6/27 & 6/28: Carlisle, Pennsylvania to Brook Site to Clarks Ferry Shelter Campsite

  • 6/27: Miles 1131.9-1142.0 (10.1 mi.)
  • Total Ascent: 1752’; descent: 1450’
  • 6/28: Miles 1142.0-1153.9 (11.1 mi.)
  • Total Ascent: 2320’; descent: 1870’

I’m confident in calling today our sweatiest day on trail (yet: it will get worse). We sweated so much it was as if we hadn’t been lucky to be beneath the awning of Mutzabaugh’s, an old-school neighborhood grocery we resupplied at in Duncannon this afternoon, when it rained.

I’m reminded of a day Will and I did hot yoga at Wilson’s. I left my gym-floor puddle that afternoon in a pleasant daze, feeling surprisingly clean. I recall thinking, as I did today, “This must be why people use saunas.” 

Today’s culprit was the hill up to the ridge–probably the first true ridgeline we have walked in Pennsylvania–where we encountered the state’s famous boulder hops. The rocks supposedly become smaller and sharper further north, but these had us boosting each other up and down, with poison ivy glimmering just beside (we alternated chants of “rock city, bitch; rock, rock city” and “Oh, God, my knees,” the second of which I’d love to title a book on aging targeted at Millennials). 

Duncannon was a very different town than Carlisle, where we stayed on June 27. Carlisle was a truckstop pseudotown, with a stellar diner, a Sheetz, and a bunch of freight companies. Duncannon looked straight out of Kentucky, with the amenities of a real, if ailing, town of great people living in great poverty. A man literally ran from his house to give us granola bars while we walked down High Street, home to the Fight Club-esque Doyle Hotel. 

We didn’t stay at the Doyle, but we did peek in. It was a place of stained glass and high ceilings, but also of holes in the walls and unstable floors. On the bottom floor was the sort of dark walnut bar with the neon beer signs and bars on the windows once common in Rust Belt cities. 

Knowing the Doyle was effectively the only lodging option in Duncannon, we chose the Quality Inn at Carlisle. We paid twice as much–a double at the Doyle is only $35–but we slept twice as well. 

Also in Carlisle, just next door to the Quality Inn, we met a writer friend of mine. I’ve known her through her work for years but likely never would have gotten the chance to get together in person had I not hiked. She lives not 15 minutes from the diner where we met, she reassured me. Fittingly, she brought me a memo book and gum, and, generously, bought our brunch. I’m not using the notebook yet, but I will be in about five memo-sized pages. 

Although I hate to end this entry bitching about the heat, having started it the same way, I am going to: It’s 88 degrees Fahrenheit after 9 p.m. That’s almost as unreal as the Pacific Northwest being 115 Fahrenheit today. I am thinking cool, shady thoughts about our friends and family currently in the region. 

Tomorrow’s high here will be only (“only”) 94, and our site tomorrow ought to have a creek, so I really shouldn’t whine. 

Shouldn’t — but I am, and I have a feeling I will be doing much more of it soon.

By Bob

Bob is a newly married word herder who's gone looking for himself where anyone who knows him would: in the mountains and around the campfires of America's greatest trail.