I knew that today was going to be a long, hot day, so I packed up and got an early start. The trail is a road walk through a residential section of Duncannon for over a mile, and in the early morning light I finally had my first bear sighting. I was already sweating by the time I started walking across the bridge over the Susquehanna River, but the “golden hour” lighting provided me with a beautiful picture looking back at Duncannon.
I was dreading the 1,000 foot climb back to the ridge line with a full resupply on my back, but it really wasn’t that bad. At times it got very rocky, but along the way there were several excellent views looking back at the Susquehanna River Valley. At the top of the climb, I stopped briefly at the Clarks Ferry Shelter to take on water as the A.T. Guide indicated that this would be my last reliable water source for the next 13 miles.
Once on the ridge line, the trail was nice and flat and I was making good time but the temperature was heading towards 90 degrees. I saw a turtle sunning himself at one of the power line breaks and he was too hot to pull his head inside his shell. There were also plenty of snakes around enjoying the heat, but it was starting to drain my energy. The view from Table Rock was pretty nice, but by now I just wanted to get to Peters Mtn Shelter to find some shade.
To get to the spring at Peters Mtn Shelter, you have to go 0.3 miles steeply downhill using a series of 300 stone steps. I hadn’t planned to do this, but since I was now out of water there wasn’t any other choice. At the bottom, I drank two liters and carried three more back up the stairs to the shelter. I wasn’t sure if I planned to stop here for the night but I was sure that if I did, I wasn’t going back down those stairs. I only counted 298 steps on they way back up (yeah!) but I think I sweated out all the water that I drank at the bottom.
While I was sitting motionless in the shade of the shelter desperately trying to find a spot with the slightest breeze, First Aid and Hawaii stop by for lunch. Hawaii stated that she loved the heat and would prefer it any day over rain, but I had to respectfully disagree. We visited for a while before they went on their way. About the time I had decided to move on as well, a tiny hiker named Bear Pop stopped in to get water. I wasn’t about to carry three liters of water down the trail (6.6 lbs), so I asked her if she wanted one of mine. I thought she was going to cry over me saving her that trip down the stairs.
So I continued on in the heat with the thought of making it the six miles to Clarks Creek where I had every intention of sitting in the middle of the creek. Mercifully the trail was flat and as it got to be later in the evening the temperature started to subside. A few hours later, I began the descent to Clarks Creek.
I arrived at Clarks Creek around 7:00 pm and found several people there trout fishing. While I stood there in the parking lot trying to scope out a possible campsite, a truck pulls up and out jumps Sunrise! She had arrived earlier in the day and a couple of Trail Angels had driven her to town and bought her pizza. Now I was beginning to regret all that time I wasted at the shelter.
Sunrise showed me a place to cross the creek, so we found some really nice places in the pine needles to set up our tents. She took off to soak her sore feet in the creek, but the mosquitos were coming out in droves which tempered my desire to jump in the water. So I quickly ate dinner and dived into my tent to escape the additional loss of blood.