19 May 2021. Day 42. 11.2 Miles + 505.5 Miles = 516.7 Miles. Stealth Site to Port Clinton. Vert T. Go Grabs Me by the Tail and Slams Me to the Ground

06:42. Big Wooly

As I arrived in a stealth camp site on the 18th I came upon a large man sitting on a log. I called out a “Hello” and he just looked at me. Obviously I was invading his space. I didn’t care. This was the only spot within reach. Besides in the evening quiet I had heard the sound of a engine which sounded exactly like the one at festivals where they make home made ice cream. I was wanting me some home made ice cream. I was planning a short hike into Port Clinton to get me some ice cream. I had to stay here!!!! I set up my tent and then walked over to him. He was still on his log. “Hi! I’m Defib.” He took a long look at me and then decided that I must be harmless. “I’m Big Wooly”. That was it…. end of conversation… I returned to my designated spot and wrote yesterday’s narrative.

About an hour later Rocketman came barreling into camp. “Pizza Cutter and Day Hiker came into the trail magic by PTL and Sue. They wanted hot dogs. Whoops I had eaten everyone of them!” At least they got cold drinks and chips.

08:38. Mayflower

The next morning I began my race to Port Clinton and resupply and ice cream. The town had no lodging but it allowed hikers to camp at the town pavilion. Rocketman had been scrambling the night before trying to find a place. There was a Microtel in Hamburg but it was filled due to a large construction job in the area. He kept trying.

I was actually talking to Jan ( while also sitting on a log) when this young lady came out from a side trail which led to the shelter I had been attempting to get to the night before. She smiled, said hello and moved on. When I finished talking with Jan I soon caught up with her. She was a retired Air Force Officer who was an engineer and responsible for making sure that private contractors met the specs that she drew up building missiles and rockets. She and her husband had just retired and since he was busy cleaning up “odds and ends” she decided to section hike the AT. Her trail name was Mayflower.

09:16. Type Two

Not long later I came upon this fellow struggling up a small incline. “These hills are killing me!” ” I’m 72 and can’t do like I usta!” We spoke for awhile and he was super personable. It turned out that he still works with Greer High School in South Carolina as an athletic trainer. I moved on wondering if I’d ever see him again. His name was Type 2. ….. and he was carrying the necessary equipment to deal with the problem.

10:10. Black Beauty

The snakes are now obviously out but this time it was a harmless but large beautiful black snake. He was in the trail but casually slithered into the woods as I approached.

10:58. Pennsylvania

This state has been so rocky I just stop to look at the spots that are not. I was feeling good and the knowledge that tonight was going to be a rest drove me forward.

11:38. Auburn Overlook

I was only two miles out from Port Clinton when the terrain began to drop into the valley below. It was gradual at first but soon it became a serious down. …….. a serious dangerous down. Gravel, large rocks, steps up to your calf. You were forced to look straight down and slide and grab anything available. More than once I thought that I was going to tumble salt head first down the mountain. Then Vert T. Go joined the party. I fought it and managed to throw myself backwards against the hill. I lay there spinning…..waiting for it to subside. An hour later I carefully resumed my climb down the last several hundred feet. I had no power to control my footfall.

For the first time I was actually frightened. The thought of not being able to continue entered my mind’s space. It ticked me off. One level above the train tracks was an old road which had become a bike trail. There was a bench which I was attempting to get to. A biker stopped to ask me if I was hiking the AT. I wanted to say yes in circles at the moment but instead I told him that I needed to get to that bench. After a few moments a stumbled down the last forty or so feet and found myself tripping across the tracks.

From there I hiked a half mile into town. I improved with every step. I knew that I was going to be ok. The town was ……… ghostly. A post office, a fire department, a barber, a restaurant/bar/hotel, and , of all things, a peanut shop which sold candy. The hotel was closed….. maybe in 1952. I walked into the bar and said I need food and fluid. They led me to the back and I downed several glasses of water and ate the biggest sandwich I’d ever seen. Healed I hiked to the pavilion and there was Rocketman. He was dodging bird droppings because they had taken over the rafters of the place.

As we were talking his phone rang. An opening at Microtel had happened and it was his . We were gifted a reprieve from the bird do!!!!

That was big because as you can see the neighbors were not keen on hikers. Rocketman had met a female hiker who spent the night there the previous night. Her name was Zipper. He was going to find her to ask her to join us because he knew that see was looking. I wandered up to the barber shop. I surrendered and got a trim. I had to admit….. it felt better. Now we were one suicidal shuttle ride from the motel but I’ll save that for tomorrow. For now a resupply, a meal and a bed was in our future.

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