Thursday, June 23, 2016 9:37 pm
Location: 501 Shelter (1193.1 miles)

I got an early start today, before 7 am, hoping to get more hiking in before it got warmer. Instead, I got to hike through a very light rain for about 20 minutes, which started right before I left the shelter.

As seems to be their wont, one of my poles pulled apart again, and unlike prior breaks, refused to stay together for any period of time after jamming the pieces back together. This forced me to actually repair the pole in the field. After stopping for a few minutes to dig the superglue out of my electronics bag buried in the middle of my pack, a little application of superglue later and my pole was properly in one piece again. (This being the fifth time the poles have pulled apart, there should only be one more place the stock glue can fail. I'm betting that'll happen within the next month.)

About five miles in, just in time for my first break, I came across a bench, with an empty cooler and full trash bag. Clearly, I had missed yesterday's trail magic, but it was still a good place to sit and eat my snacks.

After I was almost done, a man and his young son came from the north: they were here to replenish the cooler with more sodas and replace the trash bag! (And they would be back again tomorrow, as well.)

The next ridge had a bit of an annoying climb up, and a rock field or two for good measure, and then returned to the easy flying trail that has been so much of Pennsylvania so far.

The afternoon brought a significant milestone, one I think is more important than the 1200 miles I'll pass tomorrow. In passing 1189.1 miles, there are now less than 1000 miles to go. (There was no marker anywhere I saw for this.) Every step brings me closer to Katahdin, and while I'm still far away, the distance remaining is now a three-digit number.

Passing this distance brought a wave of excitement, and it served to push me down the trail that much faster, until I reached a rather rocky section of trail that brought me back down to a slow pace.

View South towards Myerstown
View South towards Myerstown

My early start brought me to the creatively-named 501 Shelter (off PA route 501) right around 3 pm. This shelter is easily one of the best on the trail so far. It's a large, fully-enclosed structure, with two doors, windows (more for ventilation than illumination), and a huge central skylight that keeps the interior well-lit. The shelter also has trash and recycle cans, books, and games. Water and electricity can be gained from the caretakers house a very brief walk away. There's also a solar-heated shower. And, most importantly, pizza can be ordered and delivered to the trailhead five minutes away.

After discussing the possibility back at Peters Mountain, One Feather and I decided to get a hotel room in Hamburg, PA on Saturday, somewhat in line with my preference to do a big day to set up for a short day into town; though in this case, it'll be more like a 15 mile day to set up a 9 mile day, because there isn't any place convenient to stop in between.

One Feather and I ordered pizza, along with two other hikers, and were pleasantly surprised to find that it'd only take 20 minutes to deliver. We walked out to the trailhead, along with Pocahontas, who had been trying to hitch into town for almost an hour with no success. (Pocahontas is a very attractive young woman, relevant only in that you'd expect it would have made it easier for her to get a ride. My theory: she cleaned up too well and didn't look like a hiker when she was trying to hitch.)

After some heckling from the several of us watching her unsuccessfully flag down a car, she called out, "Why don't you come over and show some leg?". Admiral, a taller male hiker wearing very short gym shorts walked over behind her and stuck his leg out, and almost immediately, the next car to come down the road pulled over! The timing simply couldn't have been better, and we all got a good laugh out of it.

Shortly after, our pizza delivery guy showed up, in a bright red fancy Nissan 370Z sports car. I commented that, clearly, they pay pizza deliverers well here; he responded that "My Subaru is in the shop," which raises the question, what car did he have that the loaner is a high-end sports car?

We returned to the shelter and ate our pizzas, but nothing especially of interest happened the rest of the night.