AT Duncannon to Palmerton, PA

5/4 18.3 miles

Porcupine hustling away

I got a ride 18.3 miles north of Duncannon, and slack packed back to the Doyle Hotel. Slack packing is day hiking. It was quite weird hiking against traffic. I counted 23 hikers and a dog in the first wave, then after an hour 3 guys I knew, including Silva and Splash, yay! I did see wildlife, including my first tortoise, ever, on a trail. It was so nice to carry no weight through the stinking rocks. I made it back to the Doyle in time for another delicious meal, breakfast was great this morning too. The renovations are going great, but I like the creaky wooden floors and transoms over the room doors.

5/5 14.9 miles

A beautiful day, I got another shuttle ride from Marlene back out the 18 trail miles I’d slack packed the day before and headed NOBO. I only saw 2 hikers, including the guy with the dog I’d seen yesterday who was camped early near the Raush Shelter. There were 2 ear splitting hours of flight training overhead, separated by an hour of no flying. Around and around and around, intensely loud, while I’m walking through green forest. I found a lovely tent site about 5 pm and nobody passed me. I could hear the usual target shooting practice within a mile and the hum of not so distant highway noise. Ah, the AT. It’s going to starting raining in early morning and continue for 2 solid days, at least it’s warm.

5/6 11.8 miles

Started out in my rain gear over shorts, not cold. Then I climbed up to the ridge after a bunch of road crossings, an historic bridge and non-stop road noise where a breeze, cool, chilled me. My rain gear soaked through and I could feel imminent hypothermia. Finally made it to the William Penn Shelter, about 10 miles in, at noon. It was empty so I crawled upstairs out of the rain, stripped down, blew up my Thermarest and crawled into my sleeping bag to get warm. 2 hours later I could think. I checked my Far Out app (formerly GutHook App), found a shuttle driver, Dave. I texted and asked if he could get me from the next road access in 2 miles, either in the morning or this afternoon. Yup. So I reserved a motel room in Pine Grove for 2 nights, which is how long the relentless rain is supposed to last. I quickly walked the 2 miles to the road where Dave got me! It feels so good to be out of the rain, warm. I ate my Packit Gourmet Texas State Fair Chili dinner in my room!

Historic bridge
Not going in that tunnel
More lovely trail scenery

5/7 Zero

I ventured out in full rain gear to go to the Dollar Store and later to the Diner. That’s it. Rain.

5/8 Mother’s Day 16.9 miles

Got a shuttle back out to the trail. It was a hard day, rocks, but gloriously sunny.

You guessed it—the Trail

5/9 13.2 miles

More trail

F*ing rocks. But because of the unscheduled zero, I had to make a new plan. I have a box in Hamburg at the motel and they couldn’t change my reservation to Monday from Sunday so I can’t get there till Tuesday. So why did it take me 8 hours to go just 13.2 miles? Steep, slippery downs, brutal piles of rocks, constant pointy rocks killing my feet, is why. I camped just a mile from the road to Hamburg.

5/10 1.2 miles Hamburg, PA

World’s largest Cabela’s

I got my ride, thanks Barb! I dropped my pack at the motel, too early for check in with the surly crew. Then Barb took me to Cabelas —wow! Dead animals from all over the world—lions, elephants, polar bears—as well as the local dead animals. And live fish in fake streams and an aquarium. I wandered for quite awhile, picking up some dehydrated dinners to add to the boxes I’m going to ship ahead. I walked to Walmart, bought more resupply, then back to the Microtel, and checked in. I Ubered to the post office a couple miles away and packed a couple large flat rate boxes and sent them up the trail. Then walked back to the motel for a delicious burger and local brew, 1787, APA. So I guess I actually walked quite a few more miles than noted, but they don’t count because they’re not trail miles.

5/11

High school group—great kids!
But I camped here, lovely, quiet

Back to the trail and not a terrible day. Many more rock challenges but along the way I met a truly nice high school group from Philly out for an overnight. I talked with the teacher a bit, he’s been taking a group of students out this same stretch for 11 years. of course that made me think back to Anne, teacher at my kids amazing Polaris K-12 public school in Anchorage, AK and the backpack trips I got to help chaperone with her middle and high school students. Thanks Anne!

Nonetheless, after I got water at the shelter they were going to camp at, I pushed on less than a mile and found a quiet, long unused but established campsite all to myself.

5/12 20+miles to Palmerton, PA

Well I wasn’t planning on even going into Palmerton, but when I got to my destination water source at the last shelter before a road, it kinda sucked. Yes I found a tent site by myself after picking up water, but it was extremely road noisy and only 2.4 easy miles from a hostel. I called, they had several bunks available so I got there by 6:30. I talked 3 hikers there into going to dinner with me. Fun! With Ness (aka Necessary Evil), 64, Dead Eye, 18, and Anubis, 32. Then we walked back, I showered and shared a garage with beds in it and fellow hikers Palladin, retired orthopedic surgeon (and who Hot Rod and I camped next to Day 1) and Pozzi (solar energy guy).

Appalachian Trail 2022: Flip Flop

Team Big Alaska at USASA Nationals 2022
Me working on the Boardercross Course with Olympic Gold Medallist and volunteer Nick Baumgartner

Had a great time at the 2022 USASA National Championships! Team Big Alaska killed it. And I was so glad to be back working with the best team in the business on the Boardercross/Ski Cross venue. The last Nationals we held was in 2019 so this was the first big get together for the 30+ separate USASA Series from across the US. Fantastic reunion.

I’m flying to Washington DC in a few days, then taking Amtrak to Harper’s Ferry, WV to start the Appalachian Trail (AT). I plan to hike northbound (NOBO) 1000 miles to Mt Katahdin in Maine, then get myself back to Harper’s Ferry and hike southbound (SOBO) to Springer Mountain in Georgia, another 1000 miles.

Why a Flip Flop hike rather than start at one end and go to the other? Maybe I’m being silly, but the bottom line is I don’t want to be hiking with crowds, worrying about finding a tent site or a bed in a hostel. I do want to have other hikers around me though. I like people. I had the same fear of being crowded out when I started the PCT NOBO in 2015, but it didn’t take all that long for me to find myself in a spread out pack of copacetic hikers going more or less my pace. Over the course of 5 months, people I knew kept turning up after vanishing for a few days or weeks. Even if I hadn’t seen someone I knew in days on the trail, I’d get to a town and just by hanging out in one place for a day or so, people would appear. It was great!

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is putting on a Flip Flop Festival in Harper’s Ferry with speakers and helpful hints and pack shake downs. I’m hoping to meet other hikers heading out after the hiker breakfast, not to formally join forces with immediately but to get to know. I had a good experience last spring on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), rehiking the first few hundred miles with the Warrior Expedition guys, Kids Out Wild, and other hikers doing our approximate miles and pace.

The AT is going to be challenging for me on many levels. I’m going to have to face my fears. Yes, I have a ton of experience hiking. Things I’m not afraid of include camping solo, bears, hitching to towns, and going hungry. I’ve been warned by friends who’ve hiked the AT, friends I’ve spent the most time on trail with, and who know me well, Puff Puff and the Ravens, that I’m going to hate the rain and the pointless up and downs (PUDs) amongst other challenges. Forewarned, right? Stay tuned….