Trail Magic Land: 1138.1
Duncannon, PA: 1146.8
Total Miles: 8.7
Our slow roll into the Fourth of July, would end today with a short 8.7 mile day into Duncannon. It wasn't a lot of miles, but we heard the PA rocks first rear their ugly head on the trip down into Duncannon.
Pickle had to drive Bullseye to the airport at 5AM in the morning, so the dynamic duo had broken up. In the morning, though we got to learn more about The Kid and Heather, as they cooked up some sausages and pancakes. They currently live in Falmouth, Maine, since Heather is finishing up a masters in occupational therapy at USM. Heather took particular interest in seeing some of Emily's photographs on the blog. After Heather's masters is completed in December, they aren't sure where they're gonig to go, but they may even stay in Maine since they enjoy it there so much. They hit the road (driving back up to Maine) at 8:30. Pickle, a PA native, made a first trip back to his parent's house (he's currently preparing for a PCT thru hike, so currently leaseless) to drop gear off and next it was our turn. We headed back to the trail with Monty at 9:15.
The first half of the hike was quiet, but as we got closer to Duncannon and some beautiful overlooks from Hawk Mountain, we started to see a lot more day hikers. The rocks, however, never seemed to materialize. Well, the trail did get rocky, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Certainly, the hike into Waynesboro, VA was significantly more joint and foot crushing than the rocks here (though changing shoes may have helped with this). By 1:00, we were sitting in the Doyle Hotel Bar with Grant, figuring out a plan for getting to the Radisson in Harrisburg.
A brief aside on the Doyle Hotel. It's awesome. Vicky and Pat are trail freakin' heroes. Well, all the hostel/hotel/angels are heroes for putting up with some of the crap hikers pull while they are in town, but these two have been in business for a while (1996), serve delicious food (best fries), drinks and offer rooms to hikers. Their sense of humor, too, is worth the visit itself. Vicky will continually give you a hard time about asking for anything, though she'll complete the request with a smile (though it might be hidden behind a fake scowl and her straight faced laugh). When we did eventually leave, Grant got a special Vicky hug, which he believes is from a comment about her having a fondness for slobs. We were more than a little bummed we were not staying at the Doyle all day and had to get into the city that night.
We also met Jester at the Doyle bar. He's a triple crowner (with a few additional international thru hikes under his belt). He was, without a doubt, the easiest to talk to multi thru hiker we have met so far (well, Chopper and Savior are definitely in that category too). Anyway, Jester had plenty of tales of former thru hikes. He told us a lot about the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) which is probably the least talked about of the thru hikes. He says that is his personal favorite since it has an orienteering element to it, as well as being the quietest of the three trails. The year he did it (2010), there were only 46 other hikers attempting.
After a couple of hours in the Doyle, we decided it was finally time to head out of town. We had shipped a spare cell phone battery to the Doyle, which Vicky kindly, pretend begrudgingly, got for us, and we headed out. First stop, post office, since we had possible care packages from Christine (Emily's sister) and the ever elusive birthday cookies. We also finally shipped home the rest of our cold weather gear, the brain to Tyler's backpack, and a few other knick knacks (totaling about 5 pounds!) The cookies, sadly, had not arrived but we'd be able to pick them up when we returned from Duncannon in two days. The care package from Christine had arrived though. A selection of treats and a small container Emily's favorite wound healing balm (this stuff might actually be magic). Afterwards, we managed to rangle an Uber and head off towards Harrisburg.
The Radisson in Harrisburg is, probably, a twenty fold step up from any of the hotels we've stayed at in recent months (with some notable exceptions, like the Doyle, which wins on significant character points). We crashed on our sleep number (!) mattresses and zoned out with the TV until we suddenly awoke from our zombie like trances and realized we needed to eat food.
We were on the west coast of the Susquehanna River, which is technically not Harrisburg, but we wanted to check out one of the brew pubs on the east bank. It's about a three mile walk, so we decided to get another ride, and we'd walk back to get our bearings on the city. We wanted to check out Millworks, which is unfortunately closed on Monday, so we headed to the Appalachian Brewing Company. The beers were decent, but bigger excitement was that they made their own ginger beer which meant tasty Dark and Stormies or Moscow Mules. These town days are really all about delicious eats and drinks beer, when it's not about laundry and resupply.
After dinner, we walked back on perhaps not the most scenic tour through Harrisburg. Crossing the river onto City Island, where the fireworks would be tomorrow, was nice. When we got back to the West bank, we stopped into Dochsode Willie's to rehydrate as we pestered Grant to fill in the details on his real life before the trail.