It was the first of July and after staying the night at Raven Rock Shelter, we putted along until we reached the side trail to High Rock. High Rock is a cliff-side covered in graffiti which is better known for hang-gliding.
We returned to the trail, which started to get a bit rocky. Previously, the trail through Maryland had been really flat, but we had to climb down some boulders and tread over more rocks once we reached the bottom of the mountain.
Once we made it out of the woods, we entered Penn Mar County Park, where we took a break with a few other hikers. A man approached us and offered us Gatorade (one of the things I crave the most on the trail), which he had stocked up in the bed of his truck, so we all took him up on his offer.
His name was Soggy, and he was a previous section hiker who lived in the area and liked to help out hikers every hiking season. He was willing to give rides into town, and we wanted to go to Waynesboro (Pennsylvania, not Virginia), however we wanted to get across the border first. We worked out a plan for him to pick us up at PA-16 which was 3 miles up the trail. Soggy is awesome, so he agreed to meet us there after he finished handing out trail magic.
We took a short walk back into the woods where we would cross the Mason-Dixon line into Pennsylvania!
Three miles later, we reached the intersection and waited. Soggy showed up and we were stoked! He took Refill, Cautious, Frisbee and I to Applebee’s where we grubbed and enjoyed a couple beers. Soggy was a big Civil War buff and wanted to show us around nearby Gettysburg, and had mentioned there were some good places to drink around town too. Refill was interested in getting to a bar the next day since there was a huge football (soccer) game between Germany and Italy. We saved Soggy’s phone number and told him we’d be in touch once we got to Shippensburg Road, which was about 1 1/2 days of hiking away. Soggy had to take off, but offered to take us back. We wanted to have a couple more beers and to stock up at the nearby Walmart, so we thanked him and told him we’d find a way back to the trail.
I remained seated at the table, so the waitress wouldn’t think we were dodging on the tab, while the guys grabbed all of our gear out of his truck. I overheard a woman who was entering the building with her husband and older son say that she didn’t, “want to sit at the same table that they had sat at,” after passing them by. I take it they smelled bad, so this made me laugh. You tend to not smell the BO wafting off other hikers after about a couple weeks on the trail. You become immune to it, only smelling yourself on occasion, but rarely the stench of others.
We had heard that Wokman had just arrived in Waynesboro, after he had been trying to catch up to us by thumbing it town to town. He had wanted to stay the night there, but we encouraged him to get a ride to the Applebee’s, and then told him we were resupplying and hiking onward. He was desperate to convince us that we didn’t want to hike today, so we would stay in town, and we convinced him to hike with us much to his dismay.
We resupplied, then I picked up a hitch out front of the Walmart. He was an older gentleman who said that he and his wife used to let hikers stay the night at their place, but had stopped doing so after they let the wrong people into their home and found some of their household items had been stolen. I apologized for our smell, and he said he didn’t notice. I think he was just trying to be nice; we clearly smelled awful! He took us to grab a couple beers at the store to chug down at the road crossing before we continued our hike, then dropped us off. I had to poo, so I left the guys there with their beers and told them I’d meet them at the next shelter. The next shelter and the few afterwards would be doubled up. By that I mean, instead of one shelter which usually holds about 6-8 people on average, there were two shelters which held about 4 each.
It was an intense climb to Chimney Rocks, but we got a nice view once we got there.
We had all separated since Waynesboro. Wok kept hiking on passed Chimney Rocks, we lost Cautious who was somewhere behind us, and Refill had developed a habit of night hiking during the Shenandoah’s since he preferred the cooler temperatures, so he decided to lag behind.
We had planned to hike about 6 miles more to the Rocky Mountain Shelters, although it felt much further. It was getting dark, but we eventually arrived. We weren’t too happy about the steep walk down to the shelter, but Wok was waiting there. He had been in a debate over burning trash versus packing out trash with the rangers who were staying in the shelter next to us. It was a long day and I slept well.
We were pressed for time today, as we were meeting Soggy in a given time frame at Shippensburg Road, about 14 miles ahead. We weren’t exactly in a rush, but we couldn’t afford to be lollygagging.
On our trek, we passed through Caledonia State Park, then took a break at Quarry Gap Shelters. Once again, this was one of the nicer shelters out there, and of course we timed our hike poorly. There were board games, flower pots, an awning over the picnic table, and a swinging bench.
Refill had stayed the night there and was breaking down camp. I was hurting, and we were ahead of schedule, so we relaxed for a little bit. Some old friends that we hadn’t seen since around Trail Days, Nomad, her pup Rosa Barks, and Eeyore, showed up behind us and we were excited to see them.
Since around the time we were in Front Royal, we had been discussing “kidnapping” some hikers and taking them back home with us, since we still were fairly close to home, for a 4th of July celebration. We invited them, a new friend Big Red who had been hiking with them, and had planned to take Wok, Cautious, Refill, and a few others. We had a few friends from back at home who were willing to lug our stinky butts there, but had limited vehicular space to cram all the other hikers in with their packs.
Nomad and Eeyore said they would meet us at Shippensburg Road when we got back from Gettysburg. We asked them to tell Cautious to wait there too, since that was the place our friends were picking everyone up at the next morning, and he wouldn’t be making it in time to go to Gettysburg with us. The remaining terrain was pretty flat, and Wok ended up catching up. The four of us arrived at the meeting place and waited to Soggy who was right on time.
Total AT Mileage: 1,078.8 miles
Number of Hiking Days: 78
Number of Zero Days: 18
Average Mileage per Day Total: 13.8 miles
Average Mileage this Chapter: 17.1 miles (2 days)
Longest Hiking Day: 26.2 miles (Groundhog Creek Shelter, NC/TN to Hot Springs, NC)
Shortest Hiking Day: 3.5 miles (mile mark 802.6 to Buena Vista, VA)