ice Cream Lady, Bonnie Schipe

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July 13, 1983 Wednesday (1067.9 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

This morning I followed the blue-blazed trail back to the Appalachian Trail from Moyer's Campground. I proposed to cover almost twenty-three miles today, the last fifteen or so would be the infamous Cumberland Valley roadwalk. The heat of the summer was not in my favor, although I suppose it could have been worse. I guess I just needed a drink to prepare myself for this when I arrived at Whiskey Springs a short two miles down the trail. I "cameled" up at the spring and set off again. In a few short miles I reached Welcome Hill, and began the minor ascent before beginning the descent to Cumberland Valley. The bridge over Yellow Breeches Creek signalled the beginning of the long blacktop country road that would lead me across the populated farming valley. There are a few good things about the roadwalk such as the fact that there would be no hills to slow me down. I should be able to get across the valley in well under six hours. I would hopefully have to stop roughly half way through to visit "the Ice Cream Lady" if she was at home.

I noticed some raspberries growing along the road as I began the first part of the walk and stopped to pick a few to eat. Not too far from there I came across one of the few shade trees along the roadway known as "Halfway Sycamore." It is one of the largest sycamore trees that I had ever seen, and the canopy provided much needed shade from the afternoon sun. It is known as "Halfway Sycamore" because at one time this tree was roughly the halfway point along the entire Appalachian Trail. It is still close, but I put the halfway point back at Pine Grove Furnace State Park according to the data book this year.

I continued along the pavement, now beginning to really soften in the suns rays making each step harder to lift my boots off of the sticky tar. Eventually the heat waves glimmering off the black pavement gave way to the little house that I was looking for. I stepped off the road and ventured to the front door to see if anyone was home. A pleasant young lady opened the door and told me to go around to the back of the house and she would be out in a few minutes. I went back and settled down in a chair under the little shaded oasis provided by a patio umbrella under which I sat and received my ice cold lemonade followed by what she was famous for: any hiker stopping by and chatting for a while received a bowl of ice cream. That was just what I needed after the first part of this blazing hot road walk. She was interested in anything that I had to say, and probably could have told stories she had heard from other hikers for hours. She gave information to me about the upcoming trail in the valley such as the grocery store a few miles farther along was no longer in business. I could not stay long, the heat of the afternoon was not getting any cooler. It was probably the hottest part of the afternoon, but I went on my way after thanking her and photographing the legendary "Ice Cream Lady" - Bonnie Shipe.

My boots were sticking to the tar like I was walking on flypaper as I trudged along the remaining section of the road walk. I took the road walk around "Poison Ivy Creek" rather than attempting the suspended cable crossing over the water. The poison ivy was so thick there was no way to cross without touching it. I did not want to get Poison Ivy at this time, and register entries had noted that the two cables were covered at the ends with the poisonous plants. The road was an acceptable alternative, and was much safer in all respects; however, I would have liked to have tried the cable crossing just to see if I could shimmy across with my feet on one cable and holding on with my hands on the other just like in the army. Yeah right!

At the end of the road walk, before the final ascent to Darlington Shelter on the side of Blue Mountain, I picked up a gallon of water to haul to the shelter, where there was no water. I spent the remainder of the afternoon lying around the shelter in the blistering heat of summer. I was entertained by a register entry left by a hiker whose trail name was "Fuzzy Jim." He apparently had bought some Generic Cheerios at the last grocery store and found them to be unpalatable. Fed up with inferior products, he had tossed the remainder of the "O's" onto the floor and indicated that he would never again buy imitation Cheerios. Fuzzy Jim was also the author and artist who penned the comic strip that showed up in virtually every trail shelter register along the trail that kept many of us in good spirits, and yearning to find out what adventures "Anglehead" would get into next. I was gaining on him and possibly would catch him soon.

Tomorrow would be a short day of only eleven and a half miles into the town of Duncannon, Pennsylvania.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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