Distance: 14 miles
Weather: Warm, muggy
Flat walking and lots of talking brought us 6.8 miles to Peters Mountain Shelter by 1pm. It was way too soon to stop, but the next shelter would be a ghastly 17.5 more miles, far too much for us. Stay in this beautiful place, with lots of flat tent spots and trees for a hammock, or move on and take our chances on finding a place to camp unofficially (called "stealth camping")? Hem, haw, hem, haw. We weren't certain what we'd find ahead but it was just too soon to stop.
We left. Stopped for a break with some day hikers who had dogs: a Westie, a Chihuahua, and a pit bull. Of the three, the pit was the only one I was sure wouldn't bite me. She bent herself in half waggling, while the two small dogs barked suspiciously. The pit bull was very sweet, but the small dogs never did allow us to pet them.
Later we saw what we couldn't quite identify as a rattlesnake. It didn't look like one, didn't have the head of a pit viper, but it vibrated its tail which made a buzzing noise. I tossed sticks at it and finally it made an attempt at coiling, but it just didn't look kosher. We watched it for a long time, trying to figure it out. It was probably terrified.
I realized my feet hurt. It's a burning ache that starts after about 6 hours of hiking, stops when I stop, but returns worse than ever when I lie down for the night. Nothing helps -- not Tylenol, or Motrin, or Aleve. Maybe it's a result of my 20 extra pounds of body weight. Maybe it will go away like the blisters and the soft tissue stress I thought was a fracture.
But there was no phone signal. Nothing. Zilch.
We crossed PA 325 into a parking lot, some kind of park and trailhead combination. Quite a lot of people there, and a big beautiful creek. We found a camping spot a little farther on, flat with a campfire ring, not quite happy with it because it's so close to the road.... party place? We hoped not. We were a little nervous. No one knew we were stopping there; if we vanished, no one would know, and there was no phone signal to let anyone know where we were.
Keep the bear spray close, girls.
I discovered I'd lost my "tree huggers," webbing straps you wrap around the tree trunk and attach your hammock lines to. It protects the tree bark, and gives more versatility in how far apart the trees can be. They were just gone. Vanished. I must have overlooked them 14 miles back at Clarks Ferry Shelter. Was that only this morning? I can set up my hammock without them, but it's better with them. I hope someone picks them up and carries them along, hoping to find their owner. It happens a lot out here.
My feet hurt, I'm dead tired, I've lost an important piece of equipment.