September 2, 2015 (8.5 miles, 4 hours) AT PA Map 2-3
Inspired by a beautiful day and the simple desire to do something interesting, we decide to take up section hiking in earnest. We even assign responsibilities. Jane with her maps and PATC newsletters is the logistician. She will strategize our effort, choose logical trail segments and schedule our time. My job, we agree, is to be the navigator.
A great resource on AT information is the website hosted by David and Cyndi Rohland. http://appalachiantrail.rohland.org It provides detailed descriptions of parking areas and safety conditions.
Sometimes there are no addresses for access points, only latitude and longitude coordinates. My first task is determining how to translate the GPS data into driving directions. I learn a handy bit of information. The degrees, minutes, and seconds of latitude and longitude are simplified in decimal form. So 40˚ 05’ 32” is shortened to 40.0532. The same goes for longitude, except western entries are noted as a negative number, hence 77˚ 00’ 42” becomes -77.0042. In the southern hemisphere, latitude is also notated in negative numbers. Enter the data into mapquest or google maps, and sure enough your position is located and sometimes, even an address is provided.
It was a beautiful end of summer day in a very pleasant section of the trail. We hiked through nice woodlands with little evidence of invasive plants. There was a thick understory of blueberry and mountain laurel and a spattering of pine trees.
One great pleasure of hiking is a treat at trail’s end. In our minds, there’s nothing better than a scoop or two of ice cream. Possibly the most famous of all ice cream spots on the trail is the General Store at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, just a few miles from the AT center point. In addition to your basic ice cream cone, they offer the half-gallon challenge. For those stalwarts who consume a half-gallon block of ice cream in one sitting, they are awarded a commemorative wooden spoon and recognition in the marble covered composition book.
Another feature at Pine Grove is the Appalachian Trail Museum. It recognizes the contributions of the hikers and volunteers who made the AT a premier hiking experiences. It’s especially interesting to compare the meager gear early hikers like Grandma Gatewood used in contrast to today’s hi-tech gear.