28 April 2021. Day 31. 14.8 Miles + 363.4 Miles = 378.2 Miles. Pen-Mar Road to Rocky Mountain Shelters. Here Come the Black Gnats!

07:45 Trail Angel Soggy (Chris Vores) and his mother Pat

In the morning we said our goodbyes to Pat while Soggy was gone to pick up a hiker who had called for help. He was also going to pick up Feral the female hiker from Florida who had started her hike at Harper’s Ferry.

About 30 minutes later he came back with a hiker named Michelle who was from Akron, Ohio. I believe that she had also begun hiking at Harpers Ferry. We all traveled together for breakfast which was excellent.

09:38. Through Hiker Michelle with Soggy

If you want an inspirational story about fighting through the odds in order to follow your dream then Michelle would be the subject. It’s a medical story so that aspect of it won’t be told but it literally took years of physical treatment for her to begin this quest. She has begun slowly which is exactly what she needs to do but I can tell you that none of this trail is easy. Even the flat sections make up for easy by sheer distance of miles hiked per day. In Michelle’s case her commitment is as much emotional as physical and it speaks well to her dedication that she is out here making it happen. She rode with us to the trailhead and I took this picture as we headed up the trail into Pennsylvania.

10:56. J.D. Glockengolden

Our hike didn’t begin until 09:40 because of breakfast so we had some time to make up. A little over an hour later we came upon this fellow formerly from Chicago but now from New York City. He attempted to explain how he got his trail name but for the life of me I’m still scratching my head. It’s something to do with his mother wanting to send him a Glock from Chicago to New York City for protection. I guess that might have been a good idea since we know that Chicago is a very safe city when it comes to shootings. I’ve got no idea about why Golden is in his name.

11:06. Gaitkeeper and his Wife Kelly

Next we found two day hikers named Gaitkeeper and his wife Kelly. He explained that he is the hiker and she isn’t much into it. Instead she is into raising horses and somehow the word Gait is involved in that. She seemed satisfied with the explanation of how he was including her in his hiking so we let it slide.

12:04. Taking a Break at Deer Lick Shelters

For the first time in awhile I was actually wearing shorts. It had warmed up quite a bit yet there was still a decent breeze depending on which side of each mountain we were on. The breeze was warm and welcomed on this first day of really working up a sweat. As hikers we are basically whiners. When it’s hot we love the wind….. when it’s cold we hate it.

On this dayI found A & A taking a break at Deer Lick Shelter. I happily joined them for a break and snack.

12:43. A Wild Moose Spotted on the Trail

It didn’t take long for them to be ahead of me again. I was lost in my thoughts when I saw them standing together in a cluster. Action had his index finger to his mouth displaying the universal “shush” sign. ” Quiet! It’s a moose!” We were not far enough North yet for that but my keen eyes saw that they were attempting to pull the old magic moose on a post trick on me. Anyone could see that it was obviously a camel.

13:35 Having Lunch on Little Antietam Creek

Because of the late start we didn’t eat until about 13:30. We came upon two girls who had been hiking with Michelle. They moved on but the spot was too nice to pass up for lunch. I sat on the bank of Little Antietam Creek and ate while thinking about how this waterway would eventually wind its way down and through the battlefield.

15:49. Climbing to the top of The Chimney Tops in Pennsylvania

When I think of Pennsylvania I think more of the beautiful expanses of richly green farmland than I do of mountains. It is not, however, without beautiful views. The three of us climbed to the top of the Chimney Tops in order to take in this one. We have taken the time to take most of these side trails. That has not been the case for some of these 30 miles a day hikers. Just don’t ask us to go visit graffiti.

23:45 The Moon From Within My Shelter

Finally a warm night. I had this shelter to myself. I don’t even remember why I didn’t put up my tent. Oh! I do remember! This was a two shelter site and no one but us was there. It was scheduled to rain! They took one shelter and I took the other.

In the middle of the night I awoke to what seemed like daylight. Sometimes that happens when you crawl into your sleeping bag at 19:00 hours. You wake up at midnight thinking it’s morning.

But on this night I could crawl back into my sleeping bag content in the knowledge that it would be hours before I would need to “hike on”.

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