Monday, June 20, 2016 9:01 pm
Location: Duncannon / Doyle Hotel (1146.6 miles)

As expected, the campsite was very quiet, rather unlike yesterday's train-infested campground. I didn't see anyone last night, and this morning, only a few people came by on the trail before I finished breaking camp.

Although I originally wanted to be in Duncannon last night, and so now I was half a day behind "schedule", I decided last night when I put together my plan for getting to Branchville that I was going to do a short day into town and take it easy today.

When I left Harpers Ferry, my pack was seriously overweight, and I wound up with friction burns on my shoulders and sides where the pack straps were rubbing. I didn't realize how bad they were until I saw in a mirror at the Pine Grove hostel. While my pack weight had been (slowly) coming down, there was still enough irritation that I felt taking an easy day was necessary.

Also, one of my new boots has been rubbing against my leg too tightly. This happened with my first pair of boots when I was breaking them in, so I'm not surprised by this, but I'd also like an easy day to let my leg recover a bit and give the boot a little more time to settle.

Also, my guidebook has a callout for most of the next 7.4 miles into Duncannon, describing it as "very rocky", so I expected something significantly strenuous.

Also, there were town chores to do (shower, laundry, resupply, eat as much food as possible).

Also, it was supposed to be over 90 F later in the day, and who wants to hike in that?

So with that in mind, I got started on my short day into Duncannon. The "very rocky" section turned out to be actually not that rocky at all. While it was more rocky than the barely-any-rocks-at-all that Pennsylvania has been so far, it was trivial compared to some of the other areas I've hiked through, especially when compared to sections like the rock field at the north end of Maryland. That callout was a pretty significant disservice, since those annotations in the guidebook are somewhat uncommon, so one tends to take heed when they're there.

"Very Rocky"
"Very Rocky"This section of the trail is, according to the guidebook, "very rocky".
View of Duncannon from Hawk Rock
View of Duncannon from Hawk RockThe Susquehanna River is to the right; Duncannon is just to the left of the river.

I made it into town just before lunch, and ran into SLAM. She confirmed she completed her 50 mile day, but I forgot to ask her how long it took. In any case (and I didn't say this then), I think this just goes to show that super-big mile days like that are pointless, since you spend so much time in recovery that you're not actually going any faster than someone on a more sustainable 18 to 20 mile per day pace.

I decided to stay at The Doyle, located just off the AT. The Doyle is an old run-down hotel (which appeared to be fancy in its day) being used to provide inexpensive ($20/night) rooms to hikers. It also has a bar, staffed most of the time by one of its owners, with extremely modestly priced food and drink.

The building not having air conditioning, my room choices were between a room on the front side with a single bed, which cools faster; and a room in the back with a queen bed, which takes longer to cool because the sun sets on that side of the building. Both rooms, of course, were on the fourth floor. (Shelter is always uphill!)

The Doyle
The Doyle

I ordered my lunch, and while I was waiting, because there were three of us there at once, the owner gave us The Speech. It sounds more ominous than it was. She went over after-hours access to the building (The door is locked to keep people out of the bar. You can enter or exit the building at any time through the balcony; "Your keychain has a red key on it. The balcony has a red door. Red key, red door."); the balcony ("is a bonus; I'm not your mother", so keep it clean.); location of restrooms; make sure the shower curtain is inside the shower (so as not to leak on the floor below); breakfast ("is across the street at Goodies, they open at 6 am") (no) late checkout; what to do with the key when you leave; and other similar items.

She'd clearly given The Speech a thousand times. I later heard her give it twice more, and it was identical each time. (And kind of funny to hear being given when it's not directed at you.)

Lunch (and beer!) was fantastic, and afterwards, I retired to inspect my room before getting a shower. I had a corner room, so there were two windows. Great for airflow! Except that I can't open one of them because there's no screen. At least there was a fan in the room, which I immediately turned on.

After accomplishing my shower, I went to the laundromat a block down. It was entirely self-service, the room containing a central block of washers, and the perimeter lined with dryers. The change machine ominously warned that it was for regular customers only; that it was not a bank; and that to defray costs (and to "ensure best service for regular customers") there was a five cent per dollar change fee. ("This machine, when properly operating, will give ninety-five cents for one dollar.") A side room had soda and candy vending machines and a table. And like The Doyle, there was no air conditioning.

A bit frustrated at the unnecessary change fee, I briefly contemplated returning to The Doyle to get quarters there, the smallest bill I had being a $10, and a fifty-cent transaction fee seemed ridiculous. But I was also kind of tired and didn't feel like walking back to the hotel again. (I had forgotten the laundry detergent I'd been carrying around since Shenandoah the first time.)

So, I was pleasantly surprised that there turned out to not actually be a transaction fee, and I got $10 in quarters. I celebrated by buying an overpriced can of soda, and sat in the waiting room typing up part of my backlog of blog posts while the laundry was running. (The little things still amuse me. On the second 10-minute dryer cycle, I forgot to start the timer on my watch, and it finished just as I got there to check on it.)

The laundry was finished just in time for the 4 pm shuttle to Mutzabaugh, a local food store, for resupply. They offer a daily shuttle between the food store and The Doyle since it's a bit of a walk over dangerous-to-walk roads. I picked up everything to bring me up to four days, enough to get to Port Clinton / Hamburg with an extra day's worth of food to spare.

Returning to the hotel, I decided to check out the other bar down the street, but their beer selection was not any better than The Doyle's, so I returned there and got dinner. Following dinner, I finished the blog entry I started at the laundromat, packed some of my food bags, and drifted off to sleep.