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[at-l] Our PA Hike

Just thought I would say hello to the group again!  We just returned from
doing Boiling Springs to Delaware Water Gap, a glorious section if I've ever
seen one ( read - a touch of sarcasm).  I would say however, that except for
the rock section from Wind Gap to Kirkridge Shelter that the rocks are
overrated. They are bad, but as others have said, there are long flat
stretches in between with few rocks. To us, it seemed that Maryland and
Southern PA were worse, but maybe that's because our feet were mincemeat
through that section. On the other hand, if it had been 100 degrees in the
middle of July, this section would have been a real kick-ass section.

Some notes on our trip:

Hiked 14 days - took one day off in Port Clinton. Averaged around 11 miles a
day with our longest day being around 18+ and our shortest 4.

Weather - Amazingly good - rained on us during our hike into Port Clinton
(Made the downhill into Port Clinton a bit more fun) but other than a light
rain during the night at Rausch Gap Shelter (that's because we had set up
our tent!), the weather was generally cool, breezy and sunny. A few sticky
days before the rain at Port Clinton, but the rain blew all the humidity
away. Fabulous views from the Pulpit and the Pinnacles - no haze. 

Wildlife - not much, except for a monster Timber Rattler I almost stepped on
- couldn't figure out what that strange noise was, till it slowly dawned on
me as I was about to step on him - not even knowing where he was I jumped
back about 10 feet and then saw his rattles going.  Very lucky - this baby
was about 4-5" thick and went into a coil position as we inched our way past
him on the trail - that'll get the heart pumping!
Also hiked behind a Canadian goose who went merrily honking his or her way
up the trail, strolling ahead of me for a good 50 or so yards. That was a
strange sight!

Trail Magic -(Yeah, I know this is a hot topic, but I think it is just a
matter of folks wanting to be nice - good lord, in a world where people beat
each other up, kill each other, etc., we should all be damn happy that there
are still people out there that have kindness in their hearts and if you
question their motives, then maybe something is wrong inside of you?) Oodles
of good stuff.  A special note to Kahley - sorry we missed you!! We got to
225 just 15 minutes after you left!  Our trail Angel left us 2 fabulous
bagels and 3 Pepsis on Ice along with gallons of water (the Parapacker
Spring!).  She was the talk of the shelter that night! Thanks again Kahley!
Got a slack pack one day from the "Blister Sisters"  to a side trail called
Delps Trail which leads down one of the steepest downhills I've seen in a
while to a Spring.  Ran into Trail Maintainers about 3/4 of the way down
down who were doing some major stone work and two of them offered to bring
our packs to Smith Gap Road rather than having us have to carry them back up
the Delps Trail.  If you've been down this trail, you'll know why we said
YES! And that night at the shelter a section hiker visiting his sister in
the area strolled up with Coors, Tortilla chips and Newman salsa - yum,yum,yum.
Two ladies from our home town of Michigan City, Indiana happened to come
walking out of the woods near Kirkridge shelter and told us there was no
water at the shelter and gave us 4 quarts they had in their car - talk about
a small world! And greatly appreciated, as there is no water for 14 miles in
that stretch.
A ride from Ira Fine of Fine Lodging in Slatington back to the trail - Ira's
is very conveniently located to laundromat, food and the P.O - all within a
few blocks. 
A free lift from a member of the church in Port Clinton to Hamburg,PA and
the American Hotel (unique, but fun)
And not to be forgotten - a ride from Violet MacPhee (a very nice retired
lady who has hiked all but 70 miles of the trail) from Delaware Water Gap
back to our car in Carlisle,PA after driving 2 hrs from Philly to pick us up
and she did it for a song (except we paid her for about 3 songs as a way of
saying thanks!)

Equipment - functioned generally well - stove pooped out on me in Kirkridge
shelter the last night - no idea what is wrong with it (Coleman Apex II) ;
battery died in our camera the last day (one of those $10 lithiums for which
I had no replacement). One of  Janet's new Raichle Sambesi Goretex boots
sprung a leak after about 1/4 mile of walking in the rain and by the end of
two weeks the rand was already seperating from the leather - other than that
she liked these boots, but their quality control is a bit suspect.
My Merrell McKinleys leaked like a sieve as I expected and those are their
WTC brand (Weather Tight Construction). I hate boots.

People: As I've said, lots of nice people on the trail ("Optimist" - a young
man from Nashville, Tn and a great kid - very considerate - no MMM mentality
here - wish all the young hikers were like him!) "Third Time's the Charm",
"The Blister Sisters", "Wes" (who dropped off the trail in Port Clinton and
caught a ride to Lancaster to see if he could live with the Amish for 2
weeks - good luck!)
On the negative side - still seeing too many inconsiderate folks on the
trail - had to ask two stoned Southbounders 4 times to shut up at the 501
shelter so we could get some sleep - their dog roused the owner's dog during
the night which didn't make his wife too happy; drunken, stoned weekenders
kept us up till 3 a.m. at William Penn shelter. I stopped carrying pepper
spray for animals - think I will start carrying it again for idiots. Guess
that will teach me to stay at shelters rather than tenting it.

Strangest sight - as we came out of the woods onto a dirt road, a big guy
was drinking beer with his car radio blaring and dancing with his little dog
in the middle of the road. Didn't have a long conversation with him.

Ugly,nasty hike - the long uphill from PA 325 (3+ miles) to Horse-Shoe Trail.

Coolest sight - 4 hanggliders circling our heads for about 2 hours at
Kirkridge shelter and we were able to hear all of  their conversation.

Next Stop -  NH and Maine in August!


Mark and Janet Holmes-Innkeepers- Fox Hill Inn,Troutdale,VA(1-800-874-3313)
GA-NH '95  HF-DWG+NH-ME '97						       
Provider of shuttles in SW VA                                   

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