I woke up early in the Pavilion in Port Clinton and started packing for the 15 mile slackpack to the Eckville Shelter. Tandem, Mio, Gilligan, Ginger, Young Gandoff and I were slackpacking north; Scruffy was slackpacking southbound since his wife would be joining him in Hamburg and helping him slackpack for the next couple of days.
We watched Gilligan and Ginger leave at 7:45 while we ate breakfast. Mio left shortly after them, and we followed at 8:00. Lorax was doing the shuttling, so we threw our packs in the back of his pickup truck, thanked him, and headed off down Penn Street for AT intersection. It was about half a mile down Penn before we found the trail.
There was no sign of Mio. We met the Scout Troop of five and fell in behind them until they made room for us to pass. We headed up to the underpass of PA 61 and saw a lot of AT hiking promotional graffiti on the highway supports. We looped around and started a big climb, just like we do out of most towns. Mio came along behind us; he had taken a street up to PA 61, crossed all of the early morning busy traffic, and joined the AT after that accidental yellow blazing.
We reached the top of the climb and agreed that it was much easier than the other side that we had come down yesterday. I pity the climb that southbounders will have out of Port Clinton. We skipped visiting the Windsor Furnace shelter and caught up with Gilligan and Ginger at a flowing creek. We all took a break, but they left before us since we were still snacking. We reached Pulpit Rock and found Gilligan putting a Geocache back in a tree. He used to Geocache with his dad when he was younger. I signed the logbook and was confused that the cache wasn’t listed online. It is GC54YT7 Pulpit Rock / LVAAS Observ. by UNSTABLE and I researched it later by sending the cache owner an email. Mio took a picture of us with the view.
We visited the grounds of the Astronomical Observatory, which had three large telescopes. We looped around the mountain range across the top through so many rocks to the Pinnacle. After that it was still as rocky, but downhill. We met Scruffy slackpacking southbound. He told us that the next five miles were mostly old gravel roads down the trail to the road for the shelter, which made us very happy.
We reached the gravel road and started making 20 minute miles until we stopped at a spring to filled our containers and have a snack. We finished that descent then turned left off of the gravel road to continue down more rocky Pennsylvania ground. We reached Hawk Mountain Road and turned right .2 miles to the Eckland shelter, arriving at 14:15.
This shelter has a cold shower, flush toilet, running water, six bunks, a charging power strip, a campground on the other side if the road, and a caretaker in his own house. It is supported by the National Forest and the ATC. We expected to find our backpacks, but Lorax was not there. He had taken Owl to the doctor; Owl has the same problem I do with sore nerves behind the middle toes on his left foot.
Tandem got in contact with Lorax and got the story behind the delay. The caretaker was mowing the grass in the campground beside his house, and we hung out with Gilligan and Ginger, chatting it up. About that time, Ginger was stung on her hand by a large black wasp, which surprised and hurt her.
Lorax show up around 15:15 with our packs. Owl talked to me about his left foot diagnosis. The doctor said that it was due to aggravated nerves and gave him an ankle brace to steady the foot. He was prescribed prescription level Aleve and advised to lace his left boot more loosely. I will try the lacing suggestion and keep taking my regular Aleve.
After they left, Tandem and I took the first two showers, and I ate a lot of food for a late lunch while chatting with Ginger and Gilligan. I soon realized that I was the only hiker staying in the shelter. Word was that it was buggy in there.
Mosey and Jungle Jim showed up later. We ate dinner with Mio, Gilligan, and Ginger at the shelter picnic table and joked about Scout advancement requirements and merit badges. There was a different Troop camping there that was southbound, and I had talked to them about the cooking merit badge.
We were surprised later by the caretaker tossing the five of us those long frozen icicle treats. We were very happy and lucky! The sun was setting, and everyone except Tandem went to their tents.
Tandem and I reviewed the next few days of hiking and wished each other a good night. I had a plan for the buggy shelter. Since I was the only one in there, I closed both doors. Then while I wrote this blog, I kept my headlamp on and attracted all of the mosquitoes and other bugs to my corner of the shelter and killed them. I killed more than a dozen mosquitoes.
Today was a 15 mile day. It was also Hump Daaaaay! per Mio’s shirt.