Day 8: May 24, 2023 Darlington Shelter to Duncannon Doyle Hotel Elevation +1528/-951 Miles 10.2/120.6; 1149.7

I slept pretty darn good. I’m wondering if maybe I’m getting used to this mat of mine? That’s funny! No, I’m just accepting it. Packed up and hit the trail at 6:30am. I’m getting stuff packed up much faster these mornings and wasn’t too terribly hungry. I’ll eat breakfast on the trail which is a Biscotti, Peanut Butter and a Fruit Roll-Up. Eat-N-Go. Oh, that’s not my typical breakfast but it works in a pinch. And yes, my very important green juice!

Morning Sunrise

Spider-Web Slayer. That’s who I am today. The first hiker on the trail deals with the breaking through the many webs that the countless spiders have spun overnight. It’s a wicked job but someone has to do it. Today, that’s me. Once I broke through the forest, the trail opened up to the Pennsylvania Fields of Grain. As I was recording my morning video, a hiker comes up behind me. “I just love Pennsylvania and all these fields!” That’s the attitude. Most people gripe about the Pennsylvania rocks, but she sings praises over the wide open spaces and the never-ending fields. Her husband is a bit behind. His pace is more like mine, slow and steady. She continues on, he attempts to catch her, and I stop to take photos.

Pennsylvania Fields

Today is a great day for hiking. I really haven’t had any rain besides the one evening. The heat is acceptable however the humidity is coming. Typically by the days end, I am a sweaty mess. I’m thinking it’s a matter of time and I’ll be used to the 100% drench fest, and my skin will be thanking me for the added moisture.

Rocky Overlook

I had a bit of a climb and made it to this beautiful overlook. You could see the Susquehanna River and the upcoming town of Duncannon below. It was one of the best views I’ve seen from the trail this week. I sat for a bit and was able to get a voice mail from Shelly, my friend from the Post Office. She said that my package has left Sacramento and is headed to Carlisle, which is close to Boiling Springs. There may be a possibility that I could be sleeping on air tonight!

Triple Crown 2Weeks & 3 Days

The trail follows the Ridgeline for quite sometime. It’s rocky and not much chance of gaining any speed. I met a Sobo Hiker who has a Triple Crown ball cap on his head. Hmm, is he the real deal? Ends up he sure is. His Trail Name is 2 Weeks & 3 Days. When he left home to hike the AT, his wife said, “I’ll give you two weeks and three days and you’ll be coming home!” Well he kept walking and finished the AT, then continued on to hike the PCT and finally the CDT. Now he section hikes smaller 200-300 miles at a time. He was so much fun to talk with.

Two “Triple Crowners”

Another guy shows up who is a day hiker. He stops to talk with us and ends up he’s a Triple Crowner too and has hiked the PCT four times, starting back in 1977. I am among greatness on the trail. I curtsy and applaud them for their amazing feats! The new guy’s name is JZ which was a name he had in school. His real name is Jeff Zimmerman and seems like it was a good fit for a Trail Name. He lives near Duncannon.

PO Employee of the Year Shelly

This is my opportunity. So JZ, what are you doing today? I’m hoping my package will be delivered in Boiling Springs and could use a ride? JZ is thrilled to help me. Being a fellow thru-hiker many times over, he had many people that helped him along the way, and wants to pay it forward. JZ is a much faster hiker than I, surprise, surprise, and tells me he’ll meet me at his car at the bottom of the trail. Perfect plan. I scoot on after him and manage to arrive 10-15 minutes later.

Air Mattress in Hand- Hallelujah

JZ has mapped out our route, stops at the Convenience Store so we can get some cold drinks, and we are off for our road trip. As we are talking, I realize he is a true legend in the hiking community. JZ started hiking in the 70’s and has backpacked with Stridor and Monty. The three of them are the brains to the ADZPCTKO Annual Day Zero PCT Kick-Off. This was a festival at Moreno Park near the Mexico Border and welcomed hikers of all abilities. They have seminars on hiking in the desert, where to find water, how to prepare for the Sierras, and all things PCT. It was where I went the year before I hiked the PCT to figure out what I was getting myself into.

Monty & JZ The Brains of the ADZPCTKO

JZ and I shared stories all the way to Boiling Springs. Ends up that when I hiked the PCT in 2015, I met Monty. He and another hiker were carrying Strider’s ashes to the northern terminus of the PCT, the day I finished. I was hiking over the final pass, and as I was descending to the monument, I stopped and talked with Monty. I remember him telling me they had just returned from the last request that their friend had asked of them. Take me to the monument one more time. And being best of friends, that was exactly what they did. They carried Strider and spread his ashes where he wanted. The place he loved the most.

Strider, Monty & JZ on Rainer

JZ drove me to Boiling Springs and I retrieved my prize possession, a brand new inflatable mattress. Hallelujah, I will in fact be sleeping on air tonight! We stopped and had lunch at Cafe 101, the same place I had breakfast yesterday. We tried calling Monty but he wasn’t home and left him a message. What a small world we love in. I would’ve never ever dreamed that I would be sitting here with JZ, reminiscing of people we missed, on our many trails. What a day we shared, indeed

JZ got me back to Duncannon. Being it was getting late, I decided to stay at the infamous Doyle Hotel. It was built in 1903 and has had an interesting past. Many famous people have spent the night here with the shared baths and a very loud bar! I ran into a couple of thru-hikers Konza and Bergie. They invited me to sit and have a beer. Hmm, I think I can do that. I ordered the most scrumptious Burger ever and drank a local IPA. They had Karaoke playing and we were entertained by the locals. What an end to the most perfect day!

Doyle Hotel Owner John & His Son
Words to Live By.

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