Boiling Springs, PA to Delaware Water Gap, PA



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

It is raining cats and dogs in Boiling Springs this morning, with the occasional boom of thunder. Definitely not an inviting morning to head back out on the trail.

I am procrastinating this morning; waiting for the ridiculously late and rather skimpy breakfast at this B&B that isn't served until 9:00AM. After breakfast, I will have to head out in spite of the rain, stopping at the post office on the way out of town to mail off my bounce box.

Needless to say, I am not a happy camper this morning!

Boiling Springs PA to Darlington Shelter

Saturday, 6/20

AT Miles = 14.3 / 1125.9
Other Miles = 0.8 / 41.5
Total Miles = 15.1 / 1166.4

Wow! The easiest 14 miles on the AT, I think!

It was raining cats and dogs when I woke up this morning, so I kept putting off leaving until after 9:00, when the rain finally subsided. By the time I had my gear all packed up, and had stopped at the post office to mail my bounce box ahead, it was nearly 10:00.

The trail north of Boiling Sprinsg continues across the Cumberland Valley, and is almolst dead flat. I made great time andf was at the point where the AT crosses Route 11 on a footbridge, about 8i miles up the trail, about a quarter past noon. Here I walked about a quarter mile west on Route 11 to get to the Middlesex Diner. Route 11 here is a strip of trucking companies, motels, fast food places, and this diner. I had heard good things about the Middlesex from other hikers, and it delivered. The sign outside says "Good Food And Plenty Of It," and that's just what I got.

The B&B I stayed at in Boiling Springs was a huge disappointment, and the breakfast was pitiful, so I was in the mood for a good diner breakfast, and I got it.

I left the diner about 1:00, walked back up the road to the trail, and continued the last 6 miles to the shelter getting here about 3:30.

It rained on and off all day, and at one point I saw a black, evil looking cloud coming my way that mde me think if I were in the midwest I would be heading towards the nearest building with a basement. I thought for sure I was going to get hit with a downpour of biblical proportions, but somehow I missed it and got only a few dozen big fat raindrops. Lucky!

Several hikers I haven't seen in a while showed up at the shelter this afternoon; Couscous and Tiger and Slagline, who I haven't seen since Harpers Ferry or Shenandoah, and even Sir Richard, who I last saw in Waynesboro.

The clouds have broken up a bit and there is a nice fresh breeze blowing, so myh wet clothes have sort of, kind of, dried. That will make putting them back on in the morning a little less unpleasant. I expect, though, that we will get rained on some more before morning.

While I was at the diner a couple asked me a couple of questions, and the woman asked me if I preferred hot weather or rain. I couldn't help but wonder why those were the onlyu two choices, but I told her I would prefer it hot, because then I could at least wash my clothes -- especially my socks -- and have them dry. When it is wet I will wash my shirt anyway and just wear it wet btu clean; but I can't wash my socks because they will never dry. A pair of clean, dry socks goes a long ways towards a day of comfortable hiking.

Tomorrow it is on to Duncannon and the (in)famous Doyle Hotel!
"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Darlington Shelter to Doyle Hotel, Duncannon PA

Sunday, 6/21

AT Miles = 11.4 / 1137.3
Other Miles = 0.1 / 41.6
Total Miles = 11.5 / 1177.9

Around 4:30 this morning I was awoken by a heavy downpour. Of course, as soon as I woke up my bladder decided I needed to get up NOW. Then I crawled back into my hammock and went back to sleep for another hour and a half. When I woke the second time the rain had finished, but the trees were still dripping heavily. There was a pretty nice breeze blowing which blew the rain off the foliage in short order, and I got up about 6:30. By 7:30 I was on the trail headed for Duncannon 11.4 miles away. I know I would easily be there by lunch time, so I took it easy and hiked and chatted with SlagLine for most of the morning.

At one point while hiking we came to a spot where I could liik down to my left and I saw Couscous at a rock outcropping with a view, and there was a bootleg path down the steep hill to where she was, so I went down as well to check out the view. Only when I got down there did I realize that the AT did a switchback just past the point I left the trail, and came down to the rock. Well, I am a bit of a purist so I told Couscous and Slagline I had to go back up there and walk the switchback, but that I had decided to slackpack it. Couscous said, "Run!", so I ran back up the hill. That was fun, as I wasn't sure I could do that kind of stuff anymore. Then I walked back down the AT switchback. So, that was my slackpacking experience; about 30 or 40 yards of the AT hiked without my backpack.

Soon after leaving the viewpoint we got to Duncannon and walked across the bridge and around the corner to the Doyle Hotel. The Doyle is a century+ old Anheuser Busch Hotel that is in pretty decrepit condition, but the owners welcome and cater to hikers, and they are very, very slowly renovating the hotel. The rooms are incredibly spartan and tiny, but the food is good and cheap. Duncannon is a gritty little working class town that is struggling to survivie, but the people are friendly and it is a fun place to hang out for an evening.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I know I am behind with my blogging. A very long 25+ mile day today. Very tired. Will try to catch up tomorrow. Less than 1000 miles to go now!

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Duncannon PA to Eagles Nest Shelter

Monday, 6/22 thru Wednesday, 6/24

Monday, 6/22
AT Miles = 17.4 / 1154.7
Other Miles = 0.1 / 41.7
Total Miles = 17.5 / 1195.4

Tuesday, 6/23
AT Miles = 24.7 / 1179.4
Other Miles = 0.8 / 42.5
Total Miles = 25.5 / 1220.9

Wednesday, 6/24
AT Miles = 19.2 / 1198.6
Other Miles = 0.6 / 43.1
Total Miles = 19.8 /1240.7

I'm not going to try to journal each of the last three days in detail, that would be too hard and I am basically a lazy guy. I'll just summarize the three days.

I had a great time in Duncannon. The Doyle is really quite a dump, but in a comfortable sort of way. It was fun hanging out, eating Ben & Jerry's and drinking Yuengling.

On Monday morning I headed out, and as promised the trail north of Duncannon starts to get rocky. The further north you get, the rockier it gets. It was slow going on Monday and it took me nearly 8 hours to cover 17.4 miles, where I camped by a spring.

On Tuesday the logistics worked out strangely. I could either hike 11.2 miles or 24.7 miles, but nothing in between as there was no water between. Thus, I ended up hiking the 24.7, which with a bit of blue blazing sidetrails ended up being 25.5 miles; my longest day yet. With all the rocks added in, it made for some really, really sore feet.

When I woke up this morning my feet still hurt. That's discouraging, as of course the feet just get worse and worse as the day goes on.

I hiked with Sir Richard today, and we did "only" 19.2 miles today. I've been camping with Sir Richard since the night before Duncannon, but today is the first day we hiked together since probably back in the Smokies or just after. It was good to have long, rambling conversations to pass the time and get my attention away from how bad my feet hurt.

We are only 9 miles out of Port Clinton, and tomorrow I will stop there and get my food drop at the post office. I also have a box of something my daughter Anju sent me for Father's Day there. I am excited to see what she has sent me.

Once I've finished sorting through my food drop, I'll push on out of town to the first shelter north, which will make for a ~15 mile day.

I have passed the point where the miles to go are less than 1000. I remember when I had hiked more than 178 miles and there were only 2000 miles left; now I've hiked another 1000 miles and there are less than 1000 to go. Wow, that seems like I am almost there! ;-)

So the PA rocks are making me crazy. I really have no idea what the country around here looks like, because I can't take my eyes off the trail right in front of me to look around. Hiking all day picking each footstep is both exhausting and time consuming. I am looking forward to getting out of Pennsylvania. I should be in Delaware Water Gap in 5 or 6 days, That will put me in New Jersey by the 1st of July.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Eagles Nest Shelter to Windsor Furnace Shelter

Thursday, 6/25

AT Miles = 14.7 / 1213.3
Other Miles = 0.3 / 43.4
Total Miles = 15.0 / 1255.7

PA Rocks!

No, not like, PA is so cool, it rocks! I mean the damn rocks in PA. The rocks in northern PA are pounding my feet into mush. Usually my feet start to hurt around mid-day, but for the last couple of days they've hurt when I get up in the morning, and just get worse all day.

I left Eagles Nest this morning and hustled the nine miles to Port Clinton. The hike wasn't bad, with some reasonably smooth sections mixed in with the rocks. The last mile into town was a ridiculously steep downhill, with nary a switchback.

When I got to town I headed straight to the post office to collect my packages. I had my bounce box there, and since I decided not to stay over in town I didn't collect it but rather had it forwarded to Delaware Water Gap, where I should be by Monday night.

I did collect the food package Jodi had sent me, and I expected a package from Anju but it wasn't there. I left a forwarding address for DWG in case that package shows up later.

After packing all my new food into my backpack, I headed around the corner to the outfitter. I had a mental list of four things I needed at the outfitter: Aquamira for treating water; they were sold out. Dr Bronner's soap; they were sold out. A new hoser for my platypus; they were sold out. I also needed new tips on my hiking poles, and she was able to sell me those. So, a disappointing visit to the outfitter. I will have to be sure to get aquamira when I am in DWG early next week.

After the outfitter I went around the corner to the Port Clinton Hotel and had lunch in the hotel bar. I made the mistake or having a second beer with lunch. While eating the TV was on and I was watching the news when they gave the air pollution and hear advisory and warmed against strenuous outdoor exercise. Ha! So I left the hotel around 1:00PM and strapped my now fully stocked pack on my back and started humping it up the hill out of town in the 90 degree heat. I quickly started regretting thaqt second beer.

I only had six more miles to go after leving town, and it went fairly quickly. My feet still hurt like the dickens when I got here, but at least it didn't seem to take forever like it does some afternoons.

I just figured out that I can make it to Delaware Water Gap in four more days, and I have just enough food that I should be able to make it without stopping to resupply along the way. I have set myself the goal of getting out of Pennsylvania before the end of the month, and it looks like I am going to succeed, barring unforeseen events.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman


There are several ways to get in touch with me duringmy hike. There is a guest book on my blog, and I encourage everyone who cares to to sign it. It's fun to see who is reading my blog. But if you are trying to get in touch with me and expecting me to see your communication soon, please don't use the guest book. It is very difficult for me to access the guestbook contents using the tiny browser onmy cell phone.

You can leave a comment on any post inmy blog, and your comment automatically gets emailed to me overnight so I will see it usually the next day. But remember that comments are public and anybody else can see your comment.

If you want to communicate directly with me, you can send email to me at allen <at> allenf <dot> com. You know what to replace the <at> and <dot> with, right?

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Windsor Furnace Shelter to Allentown Hiking Club Shelter

Friday, 6/26

AT Miles = 16.5 / 1229.8
Other Miles = 0.4 / 43.8
Total Miles = 16.9 / 1273.6


There, I got that out of the way. There was absolutely nothing even remotely enjoyable, interesting, or fulfilling about today. There was just mile after mile after mile of rocks.

By the time I got here this afternoon I was cursing the state of Pennsylvania, the AT in Pennsylvania, and evryone in any way connected to the trail.

My feet look okay, but they hurt like hell. I think if I stayed home and just hit my feet with a hammer for 8 or 10 hours a day, that would be nearly, but not quite, as bad as hiking, stumbling, and twisting over the PA rocks.

Of course, anyone crazy enough to spend their days injuring themselves with a hammer would be whisked away to a hospital for evaluation, but for some reason people call it a vacation when you do it outside in the heat and humidity with gnats and mosquitoes and brattlesnakes all around you. Where's the logic in that?

If you haven't figured it out yet, I am just a wee bit disillusioned with the trail today. I want to get the hell out of Pennsylvania. Three more days of flaggelating my feet on the rocks, and I will be in New Jersey, more than ready to take a zero day and hopefully regain my enthusiasm for the trail.

It is amazing how long it takes to get anywhere with these damn rocks. I didn't get in until 4:00 this afternoon, and it was only a 16.5 mile day. I plan to cover a similar distance tomorrow and Sunday, then on Monday I have to cover 20+ miles to get to Delaware W@ater Gap, then go to the post office to collect my bounce box and my food drop, then continue another 1.2 miles across the bridge to the DWG Visitors Center on the NJ side. Paul, I am going to do my best to get there by 4:30, but it is going to be a long, difficult day and I can't promise.
"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

The Rocks


This is a little taste of what the trail is like in PA, though you really need to experience it to believe it.
"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Saturday Morning View


"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Allentown Hiking Club Shelter to George Outerbridge Shelter

Saturday, 6/27

AT Miles =16.8 / 1246.6
Other Miles = 0 / 43.8
Total Miles = 16.8 / 1290.4

I haven't seen much wildlife thus far in Pennsylvania; just the usual rabbits and turtles and chipmunks and squirrels. Then this morning, a few miles into the day's hike, I startled a bear. I just had the usual view of the bear's rump as he or she crashed away through the woods.

A few miles later I scared up a deer, and later yet I actually stepped on a rattlesnake. I didn't plant my foot firmly on him or anything like that. Rather, I planted my heel just before him, and as I started to rotate forward and my boot made contact, the snake reacted and coiled up and rattled, and I jumped back and nearly fell on my ass.

So, it was an interesting morning. After that I was wondering what the afternoon might offer up. What I got for the afternoon was a ridge walk liberally sprinkled with bushes laden with sweet, ripe blueberries. I spent a soild half hour squatting in the middle of a blueberry patch stuffing them into my mouth as fast as I could.

While I was at Bake Oven Knob Shelter eating lunch, most of the crew I last saw at lunch in Daleville (the lunch the two Marines paid for) showed up. It was great to see them after all this time. They were all headed on into Palmerton for the night. I expect I will see them again tomorrow.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

George Outerbridge Shelter to Wind Gap, PA

Sunday, 6/28

AT Miles 21.4 / 1268.0
Other Miles = 0.4 / 44.2
Total Miles = 21.8 / 1312.2

I was up early and out this morning, as I knew the climb up Blue Mountain after Lehigh Gap -- the Palmerton Superfund Site -- would be tough, and exposed to the weather. If it was sunny, it would be hot and sweaty work, and if it were wet or there was a lightning storm, I would be exposed. The forecast called for a 50% chance of thunderstorms today, but as it turned out the morning was sunny and I was glad to be climbing the ridge in the cooler early morning.

A few hours into the day's hike I ran into Red Leg on the trail. We talked for a bit and I mentioned to him that I was trying to figure a way to get some miles past the Leroy Smith Shelter today and get closer to Delaware Water Gap, even though there is no water shown on the map or in the book. Looking at the book I saw that a bit less than 5 miles past the shelter we would come to Wind Gap, with the town of Wind Gap a mile to the east. Red Legs and I both decided to come into town and get a room here at the Travel Inn. We hiked together most of the day.

Red Leg told me that he saw Sir Richard in Palmerton last night. That's strange, as I know Sir Richard planned to be in DWG tonight and should have been quite a ways ahead of me, but instead he ended up behind me today. I wonder if maybe he is having problems with shin splints again.

I stopped at the last shelter before town for a break this afternoon, and was surprised to find MD3 (three young women from Maryland) there with a few other hikers, cooking up a big pot of pasta. I think the last time I saw MD3 was 5 or 6 weeks ago. It's strange how that kind of thing happens on the trail.

So, I hiked 21+ miles today instead of 16, and that leaves me with less than 16 miles to get to DWG tomorrow. That should make all the difference in the world. If I can manage to get a hitch back up to the trail in the morning (I ended up walking about 3 miles to the motel this afternoon), I should be able to get into DWG in midafternoon, leaving me time to get a few things I need at the outfitter, get to the post office to get my packages before it closes at 4:30, maybe stop by the diner for a bite to eat, and walk across the bridge into New Jersey to meet Paul. Paul, I will turn my phone on as I get near DWG, so feel free to call if you are wondering where I am.
"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

Wind Gap, PA to DWG Visitors' Center, NJ

Monday, 6/29

AT Miles = 16.8 / 1284.8
Other Miles = 0 / 44.2
Total Miles = 16.8 / 1329.0

Insulated from the usual cues that wake me in the morning -- a
lightening sky and chirping birds -- I was afraid I would oversleep in
my motel room and as a result I woke repeatedly during the night, each
time checking my watch. I last woke about 4:30 so got up and got my
gear together. I walked down the street to the Gap Diner, open 24
hours, and had breakfast. By 5:30 I was walking back through town on
my way to the AT crossing at the top of Wind Gap. I wanted an early
start today in order to be sure I arrived in Delaware Water Gap with
plnty of time to do my errands and still make it across the bridge to
meet my friend Paul at 4:30.

I only had about 15 1/2 miles to walk to get to DWG, which normally I
would confidently predict to take just a bit over 6 hours, but with
the rocks in PA I have found it impossible to estimate hiking times as
it depends completely on how rocky the trail is. As it turned out the
trail was about "normal" for northern PA and I made it to DWG before
2:00PM, 8+ hours after starting in Wind Gap.

Along the way I ran into both Red Leg and Sir Richard, and the three
of us walked the last couple of miles together. I was wondering why
Sir Richard wasn't already in DWG, and he told me that originally he
had been planning to zero in DWG, but when he was in Palmerton he
realized that everything he needed was conveniently close to the
hostel there so he decided to zero in Palmerton instead. Since I will
be taking a zero tomorrow, and Sir Richard and Red Leg will both be
continuing on, I will once again be a day behind them.

Well, I finally did it today; I made a classic AT hiker mistake that I
have ben waiting to happen since I started. I stopped at an overlook a
couple miles outside of DWG, took off my pack, ate a snack, and
admired the view. Then I shrugged back into my pack and started off
down the trail, THE WRONG WAY. I soon had a feeling something was
wrong, and it was confirmed a minute later when I came out at the site
of an old tower that I had passed previously. To compound my
embarrassment, Red Leg was there and I had to explain why I was
apparently "coming back to meet him." Well, I only hiked the wrong way
for a short distance; I guess I can take some comfort in that.

After arriving in DWG I went first to the outfitter. They, too, were
sold out of Aquamira, though I did manage to get all the other things
I needed. I bought a small bottle of Potable Aqua tablets in case I
run out of Aquamira, but I really don't like those. After the
outfitter I went to the Water Gap Diner for another lunch. Jodi and I
ate lunch at this same diner last July when we came through DWG on our
bike tour from Boston to DC. ((See
I think I even sat in the same booth we sat in, almost one year ago.
That made me miss Jodi a lot!

After lunch I walked up to the post office to collect my packages,
which in addition to my bounce box and the food drop Jodi sent, to my
surprise included a new monkeywrench flag sent by Lou in Utah. Thanks

I used my bear bagging cord to tie my packages together, then I left
town and walked across the bridge over the Delaware River to the Jew
Jersey side (good bye PA!), until I reached the DWG Visitors Center
where I was to meet Paul. Paul showed up right on time and after we
got to his house I had a shower and did my laundry, then Paul cooked
up a great dinner of salad, grilled salmon, corn on the cob, and a big
fat burger to satisfy my appetite for greasy protein. Oh, and let's
not forget the ice cream and homemade chocolate chip cookies. What
with the pizza and gelati last night, the diner breakfast this morning
and an extra bagel and cream cheese to accompany my usual lunch, the
second lunch at the diner in DWG, and the feed at Paul's house, I've
stuffed a lot of calories into my body over the last 24 hours, and let
me tell you, it feels good!

Oh, I almost forgot! Photos for the section from Boiling Springs to Delaware Water Gap are here:

Allen F. Freeman

Looking Ahead

Having made the goal of reaching Delaware Water Gap and crossing the
river into New Jersey (7 states down and 7 to go!), I spent a bit of
time this morning trying to figure out the next couple of weeks. I
will be back on the trail tomorrow, and it looks like I should reach
New York this coming Sunday, the 5th. That should have me reaching
Connecticut next Friday or Saturday, the 10th or 11th. So, all you
Nutmeggers, it looks like I should be hiking through Connecticut over
the weekend. Now, I can't guarantee that; anything could happen
between now and then. But assuming everything goes well and it comes
to pass, I would surely welcome some company for a bit of hiking, or
even just at camp overnight. As I get closer to Connecticut I will try
to update you with where I think I will be and when.

Allen F. Freeman

Zero Day in New Jersey

Tuesday, 6/30

AT Miles = 0 / 1284.8
Other Miles = 0 / 44.2
Total Miles = 0 / 1329.0

I had a comfortable, lazy day today at Paul's house. Paul had to leave
early for work, but he was kind enough to leave me the keys to his car
so this morning I made a trip to the book store and spent an enjoyable
hour+ browsing the book racks and selecting a couple of books for my
future reading. One will go in my pack and one will go in my bounce
box for later. After the book store I headed to the local outfitter
store and finally managed to get some Aquamira, so I am now fixed up
in that department.

Not much more to write about today. I spent the afternoon reading and
futzing about with my gear. I have to repack my bounce box now and get
it ready for mailing. Paul graciously offered to mail it for me, which
removes a big hassle from my day tomorrow. Because he works early Paul
will be dropping me off back on the New Jersey end of the DWG bridge
early tomorrow morning, so I plan to take advantage of the early start
and try to get in a 24 mile day. From what I hear, that will get me
past the remaining bad stretch of rocks. There is a 70% chance of rain
tomorrow, but hopefully it won't be one of those steady, all day

I am getting excited now about closing in on New England. That will
feel like coming home, I think. I just have to make sure I don't get
so wrapped up in where I will be that I forget to appreciate where I
am at the moment.

Allen F. Freeman


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Copyright 1996 - 2011 Allen F. Freeman
Last modified: November 03, 2011