-law. This evening's menu was BBQ ribs, hamburgers and all of the fixins' - making for thirty well-fed hikers. Really enjoyed visiting with the Dutchman (Mark) - one of the hiker hosts. But the ice cream was cancelled because there was no freezer or electricity nearby to keep it frozen. Later yet, 9:30 PM: Ron has purchased ice cream and is in the car en route to the shelter eating on the way. Will he share???? (R&R)."

12 June- 501 Shelter - 7:30 AM, waited all day yesterday for the boots to arrive by Fed Ex; tracking record said they were delivered but Fed Ex called and said they were still on the truck being forwarded onto Port Clinton and later learned they have arrived. Enjoyed yesterday with a young Mennonite father (Papa Bear) and the Preacher's Kids (his three sons). His wife is traveling nearby with the RV full of goodies. Last night she brought ice cream, all kinds of syrups and cookies, for an ice cream feast donated by the boys uncle and aunt, Trail Angels Dan and Louise, cousins Ethan and Evan. This morning they shared their pancake breakfast... yum! Sixteen hikers slept in the shelter last night - it was very full. Everyone else left early with the exception of Little Mac and Popeye - Ron has been entertaining them - but now they are ahead of him; Papa Bear and his boys are behind him - all en route to the next shelter 16 miles ahead. He will get to Port Clinton on Friday in time for the BBQ, ice cream and perhaps even the internet: everything is good!!!! It will be even "gooder" with the right boots for the really, really rocky part of N PA!

9:30 PM - same day - five miles from Port Clinton: Ron spent another delightful day with the Preacher's Kids (ages 18, 16 and 14) who have invited him to share their evening meal. Interesting, too, is the image of the boys sleeping in hammocks "double-decker" (one hammock strung on top of another but at a higher level). Prior to the trip, Papa Bear was concerned that the boys would not be able to keep up with him... and now the truth be told: the only way that the boys can keep up with him is for the boys to slow down to Papa Bear's pace!!!! This is an exceptional family - and Ron is enjoying himself immensely.

Can you believe all of that ice cream????????????

11 June - 501 Shelter - 6:30 AM, The Hiker is Headed to EAT in Pine Grove. A good night's sleep was had by all - now it is breakfast time. And later at 8:15 AM: it is amazing what a whole pot of coffee, omelet, cherry pie ala mode, and a chocolate milkshake will do! Betty's Diner had good food. After resupplying at the grocery store - the library is next - to make a phone call to see if his boots have arrived. If they haven't arrived he plans to spend the day in the library (on the internet).

10 June - 8:15 AM- Ron is crossing highway 81 and the old Erie Canal having hiked 6 miles already this morning; he passed a very interesting old railroad bridge. After a good night's sleep he is in the usual jovial mood hoping to arrive at the next shelter with possible internet access this evening. 9:00 PM: 18 miles today - arrived at the 501 Shelter but guys were sleeping in the shelter and not a good time to talk. A guy showed up with Trail Magic: ice cream; he invited all thru-hikers to come to Port Clinton on Saturday to an all day cook-out with ice cream. So spread the word - Ron had thought he would be a day beyond Port Clinton, but the donor offered to shuttle him back so he could enjoy the BBQ and not miss the ice cream. The charitable fellow hiked the AT in 2000 when he was 19 - and now he and his brothers host an annual Trail Magic BBQ for thru-hikers (R&R).

9 June- The Hiker is headed to Rausch Shelter 15 miles from his sleeping location last night having hiked a good little bit already this morning with Jack Frost (trail name). About nine-thirty they were hiking across a ridgetop where it is nice and breezy. Ron was not the least bit daunted when he learned the day's temperature would likely hit 97. He said they would be hiking along the ridgetop most of the day where it is cooler - and the temps are forecast to decrease through the week to more normal temps by Friday. Cell phone reception was poor yesterday and it was not too good this morning either - plus Ron's ear piece quit working. What is so difficult about hiking across rocks, up and down 541 steps, using trekking poles and holding a cell phone to your ear at the same time? At least he has two batteries now - one is kept charged.

8 June - Hiking ON towards the N Country after a good night's sleep in a campsite on a ridge top. Yesterday was hot, humid and frustrating, but also fun socializing while hanging around for Fed Ex to NO SHOW. After a couple of beers, jambalaya and lots of laughter with hikers at the Doyle - Ron left Duncannon about 8 PM. Enjoyed a couple of phone calls - learning that another royalty check arrived from book sales and was deposited. Found the campsite just as night approached - put up the hammock and fell asleep immediately with a 6:30 alarm this morning. Surprised to see interesting vistas this AM from the ridgetop overlooking the Susquehanna River; it is particularly intriguing to see the river first on the left, and then on the right. The threadbare shirt (patches upon patches) is proving to be helpful rather than problematic: it is worn so thin that it is like wicking - besides its original purpose of being gold digger repellent. The good news is the mosquitoes have vanished with Deep Woods Off spray - but the bad news is the rocky part of PA is now appearing; finished a 541 step descent down to get water and that does not count the climb back up again with a water load! Three 15 mile days are planned to keep the knee from complaining. Night is approaching - he plans to sleep by a creek about five miles ahead. The hike has been leisurely and pleasant (R&R).

7 June - Duncannon, PA - arrived last night hoping for air conditioning, but the Doyle is an experience that is not conditioned. Open windows and a fan provided enough cooling after 11pm to fall asleep despite heat. I was able to Shoe Goo boots and wash all laundry by then. The blueberry pancakes for breakfast were OK, but hitch hiking to and from the grocery store for resupply was amazingly easy. Mail arrived with protein powder and ER bar, but my boots for walking on nasty Pennsylvania rocks have not arrived. Will see if Fed Ex can deliver boots to PAmoneypit in 50 miles instead. I lost a good shirt yesterday morning. No outfitter in town, but the ACE hardware store sold Deep Woods Off Sportsmen variety at a discount. Maybe the threadbare, multi-mended shirt will do after all - and the pack is lighter by 2.5 lbs after mailing more stuffs to New Hampshire (thanks Drew). The knee is telling me to stop these 20 mile days, so I'll cut back to 15 miles plus a daily afternoon nap. Life is good. I found great chocolate ice cream at a yard sale and 4 good flavors at the local ice creamery. I've waited all day to see if Fed Ex will deliver the boots, but now at 6 pm it is time to hike a few miles in the 90 degree heat. First maybe I'll order another beer and the jambalaya.

6 June - Middlesex, PA - Ron enjoyed a great breakfast at the Middlesex Diner: Spanish omelette, stack of blueberry pancakes - lots of good home cooked food and six cups of coffee to start the day's hike. Eighteen miles to Duncannon, more food and mail pick-up. Temps should hit the low 90's today through next week. Dinner at the Doyle was a good Jambalaya (R&R).

What is Jewelweed? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewelweed

5 June - Boiling Springs, PA - 6:30 AM: Ron's backpack is wet from yesterday's and last night's rains. Mosquitos were/are ferocious along the creek - but they lessened after reaching higher ground, showering in a spring and application of jewelweed over entire body! The shower felt so good! Mosquitoes lessened their attacks! Locals suggested the tavern is a good place for excellent salads; Ron drank two beers and ate a breaded chicken salad (it was good). Found a ride to Krim's (spelling?) with a very nice young woman whose daughter was graduating from high school today - he bought Ben and Jerry's ice cream - arriving at the check out counter at the same time as the woman who gave the ride; she offered a ride back to the trail head. 9:10 PM: in the hammock ready for sleep but it is TOO HOT!!!!!!!!!!! It is still 80 degrees! Please turn the AC up! Feet are hanging outside of the hammock to let the breeze blow but that helps so very little in these way above normal temps! Should arrive at Duncannon tomorrow mid-afternoon and pick up mail at Doyle's Hotel - ship out some items on ahead and some back to SC (R&R).

4 June-19 miles to Half Gallon Challenge Ice Cream Shop; that is Ron's motivation to arrive by 6 PM tonight despite having heard the ice cream is not particularly good. Tired last night after a 20 plus mile day - but enjoyed the excitement of a rain storm, thunder and brilliant lightning display upon arrival at the very nicely maintained Quarry Run Shelter. The freshly painted two cabins are under one roof with a picnic table between them; had a nice privy, and a bear box that sat outside with cute chipmunks playing nearby. Bedtime: 23 mile day -arrived in time for the ice cream with nuts and chocolate - not the best but better than no ice cream. Saw Little Mac and Popeye mid-afternoon taking a nap (heads on the picnic table) - (R&R).

3 June-Pennsylvania. Ron had a good night's sleep - despite heat - in a hidden spot off the AT. Slept in the silk liner for protection from mosquitoes and bugs hungry for flesh in the Deer Lick shelter, a view echoed by everyone who has entered their names in the trail journal at the shelter. 151 thru-hikers ahead on the AT. Considering the large number of folks on the trail, it means that lots of them are coming up the rear or dropped off the trail for various and sundry reasons. Heavier soled boots and chocolate amaretto raspberry protein powder are being mailed to the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA - the next stop for resupply. Evening location: HWY 30 where it crosses the AT - stream up the road with a hiker's supply nearby, service cans for thru-hikers and some coke left in Trail Magic boxes; too full from four scoops of ice cream and a meal at Poor Minnie's Diner. The pool does not open until mid-June - found some showers! Hurrah! Log signed by Little Mac and Popeye today. The General has not signed the shelter logs in a few days - guessing he is doing some 40 mile days in this stretch of flat-land (R&R).

2 June - Annapolis Rock, good vistas overlooking a broad valley last night and this morning - no connection to Annapolis, MD which is located on the seaside. Many picnic shelters along the way - some with showers, one had a pool - but too tired to get into the pool. Spotted Woods, Michael but not Heather. Ate two peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast along with various snacks; about to stop for L-glutamine break (R&R).

1 June -South Mountain, MD: A new month but direction remains the same: north to Katahdin. Should be able to make 20-25 miles a day through 30 miles in MD to the N part of Pennsylvania when the trail becomes very rocky. Dark storm clouds ahead - but they are not visible on the weather radar screen. Life is good at 11:00 AM Sunday... although Halftime may stop for a motel because he is feeling ill. Later: 8:00 PM - feeling tired after 16 miles with an hour left of daylight hoping to get another 3-4 miles in today. Still full from the huge South Mountain Inn Sunday Brunch with cute waitresses to watch while waiting for the rain to pass. Satisfied with today's progress: about twenty miles after planning for only 15 - hoping to catch up with the General or Little Mac and Popeye who are about two days ahead.

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