May 14, 2018
Destination: Birch Run Shelter Today's Miles: 23.20
Start Location: Deer Lick Shelters Trip Miles: 1093.60
I was so tired last night! The miles wore me out, and at one point I fell asleep with my headlamp still burning.
I slept well, but everything was damp when I woke up. I got my food bag down. It looked like I was the only one up. I went back to my tent, ate in the vestibule, and proceeded to get organized to hike. I broke down my soggy tent and saw Happy Feet eating breakfast at the picnic table. I walked over and packed up my pack there, chatting with her briefly. I noticed a large snail on a tree and took a picture of it as it snaked along, enjoying the moist morning. I would not be like the snail today - it was time to move on and hike!
The morning brought a few rabbits, deer, and a cool box turtle. The rain held off and there was only a light sprinkling or a foggy mist in the morning. I passed Old Forge Park and Tumbling Run Shelter. So far PA has some pretty amazing shelters! Tumbling run had two shelter buildings and a center pavilion with a covered picnic table. I hiked through the morning alone, sometimes running into people. I saw two monks leading a group of hikers southbound. I said hello and quickly figured out they must be doing some kind of vow of silence trip. Some sort of whispered hello back, but many gave a thumbs up or made a sign like “I can’t speak.”
As the morning turned to midday, the sun decided to come out of hiding. Not too long after, I walked into Caledonia State Park. I read that they have a concession stand, but when I walked into the park it was closed. They did have water fountains though, so I grabbed some water and took my pack off in an expansive sunny concrete area to dry some things out. In true hiker trash fashion, I spread my tent and wet stuff out all over the pavilion, and laid my sleeping bag out to crisp up in the sun. I sat in some nearby shade and ate lunch while watching two carpenter bees battle for turf. It was pretty brutal. In the end, one of the bees actually almost killed, or killed, the other bee. It sat there hovering by the bee making sure it wouldn’t get up and fly. Nature is so awesomely cruel sometimes!
I stayed for about an hour. When my stuff was dry I packed up and headed out into the hot sun. As I walked out of the park I heard someone call my name, turned around and it was Durwood! He was with two other guys. We caught up for a few minutes - it was good to see him again. After that I hiked up the hill and past another amazing shelter that actually had a porch swing and potted flowers. Apparently it has a caretaker!
It was a longish climb up and it started to thunder and sprinkle. Fortunately, the rain never got heavy. I passed a cool cabin called the Milesburn Cabin that apparently is for rental. I splashed my face in the creek there and moved on. I hiked past a thick, dark pine forest that was absolutely beautiful. It was so thick and dark and quiet beneath its humble canopy. Not long after, I arrived at Birch Run Shelter, my stopping point for the night. There was one north bounder I met in the Shenandoahs named Cody Coyote, a section hiker, and a family of flip floppers: Mom, Dad, son and grandmother all hiking the trail! We chatted while I made food and filtered water. I was pretty beat and decided to just sleep in the shelter as more rain was coming. As we drifted off to sleep, a whippoorwill landed on the shelter and started calling “whippoorwill “ over and over and over at the top of its lungs. It seriously sounded like some kind of whacky car alarm. Finally it went away after a comically long concert.
Today I was grateful for some sunshine and to be able to dry out my gear. I enjoyed the misty views of the forest and the sounds of the birds. Tomorrow I will reach the actual halfway point! I also have a decision to make: to half gallon challenge or not to half gallon challenge? I’ll decide tomorrow!
#1 - Ken, thanks for asking! We did catch up with Happy Feet. Also, we did get some storms but not too bad. It’s been kind of wet the last 3 days and seems like that will continue. It’s warm though!