Nina Baxley: Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker

Duncannon, Pennsylvania

September 28, 2000
Location: Duncannon, PA
Miles Hiked: 1,041.5
Miles Remaining: 1,125.6
I spent this afternoon sitting in the bar of Ducannon's historic Doyle Hotel, listening to good music and hanging out with NINE other southbounders: Matt, Blade, Friendly Bear, Dusty Moon, Orren, Cool Hand Luke, Blue Skies, Tenbrooks, and Eustacia (a friend of Blue Skies who is section-hiking with her). What a reunion! I hadn't seen Tenbrooks or Blue Skies since Rangeley, Maine! Orren and Cool Hand Luke had caught up with us several days before; prior to that, I hadn't seen them since Hanover.

I've hiked through Pennsylvania with four other hikers: Matt, Blade, Friendly Bear, and Dusty Moon. Some days I'll hike with another person, but mostly I hike by myself, and then I see everyone in the shelter at night. Even though I spend lots of time alone out here, I never get lonely because there are always other people nearby.

Dusty and Friendly, who are both from Atlanta, seem to laugh ALL the time, and they're a lot of fun to be around. I occasionally hike with Dusty, since we're both slower than the guys. I really enjoy having another girl around!

I also hike with Blade every now and then. He's a mountaineer who has a Ph.D. in English Lit, specializing in 19th-century English poetry. I haven't found many people out here who share my love for 19th-century English poetry, so we always have a lot to talk about!

The trail in Pennsylvania has been spectacular. Much of the trail runs along the rocky ridgelines of Pennsylvania's mountains, and the leaves up there have just begun to change. Right now, they seem to wear just a slight dusting of peach and pale yellow; in just a few weeks, those same leaves will be on fire with color.

For years, ever since I started reading about the AT and thru-hiking, I've heard about the treacherous Pennsylvania ROCKS. I've heard horror stories of mangled boots and bleeding feet, and I've heard jokes that the trail maintainers use files to sharpen the rocks that comprise much of the trail. Many northbounders this year have told me that the Pennsylvania rocks are"really bad," though some have told me they weren't as bad as people say. In Maine, the early northbounders told us that we'd breeze through the rocks, since the trail there isn't nearly as tough as the trail in Maine and New Hampshire. [MORE. . .]

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