2021 Appalachian Trail III – Day Four – Unexpected Ending

Wednesday, 6 October

Destination: PA 325 Parking LotToday’s Miles: 3.3
Start Location: Horse Shoe Trail Campsite 24.9

Now the tale can be told.

At the shelter our first night out as we were settling in, Bob realized that he had left the poles for his tent at home. There was no way to set up his tent and fly. Rather than end our trip after one night, we did a replan of our days. We would be able to stay at shelters four nights with one night tenting since it was 18 miles between shelters. This gave us some short mileage and one long mileage day instead of the steadier days originally planned. The weather forecast seemed to be in our favor. Chances of rain were highest Sunday and Monday evenings dropping to a 25% chance of precipitation by Tuesday.

As Bob and I started our hike, there were brief showers overnight Sunday and Monday. We figured we were safe on Tuesday setting up tents as best we could. We settled into a beautiful campsite where the Horse -Shoe Trail meets the AT. The site even had stone chairs with backs. Even with the daily showers and damp wood we were able to get a nice campfire going before dinner. Since there was no bear box available, we hung our food – probably the best hang since we have hiked together. Guidance is the food should be suspended 4-6 feet from the trunk and 10-12 feet in the air. This looked perfect.

As it was getting dark, we let our campfire burn out and crawled into our tents. Shortly it began to rain. Not a hard rain but steady all night. Bob pulled his tent fly over his tent as best he could but through the night his sleeping bag got wet. Fortunately, with the warm temperatures that did not present a safety issue. I was dry and cozy in my tent and if needed, Bob could have squeezed in.

When sunrise came, we assessed our situation. It was 8 miles to the next shelter. The weather forecast was for continued overcast and humid. There would be no way to dry out Bob’s sleeping bag. Road crossings were either twelve miles forward or three miles back. Our decision was to backtrack three miles to the road crossing. Since we were lucky enough to have cell service at the top of the mountain, we made arrangements to meet a shuttle. Bob and I hiked back 3.3 miles to the closest road. We passed three AT Trail employees who were out marking some of the trail and land boundaries. The shuttle was waiting in the parking lot and took us back to my truck.

Once there we changed into some clean, dry clothes. We made arrangements with our host, Nick, to go to lunch when we got back to Bob’s car. Pizza at Al’s of Hampden for lunch. Al’s is also the home of Pizza Boy Brewing so I took the opportunity to bring a four pack of their fall brew back. Farewell to Nick and we were our way home.

You may want to go back and take another look at the photos. Bob’s photos have been added to mine.

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