I woke up last night to the sound of something walking around camp grunting and snuffling. I was pretty sure it was a porcupine since the past few shelters have had signs warning about porcupines and damage from them chewing. I knew they liked sweaty things and my shoes and my pack were outside my tent. I had room to bring in my shoes but not my pack so I just hoped for the best and fell back asleep. My stuff was unchewed on this morning but Poppins’ cork trekking poles handles had some damage.

When I got out of my tent, the gnats and flies from yesterday had gone away but the mosquitoes were out in full force. So back on with the head net, and I added bug spray, which I haven’t had to use in a while. After a few miles, the gnats came back too, even more than yesterday. I don’t know how other hikers were also being swarmed because every flying insect in the woods seemed to be traveling with me.

Just before I stopped for lunch, I saw my second rattlesnake. Lieutenant Cookoo Bird was hiking in front of me a little ways and he saw it first. He’s taken a vow of silence for Pennsylvania though so he had to hit his trekking poles against a tree to get my attention and tell me to wait, then we played charades for a minute until I figured out there was a rattler on the right side of the trail and I should stay to the left. It was traveling next to the trail so I stood around and watched it for a little while. I knew Huckleberry and Copperhead were behind me with their dog, Lily, so I wanted to give them some warning if the snake was still on the trail in case Lily came running up first. It eventually moved off down the side of the hill so I moved on.

After lunch I went through an area that used to have an old coal mining town in it. There was a very small, very old cemetery there, which I always like to check out. This one only had three graves in it but I love old graves because they tend to have the person’s whole story engraved on them. There have been many small, old cemeteries along the trail so far.

When I got to a stream to fill up on water for my last nine miles of the day, there was a guy from Duncannon giving out cold sodas for trail magic. I debated being lazy and stopping at the nearby campsite for the night but then decided to keep going as long as possible. I’m getting picked up to go to a bluegrass festival tomorrow so I should get as many miles in as possible before then so I have less to make up afterwards.

I got moving up the ridge and it was the worst section of trail I’ve been on. Almost the whole nine miles was overgrown so that there were only a few inches of open space between the brush. I had to push through any way and am covered in scratches from thorns, bug bites, and probably lots of poison ivy. When I got to camp at William Penn Shelter, I went down to the water source to wash off with soap and water and hopefully get all the poison oils off.

21.4 miles today. I actually set my alarm for the morning to get up early and hike.

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