Days 89 & 90

Day 89

I woke up this morning in a room full with more than a dozen guys, while Tandem woke up in the girls’ dormitory upstairs with only one other hiker. Several of us didn’t sleep well due to a couple of heavy snorers.

The breakfast tables were set with a pair of frozen blueberry waffles in bowls and a small cup for OJ. After I toasted and ate the waffles, I grabbed some Grape Nut cereal packets from the hiker box and added milk to them. I sat with Mio’s father to discuss his plans and our slackpacking logistics for the day.

I made the last minute decision to carry my full pack lightly loaded with snacks, water, and rain gear, rather than just the pack top tied over my shoulder. It made me more comfortable to be carrying it with a pack cover on.

What we weren’t carrying on our backs we packed and left with Mio’s father to have taken to Boiling Springs. We left the Ironmaster Mansion Hostel at 8:15 in a heavy mist. Mio, who hikes fast, set the pace, but I hike a bit slower. We were averaging 3.5 miles per hour and reached the James Fry shelter, seven miles away, in two hours. We had passed all the hikers who had left before us. Johnny Utah stayed with us after we caught him nine miles from the hostel. Thirteen miles in, around noon, we reached the “Rock Maze,” which was fun to traverse and required a four foot high body lift.

Week_13_Day_89 We left Johnny Utah behind in the maze. Tandem had moved forward, leaving Mio and I behind, and shortly after that it started to rain hard. I stopped to take a break at the Alec Kennedy shelter, four miles from Boiling Springs. After the last climb, I dropped to a flat run through farmland for about two miles. I walked between wheat and corn and past smelly chicken houses.

It had stopped raining, so my poly clothes were drying well. I arrived in Boiling Springs and followed the white blazes past a beautiful lake to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy central office. I got my AT Passport stamped there and crossed the street to the very warm, very dry van of Mio’s dad. We sat there together and made our plans.

We went first to Karn’s Quality Foods to restock. While there, we decided to stay at the Allenberry Resort Inn,  which had a great hiker rate for the amenities offered. We checked in and ate dinner that we had bought at Karn’s. After showering, we sorted our food and talked with Mio who had returned from dinner with his father.

We played pool and ping pong downstairs and did a small load of free laundry. I found a Geocache on the resort property down near the Yellow Breeches Creek, which was swollen and rising due to a flood warning here.

Tomorrow morning looks fairly easy, so it should be another 20 mile day, even while carrying full packs.

 

Day 90

Tandem and I slept in, enjoying the big comfy beds at the Allenberry Resort Inn. There were many hikers there due to the heavy rains and muddy conditions. Tandem was expecting a package at the PO, which opened at 9:00. We watched Good Morning America, just like I do early in the morning at home.

We both took advantage of a having a second shower and packed our packs. We had two grocery bags full of cold weather stuff to be mailed home. We ate a trail breakfast in the room, then checked out and headed half a mile up the road to the ATC office.

We threw our packs in the very wet, slippery porch and reviewed our expenses for the week; we didn’t plan to spend anything else for the week after shipping home the clothes. We realized that it was Friday the 13th.

I found the large Darn Tough ATC socks in the ATC office, so I bought a pair as a test and sent home one pair of thick winter weight socks. We boxed the clothes — 5.5 pounds, mostly mine — and went across the street to the post office.Week_13_Day_90

We went back to the ATC porch and I met Stark, who Tandem already knew from Harpers Ferry. Stark had broken the record for consumption at the Half Gallon Ice Cream Challenge, doing it in 2.5 minutes! It is on video. Ragnar was there, too, waiting for Scout to catch up.

Stark asked if he could hike with us as far as the Scott Farm ATC Trail Work Center 10 miles ahead. We agreed. The trail conversations were good and made the hiking time go by faster. It started to rain hard with about four miles to go, so we got wet, but our packs were dry.

We crossed a lot of roads, including going back to the western side of I-81. When we arrived at the Scott Farm, there were seven hikers already there. The sun peeked out, and we put out our wet items on the hot grass. Tandem laid out on the warm drying pavement.

A few hikers started out, including Johnny Utah. We said our goodbyes to Stark just as it started to thunder and downpour, which is when we decided to hang out under the barn coverage a little longer. Mio had left his rain coat, so Tandem was going to take it to him, but he emerged from the trail across the road to get it back. He hung out with us for the last few minutes while the rain stopped.

We began hiking four miles along the swollen river and then creek. We climbed 800 feet to the Darlington shelter where Mio checked the logbook for a message from Johnny Utah, who had moved on to the next shelter, 7 miles away. Since it was 17:30, we decided to camp at Darlington tonight, as did several other hikers.

By the end of the night there were eight in the shelter and another ten in tents and hammocks. Mio had traded out his hammock for a tent, which I helped him set up. I also helped some hikers identify poison ivy. We had pasta for dinner, it started raining hard again while we were eating, causing us to move quickly to our sleeping quarters.

That last rain at 19:00 caused everyone to quiet down and hang out in their tents, etc. We did 14.4 miles today through the rain and mud, so that was good.

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