Although it was warm in my room overnight, I slept quite well. After a quick little bit of packing, I went across the street to Goodies Restaurant for breakfast at around 6:30, only to find that the restaurant, which was supposed to open at 6, was not yet open. Dejected, I returned to my room to finish packing everything, including the food I bought yesterday, and by the time I was finished packing everything, the restaurant was finally open (over an hour late).
I got a giant pancake breakfast there: two huge pancakes, toast, eggs, and sausage. I wound up not being able to eat all of it!
With a full stomach, I staggered off on the trail, this time with a reasonably-weighted pack. The first 2.5 miles of trail this morning was through Duncannon's residential area, and then over two bridges to cross the Susquehanna River.
Across the river, the trail became rockier on the steep hill up Peters Mountain, but then cleared up a bit once it reached the ridge, which it followed in a nearly straight line for the rest of the day.
Midday, I passed a scenic rock outcropping that was overrun with local kids. When I poked in briefly to see if the overlook was worth wading through kids to see, they asked me for my trail name, and then who I was voting for! I responded that I don't get into political discussions on the AT (not entirely true, but it reflects the sentiment I had when I started), and left as quickly as I came.
After only 11 miles or so, I stopped for a snack at the Peters Mountain Shelter, a giant two-story shelter with a covered picnic table and space for 16 hikers. (One of these days, I'm going to remember to start taking picture of the shelters. It apparently won't be this day, though.)
The shelter has a steep staircase down to a well-flowing water source, but it is quite a chore to reach. Shortly after I arrived, One Feather (who I had met last night at The Doyle when he was talking about the PCT) returned from the water source with two gallon jugs of water. He kept one, and I split the other with another hiker.
My lunch break eventually dragged on long enough that I decided to just stop at the shelter for the day, and having made that decision, I too went down to collect water with two gallon milk jugs, so thoughtfully provided by the shelter's maintainers. Once I refuse the bottom and filled up the jugs, though, I realized that one of the ones I brought had a hole in the side (patched with duct tape, but the tape was failing, and the jug still leaked), so I only returned with a gallon and a half of water. Still plenty for me, and to share.
While a number of people stopped by the shelter, there were only three of us that decided to stay there for the evening in this giant shelter (me, One Feather, and another hiker whose name I've unfortunately forgotten).
I noticed that there was wax on the picnic table, the corkboard for notices looked like it had been on fire, and one of the support beams and the rain tarp showed definite signs of fire damage. Opening the log book to see who had been there recently, I saw that the first entry was from early May: the prior log book had been destroyed in an arson perpetrated by some vandals on May 10th; fortunately, a passing hiker noticed the fire, was able to put it out, and called the fire department, who investigated the fire. Such a shame that someone would want to burn a shelter. I hope they catch whoever was responsible.
The short day today forced a readjustment of my plan for getting to Branchville, but the extra day of food I have will allow a short day into Port Clinton / Hamburg on Saturday, and the wiggle room afforded by a day that was only 4 miles in the original plan allows me to still be where I want to be when I want to be there.
I almost forgot: this is the start of my fourth month on the trail. It's been an amazing experience so far, and I can't imagine the past months had I not come out here.