Start: Campsite at 1158.9
End: Campsite at 1177.3
Total Miles: 1177.3
Outfitter was up at our usual 5:15 this morning but I just couldn’t budge. Maybe having less water last night, therefore not having to pee urgently this morning, allowed me to sleep in.
I finally rolled out of the tent and started packing up. Another water-saving technique we used was to hike to the .3 water source before breakfast. I know this isn’t ever my favorite idea but it worked for today.
We got started and MAN. That .3 lasted forever! WTF. When we get there, I look at the map again. It was 1.3 miles. Remember folks, I’m a trained physicist. Don’t try this complicated math on your own at home.
We saw Slim hike by as we breakfast. Besides a ridge runner and two southbounders, we don’t see any other hikers. It’s strange after days of leap frogging dozens. But we’ve put ourselves at weird miles with our camping. (Today is officially Hike Naked Day. So maybe I’m happy for solitude. And no, we did not participate.)
BTW, the campsite destinations are known acceptable sites in this area. Yesterday we entered PA game land and there are restrictions on camping. Although we could try and follow them and stealth camp elsewhere, it makes since to use sites already available and carved out of the small non-rocky niches along the trail. Because we’re on game land, our animal sightings go way down. We hear songbirds and see chipmunks. That’s it. Not even squirrel so I assume they too are hunted in this area.
We see the ridge runner early in the day and he warns of rattlesnakes. This is about our six billionth warning here in PA and I take them all seriously. I have only ever seen Pygmy rattlers from far away or the timber rattler which killed our dog. Venomous snakes (lots of copperheads out here too) are my number one fear on the trail. I’m happy Outfitter is leading now since he’s more aware and has experience with rattlesnakes.
We have a climb first thing, but it’s not that bad. We stopped for lunch at a huge campsite that has become a Cicada funeral home. Both molted husks and dead Cicadas litter the ground.
As we continue on, I have an issue to contemplate. I need to poop. Unlike Outfitter, I’m fine marching off into the woods with a sharp stick (to dig a hole) and some TP. But here in rocky PA, I’m concerned I won’t be able to dig a hole. I also don’t want to march off anywhere in this rattlesnake infested state. I especially don’t want to explain to anyone I got off trail due to a snake bite on my ass.
The next shelter is .3 miles off on a side trail. At first this doesn’t seem so bad. I’ll leave Outfitter with the packs and fly down to the privy. But as we get closer, I think of how disappointed I’ll be if I make a .6 side trip and the privy is nasty. Also, we’re hurting and moving slow but still making good miles. I don’t want to waste the energy.
At our next breakpoint, I head off slowly to find a log. I always sit on a log to do my business. So comfortable. I manage to find one where I can dig a little hole and, more importantly, it’s right in the middle of a bush so even if my hole isn’t big enough it’s unlikely someone will come walking through.
Some people carry small lightweight, even folding, spades. And I’ve decided I will get one for shorter hiking trips. Here though, I use the point of a trekking pole to make my hole. I then use sticks to cover things up when I’m done.
The whole reason I’m sharing all this is to tell you of something I really like carrying to keep things sanitary. After I do my business, I do a pass with some TP which I will bury in the hole. But then I get out an individually wrapped feminine sanitary wipe. With these, I can open the pouch carefully, fully open the wipe, then use some creative origami to get several clean swipes and end with a little ball I scrunch back in the pouch. Wipes are not biodegradable so they should be packed out. Lots of people buy baby wipes in the re-closable packets which saves a little weight/trash/money, but it means having the used wipe loose in a trash bag. (Or they just bury them…but I really, really hope not.)
Having the wipes individually wrapped has other benefits. The wipes don’t dry out like a re-closable packet can. And it makes them much easier to offer one to another hiker.
Here ends my sales pitch for individually wrapped feminine wipes. (This was not a sponsored post, although if Playtex or Summer’s Eve want to throw some freebies my way I’ll be glad to make it one.)
We continue on, taking a much longer break at the last creek before a 500 foot climb and a 700 foot descent. I have been dreading this all day but it ends up not that big a deal.
Except my feet hurt. A lot. It’s hard to say why. The rocks in PA definitely contribute. But I think back and realize it also escalated after I started trying to keep up with Outfitter. I slow waaaay down on the down and it feels good.
We plan to dry camp again so we hit one last river for water. There is only a 200 foot climb left but it nearly does Outfitter in. We’re very close to a town (Lickdale) but he doesn’t ask to go in and I forget to say something before we get set up. It’s just as well. He’s so tired he asks me to cook. Since “cooking” involves pouring water in a pot and flicking a lighter, you know he was whooped.
He was also mentally stretched. Ever since he heard about the brewery tour, he’s wanted to go. And he got the idea in his head we needed to do it Monday. But the brewery is fifteen miles away from the nearest trail town (Hamburg) and getting to Hamburg by Monday means two L-O-N-G days. Top it off, we have to go to Pine Grove tomorrow. At least just an in-n-out for resupply; we’re out of lunches.
I share all of that because it drove me crazy. This is not an easy detour like the Luray caverns right down the block. And we have planned miles/days/food/even clothing for a stop in Pine Grove.
But soon I realize two things. 1) This is Outfitter’s detour. All I have to do is say yes and let him figure out the rest. 2) I should say yes. This is a rule we try to live by in our marriage, and definitely on the trail. Whether its an extra hotel stay, a more expensive restaurant, less miles, more miles, more rest stops, new gear, a back rub, a break from chores…whatever we can allow/do for the other to have a more fun and comfortable hike.
So with my go ahead, Outfitter starts trying to figure out the logistics. He finally decides we will spend the night in Pine Grove and then if he can rent a car, we will also zero on Sunday then drive to the brewery from Pine Grove on Monday (no tours Sunday).
(We will also then return the car and hike Monday. As I’m writing this on Sunday, I have no idea how this has turned out.)
We have been talking about zeroing to rest our feet. I’m a little scared we’re doing it too early, that the rocks will get worse and we’ll need a break further on.
But I guess if that happens, it will be Outfitter’s turn to say yes.
Stone from Cemetery in the middle of nowhere
This little sign was far from any entrance or side trail. Made me smile.