Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail - Swatara Gap Loop - April 2004

3 of us with the Wilmington Trail Club did this as a 2 day, 18 mile loop d' loop on a splendid weekend in April. This was my first trip with my new ultralite backpack and of course I forgot the most integral piece, the sleeping pad. So I had to wing it without one. We started "south" from Swatara Gap, went down the bike path, up the Cold Springs Trail and then back down the AT to the shelter for the night. This shelter had one plus and one minus. The spring is outstanding and is waist high barely 10 feet away. On the otherhand it was tough to get to the spring as 100's of boy scouts were filling up 10 gallon containers to take back to camp. Despite only being in the 50's at night, I spent a surprisingly cold night in my 15 bag on the floor of the shelter. Oh wait, that's because some moron forgot to bring his sleeping pad and was sleeping right on the bare wood!

The next day I gave Elaine an excellent book to read while Tim and I explored the old railroad grade and the old stage trail. The old railroad grade quickly became the super ultra muddy grade so we elected to climb up and over Sharp Mountain via a power line. We looped around on the old stage trail which quickly became a bushwack once we got to the river. A half a mile of bushwacking later we met back up with Elaine and headed back to the cars. If you're looking for a section of the AT with some solitude, this ain't it. I've never seen so many Boy Scouts in my life.

Rausch Gap Shelter. Otherwise known as Boy Scout Central This is absolutely the best spring at any shelter I've ever seen that doesn't have a faucet on the end of it
Tim, Elaine and Mark at the end of the trip  


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