The Halfway on the AT – Not the Winter Trip We Expected

January 19, 2020 § Leave a comment

You may recall from my previous post, that there was a plan and except for a little damage to Andy’s wife’s Infinity and a little bit of rain, everything was so far going to plan. We all arrived safely, ate huge breakfasts at The Elkhorn in Bendersville, and we pared everything down to all the food, beer and booze we needed to enjoy all ourselves for the weekend. We set out from our parked vehicles, and we headed South on the AT, which at the start was nothing more than getting out of the parking lot, and walking along the road until the trail turned right and started climbing past some local hunting cabins. The grade was a pretty easy grade, and there really wasn’t anything in this day that was expecting to be any real challenge.

Where were we, and why were we there? Many of our knucklehead adventures have always been on the far side of Larry, and I had been successful in getting all parties to come my way three times, but lately we have tried to find locations that are roughly halfway between myself and Larry, which is to say we split the difference between the DC folks and the NJ folks, and fuck the Southern Virginia (Sova) folky-dude. This has resulted in Annapolis Rocks which is a lot closer to DC folks, but not so bad for NJ folks, and not that bad for the folky-Sova-dude; A steepy-assed ascent in Colonel Denning State Park, and then another steepy-assed ascent last year near Vanderbilt’s Folly. What is “steepy-assed” you ask? Well it is a straight up grade that feels like a 1 foot rise for every 1 foot run, but might be just a tad less than that, and it maintains that grade for a significant amount of time. Anyway, Michaux State Forest advertised “Miles of Hiking Trails”, and was only a wee bit closer to DC than to NJ. Both Larry and I secured the Lizard Map for the area, and we conference-called each other a couple of times to discuss, but what we found for all those miles, there were very few circuit hikes that would work for our group. A lot of the circuits were pretty short, or they weren’t really offering camping options, so we settled on this halfway section of the AT, that if the weather supported us, we could have a damn nice day hike on Saturday, Ed would have an easy hike out, and Ali an easy hike in, and we all wouldn’t have too hard a time Sunday for the hike out.

You may recall the original plan didn’t have us hiking in more than a couple of miles, but one thing that wasn’t mentioned, was there wasn’t any plan to hike any further south on the AT than Tom’s Run Shelter. TRS was four miles from the cars, with one stream crossing, and a road crossing, as well as a close by-pass of a WW II prisoner of war camp. Now there is something I don’t recall ever hearing in high school history lessons, nor even in historical novels. That we had prisoner of war camps on US soil, and one of them was in a pretty damn rural section of Pennsylvania was news to me. There was another significant deterrent in the plan, that we didn’t know about and that was a fairly large native vegetation restoration project that occupied the lands in the area where we had been initially considering for finding a campsite. What is that? In this case, an herbicide had been applied to a large number of acres, on both sides of the trail, and though we didn’t know what it was when we entered, we learned about it when we crossed a road later, and there was an information sign in a kiosk that we huddled under just as it started to rain a little harder. Who wants to camp in a chemical herbicide treated area? I sure didn’t, and I wanted to be upstream from any water that flowed through that area.

Huddled beneath the kiosk, the conversation went something like this “Well, we are 3 miles in and I didn’t see anywhere I wanted to camp.” “Me neither!” repeated by a few others. “I don’t think we can camp on the POW site, but Tom’s Run is just a little further along, and with it raining, it might just be okay to simply use the shelter and say ‘Fuck the Tents!’!”. I am not sure who offered that option, but surprisingly no one raised any objections. Who wants to set up a tent in the rain, when you can stay dry in the shelter? If we set up at least one tarp we’d give ourselves a fair amount of working room, and there was no wind to speak of. Larry did surmise that “Well, Shelters are for thru-hikers, and we’d have to make room for any thru-hikers that come through, however seeing as it is fucking December the likelihood of a thru-hiker coming through are nil to zero, so let’s do it!” And that is what we did. Standing somewhat drier under the limited roof line of the kiosk is also a place where the chill of the air catches up to you when you aren’t actually doing anything other than standing around, and so we all decided to leave that dry place and continue on.

On a flat trail, we covered the last three-quarters of a mile in almost no time. There was a small stream crossing, followed by the official halfway marker on the AT, and then another 300 yards along the trail, Tom’s Run came into view. There was some catastrophic destruction caused by a downed tree, but not to the shelter or anything that mattered to us. The shelter was surrounded by 5-6 tent sites, all with fire-rings, and the entire site had a roofed picnic area in addition to the dry shelter. The privy was just up the hill, and a reliable and very much upstream from herbicide water source was 50 yds or less from the shelter. The floor of the shelter looked just big enough for 6 snoring adult males to comfortably lie side by side next to each other, with barely room at all for any one person to peegress the shelter without disturbing at least two mates. That is a new word. To egress with the purpose to pee. Peegress.

Like any trip, off come the packs for the unpacking. The cold weather meant we wouldn’t need to store any of our packed-in beverages in the creek, so all the beer went right onto the picnic table. Then the rest of our stuff comes out, with our tents getting stashed off to the side, and then all our sleeping pads, deployed and aired up, followed finally by our sleeping bags giving them all plenty of time to regain the loft that makes them comfortable. Nestled in there is also the booze, which as you might expect, we all open and sampled what everyone else had brought. Our good friend Kevin, who is not a drinker, purchased and hauled in his own scotch, just to share with us. A very selfless effort for which we thanked Kevin often. And we might have cracked open one or two beers as well, but we couldn’t launch headlong into drinking yet, because we still had to gather firewood for the fire. This is where I would criticize Tom’s Run Shelter, but I know the hearts were in the right place.

When it comes to camp fires, and of course I am speaking as a cold weather camper, where a campfire is most welcome getting close to the fire is the name of the game, then what you desire in a fire ring, is a low profile ring of containment rocks, say, no more than 6-8 inches above the ground, with a flat area around the ring where you can set your camp chair and let the radiance of the infrared rays envelope your entire being in a warming glow. That is the ideal. When you think about the Summer time, where huge numbers of thru hikers north and south come through, maybe perhaps, that direct exposure is too hot, and so an Eagle Scouts project some years back built a fire stone and mortar fire ring that was nearly two feet tall. If you are backpacking with backpacking sized chairs, then two feet is effectively a wall that permits no enveloping rays of radiation to swallow you, so you can’t sit down in your comfy chairs and enjoy the fire. You either stand around the fire, or grab a seat on some of the large surrounding tree stumps of which there were many, and are not as comfortable as a camp chair. I know, there are bigger problems in the world and this seems trifle, but it was an issue. Did it stop us from having a fire? Fuck no! We gathered a lot of wood that day, and we built up a fairly healthy fire before settling in to more whiskey, more beer, and some campfire smokes.

Almost forgot to mention the tarps I brought. I pulled one of them out and we found some nails in just the right locations just below the shelter roof, that we used to attach to, and then using rope that we had, we tied each corner to a tree in a way that extended our covered area out over the picnic table, but not all the way to the fire pit. There was just one problem, and I think I alluded to it in the preparation posting, and that was when it comes to these kinds of tarps, it is better to simply buy new ones and not use ones that you have dragged all over your yard hauling leaves. Better yet, don’t use your camping tarp to haul leaves. Those kinds of tarps develop micro and well, macro holes in them. The kinds of holes, that allow water to drip through. And I am not talking about one or two holes, but a whole lot of holes. The kind of holes that when you glance up at the whole holy thing you see all the evening sky daylight peering back at you through the non-integral surface of the tarp. So, we took that tarp down, didn’t even look at the other tarp I had brought, and went straight to Kevin’s fresh out of the packaging tarp which though it covered a smaller area, did in fact cover that area with a swatch of non-holy 10×12 foot dry heaven. That cover gave us all a dry area to cook under as well.

Whiskey and Beer and Some Nalgene Bottles. Far left, Greg May’s; Orange bottle, Kevin’s Scotch; Mini-Nalgene, Oban; Shiny Flask, Larry’s Bourbon.
A Higher angled view including Ed’s Water Filter and some Iso Fuel canisters.

It was about this time that we realized our beer supply was somewhat limited, and we started to talk about who would hike back to get what was left in the cars. Foolish talk I know, but it was looking like rain all the next if not most of the next day. I took my phone out of airplane mode, and surprise, I got a bar, which was enough to get messages out and in, and the first one we sent out was to Ali informing him that we hiked all the way in to Tom’s Run Shelter. The second message was to make sure he brought beer, and the third message was to make sure he didn’t chicken out because of the weather, and Larry needed him for his ride home on Sunday. Acknowledged, I placed the phone back into airplane mode and we got down to food prep.

I cooked up the tacos first, as an appetizer for all. I had this Hello Fresh meal, and I was getting a new supply on Monday, so better to use it. I simply brought it in the paper bag packaging that it came in. I think it was a meat tacos, pork in fact, and to be honest with you all, it cooked up quite nicely on a small camp stove in the woods, and the only thing I couldn’t do was to warm the tortillas, but we built up the taco with saute’d onions and peppers, pork, sauce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and chopped parsley and shared each one, and the reviews were honestly favorable. I think I should mention that Larry brought out his infamous “Spice Bucket”, and of course I acquiesced to adding some to the mixture while it was cooking, so yes, they were a little spicier than the recipe initially called for.

This Alone was enough food for 4 people

This brings us to the first food misunderstanding between myself, and my hiking food pardner Andy. In the last post, I mentioned sending Andy a recipe that could be made at camp, and Andy got the supplies for it. What I didn’t know, was that Andy looked at the bottom of the recipe where it said, “Serves 2-3” and determined that was too little, so he doubled the recipe. Now, the normal recipe was barely going to fit in the one pot that I brought, so we grabbed Greg’s pot and started two recipes, which, I could tell already, was going to be too much food. See, if everyone simply brings food for themselves, and we share, then everyone still ends up with a full serving, and I already made an appetizer, and everyone else was cooking up their meals as well, which were also on the plus side of a single serving size. I think Larry had a giant, or maybe two tenderloins; I don’t recall what Greg came with; Kevin usually goes simple with a just add hot water, and Ed I think did some kind of meat as well. By the time our first stew was ready, people were pretty full, but everyone made an effort, and kept taking spoonfuls until we finished the pot. That meant there was still one more pot of stew and to be honest, no one wanted to eat it. I didn’t want to eat it, and we couldn’t really keep it, so I took the whole thing down to the creek, downstream of where we get water out of it, and rinsed it all into the creek and cleaned the pan. There just wasn’t anything else to do. Yes, it was a waste. Take a look at the image above and note the other excesses. That is 8 sausages for the next night’s meal. 8 for two people. Look at the eggs. Those are pint bottles filled with mixed eggs, and there is two pounds of bacon to go with them. I think I failed to inform Andy that we only needed one breakfast, because we could hike out on nothing more than an energy bar, and we would get a decent lunch. After cleaning up, we spent the rest of the evening hanging around the fire until the rain started to pick up, and then we all decided to get ready for bed and call it a day. Our camp site was equipped with a hang pole, so after our teeth brushing was completed, we hung all the bags, and retired.

The next morning Greg was very quick to note that my head wasn’t in my pillow for 15 seconds before I was out and snoring already, and once again, he, Greg was going to have to listen to that while trying to doze off himself. I can’t say I always do that, but it is nice to be the first one out, as it means, selfishly, I sleep. We all had our moments during the night when we had to get up and pee, or when we heard the rain falling harder. It rained off and on most of the night, and it was a steady fine misty drizzle in the morning when we all arose to start breakfast. I mentioned we had bacon and eggs, so I got started on that, because it was going to take some time to render an entire pound of bacon. I was at it for 30 minutes or more because, with backpacking pots, you are working with a thin metal base, so you can’t really crank on the heat or it will burn quite easily, so it was a slow rendering. I poured off the grease into the fire pit where someone had gotten a little fire going again, and then added the onions and spice mixture to the pot to let those saute and cook down a bit. Finally I dumped a pint of egg into the mess, and started scrambling it all until I had a nicely cooked slightly moist final mixture, and then it was time to eat. You see the giant tortillas, so one of those, some cheese slices and then spoon in the final egg/bacon/onion/spice mixture, and four decent sized breakfast burritos were assembled. Four. Really one would have sufficed, but there was no shortage of individuals who wanted a bite, and soon all four were gone. Keep in mind that there were other breakfasts cooked up as well, so there was a lot of breakfast food to go through, just like last nights dinner, and all we did was sleep between those meals. And drink beer.

We talked about simply accompanying Ed on his way out, and hiking back in with Ali, but the more we talked about that the harder the rain started to fall, and the less anyone actually wanted to follow through. There was even a misunderstanding of just where I had forgotten my craft-your-own-craft-beer-six-pack, and it was felt that I should walk back to the car to get it. I informed the author of that idea, that he misunderstood which car said six pack was forgotten in, and that car was 183 miles away in a parking lot in New Jersey next to a concrete support base with Infinity paint on it.

Ed couldn’t wait on us any longer, and threw his pack upon his back, said his goodbyes and fare-thee-wells, and left us to ourselves. No one went with him. It would be great to say that in his absence we discussed many ways to make the world a better place, but that didn’t happen. I think we discussed that on such a rainy day, when would it be okay to crack the first beer, and I think we all agreed that we would wait until Ali arrived. To further our confidence in Ali, I removed Airplane mode, and there was an incoming message from Ali, that he was in fact on his way, and not to worry, that he had more beer. Since Ali works for Reston Association, same place where Larry was the acting CEO for almost a year, this boded well for Ali’s future at Reston. Don’t disappoint your boss when it comes to beer.

It turns out we didn’t have to wait very long for that first beer, as Ali came trudging into camp less than an hour after Ed had departed. He arrived wearing one of those plastic ponchos you get at a sports stadium during inclement weather, and although those contraptions don’t breath at all, it looked like it did a fine job. It fit over Ali and his pack, so he arrived relatively dry. Little did we know, at that moment, just how much in common with old St. Nicholas Ali had. Like eager children around the Christmas Tree we were anxious to see what presents Santa had brought for us. Sadly we had no cookies and milk for him, so Santa dropped his pack and it landed with a heavy thud on the picnic table bench. That sound was music to the ears of the eager children. Out the opening Santa brought forth a six pack of Stone IPAs, and the children screamed with joy “Oh Santa, you got our letter! People laughed when we wrote you letters, but we kept our faith!”. Then Santa reached back into the pack and pulled out another six pack, this time of DC Brewing IPA, and the children again let out the kind of an ear piercing scream that leaves your ears ringing for weeks. But Santa was not done yet and when he reached again for his bag, the children went silent with anticipation. Someone, who will go nameless, might have said something about giving Santa a blowjob if he pulled another six pack out of his bag, and that is exactly what Santa did. Out came a six back of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, the IPA of IPAs, and when children love IPAs as much as these children love IPAs, then Santa pulling out Bell’s put us at the top of the “We must have been really good kids this year” list. Who said there is no Santa Claus? Now, you would think the children, having just exceeded everything they could have possibly expected from Santa would have been content. Eighteen additional IPAs including Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, but all eyes turned back to Santa’s bag and I think it was the Larry child who uttered the next question the answer to which the rest of the children awaited with baited breath. “Did you bring any whisky Santa?” And Santa let out the kind of barrel-chested laugh he has been known for generations for. “Ho Ho Ho Larry child, of course I remembered Whiskey. Mrs. Clause would never send me out on a day like today without Whiskey!” And Santa reached deep into his bag, where the rest of us were wondering, that with all that beer and now whiskey, did Santa remember that he needed a sleeping bag and other things for the weekend, Santa pulled out a 1750 ml bottle of Bulleit Bourbon, and the children were suddenly speechless. Mouths agape, flies could settled their entire families in all the giant orifices that surrounded Santa at that moment. Santa seemed concerned that he had erred, but soon a rationally thinking child, I think it was Andy child, said slowly and in his usual deep deadpan delivery “We should open that one first” and then the children roared their approval, and Santa was Jolly again, and the children were joyous in their excesses, and we all set about to continuing this joyous weekend in the woods.

As you may recall, it was raining, and I don’t believe we entertained leaving camp at all. I think we devoted some smartphone battery life for seeing what kind information we could gather on just when the rain might end. Even after Santa’s bounty, it would have been nice if say, the rain would end before daylight ran out, so we could spread out into the woods and gather up whatever dry, or not soaked wood we could find. Once we got the fire going again, it was going to be a long evening and night, and we would need a lot of wood. Once the fire gets going, it isn’t hard to keep it going. All wood eventually dries when you put it near the fire, you just have to get the fire going first. But it had to stop raining first. Actually, it would have been nice for the rain to stop, but it wasn’t really necessary, because we eventually would have gathered what we needed in the rain, because we had to have fire.

Fortunately, the forecast was favorable, and before long we looked to the west and could see the clouds clearing, and soon the sun was making an appearance, and then we were out gathering wood. The best wood to start with his anything you can find that is hanging off the ground. Next is to find oily underbrush, and look near the base for dead branches, and snap those off. The oil is still in the wood, and as a kindling it really helps to get the early fire going. Our forays brought back much fodder for the fire. There were even some larger downed trees that had branches up off the forest floor, and though they were a pain to saw through, and heavy to carry, they would be the core wood on which we would depend later.

To get the fire started takes a few items that don’t come from the forest. Believe it or not, dryer lint is an excellent source of combustible material containing a lot of polymer-based fibers. There are other things like fire paste (which Ed left with us), and small waxy starters that can be worked flat with fingers. All this you put at the base and build up a small pile of the smallest twigs you have. Twigs that come from oily underbrush are best and with all this at our disposal, it wasn’t long before we had our fire started, and once started, the addition of larger sticks and fuel can be added to build the fire larger. There was never any doubt about the fire and soon, the pit was putting forth the kind of warmth that makes winter camping tolerable.

Remember the top of this posting when Larry reasoned the likelihood of a thru-hiker coming through was 0 to nil? Zero was probably something that we knew was not possible. On an AT hike a few years back, I met Krudmeister at the Wiley Shelter in NY in mid December, so it really wasn’t zero. Well, lo and behold, a backpacker approached us from the North, and when she pulled up to the fire her face looked very happy to see that we had a fire going, because she had some wet things she wanted to dry out. Baby Legs, her trail name, was in fact thru-hiking the AT North to South. As happy as she was to see the fire, happier she was when we pointed to the beer on the table and told her to “Help yourself!”

Baby set about to get the wet things she wanted to dry, and was soon standing by fire, warming up, and drinking a tasty IPA telling us about her adventure so far. She originates from Alaska and spent time in the military where she trained in Arabic to work in intelligence. She retired after putting in her 20 years, and was now thru-hiking, having started from Maine in September, which is a pretty late late start. The Whites were atrocious, and she had to skip them, so after she gets to Georgia, she will have to swing back and knock out the Whites, but that may be an adventure that is further down the life line, as when she finishes in Georgia, it will be February, and if Whites were impassable in Late October, early November, just imagine how inaccessible they will be until the Spring thaw hits.

This was really an easy evening for Baby. She didn’t really have to do anything. We gave her beer, and we fed her from all of our stores. We helped her dry all her wet stuff, and we offered her room in the shelter with us, which simply meant we had to draw straws to see who would have to move their shit to the picnic table pavilion. As great as it sounded to sleep in a shelter with a bunch of old smelly snoring men, she did let us off the hook, upon seeing that the picnic table pavilion had a substantial roof, and elected to sleep as far away from us as was humanly possible.

Let’s talk about food, again. Remember all that sausage? well there were eight links. I took four links and the onions, and using the heavy duty aluminum foil I packed in, created pouches for 4 links and onions. I poured a wee bit o beer into each, and folded up the sides to create an enclosure, and then I stuck both of those tents upon a grate over a reasonably hot part of the fire and then let them cook. Ali packed in some giant slab of beef, and when added to the steaks that Greg brought increased all of our likely heart-attack indicators to more-than-likely-if-not-tomorrow. Kevin, the only one among us that actually cares about the future of the planet, kept his meal reasonable and well within his carbon allowance for the trip whereas the rest of us made carbon allowance withdrawals from our carbon savings bank that we can never ever repay. The Larry child? I cannot remember at this time what the Larry child brought to eat this second night, but I do recall that the sausage with onions and peppers that we made were ready first, and since there were eight of them, that meant that everyone, including Baby Legs, got an entire sandwich for themselves, and then we split the last one. Reality? That was enough food, but we still had everyone else’s to eat as well. The last to be consumed was the giant hunk of animal flesh that Ali packed in somewhere between 3 six packs of beer and nearly 2 liters of bourbon. I think I forgot to mention that in addition to all of that, and his sleeping bag Ali also had a 10″ cast iron skillet as well. His pack must have weighed 60 pounds minimum on the walk in, and 10 pounds hiking out! Ali seasoned his animal flesh well, and pre-heated the skillet, like a good chef would, and when it was smoking hot he threw said animal flesh into the skillet for a tremendous sizzle. Now, one would think, that if you carried that fucking skillet in, and you bought that giant hunk of animal flesh, and you seasoned it properly, that this person would in fact have some clue what they were doing. However, you would be wrong. Ali hadn’t a clue how long said animal flesh needed to cook, and to be fair to Ali, I am not sure anyone could have said with certainty, what the timing would be, but I was pretty sure of one thing. Well maybe two things. 1) It hadn’t been on long enough, and 2) when he was considering taking it off, I performed the chef test, and told him it needed more time.

What is the chef test you ask? I learned this from D2 when she went to Culinary School. Take you left hand, and using your thumb, touch each of your finger tips. The same way as you would make the “Okay” sign with your thumb and index finger. The softness of the base of your thumb is related to the “doneness” of the meat as follows:

  • Index Finger – Rare
  • Middle Finger – Medium Rare
  • Ring Finger – Medium Well
  • Pinky Finger – Well

Ali’s meet was softer than index Finger, which was basically uncooked. Ideally you want to patient enough to sear and cook one side to perfection, before turning the meat for the finish, and not keep turning the meat over and over again. For his piece side one should have been 7-8 minutes followed by 5-6 on side two, and it would have been a perfect medium-rare, but I believe Ali’s meat fell well short of that, and once we cut those parts of the meat that were okay to eat off, the rest was rare to uncooked, and needed to be returned to the fire. We made do, but the damage to that flesh was done, and it couldn’t be undone.

Now, you might be wondering, did you have to hike any of that beer back out of the woods, to which I, and others with me might add in as well, “Why would we do that?” “Why wouldn’t we simply stay up later and finish the beer?” In fact, isn’t bed-time determined as a direct relationship between the end of beer supply (and Whiskey too) and the onset of “It’s time for bed”? So, the reality is we stayed up as long as we needed to to finish all the beer, which we did, and all the whiskey, which we also did, and as stated, without any beer or whiskey, it may have been the Larry Child who remarked “I think we’re out of beer and whiskey. Should we consider going to bed?”

That night was an evening interrupted by many a camper needed to exit the shelter for some tinkles, as well as the wind picking up and catching the tarp in a way that with increasing frequency, snapped loudly, thus awaking everyone in the shelter. Not annoying enough for someone to actually do something about the annoyance, so the same scenario repeated over and over the rest of the night, and when morning rolled around, I would assess the rested level of all the campers at less than 50%. Once it got light enough to see, the thought that filled my frontal cortex was Andy and I still had a pound of fucking bacon and a pint of liquid egg, so I forced myself to get up early and start cooking so we wouldn’t have to hike that shit out. Not everyone felt the same level of urgency, and so I was up for a good bit of time before I was joined by others. Although I did nothing with the fire, I had noticed that at random times, a lick of a flame had re-kindled, and so the fire pit was still pretty hot, and it would not take much to get some kind of small fire going again.

As others arose, hot water was made, and soon the coffee drinks were available. People started packing up, and Baby soon came over to see how we all fared, as she was feeling the effects of a fairly large alcohol ingestion, and as we were all clearly weaker than her, our hair-of -the-dog must be worse than her hair-of-the-same-dog. All of course except Kevin, who does not drink. What she felt may have in fact been true, but we were all moving, and progress was made. Us being a group of old men, and her being a party of one, she was ready to leave before we were, and we bid her well on her continued journey and apologized profusely that we would not be at her next stop to offer her beer, fire, food and friendship.

When we were ready to go, a decision had to be made. I found, when foraging for kindling, that the “Sunset Rocks Trail” branched off just on the other side of Tom’s Run, our namesake shelter creek, and that if we followed that we could, if we found the trail cutoff, visit the POW camp before deciding the next step of our return. Agreed, because who really wants to simply retrace steps, we set off. We passed side trails that had we been more motivated to day hike in the rain, before Santa arrived, we could have achieved some rocky elevation gains, we bypassed those excursions and stayed flat on Sunset Rocks. However, the cutoff to the POW camp we never did see, and soon we were past the camp and on the main road trying to decide whether to turn left and go right or turn right and go left. Being the only one with an electronic representation of where we were, chose the right turn and then left, and down an old woods road we headed until it ended and after a short descent emerged back onto the AT in the original location where we thought we might camp the first night. This meant we were only a little over a mile from the cars, and pretty soon we were walking past the hunting cabins we were familiar with, and back onto the road for the last 200 yards to the cars. Back also was the no service, so that after we stuffed our crap into our vehicles, no one could could get an accurate reading of just where we should head to get to the desired brew pub on route 15, Devils Eye Brewing in Dillsburg, PA.

Now I know what you are thinking. We have already been to the hole-in-the-wall Pennsyltuckysee Trump-loving town of Bendersville, and now we were setting our sights on a town called Dillsburg. While I am sure Dillsburg has its share of ill-informed Trump supporters, it was a damned sight more advanced than Bendersville. For one thing, they had ATMs, and took credit/debit cards. Win!!

It’s time to bring this tale to a close. I have been weekend warrioring with most of this crew, well, Larry Child and Greg Child, and let’s not forget Ed Child who left before Santa arrived, and by all accounts this was another fine weekend even if the weather was not the most cooperative. The reality is you don’t need good weather to make an adventure, all you need is good friends, and maybe a wee bit of beer, food and a lot of whiskey.

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