Crossing the Juniata River

The dreaded spoon, the dreaded spoon

Day 88, Duncannon to Campsite at Mile 1153.3

Friday, July 7, 2017

As if we had an alarm clock, everyone in the church basement seemed to awaken at the same time this morning. Before long, we were all busily preparing for another day on the trail.

As they did yesterday evening, Radio, Dirty Duck, and Shlog prepared food, which they shared with everyone. We ate well as we again sat around the ping pong table.

Weather Cloudy, hot and humid, with a heavy rainstorm late in the afternoon
Trail Conditions Long walk through town and over two highway bridges, followed by a steep climb to a rocky ridge
Today's Miles 5.9 miles
Trip Miles 1,153.5 miles

Along with scrambled eggs and toast, the guys prepared a massive amount of bacon. After everyone had eaten their fill, there was still a large plate of it left over.

Not ever wishing to see food go to waste, Stick finished off the plate. He ate so much bacon I pictured in my mind finding him soon collapsed on the trail from a heart attack.

We only partially packed up after breakfast, as we still needed to resupply.

Mutzabaugh's Market is apparently the only grocery store in Duncannon. It’s a family-run place located on the edge of town. Unfortunately for hikers, the store is on a narrow, busy road with no shoulder. It’s dangerous to walk there and pedestrians trying to walk it have been hit by cars. That’s why the store offers hikers a free shuttle.

Just a few minutes after calling the store, a young man pulled up in front of the church in a van.

After we purchased our groceries, he took us back to the church, then refused to take any money from me when I offered it to him.

By this time, all of the other hikers had left. We sorted our purchases and finished packing, then made sure the fellowship hall was in satisfactory shape before we left at about 11 a.m.

Walking through Duncannon

Though small, Duncannon is stretched out for more than a mile. The trail took us along a sidewalk on a street that ran the entire length of the town.

For years, the major business of Duncannon was Standard Novelty Works, the maker of Lightning Guider Sleds. It shut down production in 1988.

Now the community does its best to take advantage of business opportunities related to hiking, paddling, fishing and hunting.

Along this walk through town, we stopped briefly a couple times to say hello to locals sitting on their porches.

Stick with his bear

Then we came upon a house with a large, painted statue of a bear in the front yard.

“Hey, Stick,” I said, “now you can finally say you saw a bear!”

Crossing the bridge over the Susquehanna River

The road walking continued for a long distance because the trail needed to go over two rivers. The only bridges available for that were highway bridges that were located near the rivers' confluence.

The first river to cross was the Juniata.

Almost immediately after that bridge the trail then crossed the Susquehanna River over U.S. Highways 22/322. We could see just up ahead the steep ridge we would soon have to climb.

Rocky ascent from the river

Once the trail left the highway it immediately began that long climb, which contained several switchbacks.

I had been feeling the heat and humidity as soon as we left the church. Now with this difficult ascent and the added weight of my resupply, I was going slowly.

I was sweating profusely. Stick told me he was sweating bacon.

Once we finally reached the top of the ridge, the trail followed it a long distance without a lot of elevation change.

View from the ridge

There were only three narrow views from the ridge today. They offered a look back down to the rivers and the valley beyond.

While walking along the ridge I saw a hiker dash by me, going in the opposite direction. He only said, "Hey" as he ran by.

It was a startling moment. At that point in the trail I wasn't expecting to see a day hiker or trail runner. Then I realized after he had gone past me that was no day hiker or trail runner. That was Scout!

Later I learned why Scout was in such a hurry and was headed back to Duncannon. He had discovered he left his spoon at the church.

He was running back nearly four miles to get his spoon!

In this heat, there is no way I would add another eight miles to my day just for a spoon. Then again, Scout is much younger than me. And maybe that was one special spoon.

Tricky but short descent

Just beyond where Scout ran by me on his desperate mission, the trail made a tricky but short descent over large rocks. Then a short distance farther was Clarks Ferry Shelter.

We stopped for lunch and water at the shelter, while also attempting to cool down.

One of the hikers there was Simple, who had the most unusual sleep pad I’ve ever seen. He had lashed together colorful foam swim noodles, the kind used for floatation in swimming pools. They weren’t foldable like a regular sleep pad, so he just attached them to the side of his backpack.

When he walked down the trail he looked like he was carrying a short section of a rainbow.

View from a power line cut

The final view of the day was through a cut made in the trees for a power line. I could see from here the sky was darkening. Across the other side of the valley it was raining.

About 30 minutes after stopping for this view I came upon a southbound section hiker named Lucky. We chatted for a bit. He told me that Stick was just ahead, talking to another hiker, Viking.

Lucky and Viking had thru-hiked in 2015 and were now doing a 100-mile section together.

When I reached Stick and Viking they were chatting non-stop. I might have gotten in a “hello”. They had met at Trail Days, so this meeting was something of a reunion.

But then the approaching storm broke up the conversation, and we headed in our separate directions.

We had barely started walking again when the rain came down fast and heavy. Stick and I decided we should look for the first opportunity to pitch our tents because this rain could continue for a while.

After a couple minutes of looking we found a spot that wasn't ideal but would work well enough. We took no time setting up.

Then the rain stopped.

It seemed too early to quit walking for the day. It was only just past 5 p.m., and because of our late start we hadn’t even gone six miles today. Taking a look at the trail guide, though, it seemed that if we took down our tents and started hiking again we wouldn’t reach the next shelter until past 8 p.m.

So we decided to stay put.

The unfortunate part of stopping early like this was we weren’t near a water source. In order to conserve our water until we reached a spot to refill, we decided to not cook dinner, and instead only eat trail bars.

If Scout were here he could have borrowed my spoon. I wasn’t using it.

Here we go to the Tasty Freeze
Or maybe Dairy Queen
If so, then better lock the glove
There's something in there the old man loves
To break it out with a muffled shout
A shout of glee and it comes out

The dreaded spoon, the dreaded spoon
Lord help us, it's the dreaded spoon

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