Front Royal, VA to Boiling Springs, PA



Front Royal VA to Dicks Dome Shelter

Wednesday, 6/10

AT Miles = 15.2 / 974.8
Other Miles = 0.2 / 36.0
Total Miles = 1009.8

Hey look, I've hiked over 1000 miles! That's not 1000 AT miles yet, though. I should reach that milestone sometime on Friday.

The tendon in my left ankle is still very tender. The only way I could hike was to wear my boot very loose on that foot, which means my foot moves around a lot inside the boot, and also that I end up jamming my toes on downhills.

If I tightened my boot normally, it hurts enough that I make audible whimpering sounds with every step. When I loosen the boot I only wince silently. Needless to say, this sucks all the fun out of hiking. I am taking ibuprofen (known as "Vitamin I" on the trail), and I soaked my ankle as long as I could stand it in the cold stream in front of the shelter.

I hope the ibuprofen gets this under control. I don't know wqhat I will do if it continues to hurt, or even gets worse. I can suffer through a few days of walking gingerly, but I can't do it indefinitely. Well, I have to get to Harpers Ferry by Saturday no matter what, or I will be a very hungry hiker. I guess by then I'll know whether it is getting any better or not. Who knows, maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and it will be magically healed!

Other than the ankle, it has been a hot, muggy, oppressive day without a breath of air moving. It looks and feels like we are definitely in for some rain. Tomorrow I will hit the Roller Coaster, which is a 13.5 mile stretch where the trail goes up and down something like 14 peaks. Basically, I have to hike up and down the same few hundred feet 14 times. That should be fun with a tender ankle.

Okay, obviously I am in a negative mood this evening, so I'll quit now. Tomorrow is another day, and hopefully things will go better then.

Allen Freeman

Dicks Dome Shelter to Bears Den Hostel




Thursday, 6/11

AT Miles = 18.3 / 993.1
Other Miles = 0.8 / 36.8
Total Miles = 19.1 / 1028.9

It rained like the dickens last night. I was comfy and dry in my
hammock, but there were a few minutes when I thought the tarp might
take off in the wind. That would have been bad!

The humidity today was oppressive; the air being totally saturated and
not a breath of air moving. Hiking is hot work and my body was
sweating to try to cool down, but the sweat could not evaporate so my
clothes were soon soaked through, and I even had rivulets of sweat
running down my legs into my socks and boots.

The tendinitis in my left ankle is better -- not better as in it's all
healed, hallelujah, but better in the sense of less bad than it was
yesterday. The ibuprofen seems to be working, so I will keep that up
for a couple more days and hopefully I will have no more trouble.

I am staying at the Bears Den Hostel, which is owned by the ATC and
operated by the PATC. It's a really nice place. They offer a package
that includes a bunk with linens, a shower, laundry, a pizza, a soda,
and a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, for $25. Sold! Unlike some
hiker hostels, this place is spotlessly clean. And the laundry is a
blessing. It is so humid and wet outside that I could not wash my
socks, since they would never dry. Now I've washed and dried my dirty
socks, along with all my other dirty stuff. Clean, dry socks go a long
ways towards making a comfortable hike.

I am only about 20 miles from Harpers Ferry so I could make it there
tomorrow if tried hard, but I am not planning to stay in Harpers
Ferry. Jodi sent a food drop to the ATC headquarters in Harpers Ferry,
and my plan is to stop there, get my picture taken and put in their
book of thru-hikers, pick up my food drop, then push on to the next
shelter. All that will work better if I get there earlier in the day,
so I will stop south of the town tomorrow night, then go into town
Saturday morning. Also, the weather is supposed to be much drier on
Saturday so it will be more conducive to spending a bit of time in
town amongst civilized people, before pushing on back into the woods.

Allen F. Freeman

Bears Den Hostel to David Lesser Memorial Shelter

Friday, 6/12

AT Miles = 11.1 /1004.2
Other Miles = 0.7 / 37.5
Total Miles = 11.8 / 1040.7

When I am dead, do you think someone will build a trail shelter in my memory? No? A privy maybe?

Bears Den was such a great place. I really enjoyed staying there last night. I even stayed awake until 11:30 watching a movie on DVD. Have you seen "13 Days?" It was quite good.

I wasn't planning a very big day today, and as it turns out that was a good thing. I am not feeling my best today. I felt weak and shaky while hiking, and I started the day with the last 4 1/2 miles of the Rollercoaster.

It took me 3 1/2 hours to hike the first 8 miles to the Blackburn AT Center. Normally that distance would take me well under 3 hours. And the last 3 miles from Blackburn to the shelter took me just shy of an hour and a half. Like I said, I just wasn't feeling it today.

Hopefully I will be back to my usual self tomorrow. I hope to get in nearly 20 miles tomorrow, including stopping in Harpers Ferry for a couple of hours. Jodi mailed my food drop to the AT HQ there, so I need to stop and pick that up, and repack it into my backpack. I have been to Harpers Ferry before and it is a really cool place, so I hope to spend a little bit of time there, and hopefully get a bite to eat before heading back out.

The weather today is much better than I expected from the forecast, but the bugs are out in force and it feels like there is a good possibility of thunder storms tonight. I am hoping for dry weather while I am in town tomorrow.

There is a young hiker here tonight who has been out for a week, and obviously hasn't washed at all during that week. Oh my! The stink darn near makes my eyes water. As long as the weather is reasonably cooperative, I wash every night and rinse out my hiking clothes. I sleep much better when I am reasonably clean and not so sticky.

Allen Freeman

David Lesser Memorial Shelter to Crampton Gap Shelter

Saturday, 6/13

AT Miles = 19.7 / 1023.9
Other Miles = 1.2 / 38.7
Total Miles = 20.9 / 1061.6

Today was an awesome day. After feeling totally wrung out yesterday, today I felt like I could fly down the trail. I think I was dehydrated yesterday. I drank 3 quarts of water after getting to the shelter yesterday afternoon, yet I still didn't have to get up even once during the night. I always have to get up at least once, and sometimes two or three times. So this morning I drank another couple of quarts with breakfast, and my feet had wings.

Yesterday I hit the 1000 mile mark, and today I walked into Harpers Ferry and stopped at ATC Headquarters, where they took my picture and added it to the album of thru-hikers. I am either number 231 or 321; I am really bad at remembering numbers like that. A number I do remember is 162. There is a scale at the ATC, and that is what I now weigh, including my hiking boots.

I also picked up my food drop at ATC, and I now have the biggest food bag ever. It took some doing to even stuff all my food into the bag so I could hang it tonight.

After finishing my business at ATC, I made one more stop in Harpers Ferry for a big lunch, then proceeded across the bridge over the Potomac River and into Maryland. So Virginia and West Virginia are both now listory. Five states down, nine to go. And Maryland will be gone in a couple of days!

I also stpped at the Edward Garvey Memorial Shelter this afternoon. I had no reason to stop there, other than that it is the Edward Garvey Memorial Shelter. If it weren't for Ed Garvey, I very well may not be here to day. When I was in my teens I got Ed's book "Appalachian Hiker: Adventure of a Lifetime," and I read and re-read it many times. That book was a big part of what planted the seed that led me to this hike all these years later.

So a full day, and with a lot of good emotions. And now I am going to retreat to the sanctuary of my hammock, away from the mosquitos, and read my book for a few minutes before falling asleep. Goodnight, all.

Allen Freeman

Washington Monument


This is the original Washington Monument, in Washington Monument State Park, MD.

Allen Freeman

Crampton Gap Shelter to Ensign Cowall Shelter

Sunday, 6/14

AT Miles = 20.7 / 1044.6
Other Miles = 1.0 / 39.7
Total Miles = 21.7 / 1083.3

As I was going to bed last night I heard some thunder rumbling in the distance, but there were only a few drops of rain on the tarp. During the night it cooled off quite a bit and this morning it was breezyand relatively cool and dry.

Today was a really nice day. Other than one reasonably short rocky section, the hiking was easy, and therfe were interesting things to see along the way. I stopped at Washington Monument State Park to see the first Washington Monument, then later I took the side trail to Annapolis Rocks which offered great views and a pleasant place to sit and contemplate the world.

There were a lot of day hikers and weekenders about. I really enjoy meeting and talking to weekenders. Some thru-hikers don't like weekenders. I don't understand that. Maybe they think they're too cool to associate with mere weekenders or something, but I don't think that's really it. Maybe they just get tired of answering the usual questions, but I don't mind. I like talking to people that are still engaged in the outside world. They ask me about thru-hiking, and I ask them about the stories behind the bits of the headlines I see now and again.

The weather is warm and dry and I was planning to do laundry tonight, but the water source is way the heck down the hill and I would have to go get more water to do laundry, so it will have to wait. Hopefully I will pass a water source early tomorrow, and I can do laundry then and still have time for my socks to dry during the day.

Allen Freeman

Ensign Cowall Shelter to Tumbling Run Shelters

Monday, 6/15

AT Miles = 18.1 / 1062.7
Other Miles = 0 / 39.7
Total Miles = 18.1 / 1101.4

Another really nice day. I hiked the ten miles to Pen Mar Park this morning, then when I got there Chance and I called and had pizzas delivered for our lunch. The park was really nice with great views down into the valley below., and I hung out there for over two hours, leaving about 1:00PM.

Right after leaving Pen Mar Park I crossed the Mason-Dixon line and entered Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the border is not marked, so I didn't know exactly when entered the North. At last. I am no longer hiking the Ap-pa-latch-in trail, and am now hiking the Ap-pa-lay-shun trail.

This shelter is actually two shelters, one is marked "SNORING" and the other "NON-SNORING". It is beautiful weather this evening and there is a mellow group of hikers enjoying a small campfire.

Allen Freeman

Tumbling Run Shelters to Birch Run Shelter

Tuesday, 6/16

AT Miles = 19.6 / 1082.3
Other Miles = 0 / 39.7
Total Miles = 19.6 / 1121.0

When I got up this morning I couldn't tell whether the sky was clear or overcast, but it was soon apparent that it was the latter, and it felt like it was going to rain. I rigged my pack for rain when I set off, but as it turned out it only rained a bit in the morning and most of the day it stayed dry, more or less.

Ten miles into the day I was at Caledonia State Park. It was about 10:45 and at 11:00 the snack bar there opens, so I joined several other hikers already there waiting. I spent about an hour and a half there eating a cheeseburger and fries, as well as some of the food I was carrying.

While I was there a hiker showed up that I haven't seen since Neels Gap, way back in Georgia at about day 4 of the hike. That was a nice moment. When I saw Papa Kiwi (his trail name) I said "Damn, you're skinny!" and almost at the same time he remarked on how much weight I had lost.

The afternoon was hard. My feet hurt, the weather was damp and sticky, I was feeling tired of being dirty, and I just didn 't feel like walking another ten miles, but eventually I got here and washed up and ate a hot meal, and my outlook has improved a lot.

Today while walking I was thinking some more about the responses I got to my post of a couple days ago where I mentioned how some thru-hikers behave somewhat rudely toward weekend and section hikers. I've been thinking that for some people thur-hiking is kind of like high school. They become part of the thru-hiking community, which is really a very small community, though it is spread out along the trail. They seem to like being part of a distinct group, and one of the ways a group is defined is by who is excluded; in this case those hikers who are not thru-hikers. What happens within the world of thru-hikers takes on exaggerated importance, just like when you were in high school and the world of school seemed to be the most important thing in the world.

Well, I never really fit in when I was in high school, and I don't fit in on the trail the same way I would if I were 24 years old, so it is easy to sit on the outskirts and practice my amateur analysis. In any case, I think it's a shame when some people behave in such a way as to make other hikers feel uncomfortable or out of place, and I choose not to do so.

It is starting to rain now. Hopefully it will rain tonight and be all done by morning, but I have heard rumors that this is a storm that is supposed to hang around tomorrow.

My plan is to hike 17 miles tomorrow, then 12 on Thursday which should get me to Boiling Springs around noon. Assuming I can get a place to stay, I will zero there on Friday and head back out on the trail on Saturday.

Allen Freeman

Birch Run Shelter to James Fry Shelter

Wednesday, 6/17

AT Miles = 17.1 / 1099.4
Other Miles = 0.2 / 39.9
Total Miles = 17.3 / 1138.3

Today reminded me of Georgia, hiking all day in a steady, cold rain. I've been pushing pretty hard since I left Front Royal Wednesday last, and I am fetting tired. When Iwoke up this morning my feet still hurt, and even my legs were still tired and a bit sore. This morning I called the B&B in Boiling Springs and reserved a room for tomorrow night and Friday night. It will be good to get clean and dry, and relax for a bit.

I passed the half-way point on the trail this morning. As near as I could figure it, I was at the half-way point at 10:20 this morning. That is based on figuring the distance from the last place I knew the exact mileage, and my normal hiking pace. I took a picture of the mud puddle that apparently sits at the half-way point.

A few miles later there is a big sign at what was the half-way point at the time it was erected. When I got there it was pouring down rain so I just stopped for a moment to read the sign, then continued on. It was much too wet to pull the camera out and take a photo.

"Home is where I hang my food bag"

Allen Freeman

James Fry Shelter to Boiling Springs, PA

Thursday, 6/18

AT Miles = 12.2 / 1111.6
Other Miles = 0.8 / 40.7
Total Miles = 13.0 / 1151.3

Not much to say about today. It rained all night, though it had
tapered off to the occasional drizzle by the time I got up a few
minutes before 6:00. I ate breakfast, packed up all my wet gear,
changed out of my dry clothes and put my wet hiking clothes back on,
and started off for Boiling Springs. The woods were wet, and the
section of trail between Tagg Run (where the shelter is located) and
the Cumberland Valley (where Boiling Springs is), contains a bit of up
and down; more so than I have become used to lately. The folks who
routed the trail through here also seem to like scrambling around on
rocks, and there was plenty of that this morning. Since wet rocks can
be quite slippery, this got old pretty fast.

I made a quick stop at the Alec Kennedy shelter, about 8 miles into
the day, to sit down in a dry spot and have a bit of lunch, then I
pushed on. A couple miles later I descended out of the hills and the
trail came out of the woods and into some farm fields in the
Cumberland Valley. There is a sign just before this warning hikers
that there is no camping for the next 17 miles, other than the
campsite on the outskirts of Boiling Springs, as the trail crosses the
Valley. This is because the trail threads its way across the valley
through farm fields. It is reputed to be an insufferably hot hike on a
hot, humid, sunny day. But I only had a couple more miles to cover
before I arrived in Boiling Springs.

What a pretty little town this is. The town is centered around Boiling
Springs Lake. The trail follows a gravel walking path along one side
of the lake, directly across from Front Street which is lined with
lovely old houses, many constructed of stone or brick. I am spending
two nights in one of these houses on Front Street, the Garmanhaus B&B.

I've showered, washed all my clothes, and spent an hour or two
watching old Adam 12 reruns streamed to my laptop from NetFlix. I
don't know why, but I just love that program! Such innocent times.

I am about to head over to the Boiling Springs Tavern for a beer or
two and some dinner. I hope it is as good as everyone tells me it is.
Allen F. Freeman

Zero Day in Boiling Springs

Friday, 6/19
AT Miles = 0 / 1111.6
Other Miles = 0 / 40.7
Total Miles = 0 / 1151.3

So, I slept in a soft bed with clean white saheets, in an air conditioned room last night. Nice. And I did very little walking today. I walked about a mile down the road to the grocery store to get just a couple of things to get me to Duncannon this weekend, and a pint of Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk to have for a mid-afternoon snack. Then I walked over to the ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office to get some denatured alcohol for my stove.

I stashed the groceries back at the B&B, then walked over to the tavern for lunch. Papa Kiwi and a few other hikers were there and I joined them for lunch. They were heading back out so when they left I came back to the B&B and watched a movie streamed from NetFlix on my laptop, while enjoying my Ben & Jerry's.

I did spend a couple of hours this morning processing and uploading photos. You can find them here:

This afternoon has been bright and sunny and hot, so I hung my sleeping bag and the down jacket I use as a pillow every night, out on the line to bake in the sun. Those UV rays go a long way towards killing odors in my gear.

I will be heading back out tomorrow. Breakfast isn't until 9:00AM here, which is terribly late, buit I only have 14 miles to go tomorrow so it should be fine. I will go to the post office to mail my bounce box ahead to Port Clinton when the PO opens at 8:00, then after breakfast I'll head on out of town. The forecast for tomorrow calls for hot and humid weather with a 60% chance of thunderstorms. That should make hot work of walking across the Cumberland Valley out in the sun. About 8 miles north of here the trail crosses PA 11 on a foot bridge, and there is supposed to be a good diner just there, so I'll probably stop there for lunch. Might as well take advantage of civilization while I can.

Here is what the trail map of the Cumberland Valley looks like. You can see that it looks more like a road map than a trail map. I expect to spend the day walking along the edges of farm fields:

And this is the elevation profile. I walked out of the hills on the left yesterday, and will walk across the dead flat Cumberland Valley tomorrow until I reach the hills over on the right tomorrow afternoon:

Some musings on being half way:

It was really exciting as I got closer and closer to Harpers Ferry, as a goal I had been working towards for nearly three months was within reach. Then I got there, enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment, and spent four more days getting to the actual half way point. That was kind of anti-climactic. And now, having reached the half way point, the full weight of the realization that I am only half way has descended upon me. I find myself contemplating the second half as a huge chunk of work ahead of me, and it's intimidating. This is only temporary, I know. I just have to go through the process of adjusting my thinking and start picking out intermediate goals. And that should be easy as the states go by pretty fast from here up to northern New England. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, where a friend has already offered me a meal and a warm bed for the night, New York, then Connecticut, where I have family and a lot of hiking friends. Then comes Massachusetts, my home state, and then I'll be in Vermont and hiking through the chunk of trail I have helped maintain for many years. Tehn will come New Hampshire and the mighty Whites, and finally the amazing wilderness of Maine. So much to look forward to.

And now, I am going to get ready to head back over to the tavern for another good meal, maybe accompanied by a very cold martini this time. Then I'll come back here and relax while watching another NetFlix movie tonight. Might as well enjoy life while I can, as I expect to be soaking wet and maybe dodging lightning sometime tomorrow.

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