24.1 miles, 1211.7 overall (Port Clinton pavilion)
The shelter begins to stir around 5:30. I appear to be the second hiker up but as I start packing a few others also get moving. I take my stuff outside to pack up in order to make less noise and I’m soon joined by Austin. While I eat my breakfast a few others come out too. I’m one of the first out of camp just before 6. This is good because it is supposed to be another hot day.
As I get started hiking it certainly feels like it will be another hot day. It is quite warm for 6 in the morning. The trail alternates between some nice, smooth trail and insanely rocky trail. There isn’t much to see though and the hiking is once again pretty boring. I stop at a campsite that has picnic tables to have a snack but nobody catches up. I wonder what time they left. When I stop for snack number 2 I have covered almost 12 miles. This time Coffee-to-Go catches up to me. He is a young German who wants to make it clear that he is not hiking the trail because of the documentary that seems to be the motivation for so many of the other Germans. Instead he learned of the trail from his girlfriend who came to Maine for a study abroad and he decided he’d like to hike it since he is an avid backpacker. We talk a bit before he hikes on ahead of me. He has a faster pace than I do today.
I catch him a few miles later at a shelter where we both stop to get water. While I’m there I decide to also make some lunch. I spend almost an hour sitting, talking and eating with Coffee. By the time I leave Professor Oak and Lemmiwinks have arrived too and are starting on their lunches.
I don’t stop any more until I get to Port Clinton where I plan to stay for the night. On the way in I pass an old railroad station, then cross a bridge into the town. Port Clinton is incredibly small – the data book says the population is under 1000. However the town does contain the Peanut Shop, a place I was told by a coworker that I had to visit. As I make my way to the pavilion where hikers are allowed to stay for free I stop by the shop to check the hours. They are open until 7 and it is only 4:30. Perfect.
At the pavilion I catch up to Austin who apparently passed me while I was eating lunch. She needs to go to Hamburg, the next town over, to resupply. I figure I’ll tag along and get some town food for dinner. Word is there’s a Five Guys and that sounds mighty tasty!
We stop by the Peanut Shop on the way just in case it isn’t open when we get back. The shop is full of desserts – chocolates, jelly beans, licorice, dried fruit, etc. I can see why it was recommended. I pick up a bag of dried cantaloupe and several chocolates to munch on while I wait for dinner.
The town is almost 2 miles away so as we hike Austin tries to get a hitch. At this point I still haven’t hitched so I’m reluctant to break the streak but I’m also not excited about walking the entire way. I am content with letting Austin do the dirty work. It doesn’t take long before a car pulls over and we catch a quick ride where we’re going – my first hitch! We start with food and I am privileged to introduce Austin to the deliciousness that is Five Guys. We each get a burger and fries and I get a soda as well. Austin finishes hers faster than I do. I wonder if the time at home made me slower.
Next is resupply. Having just returned to the trail I don’t need anything so I wait at the front of Walmart while Austin shops. Austin seems a bit quirky, perhaps living up to her namesake city’s adopted motto of “Keep Austin weird”. While waiting I see BP and Step Ahead as well as Kitfox and Mancub.
On the way back we catch a hitch even faster. As we’re walking out of the parking lot a woman pulls over and lets us hop in. We find out that she hiked about half the trail years ago from Virginia up to Maine. She tells us her favorite parts and recommends a restaurant near the pavilion for breakfast.
Once we’re back I set up for the evening. I hike down the road to get water from hose at a house that has a sign offering it to hikers. Then I clean up and change into my sleeping clothes. I turn in a little early to the sound of the highway nearby. It is supposed to rain tomorrow but it is too soon after being home for me to take a zero. It looks like tomorrow will be a soggy day on the Appalachian Trail.