September 19 (12 miles, 5 hours) PATC Map 1 Section 11
An extra bonus of the shuttle is to experience some towns and villages that would never cross our path otherwise. Who knew that a huge Land ‘o Lakes butter plant was located in Mount Holly Springs? I thought they were in Wisconsin or Minnesota! It’s a reminder that there’s a vast America outside of the urban areas we’re most familiar with.
If you don’t like hills, this is your section. It’s probably the flattest stretch of trail this side of the C&O Canal. The north section parallels a Conodoguinet creek on boardwalks. We crossed a small side creek bursting with lush green watercress, the makings for a wonderful salad. Another piece was lush with bright goldenrod sparkling against a deep green background.
The southern section meanders along cultivated fields. Oceans of green soybeans sprinkled with yellowing leaves filled the valley. The route also passes alongside and through cornfields. At this time of year, the 7-foot stalks are brown and dry. They flutter with the breeze and scrape as the leaves touch. The zing of grasshoppers ricochet as they work their way through the maze of maize. Fortunately most of the track is situated along the tree line so you are out of the direct sun and can appreciate the nice views of farmland.
This being a Saturday brought out a lot of recreational users including joggers, dog walkers, and group of young boys and girls and their parents. At one point we heard sharp blasts in the distance. It sounded like gunshots echoing off the mountains. Rather than a single shot or two, a barrage of intense rapid fire made us wonder what we were hearing. Could it be machinery at a quarry? As we got closer to the source of the sound, we encountered a local man who told us there was a gun club and shooting range just over the hill. The thought made us quicken our pace over the crest of the hill.