Day 4: campsite with stream to 501 shelter (12.8 miles)
Honeymoon period is over. We got some scattered thunderstorms in the night and our tent may or may not be the right tent for this trek. It leaked all night dripping right on my face... Jamie’s side was totally dry so it might have been something in how we set it up. We are still deciding on if we like the tent... It’s ridiculously hot and sticky when we are both in it at night because it is meant to be set up with the rainfly attached as one unit. Jamie was able to rig the bug net part with rope, but it’s a little unstable, so the jury is still out on this one.
Also, we finally got our fair share of bites. I’m covered in little bites, not mosquito bites, fly bites. I have a few mosquito bites as well and a few blotches of maybe poison ivy, but applied steroid cream and the suspicious poison ivy blotches have calmed down.
This morning was brutally humid and muggy. There was a chance of rain in the forecast until 11:00 am but it didn’t rain. I wish it would have poured on us because it was so sticky and humid!
Pretty uneventful hiking day - just very sore feet, backs and hip flexors, we both have small blisters on our feet, and we both had Vega smoothie powder which made us nauseous.
The landscape of our hike however kept our spirits high despite any of these small annoyances. It’s so lush and beautiful here in PA. I keep describing the landscape as cheery. Tall happy trees, healthy under-story, flowers and ferns, and dappled sunshine coming through the forest trees at all times. It was beautiful. It was also incredibly rocky. The rocks are beating up our feet so much! Jamie may want to get trail running shoes instead of his boots. I’m Hoka curious (I like my Altras, but that extra cushion in the Hokas sounds so appealing right now!)
When we got to the infamous 501 shelter, we met the caretaker, named
Borderline, and took a SHOWER in the solar shower at this shelter! Woohoo! The freezing cold hose rig felt awesome! It was also amazing and eerie how much hair came out!
We hung our tent snd some clothes out to dry and some people from a nearby town showed up with coolers, a tablecloth, and all sorts of food and drink. They wanted to bring “trail magic” to the hikers in the form of a taco picnic. The gesture was so sweet, but we ate our dinner we had been carrying (pasta again, it was delish!) and enjoyed chips and salsa and some fresh pineapple and grapes! I even made a bag of fruit for the morning.
The craziest thing about the trail magic people was that one of the girls was Jamie’s neighbor growing up!! She thru-hiked the trail last year with her partner so she shared lots of stories.
We decided to sleep in the 501 shelter tonight instead of our tent because it is like a cabin with bunks and the windows are screened off to bugs. Not having to set up the tent feels like a nice treat.
Tomorrow is 15 miles - biggest day yet. Packs are getting significantly lighter since we are eating our way through our food weight and learning not to carry too much water (which weighs a lot!)
Day 5: 501 shelter to Eagle’s nest shelter (15.1 miles)
Got an early start for our longest day so far, on trail by 6:40. Staying in the shelter definitely had its perks with not having to pack up our tent in the morning and the caretaker had a water spigot that didn’t need to be filtered, so that saved us some morning time.
5.7 miles from the 501 shelter was a beautiful ravine with a rope swing. Unfortunately it was still early in the morning when we got there and we weren’t hot, so opted not to swim. We hung out by the water for a while though. Flowing water just naturally draws you to it, it is our life force and I love being near or in natural water.
We saw a snake by the water path, and walked gingerly around him.
We messed up a little on nutrition and missed our afternoon smoothies. The last 3 miles bringing it in were tough for me. I ran out of water 7 minutes before I got to the shelter. Jamie went ahead and for the first time this trip was feeling better than I was. I slowed it down and listened to a song on my phone and counted to 1,000 without stopping. It was mentally challenging to keep going this afternoon as my feet ached so badly.
I arrived at the shelter at about 3:00, plopped down and within minutes it started to sprinkle. We met another hiker, “Duluxe” who was taking a break at the shelter. He has been hiking/walking all over the country for 11 months and will continue across the North Country after he finishes his AT thru hike. We had a nice chat with him and chilled before he left to go into Port Clinton (town) that evening. We had the shelter to ourselves and thought we would stay in the shelter since it was forecasted to rain, however I noticed quite a few mice friends running all around in the shelter and fire pit. Nope. I just couldn’t do it. So at 8:15 we went to find a tent spot and set up camp nearby.
Loved the privy at this shelter area. It was brand new and had been built only 3 days prior! What a treat! No bad smell, very clean, no flies, amazing!
It rained very lightly on us, so not a big deal.
Day 6: Eagle’s Nest shelter to Port Clinton (9 miles)
Got an early start again, had light packs and moved quickly. Feet were still really hurting me today after about 6 miles. Jamie and I decided to try jogging a little to move in a different way, and cover more
distance with fewer steps and therefore less foot impact, right? It was fun, tenths of miles flew by! We sort of did it Galloway style and would run a little, walk a little depending on how rocky the terrain was.
The very last downhill into town was SO steep we had to slow it way down. I wish I had paused to get my poles out because my knees were killing me at the end of the super steep downhill section.
We got to town by 11:30ish am and met up with Jim (Jamie’s stepdad) and Becky (Jamie’s friend from college). We gave Jim some things we decided we didn’t need and he brought Jamie his trail running shoes and new socks. We gave him our puffy jackets and rain pants and Jamie ditched his wool short sleeve shirt (leaving him with only 1 short sleeve shirt... he needs to get a second one). I also got a different sports bra and my spy belt since my add-on hip-belt pouch got tons of holes in it. Bummed about the pouch since my backpack doesn’t have any accessible hip-belt pockets or pouches. I emailed Gossamer Gear and it looks like they will mail me another one in a few weeks. For now I will wear the spy belt for phone, chapstick, and a bar to have handy.
We also planned to give Jim our extra food from the first week since we didn’t eat everything and figured we could save it for the second half. We opened our resupply box (thanks Whitworth!!) and noticed that we forgot to put some of the bars for Jamie in that box. LUCKILY we had leftover from this first segment and we actually ended up with what we think will be enough food for section 2. HUGE thanks to Jim for making the trek out there to bring us our stuff and take some stuff back for us! It was so helpful!!
Then, Becky took us in and totally took care of us! Can’t thank her enough for this week 1 hospitality. We were kind of a disorganized mess upon arrival, and she helped us do everything we needed to do. From the best shower ever, to laundry and borrowing clothes, to shopping, she had it covered. We went shopping to look for a new hip belt pouch (bust), more fuel, foot powder, more moleskin (for blisters), new socks for Jamie, new camp shoes for Jamie (croc sandal type shoes), and look for a new shirt for Jamie (bust).
Jamie’s precious “camp shoes” were aqua sock type slippers that stayed wet for so long and he needed something that dries quickly. Other hikers took note of his aqua sock “shoes” and he got the trail name “Fresh Feet.” This is a pretty fitting trail name since he also bought Listerine to soak his feet in tonight! The aqua socks were ditched at Becky’s and he now has the new croc-type shoe that will dry more quickly. We have realized the things that dry quickly is of absolute utmost importance out here.
This evening Becky then took us out to eat at an adorable organic vegan/vegetarian restaurant called Hive. It was SO GOOD!
She also invited her neighbor who thru hiked the trail last year and we got to chat with her and ask questions and hear her stories. We went out for a beer after dinner at a small brewery with live music and got home close to 10:00 pm! (9:00 pm is considered “hiker midnight”)
Jamie still needed to treat his new shoes and socks with permethrin and we needed to fold up our clean laundry and pack our bags and get to sleep! In all the packing things up Jamie dropped two of the tent stakes in the slots in the wooden deck! We were miraculously able to recover one, but are down a tent stake which is kind of a problem because our tent is not freestanding and needs the tent stakes to hold it upright. A stick will have to do(?)
I also downloaded the Guthook app for the AT on my phone which is amazing! It will tell us how far we are until the next point of interest at any given time and has multiple map options including one for elevation which is really helpful. It is super convenient and I’m so excited to use it!
Day 7: Port Clinton to Eckville Shelter (14.8 mi)
Late start this morning (8:50 am). Very steep and long uphill right off the bat. Packs felt super heavy with our resupply and it was SO hard to get out of such a warm, soft, and comfortable bed this morning. Had avocado toast at Becky’s house and drank our morning smoothies half-way up the climb.
I started feeling pretty faded at the top. Chief complaint being tired and wilted. Jamie gave me some Cliff shot blocks with caffeine (yay sugar and caffeine!) and it brought me back to the world of the living.
After 6ish miles we got to Windsor Furnace Shelter. Saw a nice long and healthy snake make its way across the path to the shelter.
Jamie gathered water at the creek just before the shelter in our gallon “dirty water Sawyer bag” and upon arriving to the shelter to filter it, the bag broke! Luckily it was at the top and we have TWO extra 2L water bladders, and we were able to use the gravity filter method to filter it (couldn’t squeeze the bag with the rip in it. Normally we squeeze the bag of dirty water through the filter into our drinking containers - the “squeeze” method). Then, as we were filling our drinking containers, jamie realized his hose to his bladder was missing :(
We pushed on and got to some beautiful overlooks on the rocky ridge. With that also brings lots of Boulder fields and rocks of all kinds all day. My feet were killing me all day.
I somehow got a second wind and the last 3.5 miles we ran/walked into the shelter. It was easy trail for this last section and a gradual downhill for the most part, so with the help of gravity and the absence of boulder fields, it felt fun and runable.
We got to Eckville shelter were there is a caretaker, a flush toilet, cold shower, trash cans, and a small shed turned into bunkhouse with six bunks in it. We were late coming in, so didn’t get a bunk. We set up camp, cooked dinner, met some other hikers, and rolled my feet on the trigger point ball I brought. Jamie even gave me a foot massage and was shocked at how “clean” my feet are (guess I have the fresh feet!)
Thank you to a fellow hiker who gave us an extra tent stake!
Day 8 Eckville shelter campsite to New Tripoli campsite (13.3 mi)
It rained pretty hard last night and we had some tent leaking on the bottom and from the top, but mostly stayed dry. We got a late start this morning as we waited out the early morning rain and were on trail by 8:45 am. Started out the day with a big climb and then quite a few boulder fields. My feet felt ok until about 6 miles in. It was a drizzly morning and the slick rocks made it quite difficult to balance. We slipped a lot and my pole slipped out from under me on one of the boulder scrambles.
I put the poles away after 4 miles, but then I slowed way down on the rocks due to the slickness and the lack of balance without the poles. Carrying the pack really throws off my balance while boulder scrambling.
I saw a beautiful doe and fawn! Made me so happy! At the same time, I realized how many gunshots I’ve been hearing. Every single day the sound of guns being shot (probably at targets) fills the sound of the woods and I truly detest it. :(
Got to a shelter around 1:00 pm and took a shoes off “lunch break” with some other hikers. We had our seaweed power wraps and our soylent smoothies.
After lunch it was tough to keep walking, the terrain was easier than in the morning, but my feet were so achy and hurt so much in the mid foot and heel. I called my sisters and talked with them some and it really helped the miles pass and take my mind off the foot pain.
We got to the Blue Mountain Inn (11 mi) where we decided to take a break in the restaurant and have some fried pickles and fries. Then we wrapped up the day with an easy two mile finish to a tent site near a power line with another hiker from Austin, named “Grasshopper.”
We will be recording some of our thoughts to a podcast, our first very “raw
podcast is up, check it out ;) http://www.jackiejamie.com/podcasts