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.
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 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.