Day 101 – June 16 – 21.2 miles – Mile Marker 1172.5 to 501 Shelter
The gunfire from the military base started up again during the night. It was loud enough to wake me up. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well.
It was overcast and cooler today. The trail was fairly easy and mostly unremarkable for most of the day.
My feet began to hurt earlier in the day than normal. It was because of the stupid rocks. I knew PA was going to be rocky but I was surprised at the type of rocks that were the trouble makers. The trail was filled with fist sized, and smaller, rocks that were embedded in the trail. If the rocks were larger, than at least we would have had flat spots to walk on. Because the rocks were so small, our feet were constantly flexing around them.
That’s not to say that we were completely miserable. The foot pain was not unexpected and there were still a few interesting things to see.
Stoat and I stopped at a stream to take a break. A few minutes later Rocket, Hamilton, Cash, and Songbird came by. They crossed a fallen log that acted as a bridge and took a break on the other side of the stream.
For some reason we began to throws stones at each other. We weren’t trying to hit each other, we were just trying to see how close we could get to hitting someone without actually hitting them. We were acting like little kids out in the woods. Maybe that’s what we had become over the last few months. Not exactly like kids though. I guess it felt more like we were reverting to our natural selves.
Several miles into the day we came to a footbridge made in 1890. It was interesting to look at and, more importantly, had a nice smooth wooden walkway.
After the bridge the trail followed a gravel road for a little bit before heading back into the woods.
The trail then led through a nice area with a lot of ferns. The trail began to get a little less rocky and I began to think that it may stay that way for a while. A few minutes later I found out I was wrong.
The boulder field actually wasn’t to bad, it just slowed us down a little. It was the smaller rocks just before, and a while after, the boulders that were the real problem. The smaller rocks were embedded on the trail with the pointy side up. I began to think that either the rocks or the trail builders were filled with a maliciousness previously unknown to mankind.
At some points the trail would bring us onto a fire road for a minute or two, only to branch off back onto pointy rocks again. Sometimes the trail would even parallel the fire road for a while. Leading me to believe the trail builders had a particularly sick sense of humor.
My foot pain actually made me walk faster. I decided I would rather have one long uninterrupted pain signal, rather then two pulsing pain signals. It was easier to tune it out that way.
We passed by a few views later in the day. We didn’t linger there long. We had our minds on the pizza at the 501 shelter.
When we got to the 501 shelter Flashfire and Zeus were already there, as well as Rockstar and Steam Machine (the other hikers from Germany). We immediately got a pizza order called in and it was soon delivered to a parking lot nearby.
As we were finishing our pizza it began to drizzle. Around that time Rocket, Hamilton, Cash and Songbird showed up. They decided to dine inside the shelter.
The cool thing about the 501 shelter was that it was fully enclosed and only section hikers and Thru Hikers were allowed to use it. The other cool thing about it was the skylight.
The building used to be owned by a potter who had built the building specifically for his craft. The pottery wheel was positioned directly beneath the skylight. The skylight let in so much light that the potter could sculpt by the light of a full moon.
We knew all this because the caretaker told us so when he came by. The caretaker let us know the rules and told us the history of the place. He said that the locals could camp anywhere except for the 501 and to let him know if anyone came in who looked like trouble. After his brief speech he went back to his house to let us talk amongst ourselves.
It was good to talk to Rocket and Hamilton again. Today was their last day on trail before taking a 7 – 10 day break to go to, separately, weddings and graduations. We would most likely never see them again.