I made it into PA around 5:30pm yesterday, after being dumped on by a sudden afternoon thunderstorm. I found cover under a pavillion at Pen Mar County Park at mile 1063. Like a hobo, I set about the task of making dinner, cooking mashed potatoes on a nearby steel trash can.
The picnic tables were painted, and generally, alcohol stoves lit on top of painted surfaces will catch said surface on fire. There is a reason all of the picnic tables on the AT are bare wood, and many now have small steel plates for cooking.
As I thought might happen, my activities attracted the attention of two nearby grounds keepers. They seemed more entertained than upset, so I asked for the nearest electrical outlet. Not only did they tell me, they provided a full weather report as well. Their main concern was that I might be planning to camp there, and they seemed relieved when I told them I had five miles to go.
After dinner I called home, and talked briefly with both of my sisters and my mom. The trail has been extremely lonely since my return, and it was nice to have someone to talk to. The main bubble of Nobo’s is two or three days ahead of me, and it’s been strange rolling into empty shelters at night.
Just before I reached the Mason-Dixon a passing section hiker remarked:
“With that beard you look like you’ve been out here for months!”
Proudly, I replied that I had, and answered the usual battery of questions. I finished the day just shy of 21 miles.
I’m currently in Fayetteville, PA for resupply and possibly new shoes. My beloved Altras began to split yesterday evening, only a few miles into the state. They’ve been flawless for five hundred miles, so I cannot complain. I guess it’s true what they say about this land of rocks.
I just got a great hitch into town from an older dude with a ponytail. Old hippies with vans and long hair, as well as old vets with pickups, have comprised nearly every ride I’ve gotten on the trail. I’ve pondered that for many a mile.
I’m sitting in the cathedral of consumption itself, Walmart, and feeling the carb crash from too much Subway. Time to resupply and get back on trail.