5/26 Harpers Ferry to Pine Knob Shelter (22.9 miles)
Today was the first day we hiked that it felt like summer. It was a little hot but definitely better than rain. We got a great view of the Potomac in the morning, but other than that it was a pretty boring day of walking through a green tunnel. The AT passes through a lot of civil war sites so Stitch, who loves Civil War history was enjoying reading about it. We also got the a tower which claimed to be the first monument built for George Washington that had some nice views from the top.
I think that I am going to switch to eating more cold dinners when it is this hot out. I didn’t enjoy eating the hot meal on such a warm evening. It started raining today after dinner, but looks like it will hopefully be cleared up by morning.
5/27 Pine Knob Shelter to Campsite (20.6 miles)
We crossed the Mason-Dixon Line today and have officially finished the short state of Maryland. Today was one of the rockiest days that we have had in awhile. There were numerous points where we were going from rock to rock for a few miles. I think that, coupled with the heat and long day yesterday explain why we moved so slowly in the morning.
There were several nice views today which was a really nice. We have definitely started to get closer to civilization. We can hear cars most of the one now and most of our views are overlooking town or cities. I don’t enjoy the views as much, but I do enjoy that we were able to order pizza to a park that the AT went through shortly before we stopped. They had very large pizzas. Garfield and I were the only ones able to finish our halves. We gave the rest to a fellow thru hiker.
We saw a lot more section and day hikers on the trail today. I assume its because of Memorial Day weekend, but I expect we will continue to see this as school gets out as well. While they can sometimes not obey trail etiquette and leave trash, it is good to see others out enjoying nature.
5/28 Campsite to Caledonia State Park (15.7 miles)
Secret Agent’s parents, Q and M, writing the blog for the next four days. For the hike on 5/28 see http://www.postholer.com/journal/Appalachian-Trail/2016/BevoHi/2016-05-28/Day-70-Caledonia-State-Park—Gettysburg-PA/55333. We arrived late afternoon after Secret Agent, Stitch, Jamie, and Garfield had completed their hike and got drenched by a random local downpour. M had homemade trail magic ready for the merry band before we crammed everyone and their gear into the car. An aromatic damp experience! We headed to the Best Western in Chambersburg. At the hotel it was interesting to watch the routinue unfold. The room quickly transformed itself into chaos with wet gear draped about, dirty clothes gathered up for the hotel laundry room, showered hikers. Secret Agent soaked his pack and Stitch’s in the bathtub for several hours in Myrenzyme (the packs were later sun dried on top of the car). It seemed to be somewhat helpful with cleaning the packs. The water after a few rinses remained an impressive brown shade and the room smelled of damp hiking boots. We escaped to Gettysburg where we joined Bevo’s family (just in from Texas) for dinner. Gettysburg hotels were filled to the brim because of soccer and softball tournaments in the area for Memorial Day weekend so after a hearty dinner M drove the 25 miles back to the hotel to drop off Secret Agent, Garfield and Stitch as they were calling it a night. Secret Agent’s sister (originally named Moneypenny on the trail but was later renamed Undercover Brother) was flying in to Dulles from San Francisco so M and Q drove the easy 90 miles to and from the airport.
5/29 Caledonia State Park to Pine Grove Furnace (19.4 miles)
While Undercover Brother got some much needed rest (it was 4:30 am California time), M drove Jamie, Stitch, Q , and Garfield back to the trail head in Caledonia State Park where they met Bevo just after 7:30am. After slack packing the first 10 miles Bevo’s family, M, and Undercover Brother met up for lunch and some trail magic. After lunch everyone hiked about 1 mile to the halfway point of the trail. Only 1090 more miles to go! Bevo’s son Dax and Undercover Brother joined in the 8 miles hike to Pine Grove Furnace. The trail was rocky in parts, but overall quite well maintained. The weather was good, and there was minimal elevation so I think it was one of the better days the hikers had in what been quite a rainy May. Pine Grove Furnace is the home of the traditional half gallon challenge where thru hikers attempt to consume a half gallon of ice cream after completing half the trail. Interestingly, the store no longer sells half gallon containers of ice cream. They sell 3/8 of a gallon and if you finish that they hand scoop another pint for you. Garfield and Secret Agent went with cookies and cream, Stitch chose cookie dough, and Bevo went with vanilla. Garfield finished first by a significant margin, followed by Bevo and then Secret Agent. Stitch was full before completing her 3/8 gallon. Garfield and Stich stayed at the hostel at Pine Grove Furnace. The two families then went to stay at new Marriot hotel in Shippensburg. It is a great hotel! Secret Agent was too full from all the ice cream so he stayed bypassed dinner while Q, M and Undercover Brother went out for dinner in Shippensburg with Bevo’s family. It turns out not much is open on a Sunday of a holiday weekend in this area!
5/30 Zero Day – Memorial Day in Gettysburg
Bevo and Garfield decided to press on while Secret Agent and Stitch took a zero day with SA’s family. After dropping Bevo off at the hostel, Bevo’s wife brought Stitch back. After breakfast with Bevo’s wife and son at the diner in Shippensburg, Stich and Secret Agent’s family headed off to Gettysburg. We did a tour by car around the Civil war battlefield stopping off at important locations. Stitch had been there before and was really a fountain of knowledge with respect to who the key players were and how the 3 day battle played out. Between Stitch and the outstanding job the US Park Service in creating a user friendly educational experience, we learned a lot about the battle and its importance. After visiting the site we headed into town to check out the Memorial Day parade. The enthusiasm and appreciation of the crowd for the veterans marching in the parade seemed so genuine and patriotic. It was a great experience to see how a town much smaller than Boston celebrates Memorial Day. Would highly recommend it! After the parade, we walked a little bit around town. You can see bullet holes in the walls of some of the homes left over from the part of the battle of Gettysburg that had spilled into the town. One of the older homes had been restored into a museum where we could see what life was like for the citizens of Gettysburg during the battle. After our day in Gettysburg, we headed back to Shippensburg where we reunited with Garfield, Bevo and his family and we all went out to dinner.
5/31 Pine Grove Furnace to Boiling Springs PA (19.3 miles)
Stitch camped out in our hotel room. and the next morning Secret Agent, Stitch and Undercover Brother headed back to the trail at Pine Grove Furnace. It was another nice day weather wise. Q and M set up trail magic and brought them lunch 10 miles into their hike. Q joined the hike after lunch while M drove the car to the meeting place in Boiling Springs where she set up more trail magic at the ATC. It was hot and 8 thru hikers enjoyed trail magic commenting how little they had encountered since VA. While waiting M helped shuttle 5 thru hikers to a new nearby hostel (check the bullentin board at the ATC) as Allenbury’s is for sale and not accepting hikers without a reservation or after 3pm. They will no longer offer rooms after 6/30/16. We had a great dinner at Belgian bistro called Cafe Bruges in nearby Carlisle. Secret Agent and Stitch resupplied after dinner and were dropped off back in Boiling Springs where they hiked to a campground a little way back on the trail. Secret Agent left his signature red hat behind so is now sporting a yellow hat for the secong leg of of his journey. Secret Agent’s family signing off as he wanders on…..