15, 1983 Friday (1033.7 mtg) From
Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal
marked the two-month anniversary of the start of my hike. I am over
half way to my goal, yet it still seems so far away. I am now in
Pennsylvania, known for its' legendary "Rock Monster,"
the one that eats your boots and cripples many hikers. The whole
section of trail in this state has a reputation of being one of
the nastiest parts of the Appalachian Trail. With this in the back
of my mind, and the prospect of the heat wave that seemed to be
settling in over us and drying up all the springs along the trail,
I was not looking forward to continuing. Regardless, this morning
I was up and ready to go - first stop, the post office to check
one last time for mail. I was disappointed to find, once again,
that there was no package for me. I gathered the letters and post
cards that I had written, and boxed up some unneeded stuff to be
sent home, and proceeded to send them off. Just as I was on my way
out, the postmaster caught my attention and handed me a package
that had just arrived and been sorted. It was a package from Dave
Szabo! I quickly wrote him a card, mailed it, and stepped out into
the morning heat. I attempted to refresh myself by buying a "farewell
to Duncannon" A & W Rootbeer, but had to settle for a Frostie
Rootbeer instead. I did not receive the package Mom had sent to
Duncannon, PA that contained some Agfa Film, probably some insect
repellant, and other items now forgotten.
The trail first crossed the Juniata River on PA 849 and then the
Susquehanna River on the Clarks Ferry Bridge, turned right and began
the climb up Peters Mountain. I don't know who this Peter was,
but I know his mountain seemed to show up everywhere just like
Brushy Mountain in Virginia. The initial climb to the crest was
the only really bad part. Once I reached the crest the trail followed
it in a nearly straight line with little elevation change for many
miles according to the profile map. It was a hot, tough climb out
of the valley, and then seemed to become a jump from boulder to
boulder for a while. So much for the level easy grade along the
crest. I moved on to Earl Shaffer Shelter, which was only nine miles
out of Duncannon, where I had intended to spend the night. I met
many hikers there including Julie
Settle and Eric Olson, and Claudia
Gross and Frank
"The Merry Slav" Krajcovic. I figured I would need
some water, so I began the journey to the spring down a side trail
near the shelter. The guide book says that water is difficult to
obtain at this shelter. They were not kidding, I went down, down,
down, over very rocky trail to find the spring which surprisingly
was a very good one. The climb up was just as bad, and I probably
drank the majority of the water I gathered to replace the water
I lost in sweat.
I sat around in the heat until about three o'clock when it suddenly
hit me - there are too many people at this shelter! (Apparently
more arrived later as I found out in 2012 that Marcel Montville
and Mark Dimicelli also stayed there that night.) I packed up my
gear and took off hoping to make Rausch Gap Shelter by nightfall.
What was I thinking?! It was another 17 miles to that shelter, and
I was starting at 3 pm? That gave me roughly five hours to cover
those miles before darkness began to set in. I boogied and boogied.
I began by traversing the crest of Peters Mountain for the next
six miles. A nasty drop-off from that mountain of almost 1000 feet
brought me to the floor of Clark's Valley, where I crossed PA 325,
and then began the ascent up part of Stoney Mountain and further
on to follow the crest of Sharp Mountain for the remainder of the
day. I just hiked and hiked, with little to no stopping. I even
passed up a big rattlesnake on the trail near the Yellow Falls Village
site, but it seemed to ignore me as it slithered southward on the
trail and I continued north on my quest for Rausch Gap Shelter.
I couldn't take the time to stop and chat, I just said "Hi"
as I passed. I could sense the impending nightfall as the light
level began to dim. I had just under five miles to go.
at the Shelter, also known as "The Halfway Hilton" at
about 8:15 pm or so to find "Fuzzy
"The Yak" Berlin, a female hiker named Terry
Zimmerman, and "Roving Mike" Svetecz, a schoolteacher
from Allentown who was the only non-thru hiker of the bunch. Too
tired to cook, I ate granola and drank lots and lots of water. The
shelter was known as the Halfway Hilton since it was "roughly"
halfway to Katahdin from Georgia, and it sported a nice rock patio
with an aquaduct that brought the spring water right in front of
the shelter. A nice touch. The company brought a sense of joviality
to the place as there seemed to be continuous laughter while the
evening drew to a close. The night air did not provide much relief
from the afternoon heatwave, and despite wearing myself out on my
mad dash to the shelter, I slept little, mostly because the raccoons
on the rampage around the shelter looking for food kept me awake.
and seven tenths of a mile total for the day, plus a tough trip
to the spring at Shaffer shelter (This shelter is now part of the
exhibits at the Appalachian Trail Museum in Gardner, PA.) The best
part was that I caught up with a fun group of hikers. Mike, the
local, had so much fun, he told us that he would meet us at the
Allentown Shelter in four days and bring party supplies.
went to the post office in Highland, Illinois today and sent out
a package to me containing the items we discussed yesterday and
sent it first class to me at Delaware Water Gap, PA (cost $3.21).
Feb 25, 2012 from Marcel Montville: Terri Zimmerman started the
trail in Georgia hiking with another nurse as her partner, presumably
Tina Detwiler, she continued on solo after Tina quit about half
way through based on the fact that they appear together in a photo
taken at Harper's Ferry ATC headquarters.)
The Rausch Gap Shelter was rebuilt
in 2011 - 2012 and many of it's unique features were kept. See
Original shelter built in 1973. The whole project can be seen
in a slideshow at http://www.bmecc.org/rausch_gap_work.html
thanks to the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club.
Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983