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[at-l] Peters Mountain Shelter

We started at Rte. 325 in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, this past
Saturday, 10 boy scouts and 5 leaders. We could not have asked for
better weather to hike in. We are doing these hikes to get ready for our
upcoming Philmont expedition in New Mexico in August/July of 1999, and
also because we love to backpack.
When you leave the road and head into the woods, it's a beautiful thing
! We headed up the steep incline, over 700 ft. in less than a mile. Even
the boys with their 14 year old lungs were feeling the pain. We were
concerned about water at Peters Mountain Shelter, where we hoped to
spend the night, so at a half mile one of us blue blazed it down to a
spring and it was a trickle, so we hoped for the best at the top of the
mountain. In Pennsylvania, we are in the height of hunting season, so we
had two leaders wear blaze orange caps, along with three scouts with
blaze orange vests on top of their packs. We were not taking any
chances. However, the top of the mountain must scare the hunters away,
as we only saw one hunter all day.
After the ascent to the ridge we headed Southwest on the trail and just
had a great day. We visited the Shikellimy Rocks overlook, which at this
time of year was gorgeous, the leaves were perfect. We hiked into the
Peters Mountain Shelter at 4:30 PM and we were all surprised to see that
we were alone. All of us had brought tents to sleep outside, but it
looked like we were to have the choice. The first thing that we did was
to check the spring, and myself and another adult leader were nominated
to "go check it out". Steve and I started down the steep incline, and we
couldn't believe it. The farther we went, the more awestruck we were.
The Susquehanna Valley ATC had built steps, rock steps to be sure, but
steps concreted in, on the trail down to the spring. Now, if any of you
have ever been to this spring, I would think that you would know why !
:-) This is almost a sheer drop down the side of the mountain 275
yards.........again, 275 yards ! The amount of work that the SATC did
here was just amazing, and I thank them. 
The water was not running strong, by any means, but there was a nice
"hole" where the water pooled in the rocks and we got our fill. We use a
Pur Hiker filter, and as usual, all is well, no GI symptoms yet....
That night we had four scouts sleep outside the shelter, and six sleep
inside. This shelter is a very large double decker shelter next to the
Earl Sheaffer shelter. The story goes that the SATC wanted to name this
shelter after Earl, but Earl wouldn't accept the honor, as this was not
as he envisioned the AT hike. He had never stayed in so nice a shelter
as that. The original Earl Sheaffer shelter still stands and is used by
hikers, maybe 50 yards from the new double decker. This shelter took on
the name of the mountain it stands on, Peters Mountain.
Later that night, after a mixed bag of suppers, we had the boys start a
fire in the fire circle, and we did some halloween tomfoolery. We also
added a learning experience as the fire died down, which was all the
boys and adults were asked to leave by the scoutmaster and walk into the
woods anywhere from 20-100 yards and hug a tree. Just sit or stand by a
tree for exactly ten minutes and listen to only the sound of the
mountain and the night sounds. Then on the signal, the boys, and adults,
walked softly back into the fire circle, and they were asked to explain
one new thing that they had learned about the night by standing still
for ten minutes in the dark. It is hard to explain, but these scouts
learned things that I am sorry to say most people on this earth will
never know, nor have the chance to see or hear. You have to make the
effort for learning like this to happen.
After the last adult had stated what they had learned, we broke out some
of the halloween candy one of the adult leaders had brought, and
celebrated halloween, under the moon and the stars, with only the glow
of a fading campfire for light. We hit the sack early, and hiked out to
Route 225 and our vehicles the next morning.

Sorry about the long post, but I couldn't help myself. <g> I know we are
all getting hit with a lot of e mail lately, and the delete key is doing
double duty.

Reason for this post ? To let you know that there is water at Peters
Mountain Shelter's spring. 

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