Catching-up

As some of you know, I’m busier than I ever have been, ever. So, Take a minute with me and enjoy catching up with Jack Dickens as he through-hikes the Appalachian Trail.

May 22, 2008 Deer Lick Shelter to Quarry Gap Shelter (15.8 miles)
Today was cloudy with a chilly wind, but no rain. The trail is rocky and I’m told it gets worse in northern PA. Today I hiked from 7:45am to 3:00pm, and I’m in the nicest shelter I’ve seen on the AT. I met the caretaker, Jim Stauch, who has taken care of this place for 30 years. He had rocked in the spring and even had flowers hanging in baskets. Tomorrow I plan to hike to a hostel for the night.

May 23, 2008 Quarry Gap Shelters to Pine Grove Furnace State Park (Iron Master’s Mansion Hostel) (17.3 miles)
Today was a much better day with a chilly morning warming up toward mid-day. I enjoyed meeting Handyman and his hiking buddy Long Step at the shelter last night – Handyman is a handyman from Vienna , VA. Both of them are at the hostel tonight. Had cheeseburgers and French fries at the grill next door – a real treat after being on the trail! PA has been rocky and I’m told it gets worse in the northern part of the state. It really is a work out for your feet and ankles with all the irregular surfaces. I will pass the “mid-point” marker on the AT in the morning so I’ll have to start thinking in terms of how far I have to go instead of how far I have come.

May 24, 2008 Pine Grove furnace State Park to Boiling Springs , PA (19.4 miles)
Today was a good day to hike – a cool morning warming to about 70 degrees and no rain. No great views today. The highlight for me was passing and photographing the mid-point marker which was erected by a former thru-hiker to mark the mid-point of his AT thru-hike. Since the AT gets changed and re-routed to some extent each year, the actual mid-point changes from year to year, but the area around Pine Grove Furnace State Park always includes it. I’m in a Bed and Breakfast (Garmanhaus) in Boiling Springs. Some of my friends elected to tent out tonight, and I’m sure They’ll tease me about taking a room. I’d rather have the room and the teasing than to be tented out tonight!

May 25, 2008 Boiling Springs, PA to Cove Mountain Shelter (21.6 miles)
Today was a beautiful hiking day. The first 12-13 miles was flat PA farm land, some quite scenic and some not. The later part of the day took me out of the Cumberland Valley and back into the mountains. In the last few days, I’ve seen quite a few of the young hikers who passed me last month as they passed me again! They’ve taken 5-10 days off the trail to travel and party so I was able to overtake them. I think this may occur monthly until we finish the AT. I just learned today that my friend Hard Bound has stopped his thru-hike. He was a strong hiker, but was struggling with being homesick. By this time on the trail (over 1,100 miles) all of us miss our families and the comforts of home. I have really appreciated the love and support of my wife, family, and friends who have encouraged me in my effort to thru-hike the AT. This has kept me going when there were bad days. Please continue to pray for my health, safety, strength, and perseverance.
Traveler

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