After a great time in Shenandoah National Park, we longed to knock off a few miles on the AT. The problem? Finding time to squeeze it in given our work schedules. We decided to do a short overnight hike of 8+ miles.
Only 8 miles?!? Sometimes you’ve got to take what you can get. We started off Sunday evening at Shippensburg Road and found a wide, gentle path ahead of us. This was an ideal path that descended gradually. After about 1.5 miles we came to the turn off for the Michener Memorial Cabin. Now, the trail turned into the woods and a more traditional woodsy hike ensued. Mountain laurel were in bloom and they blanketed the entire forest. How beautiful!
We crossed a small stream, then walked a short way before a small bridge led us to Tom’s Run Shelter. A couple of years ago, one of two shelters burned to the ground. Now, a nice covered picnic area takes its place. This shelter has tons of tent pads and picnic tables. The privy, however, is among the worst yet. (You really don’t want the details!)
The best thing about the shelter was that a wonderful group of folks were staying there. There were two “old guys” (their term, not mine) who are brothers doing bits of the trail each year. “Shortbus”, a through hiker, and “Hendo” and “Hendo’s mom” were also staying overnight. A father/daughter team and a couple of other through hikers were there.
For the first time, we experienced a pretty significant thunderstorm overnight. It was still raining in the morning but that didn’t deter us a bit. We got a later start than everyone else but we quickly came to the AT halfway point (see picture). Eventually we made it to the State Park’s General Store, where we met up with all our new friends from the shelter. Many ate the traditional half-gallon of ice cream, which is what the store is known for. Others opted for hamburgers. It was just nice to hang out and chat about the trail and about hiking. It was tough to leave the trail for home but it is good to know that even short hikes can be enormously enjoyable.