Friday, June 8, 2012

Oh, Doyle

     I set off from Caladonia State park in Pennsylvania under cool blue skies.  I had only one thing on my mind, the halfway point, my guidebook said it was only thirteen miles from where I began so it was in my reach for the day.  When I neared the intersection where there was supposed to be an often photographed sign my adrenaline started to build.  It has taken just under three months to make it to this point and an enormous amount of effort, but passed the spot without seeing a sign.  I thought that maybe I didn't see it and walked right by, or that it was taken down for repair or something.  A little perturbed I kept going down the trail, I kept looking at my trail guide to see if I was where I thought I was.  When I got to the shelter that was four miles after where the sign was supposed to be I knew I must have missed it.  I sat down at the picnic bench provided and began eating my lunch.  Two ladies out for a short hike stopped by and started asking questions about my trip so far.  I told them I was a little disappointed that I didn't see the halfway sign.  They said it was only about two minutes further down the trail and it has been there for the last couple years.  I immediately packed up and started walking again.  Sure enough, right down the trail was the elusive sign.  I took my obligatory photos and pushed on.

     Next up was a place where hikers are know to participate in something called - The Half Gallon Challenge.  It is where thru hikers attempt to eat an entire half gallon of ice cream in one sitting.  I wussed out and only ate a pint of vanilla with a root beer.  There was a storm quickly moving in and a mansion remodeled into a hostel right next door.  Who wouldn't want to stay the night in a mansion anyway?  Well it turned out to be only myself and one other person in the entire building for the night.  It was a bit creepy and we explored all of the nooks and crannies of the building in the wee hours like little kids.  There was an attic above the men's dorm with a mattress and empty beer cans that looked somewhat recent.  I imagined that is where they kept the mansion troll.  They fed it beer and cookies and occasionally it would escape and maul all the guests to death in their sleep.  Those were my thoughts as tossed and turned all night.

     The next morning I headed out back onto the trail.`  I followed it's twists and turns up and down rocky mountains into a place labeled "Rock Maze" on my guide.

     Okay, so it wasn't much of a maze, but there was more after the video that was somewhat more difficult. The trail then descended steeply into the Cumberland Valley.  The trees gave way to open farmland with fields of hay and corn in all directions.

     It was beautiful and a stark contrast to the mountains I have been in.  The trail was easy and extended into the distance.  It followed the edges of farms into the town of Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania.  What a charming little town this was.  The trail went alongside a pond in a park where kids were playing and people were fishing on the shoreline.  The only bad thing about being here is that for the eighteen miles that consist of the Cumberland Valley there are no shelter and they don't want anyone camping either.  I hit the town late in the day and didn't want to pay for a place to stay so I kept walking until dark.  Rain had started falling on me for an hour before I finally found a nice place to set up, even though I wasn't supposed to.  I crawled into my cozy little tent and listened to the pidder padder of rain as I drifted off to sleep.

     I woke up at the crack of daylight and broke camp as quick as I could.  I was walking again by six o'clock in the morning.  Not long after I came to a foot bridge that went over a pretty major highway.  From it I could see that there was a diner down the road, I hadn't had breakfast yet so I walked the short distance with trucks whizzing by me.

     I sat and had eggs benedict with coffee.  The table next to me were asking all sort of questions about the trip and when it came time to pay the bill they covered it for me.  Nice.  I resumed walking with a full belly and caffeine coursing through me.  I crossed the rest of the now soggy valley in no time at all and reentered the mountains.  It actually felt really good to be climbing again, I guess my body has just gotten used to constant elevation changes.

     I made it to the first shelter up on the mountain, sat, ate my lunch and laid my tent out to dry.  I contemplated the next move.  I could push on another ten miles across "Extremely Rocky" terrain into Duncannon PA, or I could stay where I was for the night.  I think I must have still had caffeine in me at that point because I decided on the rocky terrain and another ten miles.

     By the time I made it into Duncannon I was pretty darn tired and it was getting late.  I went to the bar/hostel named The Doyle.  I ordered a chicken quesadilla and a wheat beer.  While I was sitting there a bunch of other hikers came in and started drinking.  Many of them were staying at the hostel for the night and said it was a real dump.  Not wanting to shell out money for a dump, I finished my gross quesadilla and headed out.  Before leaving town I fueled up on more coffee from a local convenience store.  I walked across the Susquehanna River as the sun was setting and the transit of Venus was taking place.  I climbed up to the ridge line overlooking the city and made my way to a shelter three miles from town well after dark.  I set up my sleeping bag inside the shelter and headed off to sleep.

     I can't say the night was uneventful because I woke up at some point feeling like I wanted to throw up and then had diarrhea.  I spent the rest of the night with a cramping stomach.  When everyone else left from the shelter in the morning I stayed behind and tried to sleep it off, but I felt wretched.  I was weak with cold sweats and was heading to the privy every hour or so.  I called my father and we set up a pick up spot just four miles down the trail.  It took every ounce of energy I had to gather my gear together and start out.  I was sweating just from the effort.  I hiked two miles of pure misery when I ran into my pop.  We walked out together and I have been resting since.

     I blame the quesadilla.



  1. Replies
    1. Must've been the cheese, or the chicken, or the fact the place was a dive.

  2. love the first pic!

  3. The mansion was brilliant - and all the better for being so unexpected. But I'm glad that I didn't know about the secret basement until the morning. Creepy, indeed.

    The sunset rocks loop was a great suggestion. There's a good scramble along the top of the ridge - definitely a rock maze (I think they made the blazes hard to find one purpose) - and beautiful fern-covered clearings down below. The shelter site was a few inches deep in water following the overnight downpour, but it was fun to slog through puddles as the day grew warmer.

    Safe walking and I hope you feel better soon.

    1. Frank, Rita and I do enjoy your travels. Get better and stay well. I wish I were your camera person. J.t.D.

    2. Feeling better and hoping not to encounter the same issue again.

  4. Great reading, Rita, my best lady in the world is finally reading your journey with me. Great adventure so far, I am jealous of your day to day adventures. Keep it up. I am sure at this point it is all mental. I have become a big fan over the last 3 months reading your journey. Rita has become a fan as well. It took me telling her your a horse trainer.

    Have you ever jousted in a renaissance festival?

    1. Ha ha a mater of fact I have jousted once or twice in my life. Not in a Ren faire, but I used to work at a place called Medieval Times back in Jersey. Lots of jousting there, and some missing teeth.

  5. Always blame it on the quesadilla!!

    1. Ugg, I guess no mexican food until I'm back in SD