This 19.7 mile N-S linear backpacking trip took place the weekend
of September 11-12, 2004. Participants were Charlie Johnson, Bill and Chris
Isham, Christine DiLapi, Paul Eyster, Ed Bockhoefer and me
Saturday, September 11, 2004- It was sad driving towards Pine Grove Furnace State Park, PA and hearing on the radio about the events of 9/11 happening 3 years ago at that very moment in time. I almost felt guilty about going on this backpacking trip. But I felt that we have to go on with our lives and not give into these people. So I became re-energized and ready for the hike.
I arrived at about 8:40AM at the Pine Grove State Park office. Christine DiL was already there. We talked for a few minutes. Then, Paul E and Ed B pulled in. They were hiking with us for the first time. Shortly afterwards, Bill I, Chris I and Charlie J pulled in. We were all there. Now, all we had to do was register the cars that were going to stay at this end of the hike, stage them, drive to the other end of the hike and begin. So we did.
We staged 2 cars at the ATC regional office at Boiling Springs after getting permission from them to do so a month earlier. We were off and hiking around 10AM. The first few miles would have us traversing among flat, open fields planted with corn and soy beans. Then, we started the ups and downs. I knew that this first day wasn't going to be easy. We had about 12 miles to cover and would be doing some 500 foot climbs. It wasn't excessively hot, probably low to mid eighties, but it was humid. We went up over Center Point Knob, then down to Whiskey Spring RD, then up to PA94, then up to PA34, then down to Hunters Run RD and then a slight up to the James Fry Shelter. This shelter is sometimes called Tagg Run because a stream of the same name is close by. Unfortionately, Tagg Run was polluted, seemed to be full of phosphates from the 60's.
The shelter itself was about 4 or 5 years old. It looked a little like the Denton Shelter on the AT in VA. There was a spring nearby. It was clear but did not have alot of water in it. Christine DiL arrived at the shelter first, the rest of us trickling in afterwards. Some of the group were making fun of some of my euphisms that I use on the trail. I kept on hearing calls from others in the distance of '3 more miles!' or 'just a few blips' or 'we're almost there'. These are terms that I use to urge others on during a hike. But it looks like they've figured me out.
We had to hustle to get the tents set up and get dinner cooked as it would be dark by around 8PM. We had a pleasant dinner, some good conversation and were ready to get some sleep by 9PM. We were tired after this day.
Sunday, September 12, 2004- It stayed fairly warm during the night. I don't think it got below 60 degrees. We got up around 7AM, ate, had some interesting conversation and were on the trail around 9ish. Today would be a little different than yesterday in that we basically had a 3.5 mile up, then a 3.5 mile down to the end of this hike. The up was a long pull but not a difficult one.
We made it to the top, then started a long down towards our cars and Pine Grove Furnace State Park. About a half mile into the long down, we came across a side trail to Pole Steeple, which is a rock outcropping that has views of 2 parks and 2 lakes. We didn't really want to go since we were tired. But Paul E said it wasn't far. He proved it by running to the rock outcropping and back in about 4 minutes. We were so impressed by this that the majority of us went down the side trail for a peak. I'm glad we did as the views were fantastic! I hope our pictures came out OK of these views.
We started back down the mountain around 1ish, stopped at the AT mid point marker at around 1:30 and took some pictures and were done by 2ish. After walking through Pine Grove Furnace State Park at the end of the hike, one realizes that this park has alot of nice amenities such as swimming, camping, and historical things to look at. It is a neat place to spend a weekend.
We finished around 2PM and drove back and retrieved our cars. Then, the one thing that I had looked forward to all day happened. We went to Ryans in Chambersburg, PA for an 'AYCE' meal. I ate well but I didn't fall off of the Atkins wagon.
This was a great hike. We had very good weather, conquered another stretch of the AT in PA, and had a very good time. Our newest hikers, Paul E and Ed B, did very well and were a blast to have along. I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I heard '3 more miles!' in the distance while hiking this trail.
Group picture at the beginning|
of the hike. By Charlie Johnson
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