So much for an early start this morning. More town escapees showed up at the shelter so I stayed to socialize. I filled up on water before leaving because it was already super hot and the only water source in the next thirteen miles was an unreliable spring down 300 rock steps, which might as well not exist because I’m not going there in this heat.
As soon as I stepped on the trail, I was swarmed with gnats. It took four getting in my eye in twenty minutes for me to finally stop and get out my head net. As soon as I put it on, I had such a feeling of peace. Instead of being agitated by the bugs, I could hear them and see them but they could no longer get in my eyes, nose, mouth, or ears. It was amazing. I could feel them brushing my arms with every stride too but they weren’t biting, just really wanting to get at my head.
I stopped at Peters Mountain Shelter for lunch, and the gnats fortunately stayed on the trail. Turned out everyone else was being swarmed while hiking too. I took a long break there to let a little bit of the heat of the day pass, plus it was much cooler in the very large shelter. When I was packing up to go, I found Wings’ cookset. She had left half an hour earlier and I knew she was getting off trail for a few days at the next road in six miles so I tried to hike a little faster to get it to her in time. I made it just as she was getting into a car.
I hung out with some people at Clarks Creek there for a while. It had a nice breeze, no gnats, and I cooled off in the very cold water. Punkin was doing trail magic there so I had a few lemonades and an apple. I decided to stay and eat dinner before going uphill and to let the day cool off a little more in the meantime. After eating my pasta sides, more trail magic appeared in the form of Hobbit with a pizza; Lucky1 and Poppins and I split it.
I finally got going up the hill and saw my first rattlesnake. It was right on the trail but started rattling when I was still ten feet away so I had plenty of warning. I just backed off a little ways until it calmed down enough to stop rattling and slither off the trail, then I moved quickly by.
I am camped just past the western terminus of the Horse-Shoe Trail, which starts in Valley Forge just outside Philadelphia. I’ve been on eastern portions of that trail out there. It’s 140 miles long but not particularly easy to thru hike because there are stretches of up to thirty miles between campgrounds and motels and it goes on a lot of roads and private property.
16.7 miles today. It’s going to be a very warm night again.