July 6th 23018
Pine Grove Furnace State Park – Boiling Springs (mile 1122.7)
18.8 miles
Total miles: 1141.7


I heard Bryce packing up really early. He was panicking about getting caught camping in the park. He could hear people but it turned out to be some people come for a very early morning swim. A 5:30am swim! It is always easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission so I wasn’t too worried. But I was also awake now so I just got up. 

It was nice to have a bathroom with a flushing toilet and a sink to clean your teeth in in the morning. Bryce and I were on our way by 6am leaving the other two to continue packing up. It was a nice flat walk through the park to begin with and then we had to climb. After the uphill it was just gentle and flat and downhill so I managed to keep up with him. He always pulls away on the uphills but I catch him on the down. He turns around and can’t see me then all of a sudden I’m right behind him freaking him out! 

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It started to rain a bit just after we had decided to go another mile and take a break. Bryce suggested stopping at the shelter which was 0.2 off the trail and I saw that there was a little general store just 1.5 miles further than the shelter also 0.2 off the trail. Unlike the shelter the store would have soda. 

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So we carried on, over the railway lines and to the road where there was a big area of roadworks and went up to the general store. The side of the road was lined with all these beautiful flowers, which you never see on the trail! We had made 8 miles before 9am so we had time to get some food. I got a bbq chicken sub with sweet peppers, lettuce, tomato and cheese and it was so good but a little larger than I was expecting it to be!

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We sent messages to Peaches and Gusher to tell them where we were but when we didn’t see any sign of them we realised they must have carried on. I shovelled my food down so quickly I felt sick. I couldn’t even manage all my Mountain Dew, so I carried half of it with me. Bryce had some breakfast thing and then we carried on down the trail, the rain having stopped the forecast said there was a chance of rain until midday and then clear for the next 5 days! There were an older couple at the store and the guy was really rude to his partner when she was trying to look up the weather, so Bryce and I had a loud conversation about the weather to try and make her feel better. I felt sorry for her. He was a bit of an ass and the whole exchange between them was really awkward. 

We head back to the trail and passed the road works and onto Appalachian Trail Road, and back onto the trail. My hip belt felt as though it was pushing all my food upwards and it was pretty uncomfortable. We had a series of 5 climbs. The first two bigger than the last three, and none of them significant compared to previous parts of the trail but still uphill nonetheless. 

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Bryce moved on quickly and I slogged my way up the first climb feeling hot and uncomfortable and developing a stitch in my side. I passed the awkward couple and then passed another hiker. I was moving along fine. The trail wasn’t hard, just a few small rocks and a few roots but mostly nice. I made it up to the second climb and it started to get a whole lot rockier. More boulders. There is a thing called the rock scramble. This was it. 

Just as I got there the heavens opened and it poured down. I got my umbrella up and my rain kilt on and attempted the now very treacherous rock scramble. Not an easy thing to do when you’ve got an umbrella! I managed to just about scrape my way through the narrow rocks with it still up, and rather surprisingly I didn’t get too wet, even when I had to use my hands to pull myself up onto the rocks. At one point I had to launch my trekking poles forwards and try and haul myself up onto this boulder. There was a convenient flat bit to put your foot on but with wet rocks and zero upper body strength it took me three goes to heave myself up and over. The rest of it wasn’t too bad but I was conscious that one wrong move or a slip on the very slippy rocks could mean bad things. At one point the rain was so heavy I just stood in the shelter of one of the boulders and waited for it to pass over a bit. The water was running in a river down the trail. 

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I made it through safely, splashing my way through all the puddles that had developed on the trail and getting soaking wet feet. As I descended down the other side the rain stopped. Of course it did. 

The next three ups and downs weren’t so bad and I was able to move through quickly. I was getting a bit of a sore bit on my big toe which I think was from the wet sock combined with all the downhills and all the rocks. I had loosened my shoes because my foot was going numb and my foot was sliding forward and I was bashing my toe on the end of my shoe. I ignored it. 

I caught up to Peaches who had stopped to have something to eat and we walked together for a bit until we made it out of the forest and into a big meadow. There was a girl there walking her dog and a minute later when Peaches came out of the forest I heard squealing and realised that was her friend who had come to meet her in town. 

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I could see Bryce in the distance and decided to try and catch up to him and leave Peaches to catch up with her friend. The fields or meadows or whatever they are called here seemed to go on forever. We passed through some crops which I am assuming were corn fields. Flat walking makes your legs ache quickly and I was glad when I reached town. Bryce was about 2 minutes in front of me and I joined him on a bench by the lake and took my shoes and socks off giving my feet some much needed relief. He commented that my little toe was a bit weird and yes it is. The nail split in two so it looks a bit weird but I can deal with it. 

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We got to town at 1:50pm. So early! After Boiling Springs there is a 14 mile stretch where there is no water and no place to camp. We could have carried on and got that done this afternoon. Or I could have carried on and got that done this afternoon, but Peaches had her friend here and Bryce and Peaches are hiking together since about three weeks ago so they weren’t going any further. I am enjoying their company so I decided to stay in town. I have to average 18.5 miles a day to meet my goal and I’m on that so why not! 

Peaches friend – Megan, had a little dog – Ellie, who was just adorable and that really sealed the deal for me. We went to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy building, which didn’t have much to offer, it definitely wasn’t as good as the one in Harpers Ferry, but we can fill up our water there, and I spent a lot of time observing this hairy caterpillar thing. 

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We went over to a little cafe that serves Mexican food and there were at least 15 other hikers there. None of whom I recognised. I couldn’t decide if I was hungry or not but I got swayed by the others ordering food and ordered chicken nachos. They were nice, if a bit soggy towards the end. I have eaten so well today.

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We went over to the outfitter, all of these places are practically next door to each other, and we caught up with Gusher who was waiting for his family to arrive and he’s taking the day off tomorrow to go fly fishing. He wants to try and meet back up with us so maybe I’ll see him again or maybe I won’t. It was a nice little group while it lasted. We hung out by Megan’s van for a bit and she had brought beers and Mountain Dew – a request from Peaches just for me!! Unfortunately the pool in town was closed for repairs which was a shame because I would have loved to have jumped in that this afternoon and they had some great looking slides too. 

In the end we decided to go to Carlisle which is the next town about 8 miles down the road. Gusher, who we now call Gusher Simmonds – I would try and explain it to you but I’m pretty sure it’s one of those you had to be there things – met up with his family and the remaining three of us got in the back of the van and Megan drove us to Carlisle. 

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What a nice little town Carlisle is. One of those proper towns where the buildings are tall and joined together, which I managed to take no pictures of. We went to the Gingerbread Man where I had a couple of ciders. I’m not pretending I like beer anymore. The cider was nice. Peaches and Megan ordered food but I was full and a few of Peaches unfinished fries were enough. It wasn’t much of a hiker town so it was weird to be sat out with normal people just going about their normal lives. It was a Friday night so I’m imagining this place will get pretty pumping! 

It was getting late and we were getting sleepy after our early start so after a quick stop at a Crepe and Cake shop where I got a slice of Oreo cheesecake and Bryce got a pistachio cheesecake and Peaches was the only one who got a crepe after saying we wanted crepes. 

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We got back to Boiling Springs and found the campsite on the edge of town which was back down the trail we had already walked along (bonus miles!). It was dark by the time we got there and there were hundreds of fireflies jumping out of the hay field. It was mesmerisingly beautiful. I tried to capture it but it just didn’t work. 

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We set up our tents in an already very busy camp site. There must have been at least 12ish tents already set up. It was 9:45pm by the time I had got all my stuff out and I was lying down in my tent. I have developed a bit of a habit of not cleaning my teeth at night which is gross but my teeth felt like they were coated in so much sugar so I just brushed them inside my tent and spittooned it out of my door. 

It’s now 11pm and I’m still writing. Not that I stand much of a chance in getting a good nights sleep. We are literally next to the railway line and the train blasts its horn as it passes through town multiple times, and I think this happens multiple times through the night. I am almost resigned to the fact that I will be going to bed too late and waking up too early every day. I will just have to sleep a lot when the trail is over! 

I’m not sure how long this little trail family will last but it’s fun at the moment. I think it might last for a few more days yet. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 59

 

 


 

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