Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Hike on the Appalachian Trail

South Mountain, the goal on Wednesday morning
I took this week as a vacation week from work and decided to go up on South Mountain to hike a stretch of the Appalachian Trail as it runs through Michaux State Forest. The week had started out hot, humid, and rainy, but I was betting on the forecast being right that a cold front moving through on Tuesday would produce excellent hiking weather - cooler, drier, and with a nice northwest breeze - for a few days starting Wednesday. Well, they were right, and the weather was gorgeous right on schedule!

I set out from my house at 6:30 Wednesday morning, going out to Means Hollow Rd., which goes up the mountain and crosses the Appalachian Trail at the top of the ridge. That was quite a climb! The plan was to hike all day Wednesday and stay overnight at the Tom's Run Shelter, and then to go on to Pine Grove Furnace State Park on Thursday morning and then head back to Shippensburg Rd. and head for home. That plan changed a little, and I skipped Pine Grove Furnace, just visiting some things that looked intriguing on Michaux Rd. just on the other side of Tom's Run and then heading back to Shippensburg Rd. You see, I neglected to get an air mattress to sleep on, and those shelters only have a hard, wooden surface to sleep on. I got very little sleep Wednesday night and I swore I wouldn't spend another night like that. As going to Pine Grove Furnace would probably necessitate a stay at the Birch Run Shelter on Thursday night, I decided to skip the state park and get home at a reasonable hour Thursday. Maybe next time!

Some things to note... The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has shelters built all along the Trail at reasonable intervals to accommodate overnight hikers. Each shelter is built near a potable water source, and each also has a privy (outhouse, outdoor toilet, whatever you call it where you live) a decent distance from the shelter. Unfortunately those privies are not chemical toilets but the old-fashioned one-holer, and this time of year the smell inside them is really something else! 

Also of note, the place I visited Thursday morning on Michaux Rd. is called Camp Michaux. It was originally a CCC camp (Civilian Conservation Corps, an institution created by the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression in the 1930s to employ the rising numbers of the unemployed and improve the infrastructure in the US at the same time) and was converted to a prisoner of war camp during WWII. Nothing remains now but the shell of an old barn, but I like ruins and I had to go see.

Up in the mountains in most of the southern areas of the US the people who originally settled in those areas had some interesting names for landmarks and geological sites. One of those places lies across the trail; it's called Dead Woman's Hollow, and Dead Woman's Hollow Rd. crosses the trail and I just had to see it. I was really expecting to hear banjos and a mournful voice singing "The Long Black Veil", but I guess the ghost of that dead woman departed a long time ago. Still, I had to go see just for the novelty of it.

In any case, it was beautiful up there on the mountain and I brought you some pictures to look at. There are a lot, and 37 passed quality control. I'm just posting a few favorites here, but I'll leave you this link to go visit my Picasa web album where you can see all of them and click on the "slideshow" link to watch it that way.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures I liked the best. Enjoy!

There was a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers nesting under the eaves of the Birch Run Shelter
The trail runs through a fern break up on Big Flat Ridge
A mushroom growing along the trail
Walking through the woods on the Appalachian Trail
A Red-spotted Purple butterfly on Milkweed just off the trail on Ridge Rd.
© 2014 by A. Roy Hilbinger 


  1. Lovely. I hope you enjoyed it (I can't sleep on hard surfaces any more either).

  2. Loved your facebook entries, too. the ferns! Very cool! And the butterfly. I bet you slept well in your own bed. There's no place like home!

  3. Like the trail up through the woods

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