AT 2017: Day 83, Pa. Route 16 to Rocky Mountain Shelters

It's like a heat wave

We didn’t quite get the logistics right for last night’s town stop. After arriving at the motel at 5 p.m., we had enough time to shower, eat dinner, and purchase food for the next section, but not for doing laundry.

Thanks to Stick’s willingness to stay up late, the laundry got done, but there was one other task that had to be deferred to this morning.

DateMonday, July 3, 2017
WeatherHot and humid, with a high temperature in the mid 80s
Trail ConditionsOther than a couple long climbs, an easy section to hike
Today's Miles12.3
Trip Miles1079.5

Last night while at Walmart, I purchased a bottle of Permethrin, an insect repellent that is sprayed directly on clothing. It will last up to six weeks or six washings. Stick and I were both due for a new application, so I agreed to split it with him.

This needed to be done after our clothes were washed and the application should be dry before wearing. We decided to wait until this morning to treat the clothing, but that meant allowing extra time.

We awoke at 6 a.m. and sprayed the Permethrin on our clothes. We did that outside the back door of the motel so we wouldn’t be spraying a harsh chemical inside.

The instructions said to allow the clothing to dry for two hours, so we hung them and went to the motel lobby for breakfast.

Dory, Splat, and Mama Splat arrived in the lobby as we were preparing to leave, but we had a quick chat with them.

Once our clothes were sufficiently dry, we dressed and finished packing.

Ralph was leaving us today, so he had made plans to hire a shuttle to transport him back to Harpers Ferry where he left his car. When he called to make arrangements, he also asked the driver to take Stick and me back to the trail, which was just outside of town.

The driver, Frank, arrived this morning earlier than scheduled. He was driving a subcompact, which barely had enough room for three passengers. There wasn't enough room for three passengers and three large backpacks.

Also complicating the situation, Frank seemed confused about who he was transporting. He said he had talked to a hiker name John.

John? We didn't know anyone on the trail by their real name. We thought maybe that was Mechanic, but after some time looking around the motel we couldn’t find Mechanic.

Eventually, Stick and I loaded ourselves and our gear into the subcompact, then said our goodbyes to Ralph. Frank took us to the trail first, with the intention of coming back for Ralph. As befuddled as Frank seemed to be, I hoped he remembered to do that.

We were dropped off at the trailhead at 9:30. While running across the road to avoid traffic, one of my camp shoes became unhooked from the carabiner attaching it to the outside of my pack. Just by happenstance, I turned back and in a glance saw the shoe lying in the middle of the road.

That was a lucky break, and I was glad to retrieve the shoe. Though I don’t wear them every evening when we get to camp, I often do. I also expect they’ll be useful when I reach Maine, where there are several stream crossings.

The weather warmed up quickly as we began to walk. It wasn’t long before my freshly-laundered clothes were soaked in sweat.

After less than two hours on the trail we met up with Cookie Monster. As before, he was hiking southbound with only a daypack. He was still getting picked up each evening by his hiking companions and their van.

The trail through part of this section appeared to be an old road. It was wider than the trail usually is.

Then the trail made a left turn away from the wide path to a narrow one. Someone ahead had kindly marked an arrow in the dirt to alert other hikers to the turn. Without the arrow, only a rock and a couple sticks lying across the wide trail provided scant indication a turn was here.

A short distance beyond the turn-off the trail crossed a small stream. RedEye was there, cooling off with her feet in the water.

She had the right idea because by now it was very warm, but after a brief conversation with her I kept walking.

I arrived at noon at a picnic ground in Old Forge State Forest. With shade, picnic tables, and a nearby water spigot, this was an ideal spot to stop for lunch.

The other hikers here were feeling as lethargic from the heat and humidity as I was. We didn’t carry on much of a conversation.

After lunch, Stick and I didn’t have to go far before we reached Tumbling Run Shelters. There were two shelters here in this same spot, which seems to be common for this part of Pennsylvania.

The maintainer of these shelters had some fun by designating one for snorers and the other for non-snorers.

Another whimsical feature was found in a piece of sheet metal covering a portion of a picnic table. Someone, perhaps the maintainer, had drawn an electric range burner on it.

The metal surface actually has a practical purpose. It’s a spot designated for campers to place their stoves.

Though alcohol stoves aren’t as popular today as they were a few years ago, some people still use them, including Stick. They are extremely lightweight, but can be a little finicky and are prone to flareups when first lit. This has caused many picnic tables to be left with deep, circular scorch marks.

This table didn’t have that problem.

Some other practical amenities were found at Tumbling Run Shelters, including a clothesline and a covered canopy over the picnic table.

Though we had no intention of staying here, Stick and I enjoyed looking around.

Leaving the shelter, the trail made a steady climb for the next 1.2 miles. The heat took a lot out of us as we went up Buzzard Peak.

Near the top there was a side trail to a spot called Chimney Rock, which offered the only view of the day. It was a nice enough view, but the best thing that could be said about it was we remained in the shade when we reached it.

The descent from Buzzard Peak and the remaining hills of this stretch were not difficult, but we didn’t move quickly because of the oppressive heat and humidity.

Late in the afternoon we walked over a couple interesting trail features. The first was a section made of logs laid in parallel.

A short distance farther the path was covered in flat stones and bordered by logs. It was hard to see why the extra care and effort was put into these sections, but it may be because this area drains poorly.

After crossing a road, I noticed several white spots painted on trees. They were not like normal AT white blazes because they were too large and not in distinct rectangles.

This could easily cause confusion about the direction of the trail, but I had known about these markers in reading about the Pennsylvania section of the trail. The paint splotches were to mark the boundary of Pennsylvania State Game land.

Though I only hiked a little more than 12 miles today and the trail was easy to walk, I was glad when we reached Rocky Mountain Shelters. It was just too hot to do many miles.

As with the last shelters, there were two here. Some flat spots for tents were located about 75 yards away from the shelters, requiring a walk down a long, steep side trail. From there, getting to the water source required walking two tenths of a mile more down another long, steep side trail.

The other hikers here tonight, Crankles, Tie Dyed and Tim, made a fire and cooked hot dogs. I helped collect some wood for them, but they didn’t offer me a hot dog.

That didn’t matter, though. After dinner I mostly just wanted to crawl in my tent and lie down to cool off. It took about an hour before my core body temperature cooled enough that I was ready to cover up with my quilt.

I just laid there, listening to fireworks being fired off in the distance, as well as a nearby owl, which hooted loudly to let his presence known to us all.

It's like a heat wave
Burning in my heart
Can't keep from crying
It's tearing me apart

From “Heat Wave” by Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.