Hiking: AT PA325 to Swatara Gap – Part 1

Note: I’m about a month late in writing up this post. Sorry if the snow in the pictures causes you any emotional distress.

The winter of 2013-2014 was a long, miserable bastard. My friends and I decided that as soon as the weather was even remotely spring-like, we would undertake a backpacking trip. We decided to hike a section of the AT that stymied Klinutus and I once before.

The forecast was for rain. Cold, unrelenting, pouring rain for two solid days. Sensible people would have rescheduled the hike, but we are not sensible people.

From PA 325, the trail goes up.
From PA 325, the trail goes up.
Me, huffing and puffing my way up the mountain.
Me, huffing and puffing my way up the mountain.

The hike began with a climb. A long, slow, wet climb from the valley floor.

Part way up the climb, we came upon another hiker, who was just starting up from a rest. He was an older man with a gray beard, a wild look in his eye, and what appeared to be military insignia sewed onto his hiking clothes. He glared at us briefly, and then strode briskly up the mountain at nearly twice our speed. His speed was probably to our advantage, because he looked like a crazy person, and we didn’t want to have to share the Rausch Gap Shelter with a lunatic.

Sign near the top of the mountain.
Sign near the top of the mountain.

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Once we crested the mountain, the rain let up a bit, and we were presented with a pleasantly level walk through the foggy woods. I’m normally only good for about 10 miles of hiking per day. It was 13 miles to the Rausch Gap shelter. We didn’t want to stop and pitch our tarps if we could help it because of the impending monsoon. So, we hiked on. Luckily, the rain held off for the most part, but I was starting to run out of gas over the last three miles.

Descending into Rausch Gap
Descending into Rausch Gap
Arriving at the Rausch Gap Shelter.
Arriving at the Rausch Gap Shelter.

We were all greatly relieved when the trail finally started to dip into Rausch Gap, not long before sunset. We arrived at the shelter to find an occupied sleeping bag already inside it. Not a problem, these shelters are large enough to hold several hikers.

As we set down our packs, the sleeping bag began to stir, and its occupant emerged; wild-eyed, grey bearded, with military insignia on his chest.

“I told the VA go to fuck themselves,” he said.

To be continued…

Day 1 Pictures:

Day 1 Map:
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