Tag Archives: Rausch Gap

Hiking: AT PA325 to Swatara Gap – Day 2

When we last saw our heroes, they had just arrived at an Appalachian Trail shelter, and were preparing to spend the night with a possibly dangerous maniac.

“I told the VA to go fuck themselves!” he said. My companions and I exchanged worried glances. Perhaps we should just move along, and pitch our tarps a little bit farther down the trail.

Nobody wanted to be a girly-man, and so nobody said anything. When the strange man finished his tirade against the government, he asked us what day it was, and how long we had been hiking. We told him that we had only started hiking this morning. He said that he had been on the trail for about two months.

Yours truly, modeling the latest hiker fashions
Yours truly, modeling the latest hiker fashions

As we boiled our instant dinners, John (our new eccentric friend) told us that he had thru-hiked the entire AT twice before, and done a sizeable portion of the PCT as well. We had rather less heroic feats to boast of.

Conversation turned to food, the weather, and camping gear; interspersed with incoherent rants about the government and the military-industrial complex.

I found it somewhat unsettling that this man, whose views were extreme to the point of madness, had political opinions not very different from my own.

It started to drizzle after dinner, and so we all went to bed around 8:00.

The snoring in the shelter was unbelievable. After a few hours of tossing and turning, I took my bivy and marched some distance away to try to get some sleep.

Day broke shortly thereafter. We ate our breakfast, topped off our water bottles, and bid adieu to our new friend. He was nice enough to get a group photo of our trio.

Heading out from the Rausch Gap Shelter.
Heading out from the Rausch Gap Shelter.

The skies were gloomy, and it began to drizzle as we climbed Second Mountain. A V of some sort of white geese or swans flew overhead.

A "V" of white geese flew over us near the top of second mountain.
A “V” of white geese flew over us near the top of second mountain.

As we neared the Swatara Gap, the trail opened up, and so did the skies.

After the descent into Swatara Gap, the trail opened up a bit
After the descent into Swatara Gap, the trail opened up a bit

Without trees for cover, we started to get wet. I considered donning my rain gear, but ultimately decided against it. Without it, I would be cold, wet, and miserable. With it, I would be hot, sweaty, wet, and miserable.

Klinutus avoided this conundrum by deploying an umbrella. This looked highly ridiculous, but actually seemed to work pretty well.

Klinutus with his Backpacking Umbrella
Klinutus with his Backpacking Umbrella

We walked the last few miles down the Swatara Rail Trail into Lickdale, where we feasted on Wendy’s Cheeseburgers and waited for our ride.

Here is the map of our adventure.

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Here are some more pictures from day 2.

Hiking: AT PA325 to Swatara Gap – Part 1

Note: I’m about a month late in writing up this post. Sorry if the snow in the pictures causes you any emotional distress.

The winter of 2013-2014 was a long, miserable bastard. My friends and I decided that as soon as the weather was even remotely spring-like, we would undertake a backpacking trip. We decided to hike a section of the AT that stymied Klinutus and I once before.

The forecast was for rain. Cold, unrelenting, pouring rain for two solid days. Sensible people would have rescheduled the hike, but we are not sensible people.

From PA 325, the trail goes up.
From PA 325, the trail goes up.
Me, huffing and puffing my way up the mountain.
Me, huffing and puffing my way up the mountain.

The hike began with a climb. A long, slow, wet climb from the valley floor.

Part way up the climb, we came upon another hiker, who was just starting up from a rest. He was an older man with a gray beard, a wild look in his eye, and what appeared to be military insignia sewed onto his hiking clothes. He glared at us briefly, and then strode briskly up the mountain at nearly twice our speed. His speed was probably to our advantage, because he looked like a crazy person, and we didn’t want to have to share the Rausch Gap Shelter with a lunatic.

Sign near the top of the mountain.
Sign near the top of the mountain.

IMG_2121

Once we crested the mountain, the rain let up a bit, and we were presented with a pleasantly level walk through the foggy woods. I’m normally only good for about 10 miles of hiking per day. It was 13 miles to the Rausch Gap shelter. We didn’t want to stop and pitch our tarps if we could help it because of the impending monsoon. So, we hiked on. Luckily, the rain held off for the most part, but I was starting to run out of gas over the last three miles.

Descending into Rausch Gap
Descending into Rausch Gap
Arriving at the Rausch Gap Shelter.
Arriving at the Rausch Gap Shelter.

We were all greatly relieved when the trail finally started to dip into Rausch Gap, not long before sunset. We arrived at the shelter to find an occupied sleeping bag already inside it. Not a problem, these shelters are large enough to hold several hikers.

As we set down our packs, the sleeping bag began to stir, and its occupant emerged; wild-eyed, grey bearded, with military insignia on his chest.

“I told the VA go to fuck themselves,” he said.

To be continued…

Day 1 Pictures:

Day 1 Map:
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